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Old 10-05-06, 07:31 AM   #1
Swa50
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Touring bike: Dahon Speed TR vs. Mu

Going to buy a touring bike. Question: would Dahon Mu be a good choice or should I go with Speed TR?
I like the simplicity of Mu, i.e. 8 gears, no derailer sticking out, so less chances for transportation damage, and that it comes with lights, fenders, and a rear rack for the same price as TR without any accessories.
My concerns are around the frame strength and the gears - not sure if 30-89 will be enough for a longer New Zealand trip.
Any advice, especially from Dahon Mu users much appreciated.
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Old 10-05-06, 09:01 AM   #2
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Answer: Neither.

For the $900 that the TR or Mu would run, you can definitely get either a Bike Friday or a Swift. BF's pack well and are fully customizable. I like my Swift, but only recommend it as a travel bike if you fly once or twice a year tops.

The problems that I have with using any Dahon for serious / regular touring is that they've got too many proprietary parts, and the frames are too flexy. It will be difficult to upgrade the bike and/or do some repairs -- especially a few years down the road, when Dahon has updated a certain proprietary part on the latest version of that bike. The handlepost is a big problem -- you can't pull back on them when climbing without feeling tons of flex, as down the road that flexing may break the handlepost.

With these specific models, both are heavy (28+ lbs) and you also can't really adjust the handlebar very much -- a few mm of vertical travel. So basically either you like the one position that bike offers (which is rather upright) or you're SOL.

By comparison, both the BF's and Swifts are stiff, strong, light, adjustable, ride almost like a 700c bike (except for steering) and use tons of standard parts.


On a separate note, I wouldn't worry about having a rear derailleur, countless numbers of people tour on 700c and 20" wheeled bikes, year after year, mile after mile, with derailleurs. Obviously you should follow your preferences, but I'd recommend an internal hub if you were going to be in very muddy and dirty environments or absolutely cannot stand doing transmission maintenance.
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Old 10-05-06, 09:15 AM   #3
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To answer the specific question, the Mu is definitely not a touring bike. It rides like a skateboard. The OE gearing is not low enough or tall enough. The Speed TR, however, is designed for touring.

To provide a broader answer, do you need a folder? If you need a folder, do you need small wheels (ERTO 406 or smaller)? I've set up my Dahon Cadenza (a folder) for touring (pix soon, as soon as I apply the bedliner stealth coating) with an ERTO 622 (aka 700c) wheelset. If you need small wheels, I would rebuild a DT FS. There is simply no substitute for full suspension on a small wheel bike. On a long tour, cockpit fatigue is a major issue.
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Old 10-05-06, 10:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maunakea
To answer the specific question, the Mu is definitely not a touring bike. It rides like a skateboard.
Would you be kind enough to expand a bit on this comment?
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Old 10-05-06, 10:18 AM   #5
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Swa50:

I do not own Dahon bikes, but I believe the Mu is a good looking one. When I tried it, it was, by far, the stiffest folder that I ever rode. I could not imagine myself doing 30 miles on it.

On the other hand, I've done several cities with a downtube and was happy with that (if it wasn't a little bigger than my preferences when folded, I would keep it).

My opinion: Get a Downtube Full Suspension and spend some money on it to make it look and feel the way you want.

Let us know what you get.
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Old 10-05-06, 11:07 AM   #6
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I agree with Bacciagalupe about Dahon's habit of constant changing of their parts making the older models rather obsolete before a long period of time passes. That is why I will purchase frame, seatpost, stem, and handlebar QR latches to forstall tossing even my cheapie Boarldwalk too soon.
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Old 10-05-06, 11:23 AM   #7
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SWA50,

I would be cognisant of the overall weight of the bike. A Downtube FS will hold paniers, is cheap, and will be comfy, but will be very heavy. A Mu should be comfy, too, and fine for touring.

The Swift and Bike Friday will indeed by comfy and light, but the Swift doesn't fold much, and the BF takes a long time to fold. So, if you are planning on folding up and going into a resturaunt or hotel on the road, that's a consideration. Birdy is a best of all worlds option, but you have to be a cash machine, (unless you are willing to put up with Alivio components).
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Old 10-05-06, 12:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse
Just keep in mind that the Dahon is a quick fold and the BF is not.CE
Dahon is a quick fold but with the quick fold you can't really do much besides fit it in your car's trunk or board a train (which I don't think will happen very often while touring New Zealand). To have the Dahon fitting inside internationally accepted luggage it will require more than the quick fold.

