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Classic/Old Steel Dahons, questions and dreams! :)

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Classic/Old Steel Dahons, questions and dreams! :)

Old 06-26-16, 04:50 AM
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v1nce
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Classic/Old Steel Dahons, questions and dreams! :)

I was hoping thinking we could make this thread a repository for knowledge on older (80s to early 90s) steel Dahons. I am specifically interested in the 16inchers but also the Boardwalk, Uno etc.

I have bought the Dahon Birons, the blue and black one (pick up in 10 days) in attachment for e75, which is a start, but will eventually likely resell and upgrade. However researching older Dahons' I came to realize I have so many questions. If you have any answers to my way to many questions or any clues at all, I would be most grateful!

1. What is the difference and (dis)advantages of this later model -sometimes called the Birons, without the strut going from the handlebar when compared to the older Classic III which has that strut.

2. Is that strut something that makes the fold slower but the frame also more durable and stiff, or did they dispense with it on later models because it was not really necessary in any way?

3. For both the Birons and the III there seem to be models out there with a normal looking headset and a propietory/rare much wider one, is that correct? Should I avoid the propietory headset at all cost or are they extremely durable? Also what about steel rims vs somewhat more recent models having aluminum ones, the latter is always better,.. or not?

4. Stainless steel Dahons, quite a few of them out there, especially the Birons and III. If you do not own a yacht, other than looking awesome, is there a (dis)advantage? Would they weigh more than the regular version? Not much of a weight weenie but if you are buying a bike to lift up often or even take onto a plane in suitcase a kilo begins to matter.

5. Would a stainless steel version actually be more! likely to bend crack or break compared to regular steel version. Other than bolts and such, is everything stainless? Even the rack, the rims?!

6. What exactly are the I, II, IV, V models.. did they even exist, any big differences?

7. I can regularly buy a pretty much mint stainless steel Birons or III for 175 to 225.. I am thinking about it buying this one (Mint, first owner, barely used, has paperwork)…. https://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/s-...60487-217-3356 Should I? Or just stick with a beater old normal color non stainless one?

8. What is with the bewildering amount of (recycled) names for Dahons, B and subbrands, sublicensed Dahons etc etc! So far I have these words or names being used for various different bikes and brands: Classic, Stowaway, Pegasus, Mariner, Batavus Easy-Travel Birons Dahon I Dahon 2 Conor etc etc. Know any more?

9. If you could get any classic 16 inch Dahon, what would be your dream bike? As in the best/nicest one that was also likely to last you forever?

Lastly, I have owned and liked steel Boardwalks, but I did find the frame flexy and have seen and read accounts of broken main tube, also want to go 16 inch for small fold!
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Old 06-27-16, 05:54 PM
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Sooo, too many questions? Or, has nobody ever owned or ridden a single one of these bikes which for quite a number of years were the most frequently sold folding bikes in the US? Any insights at all would be great.
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Old 06-27-16, 09:13 PM
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I had a 16" older one...



As you can see, I added a stem to increase reach. It was almost mint. I was disenchanted by how heavy it was, and soon sold it again.

If you fold it correctly it is very compact, one of the smallest folds there is in 16".





That's about how far my knowledge of the older ones goes.

Last edited by jur; 06-27-16 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 06-28-16, 04:38 AM
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Dahon Quest
Stainless steel
16 ETRTO 349
Sachs Torpedo 3s
10.8 kg
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Old 06-28-16, 07:27 AM
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I still own 2 about 1985 Dahons. I had one more but sold it last year. At best not very good bikes . Not something I would use for a long ride or daily. I collect folders and just have them for examples. They are nothing special. Roger
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Old 06-28-16, 06:24 PM
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Thanks for all the replies!

