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  1. #1
    Senior Member gringo_gus's Avatar
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    2007 curve D3 versus downtube mini

    because I blew my kid's school trip money on a hammerhead which is fabuloso, but doesn't fold enough to make the train ride to work, I need to by, umm, a cheap folding bike (groundhog day, right).

    Costwise it seems to me I can get a 2007 Dahon Curve D3 for about the same as a downtube mini.

    Any advocates for either ?

    Thx in anticipation.

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    There are several threads about both.

  3. #3
    Senior Member gringo_gus's Avatar
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    Yup, but I couldn't find direct comparisons, notwithstanding their similarities in terms of market positioning. Maybe I am searching wrong, and maybe I am overoptimistic in hoping there is someone out there with experience of both.... but just in case.

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    Senior Member JosephLMonti's Avatar
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    As you can imagine, there are fans of both the Curve D3 and the Mini. I personally don't own either but, since I'm interested in buying one myself, this is what I can offer:

    -the Mini takes more standard parts where the Curve requires some Dahon proprietary parts
    - some folks find the Mini's suspension "less than ideal" where the Curve is a hardtail
    - the Mini comes with 8 speeds where the Curve D3 only has 3 speeds

    My list is obviously not comprehensive but at least it will get you started

  5. #5
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    The Mini is a more versatile bike with better gearing. The D3 locks together with a magnet that holds the wheels when folded. However, a secured fold can be achieved on the Mini very easily with a bungee cord.

  6. #6
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JosephLMonti View Post
    As you can imagine, there are fans of both the Curve D3 and the Mini. I personally don't own either but, since I'm interested in buying one myself, this is what I can offer:

    -the Mini takes more standard parts where the Curve requires some Dahon proprietary parts
    - some folks find the Mini's suspension "less than ideal" where the Curve is a hardtail
    - the Mini comes with 8 speeds where the Curve D3 only has 3 speeds

    My list is obviously not comprehensive but at least it will get you started
    I would add that even though Dahon has more proprietary parts, I find that it is easier to order parts from Dahon through a good bike shop since you purchase the bike through one usually. Downtubes are a mail order only from the maker in most parts of the US. All my bikes use a combination proprietary parts and off the shelf ones as the need and availability arises. All folding bikes use special stems, latches, levers and knobs parts unique to it's own manufacturer's design for folding. Otherwise I never found any problems fitting parts for the bikes. That is the key to understanding what is involved with any folding bike.

    The Curve (and other similar model Dahons like my Piccolo) allows the user to add the suspension that you like or need-i.e. a sprung seat, a sprung seatpost, Cane Creek's suspension system, etc. Downtube comes with it's suspension system that might be overkill in some respects. I can change or add to my Dahons. Those aluminum forks and frames seem to limit my adding different hubs, brakes since I cannot cold press-widen, narrow, or drill a hole into-that same forks/frame.

    Dahon has a few steel frame models left. Downtube only has aluminum ones. I only look at steel frame bikes.

    Dahon is the largest manufacturer of folding bikes worldwide. And the HQ is also located in Southern California near my house!
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 06-17-08 at 03:31 PM.

  7. #7
    rhm
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    I asked this question in April, 2007. I was unable to find concrete answers, eventually opted for a Mini, and have been pleased with the decision. The following is a combination of fact, heresay, opinion, and speculation:

    The Curve --which I have not ridden, nor even seen-- offered a number of attractive features that the Mini lacked, namely:
    --Better tires (Schwalbe Big Apples)
    --Pump built into the seatpost
    --Magnetic clippies to hold the frame together
    --Fenders
    --Rack
    But in practice I've heard the rack is so useless that it is no longer included; the fenders are no longer included; the magnetic clippies are unreliable; and the pump has problems as well. Can't beat the tires, though!

    The Mini, in contrast, has a couple advantages over the Curve:

    --It has real rear suspension, which cannot be retrofitted to the Curve.
    --It has a better hub, which would be a major expense to retrofit one to the Curve.

