Urban Velo

Dahon Vitesse D7HG – Ongoing Impressions

Following our Dahon Vitesse D7HG first impressions review of a few months back we handed off this folding bike to Bike-Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker for a business trip to New York City and a few impressions on actual use in the habitat it is best suited.

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Let me preface this by saying I love folding bikes. As weird as they look with their small wheels and incredibly tall arm-like stem, I think they’re especially practical in urban areas. A policy was just passed in Pittsburgh that anyone with a folding bike may now take it on board any bus or trolley any time of day, not just non-peak hours. Many other public transit systems — bus and light rail in particular — in the United States have already or are in process of adopting such practices. This is a fantastic step to making it easier for more people to combine modes of transportation. A two-mile walk to the train that may have seemed daunting in the past, is now easy with a folding bike. But the folding bike has to be easy to use, quick to fold and reliable day in, day out.

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The Dahon Vitesse D7HG has loads of winning features — a Shimano Nexus 7sp internal hub, rack, fenders, chain guard, and an integrated internal seat-post pump not being the least of them. Its black and gray color scheme is a nice low-profile touch — simple yet sophisticated enough to appeal to someone working in an office and likely to combine modes with transit. It’s locking folding clasps are easy to find and intuitive to operate, however getting the two magnets to line up so that the bike doesn’t swing open while you’re carrying it takes a little practice. Carrying the bike once folded is where this bike gets its worst marks. At 29.75lbs and no handle to grasp it makes carrying the bike even short to moderate distances awkward (e.g. up and down steps to and from the train). I’m sure it’s incredibly difficult for the manufacturer to keep the price point low enough on folding bikes to appeal to the masses, while trying to source the lightest materials possible. However, unless the weight issue is addressed and perhaps a handle integrated into the package, this folding bike may find acceptance to non-cyclists a bit more uphill than it should be. As for the ride the Nexus internal hub gave me plenty of gears, but none that helped with especially steep climbs or descents. This is a bike built for 2 to 5 mile rides in flat to moderately hilly urban areas. My ten-mile, hilly ride in the Connecticut countryside left me wanting two more gear options, one ultra low and one ultra high. But like I said, that’s not the type of riding this bike was designed to accommodate.

It performs well over short distances, folds easily, stores compactly, looks good, and has some very cool features. If only it was easier to carry.

Be sure to check out our first impressions post for detail images of the components and more images of the Dahon Vitesse D7HG in both riding and folded configurations.

4 Comments

  1. QuedJanuary 13, 2009 at 3:24 am

    I have it and I love it. Beautiful bike.

  2. ErendisJanuary 13, 2009 at 6:12 am

    I owe a Dahon Vitesse since last November. When I bought it I thought “it’s not gonna last my 5 kilometers daily commute”, but I was wrong. This bike is really fast!!

    [sorry my English, I'm writting from Chile, Southamerica]

    Bye^^

  3. pierreJanuary 13, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I bought a decent, used Dahon Boardwalk folding bike, 2005ish model for $150 (cheapness offsets for me many of the other complains one can have!). DC area transit systems allow folding bikes all hours, most want it bagged – for my area, the gear limitations are fine, as MOST locations are within 5 miles of a metro or transit spot (Metro maps);

    http://textilesandbicycles.wordpress.com/2008/04/14/youre-so-skewed/

    ..and DC isn’t supersteep hills. I do think DIY types could market a heavy strap (hacked from weightlifting belts maybe) for toting these things; the fact that they fold doesn’t make them necessarily anymore transportable, given their weight. I’d like to make a stashable folding bag on mine that goes ‘inside’ the panier rack. I bike commute daily, but use the folding bike rarely, maybe once a month. The spongey seats are another issue; like riding on a pillow for me – very akward on something that already takes getting used to.

  4. ParisNovember 16, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I live in Greece and i bought the D7HG two months ago..
    Just love it..

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