Friday, September 21, 2018

First ride: Dahon Mariner folding bike

I've never owned a folding bike before. I saw no need, living a mostly local life with a bike that already did everything I asked of it and easily fit on the front bus rack. Since I travel with musical instruments, taking along a folding bike as well would be impractical at best.

Today, a friend handed off a folding bike she'd gotten from someone else. I pumped up the tires, lubed the chain, adjusted the brakes and took it up and down the block. It didn't feel wobbly at all.
So I decided that when I ran errands later, I'd take the folder out on an extended ride and see if it was something I'd want to keep in my stable.

My friend who knows more about folders than I do (and who sells them in his shop) told me it's a pretty nice bike, and probably retailed for $600-650 when new.

As folding bikes go it's not unattractive.

That said, it's still sort of goofy-looking if you're accustomed to a non-folding, standard bike.

This one came with SKS fenders, rather nice road tires and a rear rack that, while proportioned to a 20" wheeled folding bike, would still be useful for at least some portage.

The adjustment range seems adequate for most adults (though anyone over 6 feet would find it a little on the short side for extended riding).

The plastic pedals are cheap and not terribly durable. They're also not very comfortable; and if I keep this bike I'll swap in something easier on my feet.

The straight handlebar is a non-starter for me. If I keep this bike, I'll definitely swap in something with at least a little more sweep, even if it partially defeats the folding purpose.

The biggest bummer on this bike is the shifting. A cheap derailleur, made by an anonymous factory and stamped with the Dahon logo, sits in an odd position, bypassing the cable housing stop and requiring full-length housing to function. Worse, the cage is too short to allow for  good chain-wrap in the largest cog.

And even worse than that, it's a Rapid Rise derailleur, so when you pull cable the gearing actually gets lower, and when you let cable out the gearing gets higher. I know some people like it, but I've never been a fan. Combined with the entry-level grip-shift it does little to inspire me.

Replacing it will be a bother, another reason to let it be and pass the bike along to another home.
But I'll give it a week or two before I decide.


anniebikes said...

Beth, this Mariner is a vast improvement, functionally, over my 2003 Boardwalk. My derailleur is attached to the axle, so that when you remove the wheel, the derailleur must come off also - not ideal for someone like me who's less mechanically inclined! But in spite of that, I love how the folder rides, especially using grip shift, which makes it easier, plus grip shifting is less likely to catch on spokes, etc. when the handle bar is folded, so I presume that's why one sees mainly this type of system.

Folding bikes are not everyone's cup of tea. I'll be interested in your feedback, once you ride it more.

Brian said...

It kind of looks to me like the rear derailleur has been replaced at some point but then searching online shows it is likely correct and the unused cable guide is there as an option for others. Perhaps the derailleur adjustment screws have been tampered with preventing shifting into the largest gear.