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Dahon Mariner or the Origami Crane - or something else?

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Dahon Mariner or the Origami Crane - or something else?

Old 03-30-19, 10:56 PM
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MEversbergII
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Dahon Mariner or the Origami Crane - or something else?

Hello (long time no see!),

I've been in the market for a folder as late, with the near-term goal of using it on an upcoming trip to get around the city much faster than I walk. I had done some searching around and asking around on other forums and online dealers and had settled on the Dahon Mariner. I'm told it's a good bike with good components and would be a great choice for a first folder (my original choices were things like the Dahon Vybe and Euromini Forte). My only holdup was the color - not super thrilled about the silver. Sure, it's not ugly, but it just doesn't thrill me (though I do suppose that would make it a higher-viz bike in the dark, not that it would be relevant when lights / vests are on anyways). Couldn't find a side-by-side for the Brushed versus Quicksilver, either.

Looking around for info about the Dahon brand bags, however, I came across a few threads on the Mariner here and found another person who had trouble choosing between several brands of bike. They ultimately went with the Origami "Crane 8" instead of all of their other choices. I'm aware of Origami but I've never actually looked into their bikes and during the course of my asking around they did not show up on a list of suggestions, so I gave it a look and now I'm not sure which is the better buy.

According to the sticky, I should provide the following:



* your weight (bikes have weight limits): 190lb
* how tall you are (almost all folding bikes are size medium, ie 22" (55cm) equiv. top tube length) 5'4"
* your budget - ~650USD (as I was already intending to buy the Mariner)
* your riding experience - Used to utility / cycle commute, but I've never used a folder before.
* what you intend to use the bike for (eg touring, commuting, casual park riding, shopping, MTB-ing etc) - Urban exploration / park riding. If I really like it maybe I'll start using it for other things.
* what country you are in, as countries tend to have different choices - USA



We are looking at a roughly $250 price difference (though I can get free shipping from Thor on the Dahon, but not the Crane which is ~$30), which is significant enough to make me wonder ($645 for the cheapest Mariner vs $400 for the Crane). At first glance, the "Metallic gray" color is more appealing than the Dahon silver, because it's darker and thus more edgy and therefore cooler. Here's what I can figure out on my own:

  1. Both have 8 speed cassettes (I'm told Cassette good), but the Crane claims 34 vs Mariner's 32 for lowest (slightly lower gearing).
  2. Both use thumb shifters (earlier Mariners used grip shift but this change for the 2019 model).
  3. Both seem to have the same spoke count.
  4. Both have chain guards (important).
  5. Both use V-brakes.
  6. Both weigh about the same at 27 pounds
  7. Both have rear racks and fenders (this is important). Mariner is alu rack, Crane is of unknown metal.
  8. Both have a 230 pound rider weight limit (I am ~190).
  9. Both fit me (I am ~5'4")
  10. Both have magnetic closure
  11. Both have adjustable handlebars (this feels important, part of why I passed on the Vybe and Vitesse)
  12. Both have alu frames and steel forks (or at least, Dahon claims the Mariner has steel forks while ThorUSA claims they're alu)
  13. Both have plastic folding pedals (which will probably get replaced soon, maybe even day 1)
  14. Both seem to fold the same way (chain out).
  15. Both seem to have locking guards for their folding joint levers.
    === End Similarities ==
  16. Crane uses Acera derailleur vs the Mariner's Altus. From what I have read, they're both entry level but the Acera is the better of the two. Score to Crane.
  17. Mariner has the option for bolted-on front racks, and the Crane does not. Score Mariner.
  18. Crane has quick release hubs, Mariner uses bolts (Crane for sure has lawyer lips, but that's one less tool to carry on a ride I suppose). Score Crane.
  19. Crane has double-wall rims - I don't know if Mariner does or not. I'm told this is important. Score Crane?
  20. Crane has a 52 tooth chain ring, Mariner has 53. I don't know how relevant that actually is.
  21. Mariner has a lot of rust-resistant claims, Crane does not. Not sure that's actually relevant, though.
  22. Crane seems to have neater welds (likely more concealed on the Crane due to color). Can't really score this one.
  23. Crane appears to have a pre-marked seat post for measuring height (saving me the trouble). Score Crane.
  24. Mariner has Schwalbe Citizens (decent tires I'm told) vs the Crane's Kenda Premium. I had always intended to replace the Citizens with Marathon Plus, however - so not very relevant.
  25. Crane has a trailer / hard case option (neat, because I had just been wondering about trailers on folders). Score Crane (slightly relevant I guess).


