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Old 10-04-08, 08:10 AM   #1
mulleady
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Dahon Mu SL review

I purchased my Mu SL just 2 weeks ago from Fudge Cycles on the Harrow Road near Paddington in London. I must say they come highly recommended as a Dahon dealer and bike shop. I was glad I bought it from here and they were very patient with test rides and holding the bike on deposit for a few weeks for me. Just like other readers on this forum I've had a varied experience with bike shops, it's the same in London.

I have sold off my Downtubes and wanted a 2nd bike alongside my trusty Brompton for faster or distances over 5 miles. It's not the Brompton can't do that but a 20" wheeled biked has distinct advantages and although I was never going to get the Brompton fold, I was willing to trade that for a lighter bike. Enter the Mu SL as my final choice. A test ride at Fudge Cycles confirmed it was the one for me.

The Fold and accessories


I have not been disappointed with the Mu SL. The fold is easy and the new hinges and latches are much better than older Dahons and require little effort to open and close. The magnet system that holds the front and rear wheels together works fine and the bike latches together fairly well although not as tightly as the Brompton of course. The Mu SL is a light bike at 8.7kg. It isn't quite as light as my Helios XX but has a much stiffer frame when riding it. I changed the tyres from Schwalbe Kojaks to Schwalbe Marathons as they have better puncture resistance and are still very fast. The additional weight was negligible. Despite the dismal UK weather of lots of rain this year I opted to forego mudguards (fenders) and keep the bike as close to its original weight as possible. I added my Son front light and a Cateye rear that mounts vertically almost in line with the seatpost and looks very neat. Both these lights are so good I even use them during the day except in very bright sunlight for increased visibility. The final addition was a high sensitivity Catye wireless computer and that was all I needed.

The Ride

The ride is exceptionally good and I find this bike as fast as the Speed Pro TT despite the upright ride which I prefer anyway. I always feel you are more alert in urban traffic when riding upright and controlling the brakes from a conventional position. The Mu SL accelerates effortlessly to 25mph and the SRAM X9 trigger shift system changes seamlessly and provides a nice gearing range from 32-93". Sure the TT's higher g I've hit over 30mph easily but this is dangerous on London streets but the effortless acceleration is very welcome for other situations. I really do feel the lightness of the bike plus its relatively stiff frame means that it requires less effort than other folders I've used to reach high speeds and it is a joy to ride on longer distances. It may not have suspension but it handles the rougher road surfaces pretty well and the Marathons make it more robust. Handling and cornering is effortless and amongst the best I've experienced on any folder. So far I really cannot fault the superb acceleration, ride and handling of this bike. No wonder it receives so many favourable reviews and it has to be one of the finest bikes by far in Dahon's range?

Pictures

The bike in my back garden. i really like its looks and svelte looks & curves.



Folded beside the Brompton. A larger footprint than my Brommie but good enough.



Even in the daylight the Son light (£20) is so powerful and provides excellent visibility. Lovely stainless steel finish too.



The Cateye rear light sits vertically with the seatpost so it looks much nicer. Very bright even in daylight too.



Finally the Schwalbe Marathons do not spoil the look and increase the versatility of the bike for even slight off-road use on trails and other kinds of paths. The Mu SL's drivetrain and gearing is excellent.




Conclusion

This may not be as compact a folder as my Brompton but it is a superb ride and extremely fast. It compensates for its larger fold by being so light to carry around and I find the Mu SL an ideal alternative for cycling longer distances more effortlessly and comfortably than my Brompton. While the Brommie is a better commute and go bike, I would settle for the Mu SL if I was going to have only one folder. It's a brilliant bike. Maybe one day i may add a Rolhoff to it without adding much weight, given the net gain would be so little when removing the current gearing system. For now the SRAM X9 is more than good enough.

Any suggestions how I could eventually get it down to under 8kg?

Last edited by mulleady; 10-04-08 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:23 AM   #2
chagzuki
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But does the seat post slip? ;-)
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Old 10-04-08, 08:31 AM   #3
mulleady
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No funny enough not so far and I'm 92Kg.

