This bike isn’t like most folding bikes. On first glance, it looks similar to the standard 20-inch-wheeled folder seen on the streets and public transportation in every city. Closer inspection reveals some standout features: disc brakes, high-end Schwalbe road tires, and an 18-speed drivetrain with gearing suited to spirited riding.
The ease with which the Formula folds—a trait of the highest importance—reflects well on Dahon’s three decades of folder manufacturing experience. Within a few attempts I had the Formula folded up in under a minute. A small magnetic clasp keeps the bike closed when carrying it, and when closed, it supports itself upright. High marks all around, particularly for the simple and sturdy metal folding pedals.
Dahon designed the Formula for riders “with tougher commutes that demand speed, portability and endurance.” Claiming to fit riders from 4-foot-8 to 6-foot-4, the handlebar and seat height adjust easily with quick-release levers. I found the handlebar height adjustment particularly useful—slide it up for comfort and a heads-up position for short trips, drop it down for more speed and leverage on longer rides. The frame has mounting points for a rack and fenders, and Dahon sells versions of each designed specifically for 20-inch wheels.
I packed this bike as luggage for a February trip to Minneapolis, where I managed to put about 100 miles on it in four days, including commuting to and from the airport. I didn’t expect to ride it so far, so I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Formula handled 15-20 mile rides, a distance often outside what most riders tackle on folders. The tall gearing allowed for a brisk pace, and the small wheels accelerated with authority, but they would quickly lose momentum if I slacked off at the pedals.
The Forumla was a great little city runabout. I found the handling to be quick, but incredibly well-mannered. The high-quality brakes and tires provided a level of control and handling I didn’t expect from a small-wheeled bike. When speeds got up into the high 20’s I needed to keep a steady hand on the bars, as things could get a little nervous, but after a few rides I was at home on the Formula. In extreme conditions, such as traversing icy bike paths or a few hundred yards of XC ski trail, I expected squirreliness, but this little folder never seemed to get upset. The Schwalbe tires deserve a lot of credit here—they performed much better than a slick tire should in low-traction conditions.
The Avid BB5 disc brakes provided all-conditions stopping power, but proved to be more finicky to set up drag-free than their more expensive sibling, the BB7. The Microshift shifters are not a well-known brand, but they did their job with no complaint. Both the saddle and grips worked well, even on longer rides without gloves or padded shorts.
The only real oddness with this bike is the oversized front chainrings. The small wheels need bigger gearing to equal that of a standard-size road bike. While the 56/46-tooth crank shifted well, don’t expect to find replacements in stock at your local bike shop.
I’m happy to say Dahon managed to create a folder that meets all their design intentions. This is a handy little bike, but don’t let its pedestrian appearance fool you—it has the heart of a racing machine.
- Price: $1,400
- Weight: 24.5 pounds
A bicycle chain might not look like much but it’s actually a pretty high-tech piece of engineering. I love seeing all these special machines that test the chain before it’s packaged.Tweet Print
Cielo is the framebuilding offshoot of Chris King Components, so you can imagine its US-made steel road and mountain bikes are held to the highest standards. Making its debut at NAHBS was this Racer model, a thoroughly modern take on a race bike. The tubes are custom drawn and ovalized, then matched to a PF30 bottom bracket and stout chainstays. You can order it in one of six sizes and six new colors, including the insanely awesome tartan and silver livery.
Also new is a collection of Racer and Classic stems to compliment your ride, made in-house in Portland from 4130 steel. They are available in all of Cielo‘s colors and include a matching or contrasting anodized faceplate that exactly matches Chris King components. The Racer stem is 42mm tall while the Classic has a built-in riser to 75mm tall. The come in nine lengths too, so you sure sure to get a perfect fit.
I don’t know about you but I feel naked if I leave the house without a watch. Since I usually ride without any sort of cycle-computer it certainly helps to keep track of how long I’ve been riding or how long I have before I have to be home for dinner! Of course, not much can beat a cold beer after a hard ride so Happy Hour Timepieces hopes you keep your eye on 5 o’clock. Its new line of watches spells out the magic hour with a stylized “5″ on the face.
The one pictured here is the Lightweight, and it’s available in three colorways with a Japanese quartz movement. Each includes Happy Hour’s patented buckle that has a built-in bottle opener so nothing can keep you from your favorite beverage. The all-black model pictured here sells for $149 and you can order one from the Happy Hour website.Tweet Print
Each year at the National Bike Summit the Alliance for Biking and Walking announces its winners for the Alliance Advocacy Awards, a way to recognize exceptional groups and individuals who lead in advancing active transportation in North America.