Please correct me if I am wrong though.
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Old 10-05-06, 03:04 PM   #9
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Isn't a steel frame over an aluminium frame better for touring as it isn't so jarring?
That's what I heard anyhoo.
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Old 10-05-06, 03:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
Answer: Neither.

For the $900 that the TR or Mu would run, you can definitely get either a Bike Friday or a Swift.
You can't get a touring BF for $900.00 dollars. A Pocket Tourist with the Sram Dual Drive will set you back $1,098.00 and you still have to get pedals and saddle. The TR comes with a very good suspension seat post which I consider a necessity for a 20 inch wheel bicycle. The Pocket Tourist is 25lbs without saddle, pedals and fenders so the actual weght is closer to the TR. Unfortunately, the TR comes with that terrible handlebar made for someone 6'0 and over. You can change it for less than $100.00 as I have.

A New World Tourist starts at $1,375.00 for the Sram Dual Drive. A tripple would set you back even more.
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Old 10-05-06, 06:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
Would you be kind enough to expand a bit on this comment?
re: "rides like a skateboard".

To quote from the Dahon website, "At only 8.6 kilos (18.9 lbs.), the Mu SL is the world's lightest production folding bike." The Mu SL accelerates faster than a Ti road bike ... but if you have to ride it for long, your okole and wrists will start to complain. Even with the sus front hub, the day I spent on a Mu SL on the paved section of the Springwater Corridor in Portland, OR, was memorable for the harshness of the ride... the harshest riding bike I have even riden. I felt every buckle, crack, and bump with "strong definition". Second in harshness to the Mu SL would be the Cadenza. They both have straight forks and aluminum frames. I wonder what the Mu SL would be like without the sus front hub, because the hub seemed to have no effect. The harshness may have been more noticeable because I had done the entire paved Springwater Corridor, out and back (about 30 miles) on the MK bike the previous day.

If the OP has in mind the Mu XL, same frame as an SL, no sus front hub, high spoke count wheels on the XL vs. the low spoke count of the SL, the OP would be counting on the TB sus seatpost to tame the harshness. The Mu XL, called a "city bike" by Dahon, is 300 grams lighter than the Speed TR. Both have TBs. My experience is mostly on Speed P8s, with some time on the TR. The steel frame makes a surprising difference. The Mu SL rides takes the lightness prize, but also the harshness prize. If the choice is Mu XL vs. Speed TR, the 300 gram "penalty" is not a penalty, it's giving you a great seat frame ride.

Last edited by maunakea; 10-05-06 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 10-05-06, 07:34 PM   #12
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Swa50 -- OK, I don't know if you're reading any of this. But if you're still set on a Dahon, definitely talk to Gaerlan Cycles. Apparently there are some problems with packing the 2006 Speed TR's. As a result, they are customizing Speed P8's with the DualDrive for travel purposes.



Quote:
Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse
I've never noticed any flex with the Dahon frame. Granted, the handlepost is a bit flexy if you really crank on it.
That's the bit Seriously though, I've noticed a huge difference between my Dahon (a recent Mariner D7) and my Swift, night and day. "Flexy" isn't always bad, though, as it soaks up some of the bumps.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse
My handlebar adjusts vertically several inches.
BF's and Swifts use more standard equipment, and give a fair range of options -- higher, lower, back, forward. The BF can be customized to fit you and is for all intensive purposes unlimited; with the Swift, you can change stems and handlepost height, so it's inbetween a BF and a Dahon TR for versatility of positions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
You can't get a touring BF for $900.00 dollars. A Pocket Tourist with the Sram Dual Drive will set you back $1,098.00 and you still have to get pedals and saddle.
May I be so bold as to adjust this claim? You cannot get a Bike Friday set up like a Speed TR for $900. There are several Pocket Tourists, including a 24-speed (no DD) at $900 or less.

I do agree, though, that in terms of up-front cost the BF will be more expensive, and a high-quality BF will be substantially more expensive. I have no idea whether a $900 BF will hold up better than a Speed TR over time/miles.

If budget is an issue, $800 will get you a mighty fine Swift.

