Sitting at your desk all day? Tapping away at your keyboard 'til your wrists hurt? If this sounds familiar you need to break away from your computer for a while and get some fresh air. With winter drawing nearer, now is a good time to get out early morning and go for a cycle. Or, perhaps you want to reduce your carbon footprint, so that short drive to work could be done in about the same time, whilst creating less pollution... oh, and did I mention you can get fitter at the same time!
Enough of this cheeky banter, the Dahon Vitesse D7 is a snazzy 7 gear bike that turns up in a very compact package. When the courier drops it to you, it will leave you wondering how a bike can fit in such a small box. Pop the box open, unfold the frame, pop the handlebars up, adjust the seat height, and away you go. It really is that simple and the preconception that folding bikes look 'girly' or 'silly' is null and void. The Vitesse D7 looks great in the supplied grey stone colour and it is amazingly easy to use.
At the bottom of this review there is a small gallery showing the folding procedure. As I described above it is very straightforward. In its folded state, there is a simple but very effective magnet (small circular disks) that hold the whole thing together. A lot of thought has gone into keeping things compact, even the pedals (shown below) fold. The quick release mechanisms need to be quite tight, otherwise you might find the saddle slipping, but the tightness of them is the only real caveat. Once unfolded and the height adjusted, the Vitesse D7 is a joy to ride. The 20-inch wheels are smaller than regular road bikes, but just the right size to deliver the stability of a full-size bike. The riding position is pretty much spot on, with the reach being suitable (in my opinion) for anything between a 5ft and 6ft tall person. A real shorty might find a 16-inch wheeled Dahon a better fit.
The Suntour 7-speed gears are nice and smooth, not missing a single change during testing. The Promax V aluminium brakes, coupled with the rest of the aluminium parts, and Dahon's own developed parts, all add up to a very slick package. The bike is pretty light, coming is at just under 25lbs. This makes it very easy to ride, and just as easy to lift into the back of your car when folded.
During my test ride I found that the Vitesse D7 performed very well. My seatpost did initially slip, until I tightened up the quick release. The saddle also felt as though it could do with a bit more padding, but then that might just be my rear end not having much of its own.
The ride itself, some six miles, was a joy though. Road riding was ultra smooth and the gears ate up flats and steady inclines. Then onto some gravel lanes and again the Vitesse coped with ease. When I venture onto some ground more suited to a mountain bike, the bumps and stones were coped with very well. Yes, the bike jumped around a bit, but it was a more than comfortable experience.
So, for your £339 you get what feels like a full size bike, that folds down nice and small for sticking in the back of your car. Perfect for leisure or commuting use, and easily usable for eating up the miles with those smooth Suntour gears. You get mudguards, a rear rack and a dinky bell to complete the package. The build quality and folding mechanism are superb, so easy, yet very safe. If you need a new bike that draws some attention and is ultimately very good for a lot of different uses, then the Dahon Vitesse D7 should definitely be on your shortlist.