    Whether rear suspension is a significant improvement --or any improvement at all-- is a matter of opinion. I have modified mine by the Jur method (there's a thread on that) and now I like it just fine, but it did not effect my decision last year, and were I to do it again, it still wouldn't. The 8-speed hub, however, is a major improvement over the 3-speed.

    The crucial question is: which frame is better? Which rides better? Which is stronger? And I don't know the answer; I'd love to hear from someone who has really compared the two. I have heard that owing to the frame design you cannot fit a larger chain ring to the Curve, which effectively limits the gearing; the Mini does not have this limitation.

    Bottom line? I don't know! But....

    If there's anyone with a Curve, either model, who would like to get together with me for a ride in Central Park NYC, I'd be interested in doing an overall comparison between that and the Mini. I'll bring my Mini, you bring your Curve, and we'll go for a ride. Trade bikes for a while, try the hills, try the flats, try keeping up with the roadies... and see what gives. Anyone?

  8. #8
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I know I'm a bit biased, but the Curve doesn't look like a real competitor to the Mini to me. 8 speeds vs 3 means the Mini is easier to match to your cadence, and can cope with real-bike conditions, rather than just a rush to and from the station. Dahons also have a rep for being a bit flexy, but I can't really comment, not having ridden one. I can tell you that I have a Mini, and it's great, but would (and will) be improved by better tyres, and fenders.

  9. #9
    Senior Member DLBroox's Avatar
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    I was also between the mini and the curve and finally decided on the curve based on my budget. I found a 2007 for 369 bucks with 10 dollar shipping. At the time, the mini would have been 499, and the capreo which was reviewed as the best, was 585.

    I have never regretted the desicion. I love the bike.

  10. #10
    Senior Member gringo_gus's Avatar
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    thanks everyone for comments on this - appreciated. Not sure if my decision is easier, but at least I know parameters. Folder Fanatic, as I maybe visiting Souther California soon (around disneyland) are there good Dahon dealers there - maybe I can fit one in my case to bring home to the UK ?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Caaah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    The Curve --which I have not ridden, nor even seen-- offered a number of attractive features that the Mini lacked, namely:
    --Better tires (Schwalbe Big Apples)
    --Pump built into the seatpost
    --Magnetic clippies to hold the frame together
    --Fenders
    --Rack
    But in practice I've heard the rack is so useless that it is no longer included; the fenders are no longer included; the magnetic clippies are unreliable; and the pump has problems as well. Can't beat the tires, though!

    The Mini, in contrast, has a couple advantages over the Curve:

    --It has real rear suspension, which cannot be retrofitted to the Curve.
    --It has a better hub, which would be a major expense to retrofit one to the Curve.
    The interesting thing about suspension is that it definitely a personal preference. I think I always kinda knew this in the back of my mind, but now I see that I don't think I would prefer it, and might actually dislike it. I say this because since I took my rear rack off the curve, I can't stand the extra bouncyness! Schwalbe isn't kidding when they talk about the big apple tires being like suspension. Even with them inflated up to about 60psi, I feel way too much springyness. I'll find out when I try rhm's Mini, but I don't think suspension on these small bikes does much for the bad sections of road, and on the flat sections of road, you just bounce all over the place. Some people may like that springy feeling, but its definitely not for me!

    Oh, and I have to say that the magnets work really well for me. Sometimes you have to guide them past the cables as you fold, but once they connect, they never separate. Actually, the only annoying thing about them is that when I was removing/reattaching the rear wheel, my wrench kept getting sucked onto the magnet!

    Anyhoo, I can't wait to try the Mini, rhm, so we can finally get a good A vs B on the two

  12. #12
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I asked this question in April, 2007. I was unable to find concrete answers, eventually opted for a Mini, and have been pleased with the decision. The following is a combination of fact, heresay, opinion, and speculation:

    The Curve --which I have not ridden, nor even seen-- offered a number of attractive features that the Mini lacked, namely:
    --Better tires (Schwalbe Big Apples)
    --Pump built into the seatpost
    --Magnetic clippies to hold the frame together
    --Fenders
    --Rack
    But in practice I've heard the rack is so useless that it is no longer included; the fenders are no longer included; the magnetic clippies are unreliable; and the pump has problems as well. Can't beat the tires, though!

