The Dahon Vitesse D7 and the Tern Link D8 are two titans of utility, with much in common. With their gregariously low price tags, they are also two of the most popular bikes in the shop. Both have aluminum frames loaded with full sets of fenders, rear racks, a front attachment point for a luggage truss, and water bottle cage eyelets. They even share a common shifter mechanism--grip shift--and use similar color palettes! So which is the right choice for you?
The primary mechanical distinction between these bikes is the 7-speed internal gear hub mounted on the Vitesse. This is a smooth, enclosed gear set that require little-to-no maintenance, and stands up to years of abuse in adverse commuting conditions. This is definitely a high-end feature for a bike at this price point, giving the Vitesse a lot of bang for its buck. In contrast, the Link D8 keeps things simple with a standard Neos 1.0 RapidRise rear derailleur controlling its 8-speed Sunrace cassette. This also keeps the weight and price down, making the Link D8 one of the most value-packed bikes in the shop. In fact, Tern recently sent a fleet of these inexpensive bikes to the South by Southwest festival in Austin this year, where attendees could use them to concert hop, and haul their gear between events.
Aesthetically, I find myself drawn to the Tern's gently curving lines a little more readily than the Dahon's utilitarian, straight frame. For bike-fashionistas, there is also the matter of colors to consider: the Vitesse comes in a handsome dusky blue, but offers no other facades. The Link D8, on the other hand, can be found in black with light blue highlights, grey with orange details, or white overlaid in pink--allowing for a much broader range of handbags, cowboy hats, skinny jeans, or motorcycle jackets with which to compliment your city cycling look.
Each bike also sports features that are unique to their brand. The Vitesse is equipped with Dahon's signature stow-away pump, which is stashed inside the seatpost until needed, and also benefits from Dahon's adjustable stem system. This aspect is especially important for riders who like to dial in a very specific fit or posture in their ride. On the other hand, the Link D8 is graced with Tern's superb folding technology--slightly cleaner joints, an exceptionally stiff handlebar post, and a simpler, quicker fold than that of the Dahon. The Tern also features a narrower, race-style saddle, as compared to Dahon's wider, hybrid-style seat.
For many, the price difference between the bikes will influence their decision--the slightly cheaper Tern Link D8 has enticed many a buyer. For others, the maintenance-free internal hub on the Dahon Vitesse will be too tempting to pass up. I have also seen many customers choose based on how much they like the look of one bike versus the other, but probably the most important deciding factor is feel. Overwhelmingly, folks who test ride these bikes back to back instantly know which is right for them, and it has been my observation that it's an even split. If you are on the fence, the best thing you can do is go for a test ride!
That, or you could check the color of your favorite scarf and get whatever matches.
About the Author
Miles Schneider is a folding and electric bike specialist at NYCeWheels in New York City, an electric violinist, and a dog lover.