Hey Commuters! Here’s a Dahon Eco C7- Cheap!

Dahon Eco C7: Offered to Wellington commuters at a 30% discount.

In early April, we posted about the discount on folding bikes offered by the Wellington Regional Council.  With a folding bike, you can travel on any of the region’s public transit, including the new Matangi trains, Go Wellington and the Valley Flyer.  The Council’s voucher will secure you 30 percent off a Dahon folding bike until the end of 2011.

I will admit: when I first heard of the deal, I groaned.  I have a bike.  Two, actually.  One is my quick commuter—used for daily errands and general transport—and the other is my Sunday cruiser, better suited to a beach boardwalk than the headwinds of Wellington but still a happy-making ride and thus essential.  The need to purchase yet another ride just to serve the interests of transit companies and operators struck a few resistant chords in me, as follows: 1) the defiant anti-consumer- don’t tell me to buy something I really don’t need; 2) the defiant consumer- don’t tell me what I have to buy if I do have to buy something new; and 3) the defiant recycler- aren’t there plenty of used bikes out there looking for good homes?

All that defiance made me suspicious; I don’t like hearing myself say no before I know what I’m saying no to.  And the truth is, I don’t know folding bikes from elephant dermatitis.  So I called Simon Kennett, the Active Transport and Road Safety Coordinator for the Regional Council, and the guy behind the Council’s folding bike vouchers, to ask if I could take the folding bike our for a spin.  Simon is a true gent; he invited me down, offered a quick primer to solve the mystery behind the folding parts and set me and the bike free to roam the town for an hour.  (By the by, when I returned safely, he gave me some reflective tape for my helmet.  I love presents.)

When Simon started researching a folding bike for the voucher program, he initially looked to the Giant Expressway.  The folks at iRide suggested that he also consider the Dahon brand.  While Giant dabbles in folding bikes, the folks at Dahon have specialized in creating innovative and tolerably-priced folding bikes with the aim of encouraging more people to participate in environmentally sustainable transport.  The Dahon importers jumped at the opportunity to bring more bikes to the Wellington market and shared a sample bike with Simon for the public to test.

That bike is the Dahon Eco C7.  It’s a mid-range folding bike with a decent price made even better by the Council’s voucher.  The bike would normally retail for $799 but will sell for $560 with the discount.

Seven speeds will get you there.

Here are the stats: the Eco C7 weighs 12.1 kg, has a seven-speed Shimano drive train and powerful ProMax V-brakes.  The Dahon site suggests a rider weight of no more than 105 kg and a rider height of up to 193 cm.  If you’re concerned about color coordination, the Eco C7 comes in red, blue, white and black, although I don’t know if all colors will be available in participating bike shops.  The Eco C7 has a variety of accessories available on the Dahon website, including a rack and seat-post pump, but the most likely candidate to thin your wallet is the CarryOn Cover bag.  It’s priced at about 50 bucks and stores in its own saddle bag when you’re riding.  The bag has a padded nylon shoulder strap for comfort but, more importantly, is made of rip-stop nylon that will save you, your work clothes and your fellow train or bus commuters, from bike grease and grime.

A little bike made littler.

Simon rolled out the Eco C7 to the lobby of the Regional Council and immediately folded it up.  In its folded form, the bike is approximately 30 x 80 x 66 cm.  A strong magnet mounted at the wheel axis holds the folded frame together and the seat provides a good handle for lifting and carrying the bike around.  If standing on a train or bus, the bike would sit at your feet in place of your briefcase, or it may fit in the spaces between the seats.

The Eco C7, all folded up.

Although the Dahon site promises a folding time of about 15 seconds, my time trials barely broke 30 seconds after repeat attempts.  As the process only requires four steps—fold the handlebars, fold the frame, turn in the pedals and lower the seat—I’m sure with more practice, I could improve my record.

After putting all the pieces back in place, and assuring myself that each of the latches were locked and secure, I rode off.  Simon had mentioned that the bike is a bit twitchy on the first ride.  Initially, I think that’s correct.  But as with any smaller bike, it’s just a matter of adjusting to the lighter handling and quick response.  The bike launches quickly from a full stop and, even in gears 5 and 6, the push-off requires little brute force.  After riding about 50 feet, I felt less like I was riding a commuter utility bike, and more like I was playing on an old Raleigh Sport.  Though with better brakes and more gears.  I didn’t sit completely upright, but it was close.

