* Prices may differ from that shown
The company I work for introduced the government "Cycle to Work" scheme just over 3 years ago. This scheme allows you to buy a bicycle ( up to the value of £1000 ) and pay for it monthly buy salary sacrifice, which means that the tax and national insurance you would have paid goes towards the bike cost! At the time I took it out the VAT could also be claimed back which meant I paid about half the list price. The idea behind it is that you use the bike at least half the time to travel to work which reduces traffic and improves the health of employees. With the current government cut backs the scheme is always changing, e.g. cannot be VAT free from 2012, but still great value.
The distance from my home to work is 21 miles and, at the time, I didn't feel that I could cycle that distance so I decided to look at combining public transport with cycling. The total distance I needed to cycle with option was a more reasonable 3 miles each way.
We were limited to buying our bikes from Halfords (which despite it's bad reviews the experience was fine) and so I went down to the Pontefract store to have a look. After talking with the sales assistant I decided that a folding bike might be just the thing (can be taken on a bus as well as train) and chose the Dahon D7.
After sorting out the paperwork I took delivery about 4 weeks later.
The bike was already set up and I was shown how to fold and unfold the bike which takes about 15 seconds with practice; it is difficult to explain but the handlebars release and twist, the steering column release and folds down next to the front wheel, the pedals push in and fold flat, the seat column unclips and pushes down and the frame unclips and folds in half. A magnetic clip near the front and rear wheels holds the bike together well when folded. Unfolding is the reverse of this. Youtube have a few videos which will make it all clear!
When unfolded the seat can be easily adjusted to the correct height and then you're off. The bike has 20" wheels which feel , and look, small compared to the standard wheel size of 26" on a typical mountain bike. The size of the wheels can feel pretty scary if you are going down hill at speed but once you get used to them the ride is almost, but not exaclty, like a "real" bike. The small wheels also make you feel the bumps in the road more so not ideal for country tracks or potholed streets. The bike has 7 derailleur gears which are easily changed by twisting the grip and you can get to a steady speed of about 13 mph, on a bike with standard size wheels you would probably be going about 15mph for the same effort. I would recommend that this bike is very good for short journeys, say up to 5 miles max. Make sure the gears are properly set up because once when changing into seventh gear my chain fell off into the rear wheel and jammed it up and was a real *** to unjam.
The bike comes with mudguards, rack and elastic attachments as standards so very commuter friendly.
For storage and transport the bike is fairly small and can easily fit in a small car boot which is useful for the weekend or holidays. When folded it is easy to lift into the boot or onto a train / bus but I had to carry it over several platforms at Leeds station once and it was quite awkward and hardgoing so be warned.
One of the best things about this bike is that it is suitable for most heights of people, my friend who is 6'4" and my daughter who is 4'10" find it comfortable to ride.
The bike feels very solid and is very well made, they provide a small bottle of touch up paint with the bike which is a great idea as you will scratch it when folding.
I am sure that in London this bike would not stand out and may be seen as rather cool but in the less cosmopolitan areas of Yorkshire you do get rather funny looks and a few times arriving at work I have been greated by wolf whistles and general abuse, on the other hand my daughter took it to school and the other children thought it was the best bike they had ever seen!
A very flexible bike which I would readily recommend to anyone.
I have to drive into work but I wanted to buy a fold up bike so I could throw it in the boot of the car and if necessary, park in the Park n Ride just out of town and cycle the rest of the way in, or I could cycle into town from work to save on the extortionate parking charges.
I decided on the Dahon D7 because it seemed good value for money. It seemed easy to fold (excellent videos on You Tube demonstrate how to fold the bike) and it didn't seem to be too heavy. I bought the bike over the internet - big mistake, I don't recommend this method, you have to put the bike together yourself and I didn't have a clue, nor did I feel confident in how tight I could get the connections together and I didn't want the bike falling apart whilst I was riding it. In the end I took it to a bike shop and they fixed it up for me for a small fee. They made sure I could fold and unfold it and voila. I was off!