If you want to see some insane, beautiful mods that I think will make any true folder enthousiast excited, check this:
:slightly_smiling_face:Flickriver: Photoset 'Taiwan Dahon Classic Bike Party' by No5

I knew they were heavy considering the (mostly steel) materials used... But that is also sortoff also the charm for me. Since the folded package is so small and I find the ease of lifting is a function of both bulk and weight. I am looking into as durable a folder as possible. Most of these folders being all steel would mean: Chainring would last almost forever. Sturmey Archer AW is probably the most durable, easily serviceable and ubiquitous hub ever produced. Nothing is likely to wear, bend, fold or crack. Also, if one really did want to effect a change in weight, it should be easy to shave off 900 to 1800 ish grams! I mean the seatpost, handlebars, Crankset and rims would mean a huge weigh saving if one replaced them with alloy ones.

@Depaso, are you sure? I have seen many pictures of quests and they always looked to be 20 inch, not 16? Really cool looking bikes though! Love the frame and fork!
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Old 07-01-16, 07:46 PM
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Finishing up resto-mod on early Classic

Apparently the guy that used to post on this topic in detail has moved on. I don't know much about the early history of the company, but I picked up an early ('87) Classic in great condition eight years ago for next to nothing, at least after I sold the fenders & rack on Ebay. I was inspired by the pictures of the Taiwanese collectors' bikes mentioned, and decided to build something like those.

The company started in '82, most of the early bikes were 16" wheels, the front strut was intended to close the steering hinge and provide stability, but the hinge still was wobbly, as was the frame hinge clamp if not adjusted regularly. David Hon's original design was a bit quirky, but the bikes sold well enough - originally for about $220 - and they evolved the design until finally bringing out the new lineup of more modern frames.

The original frame itself is very solid, with double-butted tubing, and the SA 3-speed hub is the best choice for this type of bike in my opinion. I can attest that the bike is lighter with aluminum/light parts for the crank, seatpost, saddle, and rims. About 25 1/2 lbs. It's still one of the smallest folds available. Compared to a Brompton, the folded size is slightly bigger, with a shorter wheelbase, no suspension, less driveline options, for at least $1000 less.
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Old 07-02-16, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by 2wheeldeal View Post
Apparently the guy that used to post on this topic in detail has moved on. I don't know much about the early history of the company, but I picked up an early ('87) Classic in great condition eight years ago for next to nothing, at least after I sold the fenders & rack on Ebay. I was inspired by the pictures of the Taiwanese collectors' bikes mentioned, and decided to build something like those.

The company started in '82, most of the early bikes were 16" wheels, the front strut was intended to close the steering hinge and provide stability, but the hinge still was wobbly, as was the frame hinge clamp if not adjusted regularly. David Hon's original design was a bit quirky, but the bikes sold well enough - originally for about $220 - and they evolved the design until finally bringing out the new lineup of more modern frames.

The original frame itself is very solid, with double-butted tubing, and the SA 3-speed hub is the best choice for this type of bike in my opinion. I can attest that the bike is lighter with aluminum/light parts for the crank, seatpost, saddle, and rims. About 25 1/2 lbs. It's still one of the smallest folds available. Compared to a Brompton, the folded size is slightly bigger, with a shorter wheelbase, no suspension, less driveline options, for at least $1000 less.
Thanks so much for that response! Yeh this is also what I have concluded from all my research yet having 0 hands on experience with these bikes. That they are really rather overlooked bike -possibly because they are so old and prevalent- since few (any?) bikes can match them in durability, price and folded size. I didn't understand what the part about "wobbly" which part is exactly wobbly? The steering column/hinge? Even with the strut? The tubing is also part of what caught my eye, having owned the newer steel Boardwalk and feeling the far too thin tubes bend and shimmy,.. yikes! I am going to get one of the Stainless steel double butted versions.. So few few bikes and even folders have frames made from that and I think it is an awesome idea. After all if rust can not start from the in or outside.. these frames might just live forever. I do understand that the ride is likely not even as close to as plush or stable as a brompton, but indeed the price difference is so gargantuan and the times that the average folder user rides more than 20 miles on a folder are so, so few,.. that,.. who cares! How good has your own bike held up, is there any reason to think the frame might in time fail or it remains solid? What upgrades do you think make the biggest improvement? I also of course I intend to upgrade pretty much everything on mine, over time. Brooks saddle, faster tires, aluminum rims if those are missing. If I then end up with a 400 euro bikes that rides and folds 90% as good as a Brompton.. I am still saving 700 ish Euros... Could you by any chance recall any post by the person who was knowledgeable on this bike. Or perhaps his forum name? Of course I did a search for Dahon but did not come up with a lot of info. I would be most grateful!
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Old 07-03-16, 12:42 PM
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Here is my project, 98% done, weighing in at 25.35 pounds (11.5 kg.)


