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Dahon Mariner: Final Review

If this is your first time reading about this bike, check out our initial impressions on the Dahon Mariner D7.

So the time has come… to tell you all about the hair-raising adventures I’ve had on the D7!

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You wish you had these skills.

And… that time is now over. Because there really weren’t any. Sorry… you can take another sip of your beverage now. And close your mouth, the popcorn’s about to fall out.

What I WILL say is that this bike has been rock-solid, and has introduced into my life the idea that maybe I should have a folding bike permanently. Because it’s been pretty sweet! It has continued to be easy to use (biking, folding, unfolding, lugging around) and hasn’t needed any maintenance to speak of. The only issues have been with fenders getting bent out of shape due to bad packing in the car (fairly easily bent back), and once when the handlebars somehow got spun all the way around and braking was wonky for a couple minutes ’til I realized what had happened. So… yeah, user error.

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Main folding mechanism and bottle bosses

Speaking of user error, in the initial review I said there weren’t bosses for a bottle cage. That was incorrect: there are, I missed them somehow, and they’re on the top of what would be the top tube if there were more than one tube. So ignore that complaint… it’s invalid!

Since the initial review, this bike has been in and out of cars, to the library, to the grocery store, and just generally wherever we need to ride. The one thing I haven’t yet done on this is take it on public transit… I simply haven’t headed DC-wards recently, so I can’t say how it is. I imagine it would work fairly well, but can’t 100% verify.

My wife and I both like it, and because it’s easy to hop on and go, it’s one of the first picks out of the garage. My wife also had the amusing experience of using it when she had to drop the car off for some maintenance – and seeing all the car repair guys watch in amazement as she pulled the Dahon out of the backseat, unfolded it, and rode off to do a couple errands while she was waiting. Apparently they’re not used to that!

Our very own Jack (Ghostrider) also got a ride on the Mariner D7… here’s what he had to say:

I really enjoyed my (short) time aboard the Mariner. I have a soft spot for folding bikes, although there’s not one in my bike fleet currently. For multi-modal commuters, or people who live in small apartments, a folding bike makes a lot of sense. And this Dahon really fits the bill.

I didn’t try my own hand at folding the bike, but Matt demonstrated the ease with which it folds up into a tidy package. One of the things I noticed during the folding was that the seatpost didn’t have reference marks etched into it; the lack of those marks means that getting your saddle height right the first time is a bit of a challenge. A strip of tape or a silver Sharpie marker makes short work of that omission, however.

As with most small-wheeled bikes, the Dahon accelerates quickly. It feels really nimble while riding around city streets and tight spaces, too. Gearing was adequate for around-town use — we didn’t get to try it on any monster climbs, but it handled the inclines of northern Virginia without too much effort. Standing up to pedal up a rise was, well, rather awkward…that’s the only time when the short wheelbase and compact fit were an issue. The overall fit and finish were excellent, and there weren’t any mechanical problems throughout the duration of our review period.

Overall, the Dahon Mariner makes a great choice if you’re in the market for a folding bike.

Did I mention we had a lot of fun riding it?

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You also wish you had these skills.

Product review: Adventuress Sunscreen Swipes

Even though summer is winding down, those sun’s rays can still damage your skin. If you spend any time on your bike in the daylight, sunscreen is a smart option.

Right at the beginning of the summer, the good folks at Adventuress send some of their handy sunscreen swipes for us to try.

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These Adventuress sunscreen swipes easily stash into a jersey pocket or saddlebag — or really anywhere you might want to have one on hand for some sun protection. They are quite compact and well-sealed.

My favorite feature of these is their packaging, which offers a convenient “finger pocket” to keep your hands grease-free (very important while cycling). Simply peel off the seal, slip your fingers into the pocket and apply:

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I found that each swipe had enough to cover my forearms, neck, nose, and ears — all the places that bear the brunt of sun exposure at this time of the year. With careful application, I think a few more square inches of skin could be covered, too. The sunscreen formula is paraben- and fragrance-free, and didn’t feel at all greasy on the skin. The manufacturer claims the formula is gentle on sensitive skin, and it protects against UVA and UVB rays. It seemed to work, too — rides in the full sun left me burn-free every time I used a sunscreen swipe!

