Dear Dahon Staff,
Here is my promised review on the Piccolo folding bike I purchased last November at my local Dahon Stocking Dealer in the San Gabriel Valley of the Southern California area. I have finished my 2ND month of ownership and final tune-up.
As I stated in previous threads and posts, the Piccolo is my second Dahon. I chose to buy the bike at a actual Stocking Dealer than another questionable dealer in order to more fairly evaluate the bike's performance rather than concentrate on some inherent problem or another that seems to crop up with a number of your bikes around the time of purchase. Once these problems are addressed and solved, these bikes appears to be fine for many years after. As with my first bike (the Boardwalk), the Piccolo came with a defect (lower stem's pin very loose). The dealer quickly solved the problem by ordering and installing a new part than just using a jerry-rigged part just lying around the shop (as the Boardwalk was at a different shop) and hope I go away and not bother them again. Afterward, except for some instruction due to my own lack of knowledge, the bike is no more a problem and can now be enjoyed to it's fullest potential. Now for my experiences on your bike:
I bought the bike before Dahon begins it's 2007 shipments since I felt that the Piccolo would soon be phased out like the Boardwalk has been and the new three speed Curve would take that spot over. I like the 2006 Piccolo as it is with the features it offers and the Curve might not be as good a "workhorse" as the Piccolo was in it's production run. Sometimes your company tends to throwout your best ideas or models in the quest for the "Holy Grail" of folding bikes. Simple might be better than fancy in your approach. Some thoughts on your approach to pricing and quality control (or the somewhat apparent lack of it during the production and post production of all the models, not just a given price range-cheap or expensive ones when the customer actually receives the bike:
"A lot of the bicycles built today fall into the disposable category - low quality bearings, poorly coated materials that rust quickly, and corner cutting everywhere add up to a product that won't last more than a year or two. We want our bikes to be part of the solution, not part of the problem and that's why we've made a commitment to using higher quality materials and components that last longer. Details like stainless steel spokes, sealed hubs and bearings, stainless steel frame latches, chromeplastic fenders that will never rust, and anodized finishes on aluminum components are found on every one of our bikes, even the most economic models. We get emails almost every day from customers that are still riding bikes that are 10 or 15 years old and that's the way we like it." -Designed Philosophies from Dahon's Official Website
My Piccolo and my Boardwalk both reflect this great attention to the fine details listed above. My Boardwalk now passed it's third year with nothing major going wrong with it and rides better than before due to both these added little and large features-plus the attention of a knowledgeable mechanic of Dahon folding bikes. The most major thing that was not listed is the importance of selecting the right dealer to advocate for the owner/user of Dahon bikes, no matter the year or the model.
"Some people like super exclusive brands with high prices that lend their owners a veneer of superiority. Dahon has been criticized in the past for making "cheap" bikes. But our corporate mission is to change the world for the better by getting more butts onto bikes. And you don't change the world a whole lot by selling small numbers of thousand dollar folding bikes. We'll sell close to 300,000 folding bikes this year and that's a heck of a lot of people who are using their cars a little less. We want to make folding bicycles accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world, who wants one and that means making our bikes affordable. So even though we enjoy designing high-end bikes and will continue to expand the high end of our line, we'll always make "cheap" bikes that are packed with value so that we can make a real impact on society." -Designed Philosophies from Dahon's Official Website
I wish Dahon corporation would substitute a better word(s) or phrase to describe these bikes being more accessible to John Q. Public, average bloke, Any-town USA residents (or compatible location anywhere in the world) or some other idea like that than "cheap." Cheap is more descriptive in those department store sorry ass toys that are labled "bikes" rather than serious manufacturers of a quality product. The only fault that I experienced during the selection, purchase and first months of each of my Dahon bike's use is not the defective parts (the front wheel in the Boardwalk or the lower stem in the Piccolo) but how the different bike shops approached the problem. The original Boardwalk's wheel problem became apparent about 3 weeks after purchase. I took it back and the problem was solved...except that the axle protrudes too far out and some of the parts that were sold to me to augment the bike turned out not to be the best part to address the function of the said bike-and I should have received a proper front wheel part(s) from Dahon if that dealer did what he supposed to at the very least for the money I paid for the bike. I did not know about this until I took it into one of your shops listed in your dealer page at that time as a Dahon Stocking Dealer-since changed to a non stocking regular dealer which still offers to order your bikes. My Boardwalk is finally tuned up to optimal condition. And I purchased the Piccolo through them. These better bike shops, both internet and brick and mortar, are the best advocates for protecting their customers from major hassles dealing with major problems that do crop up with any bike or consumer product, not just Dahon. I think you should warn both new and returning customers about this concept of where the best places to buy your bike rather than just listing a huge amount of bike shops and internet companies where customer must gamble their hard-earn money away and hope for the best rather than buy with confidence. Your product is not at fault, rather where it is purchased is. People cannot be expected to be patient and calm when they might throw hundreds, even thousands of dollars away on a bike that they cannot safely ride down the street due to a defective part of some sort. This domino effect occurs on the cheapest or the best bike when it is not taken care of and your complete product reflects this, not only the part is blamed and that turns off a repeat purchase from a loyal customer in the future.
Once the bike passes "quality control," whether at the factory (best place) or in the customer's hands (worst place), I have no bad feelings about your bikes. You really do get more "bang for the buck" with even your "cheapies." But I did not feel confident about using the Piccolo until a couple of months passed and all problems were taken into account in the safety of my home and neighborhood before I actually began to enjoy the Piccolo and go farther than around the block due to not trusting my bike's construction or condition.
A couple of days ago, I had to press my Piccolo into a important situation again. I missed my bus that ran every hour. There was another bus line about a mile or so away. Driving in a motor vehicle going at the speed limit (35 miles an hour) in a direct main streets route would take me an estimated 2 minutes. On a bike, I use side streets going between 10-15 miles and hour if I can. I arrived at the bus stop before the bus came, but not enough time to bag the bike completely, just fold it up to carry it aboard. So the bike paid for itself again. This speaks volumes about what your bikes can do today, not a pie-in-the-sky future time. That is the most important feature about this bike and every model you made or will make in the future. Flexibility and dependability are the two most important things these bikes offer.
Keep up your both your improvements and your past innovations and your will have the "Holy Grail" of any bikes!