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  1. #1
    Commuter, Distance Rider complex's Avatar
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    Which Dahon is best for commute

    Hello; advice & help would be welcome for my folding-bike pick.

    I'm shopping for a folding bike for my commute from Baltimore to DC. Currently my commute involves several periods of walking, a usually-reliable light-rail ride, a commuter train ride, and a subway trip! I'm hoping that a folding bike will help connect the dots between the various kinds of train rides. Maybe I can also replace the subway and/or light rail rides with pure biking -- the distances would be okay for biking, just not for walking all the way.

    I've mostly settled on the Dahon, but their site seems organized by performance instead of by task. I also can't tell if a bike might be appropriate for commuting just b/c it doesn't come by default with luggage racks etc. Also, b/c this will be my first folding bike, I don't know if 16" wheels will drive me nuts when trying to bike 3 miles?

    My needs: It needs to fold up as small as possible, be reasonably light, and be able to withstand LOTS of bumping and carrying through large crowds. I'm used to carrying most of my stuff in a backpack, but at least one luggage rack may be necessary. Mud guards are a must and chainguards seem wise if there's a chain. -- but maybe a hub would be best for these condition?

    If I nix the light rail, I'll be riding 3 miles -- mostly downhill in morning, uphill at night, if I do that -- this is Baltimore, after all.

    many thanks for all advice!

  2. #2
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by complex View Post
    Hello; advice & help would be welcome for my folding-bike pick.

    I'm shopping for a folding bike for my commute from Baltimore to DC. Currently my commute involves several periods of walking, a usually-reliable light-rail ride, a commuter train ride, and a subway trip! I'm hoping that a folding bike will help connect the dots between the various kinds of train rides. Maybe I can also replace the subway and/or light rail rides with pure biking -- the distances would be okay for biking, just not for walking all the way.

    I've mostly settled on the Dahon, but their site seems organized by performance instead of by task. I also can't tell if a bike might be appropriate for commuting just b/c it doesn't come by default with luggage racks etc. Also, b/c this will be my first folding bike, I don't know if 16" wheels will drive me nuts when trying to bike 3 miles?

    My needs: It needs to fold up as small as possible, be reasonably light, and be able to withstand LOTS of bumping and carrying through large crowds. I'm used to carrying most of my stuff in a backpack, but at least one luggage rack may be necessary. Mud guards are a must and chainguards seem wise if there's a chain. -- but maybe a hub would be best for these condition?

    If I nix the light rail, I'll be riding 3 miles -- mostly downhill in morning, uphill at night, if I do that -- this is Baltimore, after all.

    many thanks for all advice!
    I recommend that you physically visit a Dahon dealer before you buy any Dahon bike. Even if it is not exactly the bike model you want, it will give you a realistic "feel" if these bikes are what you need before you pluck down your money. As for a general opinion of the bike model you should consider, I think that the 16" Curve is the bike for you. If your route is somewhat hilly, a three speed Curve D3 should be fine. If you have rather steep hills to go up, I recommend the Curve SL. Some bikes may come with the mudguards and chainguards-then again they may not and will cost extra. Do discuss this with the dealer before you place your formal order.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 04-11-09 at 11:52 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member kamtsa's Avatar
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    Even you you "mostly settled on the Dahon", it would not hurt to look at other models (Brompton, Tikit, etc). I also 'settled' on one vendor and ended up with different one (and am happy of my choice)

    Also, one important aspect that is often ignored is the 'rollability' of the bike. That is, how easy is it to roll the folded bike (as opposed to having to carry them).

    Kam

  4. #4
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    I would err on the side of buying a cheap folding bike. Most newcomers to the world of folders buy expensive folders that are not suited for their commute. You'll discover things like road too bumpy, uphill climbs, having to carry the folder, creakiness etc. With a cheap folder, you can always sell it and get a new one that has the features (for your commute) you need.

  5. #5
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    The Mu Uno is also a good option for commuting if you do not have hills. With its no cables, no gears approach it is light, folds small and problem free.

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    1. Visit Mt. Airy Bicycles in Frederick. Alternatively visit College Park Bicycles, their sister store but which has less stock. Mt. Airy sells Dahons, Bike Friday Tikits, Downtubes, and Bromptons. Every bike you'll want to consider.

    2. The DC Metro allows bikes at off-peak times, and allows folding bikes at peak times but ONLY if they're in a "bag" and so are luggage. I've not yet tested whether my Tikit's cover (they look like this) qualifies as a bag. Most likely it's fine. Anyway, this means if you're going on the Metro at peak, you'll (1) need a bag and (2) need a bike you can pick up and carry in that bag. And you'll need to be able to take that bag with you. So you'll definitely want test your bike in the bag before buying. I have no information about the MARC.