Maybe it’s the aluminum frame, maybe it’s the size, or maybe the seat, but I felt the bumps under me a bit more than I might on my full-size ride.  But I also found myself quickly and easily avoiding them with tight and precise turns.  I took on a mild incline and found myself still comfortable and relaxed, even as my legs spun in the second and third gears.  While the seven gears are more than enough to get you up steep grades, I don’t think, and Simon agreed, that the Eco C7 would be my bike of choice for really long and steep rides.  It felt perfectly comfortable, however, on the flats and mellow hills and I rode for just under an hour without any inclination to stop.  If I’d been coming home for work, I imagine that the Eco C7 is the sort of bike that would put a smile on my face even after a crap day.

Overall, the Eco C7 offers a stable, quick, and pleasant ride that’ll get you to and from the station and make you enjoy yourself as you go.  If I kept a bike like this in my office, I would be pretty keen to hop out for a spin with any excuse– lunch, coffee, a check on the Oriental Bay fountain– just for the fun of it.  You’ll want to avoid potholes (but when is that not the case?) and you may want to consider the bag both for its convenience and wardrobe protection.  If you’re pushing 105 kgs, I would suggest that the upper weight limit might be a good incentive to get on the bike and pedal it wherever you need to go.

Finally, as a commuter, if you’re familiar with that mix of dread and hope that a train won’t have room for you and your bike, this little ride should alleviate your worries.  You’ll be able to hop on board and get yourself where you want to go.  And during your journey, you can anticipate the fun in store for you when you arrive, unfold your bike and blast off into the wind.

Simon and the Dahon... neither are so blurry in real life.

Starting in May, the 2012 Giant Expressway will also be discounted under the Council’s scheme but at 25 percent. We’ll keep you posted if test rides are made available for that model.

For your own chance to ride the Dahon Eco C7, contact Simon Kennett at simon.kennett@gw.govt.nz.  He’ll talk to you about folding bikes, hook you up with the discount voucher and maybe some reflective tape… if you’re lucky.  If you do give it a try, or you already have, please share your thoughts with us.  Or, if you have experience with taking your folding bike on trains or buses, let us know how it goes.

FYI: Bikes, folding or not, are allowed on the East West Ferries and the Wellington Cable Car at the discretion of staff.  For more information about bikes on public transit, check out the current policy.

 

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26 thoughts on “Hey Commuters! Here’s a Dahon Eco C7- Cheap!

  1. Lesley

    Would have loved to know about this sooner. I bought my Brompton late last year, specifically with the aim of commuting to Hutt Hospital by train and bike. Could have saved myself a lot of money…..

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  2. I love the fast handling of my little folder, perfect for zipping around town and they take up little space at home.

    That Dahon looks like a good deal – a shame it doesn’t come with mudguards. Pretty much a commuter necessity in Auckland, let alone with Wellington’s *cough* changeable weather.

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    1. Simon

      Good news – climate stats show that it rains less in Wellington than Auckland (and, by the looks of the Dahon website, the 2011 Eco C7 comes with mudguards).

      Like

    2. Brenda

      Rode my Dahon to work today for the 3rd time.. the chain fell off and wedged firmly between the gears. Luckily i was at the CBD by now and took it back to the shop and they took nearly 30 minutes to unwedge it before i was on my way again.

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      1. Simon Kennett

        Sounds like a classic new-bike teething problem – given they took 30mins, I’m guessing they adjusted the derailleur limit screws to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

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  3. Megan

    Good point Antoine. I sort of do my best to forget the foul weather when it hasn’t hit, but the Dahon could definitely do with some mudguards. Fortunately, it’s a go with these: http://www.dahon.com/accessories/2009/dahon-weatherbeater-mudguards

    There are smaller versions too called mini-mudguards but they don’t look as cool. No idea how much they’d cost but certainly would be worth the investment for those mealy days. (You know, the ones I pretend don’t exist while the sun shines.)

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  4. Simon Kennett

    The Eco C7s have arrived and they have mudguards. Also, to the surprise of the importer, they come with a rear carrier fitted.

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  5. Simon Kennett

    I just spoke to Burkes and they do have 2 in stock – with mudguards and carrier. Note that it appears that the Eco C7s are not being sold with mudguards and carrier fitted at all of the dealers in the Wellington Region – it pays to check with the shop you’re you’re buying from. The carrier is a bonus – the E7s aren’t spec’ed with them on the Dahon web site, but the latest shipment arrived with them included.

