Posts Tagged ‘D7HG’

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Bonjour Dahon!

Thursday September 3, 2009
Ready To Go

Ready To Go

It was the Dahon’s turn for an adventure yesterday, Wednesday.  However, still a little sore from the 77 mile ride on the Trek on Monday, I had my concerns that I wouldn’t make it.  But at 0400hrs I woke up and I was straight out of bed.

The Dahon was going to France!

This was another one of my planned rides during my week off work.  Although I’m not going to get through all of them, I have now completed my new main ones: France and Hyde Park.

The first leg of the journey was to cycle to Rochester train station to catch the first train to the south coast.  The train was due to leave at 0533 so I had aimed to get there a little early so that I could take some photos.  Rochester was quiet so on my way I took a few night shots of the Dahon in the high street before moving on to the station.

I purchased my ticket at the self-serve machine, an ‘anytime’ return to Dover Priory station (£16.70), before heading under the tracks and up to the southbound platform.  The train arrived on schedule and we left Rochester at 0533, travelling south through Gillingham, Faversham and Canterbury (and others) on the way to Dover Priory.

The Dahon fitted easily between the seats on the empty train – it was in its element!  Although bikes are permitted on trains outside of ‘peak times’, there are no restrictions for folding bikes.

Station Info Sign

Station Info Sign

The journey took about an hour and ten minutes and I was soon at the station in Dover.  The sun was up by the time the train arrived so no lights were required on the 1.2 mile ride to the ferry.  There was a slight downward incline to the short ride but I pedalled hard to get there as quickly as possible, conscious of the fact that the check in deadline was near.

I’d made my reservation on Tuesday via the Internet (only £8) and, with bike folded, I checked in at the P&O counter before being whisked off by bus to the waiting ferry.  Again, the Dahon fitted easily on the bus and although there were a few curious glances, none were disapproving.  Of the handful of people on the bus, I was the only passenger, the others were staff/crew – I was to be the only foot passenger on that crossing.

Before long I was seated in the lounge on board the ferry with a good window seat and a large hot coffee next to me.  Soon, people began making their way up from their parked cars on the lower decks and populating the rest of the ship – its entertainment rooms, duty-free shops, bars and lounges.  I sat and watched.

The crossing was relatively smooth with only a slight swell in the middle of the English Channel and around 90 minutes later we were docking in Calais, northern France Bonjour mon amies! 🙂

On French Soil

Outside the Terminal

I disembarked and jumped aboard my ‘private’ bus (only me for them to transport) to the terminal.  And there we were, me and the Dahon standing on French soil.

The plan was to just cycle/walk around Calais and take in the sights, get some fresh air and relax.  I hadn’t planned anything for the day, I hadn’t really looked into what was in Calais to see and visit, I was just going to ride around and see what I could find.

Fortunately, Calais has its fair share of history so I wasn’t short of places to visit.  Dotted around the town were maps of Places of Interest to visit and alongside each POI was a sign detailing the historical background of each particular structure/building/site (luckily in both English and French!).

One of the things I had to do over in Calais was to ride on the right-hand side of the road!  On a few occasions I had to think twice before proceeding, but in the whole, I didn’t make too many mistakes.

French Beach Huts

Huts On The Beach

It was raining heavily as the ship arrived in Calais harbour but as the morning drew on it began to clear and the sun came out.  On the seafront, there were strong winds and that, together with the threat of rain, must have been keeping the locals and tourists off the beach.  I sat on the seafront for a while and just ‘chilled’, watching the ferries, the birds and the sea.  Rows of small beach huts were lined up in front of me and I eventually dragged the Dahon down the steps and between the huts before walking alone to the sea.  Calais seemed strangely deserted.

Back on the Dahon, I followed the beach road for another mile before winding back into Calais to search for the next sight to see.  Spotting some spires towering over the old skyline, I used my Garmin GPS receiver to lead me to them – one a church, the other the Town Hall.  Moving inland, there were more people around.  Perhaps being sheltered from the wind or perhaps simply gravitating towards the bars and restaurants; the residents of Calais were discovered at last!

As with most towns, Calais has its share of unattractive areas but it also has some very pleasant places, interesting history and old buildings.  Being a key crossing point to Britain, it does (unfortunately) attract more than its share of ‘illegal’ immigrants who try to cross the Channel for a new life in England – the infamous Sangatte Refugee Camp was only a few miles from Calais.  However, even though that camp closed years ago, cycling around Calais I saw numerous groups of individuals who were obviously destined to attempt their illegal entry into the UK.