If it does I'm sure it will be fixable.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:49 AM   #4
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It's a beautiful bike, for sure.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:51 AM   #5
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carbon fiber seat post, narrower tires, carbon fiber handle bars.
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Old 10-04-08, 09:28 AM   #6
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How much does the whole bike actually weigh? 8.7 is sans pedal as quoted by Dahon. If you're feeling particularly nice, could you weigh the seatpost + saddle assembly? I'm kinda considering the i-beam post

FWIW my Mu is 10kg exactly, with the seatpost + saddle at 730g.
If you can tolerate it, go tioga spyder.
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Old 10-04-08, 10:19 AM   #7
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Mulleady is back, thanks for review, sleek bike

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynocoaster View Post
carbon fiber seat post, narrower tires, carbon fiber handle bars.
what about tune-cranks, Ti-Specialities-bb , carbonti-chainring, steinbach pedal on the non folding side, KCNC brakes...just throwing names in, no idea if and how much that would save and fit.
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Old 10-04-08, 12:52 PM   #8
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I concur.

BTW, I noticed the rear reflector sits low on the seat post. Does this affect the balance of the bike when folded since you can't put the seat post in all the way? The 2nd picture shows the Mu leaning against the seat (and it looks like the magnets aren't touching).
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Old 10-04-08, 05:54 PM   #9
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yeah- I attached my rear light to the rear reflector so I could put the seat all the way down.

As the owner of 2 MUSLs - one pretty stock (with a rear mudguard) and one with marathon racers for harder conditions, I do think this bike is pretty amazing. No problems for me with seat post slippage - I'm glad Mulleady is finding it up to par as I would advocate this bike to anyone and everyone - would love to compare the 2008 to the 2007 though...
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Old 10-04-08, 05:55 PM   #10
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Excellent review and comparison with the Brommie. That bike certainly looks sleek when unfolded. I can see the appeal and disadvantages of each bike. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-04-08, 11:27 PM   #11
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congrats on the purchase.

and no the seatpost does not slip
it's eaxily acjustable when the srew gets too lose, just tid it up

as for making it lighter is rather cnallenging, since i've been also looking for lighter replacement parts to go lighter, yet ironically i end up gaining more waight due all the extra accessories i added
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Old 10-05-08, 04:06 AM   #12
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Nice review indeed. I can just about hit 25 in the right conditions, (top speed I've hit on the flat 26 with a strong tailwind!) so either the extra kilo or so I have on the XP (due to the DualDrive- stock barely heavier than the SL) makes a lot of difference, or I'm just slow. Yes, I'm just slow. Hopefully I'm getting quicker (my leisure riding's gone from nothing to 20-40 miles every weekend, and I'm only going to step that up). Still chuffed with the XP, ongoing chain drops notwithstanding, but I wish I had the room and budget for an SL as well. Or a Mu EX, of course....!
Presumably you either aren't going to be riding in the rain or don't mind your back getting covered in crud (as mine was the one time I took my XP out in the rain pre-mudguards)!!
And will you be joining Team Dahon for the next Nocturne folding race (they're planning events in Canary Wharf and Brighton as well as Smithfield & Salford next year)?
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Old 10-05-08, 10:48 AM   #13
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Thanks for the review - excellent.
To get the weight down you could always go to a single speed - just choose your favourite gear, and then space it out (by plastic/Ali tubes either side) on the cassette, and ditch the deraileur. Easily retrofitable, and not too difficult to change ratios .. and if you use 1/2 links and Sram removable links, with the chain in line, there will be no need for a tensioner.

