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jakub.ner 05-03-07 07:43 AM

Dahon: Improved Over the Years?

I like Dahon bikes. I have had an Avenir (a 2004 Dahon licensed by Raleigh), rode light offroad and toured on it. Recently I replaced 5 non folding bikes with a Dahon Vitesse for myself and a Dahon Ciao for my wife (I was thinking of going pure folding for a long time).

My riding includes utility, some long distance, and I plan to do some "folding bike cyclocross" :).

A good friend recently sent me an excerpt from a touring list and it goes like this:

"I loved riding my bike friday NWT from 1996 to 2006- before that I'd
toured with a Dahon 20" folder ... I bought the Bike Friday when the Dahon frame broke in half just
behind the headset. There was a little decal on the Dahon that said "Not for
heavy duty use". Luckily I wasn't going fast when it broke."

Now I thought, ahh his Dahon was old technology. After all there is a vast improvement in the front end between my 2004 and the new Vitesse. Also judging from the Dahon Web site they always innovate and try to improve. Then I found John Forester's: with notable quotes such as:

a typical cheap utility bicycle ... No person who had no need of the folding characteristic would consider them to be a good buy. ... Dahon is a typically-crummy utility bicycle ...

Of course I thought.... hmm... I noted the date, 1999, OK so my theory that Dahon's have possibly been improved over these earlier designs may still be true. Then I read his stability analysis where he bashes the Dahon for being extremelly unstable. His stability test includes:

It is easy to ride a properly-designed bicycle without hands on the handlebars because the bicycle itself tries to correct for the inadvertent leanings that are impossible to prevent.

So this morning--somewhat concerned--I donned the helmet and on the way to work started riding without my hands on the handle bars. This was my Vitesse, the new one. Yet to try this with the 2004. Guess what, it was quite excellent. So I challenged my self with some turns and with some gravel and bumps. Quite good.

So have Dahons improved over the years? Like the Web site claims? I'm asking in the hopes some of you have riden Dahons then and ride them now.

- Jakub

brakemeister 05-03-07 07:49 AM

Hi Jacob
the forester site is bogus to say at least... some 10 plus years old and made from a fellow who got paid to find some dirt .... It is similar to people saying dont buy a chevy because the Corvair is dangerous at any speed .....

I would not own a Dahon if it would be from that era, and I certainly would not sell any if they would not have drastly improoved the breed...

Still I dont suggest to ride without hands on the steering
( no matter what bike )

Thanks Thor

invisiblehand 05-03-07 08:17 AM

I don't own one. But I have ridden enough of them over the years to say that they have gotten much better and that I would consider buying one.


Loch 05-03-07 09:24 AM

My first dahon was the top of the line, I bought it in 1999 for $400, it has a very well built cromoly frame and fork and it had some pretty low end components. I also bought my wife a Dahon Impulse the same year for $350, I bought it from Gaerlen and he had a misprint that the frame was cromoly, I later found out it was HiTen steel. We rode both of these bikes pretty hard and toured England, Wales and Ireland with them. The frames held up very well, however I upgraded a lot of the components before we went on the tour.

I've pretty much stopped using the Impluse the Hiten frame is just to heavy. We still use the Cromoly one.

Later I upgraded to a Speed pro in 2003. I ride this bike a LOT, to work everyday, and have taken it on several business trips. It has been a very awesome bike. The older dahon was pretty nice, the the speed pro is hugely improved (of course the price was much higher also), but you could tell that dahon had learned over time and made some nice refinements.

I also own a Downtube INXS and will probably be getting another dahon soon.

So personally, I'd say the older dahons, at least the late 90's models are on par with any folding bike in that price range at the time. And logically over the years, like most bike lines, they have improved over the years.

FYI, during that time my weight was hovering around the upper limit that dahon recommends.

A custom late 90's Bike friday and a late 90's Dahon is a silly comparison.

Bacciagalupe 05-03-07 10:11 AM

Apparently Dahons have gotten better over the years. I do not believe they have a higher rate of frame failures than other folders in their price range, although you may hear more stories because there's more of them out there than almost any other brand.

However, the handlebars are still very flexy, and quality control seems to be kind of iffy, especially the wheels. Plus, they tend to use proprietary parts, so in some cases upgrades and repairs will be difficult (especially on the lower-end models).

1990 Dahon vs 2007, I think you'd see a big jump in quality. 2004 Dahon vs 2007, I wouldn't expect any major leaps and bounds. Tho' I believe they changed the handlepost in 2005, not sure when the last major hinge revision was.

Personally I wouldn't use any 20" bike for major off-road use, the ride would be too harsh. And Dahons generally are too heavy to use in any kind of cyclocross manner (even if you're not racing). Most of them are 25+ lbs.

jakub.ner 05-03-07 11:38 AM

Thanks for the responses.

