Dahon Boardwalk 6, 20" folder works in Canberra

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Tom Worthington

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May 3, 2003, 8:53:29 PM5/3/03
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My doctor prescribed a bicycle, for mild exercise. What I had in mind
was to ride it a couple of kilometres on the weekend to the coffee
shop. I ended up with a Dahon "Boardwalk 6", 6 speed 20" folding
bicycle, which has proved far more useful than expected.

In looking for a bicycle my first thought was to buy a cheap (AU$150)
pseudo mountain bike from a chain store. But an article in Choice
<http://www.choice.com.au/articles/a102220p1.htm> suggested you had to
pay at least AU$550 for something usable.

Then I found an article in Australian Cyclist
<http://www.bfa.asn.au/cyclist/> January/February 2003 about foldable
bicycles. One of these would be handy as I could carry it in my
subcompact car on trips (a external carrier would be difficult).

The 24 speed Dahon the AC author raved about is more than AU$1,000
<http://www.advancetraders.com.au/dahon_speedpro.htm>. But Dahon also
make the "Boardwalk 6", a 6 speed model for AU$499
<http://www.advancetraders.com.au/dahon_boardwalk.htm>. This seems to
be their cheapest model with gears (smaller ones with fewer gears cost
50% more). As I was only going to ride it short distances this seemed
usable. But I was still skeptical as to how practical the 20" wheels
and the folding would be.

No where in Canberra seemed to stock Dahons, so I went to the Cheeky
Monkey Cycle Company under Sydney's central station
<http://www.cheekymonkey.com.au/>. Their cycle expertise was a bit
intimidating for someone who hasn't been on one in 15 years. However,
the staff were friendly enough and loaned me a helmet so I take the
demo bicycle for a test spin. It went okay and I came back the next
day to collect one.

I had intended to take it folded on the bus, but worked up my courage
and rode it a few km from the city through the inner western suburbs.
Once out of the city centre it was remarkably pleasant along bicycle
paths I had not known existed.

Apart from the low price I liked that the bike came with almost
everything needed (including a luggage rack and mudguards). The only
essential I had to add was a bell. Dahon should consider offering a
small bell as an option, as it was difficult to position an ordinary
one in a way which did not get snagged in the folding process.

Apart from fitting the bell I haven't had any problems with the Dahon.
The folding mechanism has small springs and plastic clamps, but these
have not broken so far.

The bike has no complicated suspension, relying on the 1.5" tyres.
This is more than adequate for a comfortable ride on Canberra's bike
paths. The road tyres look bald compared to chunky mountain bike ones,
but roll very smoothly and work very well on anything but soft wet
steep grass slopes. The six gears are adequate, but will not climb
mountains or win races.

The bicycle folds small enough to fit in a subcompact Daihatsu Sirion
car boot, so I can take it on trips. Having intended to only ride it
on the weekend, I found it convenient to ride the km or so from home
to university, several days a week. Rather than leave it downstairs in
the bike shed I found it easy enough to fold carry up and leave in the
hallway at home behind a screen or under the office desk.

When folded the bicycle seems heavier than when open and is a struggle
to carry more than a few paces. Getting up stairs is difficult, but
manageable and I guess good exercise. It might be feasible to
transport on and off a train, but a bus could be difficult. Pedals and
other parts tend to catch on furniture and passers by. There is an
option carry bag, but it isn't cheap and would still be a large lump
to carry. However, the bicycle is small enough to fold and carry into
the doctor's waiting room so they could see I had followed
instructions. ;-)

Perhaps the novelty of riding will wear off as Canberra's cold winter
approaches. But I have found it convenient for up to a 30 minute ride
on mostly level ground. An attempt to ride 45 minutes up a modest hill
proved too much. This may be more a problem with me than the bicycle.

There isn't really anything I could want added or changed on the bike
(apart perhaps from removing the "Designed in the USA" sticker). There
are models with smaller wheels which fold smaller, ones with aluminium
frames which weigh a bit less and ones with more gears which might go
further, but these all cost substantially more.

It occurred to me that if I got a smaller 16" folder and a bigger
travel bag I could take it by air on my high technology tourist trips,
being perfect for getting around Stockholm, Paris, Cambridge or even a
high speed US Army transport ship
<http://www.tomw.net.au/travel/tourist.htm>. But the smaller bike
wouldn't add much benefit for my normal use.

