Fly By Owner
I bought a "Fly By" last Sunday. I test-rode the floor model demonstrator for 45 minutes and decided to get one. I had wanted one last year but, as others pointed out, they sold out quickly. I assume Dahon was not able to supply REI with enough to go around. Perhaps because they sold out so quickly last year, REI figured they could raise the price.
I wanted a 20"-wheeled, internal hub-geared commuter and, along with the Fly By, was considering the Downtube, the Dahon Vitesse D7HG and Mu XL Sport.
The Downtube is a nice overall bike and certainly a great value for the money, especially at their current sale prices. However, I was unable to test ride one and would have had to take a chance ordering by mail. But I did not want suspension, and Downtube no longer appears to offer the no-suspension 8-speed hub model. I also had some concerns about the Sturmey-Archer 8-speed hub; its long-term reliability, ability to stay in adjustment for long periods and the fact that no local dealers are familiar with it, as none sells any brand of bike using the SA 8-speed hub.
I decided the Mu XL Sport was more than I could afford to spend, though it's a very nice bike (uses the Shimano Premium Nexus 8-speed hub), as opposed to the "standard" Nexus 8-speed used in the Fly By and many other bikes.
I rode the Vitesse D7HG and thought it was just what I was looking for (7-speed internal hub, fenders, rack, kickstand), making a nice commuter right out of the box. Best price I could find on the Vitesse (2008 model) was online ($595.00). LBS wanted somewhat more, which I would have paid to buy locally. The Vitesse also looks cool.
I then rode the Fly By at a nearby REI Store. I was initially put off by the $100 increase but, after a bit of shopping, realized that Dahon had raised prices on all their own bikes for the 2009 model year as well. I thought the Fly By (which uses a version of the Dahon "Mu" frame) felt a bit stiffer than the Vitesse (I'm 225 and close to maximum recommended rider weight of 230). The Fly By rode and shifted great, with the 8-speed giving me a lower 1st gear (I have bad knees) than the Vitesse..
With my REI member discount, the Fly By was $559.00. I'll add a Dahon ArcLite Rear Rack ($35.00) and will have a bike priced equally with the Vitesse D7HG. I'm not crazy about the Fly By paint-job (the Vitesse looks cool, all in black). But for the same money, the Fly By gives me the 8-speed hub (versus 7-speeds on the Vitesse), arguably better tires (Schwalbe Marathon Racers with puncture protection) and brakes and a free carry-bag, which looks like the Dahon El Boslo Bag. Plus, I'll earn a 10% dividend on the purchase which I can use later.
So, at the end of the day, I felt the REI "Fly By" still represented a fair deal when compared to Dahon Vitesse D7HG. I liked both bikes, but chose the Fly By for the reasons mentioned above. YMMV.