I travel quite a bit and figured a foldie would be a wise investment. I bought the Dahon Speed P8 and took it with me to Hawaii. Although I had no intention of putting this thing to the test so quickly, my week's rides included a 52 and 64 mile ride (my first metric century!) I'm pretty impressed with the Dahon. Here is my take:
-Super quick folding mechanism
-Decent components, considering the cost
-Travel bag allows extra storage of helmet, gloves, shoes, etc.
-Saddle was surprisingly good and comfy, but might be too wide for some (probably most roadies)
-Brakes are above average, MTB style
-Shifting mechanism was loud at first, but after a small adjustment and lube, shifting was precise and chain was quiet while pedaling
-Steel frame feels solid and $$$ less than Aluminum model
-8 Speeds cover a good range
-Bike is solid when out of the saddle
-When folded, wheels and seatpost form a mini tripod to stand upright (I brought this bike into a bar and it sat upright next to my seat)
-When folded, seat acts as a convenient carry handle
-Handlebar position could be farther forward, so I added bar ends and that helped a lot ($15 at Performance Bike)
-Only 8 speeds, but still has 7 more than my fixed gear
-Folding pedals seemed cheap and heavy, but the Quick Release MKS pedals are an option (they are NICE)
-Handlebars have more side-to-side flex than standard road bike, but that's to be expected with telescoping model
-Steering is very quick (some say twitchy) but I'm told it is common to all bikes with this type of steering geometry
Looked at a few brands from the UK (Birdy, Brompton, etc), but the only real competition seems to be Bike Friday. Since I happen to get to Eugene often, I went to the factory and test rode a Pocket Rocket. A very solid bike that will fit in a Samsonite hardside suitcase! The folding mechanism is more cumbersome than the Dahon, but more compact. I tried to price a similar model, but the BF was spendy no matter how I looked at it. They don't allow you to buy a bare frameset. The salesman was very ambiguous when I tried to get a quote for a similarly equipped 8 speed, but it was somewhere between $900-1000; when priced with Ultegra, it climbed to $2200+ . IMO, the BF is meant to be a road bike replacement (unless you have 3K laying around.) Since this was a 3rd bike for me, I couldn't justify the cost...not even in basic 8 speed mode. If I were doing some serious touring, the BF would probably be the way to go, but dollar-for-dollar, I find the Dahon to be a very good value. For info on how I saved a bunch on my Dahon, check out this prior post.
Last edited by formulaben; 12-08-04 at 08:57 PM.
Formulaben how many bikes do you really have?
I'd tell you, but you'd probably tell my wife and get me in trouble...
Man About Town
When I first test-drove the SP8, I noticed the same thing--the pedals seems a little "bendy", and there was noticible flex in the handlebar (I extend mine up as far as it will go, so no surprise there). But after buying one, and riding around on it for a couple of months, I find that I've gotten used to both quirks. I don't know if that's good or bad.
Originally Posted by formulaben
This is a good review. I purchased the same bike three years ago and the quality has gotten better. The new Speed 8 has quick release for both wheels and the components are better. I also think Dahon improved the main hinge lock and it's more secure overall. Maybe the saddle has improved but I though the one that came with mine was horrible. I replaced it with a Brooks Champion Flyer.
Originally Posted by formulaben
I consider the Speed 8 better then the Helios (that costs more!) because you want the flex provided by Chromoly 4130 and not hard Alu. Bike Friday is better for serious touring but Dahon makes the best folding bikes for commuting. I only wish my bike was the 2004 version with all the improvements. There's no question in my mind that Dahon improved the product by 20% the past three years.