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The perennial question: Brompton vs Dahon/Tern

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The perennial question: Brompton vs Dahon/Tern

Old 11-01-11, 04:55 AM
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antsjack
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The perennial question: Brompton vs Dahon/Tern

Well, I've read a lot of different reviews, and really want to buy a folding bike. I've read quite a few complaints on Dahons,but very very for Bromptons. My question is, are Bromptons really worth the difference in price?
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Old 11-01-11, 06:06 AM
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Brompton is a small company with limited resources for R&D; there's an article somewhere online about the redesign of the hinge clamp around 2004 and it's made to sound like a big deal that they made use of CAD software. Dahon is a big company which, at least until the tern split, was using all manner of manufacturing processes to make their frames and has the resources to alter product lines continuously (under the banner of improvement, though many would likely claim it's more to do with luring the consumer with novelty).
They're very different bikes, the Brompton obviously has the most compact fold and some interesting characteristics in terms of how it can be wheeled with luggage. Dahons are solid bikes, generally, though faults seem to crop up occasionally with the annual design changes. A lot of the 2008 bikes seem to have something fundamentally wrong with the hinge (I had a Curve with that problem).
I've seen a lot of comments on forums about quality issues with Bromptons, issues with flaking paint, rubbish front hub hole drilling and a bunch of other things, so it's really not the case that Bromptons are crafted like works of art.
I find my Brompton overly flexy in the stem region and it has a kind of 'loose' feel overall, which has be benefit of being very forgiving but not particularly sporty. My aluminium framed Dahon was so harsh to ride that I put massive tyres and a Thudbuster on it, it has a bit more of a 'positive' feel than the Brompton but oddly it's still less forgiving in terms of vibrations.
Bromptons are generally rather heavy.
A lot of the Tern bikes look like clunkers (14kg) as they've focussed on frame stiffness.

Brompton have spare parts going back 15 years I think, so one can argue that the expense pays itself off via the longevity of the bike. Dahon are crap when it comes to spare parts, Tern are aiming to remedy this.
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Old 11-01-11, 06:26 AM
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It's all about the compromise between ridability (usually from bigger wheels) and the folded size. Pick something somewhere you like on the spectrum. I rarely ride my Brom further than I would walk it - so the iffy fit (too short) and flexy ride don't matter so much to me as the small size it collapses to. The bike does *not* like too much horsepower. Even third hand it was expensive. I'm happy enough with it though.
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Old 11-01-11, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by antsjack View Post
My question is, are Bromptons really worth the difference in price?
Yes.
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Old 11-01-11, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by antsjack View Post
Well, I've read a lot of different reviews, and really want to buy a folding bike. I've read quite a few complaints on Dahons,but very very for Bromptons. My question is, are Bromptons really worth the difference in price?
As allways the more bikes the more complaints. I have no idea whether Brompton or Dahon (or Tern) differs in quality but if company A is lets say 10 times bigger than company B and both have problems with 1 % of their bikes then you would se 10 times more complaints on the bikes of company A. And Dahon is a much bigger manufacturer than Brompton.

Now, to your real question. Are Bromptons worth their higher price? That depends on what you want from the bike. My very small experience with Dahons is that they feel stiffer than Brompton which can be more fun but makes a lesser forgiving ride on your butt and wrists (I assume, I didn't ride long enough on any of them). Most Dahons have a larger fold and are lesser functional folded (e.g. they can't function as shopping carts and be wheeled with luggage still on them). If the folding size is of importance then you should look att Brompton, Dahon Curve and Dahon Jifo (maybe later on Dahon Curl) but not Tern.
If the ride is more important then you can look at all of them but probably Terns are better with some of the Dahons second and Brompton third (but still with some Dahons after). The best way of finding out is by trying.
If the weight is an issue then Tern is off but Brompton can still compete, they weigh from less than 10 kg (some of the -X versions which are really expensive) but usually around 12 kg depending on what you choose (look at www.brompton.co.uk for alternatives). Dahons may often be slightly lighter but it is also of importance how they are balanced and how they are folded, when you lift them.

To sum it up: The best way of finding out which bike is better is by trying them and get a feel of the quality first hand.

Last edited by Lao; 11-01-11 at 09:58 AM. Reason: Added a second t to 'butt'.
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Old 11-01-11, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by jolly_ross View Post
[...]so the iffy fit (too short)[...]
You or the bike?
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Old 11-01-11, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Lao View Post
And Dahon is a much bigger manufacturer than Brompton.
According to a statement by Andrew Ritchie a year and a half ago, Dahon was producing around 40X the number of bikes of Brompton.
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Old 11-01-11, 07:31 AM
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Try test riding a Brommie. Its a compromise ride due to the small fold. Dahons tend to fold in a clumsy manner IMO
Many people do not like the cock pit space, or the handling of the brommie. If you find it OK then its a good solid bet.
IMO Bromptoms only really suit riders under 5' 9. Hense my preference for the rival Mezzo with more cockpit space and easier upgrades.

