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Tag Archive: multimodal commute

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.

First Look: Jango Flik V9 Folding Bicycle

Remember that oddly-shaped bicycle box that came on “Brown Santa” last week?

box

Well, some of our guessers were right: it IS a folding bicycle. A Jango Flik V9, to be exact. Released in Asia and revealed to great interest at both Eurobike and Interbike 2009, the Jango Flik is a new player on the folding-bike scene. We’re lucky to have gotten a sample to test for a few weeks before it gets sent back to parent company Topeak, and I wanted to give you a look at some of the major features before we get down to testing it.

riding

First, a bit about the bike from Jango’s own website:

Frame: UniFit, single size
Folding Time: Shuttling, 2 seconds; Storage, 4 seconds
Weight: 12.9 kg/28.4 lb.
Maximum Rider Weight: 110 kg/ 242.5 lb.
Suspension: Front spring w/ 20mm travel, rear elastomer w/ 10mm travel
Shifters: Shimano 9-speed Rapidfire
Cassette: SRAM 9-speed (11-28)
Chainring: Single 50T ring with CNC chainguard
Brakes: Jango mechanical discs with integrated DiscBlock lock
Saddle: Allay Racing Sport
Grips: Ergon ergonomic
Wheels: Jango 16″ disc rims
Tires: Continental TourRide w/ reflective sidewalls

This bike is packed with urban-friendly features, such as
–a simple 1×9 drivetrain with disc brakes front and rear and tires with reflective sidewalls:

rear

–short-travel suspension both front and rear:

front susp.
(spring-damped with 20 mm of travel, non-adjustable)

rear susp.
(elastomer-damped with 10 mm of travel; preload-adjustable)

–an integrated rear rack that folds with the bike:

rack

integrated front wheel immobilizer (DiscBlock lock), and lightning-fast folding mechanisms. The folding mechanisms are easy to use and FAST. Jango claims a 2-second switch between fully-deployed and the intermediate “shuttle” mode, and this is quite accurate. Pull a lever and fold the bike and you arrive at this:

shuttle

You’ll notice that the integrated kickstand swivels to allow the bike to stand in “shuttle” mode. That’s a nice feature!

Two quick motions with the hand to undo the front-end folding mechanism and safety block, coupled with the above lever pull and you arrive at this, the fully-folded “storage” mode:

storage

As part of my review I will include a video or two of just how quick it is to fold this bike in both modes. It couldn’t be easier, and Jango has put a lot of thought and time into creating a system that makes folding effortless for the user. I will also compare this folder to a more “traditional” folding bike, both in terms of folding ease and final folded size.

I haven’t had a lot of experience with folding bikes — many of the people who know me and my cycling habits know that I’ve been clamoring to fill a gap in my bicycle fleet. Here’s why: although I’m not a multi-modal commuter, there are days when it’s time to go to work and it’s pouring down rain. With the vagaries of Florida’s weather, it is almost invariably sunny and dry within a few hours and after I’ve “chickened out” by having my wife drive me to work, I wish that I had a folding bike on hand to make the return leg rather than wait to be picked up. A folding bike would be awfully handy for such a scenario, as it would be for someone who does part of their morning commute via carpool, bus or train.

Besides, in the brief experiences I’ve had with folding bikes, I’ve learned that they are FUN to ride. Sure, they look weird, but once I get on something happens and I realize I’m wearing a huge grin.

I’ll be testing this bike in the urban conditions in and around Tampa — navigating the urban corridors and otherwise using the bike the way Jango intends it: as a handy, portable travel solution for city-dwellers. Stay tuned and in a few weeks we’ll have the full review.

Let the testing begin!

yeehaw!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

New Abio review…preview

What a great way to start the day — opening up a package!

It’s so compact, yet it’s 95% assembled right out of the box.

Within minutes, my new “ride” to work is ready to go.

I’ll let you know in the coming weeks how this new Abio Verdion stacks up against my full-sized commuters.

It already has one major advantage — folding down! I put that folding capacity to the test as I squeezed and wiggled my way (literally) through a public transit turnstile gate (with just enough room for me and this Abio).