Calais In Bloom

Calais In The Sun

The sun was out and the afternoon turned out to be very warm and pleasant.  I continued to slowly cycle around the town taking in the French air and watching the locals going about their lives.  I watched, ate, took photos and read a few chapters of a book (Brave New World, Huxley) and generally relaxed and enjoyed myself in France for the day.

I cycle/walked 10.3 miles around Calais during the day and at 1600CEST I was very tired – the day’s exercise and Monday’s Hyde Park exertion all catching up with me.  For my last hour or so in France I sat on the quay in the old harbour and watched the seagulls.  Then it was back to the ferry port to check in.

I managed to catch an earlier ferry back to Blighty and sat in the same area drinking coffee as I had done on the outward journey (although this was a different ship).  The GPS reported that we were speeding across the Channel at around 24mph and 90 minutes or so later we were at Dover Harbour.  Unfortunately, a technical problem hindered berthing and 15 minutes of ‘extreme’ vibration later a tug pushed us toward the dock to let us off.

Dover Priory Station

Dover Priory Station

It was raining heavily as I unfolded the Dahon outside the port.  I donned my hi-viz waterproof jacket, put the three Cateye lights on to flash, and mounted the NiteRider to the handlebars.  Then I was off!  The rain and wind slowed me but I enjoyed the 12 minute ride back to the train station where the train was waiting.  Despite the delay at the harbour, I still had 30 minutes before the train left Dover Priory to take me back to Rochester – time for a couple of photos.

The train journey took another hour and ten minutes and I watched as the stations went by, counting them down as I got closer to home.  GPS reported a maximum speed of 88mph on the train and it was handy to see my location on the Garmin’s  map as we shot through the darkness of the Kent countryside.

The final leg of the journey was a 1.7 mile cycle from the station to my house.  The rain was very heavy, it was 2100hrs and it was dark.  All the lights back on, I headed out.  The NiteRider really proved its worth in such bad weather.  The three Cateye lights, and the Knogs, all in flash mode, gave me confidence that I would be seen by other road users.

It had been a very long day but it had been good fun.  Getting out and about had been great, and a varied journey to France  had been interesting (cycle/train/ferry/bus).  I’d used the Dahon for the first time in muti-mode travel and it had been a success – this is something that I couldn’t have done with the Trek.

One final note: the Dahon is SO comfortable compared to the Trek with its narrow and hard seat.  😉

More photos from my day-trip to Calais can be found on Flickr.

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Bread And Milk

Saturday August 1, 2009

The rain started to fall so I left the riverbank and got back on the Dahon.  By the time I’d reached Rochester Bridge the rain was coming at me horizontal!  It was only a shower, fairly heavy, and by the time I’d reached the high street it had stopped.

The Castle grounds are always a welcoming place for me and I sat there for a while and watched people milling around.

The bread and milk strapped to the back of the Dahon were getting a little squashed under the straps so I didn’t hang around too long before I headed home.

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Dahon – Running Well

Sunday June 21, 2009

A pleasant ride around town this morning, not far, not fast, just having a look around.  Thought I’d take a look around the Farmers’ Market whist I was out.  It was a bit disappointing – not many stalls and nothing really impressive or interesting enough to make me stop and take a closer look.  Shame.

The tide was in so the river was looking good as the Medway rowing crews whizzed past causing barely a ripple on the surface.  The Castle grounds were fairly empty and quiet as I sat and watch people walk, play and relax.  It was good to be out.

The Dahon rode very well.  Having tightened up a few bits and pieces, including the bottom bracket, and with the addition of the Big Apples, it really is running well.  The Big Apples have made a huge improvement to the ride and I’m glad that I spent the cash on the upgrade.  I was cycling along with a smile on my face, enjoying the bike and thinking: “Now this is a great bike”.

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Dahon Bottom Bracket – Loose

Monday June 8, 2009

I think I’ve mentioned before, either here or over on the Dahon Forum, that my D7HG makes a ‘clunking sound’ when I pedal.  This has been happening more or less since I bought the bike but I finally worked out what it was last weekend when out cycling.

I had initially thought that it was related to the internal workings of the Nexus hub and the drive mechanism ‘catching-up’ with itself as I pedalled.  I left it at that and just lived with it.  But then, as I cycled recently, I thought more about it and looked at the bike as I slowly cycled along the flat.  Then I realised that it was the bottom bracket – the piece where the pedals attach to/through the frame – it was not loose (see photo below).  Not sure if this was an original assembly issue, pre-sale check issue or it had just come loose.

Anyway, I needed to tighten it up and didn’t have the right tool for the job so I headed to my new favourite bike site Dotbike for a BB lock ring tool.  Now the lock ring and bottom bracket are correctly secured and that should stop the clunking noise as I pedal.  I now need to get out and try  it, but that won’t be today.