I have owned all three bikes
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Old 11-01-11, 07:53 AM
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I remember feeling the same way antsjack!

Fortunately for me, before I bought my first folding bike I visited a friend who is very fond of folding bikes, and had examples from eight different manufacturers for me to try riding, plus folding and unfolding. It took most of an afternoon and well into the evening before we were finished, and while I can't remember them all, the short list was: Birdy, Bike Friday, DaHon, Brompton and Pacific (feel like I'm forgetting an important one, but you get the idea).

The one I liked the best, ride wise, was the Birdy. The one I liked best fold/un-fold wise was the Brompton (very clever fold!). All things sorted though, and price a consideration, I finally settled on the DaHon Curve 8. It has 16" wheels, so folds almost as tight/small as the Brompton (also called Brommies on this and similar forums) but rides better (faster, more solid, less flex) than all but the Birdy and cost me considerably less than the Birdy or Brompton would have.

I ride the Metro to and from work, so the small fold was essential to me, might not be to you. I have not ridden a Tern (and my friend the folderista doesn't even own one yet), but I was very impressed with what I saw at the Interbike Show, and on the Folder Frolic ride that was associated with the show.

So, if I may be permitted an automotive analogy, the Brompton reminded me of my MG: very British, not very fast, a bit fiddley . . . but just radiating coolativity. If it's important to you to be one of the "cool kids" (or their adult equivalent) then the Brompton would win, without even an arguement. On the the other hand, the DaHon felt more like my Miata (which replaced the MG in my automotive life), i.e. very precision, much faster with less fuss, more up to date engineering wise . . . but really rather boring over on the fashion side.

Good luck on your quest, but as others (above) have suggested, test ride many, fold and un-fold, define your needs, then making the decision will not be so daunting.
So, is the Brompton worth all those British pounds stirling? Not to me, but it may be to you!

Rick / OCRR
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Old 11-01-11, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR View Post
I remember feeling the same way antsjack!

Fortunately for me, before I bought my first folding bike I visited a friend who is very fond of folding bikes, and had examples from eight different manufacturers for me to try riding, plus folding and unfolding. It took most of an afternoon and well into the evening before we were finished, and while I can't remember them all, the short list was: Birdy, Bike Friday, DaHon, Brompton and Pacific (feel like I'm forgetting an important one, but you get the idea).

The one I liked the best, ride wise, was the Birdy. The one I liked best fold/un-fold wise was the Brompton (very clever fold!). All things sorted though, and price a consideration, I finally settled on the DaHon Curve 8. It has 16" wheels, so folds almost as tight/small as the Brompton (also called Brommies on this and similar forums) but rides better (faster, more solid, less flex) than all but the Birdy and cost me considerably less than the Birdy or Brompton would have.

I ride the Metro to and from work, so the small fold was essential to me, might not be to you. I have not ridden a Tern (and my friend the folderista doesn't even own one yet), but I was very impressed with what I saw at the Interbike Show, and on the Folder Frolic ride that was associated with the show.

So, if I may be permitted an automotive analogy, the Brompton reminded me of my MG: very British, not very fast, a bit fiddley . . . but just radiating coolativity. If it's important to you to be one of the "cool kids" (or their adult equivalent) then the Brompton would win, without even an arguement. On the the other hand, the DaHon felt more like my Miata (which replaced the MG in my automotive life), i.e. very precision, much faster with less fuss, more up to date engineering wise . . . but really rather boring over on the fashion side.

Good luck on your quest, but as others (above) have suggested, test ride many, fold and un-fold, define your needs, then making the decision will not be so daunting.
So, is the Brompton worth all those British pounds stirling? Not to me, but it may be to you!

Rick / OCRR
+1 test rides required!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-01-11, 08:07 AM
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The Brompton cockpit is long, I think. With the S (&P) type it's probably longer than the typical 20" Dahon and with the M type one can rotate the bars forward to extend the reach.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
The Brompton cockpit is long, I think. With the S (&P) type it's probably longer than the typical 20" Dahon and with the M type one can rotate the bars forward to extend the reach.
And the Brompton S is stiffer than the M and all Brompton models have suspension.

As for the complain frequency, I doubt that this forum has x40 Dahons than Bromptons.

My main complain about Dahon is the post sales support. The company will not even talk with you (try to find their phone number, same applies for Tern) and propriety parts are difficult to find. At one point I looked for a Mu P24 Dual Drive left grip shifter and even the Good Dealer could not get it for me. I got the phone number of Dahon NA and talk with a guy that could not care less if the part is available or not. At another point I needed a plastic chain cover for Vitese IGH, eventually I got one but had to file and drill it to fit.