    3. The classic train bike is Brompton. Folds very small, but uncheap. Consider them.

    4. Consider a Tikit as well. If you're getting on and off THREE trains, then being able to fold fast will make a difference. The Tikit's transit cover is also built into the bike. It's not the smallest of the collection though. It will ride better than the others.

    5. Downtube Mini is a possibility, though I'd personally look at the Dahon Curve instead simply because it has magnets.

    6. 3 miles on a 16" is just fine. You'll be pleasantly surprised. You may find the Curve, Brompton, and Mini a bit squirrelly though. That's easily gotten used to. The Tikit will be better in that respect, but again, it doesn't fold as tight.

  7. #7
    Junior Member timmmahhhh's Avatar
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    Dahons

    Just be very very sure you are getting a model in which the handlebars are removable. I know that would seem obvious for a folding bike but it is not. I bought my wife an Espresso and found out the hard way the handlebars are not removable (my dumb). She would only ever put it in a van or trunk so she is okay with this. When it came time for me to get a new bike I got the Dahon Jack. It is seven speed which I can live with.

    Those are 26" - I assume you want 20". I think this is less an issue with the 20 inchers because the handlebars usually fold, but be sure.

    I used to own a Bazooka and I love how the handlebars unscrew without any tools, and how in the folded position the handlebars screw into a shaft in the frame that keeps the bike in a folded position. Plus the handlebars are not loose like on a Dahon.

    If you're near Chicago check out Rapid Transit Cycle Shop on North Avenue - they have every folding bike imaginable in their show room, even Bike Friday and Strida. Strida is best if you want small though they admit it is not a bike for long distance trips. Even so it is my fantasy to own one someday, just an incredible piece of engineering.

  8. #8
    Junior Member timmmahhhh's Avatar
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    Reread your post - sorry I forgot you're from DC area so Chicago is a little out of your way. If you can spring for a Strida consider it. Dealers are hard to find but are listed at www.strida.com. The other thing to be careful about is the weight limit. Strida is pretty good about this - 250# is a lot for most folding bikes; 210-230 is the average. Bike Friday can customize for heavier riders though you're starting at $800 min.

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    Strida? Really?

    The person has folded size high on her list; which is why I qualified my recommendation of the Tikit. The Strida's folded size is quite a bit bigger than even a Tikit! It's way out of contention.

    Anyway, I happen to know that Stridas are sold in DC at the Belle View branch of Spokes Etc.
    Last edited by feijai; 04-13-09 at 12:14 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    My Curve D3 works very well for my 2-train commute, and I'm quite happy with it. It's not a light bike, though. If you need to carry more than a backpack every day, though, take a look at a 20" bike.

    I'd check out a Brompton if you can afford one and like a little bit of suspension. I didn't get one mostly because the one I tried didn't stay together well when folded. (They have an add-on that keeps it closed. I didn't know about that then.) They fold well, though, and are well made.
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  11. #11
    These go to eleven kegoguinness's Avatar
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    +1 on buying relatively cheap to start (though test-riding, of course) as after 4 months of commuting, I have learned a LOT about what I specifically need in a bike, and have ordered another one.

    As for the Metro here in DC, I have been asked twice in 4+ months of riding to "bag my bike". I have a mesh sports ball bag that mostly covers my Dahon Speed P8, and no-one has hassled me about that. Again, it was only twice in 4+ months that Metro folks even said anything at all, and I am seen by Metro drivers and others every day, multiple times per day, and they usually never say a word. But have a spare cheapy, lightweight bag just in case.

    I don't think you'll find a mega-small fold is all that important. It sure helps, but even the Dahon's relatively large fold is perfectly fine for Metro. Smaller than baby strollers that abound, and people give way for those. The fact my bike is folded seems to appease most people.

    I can say that weight is a key factor, especially as I've been building leg strength. My new bike will be about 5 pounds lighter, and I look forward to this. THere's lots of up and down riding from DC into MD, so you will be pulling steady grades.

    Don't forget tires--the Dahon came stock with Big Apple 2". They are heavy, but really nice on the crap road surface and occasional sidewalk stretch. Consider something wide-ish with puncture protection. The Big Apples have ridden over bottle and car glass with no ill effect.
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  12. #12
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by complex View Post
    Hello; advice & help would be welcome for my folding-bike pick.

    I'm shopping for a folding bike for my commute from Baltimore to DC. Currently my commute involves several periods of walking, a usually-reliable light-rail ride, a commuter train ride, and a subway trip! I'm hoping that a folding bike will help connect the dots between the various kinds of train rides. Maybe I can also replace the subway and/or light rail rides with pure biking -- the distances would be okay for biking, just not for walking all the way.

