Converting my Dahon Vector in to a 20-speed Road Bike

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A Dahon Vector conversion to 20-speed mini-Road bike

This is a guest post, written and shot by Derrick Zulueta. You can get your own Dahon Vector here.

Dahon vector conversion

Greeting! I bought my Dahon Vector P8 from NYCeWheels five months ago as a birthday gift to myself. I used it for about 4 months before I decided to convert it into a mini-road bike.

Four months gave me enough time to evaluate what I need to do for the upgrade. It took me one month to complete my project since all parts were sourced online.  The installation of aftermarket parts are not much different from a regular bicycle parts (except maybe for handlepost and front derailleur), so I won’t go into detail about that, instead, I hope to share some insight on how I dealt with workaround to make it functional.

The Dahon Vector P8 before the conversion:

Dahon vector conversion

This is a challenging project since I never had a road bike, or any prior experience on customizing a bike. I really don’t know what to expect, but my goal is clear – to convert my folding bike into a mini-road bike.

After months of research on prospective parts and their availability, I watched several tutorials and know-how in YouTube, and I came up with an ideal list of components to use in the hopes of having a performance improvement as well during the conversion, namely: dropbar, brifter (integrated brake and shift lever), 20-speed drivetrain, and a bigger 451mm wheelset.

Mounting a Dropbar

Most Dahon folding bikes came with adjustable Radius Telescopic handlepost which folds INSIDE of the frame. My goal is to keep the ability of the handlepost to fold even when installed with a dropbar. I managed to find a handlepost called Radius V T-shape which folds OUTSIDE of the frame. This handlepost is very rare in the US, it come as stock handlepost from a few selected Dahon model like the MU SL. This handlepost has a length of 330mm (13 inches) and a clamp diameter of 25.4mm. The handlepost is also angled towards the seatpost when installed as opposed to the stock Radius telescopic handlepost.

Newer dropbars has a clamp diameter of 31.8mm. I bought the FSA Energy Ergo with drop of 150mm, and I found this to be ideal with my height and reach on aero position (your preference might be different). In order to mount the dropbar to the Radius V T-shape handlepost, you’ll need a bar clamp from ControlTech which has a mounting holes for 25.4mm and 31.8mm. I also installed a stem extender called Aber Halo which moves the dropbar away from the seatpost by 50mm. The handlepost is the easiest to install, you’ll just need a 10mm allen key wrench to secure it into the headset.

Selecting the Drivetrain

The drivetrain set is the most expensive component for this project, and my challenge here is selecting the right drivetrain without overspending on the budget. I chose the Shimano 105 Road groupset  because it has the features of the top-end model at an affordable price. This is a commonly used component set on a lot of top road bikes and training bikes, it is exceptionally smooth, very durable and reliable group set. The set includes the Shimano 105 STI Lever, Shimano 105 standard crankset 53T/39T HollowTech-II, FD-5700 front derailleur, RD-5701 rear derailleur short cage, CS-5700 10speed cassette 11-28T, and CN-5701 10speed chain. As for the bottom bracket, the Vector frame BB shell size is 68mm English Thread. I chose the Shimano Ultegra SM-BBR60 Bottom Bracket because it is super light (only 77grams), and has better seal.

Stage 1 Assembly

I don’t have my own garage because I live in an apartment so I did everything in the kitchen!  It is IMPORTANT to use a proper set of tools, don’t use anything that is found in the kitchen. In this photo, the FSA dropbar, STI brifter, Radius V handlepost, and the double-chainring crankset have been installed.

Dahon Vector conversion

Wheelset and Tires availability

The standard 20” wheel measures 406mm. Another version of 20” wheel measures 451mm. Majority of folding bike frames will need a 130mm wheel hub for the rear, and 74mm for the front hub. There’s a very limited selection of 451mm wheelset that has those hub sizes. In US, ControlTech offers those wheelset in 6061AL alloy and 3k carbon version. The alloy version costs just a little bit over 200 bucks, while the carbon version costs almost a grand. The 451mm wheel will have a performance gain of 5 gear inches on 55T/11T gear ratio over the standard 406mm wheel, so for practicality, no question asked I bought the alloy version. There’s also not much of a big difference as compared to the weight of the carbon version as well other than looks. The ControlTech 451mm wheel with tires installed weighs around 1.6kgs, and is 600 grams lighter than the stock Kinetix Comp wheelset of the Dahon Vector.