    The Mini, in contrast, has a couple advantages over the Curve:

    --It has real rear suspension, which cannot be retrofitted to the Curve.
    --It has a better hub, which would be a major expense to retrofit one to the Curve.

    Whether rear suspension is a significant improvement --or any improvement at all-- is a matter of opinion. I have modified mine by the Jur method (there's a thread on that) and now I like it just fine, but it did not effect my decision last year, and were I to do it again, it still wouldn't. The 8-speed hub, however, is a major improvement over the 3-speed.

    The crucial question is: which frame is better? Which rides better? Which is stronger? And I don't know the answer; I'd love to hear from someone who has really compared the two. I have heard that owing to the frame design you cannot fit a larger chain ring to the Curve, which effectively limits the gearing; the Mini does not have this limitation.

    Bottom line? I don't know! But....

    If there's anyone with a Curve, either model, who would like to get together with me for a ride in Central Park NYC, I'd be interested in doing an overall comparison between that and the Mini. I'll bring my Mini, you bring your Curve, and we'll go for a ride. Trade bikes for a while, try the hills, try the flats, try keeping up with the roadies... and see what gives. Anyone?
    I have never ridden the Curve. But one can get a front mount bag -- on the head tube -- which is a real bonus on the Merc/Brompton. I suspect that it works well with the Curve too.

    I don't recall negative statements regarding the rear rack. But then again, I was not looking. I recall that someone got a top mounted rack on the rear and could fold the bike as is.

    I think that the Mini is a great machine except that it isn't particularly good at carrying stuff since most mounted racks would interfere with the fold. You can get a nashbar front rack with the 15-pound capacity on the front fork and fold the bike.

    I went with the Mini for the 8 speed hub.

  13. #13
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    The seatpost rack on my Mini doesn't interfere with the fold, unless you count that the folded article is somewhat bigger.

  14. #14
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    If there's anyone with a Curve, either model, who would like to get together with me for a ride in Central Park NYC, I'd be interested in doing an overall comparison between that and the Mini. I'll bring my Mini, you bring your Curve, and we'll go for a ride. Trade bikes for a while, try the hills, try the flats, try keeping up with the roadies... and see what gives. Anyone?
    PM me, it's hard for me to get into NYC, but let's set something up.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    This thread covers the differences pretty well. I'd add that both are very good bikes. It's gonna come down to which one you think is more comfortable and how small you need it to fold.

    I get my D3 on NJ Transit during peak hours with no problem, but the Mini fits on an overhead luggage rack, and the Curve will not.

    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    I think that the Mini is a great machine except that it isn't particularly good at carrying stuff since most mounted racks would interfere with the fold. You can get a nashbar front rack with the 15-pound capacity on the front fork and fold the bike.
    I use a backpack. I don't think any folder is all that good at hauling stuff, since it would more likely than not interfere with the fold. Folders with suspension (it seems like that's almost all of them) can also be tricky to put aftermarket racks on. I think the Mini needs some mods to take a rack.

    Does anyone ride a folding touring bike?
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Caaah's Avatar
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    Well, here you have it, the meeting of the minds, per se. I know Rhm is writing a longer review, so I'll keep mine short.





    They aren't that different. Really, the only thing I felt was that the cockpit is a smmmmmidgen smaller on the Mini. Mind you, for the price, though, the Mini is the better bargain. I don't think I could live with out my 8 speed hub, and that was a pricey upgrade.

    Oh, and rhm definitely sold me on the shorter crank length.
    Last edited by Caaah; 06-20-08 at 02:03 PM.

