Thursday, August 23, 2007

Review of the Dahon Boardwalk S1.

Price paid: $180

9.18.07 Update: Performance has refunded me the full price of this Boardwalk after numerous complaints about the rear hub. Yipee! I've left the original review for your information.

Bottom line: Avoid the Dahon Boardwalk S1 and all Dahon products

I’ve been trying to work out problems I’ve had with this bike for a while so I have refrained from posting a review of it. However, my patience has worn out so I will go ahead and do this.
I bought this Dahon Boardwalk folding bike because I am bike nut and wanted to take a bike with me in areas that are traditionally closed to bikes. Examples of this are festivals, road trips in a small car, airplane trips etc. I had never owned or ridden a folding bike. When I first got the bike, I was very excited about it. It folded great, was very sturdy (steel frame) and really felt like a bike when you rode it.

I probably rode this bike about 10 miles when a grinding noise began to come out of the rear hub. I was always taught that when your bike makes any kind of out of the ordinary noise you have to take care of it or you may have a problem later on.

When you hear the chain rubbing against something when you turn the crank, for example, you’ve got to make adjustments so that this doesn’t reoccur. The chain is going to be worn down prematurely and you’ll end up replacing it much earlier than you should. I’ve known guys, who say, "Let it grind itself down till it doesn’t make anymore noise." That’s probably the worst thing you can do.

Anyway, I took this bike to the LBS (Performance Bike) where I bought it to have them check it out. They told me that the grinding was being caused by the rear coaster brake rubbing against something internally. I should keep engaging the brakes to work out the noise. They gave me the option of replacing the wheel, but at my expense. I rode the bike some more and the noise still lingered. I was disappointed in this because I thought that the warranty (1 year) should cover this kind of problem.

I emailed Dahon and told them my situation. Well, I didn’t hear back from them. Two weeks later I emailed them again. A day later a technical rep from Dahon, Rick Fair, responded saying that the 3 speed hub on my bike was noisy. Guess what, this Dahon doesn’t have a 3 speed hub, it’s a single speed. I replied to him about this and as of today (about 2 weeks ago), I have not heard back.

Based on the above experience I cannot recommend this Dahon bike or any Dahon product. When you buy a used bike, you expect to have mechanical issues and to deal with them. Not with a new product, though. That’s the reason you go to an LBS, pay "new" bike prices and expect any mechanical issues to be adressed. If Dahon doesn’t stand behind this product, I can’t give it my endorsement.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

2006 Fuji Crosstown 2.0 Review

Pros: Plush comfortable ride. Fenders. Yes, suspension fork.
Cons: twist shifters take up handlebar space

Ok, I was prepared to dislike this bike because of the front suspension fork. After all, everyone pans front suspension forks because they slow you down, are heavy, and are prone to early replacement. It turns out I really like this bicycle. What gives? I'm either getting too old or going super fast is not what I'm all about anymore.

First, the suspension fork is really great to take those undulations and grooves of the road. It has a 40mm travel, which could be better, like 50mm but it's ok. All of us commuters know that urban asphalt has all kinds of obstructions like mini hole covers, warped grooves and other assorted hazards that a rider must get ready to absorb or even avoid. The suspension fork nullifies a lot of those hazards. Oh, here comes mini asphalt wave…No worries, just take it; you probably won't feel it. The suspension seat post also absorbs those hazards in your seat area.

I do admit that the suspension fork does add weight, but nothing too dramatic maybe 2-3 pounds vs. a standard front fork. I guess it does slow you down some, but for the city riding that you do with this Fuji, it should be minimal. I don't like to "peel out" from a stoplight, for example. I like to let cars make all the first moves. This fork is also "lockable" which means that you can make it a stiff standard fork by turning 2 screws in the fork.

One thing that was weird about the front suspension fork was braking. I brake by pulling both the front and rear brakes simultaneously. When braking, the front fork pulls you down, which takes some getting used to, at least when braking hard. It feels like going down a curb. As you know, the front brake does most of the work when braking in a bicycle. As for durability of the front fork, I won't be doing a long-term test since I borrowed this bike, but I will post an update if this front fork ever needs to be replaced.

Second, this bike makes you take a great upright riding position. This is excellent for city riding. Riding it feels like using a unicycle, but with handlebars. The handlebars are also adjustable to make them higher or lower depending on your preference. For a lot of bikes, you have to buy a high-rise stem if you wanted to make handlebars higher.

A positive aspect of this bike is the fenders. I love fenders. They are great for the rain and those post-rain surfaces. I dress up (usually polo shirt and khakis) when commuting and nothing ruins your day like a skunk stripe in the back of your shirt or mud stains on the front. The fenders on this bike never clinked or clanged. Anyone who has ever put aftermarket fenders on a bike, esp. one with suspension, can tell you how hard it is. Good job, Fuji. Fenders should be standard equipment on all commuter bikes.

The thin 700 tires also mean that this bike can go fast. It takes effort to push those wide 26" tires. With these thin Kendas you can really pick up speed.

The twist shifters (SRAM MRX) are very responsive. The only gripe I have is that they take real estate from your grips. With the shifters being so responsive, I’m always wary that having my hands too close to the rear derailleur shifter. I may drop a gear. Come on, Fuji, give us some longer handlebar grips.

In sum, this is an excellent bike if you will be doing short commutes, less that 7 miles round trip, or short rides around town. This bike gives you a sweet, comfortable ride. If you want the Donald Trump-mega comfort ride, give both tires the minimum recommended PSI (I think it's 60). You'll think you're on a light beach cruiser:).

Sizes: 15", 17", 19", 21", 23"
Color(s): Forest Green
Main frame: Fuji Altair 1 aluminum with double water bottle mounts
Rear triangle: Fuji Altair 1 aluminum, rack mounts, replaceable derailleur hanger
Fork: Fuji Comfort Suspension 40mm travel w/Preload, Made by Zoom
Crankset: SR/Suntour XCC-100 forged aluminum crank, 28/38/48T with chainguard
Bottom bracket: Cup and ball w/replaceable bearings
Pedals: Wellgo Hybrid w/Kraton no slip inserts
Front derailleur: SR Suntour XR-05, 31.8mm
Rear derailleur: Shimano Altus MegaRange
Shifters: SRAM MRX, 24 speed twist shift
Cassette/freewheel: SRAM PG-830, 11/32T 8-speed
Chain: KMC Z-72
Front hub: Formula sealed forged aluminum, Silver, 36H, Q/R
Rear hub: Formula sealed forged aluminum, Silver, 36H, Q/R
Spokes: Stainless Steel, 14g
Rims: Alex aluminum, Z-1000, 36H
Tires: Kenda, K-934 Hybrid, 700 x 35c
Tubes: Kenda
Tape/grip Kraton rubber to match shifter
Saddle Fuji Comfort Hybrid, Men's/Ladies specific
Seat post: Fuji alloy suspension, 300mm
Seat clamp: Fuji aluminum 31.8mm Quick Release
Complete Bike Weight, lb./kg.: 30.6 lbs / 13.88 kg
Brake set: ProMax aluminum linear pull with front modulator
Brake levers: ProMax comfort alloy with Kraton grip insert
Headset: Fuji Trekking, 1 1/8", Sealed
Handlebar: Fuji aluminum riser
Stem: Fuji Trekking Alloy, Adjustable angle, removable clamp