I'd too like to know the actual weight, and also (if you dont mind) the price.
Once again thanks for the review - makes this forum THE best.
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Old 10-05-08, 11:40 AM   #14
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Will weight it when I get the chance. Cost me £650 at Fudge Cycles which is a fairly good price. Service brilliant.
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Old 10-13-08, 08:52 PM   #15
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Hi there mulleady, I'm glad to hear of your newly purchased Mu Sl.I purchased mine in august.I live in new york city and I average about 25-30 miles a day M-F. I have added the Crane Creek Thudbuster and Apex fenders.The handling is great. A police officer clocked me at 45 mph during a sprint and said to me when I stopped for a light. That little bike of yours is really fast and I asked the officer not to say that so loud because my mu is kinda sensitive about his size he laughed.
The few things I need is a new seat I have a biologic and it killing me towards the end of my run.
I am thinking about a Brooks saddle. What are you using? I ordered the Spongy Wonder used it 2 days trying every possible adjustment no satisfaction. I will be be sending it back.
I have the marathon tires. Haven't had a flat yet knock on wood.
I have a creeking sound when I am pedaling I took it to the shop and they tightened up the housing the pedals are connected to and added grease.It still makes the creeking sound.I wonder if the aluminum frame causes it under heavy pedaling stress.I am also researching after I read an article that the size of the tires 20 or 26 doesn't determine the speed it's the gearing.I try to keep up with the roadies but after 300 yards they start to fade away.I am really trying to hard to keep up and I am in pretty good shape.I am searching for gearing knowledge.
The other day I was about 5 miles to end my daily ride when a roadie rode by me with no hands on the handle bar and he looked at me kinda laughing.Me and my mu took it personally,so I picked up the pace and stayed right behind him he looked behind and started going faster still no hands on the handle bars.I stayed right with him every time he turned it on I did to.My goal was to make him get his hands on his handle bars and make him work.He did about 1/2 mile into it.I saw him using his whole body which gave me pleasure even though I wanted to slow down. He looked back several times after his sprint intervals only to see me still there and when he didn't look back I made it my goal to stay close enough so he could hear my noisy creaking Mu. He finally turned off only to give me a stare and he was looking at my Mu I think in wonder.
Take care best wishes
AL-Q

Last edited by AL-Q; 10-13-08 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 10-13-08, 10:19 PM   #16
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At the risk of opening fresh wounds...

There's really no need to do anything to reduce the weight on your bike. The influence of weight on performance is vastly overstated; and it's already 20 pounds, which is very light for a folder. If it's genuinely faster than the Speed (rather than just feels faster -- a very common, and inaccurate, impression when you get a new bike ), it's almost certainly due to better aerodynamics and the lack of suspension.

If you've got the Need for Speed, I'd look into different tires -- something slick, narrow and with a high PSI. I found the Schwalbe Marathons to be robust but kind of pokey, especially on turns. Good for commuting but not particularly fast.


Al Q: Gearing has some impact, but not much. The biggest mechanical impediment will be the position; looks like the Mu SL does not have an adjustable height handle post, so if the bike puts you in an upright position, you're.... kinda screwed. Sitting upright, you'll have far more drag than a roadie whose handlebars are 3" below his saddle.

For the creaking: Check all the hinges thoroughly, make sure they're adjusted properly, and grease the seat post.
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Old 10-14-08, 12:26 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mulleady View Post
No funny enough not so far and I'm 92Kg.

If it does I'm sure it will be fixable.
I am 60kg and could not fix the seatpost slippage whatsoever so don't be so sure......
Our bikes were shipped back to Dahon the other day.....
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Old 10-14-08, 12:47 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post

For the creaking: Check all the hinges thoroughly, make sure they're adjusted properly, and grease the seat post.
Grease on seatpost ? not a good idea, this is how you get the seatpost slippage.
Mine was dry and have not tried to grease it. The creaks may come from the shim as well but it is so hard to locate the source.

TC
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Old 10-14-08, 04:55 AM   #19
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Grease on seatpost ? not a good idea, this is how you get the seatpost slippage....
Greasing a seatpost is a standard procedure. If the QR is tight enough, it won't slip. Folding and unfolding the bike is far more likely to cause some sort of misalignment; I used to mark the seatpost frequently with a Sharpie pen.

