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

No Comments

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

Tern Twins Tour the Town, by Turbo Bob

No Comments

There is no bike thrill quite the same as having a folding bike at the ready during your travels. The only one that comes to mind is having a matching pair, and we do. Our Tern Link P9s seem to be the go to bikes when we are on the road, and once again this month they brought the fun. With no need for a bike rack and minimum security worries, that convenience matches that of the bikes themselves.

 

Tern Link P9 at LBGP Finish Line

My wife has taken up Dragon Boat racing with a local group. With a big national meet in Long Beach happening, of course our folding bikes were part of the trip. Although both won’t fit in the trunk of our mini-car, one does and the other sets in the back seat on a old sheet. The bags and other gear fit easy as can be too. Even though this motel we stayed in had some extra room to fit full-sized bikes, many we have stayed in don’t, another big plus these Tern folding bikes give us.

Our motel was a couple miles from the venue for the races and parking there was at a premium. In the morning before each day we just loaded down our panniers and hitched our folding chairs on our shoulders for the ride to the races. It was fun staying out of the car and getting some fresh sea air before each day began. From the look of the bikes all over at the event, we weren’t the only ones using two-wheels in such a manner.

There were some long gaps between many of her races and although she stayed around, I didn’t. I took my Tern link P9 down to the beach path several times during the day and soaked in all the great stuff a beach town has to offer. Long Beach is a known bike friendly town with plenty of room to ride and fairly courteous drivers to share the road with. It is great to ride together, yet sometimes a solo cruise can be even better.

I stopped in at a few bike shops and watched the water activities from the shore in other places. None of the shops I checked out had folding bikes and they enjoyed seeing mine. Like so many other times, I folded and un-folded it just to show how easy it is. They marveled at the technology and the small footprint it took in the folded form. I get this reaction all the time, from people on the street, other people on bikes, and even the pros.

At the end of each race day we headed back to the motel to take a break, get cleaned up and pack the bikes for a fun evening beach ride to dinner. These bikes both have the cool BioLogic clip on tail light / reflector, yet we have them hooked-up with more lights than that. On the seat posts are Serfas Thunderbolts that really rock and NiteRider headlights up front that do the same. The other fun and safe lighting pieces we have on these bikes are the LightMeUp Safety wheel lights. So with each ride we could see and be seen for the long night cruises.

The first evening we rode quite a way up the coast to one of the area’s bigger tourist traps. We rode by the well attended national beach volleyball tournament too. After a while we found the perfect place for dinner, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. We had never eaten there and riding the Tern folding bikes it seemed appropriate. We dined outside and were able to keep the bikes close at hand the whole time. My wife was a bit tired by the time we got back to the motel, but we were both happy and ready for a good sleep.

Tern Link P9
The next day went much the same. I was out riding getting back to the races in time to see her heats. I rode a little further this day to check out a couple E-bike shops that are in town. Still, I made sure to time things right so as not to miss any of her races. That night we ate a little closer to the motel. Everywhere we rode in the night air was kind of special as our bikes are quite a sight. On top of the folding part, the lighting really catches one’s eyes.

During the three day weekend we stopped many times to answer questions about the bikes. Fold-up bikes are becoming more popular and the people’s responses were all so positive. There is a big trend towards bicycles (like it ever stopped?) and folding bikes are a big part of it.

Well, no medals for my wife, but as we drove home we both felt like winners. Get your fold on with the Tern link p9.

Turbo Bob.
“I am a bike enthusiast: there’s a certain amount of romance to bikes. They’re both beautiful and utilitarian.”—Dave Eggers.

Read more blogs by Turbo Bob!

Brompton Takes on Acadia

No Comments

Brompton folding bikeIf you are a cyclist who also happens to love National Parks and thought you couldn’t combine the two, look no further than a Brompton.

My most recent adventure with my Brompton was to Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park. There is no better way to enjoy the scenery of a quaint New England town and National Park.

