Sunday, December 18, 2011

Journey of the Boardwalk: Part 18 - Boardwalk X20-R

Ever wanted to have a road bike that folds? Imagine how much convenience this can bring to you. You can cycle at a good speed on your foldable road bike (perhaps not as fast as full sized road bikes), but at the end of the ride, when you are tired, you can just chuck the bike into a taxi or take an MRT for your trip home. Or, you can do a long one way trip, and take alternative forms of transport back. This is especially useful for routes that start and end at different places!

Previously, I had changed my Dahon Boardwalk to a bike with bullhorn bars. The bullhorn bars are pretty good, with many advantages over flat handlebars. You can read all about the advantages here at this post. Of course, the folding will not be as compact, since the road shifters and the bullhorns stick out so much from the side of the folded bike. But there is no problem with bringing it along in a car (no car rack needed) or on the MRT.

After 3 months with my bullhorns, my hands are itchy again! Time for more upgrades! I want to use road shifters, but the poor cable routing is a major issue with bullhorn bars, since road shifters were not designed with the shape of the bullhorns in mind. With the Shimano Tiagra 4500 shifters it is still fine, since the shifter cables come out from the side of the shifters, thus they are not affected by the sharp corners encountered by the brake cable routing.
Shifter cables for the Tiagra 4500 shifters exits from the side of the shifter

At this point, I was very happy with the 18 speed Boardwalk that I have. However, I would like to use dropbars, as I have realised that bullhorns are actually just dropbars without the drops! So in fact, with the dropbars I gain a position in the drops, which will be really useful when the headwind gets strong.

So if I'm changing to dropbars, I can use any road shifters I like. What I noticed is that for the new higher end Shimano road shifters (7900, 6700, 5700), both the brake cable and shifter cables are routed from the rear of the shifter. This means that the shifter cable will not exit from the side of the shifter, and I prefer this setup as the area in between the dropbars will be neater without cables.

For me, a suitable set of road shifters would be the Shimano 105 5700 road shifters, with all the technologies of the Ultegra and Dura-Ace shifters, but at a more affordable price! This also means that I will need to upgrade the rear drivetrain from 9 to 10 speeds. For me, it is not a big problem. I already have the 10 speed compatible Shimano 105 5600 crankset, the Ultegra 6700 10 speed compatible rear derailleur and the Shimano Dura-Ace 7901 10 speed chain. Just need to get the 10 speed cassette and shifters!

Without further ado, I present to you the Dahon Boardwalk X20-R, a 20 speed folding bike with a road bike setup!

ABR Anatomic Dropbars (Diameter 26mm), an affordable aluminium dropbar, weighing in at a healthy 220 grams.

One thing to take note is that the clamp for the Dahon handlepost is for 25.4mm handlebars, but I managed to squeeze in the 26mm dropbars. Together with Fiber Grip, there is no issue with looseness. Do not try this with carbon handlebars!

Bontrager Gel designed to be placed under the bar tape, for greater comfort!

Very nice Fizik bar tape, good to touch. But I find it a bit too thin.

10 speed Shimano 105 5700 cassette. 12-27T (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 24, 27)

The highlight of the 20 speed drivetrain: The Shimano 105 5700 Double road shifters!

Jagwire Inline Cable Adjusters. Essential for adjusting the cable tension for the front derailleur, since my bike does not have frame or shifter mounted cable adjusters.

1 mm shim needed when installing Shimano 10 speed cassette onto 8/9 speed freehubs

Ta-da! Shiny new 10 speed cassette!

Don't you love a clean cassette?

With the experience gained from installing the bullhorn bars, the installation this time went much more smoothly. I knew how to estimate the length of the cable housing required, where to tape and locate the sections of cable housings, how to route the cables along the bike. Also important is how much extra length the front brake cable housing needs, so that it does not snag or get overstretched when the handlepost is folded down.

Brake cable routed on the inside, shifter cable routed along the outside of the dropbars.

View from the other side. Bar tape not yet put on, need to go for test ride to finalise position of road shifters before wrapping up the handlebar.

2 brake cable housings and 2 shifter cable housings. Any simple and elegant way of tidying up this?

 Beautiful Jagwire inline cable adjusters. I decided to locate them in front of the handlepost for easy access and adjustment while riding.

 In case you are wondering how the cyclocross brake levers fit in, here it is! Split the outer cable housing, and install them either side of the brake levers. The brake inner cable is a continuous cable!

Sweet view of the Shimano 105 shifters. I am using the 10mm adjustment pad to reduce the reach of the shifters, this makes it easier to grip while holding the hoods.

Front view of the bullhorn bars with road shifters

 Side view of the bullhorn bars. The dropbar is tilted downwards so that the drops are comfortable, while the shifters are tilted upwards for more comfort while holding the hoods.

