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  1. #1
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    Serious newbie needs help deciding on a Dahon

    lazily copied from the Dahon forums

    I've been fascinated with the idea of an all-purpose, take-anywhere folder for quite some time, and I've narrowed my choices down to the Speed TR (first choice and still the favorite), Mu SL, and Speed Pro TT. Basically I've reduced my possessions to what I can carry on my back (clothes, laptop, and odds/ends essentially) and I aim to live out a go-anywhere nomadic lifestyle.

    The bike I choose needs to handle long, arduous trips (hundreds of miles) on roads that can often be questionable in nature, maintain a speedy pace, and pack small enough to carry on a bus or check onto a plane. Comfort is not a variable here, but lightweight is attractive (not required).

    The Speed TR is the heaviest of all of these, but it also the most fully equipped for my needs; I appreciate and would use all the accessories added to the bike (my possessions may want to spill onto the racks). I also aim to engineer some type of fixture to harness the kinetic energy for powering my electronics, but that's a crazy idea left for another topic.

    The reason I like the Mu SL and Speed Pro TT is due to their much lighter weight. How appreciable would that actually be for my kind of usage? Would that lend any assistance to speed? I don't know how often I'd actually be picking up the bike. They also don't look quite as ideal for rougher roads.

    Any advice here would be strongly appreciated. I by no means hold expertise in this field, just an ardent willingness to learn.

  2. #2
    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    The Mu is made of aluminum and packs some fairy low-spoke count wheels. It would definitely not be my first choice for loading anything but myself, some water, and a repair kit on.

    The weight of the TR is fully equipped. Think of the stuff you need to add onto the TT to add up to the functionality of the TR, and it seems like the TR is already very well off.

  3. #3
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    If you are to be doing long miles on less-than great roads, I'd recommend a bike with steel rather than aluminium frame as it soaks up the bumps a little more, and is more easily repaired in the field if anything starts to fail. Alu is lighter but is more brittle and prone to fails on a real workhorse touring machine.

  4. #4
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
    The Mu is made of aluminum and packs some fairy low-spoke count wheels. It would definitely not be my first choice for loading...
    +1

    Forget the Mu SL. The bike you want must not have fancy wheels.

    Also, learn how to fix broken spokes. And before you go, take the wheels to a *competent* wheelbuilder for giving a once-over - Dahon wheels have built up a little bit of a reputation to break spokes if not attended to before delivery (which is part of policy anyway).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jhonn View Post
    The Speed TR is the heaviest of all of these, but it also the most fully equipped for my needs; I appreciate and would use all the accessories added to the bike (my possessions may want to spill onto the racks). I also aim to engineer some type of fixture to harness the kinetic energy for powering my electronics, but that's a crazy idea left for another topic.
    Is there a reason you're ruling out models like the Ciao, Glide and Mu XL that already have generators built in? That would cover your lighting needs, so then you'd just need some kind of solar panel arrangement for recharging batteries on the rest of your electronics.

  6. #6
    Old enough to know better Spudmeister's Avatar
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    Don't get a Dahon

    Don't get a Dahon! I have two & have been really disappointed. They appear to have been assembled by half-trained spider monkeys. The wheels are crap, the bottom bracket is cheap & components were mouned to the frame dry (no grease). I have a Speed & a Mu. The Mu handles like a wet noodle. The Speed, which my son uses,is more solid.

    I recently got a Swift Xootr (Xootr Swift?) which I assembled myself. I like it - good solid ride.

  7. #7
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I'm a little unclear on what the goal is here.

    Is it your plan to basically ride your bike, as your primary form of transport, for an extended period of time -- e.g. a full year or more?

    Or is your goal to just own very few possessions, stay somewhere for a month or two, go from area to area via plane or bus, occasionally cycle from one area to the next, and use a bike as your transport when you get somewhere?

    If it's the former, I'd forget about Dahon. Their bikes are decent but aren't optimal for extended touring. I'd seriously consider either getting a real 26" or 700c wheeled touring bike; or picking up an old 80s MTB or a used hybrid, and learn how to do as much bike maintenance as possible.

    26" or 700c bikes will be much better than any 20" bike for offroad uses. They will also be much more stable when loaded and a little easier to get replacement parts anywhere you happen to go (especially 26" bikes).

    If it's the latter, I say Bike Friday. Their bikes are built from the ground up for touring and packability (especially the New World Tourist) and are fully customizable. The Swift is a very good and solid bike, but the fold is not stellar; I'd only go for a Swift if the BF is way out of your price range.

    For either of the two options, weight is irrelevant. You want something that's built like a tank and can take a lot of punishment.

    (On a side note, don't literally pile your stuff in a backpack when you are extensively cycling from one area to the next. Get a rack and some panniers, it's far more comfortable....)

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    The goal is more of the latter; own almost nothing and go anywhere via bus/plane, with the bike making up for the shorter distances. Extreme long distance biking is not out of the question, however, and I may opt for that at times over a bus ride. In fact, it may become my preferred travel method down the road. My load as I envision it is a small ultraportable laptop and 3 pair of clothes, along with a small assortment of compact necessities.

    I've already dismissed the weight factor, and it's down to the Speed TR vs. other brands now. I really appreciate how fully equipped the TR is right from the go, along with its compactness, but the Airnimals and Bike Fridays are attractive regarding speed and build quality. I'm also envious of the Downtube with its internal gear hub and full suspension at a ridiculous price. I suppose I can install the required touring accessories (like a dynamo hub) to these other bikes without impacting the fold, correct?

