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

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!

Hey Sis, lets go ride a folding bike or four!

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Last week, my sister came to visit me from Washington State and asked if I would think of something fun for us to do. “Well… we could check out a bunch of folding bikes from my work and go on an epic JOY RIDE.” Done and Done.

Folding Bikes for the Ladies

My sister, Lydia, met me at NYCeWheels on a beautiful Friday afternoon accompanied by two of her close friends, Celie, and Sheena. Celie Dan and Charlie Sheena were my mnemonics to remember their names, which earned me wry looks from the girls. After browsing the folding bikes at the shop, we left the store with four of our favorites: the Tern Link D8, Tern Verge Duo, Montague Boston 8, and Dahon Mu P8.

Strapping our helmets in place, we glanced around one last time, giving each other meaningful stares and solemn nods, this was going to be epic.

Celie Dan rides the Verge Duo

Tern Verge Duo

Tern Verge Duo

We got off to a bit of a bumpy start. Celie, who didn’t have a lot of experience with bikes, decided to take the Tern Verge Duo because she liked the look, but didn’t realize that this was one of the more unique bikes in the shop— a dual speed with an automatic shifter and a heel brake. It took a few blocks before she got used to stepping back on the pedals to stop the bike, but soon she was speeding ahead of the group, smiling every time the automatic shifter kicked her into second gear. “It really felt like the bike was reading my mind” she told me after the ride, “the verge duo was my favorite.”

Charlie Sheena on the Boston 8

Montague Boston 8

Montague Boston 8

Before the ride, Sheena walked into the shop and told the guy working the floor that she wanted to go fast. “You want to go fast yeah?” he said in a low voice raising his eyebrows, “I could tell you were the adventuresome type, you’ll want the Montague Boston 8.” Shameless flirting. But he was right. The Montague Boston 8 is the fastest folding bike of the four we chose. Unlike most folding bikes, the Montague Boston 8 has full sized 700c wheels and a flat top tube that makes for a smoother, more aerodynamic and faster ride. And it still folds into a small portable package— just release a lever on the top tube and the bike folds in half, making in portable enough to store anywhere, or fit in the trunk of your car. We all took turns riding the Montague Boston 8 and it was a big hit with the group.

Tern Link D8 saves the day

Sheena on the Tern Link D8

Sheena on the Tern Link D8

What the Montague doesn’t have is a place to secure a purse, which was starting to create real problems when Sheena found she was unable to make turns and keep her purse on her shoulder at the same time. At the time, I was riding the Tern Link D8 which comes fit with a rear rack. We switched bikes, and Sheena took a moment to secure EVERYONE’S purse to the rear rack using the bungee cables on the back of the Link D8. I wouldn’t have believed it were possible to secure three full sized purses to the back of a single folding bike, but, there you go. Tern Link D8 to the rescue.

Smooooth Sailing! Er…. Biking!

One the Riverside Bike path with our folding bikes

After Charlie Sheena got the purses secured, the rest was smooth sailing. We took 86th street over to Central park and the spent an hour having a blast weaving around the bike paths. The girls were all wearing black and we felt like some kind of hardcore folding-biker gang as we cruised down to the Hudson. At the end of the day, we returned the folding bikes to the shop after 6 full hours of riding with big goofy smiles on our faces. An amazing, amazing day.

Jack

Demano Bags on Folding Bikes!

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Elvia with Dahon Ciao and Demano Bag

Elvia with her Dahon Ciao and Demano Bag

It was one of those lovely Sunday afternoons and I was planning to go out with my Dahon Ciao D5 folding bike and enjoy the great weather when I received a Demano Bag from my friends at NYCeWheels! I didn’t think twice, took all my belongings (yes, women carry a lot of things) and began my bike ride.

I was just amazed at how I still had free space for shopping, even with an inner pocket for my wallet and cell phone. The Demano Bag looked very nice on my folding bike!

My surprise was not over yet, I had in my hands a unique bag made from recycled PVC advertising banners.  It’s Eco friendly and to top it off, waterproof as well!

Demano Bags are designed with weather resistant materials!

All Demano bags have been designed with weather resistant materials for cycling and urban activities, and attach to the bicycle frame via a luggage truss. You can also simply carry your Demano Bag by hand when it is not attached to the bike; so it has two uses. If you think this model is better for women, do not worry; they have other designs and all of them can be adapted to any bicycle. Whether you have a Brompton, Dahon, Tern or another fantastic folding bike, a Demano Bag will fit perfectly; and if this were not enough, NYCeWheels has all the carrying frames, trusses and adapters to fit your bicycle.

Demano Bag has great colors, great design!

Regarding the colors, they can be bright or subdued and if you are more conservative they have the classic black & white too. Demano Bags are made from display banners, often with bold prints and cool graphics, so each bag is different. My Demano Bag has various soft colors with a cool design that absolute matches my blue Dahon Ciao D5 folding bicycle.

I really love it and I am positive that nobody will be disappointed! Just contact the guys at NYCeWheels to check out the Demano Brompton Bags; and why not?! Reserve them as a cool gift for any bike lover!

Cheers!

Elvia