The best way to test a bike is to ride it for a long time and a long distance.
Small niggles and annoyances are easily overlooked on bicycles that are seldom used, or only used for short commutes.
There’s precious little time to determine just how well things work as the ride is over before any poor design elements of the bike start to rear their ugly heads.
Longer rides are a true test of just how well all the parts work. After a few hours in the saddle, as your body starts to become tired and your muscles start to ache, every little creak, every little part that is slightly out of place and every uncomfortable element become painfully obvious and a constant hinderence to riding performance.
This is when the real test begins.
I recently took the Dahon Super Comp for a 100K ride to test these very elements.
And this is what I found.
I’ll start with the good stuff, then move onto my dislikes.
Overall solid build
The whole build is nice. There is nothing out of place, the only small consistent noise is the rear fender, which will probably get fixed. I’m still concerned when I hit bumps or need to go off sidewalks since I’ve read the big warning sticker warning against off-road use and not riders over 105kg, a weight that I am too close to for my own liking.
Still haven’t tried folding much, but that’s another post in itself.
Relaxed riding position
This is the most upright position I’ve ridden in. The handlebar is actually about 1cm higher than the saddle. The reach from seat to handlebar is also very short, approximately 6-8cm shorter than my regular ride.
This certainly came through with much less pressure on my arms throughout. The pain I sometimes start to feel from my palms did not happen during the ride. This could also be, in part, due to the nice comfy grips.
I’ve eyed these new “ergonomic” grips for a while and wondered if they really work well. The ones on this bike are fat, softish and have the ergonomic bump facing the rider. The bump is supposed to support the ball of your hand so your wrists don’t rest at an extreme angle.
These grips tend to slip while riding, meaning that they start to rotate backwards slowly. This would be eliminated by a set that have fasteners at the ends.
Maybe I’ve been riding on the vicious Selle seat for too long, but this seat felt very comfy. It was comfortable throughout the ride.
Front shifting very heavy
No matter how much I try to adjust them I can only get a decent match on the setup. The match of the three speed shifter with a two-ring crankset is not good. My other bikes has not needed the gears adjusted in over two years and works precisely every time.
The upside is that on flats there was almost no need to change chainrings.
But, the downshift is too much lighter than the upshift. Although the upshift is heavy, just a small nudge on the shifter could push it down to the smaller cog. I don’t expect the downshift to be tougher, I expect the upshift to be better.
Poor water bottle position
Bad cage design aside, getting my Zefal Magnum bottle in and out was a bit of a squeeze. The top of the bottle hits the stem.
I had to use a slightly sideways motion to slip the first part into the cage, then push in as normal.
Stupid brake levers
There are times when developments are made for no reason, and at other times it seems like products are deliberately downgraded to be crappy.
These levers feel like that.
The braking action is fine and the barrel adjustment works as expected. But the position of the fastening screw is ridiculous.
On longer rides it is necessary to move your hands around on the handlebar to give you hands a break. Rather than the usual position for the screw, down and out of the way, it has been positioned in the exact position where it will press directly into the palm of my hands when I rest my hands there. It is still possible to put your hands there, but it’s very awkward and I had to twist my wrists in a slightly strange position for that.
Disintegrating rubber handlebar guides
In order to assist with the disassembly and reassembly of the bike, the handlebar has two rubber stoppers to indicate where the center of the bar is. This helps when putting the handlebar back on the stem as the stop mark the right position.
However, after a few rides the rubber has started to deteriorate, so if you rub your hands on them you’ll get black marks on your hands.
This has little bearing on riding, but is a concern for commuters who are riding in their smart clothes. Last thing they need is to get black marks on their clothes.
Rattling rear fender
The rear fender rattles a bit. This got progressively worse throughout my ride.
I narrowed this down to the clip that fastens between the seatstays. It might just need a bit of crimping, but after that is sorted out it should be a very quiet ride indeed.
My test ride was a bit faster than I’d intended, simply due to time constraints. At a slightly slower speed this bike would probably be fine for over 150km. And as I’ve stated before, that’s even easier if the bike fits you.
The feel of the bike is good, the ride is smooth and the brake lever clamp was the only persistent niggle throughout.
Overall I’m pretty happy with it.