My eyes are stinging. Not because I just watched the newest heartbreaking Hollywood movie (though I might later), but because I just returned from blasting through the New York Winter on a Dahon Formula S18 folding bike. This bike is fast. Really really fast. And I'm a roadie, so I know speed. I was cruising through the city so fast that when it started snowing I was literally getting stung in the face and eyes with snowflakes. Cars were stopped in their usual confusion everywhere I looked, but I flew right on by unable to be held back by traffic, weather, buses, or even pedestrians. This folding bike is agile, lightweight, comfortable, and reliable. Most importantly, the Formula S18 is seriously one of the fastest folding bikes you'll find anywhere.
The Formula S18 is one cool machine. It has a sleek, fast-folding frame with flat handlebars, 18 speeds, extremely efficient disc brakes, and Schwalbe Kojak tires (my absolute favorite feature - so fast!). The bike is nice and light, coming in at a very respectable 24.5 lbs. You could put this bike in a backpack and hike 20 miles and forget it's even there!
The riding geometry of the formula S18 can be as aggressive as you want by adjusting the seat and handlebars. I chose to ride in a fairly aggressive position because I'm used to being pretty tucked on my road ride, and I wanted to confirm my suspicions that the Formula S18 would be the fastest folding bike I could find. The second you put the bike in motion it feels shockingly like a road bike. The Kojak tires roll oh so smoothly over pavement, not letting anything come between you and your new record speeds.
I started my ride in a fairly low gear and accelerated at a furious pace, quickly jumping up several gears to keep up with my speed. Once I reached a speed rivaling that of any car I could see around me, I still had a few gears left before I topped out, but I was settled into a nice cadence that had me burning rubber all the way across town. The gears shifted smoothly and accurately across the whole range. This folding bike is obviously designed for performance.
Dahon bikes have great folding capabilities, and I loved folding the Formula S18. Something about it made me feel like I was participating in some kind of space-age innovation. Flip the pedals, drop the handlepost, fold the bars, fold in half, drop the seat and you're done! My college friends may have been able to solve a Rubix Cube in 30 seconds, but I could fold the fastest folding bike I've ever ridden in 20! Dahon's clamps are an especially nice feature. They're rock solid when the folding bike is in riding mode, but as soon as you need to fold it up they're as easy as can be to flip and fold. Too cool. Unfolding is also especially easy with the clamps, as there are no knobs to turn or line up. Everything about this bike is fast!
I'd like everyone to have a chance to ride the Dahon Formula S18. This bike is loads of fun, even for people who might not be on a quest to find the fastest folding bike out there. It certainly works as a solid commuter or leisure bike. But I have a feeling that anyone who tries this folding bike out will discover their inner speed demon. It will climb hills as fast and easy as any road bike, melt pavement like a Formula 1, and pick through obstacles as if it's a new appendage. I'll definitely be making more trips on the Dahon Formula S18. Let's just hope I never get a speeding ticket!