 At the other end of the bike, the 10 speed Shimano 105 cassette with 10 speed Dura-Ace chain, installed on my gold Wheelsport wheels!

After finalising the angle of the dropbars and the positions of the shifters, the Fizik bar tape went on

Practice makes perfect!

With the gel padding underneath the bar tape, it makes the handlebar seem fatter. But it is nice and comfortable to hold!

Shimano 105 Road Shifters in black

 The bell has not been forgotten! Installed at the end of the drops, it does not affect the grip, unlike when installed on the bullhorns.

 More pictures of my Dahon Boardwalk X20-R

I have had this road bike setup for about 3 weeks already, but haven't had much time to test and ride the bike due to the rainy weather. But I must say that the more I ride this bike, the more I like it! The hoods are really comfortable to hold, and is a good primary riding position. The drops are really useful too on long stretches, as it allows you to reduce your frontal profile and reduce aerodynamic drag. Notice that the drops are not so low anyway, due to my relatively tall handlepost. Which is the way I like it, not too much of a drop that requires me to bend over a lot! This road bike riding position really encourages you to cycle fast...

Since the cable routing is now better, the braking feel is also much improved! It no longer feels sticky and draggy as the cable routing is smoother compared to the routing used on the bullhorns. With the new 12-27T cassette, together with the 53/39T crankset, the gear inches for this bike is now 29" to 88". Slightly on the low end, but it is customised to my needs!


  1. Interesting read there! where did you get the ABR drop bar from? online or local? non-oversized are pretty hard to find!

  2. I got them locally at Mybikeshop. limited stocks! 26mm diameter bars are still available, just not as common as those 31.8mm diameter bars.

  3. mind to check where do u buy the Jagwire Inline Cable Adjusters and how much?

  4. Those can be found at Soon Watt along Changi Rd, think the price is around $16 per pair.

  5. how is the fit of the 26.0 bar on the 25.4 clamp?will the QR close easily without using the fiber grip gel?im getting a 26.0 bullhorn so i will be opening and closing the clamp quite alot during folds.

  6. it does not fit perfectly, as the handlebar is slightly larger than the clamp size. you will need the QR to be tight, and also use the fiber grip gel if not the handlebar will rotate downwards.

    i suggest that you don't open and close the clamp too often, as it will need to be done up tight. in any case, with the shape of the drop bars, rotating it for folding will not make it much more compact anyway.

    let me know which handlepost you are using, perhaps I can recommend a folding method.

  7. ah im using a bullhorn bar and the only ones that i could find that are within my budget has a clamp size of 26.0. thats why i thought that it could still be rotated for folding and still achieve the most compact fold. im using the same handlepost as you, if you're still using the mu uno handlepost. thanks in advance for ur advice!

  8. you can try these ways of folding, depending on your need for storing in a car or bringing onto the MRT.

  9. Hi,where can i get e electric horn ?
    Is it good ?

  10. not sure where you are, but it can be useful sometimes. however not loud enough to be heard by drivers of big vehicles.

  11. hi there!
    does the drop horns at that postion provide you with good aerodynamics ?

    1. For my bullhorn setup, it is not so aerodynamic as the handlepost is set rather high for better comfort. But it is definitely better than flat handlebars.

    2. im taking your blog as a guide on how to upgrade my tern d8
      slight correction from the previous msg what i meant was if the *drop bar provide you with better aerodynamics
      i understand that there are some foldie riders who switch their dahon stock post to dahon jetstream post w the reason being its only 27cm long
      only reason was for aerodynamics
      but if it could be achieved using a drop bar i might just go ahead with the upgrades

      ps: you blog is a foldie bible
      keep it up

    3. both comments were made by me
      regarding aero dynamics
      isit ok if you add me on facebook ?
      ive got tons of questions to ask you hahahaha

    4. Hey just give me your email address and I will contact youvia email

    5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. If converting from flat bar to drop bars for the first time, do I have to get used to the longer reach to the hoods or should I adjust the handlebar nearer to the rider using e.g. litepro stem like your dahon vitesse p18-tt? I've gotten sore neck and shoulders after riding it for the first time.

    Thanks in advance!

  13. The riding position is definitely very different. It could be that you are just not used to it, or the position is really too stretched out for you. For the Vitesse, the rider is rather short at 155 cm, therefore the need to shorten the reach. The height of the handlepost also makes a difference. I suggest asking a friend to help you take a look at the riding position.

  14. do you think the litepro stem can fit on the drop bars?

    1. It may be quite difficult to put in the LitePro stem past the bends on the drop bar. Also, LitePro only makes stems with 25.4mm clamp diameter, so you cannot use 26mm or 31.8mm diameter drop bars.


Every comment is moderated before publishing due to spam bots. If you don't see your comment yet, it is likely that it is currently being reviewed. Thank you for your patience!