The rest of the details I either don't understand or don't know to look for.

All in all, I am now leaning towards the Crane. People have said good things about the Mariner and I know Dahon is an established brand. I know little about Origami (evidently they're in VA, which isn't too far off). Basically in none of the threads I'd started asking about folders early on did Origami come up, but various Dahons did - nor did I recall seeing Origami on places like FoldingBike20 or BikeFolded. That makes me wonder if maybe the Origami brand is not a great buy in general, or maybe they just haven't made much of a name for themselves either way.

It's about $400 on their site for the Crane (only $40 or so more than the Euromini Forte I had originally looked at some weeks ago but about $250 cheaper than the Mariner). For $500, I can get the Crane in a hardcase which doubles as a wheeled storage box and a small bike trailer (and probably a safer shipping container than cardboard alone). This case seems to have poor wheels, though I don't anticipate using it for an actual trailer much (or for very far - at most a mile down to the store if I feel adventurous). It's main purpose would be keeping the bike safe in the trunk and to ease carrying it into a hotel.

On both bikes from what I can tell the saddle, grips, and pedals are a complaint people have. I had intended to replace them both eventually (starting with pedals probably) so that's a wash. Tires, as well, since I never intended to use the stock Citizens, having to upgrade the Kenda's isn't a problem - though the tradeoff is one gives me spare Citizens (which I suppose I could pass down to my wife's Schwinn Loop), while the other gives me spare Kenda Spacetakers.

The biggest break in feature seems to be that front-mounting option. Dahon lets you buy a frame-attached truss which you can attach things to. Not sure how useful that is for me really, but the front-mounted "truss bag" was kind of novel and interesting - potentially useful for dismounting and taking things with you. For the Crane, I am aware of, but not directly familiar with, options such as the Xtoor rack which can clamp to the stem which could be a partial mitigation if I want front cargo options. Not a clue how well those work, however. Dahon in general seems to have more accessories support, but there are sources for panniers, etc. for folders.

As it's my first folder, I don't have experiences to fall back on, so I'm going entirely by what I'm told, backed up by what I can infer based on what I learned when I rode full sized bikes (which has actually been years past now).

What's the opinion of the more learned and experienced minds here? Is the Crane probably the better bet for a first time folder, or is the Mariner the better buy? Right now it's looking like the Origami Crane, but maybe I have drawn an incorrect conclusion.

Thanks,

M.

Last edited by MEversbergII; 04-01-19 at 07:23 AM. Reason: Spoiler tags would render, but apparently never open.
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Old 03-30-19, 11:29 PM
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Is there a dealer nearby where you can test ride the Dahon? That might swing it one way or the other for you. If not, see what Origami's return policy is (they don't have store dealers afaik so probably let you return within 30 days or so) so you can ride it. Slight differences in geometry can make a big difference in comfort and you willingness to ride more. Don't let $$ be the deciding factor if you avoid it, let the way the bike rides for you make the choice...all other things being fairly equal. Also, check upgradability. Are they both cassettes which can be changed easily? Does the chainring come off for easy replacement or is it one piece?
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Old 03-31-19, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Is there a dealer nearby where you can test ride the Dahon? That might swing it one way or the other for you. If not, see what Origami's return policy is (they don't have store dealers afaik so probably let you return within 30 days or so) so you can ride it. Slight differences in geometry can make a big difference in comfort and you willingness to ride more. Don't let $$ be the deciding factor if you avoid it, let the way the bike rides for you make the choice...all other things being fairly equal. Also, check upgradability. Are they both cassettes which can be changed easily? Does the chainring come off for easy replacement or is it one piece?
Sadly, no. I was up in DC recently and dropped into a store listed as a Dahon dealer, but they did not have any in stock / don't keep any in stock (I guess that makes sense). I don't get up that way often at all, so the odds of being able to go back are slim - especially for just that.