I also grabbed myself an Ice Tools Spoke Wrench.

(Hmm, why do my bikes always look dirtier in photos than they do in the flesh?!)

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Saturday Evening – 4 Miles

Saturday May 30, 2009

Great day today, sunny and warm.  I grabbed the Dahon and headed out this evening.  Thought I’d avoid Rochester town centre as it’s Dickens Festival weekend and it would be packed with tourists and locals in Dickensian costumes.

Headed out over the M2 motorway bridge and watched the river, the cars and the EuroStar.

Oh, the Big Apples were fantastic.  4 miles on these ‘balloon’ tyres and the ride was smooth and much more comfortable than the original Kwest tyres.

More photos from this evening on Flickr.

Dahon In The Cycle Lane

A Bike's Worse Enemy

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Big Apples Tested – They’re Greeeaat!

Tuesday May 26, 2009

Had to get out and test the new Schwalbe Big Apple tyres tonight, I was eager to see if they lived up to the hype.

It was almost 9pm and the sun was just setting so I kitted the Dahon out with my Cateye lights and the Frogs and hit the road.  Surfaces cycled in the test included: tarmac/road, grass, shingle and Rochester’s cobble/block streets.  The BAs definitely DO improve the comfort of the D7HG and also the general handling.  The wider profile tyres give it a more ‘normal’ feel – the Kwest tyres were just a little too thin (especially as I’m 6 foot tall and ## stone!)  😉

So, according to me (!), the Big Apples improve the looks of the bike AND the ride and handling.

Definitely a recommended upgrade!

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Schwalbe Big Apple Tyres – Dahon D7HG

Sunday May 24, 2009

As posted yesterday, I collected my Big Apples from the Post Office and my plan was to fit them this weekend.  The plan has been successfully completed and the Schwalbe Big Apples are now fitted to the Dahon D7HG.

I purchased the tyres from online store Dotbike and they arrived ‘next day’ – although I was out so the Post Office held on to them until the weekend when I could get over to collect them.  It was the first time I’d used Dotbike and it was a smooth and speedy transaction so I’ll be using them again in the future.

Schwalbe Big Apple - BIG AppleThe Big Apples (BA) are known as ‘balloon tyres’ which offer a softer, smoother ride and effectively absorb more of the road imperfections.

The BAs are replacing the factory-fitted Kenda Kwest tyres on my D7HG.  Compared to the now fitted BAs, the Kwests look very narrow – the Kwests are 20 x 1.5″ and the BAs are 20 x 2.0″.  The BAs are far chunkier and really to enhance the look of the D7HG making the wheels look far more substantial.  Based on looks alone, the BAs are definitely worth the cash!

Like the Kwests, the BAs have a 3M reflective strip on the sidewall which makes you stand out at night.  The BAs also have ‘Kevlar Guard’ which is designed to provide additional puncture resistance.

Fitting the tyres was relatively easy.  The front wheel was the easiest to remove: unhook the brake cable, loosen the two axle nuts (with my new spanner) and pull the wheel off.  Then, using the Crankbrothers Speedlever, I removed the Kwest tyre.  After a quick visual check of the existing rim tape, I pushed the BA tyre onto the rim followed by the new Schwalbe inner tube.  Before pushing the tyre completely onto the rim, I pumped the tube up slightly to enable it to gain its shape – this was to minimise the risk of nipping the tube as I pushed the tyre on.  I didn’t use any tools to fit the new tyre, resorting to thumbs and fingers so as to not damage the new inner tube.  Once fitted I inflated to 60PSI and refitted the wheel to the bike.

The removal of the rear wheel was going to be a little more complex and it was to be the first time I’d removed a wheel with a hub gear system. With this in mind I checked out the Dahon forum and other sites and collated the following information:

Schwalbe Big Apple - Fitted on the DahonAll proved to be useful.  One thing that I noted was that I didn’t remove the chain from the pedal cog prior to trying to remove the wheel – if I had done, after loosening the axle bolts, then I’m sure that I would have removed the wheel quicker and ended up with less oil and grease on my hands.

Having refitted both wheels, minor adjustments were required to prevent the new, fatter, tyres from rubbing on the Dahon’s mudguards.  The front adjustments involved a couple of screws and the rear mudguard was adjusted with a little bending and brute force.

After all that it was time for a quick ride around outside to check that all was in order.  They definitely do make the ride more comfortable and they do change the handling of the bike, in a positive way.  I didn’t ride far so I haven’t really tested the tyres, that will be (hopefully) tomorrow’s task.

So, tyres fitted.  They look great and really do improve the look of the bike.

More photos on my Flickr account.

Schwalbe Big Apple - Fitted

Dahon D7HG and Schwalbe Big Apples

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