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    Will the Dahon or the Downtube still fold up with different types of handlebars on them (drops, bullhorns etc.)? I like the bikes, but I would probably want to put bullhorn bars on them. That would both lengthen the cockpit and give more hand positions.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Caaah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by relyt View Post
    Will the Dahon or the Downtube still fold up with different types of handlebars on them (drops, bullhorns etc.)? I like the bikes, but I would probably want to put bullhorn bars on them. That would both lengthen the cockpit and give more hand positions.
    On the Curve, I would say no because of the handlebar folding between the halves. However you can switch the stem to one that folds outside of the two halves, and in that case, it is do-able. I know at least one person (Mr. Smith?) has done that mod.

    With the Downtube, I know that the 2008 model with the stem that folds outside the halves is still available.

    However, with either bike, you may have to experiment to find a handlebar that will be light enough not to topple the bike when folded. You give up a lot if the bike won't stay upright when folded.

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    A bullhorn bar will almost certainly weigh less than whatever bar comes with the bike, I would think. Thanks for the info!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Caaah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by relyt View Post
    A bullhorn bar will almost certainly weigh less than whatever bar comes with the bike, I would think. Thanks for the info!
    No problem! Post pics for us if you put one on

  21. #21
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by relyt View Post
    A bullhorn bar will almost certainly weigh less than whatever bar comes with the bike, I would think. Thanks for the info!
    Whether the handlebar folds between the frame, or to the right side, can be changed; it simply depends which way the hinge is pointed. On the Mini you can set it up either way, and I presume that's the case with the Curve as well. With the outside / right fold, you will have a larger folded package, but a wider variety of handlebar shapes will fit. I'm pretty sure no other handlebar shape will give an equally compact fold, but you may find one that gives an acceptably compact fold (though I haven't).

    Bear in mind that whatever handlebar you chose, it has to be the correct diameter. Mini and Curve come with MTB / cruiser / upright bars, 7/8" (22.2 mm) diameter; road bars are 15/16" (23.8 mm). This is important because you can't put the shifter for an internally geared hub on any 23.8 mm bar; it has to be 22.2 mm, and there has to be a long enough straight section at the end to mount the twist grip shifter. That would be a minimum of 5 cm, plus whatever length grip you want. For reasons I do not understand, on-line bike part catalogs rarely tell you the handlebar diameter, so if you're ordering something --such as a moustache bar-- make sure you know its diameter. I mean the actual bar diameter, not the clamp diameter. If you can find a bullhorn bar in 22.2 mm diameter with at least 5 cm strait run before any bends, then you can probably make it fit; then you'll have many different options for how it folds.

  22. #22
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caaah View Post
    Well, here you have it, the meeting of the minds, per se. I know Rhm is writing a longer review, so I'll keep mine short.





    They aren't that different....
    It's true, they really aren't that different! Nonetheless, since Caaah told you I was writing a longer review, here it is.

    The first thing we did was change the cog on Caaah's bike --I donated the 19T cog left over from my (now abandoned) attempt to use the Hebie Chainglider on my Mini. If anyone wants to take over that experiment, let me know, you can have my chainglider for the cost of shipping.

    First thing I noticed, the crank that comes on the Mini is better than the one on the Curve. The Mini has a forged alu crank with removable chain ring, and a chain guard that keeps the chain from falling off on either side; the Curve has an alu arm swaged to a steel ring and a chain guard only on the outside. (Do you want to keep score? If so, Mini +1).

    Also, the Curve has a serious chain alignment issue. There is very little room between the chain and the frame, and you cannot install a larger cog, or a larger chain ring; and even as designed, something can go wrong, and the chain will rub on the frame. It does not rub hard, but it rubs constantly, and in time it will seriously damage the frame. I'm not sure what went wrong in Caaah's case, and won't speculate about how common this problem might be. (Curve -1).

    With the bikes side by side (see Caaah's photo), there is very little difference. The wheel base is essentially the same; as is, my rear wheel is all the way forward in the dropout, so my wheel base is a little shorter than Caaah's; but I'm pretty sure the difference is entirely within the rear dropouts. With the front wheels side by side, the headsets are also perfectly aligned side by side; but the handlebar of the Curve is a couple inches farther forward. This difference comes from the angle built into the stem. (Curve +1).

