Bike Categories and their differentiation

Spring is upon us in Colorado.  

Road bikes on the road.  Mountain Bikes on the trails (and car racks quite notably).  In the cities I am seeing more Cargo bikes,  City Bikes,  Folding bikes.  Just like in kayaking and golf, you need to right tool for the task and bikes are built for many environments and uses.

I see bikes fitting a general matrix of the following.  I expect some will dissagree with me and for sure you can stretch categories to get more specific performance in multiple columns.

  Road Street Trail Storage Travel  Capacity Durability
Road Bike 5 3 2 2 2 2 3
Gravel Bike 4 4 4 3 3 3 4
Mountian Bike 2 3 5 2 2 3 5
Cargo Bike 3 4 2 1 1 5 5
Folding Bike 3 4 2 5 4 3 3
E-Bike 4 4 2 2 2 4 3
Touring Bike 4 4 3 2 3 5 5
BMX Bike 2 3 3 4 3 2 5
City Bike 3 5 2 2 2 5 4

There are of course variations within each of these categories.

In Folding Bikes, for instance, you can find:  Folding Road Bikes,  Folding City Bikes,  Folding Touring Bikes, Folding E-Bikes

In Cargo Bikes you can find electrical assist versions,  rear-end Cargo,  front-end Cargo (Bakfiets),    setups for delivery, setups for on-street selling,  setups for passenger hauling.  You can also add a trailer to most bikes to make them "cargo savy".

In every category there are in fact variations which will effect general performance, durability, price and other details.  Still, it is always good to start in one or two categories to look at what is available to you and what will best suit your usage.  If you have a base with capacity and the budget, it is quite likely that you will consider and potentially aquire multiple categories of bike.

If you are like me a few columns will be most at play when I am choosing my bike for the day.  Because I like the speed, and because I have increased my gear range, I am riding my road bike quite a lot these days.  It is fun to go fast.  I can't carry gear and I don't go much off road, but it feels good.  When I travel for work I generally have my folding bike with me.  It is easy to bring along.  It gives me great accessiblity to the places I am going.  I like the extra speed and range this gives me.  I can also carry some gear and do some touring with it.  Around town, I jump on an ebike,  city bike or folding bike to do my errands.  Sometimes I will take an e-bike out on the road and try to ride really hard and far with the goal of getting a good workout and seeing how far I can go before depleting the battery.  In the mountains and on trail, most generally my mountain or touring bike (I do not specifically have a Gravel bike just now, but my Touring bike has been a Gravel bike for many decades.  I also set up my folding bikes with bigger tires and make them very good gravel bikes in so doing.

Boiling all this down though, I think it is important to think of both the specificity of your goals and the balancing generality of them.  It is important to think about what modifications may or may not be possible for you.  Can you put bigger tires?  Can you mount a rack?  Can you mount 2 racks?    Where do you want to go?  How far do you want to travel?  How fast to you want to ride?  How will you handle the bike when you are not riding it?  Can you store it well?  Can you easily take it with you in the various vehicles you may want to bring a bike along with along with?

Going to the "golf club" analagy.  Do you have a putter, an iron and a driving wood?  Can you combine those needs into one (some do).  Generally you will sacrafice speed when you add durability.  You will sacrafice speed and to some extend durability if you want a bike with smaller wheels and is able to pack into a suitcase.  But doing these things may also give you more actual usage.  You can carry more gear.  You can travel further places or fit in a smaller apartment.

In the end, getting on a bike, any bike, will expand your life, speed your general movement, and give you a fresh perspective that in turn will bring benefits again and again.


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Special Dahon Folding Bike customization

Dahon has made an excellent range of folding bikes for many years.  Out of the box they tend to function comfortably and well.  Variances between bikes are not always obvious, but they are there.  Though not commonly discussed, Dahon Bikes can often be upgraded  very significantly with relatively modest investments and work.  

