Dahon Vitesse D7HG – First Impressions
To most people folding bikes don’t make a whole lot of sense. They’re awkward looking to the point where you wonder if they’ll even stay upright, and yet they don’t fold small enough to fit into a briefcase like George Jetson’s space-car. But to those who live in an uber-crowded urban environment, bikes like the Dahon Vitesse D7HG make a world of difference. While the Vitesse may not fit into your average suitcase, it does fold into a considerably smaller package. One that becomes manageable on the subway, the ferry or the train. It’s immeasurably easier to store a folding bike in an apartment, let alone a small office or cubicle. And with a proper suitcase (one that’s 26” x 33.5” or larger) the Vitesse makes airline travel a bit easier than flying with a full-sized bike.
The first thing we noticed about the Vitesse was the finishing quality. This is an impressively well-made bike for $679. The 7005-aluminum frame is designed for strength and it looks the part. The matte finish and subtle graphics give the bike a distinctive appearance without looking flashy or gaudy. With the exception of lights and a patch kit, the Vitesse comes with just about everything you’ll need—the seatpost even houses a pump. Outfitted with office workers in mind, the Vitesse comes with full fenders, a kickstand and a chainguard. The rear rack comes complete with a convenient, built-in bungee cord system.
While Dahon could have cut corners en route to higher profits, they instead chose to outfit the Vitesse with name-brand parts where it makes a difference. The Promax V-brakes stop on a dime, and the SKS fenders have a reliable track record. Dahon is especially proud of their special-edition Kenda tires, which feature a durable tread and lightweight sidewall. Perhaps the most recognizable brand name is Shimano, who makes the Nexus 7-speed internally geared hub. The beauty of the Nexus, apart from all its low maintenance simplicity, is that you can shift gears while coasting or when stopped.
Although it may not look like it, the Vitesse is capable of carrying up to 230 pounds combined weight. Dahon claims the bike is suitable for people ranging from 4’8” to 6’4”. While that may be true, and the bike does have a good bit of adjustability, the Vitesse seems like a best fit for short to average sized adults.
Folding the Vitesse is an exercise in simplicity. And while it takes less than 15 seconds to undo the quick releases and flip up the pedals, it’s interesting to note the safety precautions Dahon has implemented. The quick release on the frame features a safety latch that’s virtually foolproof, and a similar device is employed on the telescoping steerer. It would be nice if the quick release stem were notched so that the handlebar could be completely removed a bit more easily, but that would mostly come in handy for packing the bike in a suitcase.
On the street, the bike handles a bit like you would imagine. The wheels are small and with 65psi in the tires, you’ll feel a lot of road vibrations. Pebbles and cracks in the road feel a bit more like rocks and crevices, and going downhill at speed is an experience to say the least. The bike’s steering is on the twitchy side, but certainly quite manageable. Surprisingly, out of the saddle climbing is not that awkward. Sure, you may look strange, but the bike behaves very much like any other bike, which is a good thing. Of course seated climbing is the best way to go about things, and the 7-speed drivetrain seems to have a low enough gear to tackle all but the worst ascents in our neck of the woods.
For more information visit www.dahon.com.