Home > bicycling, training > Taking it with you…My Dahon Speed D7 Folding bike

Taking it with you…My Dahon Speed D7 Folding bike

This week I am in Seattle, Redmond actually, visiting Microsoft for my day job in the software industry which pays for all these “toys’”. I have about a month of travel coming up and I knew that despite my good adherence to a training program indoors thru the winter, weeks on the road were going to kill my biking legs. With the season really starting to roll I couldn’t afford to just try and catch up when I got back.

I am in a number of really bike friendly places in the next four weeks, including Seattle and Paris, and I really wanted to ride while there.

Renting a bike isn’t as easy as it needs to be and in cities where there is a biking scheme like Paris its still not as effective as it should be and I wanted to get out of town as well (I am in Paris April 10th, which means Paris-Roubaix!). I have noticed a lot of folding bikes in London and that got me thinking that really I could have my cake and eat it (or ride it in this case) too!

According to a lot of reviews I read the Dahon Speed D7 is a good choice and the price was right where I wanted to be. Dahon has a world wide dealer network and I was able to compare prices at a number of stores in Ottawa. In the end I paid about $550 with taxes. They have a lot of higher end bikes, but for the type of riding I was going to do I didn’t really think I needed anything more advanced.

Mine is a 2011 model (I think?) but its been the same it looks like for about 5 years or more. It’s a tested design and there are lots of spare parts if needed. 

I tried it a few times for short rides and while it takes a little getting used to with the 20 inch tires, once you acclimatize its very comfortable. I practiced with folding it and soon felt I could do it quickly if needed. The day was fast approaching to get it packed and ready for it’s airline adventure.

1st off I felt I didn’t need a custom piece of luggage, I had a big but legal suitcase in the closet. Now first off I admit maybe I should have asked the wife, but she has seen the weight loss and is game to help, so while I had to do a lot of packing to make it clean and safe I was given the green light to continue.

1st off you have to take the wheels off. There are screw on and nut types so not as nice as having a skewer (which is surprising as it’s meant to collapse fast) but that isn’t all that hard. The rear derailleur is really close to the rear cassette so it takes a bit of wrangling. You have to loosen up the brakes but I got the wheels off.

The bike in this configuration is very compact but there is still a major problem with the rear rack and mud guard. I just could not get it to work. So I took it off and decide not to worry about bringing them. After that it slipped in and the wheels popped on the top and the luggage closed easily.  With space for my helmet, pump and tools it came out to 45 pounds (airline limit is usually 50 pounds) so good to go.

This is a good link to how to fit it in, but in the end I just figured it out myself. I didn’t take off the pedals but I think next time I will.

I was still a bit apprehensive at the ticket counter, but she didn’t take a second look, charged me $25 bucks for a checked bag (this was American) and off it went. In Seattle it came off the luggage claim belt without a dent. That night it took about 15 minutes to put everything back together and I had a bike!

Below is the bike and the luggage it I brought it in.

My Dahon Speed D7 and the luggage I brought it in

When you are from the east coast and on the west coast you wake up early. I was up at about 5am the following morning and I had 3 hours before I had to get ready for my meetings. Sunrise was 6:50 but civil twilight was at 6:20 (the earliest I will ever ride). I put on my bike gear and walked out the door.

The bike routes start right from the hotel and are great, I only had to cross a few roads and soon I was on a long stretch that meanders along Lake Sammamish and rode for a good 40 minutes. Then I turned around and came back for a good 1.5 hour ride. Awesome! Riding really connects you with the place you are visiting as well.

A few things become apparent:

1- Seattle is wet, so the removal of the rear mud guard was unhelpful 🙂

2- The pedals that come with the bike are very slippy when wet..will replace those with clip ins

3- The bike won’t hold the highest gear unless you hold on to the gear changer..but I can probably live with that

4- The seat post is too thick for a regular flashing light, mine didn’t fit

Unfortunately I forgot to pack my Garmin 500 so I don’t have a cool route map, but I will have it with me next week in St. Petersburg, Russia (gulp, still not sure about that), Paris and London and will post those.

Still it was a hard ride, my speed was mostly just as fast as the hordes of other bikers out there (way to go Seattle!) on full road bikes and it was fun. I was very impressed on how easy it was to climb with considering it weights about 27 pounds, but the gearing is very forgiving. It was a truly awesome training ride! 

Categories: bicycling, training
  1. moltar
    July 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Hey, I am looking for a Dahon in Ottawa. Please list a few stores that you have shopped around at. Thanks!

    • ducatifiend
      July 21, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      I looked at some online stores but in the end I got mine at fresh air experience (on Wellington I think). They had some older models at a decent price. Looked at my bill they had the D7 at $497.

  2. Tyler McMinn
    April 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Thank you sharing your experience and the tips on packing the Dahon in standard luggage. I’ve scoured the internet for someone who could verify with minimal work that this could be done. I hope to be joining a growing number of travelers who would prefer a bike to renting a car in a new city.

    • April 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Great! Good luck and hope it works out. So great to have a bike at the end of a flight! I just brought it again to Vegas and got in some great rides. I find it takes a bit of practice but I can up it into my standard luggage pretty quickly now and never had any problems at the airport. I have now permanently removed the mud guards as they tended to be the worst to fit and were also getting damaged.

  1. April 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm
  2. December 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm
  3. June 19, 2013 at 1:40 am

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