The household bike fleet has had a new arrival, a shiny new Dahon folding bike from Mountain Equipment Co-op, the Origami. This bike replaces my wife’s old bike, an 80’s vintage Dahon V. The old bike had made her a fan of small wheeled bikes, liking their small size and nimble handling. The old Dahon however was a rickety specimen and not a particularly good bike overall. We had considered some of the higher end folding bikes but considered that this one would best suit her needs and our budget. On Mother’s day she gave one a test spin and was quite taken with it. The two they had in the shop were on hold but they had two more in stock not assembled. We paid for one and the MEC bike shop had it ready by Tuesday. This is a momentous occasion. It is the first time I have ever purchased a bike new from a shop as I am more of a used bike kind of guy. It was nice that the bike came with some instructional documents and a two tubes of paint for touching up scratches.
The specs according to MEC are:
- Centre hinge allows lightweight aluminum frame to fold back on itself.
- 20 x 1.5in. tires provide plenty of cushioning.
- ProMax V-brakes are powerful and easy to maintain.
- Nexus 8-speed internal hub allows rider to change gears whether pedalling or not. Gear range suits most city riding.
- Folded size is approximately 34 x 67 x 64cm (13.3 x 26.1 x 25in.).
- Adjusts to fit riders from 125 to 188cm (4ft. 10in. to 6ft. 2in.).
- Designed to support a maximum weight of 105kg (230lb.).
- Seatpost telescopes into the frame.
- Handlebars telescope and fold flat.
- SunTour pedals fold against crank when not in use.
- Comes with a canvas carrying case, fenders, and a rear rack.
- Manufactured by Dahon to MEC specifications.
|Weight||11.9kg (One Size Fits All)|
|Frame||Dahon R-series custom-drawn 7005 aluminum|
|Brakes||ProMax V (V-brake rim)|
|Brake Levers||ProMax V aluminum|
|Shifters||Shimano Nexus Revo|
|Crank + Rings||Dahon aluminum|
|Hub (Front)||Dahon Mini|
|Hub (Rear)||Shimano Nexus 8-speed|
|Tires||Dahon Roulez 20 x 1.5in.|
I took the bike home using my Chariot child trailer. Folding the bike was easy enough to do without consulting any sort of instructions. It doesn’t fold particularly small or quickly but this is not a feature we will be using often. If they were easier to find we might have purchased a small wheeled bike that doesn’t fold at all. Still, it is definitely an improvement over the old Dahon which was a beast to fold. The center hinge does seem stiff to me but is quite solid.
In short order it was unfolded and ready to go. My wife took a short spin and was very pleased. Later that evening I snuck off and took a short spin myself and I
can report that this is quite a nice little bike. It is very solid with no flexing or creaking, has a nice tight turning radius and is overall very zippy (technical term). It is SO much more rigid than the old Dahon. I quite like the internally geared hub. It is shifts to lower gears very smoothly, almost unnoticeably. The shifting to higher gears is more obvious but still smooth. Being able to change gears while stopped is certainly a commuting advantage . I haven’t taken the time to figure out the gear inches or to test it on hills but so far the gear range seems spot on for urban use. It has a number of other nifty features that I’ll detail in the photos below.
This week-end my wife borrowed a set of my panniers and went on a shopping trip to the Farmer’s Market downtown. The rack is quite small and my feet had heel strike problems with the 40L panniers when I was testing them out on the bike . My wife, on the other hand, has much smaller feet (size 5 1/2 AA) and had no such problem. The origami proved quite able on this utility trip and she hauled home lots of groceries and some bedding plants. It is worth noting that we have been having uncharacteristically windy weather here in Edmonton and she was able to power through the headwind.
Time will tell how this bike holds up an performs but so far, so good. My wife says it makes her feel more like a real cyclist though she does miss the smaller 16 inch wheels of the old bike. I’m looking forward to trying out more myself and I’ll be sure to post any new observations here.
UPDATE: I have discovered that to incorporate the built-in pump the seatpost is a larger diameter than is normal. This made it harder to fit a rear light to the post using the light’s provided mounting clip. In the end I had to find a longer bolt.
UPDATE (May 2013): MEC has put this model of bike on clearance for $550.00 which is an absolute steal. If you have been considering it I recommend snapping it up while supplies last.