Maybe I misused the term "cyclocross" :). What I meant is, I expect I will be running up some steep inclines and over some trees/obstacles/ditches that a purpose made 26" mtb can easily jump. Absolutly no competition :). I've done this before with my non-mtb non-folding bikes and figure the Dahon will fill the role. Having said that I will try doing the trail first on the 2004 model, just in case ;).

I kind of figured John Forester's report was somewhat loaded.

Cheers all,

Bacciagalupe 05-03-07 01:28 PM


Originally Posted by jakub.ner
Maybe I misused the term "cyclocross" :). What I meant is, I expect I will be running up some steep inclines and over some trees/obstacles/ditches that a purpose made 26" mtb can easily jump.

For what it's worth there's no way I'd do something like this, on a regular basis, on a Dahon 20". You are begging for a frame failure, almost certainly in the handlepost.

Most 20" folders aren't good for this, despite any similarities to BMX. Maybe a Swift would work, at least the frame is solid enough. But the bottom brackets and derailleurs on almost all 20" folders are pretty low, and the geometry is all wrong, neh?

folder fanatic 05-03-07 06:55 PM

Hello jakub.ner,

I am a rather recent addition to the world of folding bikes. I started my association with them some 3 and a half years ago with my purchase of a Boardwalk S1-and never looked back as they now are the only bike type I own except for an ancient non-folding Phillips from 1968. I have used them just as I would any other bike except for extreme stress type of riding like pulling up on the handlebars when going uphill, riding over very harsh road conditions (like potholes and curb jumping), or some other similar stunts listed listed previously. I decided that I wanted them for the ablility to fold (and protect them from the high theft rate here in my area) rather than performance or BMX durabilty type. In life, there are always trade-offs. So I chose these bikes because what they offer me, rather than what they cannot.

James H Haury 05-04-07 08:46 AM

Whoever this guy who did the stability analysis is, he needs to acknowledge and take into account that 16 inch and 20 inch wheels are not the same as fat 26 " or 700c tires . A smaller tired bike will simply not be as easy to ride no hands as a big old balloon tire cruiser.With big fat tires you have more gyroscopic effect.Have dahons improved over the years i have an old dahon and a new one I say ,YES!

invisiblehand 05-04-07 08:52 AM

Actually Forester is a somewhat notorious guy. Check out the A&S subforum Vehicular Cycling.


jakub.ner 05-04-07 07:02 PM


Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
For what it's worth there's no way I'd do something like this, on a regular basis, on a Dahon 20". You are begging for a frame failure, almost certainly in the handlepost.

You know, after catching up on the forums I saw the post on a Dahon handle bar post failure on a Speed P8. Darn...

willzz 05-04-07 08:38 PM

there are lots of happy dahon owners.. the handlepost is not always a problem if you know not the pull back on i'm a lightweight 170 lb.. and slow down when i roll off the curb and such.. and if you know not to abuse the bike.. then what's the problem ?
dahon sells millions of bikes.. and only have a few incidents to speak of...
it's the ford vs. chevy...coke vs. pepsi.. and so on..
don't buy it.. if you don't like it..but you don't have to knock it down...
sorry..i'm getting off the soapbox now..
have a nice day. :) :)

James H Haury 05-04-07 09:20 PM

who cares
I do not care who Forester is .He got it wrong in my opinion.He did not take folding bikes on their own merits and was careless in his analysis.

jakub.ner 05-10-07 07:24 AM


Originally Posted by willzz
there are lots of happy dahon owners.. . and slow down when i roll off the curb and such.. and if you know not to abuse the bike.. then what's the problem ?


I've adjusted my riding style accordingly. Folding bikes are actually excellent in the city for quickly getting off and back on so when I need to hop a curb I just get off lift the bike and get back on.

I am a happy Dahon owner :D

keithnyc 05-10-07 10:50 AM

Hey jakub-
I, like folder fanatic, am VERY new to the world of folders, but I did quite a lot of research before I made my purchase (March '07). Although price was a big factor for me, a bigger one was value. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on my first folder since I wasn't sure how I'd end up using it in the city (I mean, I needed it to get around town for errands and leisurely rides, not to race on the Autobahn......), but I definitely wanted it to be high quality and dependable. I decided that a Dahon suited my needs, and I settled on the relatively inexpensive Dahon Speed D7 (the '06 model, cheaper and in my opinion, nicer looking than the '07 model). I couldn't be happier. It looks great and, so far, it appears to be super sturdy and well-made. The locks seem to hold everything in place and the retailer ( did a great job putting it together before they shipped it to me. Also, every bike shop in the City (including Toga/Gotham bikes which are right in my building) have great things to say about Dahons and they sell plenty of them (especially the Dahon Speeds...).

Another thing I noticed is that the Dahon Tech support team is VERY customer service oriented. They seem to really try to go out of their way to help and support their customers ( They also have a great user forum that is also supported by their tech support team.

Hope this information helps.

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