There are many Dahon bikes, but how many Dahon bikes come with road shifters/brake levers and caliper brakes? Other than the Speed Pro TT and the new 2011 Dash X20, no other Dahon folding bike comes equipped with these road components.
Because of this, the Speed Pro TT can be truly called a road bike, since it has Shimano Tiagra ST-4500 road shifters and bullhorn handlebars. As for the brakes, it has been changed every year since 2008.
In 2008, the Speed Pro TT came with long reach caliper brakes. For 2009, it came with V brakes and NO Travel Agent, which caused the braking performance to be really poor. As for the 2010 version, it was V brakes but at least it came with the Travel Agent, which allows compatibility between the road shifter/brake levers and the V brakes. Currently, the 2011 version is called the Vector X27, which has V brakes with the Travel Agents.
2008 Speed Pro TT, comes with long reach caliper brakes. Chromoly Steel frame.
2009 Speed Pro TT, comes with V brakes and NO Travel Agent. Aluminium Frame.
2010 Speed Pro TT, comes with V brakes and Travel Agents. Aluminium Frame.
2011 Vector X27, comes with V brakes and Travel Agents. Hydroformed Aluminium Frame.
At this point, if you are wondering what are Travel Agents, you can check out my previous post
showing the transformation of my Boardwalk to the Boardwalk TT.
Travel Agent as seen on the 2010 Speed Pro TT.
However, these Travel Agents are not ideal for braking performance, as it introduces a lot of friction and thus efficiency losses into the brake system. The are many points of contact between the moving brake cable and the Travel Agent, and the rubbing can be easily felt through the brake levers. Also, because the brake cable is bent around such a small radius, it tends to want to unravel itself and again causes a lot of resistance when applying the brakes. Lastly, the geometry of the bullhorn bars, together with the long frame of the folding bike plus the wrapping of the brake cable around the Travel Agent means that even with the full length of the brake cable, it is only barely long enough to reach the rear brakes.
Due to all these issues, I decided to try to find long reach caliper brakes, which can be mounted on the holes for the fender bolts and reach all the way down to the rim. After some searching, I came across some caliper brakes that are actually meant for trekking/comfort bikes, which means large and fat tires with fenders installed. These caliper brakes are able to reach up to 74mm (measured from mounting bolt to rim), compared to the normal reach of about 50mm.
Extra Long Reach Tektro R559 brake calipers. Comes in black or silver.
Compare the distance and the arch width between the Long Reach Tektro brakes (Nutted)
and the normal reach Ultegra brakes (Recessed).
Also, it is necessary to get the nutted version, which has a bolt and an external nut to fix the caliper brake onto the frame. The recessed version can only be used on certain frames, not Dahon frames. To learn more about these two different mounting methods, read the Sheldon Brown website here.
Installing the brakes was rather straightforward. For me, it was the first time I was installing caliper brakes, thus it was quite tricky to get the alignment correct. By the way, I changed to Kool Stop All-Weather brake pads, not even bothering to try the stock brake pads!
Good clearance between brakes and fender! Clearance is maintained even when brakes are applied.
At the maximum reach, it is just long enough to reach the rims.
Black caliper brakes to go with my black fork!
Rear caliper brakes fit well too!
Once I had changed the brakes, the braking improved tremendously, as the cable pull of the road shifters match the required cable pull of the brake calipers perfectly. Also, there is much lesser friction acting on the brake cable, which means that the braking action is much smoother. No more squishy brakes!
This upgrade should be possible for most Dahon bikes, as the frame structure is similar and the reach required should be achievable by these Tektro R559 long reach caliper brakes. Of course, these should be paired with road shifters/brake levers for optimal performance.