Wednesday, June 5, 2013

PC or PoC: Dahon '88

This bike is a case of "Sure it is neat, but what can I do with it?"

This a a classic 1988 5 speed Dahon foldable bike. While some of these bikes are rare, this model is not. When I got it, the tires were original and falling apart. The drum brake on the back tire was crap - and still is. Some surface rust was present and the seat was intact but useless.

Despite these issues and in a search for a purpose for this unique bike, I did some basic maintenance on it and took it camping with me.

Yup. Camping. 

In a previous job, I traveled A LOT. We got a fixed amount for expenses (food, hotel and all). We also got to keep any surplus. I figured if I could pack a camping kit, I could save a lot of money.

I did and boy, was it a lot of fun. 

All of my tools and equipment were in that Focus including a 17' collapsible ladder that took up quite a lot of space. So I had to use a bike rack on the back of the Focus and leave the frame un-folded to mount it. I could, however, fold the handlebars and collapse the seat post into a tight package.

There were a lot of problems with the bike though. As I said before, the 18" tires were falling apart and they strained to keep me moving over slightly rough terrain. The brake was useless on hills and squeaked as the drum rubbed against the shoe. I bounced - yes, bounced - along like I was riding a hippety hop because of the bad seat.

Fixes to Date
When I got back, I poured a bit of money into it. I replaced the tubes and tires with knobby tires from a kids bike. When I did this, the fenders had to go and the clearances were still just barely sufficient. The bike rack is just a rack without a spring clamp so I picked up some bungees from the dollar store. I loosely mounted a water bottle cage so it can be moved and I replaced the seat with a comfy Bell seat from Wally World.

Recently, I moved the bike to my office to make short trips to local shops without having to drive the Giga-mobile. I bought a new bike pump for my Trek and will be mounting the old one to the Dahon soon.

Because my particular Dahon is not particularly valuable, I am planning a new paint job. Yellow is not really my color so I will be painting it a darker green. This is a bit of turnabout for me as I had a green dirt bike my dad pulled out of a junk pile and fixed up for me. I had my dad paint yellow because I was sick of green in for that week. I learned to ride on it and was stolen in the second grade.

I also plan to replace the brake with something more conventional. There are places on the bike to mount certain styles of rim brakes near the rear wheel. I may look into a disc brake as well but it will depend on whether or not the bike can accept those types of parts.

The shifter is a bit primitive but works. Still, it needs to be brought into the 21st century. An indexed shifter will be fitted at some point.

I will post updates as the project progresses.



  1. Why were you sleeping in a tent? Traveling for business? :)

    1. When I traveled in my previous job, I got $80 per day for hotel and food expenses. Any surplus was mine to keep. On average, a hotel was about $50 a night. Camping in South Dakota and Nebraska ran $12 - $18 per night. Pack lunches and the savings was incredible. Not to mention the people, the fishing, the hiking, and the biking was all far better than any 4 foot deep swimming pool and free wifi at a hotel.