The previous poster on classics was active here around 2007, when I first started looking into folders, and buying one. I don't think the archives here go back that far - I remember that he had two stainless Dahons. I would definitely buy one of those if it was in good condition, tho prices have gone up. You should check the forum at Dahon, they probably still have my scans of the owner's manual that came with my bike, including a complete exploded picture of the bike parts.

As to your questions, I'll go over what I've learned in going through mine. First, looking at the best of today's folders, it's obvious that you want the frame and steering hinges to be as solid as a bank vault. The original steering hinge & strut setup on the Dahon was the weakest part of the design. The steering hinge doesn't actually close completely, it depends on the strut for support, which is attached by two small thru bolts at the rear. It was the first thing they threw out when they started making changes. I'm still working on filling the space inside the clamshell with rubber gaskets and/or silicone, so that there is some compression when you close the hinge and hook up the strut, but can still open it, of course.

The frame hinge clamp is better, a very clever design since it has to fit between the cranks, but I found after riding some miles that it is overstressed a bit, since it's holding the whole frame together from the lower part of the hinge. Will do for now, but I'm working on a clamp lock of some kind for the upper clamshell that will probably require welding. Another caveat is the bottom bracket, if you decide to change the crankset. The bottom bracket shell is partly cut away in back before welding to the seat tube, thus if you want to replace the original BB (good idea), a cartridge type won't go in. I found an old Shimano cup and spindle set with 113mm spindle which fit perfectly with the Pake crank.

Other points: my project was stalled until I could find some reasonably priced rims, seat post and shim. In general, since Dahons are made in mainland China, you'll find parts there too. I found the seat post on Ebay, but I couldn't find a good set of rims or seat post shim until Ali-express came along. The very nice rims are Litepro brand, $24 each. I was able to use the old spokes, but I was unable to find a better front hub in the narrow width that they use. The Brompton hub may work. Small tires of a certain brand cost just as much as the full sized version. I wouldn't worry too much about rust, there is no need to leave this bike outdoors for any length of time. It rains a lot here also.
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Old 07-04-16, 04:13 PM
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Thanks for reply 2wheeldeal! Very nice sleek, black and sorto special ops model! Turns out the one I am buying on Saturday is almost most mint 115 euros. Stainless steel frame, aluminium rims, 3 speed hub, new, good race saddle and all the original parts included. I figure I cant really lose at that price. Even if I dont like it, selling it for the same price should be very doable. I believe the BB has already been replaced for me as well as the cranks for nicer ones. The guy selling it is a real bike freak who is happy to be selling it to another like minded individual. Will post photos in this thread (may take time!) if all turns out well.
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Old 07-04-16, 09:00 PM
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These older Dahons aren't worth much IMHO. Heavy and really low end componentry, being from the 80s. I think the only ones worth having are the stainless steel ones.
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Old 07-05-16, 04:03 AM
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I bought an almost unridden '86 Classic III for pocket change when bikefriday issued the second 'Dangerous to ride' recall on the tikit and took eight months to get repair parts to me.

I like the old Dahon. It works.