Compare this with Brompton spare part availability (online ordering, shipped worldwide) https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/brompton-shopbrompton_pg1/ They even give us the part numbers. Try to get this from Dahon.

As for Tern, they promiss to have better post sales support but I did not see a phone number on their web site and this thread suggests that they will not have Brompton style online ordering by part number (see how Josh Hon avoids the part of the question about online ordering)
https://www.ternbicycles.com/forum/wi...-parts-problem

I got a Brompton S 6sp for special occasions where I need small fold and pretey much it became my main bike (replacing the Moulton TSR 27). I like the ride quality and have no problem doing 15-40miles rides.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:56 AM
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Part of Brompton's cost is they remain a British Manufacturer.

Asia, lower costs.. pays their workers less, though, they don't have to pay rent
in London, Either.
and the currency exchange rate is also advantageous.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:58 AM
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post sales support but I did not see a phone number on their web site
STILL true.. , service after the sale is thru the dealers.. advantage of walk in purchases.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Part of Brompton's cost is they remain a British Manufacturer.

Asia, lower costs.. pays their workers less, though, they don't have to pay rent
in London, Either.
and the currency exchange rate is also advantageous.
Apropos British Manufactures, Brooks also has great spare part availability https://www.brooksengland.com/catalog...op/spareparts/
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Old 11-01-11, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
STILL true.. , service after the sale is thru the dealers.. advantage of walk in purchases.
The phone number for DaHon North America, Inc. is (toll free in the U.S.) 800-442-3511. For those of you not in the U.S. their regular land line (you pay for it!) number is: 626-305-5264. I have had very good results for both quick shipping and reasonable prices for my DaHon spare parts from DaHon North America. I can't speak for other parts of the world, so your results may vary!

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Old 11-01-11, 12:26 PM
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I believe it's better to pick a folder that best fits your personal needs. I started out looking at the brompton/dahon (just because they seem to be the most popular), but, after reading all the positives and negatives, I went with a larger folder that wasn't even on my list to start with. I picked the Montague XO. (A higher end Paratrooper)

Full size bike, that folds small enough to fit in the trunk of my car with room to spare. And I drive a Prius. If you are riding local transport, this bike would be bulky to lug around, but I'm not. It fits my needs perfectly.
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Old 11-01-11, 01:07 PM
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OP, search the forums, lots of useful info.
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Old 11-02-11, 07:49 AM
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spare parts ....
Kamtsa if I remember right you needed a left hand shifter... Well I provided a url where you could have bought a combined shifter for the right side for if I remeber 16 dlr on closeout. If I remember right you wanted a better one than original equipped, which were available from Sram in Europe but no luck over here... but I digress... although at that time it was impossible to find exaclty what you wanted, you were provided a possibility to go with the other shifter ( newer design ) thst would have worked well ( I bought a couple at that time and used one on one mod bike with great success )
meaning... yeah ... the part you wanted was no longer made ( or offered here ) from Sram ( a supplier to Dahon ), but there was a viable source to keep the bike running.
This also clears up a misconception Proprierty parts are not parts made from a supplier and sold all over the place. Just because your local dealer doesnt have their bins filled with them makes doesnt make them a propriety Dahon part ...
There are few real special parts on a Dahon ( most of the bikes anyhow ) and these are in stock, or can be substituted with rideable slightly different parts .... ( mostly )
Now sometimes that makes no sense a all to throw 400 dlrs in parts into a bike which is worth 40 dlr ... than I suggest a new bike instead anyhow, but thats another story.

And than there are the 20 year old Dahon folders where a knob is missing ( Hardware store ) or a pedals cant be found( find a new crankset from your friendly dealer ) ... Those are restore projects, restoring an old bike is a fun adventure, and the more difficult it is the more rewarding it can be. Nothing to do with spare parts availibity for people who are using their bikes to go to work every day though.

Anyhow
I usually challenge folks what parts they need ? That spareparts stuff needs a committed dealer, which most dealers are not.
Its not easy to keep most of it in stock exactly at the time you need it....but we keep trying ..lol

maybe we sell a few more bikes that way ...
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Old 11-02-11, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by brakemeister View Post
spare parts ....
Kamtsa if I remember right you needed a left hand shifter... Well I provided a url where you could have bought a combined shifter for the right side for if I remeber 16 dlr on closeout. If I remember right you wanted a better one than original equipped, which were available from Sram in Europe but no luck over here... but I digress... although at that time it was impossible to find exaclty what you wanted, you were provided a possibility to go with the other shifter ( newer design ) thst would have worked well ( I bought a couple at that time and used one on one mod bike with great success )
meaning... yeah ... the part you wanted was no longer made ( or offered here ) from Sram ( a supplier to Dahon ), but there was a viable source to keep the bike running.
Thor, at that time I looked the same left grip shifter that came with Mu P24 Dual Drive. This was for an year old Mu P24. This part was not available from SRAM retail anywhere. You sent me a URL for different one that integrates both shifters on the right hand (grip + thumb shifter). At that time Dahon was shipping new Mu P24's with that shifter so it did have access to it but chose not provide it for spares. This is a typical example.

