Monday, October 29, 2007

Arlington, VA to join the ranks of Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris in bike sharing?

On October 22, I attended a bike sharing presentation by Paul DeMaio, who owns MetroBike LLC, an organization devoted to bike sharing and bike planning. He covered the old experiments in bike sharing where governments/communities would basically make bikes available to the public for free for the purpose of getting around. A lot of these bikes were comfort-type bikes in brightly colored designs. These experiments ended badly with these bikes either being stolen or discarded in a local river or lake.

A proposal that Paul is forwarding is a new “smart” bike sharing system that has been pioneered in European cities where rental bikes are “locked” to a number of locations and are rented, at a very minimal charge, to people typically covering short distances. They are rented with a credit card, or in the case for us here in the Washington DC area, a fare card that is now used on the subway, subway parking lots and buses. Bikes would be for local citizens not tourists.

To me, the most intriguing part of the presentation was the low costs that would be incurred by citizens wanting to borrow a bike. Paul said that bikes would be free to rent for the first ½ hour and $1-2 for additional ½ hour increments. Most of the costs (maintenance, cost of bikes, building stations etc.) would be borne by large media conglomerates presumably to advertise at renting stations or on the bikes themselves.

My hometown, Arlington, VA, will decide whether to establish a pilot program in an upcoming County board meeting. The District of Columbia government is also rolling out a small bike sharing program. I hope the Arlington county government approves it. I am all for more people on bikes. For more information about bike sharing, check out Paul’s bike sharing blog at

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Good Affordable Folding Bike: Review of the Dahon Yeah

Price, Multiple Gears(!), Quick Fold, Storability, Fenders/Rack included

Weight, Uncomfortable seat, Handgrips

MSRP: $219 USD

7.3.08 Update: I have not been riding this bike that much because of the new Brompton and basically riding my other commuting bikes. However, with just over 100 miles logged on, the bottom bracket began making a clicking sound. It sounded like it needed a new BB. I took it to my LBS and he repacked some grease down there and now it's working great. They may come just lightly greased from the factory since I really don't have that many miles on it.

11.26.07 Update: With about 50 miles logged on this bike, the chain cover cracked and fell off when my foot came down on it. I wish Dahon had put on some sturdier plastic (or metal) for this part.

I kinda swore off Dahon products because my first experience with a Dahon Boardwalk was disappointing. But with Dahon/Performance owning up to their mistake (see update below), I decided to give Dahon another chance.

That Dahon Boardwalk had a serious shortcoming in that it was single gear. I live in a hilly area so you really felt it on those inclines. I made a vow to get a multi-gear folder that was also affordable.

As everyone knows, there are all kinds of folding bikes by different manufacturers. The cheaper bikes that I saw (mainly on the internet) do not look safe at all. Their components are substandard and the folding mechanisms look like they could give in riding situations.

Dahon seems to be the only major folding bike manufacturer that produces a good product at an affordable price. Thus, I decided to continue to explore their cheap folder options. Enter the Dahon Yeah.

First, the bike is heavy. It weighs 32 lbs. You could probably shave 2-3 lbs off by taking off the fenders (which are metal) and the rack. This is more of a "storable" folding bike rather than a "portable" one. It is great for putting it in the back of your car/truck or in your closet but not if you want to hand-carry it on the train or public transit. If weight is an issue for you, you'd do better to spend $100-200 more to get an aluminum folder that will usually weigh less than 25 lbs.

This bike is also made of hi-ten (High Tensile) steel. Hi-Ten steel is usually associated with cheap Xmart bikes and is usually heavier. However, hi-ten absorbs bumps well. I've had a lot of hi-ten bikes and they've never cracked or let me down. The hi-ten on this bike gives it a soft bump-absorbing ride.

I was wary of the components, but they are holding up. The Pro Max brakes stop very well. The derailleurs are Shimano and, thus far, shift smoothly and with no issues. The downshift button (see pix) works very well. You have 6 gears and that is plenty for my hilly commute.

Folding it is simple once you get used to it. You can do it in the advertised 12 seconds as Dahon promises. No problems in the latches working and locking with the safety locks

A negative to this bike is the included sprung seat. I've ridden it and it is not as comfortable as it looks. I will replace it as soon as a Selle or a Cite Y saddle goes on sale.

Another negative is the handgrips. They are of the hard rubber variety with no cushioning or raised grooves for tactile feel. I will replace them the first chance I get.

Again, having a folding bike in the back of your car opens up tons riding possibilities when one goes places. Festivals, parks, shopping centers, downtown shopping. I highly recommend adding a folding bike to your stable.

Folding size: 32x66x75cm
Folding Time: 12 seconds
Frame: 20”H type, Hi-tensile steel frame, TIG welded w/pivot, Dahon patented ViseGrip latch
Fork: Hi-tensile steel, curved blade, TIG welded w/pivot
Handlepost: Integrated, Dahon patented design, non-adustable with handlebar
Headset: 1 1/8” C P
Saddle: Comfort Black
Seatpost: Super oversize, Steel CP
Seat clamp QR: Dahon patented clamp, alloySilver
Seat post bushing: Aluminum
Brakes: ProMax, Alloy V-Brake front and rear
Brake lever: ProMax, Resin lever with steel insert, black
Front hub: 5/16”x14GX28, steel, CP
Rear hub: 3/8”x14Gx28H, steel, CP
Spokes: 14 G, Steel UCP
Rims: Aluminum, 14G x 28H
Tires: Kenda, K-193, 20”x1.5”, black
Shifter: Shimano SL-TX30-6R
Derailleur: Shimano Tourney
Freewheel: Shimano 6 speed, 14-28T
Casing: 2P black
Crankset: Forged steel, CP, double chain guard
Bottom bracket: 5 piece set with axle
Chain: KMC Z30
Pedals: Suntour, folding
Kickstand: Steel, CP Rear Mounted

(A note about the above specs: Dahon has dozens of models on their site that are variations of their frame models. The above specs are from model # HT060 even though my bike looks more like model HT010C. HT060 was the model # on my box. If you’re interested, these specs can be found at