And let's be honest, would you really want to tour on a manufacturer's stock saddle and standard platform pedals?


maunakea: Merci beaucoup for the extra info, even as a non-fan of pricier Dahons I'm kind of surprised by your comments though. I wonder if it's possible to adjust that front hub to get more suspension....
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Old 10-05-06, 08:23 PM   #13
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I was going to post something but I better not.
Lets just say that a lot of OPINIONS are heavy biased.
I hope Swan 50 will give me a call and I can explain the subtle differences

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Old 10-05-06, 08:28 PM   #14
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Thanks a lot to all of you for feedback  good info! I have just two weeks to get organized; will probably buy the Speed TR, despite all mentioned potential issues.
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Old 10-06-06, 03:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
To answer the specific question, the Mu is definitely not a touring bike. It rides like a skateboard.
I quickly rode a Mu SL a few weeks ago. The owner was using Marathon Racers (highish psi - but not max) and the bike felt fine. With Stelvios, I imagine the ride will transmit every imperfection on the road.

On my fixed Trek, I have a Marathon Slick rear and Stelvio up front (I cannot live with a 28mm rear tyre). The ride is pretty harsh, but bearable. The Cro-moly forks help, but the Pantour's performance is hampered by the fact that I can only use two trajectory screws due to the 10mm braking surface...

Perhaps I will go for a thudbuster...
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Old 10-06-06, 07:18 AM   #16
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The Mu SL I rode had Stelvios at max rated psi. The owner insisted on max rated psi because of pinch flat problems.
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Old 10-06-06, 07:23 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear&Trembling
Perhaps I will go for a thudbuster...
F&T, you will soon look on the TB as indispensable if you are now riding a non-sus 406 or smaller bike. It takes away the minor hits and does amazing things with major hits like frost heaves, cracked paving, potholes, tar snakes, pave (add egou e).
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Old 10-06-06, 08:38 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maunakea
F&T, you will soon look on the TB as indispensable if you are now riding a non-sus 406 or smaller bike. It takes away the minor hits and does amazing things with major hits like frost heaves, cracked paving, potholes, tar snakes, pave (add egou e).
Agreed.

My first Dahon Piccolo (Chromoly 4130) was not rideable after 15 miles. I purchased a cheap suspension seat post Dahon offered at the time and was able to do Bike New York (40+ miles ) with no problem. Dahon wanted to make the lightest production bike with the Mu but sacrificed comfort in the process. A mistake.

Once you add the ThudBuster, the Mu now weights about as much as their Chromoly frame folders. I have no problem with my new Dahon Vitesse even though it's aluminum frame because I installed a Brooks Champion flyer.

The new (used) Presto I acquired feels just like my Piccolo after installing their suspension seat post! Yes it's true! My hard Al Presto feels just as good as my Piccolo made of chromoly with the suspension post.
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Old 10-06-06, 10:14 AM   #19
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I've never ridden a Mu, but the Speed TR was made for touring - use the right tool for the right job. In addition, you can swap out your casette for a larger range one if you need to spin up some big hills.The TR has a dual drive hub, so if the internal gears stop working, you always have the casette gears to help get you home,
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Old 10-06-06, 12:01 PM   #20
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I own both a 2005 Speed TR and a 2006 Mu sl - I don't tour but I do commute with a rack and small trunk bag- 30 miles round trip. Cutting to the chase - I'd go with the Speed TR for touring.

I did not care for the suspension seatpost on the Speed TR and swapped it out with a used I-beam seatpost off a Jetstream so I guess you can surmise that I prefer firm to cushy. No padded shorts for me either.

That said, I personally do not find the ride on the Mu to be harsh at all. I'm rather surprised how smooth it rides actually given the rep that small wheels bikes are more harsh and that aluminium bikes are harser still. I cannot say that the Speed TR, overall, is a smoother riding bike than the Mu sl. However, Pavement type and condition make a HUGE difference in the feel of the bikes. If you are on concrete - I would expect the speed tr to be a smoother ride. If you are on smooth aspault with a moderately cracked surface - i would expect the mu to ride better. It you are on rough asphault road - like one made with big piecse of gravel - the speed TR will be a better ride. If the condition of the road is bad, neither one will ride worth a crap.

Handling wise, the Mu is more responsive and tr is more laid back. I prefer laid back when I'm carrying a heavier load on the rack.

I'm not convinced that he "proprietary" parts issues is a problem. Folding bikes are not like big bikes. You are not likely to find a hinge for any folder in your favorite LBS. Handbar posts, seatposts - not likely no matter what brand of folder you own. Flex on Dahon frames? I'm of the opinion most of that perceived flex is in a poorly adjust handlebar latch and/or headset. Just my opinion.
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Old 10-06-06, 12:48 PM   #21
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sorry - work called me away before I finished all my thoughts.

I think the gearing on the mu would be a problem for touring too. The super low granny gears on the Speed TR are great when plugging away to climb that hill with a load.

It think that covers everything I was thinking on this topic...
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