The tire selection for 451mm wheel is also limited in US. You’ll be limited with these options:

Schwalbe Ultremo ZX 23x451mm (foldable)

Schwalbe Durano 28x451mm (wire bead)

Panaracer Minits Lite PT 451mm (foldable). Available is 23, 28, and 32mm size.

I chose the Panaracer 451x28mm size. The panaracer is designed for long mileage, and is good for touring. I believe they’re the best value. As for the tube, the ControlTech 451mm wheel will work on tubes with presta valve, otherwise you’ll need to drill bigger hole for schrader valve.

Stage 2 Assembly

Dahon vector conversion

The wheels, rear derailleur, and sprocket have been installed.

The Dahon Vector came with a proprietary Neos rear derailleur, it does not come with a standard rear derailleur hanger. The good news is, there’s a company here in US that manufactures a wide variety of rear derailleur hanger. They’re called Wheel Manufacturing, and the RD hanger for the Dahon Vector is model #27.

Dahon vector conversion

Short reach and Long reach Caliper Brakes

I made a mistake when I bought two SHORT reach caliper brakes (Shimano 105 brake caliper) for my project, and I learned it the hard way.  In terms of reach, the short reach brake caliper essentially should work on a larger diameter 451mm wheel because the rim will now be closer to the brake pads. The Shimano BR-5700 brake caliper which has a reach of 39-49mm has no issue when installed on the front, however the rear will need the LONG reach. The only way to mount a brake caliper on the rear is to use the Tektro r559 long reach 55-73mm. They’re good quality caliper brake but the brake pad is so-so, so I replaced it with a nicer pad from Koolstop.

Brake caliper nowadays are being offered for recessed mounting. The Dahon Vector frame and fork do not have a recessed mounting. I found this wonderful article from SheldonBrown which guides me through the installation process.

Helpful article from SheldonBrown:

Mounting recessed calipers on frames that do not have recessed mounting

For Rear: Front calipers for recessed mounting have bolts that are long enough to mount in back, if you substitute the appropriate washers and a 6 mm nut.

For Front: Here are 3 options:

1. Drill out the back of the fork crown (8 mm or 5/16 drill bit). This is actually quite easy to do with a handheld electric drill, since you’re only enlarging an existing hole. That’s it if you can get two front calipers. Sometimes, you may have to deal with a pair of brakes, with one long and one short bolt. If you used the long one in back, you can use the short one in front two different ways:

2. Drill out the back of the fork crown and use an extra-long recessed nut. These nuts are commonly available for use in carbon fiber forks.

3. Use the short recessed nut, but don’t put it through the back of the fork. Instead, push it up into the inside of the steerer from the bottom. You can reach a 5 mm Allen wrench in through the hole in the back of the fork, and poke the short caliper bolt in from the front. You may need to shorten the recessed nut slightly to get it to fit inside your steerer.

I have bought two front calipers with long center bolt(Shimano 105 Front and Tektro R559 front) and a pair of concave washer to help secure it to the frame and fork. I went option #3 for the front so I won’t have to drill holes on the fork.

Dahon vector conversion

Tricky Front Derailleur

The Dahon Vector frame doesn’t have a mount for front derailleur. The seat tube outer diameter of the Dahon Vector frame is around 40mm (don’t know the exact measurement), so you’ll basically need braze-on type front derailleur which is only available in a road groupset and a clamp/mount with an inner diameter of 40mm. I chose the Shimano front derailleur FD-5700 which belongs to the 105 groupset, and the clamp is a LitePro K-Type Braze-on adapter which is available via eBay. It requires a good amount of dexterity to precisely mount the FD so the chain guide is positioned between 1-3mm above the biggest chainring (as per Shimano spec) to achieve a smooth shifting. The FD chain guide needs to be perfectly aligned in parallel with the chainring as well to avoid rubbing with the chain when shifting to the biggest or smallest cog.

The Dahon Vector neither have a cable guide nor a barrel adjuster for cable tension. The LitePro FD clamp has a built-in cable stopper though. I used zip tie to secure the shifter cable, and I ran the shifter cable underneath the bottom bracket shell all the way to the cable stopper.

Stage 3 – Final Assembly

Dahon vector conversion

So here it is with the brake and shifter cable installed. I test folded it to make sure the cable is long enough to bend around the frame without excessive cable tension. I’m using a Jagwire Road Pro stainless steel cable and housing for brake and shifter.