Dahon Classic III.jpg

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Old 07-17-16, 04:09 PM
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v1nce
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Very nice Black dahon, i like your upgrades, exactly the stuff I would do first since it actually makes the biggest/a difference.
@jur. Stainless steel thing, I have one now and it seem lighter but can not be sure. But still, I am a folder enthusiast, not a weight weenie. If it was my daily multi-modal transport/commuter that i lifted 4 times a day five days a week, I would of course feel very different.. But since I am not.. Also with the mods people here are sharing or that I linked above the Classic 3 weights about the same as an entry level Brompton and nobody complains much about the weight of those?
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Old 07-17-16, 08:37 PM
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i've seen a lot of these restorations/upgrades. this is the probably the one that appeals to me most:

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Old 07-19-16, 05:32 PM
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Very nice!
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Old 08-02-16, 04:18 PM
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I have recently test ridden one similar to the stainless steel one above in original condition. How can you ride the bike that has so much play in the handlebar/brace? Im sure you can put in some bushing of sort in the hinge area of the strut and the headset to take up the slack. What else can one do to make it rideable?
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Old 08-03-16, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by desastar View Post
I have recently test ridden one similar to the stainless steel one above in original condition. How can you ride the bike that has so much play in the handlebar/brace? Im sure you can put in some bushing of sort in the hinge area of the strut and the headset to take up the slack. What else can one do to make it rideable?
if there is any noticeable play in the steering mast brace, then something is wrong. check the connections carefully.
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Old 08-03-16, 12:14 PM
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what smallwheeler says ....
They do not ride as nice as newer models, though. A little twitchy maybe. But an old Mini Cooper doesn't ride as nice as a new one, still I would prefer an old one for myself..lol


And yes the stainless ones are the ones to look for.
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Old 08-03-16, 04:28 PM
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Lol
Well, the the handlebar post isn't clamped down like the modern bikes but instead held in place by a brace. This foldable brace has some play, few mm either way and by the time it reaches the top where it joins the handlebar post, that few mm becomes quite a few mm,and the handlebar moves around a fair bit!
Im sure thats not right, meaning the strut needs to be taken off and the folding point restored.....i think
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Old 08-03-16, 04:47 PM
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Found this in an article ..
"Dynamic capabilities were not high in the list of the Hon's design priorities, and those uninterested in a sports ride will not be disappointed. This is not helped by a slight 'looseness' in the frame. This exists because the connection between the diagonal strut and the steering stem is not fixed. The strut just clips in, and it forms a pivot point to allow the steering stem to rotate as the handlebars turn"
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Old 08-04-16, 04:51 AM
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I got good results by filling the volume inside the clamshell with rubber. A shower drain gasket trimmed to fit and taped in place, so that it needs to compress slightly to close the hinge and connect the strut. This not only takes out the play, but also adds some resilience to the linkage. I like the strut on the old bikes, you can mount a water bottle or other stuff on it.

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Old 08-04-16, 06:54 AM
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Just picked up one of these old classics (a near pristine 5 speed) for 70 GBP over here in the UK. I spent some time hacking it apart to reduce the weight...
A few friends on Facebook got interested and so I put up a page here... I'd be highly interested in getting a stainless steel model and / or a single speed...

https://jsyang.ca/dahon-classic-v



Really fun to ride!
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Old 08-04-16, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jimridesbikes View Post
Just picked up one of these old classics (a near pristine 5 speed) for 70 GBP over here in the UK. I spent some time hacking it apart to reduce the weight...
A few friends on Facebook got interested and so I put up a page here... I'd be highly interested in getting a stainless steel model and / or a single speed...

Really fun to ride!

How do you change gear ?
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Old 08-04-16, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Diode100 View Post
How do you change gear ?
You don't. It's meant to be a single-speed conversion as well but I didn't have the time to strip the cassette and find spacers / correct locking sprocket yet.
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Old 08-04-16, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by jimridesbikes View Post
very cool.
what is that bike in the background? schwinn qualifier?

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