    I've mostly settled on the Dahon, but their site seems organized by performance instead of by task. I also can't tell if a bike might be appropriate for commuting just b/c it doesn't come by default with luggage racks etc. Also, b/c this will be my first folding bike, I don't know if 16" wheels will drive me nuts when trying to bike 3 miles?

    My needs: It needs to fold up as small as possible, be reasonably light, and be able to withstand LOTS of bumping and carrying through large crowds. I'm used to carrying most of my stuff in a backpack, but at least one luggage rack may be necessary. Mud guards are a must and chainguards seem wise if there's a chain. -- but maybe a hub would be best for these condition?

    If I nix the light rail, I'll be riding 3 miles -- mostly downhill in morning, uphill at night, if I do that -- this is Baltimore, after all.

    many thanks for all advice!
    There are a few Baltimore to DC commuters on the BikeWashington YAHOO forum. Some of which use folding bikes.

    Larry Black -- College Park/Mt Airy -- has Dahon and Bike Friday bikes in stock for you to test ride. They also have an excellent test ride policy.

    I believe that enforcement of the bike in a bag policy for folded bikes differs from station to station and congestion. I use the Dahon cover for my Downtube Mini and never had a problem at any station in Downtown DC. Several times I have done so without the cover according to where the elevators are located.

    Personally, for my dimensions, the Strida is only good for ~1 mile rides. While it isn't small, it has a very small footprint, rolls great, and folds fast. If you are going to get a Dahon, a Curve is a good bet. Someone already mentioned the Downtube Mini. The nice thing about a tikit is that it rides well enough such that you might want to skip parts of your public transportation commute to ride the bike instead.

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    My recommendation would be the Curve SL. It has 16" wheels. Folds compactly. Is light. I don't know about the 2009 model but the 2008 Curve SL came with the Sturmey Archer 8 speed hub which is excellent and all that you'd need.

    If you don't want to spend all that money for the SL then the Curve D3 is a great option too.

    The nice think with the Curves from Dahon is that they come with a headtube block that you could fit a Klickfix adapter and attach a backpack to. That would be an elegant solution to your luggage needs.

    Of course, looking forward, there is the Dahon Curl lurking in the horizon. Dahon is keeping quiet at the moment but I suspect and hope that folder becomes a game changer. At the very least, it should keep Brompton's designers from sleeping well at night, which is a good thing (tm) per Martha Stewart.
    Last edited by ilovebicycling; 04-13-09 at 06:33 PM.

  14. #14
    Female Member KitN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShinyBiker View Post
    I would err on the side of buying a cheap folding bike. Most newcomers to the world of folders buy expensive folders that are not suited for their commute. You'll discover things like road too bumpy, uphill climbs, having to carry the folder, creakiness etc. With a cheap folder, you can always sell it and get a new one that has the features (for your commute) you need.
    I did that very thing for several reason.

    You should definitely keep an open mind when choosing a bike brand. Be flexible. Don't get stuck on a name or model of bike until you've at least test ridden it. If you can, test ride every folder you can get your hands on even if at first they don't seem to suit your needs. You might be shocked at what works the best for you.

    Personally, I'm trying to decide between a Brompton, Bike Friday and a higher-end Dahon. I will test ride any of them including folders from other manufacturers that aren't on my list. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that folds, I'll take it for a test ride. And you should too.
    Ride what you like. Ride in what you like.

  15. #15
    Supreme Commander of CATO
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    I'm going to focus on your commute rather than the particulars of what bicycle. Let's see, Light rail to Penn Station or Camden station; MARC train to DC; and, metro. Most of the time on the MARC you are going to have to stow your bicycle in the vestibules on the single level cars or in the few luggage compartments in the ends of the double-decker cars. I have seen commuters with 16" and 20" Dahons, Bromptons, and Stridas on the MARC trains. Only the Stridas fit in the overhead luggage rack on MARC trains. I've also seen a commuter use a folding razor scooter (foot-powered) for his commute from the MARC train in Baltimore.

    Remember, if you are riding the Penn Line, it is usually packed -many times S.R.O.- coming home to Baltimore. If you are going to buy a bicycle, be sure to take that into consideration. Good luck with your commute.

  16. #16
    hipster traffic dodger ChiapasFixed's Avatar
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    +1 on the Tikit, it folds fast, rides well, rolls, is not heavy and can be customized and adapted into whatever you decide you need. It has a lifetime guarantee and you can pass it down to your grandkids. The transit cover is quicker and more practical than a bag. And you will just have fun riding this bike!
    if you get a cheapo bike you may find the ride so unbearable that you scrap the whole idea of commuting on a bike...
    get a Tikit, (like the seasons Tikit with an internally geared hub), and then add racks, adjustments, schlumpf cranks, dynamo hub + lights, etc. as needed
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  17. #17
    Commuter, Distance Rider complex's Avatar
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    Thanks for a lot of good replies! I'm trying to squeeze a trip to the bike store into my schedule (commuting has eaten all the time, o/c). I'll consider more than just Dahons. However, because I've been saving for this purchase, I do have more money than time, so I am hoping to buy what I need now instead of buying a starter bike just to replace it.