    Riding the bikes, my Mini seems stiffer, on comparison to the Curve which feels more flexy. That flexiness, as far as I could tell, comes (mostly?) from the stem. Sometimes, when pedaling vigorously, I thought the stem was even creaking a little. I don't like this flexiness, but it does not feel like a serious issue. It prevented me from comparing the stiffness of other features, such as frame and seat post. Curve, by the way, has a thicker seat post which would, in theory, be a little stiffer. (Mini +1)

    I sometimes use a seat post rack with my Mini; we tried to mount it to the Curve, but it did not fit the thicker seat post. (Mini +1)

    The Curve has a number of features that the Mini lacks. Fenders, already mentioned, are included with the Curve but can be fitted to the Mini. (Curve +1) A frame-mounted rear rack, included with the Curve, can be fitted to the Mini with difficulty; but in either case a frame-mounted rack is not particularly useful owing to heel strike issues. The Curve has fittings for a frame-mounted bag on the head tube, which is a very nice feature (see photo); this cannot be fitted to the Mini (Curve +1). The Magnetic clippies, that hold the folded bike together, are very nice. (Curve +1) And of course the Curve comes with a pump in the seatpost, which is a great idea. (Curve +1).

    The Curve, in my opinion, is the better looking bike. The frame has a more pleasing shape and a better color; and other fittings, such as the quick-release on the frame and the stem, have a sleek elegant look. (Curve +1).

    Mini seems to be a much more utilitarian design, with no compromises made for style (Mini +1), and construction beefier in general (Mini +1). The fork tubes, for example, are thicker and, I presume, stronger.

    I am not a fan of rear suspension, but the fact is that Mini has it and Curve doesn't; and this suspension can be adjusted, modified, or even disabled entirely, as the user sees fit; and Curve does not have these options. Mine, in its current modified form, is very nice (Mini +1).

    And then there's the hub. Curve has a 3-speed hub (Curve +3), but the Mini's 8-speed hub gives a much more versatile bike (Mini +8).

    I'm not going to total up the points I've awarded. The reader can decide for him/herself which points are valuable, which are not. Some may not be applicable at all; for example, My mini has the 2007 non-adjustable stem; but the current model has an adjustable stem, which I have not tested. For all I know, it may be even more flexible than the Curve's stem.

    My overall opinion, now that I've compared the bikes, is that the Curve is prettier and more attractive for relatively casual riders, while the Mini is better suited to a more performance oriented rider. For someone who likes to hot-rod bikes, like myself, the Mini is clearly a better choice; but I can imagine there will be many riders who have no interest in that. They may well be more attracted to the Curve and, indeed, happier with it.

    But remember, they really aren't that different.

    --Rudi
    Last edited by rhm; 06-23-08 at 09:10 AM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    If people read Rudi's post in the Pootle Thread page 3, they may get some startling indications of the luggage capacity of the DTM. I like the Curve's frame though, but am quite envious of a hot-rodded mini..

    Rudi - how tall are you? Do your knees miss the h/bars on the mini? (I know the answer, I think).
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  24. #24
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by snafu21 View Post
    Rudi - how tall are you?
    A hair under 6' ... unless I let my hair grow, of course ....

    Quote Originally Posted by snafu21 View Post
    Do your knees miss the h/bars on the mini? (I know the answer, I think).
    Oh, that's no problem at all. Remember, my cranks are unusually short (140mm) which increases clearance, and my handlebar is flipped upside down, which reduces it again; result is, with the handlebar straight, there's at least 6" between knee and bar.

  25. #25
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    2005 Fuji Professional, 2002 Lemond Zurich, Folders - Strida, Merc, Dahon, Downtube, Recumbent folder
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    Great job comparing the two bikes which are often competitive. Your review should be saved for posterity.

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