When asked if I would be willing to help drive three exchange students to their destinations, I had one stipulation. I would help but only if I could bring my Brompton folding bike and explore the area. My request was granted and the bike was packed. After folding the brompton bike I stashed it in the back of Toyota Rav4, surrounded by luggage and ready at a moments notice.

I normally take my Brompton touring bag, but opted to leave it behind for this trip. I must say, I missed that handy bag.

I arrived at the starting location with my bike neatly tucked inside the bag I use for transporting it and had it slung over my shoulder. The first question was, “I thought you were bringing your bike?” My answer, “I did, it is right here.”

Brompton BikePeople who have never seen a Brompton are always amazed at how compact it is and that you don’t need to disassemble anything when you take it somewhere. Curiosity always leads to unpacking, unfolding, and folding along with a brief history of Brompton folding bikes, where they are made, and the quality and craftsmanship in each bike. Inevitably I tell the story of what played into my decision to search for a folding bike and ultimately decide on a Brompton from the great staff at NYCeWheels.

Riding in the Bar Harbor area was amazing and soon I was off to explore Acadia with some friends. I have to say, I did look out of place next to the mountain bikes and road bikes. Cyclist are a great group of people, so out of place or not, everyone smiled and commented on my cool ride. You may think that a Brompton can’t handle the hills, I have the 6 speed and it does surprisingly well. I didn’t have to work too hard to climb and the downhills are a blast.

After having so much fun riding in Acadia, I have decided I need to add some of the other National Parks to my “must see with the Brompton” list. At this point, I have visited gardens, trails, farms, small towns, big cities, and even taken the Brompton on planes (see this great blog by the Path Less Pedaled). I have ridden my Brompton for long stretches and short trips. It is by far my favorite bike and I have owned many.

If you are considering a bike to take when you travel, there is no better choice. Brompton folding bikes are compact, easy to fold and unfold, and fun to ride.

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

No Comments

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

Flying on a feather light folding bike

No Comments

Roberto holding the X10As a rider on the smaller side of the spectrum, it can be difficult to find a bicycle that is manageable in terms of weight and size. For that reason I naturally gravitate towards folding bikes. So when given the chance to test ride one of Tern‘s top tier models, the Verge X10, I readily accepted. The first thing I noticed was the color accents of this lightweight folding bike, the stripe of orange is eye catching and really garners attention. In fact, I was barely a block out of the shop when the first a passerby stopped me to comment on the X10′s nice looks!

Feather light folding bike

The weight is the second great feature of this speedy folding bike. I have a history of fumbling with weighty standard bikes and even other folders, so I was delighted to find that the 21 lbs of the Verge X10 required next to no effort at all to deal with. The ease of managing this bike while it was folded brings me to the critical phase of any folding bike foray, the unfolding. Unlike many other older folding bikes, the hinges on the Tern Verge X10 are rounded and fit nicely with the contours of your hands, reducing the strain of locking the appendages into place.

Responsive shifters

Tern Verge X10 folded in the sunlightShifting from lowest gear to top gear was nearly instantaneous and very smooth, which is very helpful when riding NYC streets, where keeping up with traffic and ahead of honking taxis is a must. Despite having to deal with New York’s notorious pitted city streets, the ride quality of the Verge X10 did not suffer as much as I had expected. The well-designed hinges and curved frame really dampen some of the shock that would otherwise be inflicted.

Fastest folding bike

Tern Verge X10 folded in the sunlightAll folding bikes are different – some like the the smooth Link D7i, are great for rough weather riding, others like the well-equipped Eclipse S11i, are loaded with features and make the perfect commuter bicycle. The straightaway is where the Verge X10 shines. The combination of a lightweight frame, high quality rapid fire shifters, and a high gear range, makes this bike incredibly fast and incredibly responsive, able to accelerate to high speeds with very little effort.

It is a perfect fit for avid cyclists and biking neophytes alike, who want something with a sporty aesthetic as well as the portability and convenience of a folder. This Tern is a great compliment to any folding bike enthusiast’s collection.

If you like the sound of an ultralight, super fast folding bike, the Tern Verge X10 is the bike for you!

Until the next ride, happy cycling.

-John

Older Entries