    Thanks!

  18. #18
    Commuter, Distance Rider complex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timmmahhhh View Post
    If you're near Chicago check out Rapid Transit Cycle Shop on North Avenue...
    GAH! I was just IN Chicago! Darn, I didn't think to shop bikes while I was there. Good suggestion, and it'll probably help someone else.

  19. #19
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by feijai View Post
    Strida? Really?

    The person has folded size high on her list; which is why I qualified my recommendation of the Tikit. The Strida's folded size is quite a bit bigger than even a Tikit! It's way out of contention.
    I feel the shape of the strida is very different from most folding bikes, It makes it difficult to compaire size.
    You may find the strada shape very easy to accomdate.As it is much thinner folded than convential folded bikes.
    My former Diblasi was much longer than a Brompton, but the folded shape often was better for commuting and fitting in cars. I feel a stida may be simular in this repect.

  20. #20
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    DIblasi are expensive,low quality, but if you get one cheap and are 5 foot 8 or less it is even easier than a tikit to fold quickly and stands when folded better than a Brompton.plus the rear bag can be left on when folded. Easiest option ,but not best quality.
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  21. #21
    Commuter, Distance Rider complex's Avatar
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    After-Purchase Summation

    Thanks for all the replies, which were very useful! I've had & loved my Dahon Vitesse D7HG for over a year, now.

    Distillation of the advice, with my own additions:
    • Consider other brands, particularly b/c a lot of cheap bikes have become available. However, I still recommend Dahon having ridden it.
    • Buy new. My attempts to find & buy used bikes just introduced me to a lot of crazy people who kept changing the deal, and one sane person who simply had a very old bike. You'll have too much riding on a complicated folder to trust an old bike.
    • Definitely test ride it before finalizing your decision. Mt. Airy Bikes was a great suggestion and friendly people, even though I bought from someone closer to home. On that note, buying close to your workplace might make more sense; commuting home and then going to the bike shop before closing time is still difficult.
    • MARC Train commuters: Except maybe for some of the Brompton's and perhaps the Dahon Mu Uno, I think you'll only be able to fit your bike on the two-tiered cars in the lower luggage rack that's next to a seat, not the ones by the door. Single-tier cars (Camden Line!) have no luggage areas and no space! Taser, above, suggested putting it in the vestibule. I'd be amazed if that didn't get you grouchy comments from the conductors, but if you have to, do it. On the Amtrak cars, stick your bike in the coat-rack closets; you'd have to lie your bike down to put it in the actual luggage rack.
    • Dahon's two-legged kickstand scrapes when you go around corners & over curbs, grr, and isn't strictly necessary for sitting your bike down, but I still find it worthwhile & friendly to my commute.
    • The ability to roll your bike while folded is important, as stated above! The Bromptons look insanely friendly in this regard; the Dahon's pretty good. I've heard complaints about inability to do this with cheaper bikes.
    • 16 or 20"? I don't think 16" would make the bike any thinner, so go 20", the height's not what's keeping it out of luggage racks.



    Thanks for all the advice, and I hope this summation helps someone else

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    What do you mean when you say the kickstand scrapes? Scrapes what?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    What do you mean when you say the kickstand scrapes? Scrapes what?
    I'm guessing it bottoms out and hits the curb when curb hopping.
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  24. #24
    Commuter, Distance Rider complex's Avatar
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    scraping kickstand

    I have the short, two-legged kickstand. I think that after 3-6 months, its spring started to get a little weak and let it hang down a little. When I take sharp turns, I sometimes hear the kickstand scrape on the ground a little. It doesn't hit when I jump off curbs, but can scrape if I'm just walking the bike off a curb.

    I mention that mostly for disclosure. Things like that can be real frustrating after you spend a bunch of money. All the same, I think the kickstand is useful & worth it. (well, i believe it came standard with my bike, but I'd have paid for it.)
    Last edited by complex; 12-06-10 at 09:16 PM. Reason: clarification

  25. #25
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    just want to make sure this is NOT a Pletscher double kickstand on your bike ? Correct ?
    Just in case it is indeed a Pletscher please get in contact with me so I can get you a new one. We are VERY VERY concerned about our quality ( it is expensive after all ) and we certainly do NOT want ONE of the thousands we have sold in the past to have a broken spring or something like that ...

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    Thanks Thor

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