Monday, August 27, 2012

Dahon Vitesse X20-TT

It has been quite some time since I last upgraded a folding bike! On my Dahon Boardwalk X20-R, there is practically nothing left for me to upgrade. It is already a 20 speed folding bike with a mix of Shimano Ultegra and 105 components, with fast rolling wheels and tires. Even if I change out the components to even higher end stuff, it may only be marginally lighter and faster, probably not worth the cost involved. In any case, it is already a great bike, and I can find no fault with it.

But my hands are itchy after not upgrading a bike for some time, and the solution is to find another bike to upgrade! I technically have 4 bikes under my stable, with my own Dahon Boardwalk X20-R and Flamingo London S7R, and Bernice's Dahon Vitesse P18-TT and Pacific Cycles Carry Me.

Coincidentally, the Vitesse has been found to be lacking in proper gear ratios at the low end of the gear range. This is due to the custom 9 speed cassette that I previously assembled. You can check out this link for more info on the custom cassette.

12-28T 9 speed cassette, as previously seen on the Boardwalk

This 9 speed cassette has sprockets sizes of 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-23-28. The advantage of this combination is that it has a close spread of high gear ratios (12-17T) for comfortable cruising on flat roads, but also has a low 28T sprocket for those "friendly" slopes.

However, the disadvantage is that the jumps between the lower gears are quite large, as the sprocket size changes quite a lot from 19-23T and 23-28T. This can be a problem when climbing slopes, as the 23T sprocket is too hard, but when changing down to 28T, the difference is too great, and the pedaling momentum is lost.

To solve this issue, the best way is to have one more speed between the 23T and 28T sprocket. But I cannot do that on a 9 speed cassette without sacrificing a sprocket from the higher gear range (12-17T). The solution is to upgrade to 10 speeds!

A lot of people ask why do we want so many speeds? My answer is, it gives you more gear ratios which makes your pedaling more efficient and comfortable. It may not necessarily make you go faster, but you will have more gears to choose from and you will be more likely to find a gear that you can pedal on at a comfortable cadence.

Working from the previous iteration of the Dahon Vitesse P18-TT, the "ingredients" that I need to convert the bike into a 2X10 speed bike are listed as below:

Components needed to upgrade the Vitesse from 18 speeds to 20 speeds:
1) 10 speed road cassette
2) 2x10 speed road shifter
3) 10 speed road front derailleur (FD), double
4) 10 speed road chain

1) KMC MissingLink for 10 speed chains

Shimano Tiagra 4600 12-30T 10 speed cassette.

Why choose this? Wide ratio 12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30 cassette gives you many climbing gears. The 16T sprocket is sacrificed, but hopefully it is not a problem.

Shimano Tiagra 4600 2x10 speed road shifters

Why choose this? Instead of the higher end road shifters with internal shifter cable routing, I chose these shifters because of the external shifter cable routing. This is better for bullhorn bars to avoid excessive friction in the shifter cables.

Shimano 105 5700 double front derailleur

Why choose this? Because it matches the rear derailleur and crankset!

Shimano 10 speed chain

 KMC Reusable MissingLink for Shimano 10 speed chains

Note that these are not the only components that are needed to upgrade a bike from 9 to 10 speeds! You will also need a 10 speed rear derailleur and a 10 speed crankset. I did not need these for the Vitesse as it already has a Shimano 105 5600 Double Crankset and 105 5600 Rear Derailleur on it, which are both 10 speed components.

Sidetrack: During the upgrading of the cassette, I decided to take the chance to dismantle the rear hub and grease the internal pawl and ratchet mechanism

Rear hub with dirty grease. Still not too bad as it was last serviced at the beginning of this year.

Pawls on the freehub body

A clean ratchet! I just took some toilet paper and wiped away the old grease.

Similarly, the pawls and other parts are also cleaned.

As it says on the cover, you need special freehub grease. It is much lighter than normal grease, but more viscous than oil.

Generously coating the ratchet and pawls with freehub grease

After greasing the internals of the freehub mechanism, the freehub runs smoother and much more quietly. The freehub clicking sound will slowly return to its normal levels as the grease is displaced during normal usage.

Back to the Vitesse upgrade!

Sparkling new 10 speed cassette!

Go on, count it. You know you want to.

Tiagra 10 speed road shifters. Great shifters at an affordable price.

New Shimano 105 5700 FD with the older series Shimano 105 5600 53/39T crankset

Shimano 105 5600 series RD

I love the gleaming look of a clean drivetrain!

New bar tape in Bianchi Green! Definitely eye-catching.

Overall view of the Dahon Vitesse X20-TT

I have brought the bike out for a few test rides, and it rides awesomely well! In fact, sometimes I feel that it rides better than my own Boardwalk. With the new 12-30T cassette, the gear range is now 26"-88". Great for climbing, ready to tackle any slopes! The shifting is also buttery smooth, you got to try it to believe it. Personally, I feel that the shifting is at the Dura-Ace level, smooth, light and precise, especially for the front shifting.

It was a fun and great upgrade. Definitely worth the time, money and effort spent!

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Bar End Lights for Drop Bars

Running out of places to install a light on your bike? If you have a drop bar installed, you can add bar end lights to make your bike even more visible at night!

I previously used another set of bar end lights, but they were not meant for drop bars, as the light beam is mainly directed out from the side windows. Those lights are actually meant for flat handlebars, which will position the light in such a way that the bright beam shines out from the side window towards the rear.

This time, I got the proper bar end lights for drop bars.

Simple packaging, at a not so cheap price.

Only 33 grams for a pair! Can add on to your road bike without increasing the weight much.

Light beam mainly shines out from the window on top, although it is still visible from the side window.

Uses 1xAAA battery each. I prefer it over the use of small button cells.

This light may seem very similar to the one I previously used, but the main difference here is the light beam. This new bar end lights is meant for the ends of drop bars, thus the light beam mainly shines from the ends, and is directed towards the rear. This makes it very visible from the back.

Simple addition to the bike, quite useful in making the bike look wider, and hopefully vehicles will give you a wider berth when overtaking.

Some pictures to show the lights in action:

Rear view of the bike, without bar end lights.

With bar end lights turned on. Slightly more visible, but not by much, unless it is dark.

Another view from the rear, without the bar end lights.

With the bar end lights turned on. They are not very visible, perhaps because my main rear light is so bright!

Meanwhile, the previous bar end lights are not wasted. They have been installed on the Carry Me instead!