This DIY project is really fun (and costly too), and I learned a lot from the experience. I know a lot of folding bike users have asked the same question about customizing their bike, and I hope to share this project to the DIY community ☺

List of aftermarket parts

The bike was literally stripped down. The frame, fork, headset, and seatpost clamp are what’s left on the original parts.

  • Wheel – ControlTech ISO451mm AL6061 clincher wheel (hub size 130mm rear and 74mm front)
  • Tire – Panaracer Minits Lite PT Foldable Aramid bead 451mmx28mm
  • Tube – Sunlite Tube presta valve (451mmx28mm)
  • Brake/Shifter – Shimano 105 ST-5700 Lever
  • Crankset – Shimano 105 standard crankset 53T/39T HollowTech-II
  • Front Derailleur – Shimano 105 FD-5700
  • Rear Derailleur – Shimano 105 RD-5701 short cage
  • Sprocket – Shimano 105 CS-5700 10speed cassette 11-28T
  • Chain – Shimano 105 CN-5701 10speed
  • Bottom Bracket – Shimano Ultegra SM-BBR60
  • Shimano 105 BR-5700 brake caliper (front) – short reach 39-49mm
  • Tektro R559 brake caliper (front) – long reach 55-73mm
  • LitePro Braze-on K-type adapter for front derailleur
  • MKS FD-7 folding pedal
  • Brake and Shifter cable – Jagwire Road stainless steel cable and housing with L3 teflon lubricated
  • Radius V T-shape handlepost
  • Aber Halo Stem extender
  • ControlTech bar clamp 25.4mm-31.8mm
  • FSA Energy Ergo Dropbar
  • Lizard DSP bar tape (two-tone)
  • Biologic seatpost 33.9mm PostPump 2.0
  • Fizik Aliante Gamma saddle

Dahon Mu SL—Fancy, Fresh and Fast, by Turbo Bob

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Yet to be listed on the NYCeWheels website, but coming soon is the Dahon Mu SL, a great new folding bike from Dahon. I got to put a bunch of miles on this prototype Mu SL during the last holiday season. With internal cable routing, a new frame hinge design, and some cool wheels, I have to admit I felt pretty lucky to ride this fast flyer before it hit the marketplace. You should be able to have the same thrill as me as the warmer days arrive this summer.

Dahon Mu SL
Although it doesn’t have much to do with the ride, I really like the colors and trim. It seems they took to the details with gusto, as the blue splashed in even the smallest of places. The white and silver hits my fancy, yet the blue fills the package in the best of ways. With modern looks comes a modern bike. They made the Mu SL in the image of the old Mu P8 and did a great job.

This folding bike made it to many group rides and a bunch of runs on my own. Easy to un-fold, when I took this Dahon places in the car it was ready in a flash. There are so many benefits of having any folder and the Mu SL never disappointed. Once it is stretched out to riding mode it is strong as an Ox. No noticeable flex slowed me down anywhere I rode.

The sleek look is complemented with the internal cable routing. I do think we will seeing this on more Dahon folding bikes as time marches on. Of course some sections of the cables are visible, the hidden parts are just in the framework. At the fold they slide smoothly in the frame without too sharp of a bend. The controls operate with ease not hampered with this new routing.

Dahon Mu SL has a great frame!
The shifting handles well with the thumb operated levers. The single chain ring in the front slightly limits the range of gears, yet I had a good one for every riding condition I encountered. I personally like just one gear up front, for the less weight and complication factors involved. The large angle of the chain in the lowest gear can add just a little extra noise when really cranking up a hill, but on the whole it never missed a beat.

The rims and tires are pretty racy. They roll fast and easy as you ramp up the speed and do give a slightly rough ride at times, but that is an easy compromise when you start moving at a fast pace. They help keep the overall weight down too, something you appreciate during the ride and when it comes time to lift the bike. And did I mention—they look cool too.

Buttoned-up in the cockpit you start to feel the speed. There is a slight adjustment at the stem and bars, but the rock-solid mounting seems different than other folding bikes in its class. Some prefer folders with a height adjustment here, but for me I like the firm, no flex set-up you find on the Dahon Mu SL. Of course the seat post is pretty long and most anyone will find a sweet spot that suits their fancy. The narrow saddle is good for the roadie types, yet one a little wider and softer could be substituted. Still, giving up that color coordinated saddle would be tough.

Taking a ride on the Dahon Mu SL
Above you’ll see Andy Hanshaw, the Executive Director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition on the Mu SL.