Deciding factor is less the cost and more "value for money" - especially as a first folder and something I'll be taking into a city where theft mitigation via locks and good parking must also meet the reality of what I lose if they steal it anyways. Also governs my choice of lights and bags at the moment, too.

This thread is also sort of a test of my analysis too - never was good at judging bikes / components. How would I tell how easily cassettes can be changed? It wasn't something I was set on doing though I did wonder just how low I could reliably gear a bike in general, recently. Never done that kind of thing to a bike I've owned. That said, this thread here makes it sound like the chainring can be changed readily. He seems to like the bike, though the trailer is pretty mediocre. I'm more interested in it from a storage / shipping perspective rather than a hauling one, mind, and am not married to getting that in the package.

Thanks,

M.
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Old 03-31-19, 09:27 AM
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The origami is an 8 speed so it's a cassette, which means you can swap for different gearing. Have you looked at Downtube bikes? The owner is on this forum, and is super helpful. Lots of reviews to read as well. https://www.downtube.com/bikes/ Not to confuse your more, but downtube and origami are probably pretty good comparisons. Dahon is a step up from that. Are you mechanically inclined or interested in doing some of your own wrenching? If you buy a bike online, chances are that there will be things you will want to change, which will add to the overall cost. If you have to hit a shop for everything, you are probably better off spending a bit more up front and getting precisely what you want. If you have some tools and can tweak it, then making sure it has good bones (frame) is what matters.
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Old 03-31-19, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
The origami is an 8 speed so it's a cassette, which means you can swap for different gearing.
Which is good news, as I might want to do that after I get some riding experience. Mostly concerned with low enough gears rather than high enough - area I live and intend to use this isn't super hilly but you never know. So long as the top end doesn't spin out on flat ground I'm in a good spot.

Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Have you looked at Downtube bikes? The owner is on this forum, and is super helpful. Lots of reviews to read as well. https://www.downtube.com/bikes/ Not to confuse your more, but downtube and origami are probably pretty good comparisons. Dahon is a step up from that.
I did look at Downtube. They seem like good bikes but the decider there was the look - the very flat tube (what is the proper term for a single tube bike, it's both down and top tube at the same time) didn't appeal to me much.

Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Are you mechanically inclined or interested in doing some of your own wrenching? If you buy a bike online, chances are that there will be things you will want to change, which will add to the overall cost. If you have to hit a shop for everything, you are probably better off spending a bit more up front and getting precisely what you want. If you have some tools and can tweak it, then making sure it has good bones (frame) is what matters.
A bit; did some in my bike commuter days. And I agree - best to get as close as possible. That's the quandary I ended up with though - everything that was obvious to me that I'd replace on the Crane was also what I'd replace on the Mariner (tires, pedals, maybe seat, maybe grips). When someone here namedroped the Crane as something they ended up picking over a few other bikes, I figured it would be a non-starter because the components would be some steps behind, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Definitely one of those times where I wish I could side-by-side them, that's for sure. That said, if I get one nothing stops me from eventually getting the other if I want it.