Most recently I have completed the following upgrades:

1:  Upgrade the Visc SL to a 349 rear wheel (from 305): This makes the bike ride much better because it effectively reduces the slope of the seat post,  keeping the bike from wanting to do wheelies on a blink, and moreover, speeds up the bike by taking the gearing and adding additional distance covered every revolution (Gear Inches measure).

2:  Swap the Visc D18 Appletini handlebar post to an inner fold, adjustable height handlebar post, and couple the handlebar post with touring handlebar which gives a much more dynamic set of hand and body positions.

Nomadic upgrade, Visc SL 9 w/ 349 rear wheel  


Both of these bikes are "my" bikes so I am doing things to make the bikes work best for me.  I have often found that the things I like generally other people also appreciate for their usage.  In these two situations I am sure that is the case. 

Visc SL 9 with 349 iso rear wheel and Comet tires

Visc SL 9 - even after wheel upgrade will fit with wheels on in many 61" Airline accepted suitcases 

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Dahon's that are going, going gone...

Dahon has pulled out all the stops on several models of bike recently.  Pricing controls are gone on any "prior year model" (my term) - Closeouts (there term).  There are, among the set, some very good bikes available.  Several bikes, I am sorry that they are going away.  They have tremendous engineering in them, they work well.  It would seem that Dahon will support their spare parts moving forward.  A few of the bikes, notably the EEZZ, Jifo, and QIX models will really need that support as they have non-standard hub and wheel sizing.  Besides that though, they are really great bikes and people should jump on them if they are interested in getting some of the fastest and most compact folding bikes out there.

One bike that really stands out in the closing act is the Speed D8.  Going rate has dropped to $599 on these and it actually is much better equipped than most bikes going for $650 and more.  Some of the features specifically the Speed D8 has adjustable handlebar stem, sealed bearing bottom-bracket,  double wall rims, skewered hubs and a wide range cassette and derailleur setup.  The weight of the Speed D8 is very good and we have had a few very happy customers leave with the Speed D8. 

Available from us at this Link:


The Speed D8 has been replaced by the Speed D9 and it is available, albeit for a significanly higher price.

A few other bikes which Dahon has put out in "free fall" mode are the Anniversary version Curl I8, a very nice bike, as well as all versions of the Visc, which is one of our favorites.  My recomendation on these bikes are to get them while you can.  They will serve you very long and well.  You may or may not be able to get them in the future.

Other bikes going out with agressive pricing are the Mu D9 and Mu D10  (we are offering a pure Mu D10, which we have converted from the Mu D10 Tour.  Very fast and light with a huge range of gears and Shimano's wonderful Tiagra derailleur set.  (The Visc D18 also uses Shimano's Tiagra Derailleur sets).  Old Color Vitesse I7's are also available and on closeout.

If you are looking for a "deal" the "Ford by Dahon" bikes are available at very low pricing.  So low we have not found a way to actually sell them, but people are. I like the Taurus 7 Speed as well as the Muon models in that line up.

The Dahon Speed D7 has been one of our best sellers.  Price has dropped to a place where only the distribution system can make money on them, but get them while you can.  Not many left.  The Vybe D7 fits that nice moving forward so don't dispair if you miss the Speed.  One thing to always note, the Speed series are made with metal (not aluminum) frames.  For world travel this is a good frame to have in that you can find people to weld your frame just about anywhere if you need to.  On the other side of that, I note that most current model Alu Frame bikes use an 8mm hinge pin, while the metal framed Dahon's tend to use a 7mm one.  A small difference, but a difference none-the less.

Speed D8 though, highly recomended for combining quality with value.  Visc and Mu series bikes as well.

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Dahon Visc D18 - Suitcase travel

 Visc D18 Appletini - Suitcase Packable

For a few years now, the Visc D18 has been my primary folding bike.  I use it in many ways. 

  • I take it with me in the car so that I can get access and fun at the other end of my travel.
  • I have flown with it on several trips and been able to explore and be active in wonderful places.
  • I use it as a utility vehicle at work, running to lunch, going to the hardware store and sometimes just getting a bit of fresh air and new perspective.