Getting to test these bikes has been a lot of fun, and it will be tough when the time comes to return them.  I seem to fall in lust for almost every bike that comes my way. The Mu SL made it even harder to let go. With a great ride and look, it really grows on your needs for just one more bike in the stable. Maybe someday for sure. I am looking forward to seeing more of these in my part of town, I know anyone who is riding a Dahon Mu SL will be all smiles.

Get on your Dahon and ride, Turbo Bob. “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong”—Terry Pratchett.

Read more blogs by TurboBob!

Dahon Formula S18—Big on Looks, Ride and Savings, by Turbo Bob

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Dahon Formula S18 - the best bike for the price

Dahon Formula S18 - the best bike for the price

So many tell me the day will come for them to finally get the folding bike of their dreams. The reasons for holding back are many, but high on the list is getting a good deal. Now the modern Dahon Formula s18 has ended production and the last remaining stock of one of Dahon’s best high performance folding bikes is selling out quick. What this means is that your day has come. NYCeWheels has stocked up and dropped the price considerably on the Formula S18 and now is the perfect time to get the deal of a lifetime.


The Dahon Formula has the whole package

More than the price point, the main reason to get a Formula S18 is quality and performance. Figure in those good looks and you have a winner. Hanging from a solid aluminum frame is everything you need for years of biking fun and convenience. A quick and small fold, a wide range of gears and strong disc brakes are the features that will draw you in, and with each ride the whole package just feels better.

dahon-formula-s18 high performance for an affordable price

One of our fastest folding bikes

The Dahon Formula is one of the fastest folding bikes out there, and it feels great to ride. From atop the narrow saddle of you will find the thumb shifters and ergo grips pleasing. The handlebar height is adjustable for riders of all sizes (as is the seat height). The steering is quick yet just right for any type of riding you have in mind. With each pedal stroke you will be proud and happy with this Dahon Formula S18. And at the end of the ride, you can store it away securely knowing it will be ready for another day’s fun and travel.

A folding bike makes commuting easier

The thrill of a folding bike comes from many sources. If you live or work in a high-rise you can envision immediately the ease it will be to bring it inside and up the stairs or elevator. RVers and boaters have been taking advantage of their small folded size and light-weight for years. As a last mile device, those who take public transportation or park a long way from their destination will wonder why they didn’t get one sooner. Everyday riders will love the maneuverability and fun.

Gearing on the Dahon Formula folding bike

18 speeds on the Dahon Formula folding bike

This Formula S18 offers a wide range of gearing that can tackle just about any terrain you encounter. With 2 up front and 9 at the back wheel, the climbing comes easy when you need and the speed comes even easier when you want. Low friction bearings all around add to the smoothness and pedaling comfort. As you work through the gears you find the precise shifters and their response a worthy reason to extend your rides.
The tires are narrow, don’t slow you down and give a nice grip through the corners. Mounted to beefy alloy rims, they not only look racy, but rise to almost any terrain you roll over. The precise steering will allow the fast sections of your ride to bring a smile and work the tight ones with ease. Dahon got all the angles right for your riding pleasure and everyone who rode this test bike agreed.

High quality for a great price

Dahon Formula S18 with TurboBob

Dahon Formula S18 with TurboBob

To that point, it was amazing how many I ran across that really wanted to try this Formula S18. The interest in folding bikes rises, yet lots have never saddled-up on one. I know way back I was never too impressed with their ride qualities (or the fold ease either), yet all that has changed in a big way. Here at my house folding bikes get all the respect they deserve (and tons of riding time too).
You can check the NYCeWheels site for all the specs, yet the story isn’t told in numbers.

It is all about getting on, pushing off and experiencing it yourself. After that first block you will never look back, being almost assured to be a new owner right away. After the ride when you fold it up in seconds and tuck it away, the deal will be done. Folding bikes are awesome and the Dahon Formula S18 is about as awesome as they come. Add to that the low cost of admission and you will be hooked. So don’t wait, try one out, grab that super low price point and get on the Dahon wagon. No regrets, I promise.
I fold, therefore I am, Turbo Bob.
“Riding a race bike is an art—a thing that you do because you feel something inside.”—Valentino Rossi.