The Alliance received 210 nominations for the 2014 awards, and the final winners were chosen by a panel of past award winners, leaders in the industry and Alliance staff. The People’s Choice Award winner was, of course, chosen by a vote.Tweet Print
If 10 or 11 gears are just too much for you, don’t fear, Shimano’s eight and nine speed drivetrains keep getting better and better, receiving many of the trickle-down technologies from higher priced units. For 2015 Shimano has updated the Tourney and Alivio groups, plus made tweaks to Alfine and Nexus.Tweet Print
WTB released a new, gravel-specific tire named the Nano 40c today at Quality Bicycle Products’ Frostbike product expo. The tire employs a high volume 40mm casing, rounded profile, and centerline tread pattern designed for speed, consistency, and ample cushioning aimed at the rapidly emerging gravel market.
WTB says they were inundated with requests for a gravel racing tire at the 2013 Frostbike show and decided to use the classic Nano tread as a starting point.
Ultra endurance athlete, Jay Petervary spent time on early prototype tires and was impressed with the speed and comfort the tires provided, having initially requested something in the 35c range. To further the Nano’s racing credibility, WTB will be sponsoring the Trans Iowa gravel race in late April as well as Jay Petervary’s own Fall Gravel Backyard Pursuit with Nano 40c Race tires.
WTB Nano 40c tires will be available in Race and Comp versions starting April of 2014. Nano 40c Race tires will feature a folding Aramid bead, Lightweight Casing, DNA Rubber, weigh in at 470g, and retail for $49.95. Nano 40c Comp tires will feature a wire bead, Durable Casing, DNA Rubber, weigh 550g, and retail for $31.95.
WTB also wanted to give a shout-out to Mike Varley of Black Mountain Cycles in Point Reyes Station, Calif., as well as Sean Walling of Soulcraft in Petaluma, Calif., for their invaluable input and insight into the design and creation of the WTB Nano 40c tire.
I was in Amsterdam all last week getting to know Dutch bicycle culture and logistics (more on that soon), and one of the key tenants of what makes cycling so simple there is the cycle paths. More than just bike lanes, the cycle paths are almost always separated from traffic by parked cars, curbs, or other street features.
The practice is catching on in the US, with New York leading the way with protected lanes on some major thoroughfares. But even those lanes leave cyclists vulnerable where they need safety most: in the intersection.
Urban planner and designer Nick Falbo has put together this piece about how intersection design can make cycling safer and more accessible. His video and other collected works are part of a proposal for the George Mason University 2014 Cameron Rian Hays Outside the Box competition, a challenge to find new solutions to transportation policy challenges.
The gang from FietsKlik knows how to solve a problem I can relate to. Despite the ubiquity of cycling as transportation in their native Amsterdam, the dilemma of how to carry a crate of beer on a bicycle is a real one.
Some design sketches and some local manufacturing later, and a startup was born. The FietsKlik is an integrated system that combines a locking rear cargo rack with a number of integrated accessories, most notably the Crate.
Dwight Eschliman is a photographer in San Francisco who felt inspired by the bicycles he saw on the street every day. He invited quite a few into his portrait studio for a collection he calls Bicycle San Francisco. He also built a wonderful interactive gallery to display his work with some details and a backstory about each bike and its owner.
Here he explains the project in his own words:
Ever since I got that Bianchi catalog from the local bike shop in 1981 or 1982, I’ve been hooked on the bicycle. I never did get the blue-green Bianchi (decked out in Campagnolo) that I craved, but I did work all summer for a red Trek 400 (decked out in something less). That first Trek eventually collided with a car and I moved on to a series of other bicycles from there.
My studio in San Francisco’s SOMA district is situated along a major bicycle commuting corridor. This affords me the opportunity to observe—and document—our evolution into a more bike-friendly city, with many distinct cycling subcultures. One thing that has always fascinated me about the bicycles I see is the way each bicycle reveals its owner’s personality. The hundreds of bikes I see streaming past my studio every day include everything from hipster fixies to pragmatic folding bicycles to durable bike messenger customs. By extension, the way that bicycle culture reflects the larger cultural context is just plain cool.
This is a project that’s just beginning, and it’s as much an anthropological study as a photographic series. Bicycle San Francisco is a visual study of the bicycle, but also a broader look at a compelling place and time in San Francisco right now.