The Adventuress Sunscreen Swipes retail for $24.00 for a box of 24, and can be purchased directly from the Adventuress website. That’s pretty pricey, for sure, but you can’t beat the convenience of being able to stash these in a pocket for on-the-go use. They’re good to have on hand for emergency use, but I wouldn’t rely on them for daily full-coverage application on account of the price.

Check out the Adventuress website for a range of other skincare products.

Way to go, Philadelphia!

Based on U.S. Census data, Philadelphia now has the highest percentage of bike commuters out of the 10 most-populous U.S. cities:

The Bike PHL Facts report looks at bicycling trends in Philadelphia between 2008 and 2013 and, using the data from the U.S. Census Bureau, compares the Philly’s stats to other cities to see how we stack up. Along with coming in first in big-city bike commuting (2.3 percent of our city’s commuters get to work by bike, compared to just 1.6 in Chicago, the second place city), Philly also has two neighborhoods ranked in the nation’s top 25 for the highest percentage of bike commuters: Center City and South Philly.

Read the rest of the article by visiting the Philadelphia Magazine page.

Nice work, Philly!

Politics and Cycling

Here’s another one for you: a poll conducted recently by Pew Research and reported by/built upon by the Huffington Post (yeah, I know) shows “lifestyle polarization” based on political party affiliation. No real surprise there. The Huffington Post part focused on bicycles, bike commuting, and bike infrastructure:

We were inspired to ask these questions by the bike lane wars we had seen erupting in communities, including in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.

In theory, most respondents to a HuffPost/YouGov poll tended to agree with the concept of bikes and cars sharing the road. Three-fourths of voters agree that roads should accommodate both cars and bikes, while a minority (18%) thinks roads should be for cars only.

The article (click here) goes on to show some disparities between Democrat and Republican respondents. Some of the percentages may surprise you a bit, and that’s why it is important to remember that bike commuters are a diverse lot, with differing party affiliations, work histories, economic statuses, and more. We can’t all be painted with the same broad brush.

Low-income commuters and bicycles

The following article came out about a month ago, but it’s worth a read. It’s about a preliminary study conducted in the Washington D.C. metro area, where low-income commuters were asked a series of survey questions about “mobility barriers” and how cycling fit into the overall picture:

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau offers encouraging news for cyclists: Nationally, bicycle commuting increased 61 percent between the 2000 Census and a 2008-2012 survey. But there’s considerable work to do before we bike ride into the sunset. Our research shows that in some places, the people who ride are mostly wealthy and white.

Take Washington, D.C., for example. American Community Survey data show that D.C. bicycle commuting increased an astounding 208 percent between 2000 and 2012. Yet biking to work is far less common in the lower-income areas east of the Anacostia River. Despite the recent additions of substantial cycling infrastructure, many mobility challenges remain.

The highlights are pretty interesting, even if not much of a surprise to many of the article’s commenters or anyone who follows transportation policy. Take a look at the full article by clicking here.

I have long had real concerns about the development of bike infrastructure in many cities, and have seen firsthand that a lot of new bike lanes, bike racks, and other bike-friendly amenities tend to pop up in more affluent areas and business centers. That same infrastructure rarely penetrates into lower-income neighborhoods. Despite Tampa, Florida’s poor track record with bicycle fatalities and a general disregard for two-wheeled travelers, some of the city’s main cycling thoroughfares (laned roads and ample signage) serve low-income neighborhoods within the “urban corridor”, and this was part of the design all along, not just a coincidence. This is a positive development, obviously, and I have seen similar initiatives in neighborhoods closer to where I live (suburban DC metro area). Still, the focus on developing bike infrastructure tends to be on areas that are more affluent.

Also, as the article points out, the car is still a powerful status symbol in American culture. The dream of owning a private automobile is strong among lower-income populations, and that’s a harder problem to address. So, it’s not as simple as just building bike lanes and saying, “ok, now get on your bikes and ride”. Along with that infrastructure must come tailored programs to educate people on the benefits of bicycles-as-transportation…something to break the car-centric stranglehold.

Your thoughts on this? We’d love to hear them — just hit us up in the comments below.