Its light enough for me to lift in and out of the boot and it's great fun to be able to ride the bike in when the weather is nice.
The disadvantage is that I can't find a basket to fit on it. I like a basket to put my shopping in. The second and very big disadvantage is that ideally you should carry it everywhere with you folded. If I want to nip into town, the idea is you fold it up and carry it around with you, not at all practical - why? Because they are easy to steal and thieves are on the look out for fold up bikes to steal. Even with the best locks, the seat post can be stolen, I have to take the seat post out and lock it to the bike, I use 2-3 locks to lock my bike up and I'm lucky to have a secure bike park to leave it in but otherwise I have carrying it into buildings with you isn't always appreciated or allowed!
Having said that, I love my Dahon and it is a great little bike for a good price
Sitting at your desk all day? Tapping away at your keyboard 'til your wrists hurt? If this sounds familiar you need to break away from your computer for a while and get some fresh air. With winter drawing nearer, now is a good time to get out early morning and go for a cycle. Or, perhaps you want to reduce your carbon footprint, so that short drive to work could be done in about the same time, whilst creating less pollution... oh, and did I mention you can get fitter at the same time!
Enough of this cheeky banter, the Dahon Vitesse D7 is a snazzy 7 gear bike that turns up in a very compact package. When the courier drops it to you, it will leave you wondering how a bike can fit in such a small box. Pop the box open, unfold the frame, pop the handlebars up, adjust the seat height, and away you go. It really is that simple and the preconception that folding bikes look 'girly' or 'silly' is null and void. The Vitesse D7 looks great in the supplied grey stone colour and it is amazingly easy to use.
At the bottom of this review there is a small gallery showing the folding procedure. As I described above it is very straightforward. In its folded state, there is a simple but very effective magnet (small circular disks) that hold the whole thing together. A lot of thought has gone into keeping things compact, even the pedals (shown below) fold. The quick release mechanisms need to be quite tight, otherwise you might find the saddle slipping, but the tightness of them is the only real caveat. Once unfolded and the height adjusted, the Vitesse D7 is a joy to ride. The 20-inch wheels are smaller than regular road bikes, but just the right size to deliver the stability of a full-size bike. The riding position is pretty much spot on, with the reach being suitable (in my opinion) for anything between a 5ft and 6ft tall person. A real shorty might find a 16-inch wheeled Dahon a better fit.
The Suntour 7-speed gears are nice and smooth, not missing a single change during testing. The Promax V aluminium brakes, coupled with the rest of the aluminium parts, and Dahon's own developed parts, all add up to a very slick package. The bike is pretty light, coming is at just under 25lbs. This makes it very easy to ride, and just as easy to lift into the back of your car when folded.
During my test ride I found that the Vitesse D7 performed very well. My seatpost did initially slip, until I tightened up the quick release. The saddle also felt as though it could do with a bit more padding, but then that might just be my rear end not having much of its own.
The ride itself, some six miles, was a joy though. Road riding was ultra smooth and the gears ate up flats and steady inclines. Then onto some gravel lanes and again the Vitesse coped with ease. When I venture onto some ground more suited to a mountain bike, the bumps and stones were coped with very well. Yes, the bike jumped around a bit, but it was a more than comfortable experience.
So, for your £339 you get what feels like a full size bike, that folds down nice and small for sticking in the back of your car. Perfect for leisure or commuting use, and easily usable for eating up the miles with those smooth Suntour gears. You get mudguards, a rear rack and a dinky bell to complete the package. The build quality and folding mechanism are superb, so easy, yet very safe. If you need a new bike that draws some attention and is ultimately very good for a lot of different uses, then the Dahon Vitesse D7 should definitely be on your shortlist.
Note: I am the original author of this review at www.geekanoids.co.uk
Folding bicycle equipped with a Dahon Neos rear derailleur that features a crisp, fastshifting and a low-profile design that is protected from damage.