    Like I mentioned before, I am an extreme newbie to world of biking and my naivete is undoubtedly shining through, but already I am learning a ton through research and reading these forums.

  9. #9
    eight spokes somnatash's Avatar
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    Hi,

    if I had such a plan, I probably wouldn't want the bike to be "all equipped" out of the box. You often get poor stuff hidden within the good. If you can build up a little technical interest - which you will need later anyway - may be a better idea to equip the bike - partly - yourself. Then you know the single part and its quality. Did you test ride different bikes, lets say for a weekend trip? Why is comfort not a question? Your plan sounds like the bike will have to be a very trustworthy companion - a real working horse while any "new bling bling" is not important. If also money is to consider, perhaps buy a solid bike and good quality parts (eg. SON Dynohub) second hand? I would also say (from test rides only), forget dahon and go for eg. Bike Friday or even Birdy.

  10. #10
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jhonn View Post
    The goal is more of the latter; own almost nothing and go anywhere via bus/plane, with the bike making up for the shorter distances. Extreme long distance biking is not out of the question, however, and I may opt for that at times over a bus ride. In fact, it may become my preferred travel method down the road. My load as I envision it is a small ultraportable laptop and 3 pair of clothes, along with a small assortment of compact necessities.
    For the particular kind of traveling you have in mind, the BF NWT, the travel case (i.e., the suitcase that the bike goes into for air travel), and the trailer attachment (that allows you to tow the suitcase) would seem ideal. For air travel, you are going to need some sort of suitcase, ideally a hardcase, and the only realistic way to tote that around will be by trailer...and it's extremely convenient if the suitcase is the trailer. (For very long distance touring, I think a trailer is the way to go anyway, as it's easier to transport and avoids putting extra weight on the rear wheel.) It's also convenient to, when you arrive at a restaurant for lunch, say, lock up your bike, unhitch your trailer, and wheel it inside. Panniers are less convenient for that. NWTs are also specifically designed as bikes for long distance touring.

    If you wanted to use a different bike, however, I suppose you could buy a BF travel case + trailer kit and put the other bike inside.

  11. #11
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    If you do hold an ardent willingness to learn, I believe I should give you some attention.

    First welcome to the world of folders. They are odd looking, expensive bikes (if you want them to be) but they allow some riding experiences that would not happen with any other kind of bike. Now my US$0.02:

    I don't think any of the bikes you listed can be defined as a "all-purpose, take-anywhere folder" unless you have the luxury of time to place them inside a travel case by using tools and after some disassembly (and lots of minutes, hours 'til you become experienced), the skills to readjust brakes and gear. If you have strong tendencies to buy a Dahon, I would consider a Curve into your comparison Speed TR vs other brands.

    Based on what you are saying ("go anywhere via bus/plane, with the bike making up for the shorter distances") you might be well served with a Brompton or similar (like the Flamingo bike or merc). 16" wheels are a good compromise of performance, but you do gain the luxury of a light, easy to transport bike once folded.

    I strongly suggest you to stay away from dynamo lights and get a "real" light system to your bike. It's an investment, but if you check the commuter forums you might learn from other people's experience that it is a really good cost/benefit investment. I learned it the hard way.

    I currently have a Brompton with aprox. 400miles (and exactly 47000 miles of air travel including North, South America and Europe) and I wouldn't trade the easy to pack Brompton to anything available in the current market.

  12. #12
    eight spokes somnatash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 14R View Post
    Based on what you are saying ("go anywhere via bus/plane, with the bike making up for the shorter distances") you might be well served with a Brompton or similar (like the Flamingo bike or merc). 16" wheels are a good compromise of performance, but you do gain the luxury of a light, easy to transport bike once folded.
    +1
    If I owned only ONE bike and planned to do long distance travel and also a lot multi modal travel...it would be a Brompton (with the emphasis on multi modal travel and trips up to 100km) or a Birdy (with the emphasis on long distance travel). In my opinion, the brompton is the easiest to take anywhere quick and still gives a decent ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by 14R View Post
    I strongly suggest you to stay away from dynamo lights and get a "real" light system to your bike. It's an investment, but if you check the commuter forums you might learn from other people's experience that it is a really good cost/benefit investment. I learned it the hard way.
    Do mean "reelight"? That is a nice innovation but is it bright enough? And on a small wheel bike it sits very low. Car drivers are not used to look that low. Or do you mean battery charged light? I suspect Jhonn does not want to rely on battery's since he even wants to produce his own energy for other stuff. What's wrong with dynohubs?

    Concerning trailers: if you own such little like you said and don't have to carry heavy stuff - maybe not necessary, "dead" weight and another item to deal with.

  13. #13
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    Jhonn,
    I own some twenty bicycles now, (I'm nuts so my wife tells me.) two of them are a 2006 Dahon Speed TR and a 2007 MU SL. If I could only have one bike in this world it would be the Speed TR. Hands down! It's just like you said "all-purpose, take-anywhere folde" It rides so very nice to boot! I own four Dahons and are very happy with everyone of them.

    What will be my next bike? A HP Velotechnik foldable GrassHopper fx recumbent.

    http://www.hpvelotechnik.com/produkte/ghp/index_e.html

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