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    1. Simon Kennett

      Sounds like the Eco C7s are going to sell out soon. After that the vouchers will be valid for a similar model, but I’m not sure they’ll have mudguards or a carrier. If you have your heart set on having a carrier, you might want to get one of the current shipment (shop around this week) or be prepared to fork out $50 for it. Might be the same situation with mudguards.

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  6. Simon Kennett

    I wouldn’t get to fixated on the specific model – they seem to change from one shipment to the next. As far as I can tell, the current shipment of Eco C7s differs from the Vitesse in the following ways:
    The Eco C7 doesn’t have a pump in the seat post or a telescopic handlebar stem,
    but…
    the current batch of Eco C7s does have mudguards and carriers (which is odd – it’s not exactly what the specs on the Dahon site reckon they come with).

    When the importers lent us the Vitesse as a demo bike, they said it performs similarly to the Eco C7, which seems to be true.

    It may be that the next batch of bikes that the voucher applies to is the Dahon Boardwalk D7 (which happens to have a steel frame). This is the model that Greater Wellington has just bought for their pool bikes, and they seem to work just fine.

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  7. Simon Kennett

    BTW, if you’re at a dairy, supermarket or mag shop, check out the second-to-last page in the June edition of NEXT. Apparently they reckon folding bikes are the next big thing! They’ve devoted a whole page to them.

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  8. Simon Kennett

    If you like the idea of a folding bike, but there was something about the Dahon that didn’t tickle your fancy, you might want to check out the 2012 Giant Expressways. They are in the Giant dealer bike shops now and we have a new discount voucher especially for them (good for $130 off, taking the price down to $529).

    What is different with the Expressway (c.f. teh Eco C7)? The Expressway comes with a bag, 8 speeds, an adjustable handlebar, but it is a little bigger. If you are a regular peak-hour commuter, you might prefer the Dahon as it will just fit in the gap between the front and rear facing seats (with the seat pulled out). Otherwise, the lower price and carry bag might be the deciding factor.

    I’d be interested to hear from anybody who has ridden them both.

    Here’s a nice write-up of Patrick’s experience taking a Dahon folder to Auckland:
    http://www.vorb.org.nz/folding-bikes-the-way-t111642-30.html?hilit=folding%20bikes#p2419909

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  9. Simon Kennett

    All of the cheaper Dahon’s have now sold out, and it appears unlikely that we’ll see any more coming into New Zealand this year.
    If you have a Dahon voucher you can use it to bargain for a great price on one of the more expensive Dahons (you might get a $1200 model down to $900, for example).

    We still have Giant Expressway vouchers and there is stock in town. They are $529 (down from $659 with the voucher).

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  10. Simon Kennett

    OK…time for an update. There are no more Dahons in New Zealand, and the last shipment of Giant Expressways went missing in transit. But, a second shipment was ordered and they have just arrived. So, if you had no luck earlier, try again. The discount vouchers are still valid and reduce the price from a normal retail of $659 down to $529.

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    1. atom

      i have to wonder… does “missing in transit” mean “lost” or “misplaced”? does it mean the container fell into the sea? or does it mean the bikes will be showing up on trademe?

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  11. Simon Kennett

    Looks like the Dahon brand is going strong again (after the NZ importers decided the family split had finished them off)
    http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/current.htm

    Hopefully a NZ company brings them in again, ‘cos they are well priced and fold down small enough to fit between the forward and rear facing seats on the trains.

    Will keep you posted.

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    1. Sarb

      Just picked myself up an older (2006?) Dahon Vitesse D7 in Beijing from one of the mechanics I know in a shop there. Lovely little thing – the bike, not the mechanic. Any more news on more Dahon bikes in Wellington? Is the discount voucher scheme still going?

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      1. Simon Kennett

        The discount scheme is still going, but only for the Giant Expressway – the 20% discount takes the price down to $529.

        Vouchers are available from Greater Wellington (142 Wakefield St, Wellington) until the end of the year.

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  12. Simon Kennett

    We have a discount voucher for folding bikes again (until the end of March 2014). It’s for 25% off the Tern C7 or D8. If you’d like a voucher, please send an addressed envelope to ‘Folding Bike Voucher, GWRC, PO Box 11646, Wellington 6142’

    Like

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