I've found that you have to do this quite a bit with folding bikes, since you're moving the seatpost much more than you do with a typical bike. Fortunately, since you're moving the post a lot, there's also little chance it will bond & seize up.
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Old 10-14-08, 05:07 AM   #20
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I agree slicks would improve the speed but I'm pretty happy with the Marathons as a compromise as they offer better puncture protection and also more grip on wet days.

Thanks Bacciagalupe I take your point about weight reduction. I guess it's just a desire to make the bike even lighter to carry. I also have the Helios XX special edition bike which is 1kg lighter but not as fast in my opinion because the Mu SL has a stiffer frame. Therefore you right about frame stiffness and speed rather than the odd few pounds here and there.

Al-Q you sure do seem to be getting some serious performance. I love the Brooks on my Brompton but it doesn't suit the Mu SL. I'm still using the stock saddle and happy with that for now. I had a very competitive guy pass me the other day on a Dahon Speed Pro TT. He couldn't shake me off no matter how hard he pumped it and I just sat right in behind him smiling. He kept looking back to see if he had shaken me and I was just cruising along at a good cadence. He was so intent on outdoing me that when he got to Paddington Station he sped down the vehicle access road to the main station concourse and had to swerve to avoid flattening a pedestrian. These competitive types are real idiots. Go join a cycle club and save it for the weekends I say. The Mu SL can really hold its own, very sleek, efficient and fast for an upright folding bike. Sure the TT Pro is probably faster but only marginally and the rest is down to the rider.

Last edited by mulleady; 10-14-08 at 05:13 AM.
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Old 10-14-08, 07:22 PM   #21
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Well, your riding position and tires will be the primary determinants of your speed. Mulleady, you are a very, very strong rider. I can only draft other riders at 25MPH no matter what I'm riding, and can only keep that up for 5 miles or so. I hit 30MPH on a straight once. But that was it.

It is especially impressive on Marathons, which will reduce your speed by a few MPH, and an upright position, which will reduce your speed by a few more MPH.

Of course, the total time it takes Al-Q to get to work will be much shorter on Marathons than on Kojaks. No need to stop and fix the inner tube. Probably similar for Mulleady, though I remember the roads in the UK to have significantly less glass than NYC.

For some reason, I've been falling off this year. I'm down from an average of 18-20MPH down to an average of about 17. This is especially troubling b/c I've gone from a Stelvio/Brompton Green combo to a dual Stelvio with Jur's recommended slime liners. Can't be getting old that fast. This change means that it is more difficult to draft some roadies. Though, in NYC there are plenty of guys on $7,000 bikes decked out as rolling advertisements that ride 13MPH.

Last edited by pm124; 10-14-08 at 07:26 PM. Reason: error
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Old 10-19-08, 03:45 PM   #22
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I should be receiving my second, replacement MU SL within the next few days. There was a problem with the frame on the bike I bought in May 2008 so they are sending me a new bike.
As regards the tyres, I found that the Kojaks where perfect, I rode across all sorts of surfaces and a fair amount of glass without even one puncture!

AL-Q, I Know where your creaking noise is coming from as I had the same problem with my SL....
It will be that the quick-release seat post clamp has come loose on the bike’s frame... tightening the little hex grub screw should cure it.

Glad that you are enjoying the bike, certainly quick and very easy to carry (weight wise).
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Old 10-21-08, 11:27 AM   #23
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Have any of you MuSL owners thought about cutting the handlepost down to lessen the upright position? And I'd imagine it'd also lessen flex?
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Old 10-21-08, 01:27 PM   #24
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It's not possible given the design of the handlepost, as far as I can see.
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Old 10-21-08, 01:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v6v6v6 View Post
Have any of you MuSL owners thought about cutting the handlepost down to lessen the upright position? And I'd imagine it'd also lessen flex?
if you are talking about going Racing bike style

it is possible, and there is no need to cut the center column of the handle post

you just replace the T bar

and you can install an extension to drop it even lower, and change the handle bar, to a racing type handle bar.

i know a SL owner that did that. pretty cool too

personally i like up right position, is more natural, the Racing style breaks my back
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