I was in a rush on Friday night and was trying to be on time for a dinner party after work. I was hesitant to take a folding bike home with me, because the small wheels tend to be a bit slower than my full-size road bike. However, when Izzy brought up the brand new Dahon Dash P18 folding bike, the only words he uttered were, "this bike is fast, man."
I considered for half a second, and decided to test that statement for validity. The Dash P18 is part of Dahon's new Midtown Mini line. These bikes ride on 20" wheels, but the frames are diamond-shaped, providing a much stiffer ride than the mono-tube frame design. They feel more like full-size bikes
Okay you're right I took all of that off of the Dahon brochure. It was time to ride this thing and see for myself just how fast it really was. I noticed immediately that the handlebar had about 45 degrees of adjustment using a simple Allen wrench. I set my seat height and handlebar position and took off down York Avenue.
So this is stating the obvious. The bike has Schwalbe Kojak tires and 18 gears, so of course it's going to tear up the pavement. I sped down York and cruised past the delivery guys on electric bikes. I hit the hill on 59th street and shifted down to tackle the uphill climb. For some reason, this bike had a problem shifting through a few gears. Turns out later we found a kink in the chain - most likely it was damaged in shipping. Other than that, the bike handled just like a full-size bike and I barely noticed the 20" wheels.
I blew through Queens, cycling through all of the gears just to check out the range. It was a fast, fun ride, save for the random gears skipping occasionally. I arrived at my girlfriend's place in Brooklyn just as she was ready to head over to the dinner party. Right on time.
Since we were driving, I had to put the Dahon Dash P18 in the back of her car. No problem. I grabbed my Allen wrench and loosened the LockJaw hinges on the main frame. The wheel magnets held the frame together, and the pedals folded down to make it even smaller. I loosened the bolt on the handlebars and spun them 90 degrees to save a little bit more space, since this bike was going in the backseat.
The Dahon Dash P18 folding bike is 23 lbs, which is pretty light for a folding bike. Even though the Midtown Mini bikes don't fold as small as the traditional Dahon folding bikes, it still fit in the back of her car without a problem.
Ultimately, this bike would have been an excellent ride had it not been for the gears jumping. It was lightweight, quick, and pretty portable. I can't wait to see the jet-black 2011 version, which will be much more suited to city riding than the white version I got to ride.
For another perspective, read Peter's Dash P18 review.