Read more blogs by TurboBob

Dahon Formula for speed

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Dahon formula folding bikeSettling into the saddle of the Dahon Formula S18 is like getting to know your superhero sidekick. The ultra-stiff and lightweight folding bike is so responsive to your movements, it feels like an extension of your body, and the thin road tires keep you racing straight. I found that all I had to do was point this elegant white bike where I wanted it to go, and think that I wanted it to go there, and we would be off at light-speed.

High performance parts

Dahon formula folding bikeIn one sense, this folding bike’s high performance level can be attributed to its quality parts. Slick Microshift Thumb Tap shifters control Shimano derailleurs, and the SRAM disc brakes were responsible for this bike’s crazy stopping power. I mean, I could go from 25 mph to full stop in what felt like about three inches. Between the excellent components, the frame’s speed-oriented design, and the 20-inch wheels, I found myself darting around with an agility I have not experienced with many other bicycles.

Dahon’s quality hinges and frame

Dahon was one of the first companies to develop folding bikes to a fine art, and the Formula S18 features the same reliable hinges and folding method as the rest of Dahon’s folding bikes. In its fully compact mode, the bike is a dense little bundle which could Dahon formula folding bikeeasily fit beneath a desk or in a closet when not in use. The Dahon’s ability to compact to such an unobtrusive size, along with its exceptionally solid-feeling frame, made me think that this bike could be comfortable in a variety of roles, from weekend joy rides, to aggressive distance biking.

I was not ready to give up the Formula by the end of my test ride. At the end of the day, it is an enviably well-made racer, but its frame is solid enough that the Dahon Formula S18 is capable of any length commutes.

Folding Bikes With Adjustable Stems

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There are many reasons to want an adjustable handlebar system on your new folding bike. Some people just have a very precise feel that they are going for in their bike, and want to be able to dial in their preferred exact fit. This is one of the best things about bikes with an adjustable stem. Want to go for an around-town cruise? Raise those bars for a nice upright feel. Jonesing for some speed? Lower those handles for a sporty feel. There are many other practical uses for adjustable handlebars, too. If you want all the members of your family to be able to use the same bike, you’ll need to be able to change the bike’s dimensions on the fly. Likewise, I have met many customers who opt for a bike with an adjustable stem in order to alleviate back pain from riding–generally a higher handlebar setup puts less stress on the rider’s back.

If you fall into one of these categories, or want adjustable handlebars for a different reason, here is a breakdown of your options.

Dahon: Simple and Easy

Dahon Vitesse with a telescoping stemDahon’s handlebar stem adjustment system is fairly well known and quite straightforward. By using the same quick-release system that most seatposts utilize, You can change the height of the handlebars on popular bikes like the Mariner D7 and Ciao D5 quite substantially. In fact, these bars probably have the widest range of heights of any in the shop. The functionality of this stem design does double duty in helping Dahons to fold as compactly as possible. The trade-off is that the quick release mechanism allows for a bit more flex than would ordinarily be present in a solid, single-piece stem. This translates into a slightly less efficient biking experience. Still, for most, this is more than worth the wide range of adjustment.

Tern: Smooth and Secure

Tern Eclipse S11i with Andros adjustable stemAlthough Tern’s patented Andros stem is not available on all models (though it is becoming increasingly more common), it definitely makes for a great riding experience on bikes such as the Tern Eclipse S11i and Link P24h. Instead of Dahon’s system, which moves straight up and down, the Tern stem rotates around the top of the stem, allowing for up, down, forward, and backward adjustments. Though the Andros system does not allow for nearly as much height adjustment, the added axes allow for a more subtle adjustment of feel, from a forward-and-low racing position to a swept-back cruiser-like position. The proprietary quick-release locking mechanism is rock solid, and doesn’t feel like it affects the bike’s efficiency at all.

Montague: Fast and Useful

Crosstown OctagonA few of Montague’s wonderful full sized folding bikes come equipped with their own Octagon stem adjustment system, in which a conventional quick release lever and security latch allow for about 8 inches of adjustment in handlebar height. I’ve noticed the Octagon is particularly popular among customers with back pain, as it comes pre-installed on such speedy, road-ready bikes as the Crosstown, Navigator, and will soon come on the Boston 8 as well. This makes these Montagues a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to sacrifice speed and athleticism by letting their bad backs hobble them into riding slow, clunky cruisers.

From my experience, an adjustable handlebar stem is one of the most appreciated features found in folding bikes. Almost anyone who buys a bike with this kind of adjustability will certainly find themselves using it to great effect. So what are you waiting for? Check out our selection of folding bikes today!

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