Thanks,

M.
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Old 03-31-19, 11:09 AM
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Yeah, be careful. That first folder is never ever the last, lol.
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Old 03-31-19, 05:21 PM
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I own a Dahon Yvbe, Mariner, and a Zizzo Via. As my 1st folder blind luck really helped me with the Vybe. It came with an adjustable handlebar and headset bolts to mount a front bag. To me these are must haves. All of the bikes you mentioned will ride about the same so test riding is not super important as folders are very adjustable. Fenders were important and I upgraded the pedals and cranks, but that's optional and all in good time. Don't overthink this, all mentioned in your posts are reliable and won't break the bank.
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Old 03-31-19, 06:57 PM
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I own a few different brands of folder, and the ONLY bike I own that's a nuisance to fold (or keep folded, as there's no magnetic clasp), and folds horribly is my Downtube Mini. It's a solid bike for $400, but SOOOOOO annoying if you need to fold and carry. I'm not sure if Downtube's other bikes are the same, but I'm not pleased with some aspects of the bike.
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Old 04-01-19, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by tds101 View Post
I own a few different brands of folder, and the ONLY bike I own that's a nuisance to fold (or keep folded, as there's no magnetic clasp), and folds horribly is my Downtube Mini. It's a solid bike for $400, but SOOOOOO annoying if you need to fold and carry. I'm not sure if Downtube's other bikes are the same, but I'm not pleased with some aspects of the bike.
Yeah, I'd seen you owned a Wasp - how did that hold up? I've shot out one or two messages to Crane owners (and Origami's owner). Not in the world's biggest rush right now but I am curious. The Crane's apparent better derailleur is a plus, tough the Mariner has a few positive features of its own.

Also, I just noticed that my "Spoiler" tags above don't seem to open, so I am going to remove those tags and unleash a wall of text.

Thanks,

M.
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Old 04-01-19, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
Yeah, I'd seen you owned a Wasp - how did that hold up? I've shot out one or two messages to Crane owners (and Origami's owner). Not in the world's biggest rush right now but I am curious. The Crane's apparent better derailleur is a plus, tough the Mariner has a few positive features of its own.

Also, I just noticed that my "Spoiler" tags above don't seem to open, so I am going to remove those tags and unleash a wall of text.

Thanks,

M.
The Wasp is pretty good for the price. I swapped pedals, seat, tires, removed the fenders (to be replaced with some cheap-o's that can deal with the fat tires,...), and the crankset and chainring were swapped out for a higher gearing. I've been unable to ride due to knee surgery,...I'm currently banned from riding until sometime later this month, so I can't give any long term ride review as of yet. Eventually,...just not now.

Oh, yes,...I almost forgot,... The Wasp folds nicely, it doesn't have magnets to keep it closed BUT you're given a quite good velcro strap to take care of that, and the frame is, IMO, worth upgrading the components. I'm quite happy with it's bones! I may swap the 8 speed IGH from the DT Mini to the Wasp. A chain tensioner will solve the vertical dropout issue.
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Old 04-01-19, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by tds101 View Post
The Wasp is pretty good for the price. I swapped pedals, seat, tires, removed the fenders (to be replaced with some cheap-o's that can deal with the fat tires,...), and the crankset and chainring were swapped out for a higher gearing. I've been unable to ride due to knee surgery,...I'm currently banned from riding until sometime later this month, so I can't give any long term ride review as of yet. Eventually,...just not now.
Ah, bummer! Hope you recover well. It seems that basically any sub-1k folder has the same general issues with pedals, so that's a sure upgrade in basically any model I buy. Same with seats, though I'd imagine those are probably the most personal preference thing you could put on a bike. I'd found another user here that seemed to have his Crane hold up well for a year and a half of intermittent use, too, so that's promising. Advantage to both of the bikes in question seems to be that the gearing is relatively easy to mess with - the Crane being geared slightly lower is a plus, especially as I have not ridden in nearly four years now and probably will suck at hills (I have a hard time standing in a climb due to an issue with my Achelles).

Thanks,

M.
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Old 04-01-19, 02:02 PM
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I, honestly, usually swap all those parts on all my bikes. If I'd ordered an upgraded bike the parts wouldn't be an issue. I'm a trial & error kind of guy. Comfort is my goal at all times. LoL!
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Old 04-01-19, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tds101 View Post
I, honestly, usually swap all those parts on all my bikes. If I'd ordered an upgraded bike the parts wouldn't be an issue. I'm a trial & error kind of guy. Comfort is my goal at all times. LoL!
Cheers; I think I'm pretty much sold on the Crane (found someone who has owned and ridden it for more than a year who didn't have any negative things to say). If I really like the whole folder thing, maybe I'll look into the Mariner (or better) again in the future. The upside to their small size is their ease of storage, which lends itself to having more than one rather easily (small quarters).

Once I've got it in and put it through some use, I will try and do a proper review if I can.

Thanks,

M.
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