Compare this with Brompton. It provides publicly part diagrams, part numbers and online ordering with worldwide shipping. An order of magnitude better than Daho's policy. Josh response in the Tern forums suggests that Tern will not provide it either.

https://www.brompton.co.uk/uploads/data_full.pdf
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/brompton-...at=110&page=1/

Recognizing the problem is the first step in fixing it. This persistent denial suggests to me that it will never be fixed.

Last edited by kamtsa; 11-02-11 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 11-02-11, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by antsjack View Post
Well, I've read a lot of different reviews, and really want to buy a folding bike. I've read quite a few complaints on Dahons,but very very for Bromptons. My question is, are Bromptons really worth the difference in price?
This is the same as saying there are a few more complaints on Shimano gear compared to Campagnolo just because they simply build better shifters? When Shimano sells a lot more than Campy, 1 or 2% of that complaint magnifies significantly for Shimano or Dahon!

Brompton and Dahon make good bikes. When I was buying my Dahon Mu SL, I was contemplating either Brompton or Dahon. I chose Dahon because it fits my riding requirements; being able to fit Big Apples, a new Capreo rear second wheel for faster club rides, light touring with Dahon racks etc plus adding a 2x9 (18 speeds) with little money. Perhaps you can do that with the Brompton (adding more bigger gear inches for less money than 1 extra 55T chain ring and a Capreo 9-26? with my Mu SL) or Big Apple? And my local Brompton dealers here in Vancouver do not seem interested in selling me Bromptons that I can heavily mod. One told me to buy Dahon. The other; well closed down his business and re-open with a new name while ignoring my Groupon (seemed to be operating a shady business) --that Groupon refunded me the full amount was thankful.

Speaking of special parts supply. Bikes have proprietary and sometimes OEM parts bolted on.
Some individuals here try to convince you that both are the same. This is totally incorrect. A proprietary part is something you can not buy in an open market. In that case, the bike maker has to provide replacement parts to the customer, though this is not almost the case even with the most famous and popular bike brands either! This includes rear dérailleur hanger, folding hinges and posts and a few speciality wheels with special hubs and spokes that can not be readily or easily obtained. Brompton bikes have quite a bit more proprietary parts than Dahon bikes, so it is not uncommon for them to have parts. Well they should.
OEM parts are basically parts that are made specifically for the bike to match its design,lines,colors etc.. However, these parts are available as generic components on the open market, just not with the same colors, design or lines etc. When these OEM parts wear out, most bike makers expect that you will be replacing with better name brand parts. The common practice is to include cheap bottom bracket, headset and wheel hubs or colorful tires and ergo shifters. Most bike makers do not stock OEM parts. If they do, those are usually extras. Bike makers order enough parts to make enough bikes. If you INSIST in ordering OEM parts in the attempt to restore a bike to its original condition, this usually involves research time and more costly parts as they can be rare.

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Old 11-02-11, 03:43 PM
  #22  
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Biggest difference, I perceive, mechanically, is how it folds
Brompton rear fold is Under, no increase in width.
the other bikes named, hinge folds along side, halves the length,
increases the width.

2nd brompton fold is is in the front of the top tube.. a smaller portion,
less width gained,
Brompton folds the front wheel along side on the right side
They do Both fold the steering mast down. in a similar manner.

though if you want conventional derailleurs , with their wider rear axles
then you go to the others...
Brompton has a 2 cog cassette, half steps an IGH.. now of their own design..
to keep the rear axle narrow, the folded total, smaller..

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-02-11 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 11-03-11, 02:04 AM
  #23  
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Have you had a test ride yet?
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Old 11-03-11, 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bhkyte View Post
Have you had a test ride yet?
No, of course they haven't, the only people who have ridden a Tern are thos with a vested interest in promoting the brand/make, or whatever it is being called today.

The perennial question: Brompton vs Dahon/Tern


Not a question at all, just another online advertising / promotional ploy.
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Old 11-03-11, 05:45 AM
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jur
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Originally Posted by Diode100 View Post
No, of course they haven't, the only people who have ridden a Tern are thos with a vested interest in promoting the brand/make, or whatever it is being called today.
Actually, I have. And I have nothing but praise for what I found. It certainly is a big jump up from a Dahon.

As for the price question, well that is difficult. To me it no longer makes all that much sense to say bike X costs this while bike Y costs that, and which one gives best bang for buck? I think it is more a question of which one do you really want, or which one fits your own situation best, and that's the one you should get, even if it seems less bang for buck.
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