Monday, November 4, 2013

A Foldie's Journey - Part 1

In the beginning...

I chanced upon a 2008 Dahon Speed P8 that was hanging on a window display at a bike shop in Taipan USJ five years ago.
It's appearance and overall built quality spoke to me and over a couple of days, I worked out the costings on what that would be my first bicycle in 25 years.
Even back then, I began researching about folding bicycles and the brand "Dahon" came up tops on the Yahoo search. This pre-dates Google back in 1997.
It wasn't until 2006 when I had a closer look at the Dahon bikes during a visit to St Kilda's beach in Melbourne, Australia.
At that time, the cost was prohibitive. 
On the average, a folding bike would cost around AUD$1,600 a piece.
So, after seeing a black bike that looks like a BMX with an 8-speed drivetrain, I made a decision to purchase the bike that was sold at RM2,090.
The store supervisor gave me a 5% discount that came to around RM1,985.
I did a little bit of research and found out that the Dahon Speed P8 is a premium priced bike with hardy components.
It was easy to use and when I rode it around the neighbourhood, it handled like a larger bike. 
The only thing that felt funny was the small 20" wheels.
If you have the "Circus Bear" syndrome, it would take some getting used to.
I felt bad that Michelle was "left out", so, with my limited knowledge, I bought her a Dahon Curve D3 folding bike.
It was a 16" folding bike which is still in our keeps.
Together, we rode around the neighbourhood and after a while, we got lazy.
The bikes were just sitting around.
That was until much later when I had an idea of how to spend the weekend by transporting the bikes to a certain destination, deploy and explore. 

Maiden ride on my Dahon Speed P8

Getting used to a small bike

The 2008 Dahon Speed P8 
Pulau Ketam, the beginning of a wanderlust on a folding bike

We drove to Port Klang and took a ferry to Pulau Ketam.
This inspired us to do some rides in Selangor and we ended up cycling in Kuala Selangor, Sekinchan and Tg Karang.
Slowly, but steadily, we began to move away from cycling in our neighbourhood.
It wasn't until October 2010 when we actually joined other cyclists on a social ride around Kuala Lumpur.
Having "migrated" to Subang Jaya, I wasn't fond of riding around the city.
It was then when I realised that we were merely sub-urban cyclists because we were not really equipped like the rest of the guys.
They've set a good example by wearing cycling helmets and gloves for protection.
Seeing that safety is paramount, I bought helmets to outfit our rides.

Michelle and her Dahon Curve D3

Riding in Pulau Ketam

At a social ride in KL back in 2010
We joined the rest of the gang on social rides in Putrajaya and met on occasions to talk about cycling and hear stories from the more experienced cyclists.
As it turned out, we did more exploring than social rides and since I was not too keen on riding around the city, I gave a few rides a miss.

Widening our social circle..

We met quite a few characters when we first joined some social cycling groups.
There were folks who cycle for leisure, some did it to network in terms of business, a handful were "followers" of their idols (architects, rich buggers, rockstars, celebrities).
Michelle and I were not really bothered or intimidated by people in high places, we just want to go out, learn and have fun..
Lucky for us, we met and became friends to a couple of cyclists whom we are still riding with until today.
With the ups and downs, people also come and go.
Some remained in the circle, cycling pricey and branded bikes while a few had actually dropped out from the scene..

The Dahon Folding Bike Club

The few in the beginning

Checking out the goods at Rodalink Bangsar

This was the brainchild of a product and marketing guy from Le Run. 
He gathered a few fellas and conducted a meeting at the Rodalink store in Bangsar.on Sept 16, 2010 which fell on Malaysia Day.
The agenda was a social ride in Sunway Pyramid called "Pedal Away Polio" which we didn't participate.
There, I met an old-timer Mr TT Siang and became friends with him. I also met Mr Wee Chong Siang, a retired RMAF personel who is still active back in his hometown in Butterworth.
Basically, these are the guys whom I am still keeping in touch with till today.
Sadly, the Dahon Folding Bike Club had died of natural causes.
There was no commitment from the organizers and the guy behind it was also not a cyclist. He too has left the building after giving it a shot at promoting folding bikes.

The trend didn't die, it just grew stronger...

Dahon's Vector X10
Folding bikes was in its infancy back in 2008.
I was told by the guy who brought in the Dahons (five basic models) that they didn't actually sell until mid-2009.
A few was sold here and there and these are mainly bought by people who wanted to use them as utility bikes in their household.
No one was mad enough to go bikepacking, camping or even touring.
Even the phrase: "Touring on a folding bike" was a word that is alien to the bicycling community.
In the order of hierarchy, folding bikes ranks as the lowest form of transport.
But in the years to come, that will change.
From a handful of people, the numbers started to grow, this made way for the launch of Dahon's 2011 line-up.
It was considered as an interesting year for the industry as the best of the lot was brought in to Malaysia for the mass market.
But 2011 also marked the departure Joshua Hon from Dahon, he's a well-respected man in the folding bike business.
Tern Bicycles was formed in June 2011, their products were launched here in December the same year.
For me, 2011 became a stellar year in terms of cycling.
Michelle and I went places.
But we broke off from the larger group that was initially formed by an old-timer.
This was due to some misunderstanding about a trip to Southern Thailand.
Later, I learned that the group had also disintegrated due to a big clash when they did a long ride.
Talk aside, not everyone is mentally and physically strong. That was what we learned and despite being shunned, our lust to go out and ride became much stronger..

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