The fact that I can easily pack it and fly different places, while simply checking in a normal suitcase is a real game changer for me.  I love to travel but I hate spending too much money on certain things.  Oversize baggage is one.  In fact my United Credit Card gives me one free checked bag so, by my view, my bike travels free.

Depending upon where I am going I will pack differently.

For a short business trip the bike and anything I don't want to carry in my carry on end up in the suitcase.  At my destination I will usually pickup a rental car or perhaps a ride to my hotel. 

If I am going on a travel fun trip, which I did recently, I have the ability to convert my suitcase to a bike trailer, and and carry both the bike and the trailer chassis in my suitcase.  The result of this is that I don't really need a car at the other end of my flight and I can travel from place to place with my bike, suitcase/trailer and gear.  This is incredibly freeing from so many points of view.  For one, expenses go down.  Places are seen in new ways.  One actually feels a lighter burden by not being tied to a car, the gas, worrying about it getting damaged, so many things.

Suitcases and bikes that work with them is a bit like pairing food with wine.  They need to work together and they do not always do so automatically.  Basically the regulation for how "large" a suitcase can be challenges on a few fronts.  Length, width and depth must add up to no more than 62 inches.  Wheel size. Frame, Handlebar  Transmissions.  Ease and difficulty of removing wheels. Keeping things so they can be quickly be put back together. Ability to protect parts from each other, ability to protect the whole package.  Ideally the ability to carry more of your gear and having space for it.  If you want to "trailerize" your suitcase, then all of the chassis and wheels must fit into the suitcase or be fixed safely to the suitcase.  Once the trailer chassis enters in, add to that requisite tools and hardware, then it is important to be aware of the 50 lb weight limit.

And so, what is life without a challenge?  Function first, but fashion is also important.

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Gates Belt Drive with Nuvinici N360 in Nomadic Dahon Mu N360 Folding Bike

At Nomadic, we have brought forward two very exciting updates to the Dahon Mu N360 model bike.   Joining with Dahon's very well regarded Mu Frame platform,  these modifications are focused on the integration of the Gates CTX Belt Drive being paired with the remarkable NuVinci N360 CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).Mu N360 Gates 2017 12 22 15.46.41 trimmed

The Nomadic-Dahon Mu N360 Gates Bike (above) is clean and effective.  This brings the Gates CTX Belt System, along with new fitted bottom bracket, crank set, belt tensioner together with a high level of integral precision.  The fundamental aspect of the Gates Belt Drive is that it is not "lubricated" the way chain's need to be lubricated.  Further, it is very quiet.  In a folding bike, not being lubricated means that you can carry it on your hip, throw it in the back seat of your car, lean into it with your leg and you won't get grease stains.  When you ride it, it really imparts a different experience.  You get almost a feeling of "flying" it is so quiet.  Part of this is its mating with the remarkable NuVinci transmission which does not shift in a "clicking" manner, but reather in a smooth transitional manner.  It also has a relatively quiet coasting mode, which you may note in that its efficiency gets you to speed and coasting frequently.  New Bottom Bracket and Crank sets are required as part of this upgrade and choices can be communicated.

Dahon Mu N360 with Gates Drive and Patterson 2 Speed Crank System  -

The full step further.2018 04 27 16.05.59 N360 Gates Patterson 1

 The addition of the Patterson 2 Speed Planetary Gear crank gives the bike both a Overdrive and Low range which expands the Nuvinci N360's of 360% to a remarkable  576% from its lowest to highest gearing.  Making this jump we have purposely expanded the range both Low and High.  This makes the bike capable of climbing even the steepest grades, yet rolls down the road at speed and under power at a remarkable clip.  The bike is capable for both touring and cargo/trailer uses.  Shifting is nearly instantaneous throughout the range.

We have a limited supply of these bikes available.  We can also retrofit existing N360's both in our shop and in a provided kit form.  We will update this article with direct order information as we move forward.  Exciting bikes!

2018 04 27 16.06.07 N360 Gates Patterson 2

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