I would recommend the Dahon Boardwalk 6 to the non-enthusiast city
cyclist.

ps: Thank you to all those who have posted reviews of bicycles and
bicycle accessories to the Internet. I found these very useful.


Tom Worthington FACS to...@tomw.net.au
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd ABN: 17 088 714 309
http://www.tomw.net.au PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617

Mike

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May 4, 2003, 4:10:24 AM5/4/03
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Tom Worthington wrote:
> I ended up with a Dahon "Boardwalk 6", 6 speed 20" folding
> bicycle, which has proved far more useful than expected.

Thats a very glowing review, Tom, almost like a press release.
I see you are a professional writer. Not, I hope, a paid reviewer.
But I'm such a skeptic. Thanks for a good review.

> In looking for a bicycle my first thought was to buy a cheap (AU$150)
> pseudo mountain bike from a chain store. But an article in Choice
> <http://www.choice.com.au/articles/a102220p1.htm> suggested you had to
> pay at least AU$550 for something usable.

Not really fair. That $550 mountain bike will be far higher quality than
the folding bike. Yes thats a minimum cost for a "real" MTB, but the
Dahon wouldn't last long off-road either.
A "pseudo mountain bike" with similar-grade components will
cost rather less. And will have a much better gear range.
The truth is that folding bikes cost much more than similar quality
regular bikes. (and understandably so.)

> Perhaps the novelty of riding will wear off as Canberra's cold winter
> approaches.

Don't give up - its just a matter of dresssing for the weather.

> I would recommend the Dahon Boardwalk 6 to the non-enthusiast city
> cyclist.

I tried these cheaper folding bikes a while back, but
found the gear range wasnt enough. If only they could do a similar model
with an 11-32T cassette instead of the 14-28 cluster, I would recommend
it to even the more enthusiastic city cyclists.

Living in Canberra, you are probably more in need of low gears than most
of us. Consider that $250 21-speed from the local bike shop to
complement the folding bike.

--
make nospam into oz to reply.

Tom Worthington

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May 12, 2003, 1:38:18 AM5/12/03
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Mike <mike.at...@optusnet.com.au> wrote in message news:<3eb4caf1$0$1781$afc3...@news.optusnet.com.au>...
> Tom Worthington wrote:
> > ... Dahon "Boardwalk 6"... more useful than expected.

>
> Thats a very glowing review, Tom, almost like a press release.
> I see you are a professional writer. Not, I hope, a paid reviewer. ...

Flattering someone thinks my writing good enough to be paid for, but
not the case. I wasn't paid for writing about the bicycle. I paid full
price for the bike (in fact $1 more than the recommended retail price)
and didn't receive any inducement, financial or otherwise, to write a
review.

My writing is mostly an unpaid byproduct of being an IT consultant.
For the full story read my book (free on-line):
<http://www.tomw.net.au/nt/>. In a few cases paid material I produce
is made public, but most of it is confidential reports for companies
and government agencies.

> Dahon wouldn't last long off-road either.

Yes. I took it down the NSW south coast for a farm stay holiday
<http://www.australianhomestay.com/pages/New%20South%20Wales/HO_10.html>.
It went okay on the dirt roads, but was shaking to pieces on the bush
tracks (there goes my warranty) and slipped on the grass up the hill
from the trout lake. But it was fun cycling along with a fishing rod
strapped to the carrier on the back.

One problem I have now found is that the gear cable is fraying at the
handlebar hinge. Dahon need to add some sort of flexible cable guide
so the cables don't catch in the hinge. Something like on Neil Timms'
Bike Friday: <http://neilt.org/cycling/images/cabletidy640x480.jpg> in
<http://neilt.org/cycling/thissatrday.html>.

>If only they could do a similar model with an 11-32T cassette instead
of the 14-28 cluster, I would recommend
> it to even the more enthusiastic city cyclists.

Err... getting a bit technical for me. I assume these are gear ratios
and provide a lower low gear and a higher high gear? If so I agree.
The Boardwalk 6 gears seem to be too much the same and I tend to skip
a few in normal use.

>Consider that $250 21-speed from the local bike shop to
> complement the folding bike.

No, that is my full complement of bicycles for the next decade or so.
;-)


Tom Worthington FACS tom.wor...@tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150

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