Riding the Dash P18 folding bike for the first time was quite a shock. I couldn't believe that I was really riding a folding bike. The frame was stiff and responsive to the point where I actually felt like I was riding a full size bicycle. This sensation was multiplied by the fact that I had just been riding my full size road bike the days before. It's was hard to believe at first, but the Dahon Dash was even more responsive than my road bike. Before we get too much into the ride quality, let's start with the basics: how it looks.
The Dash P18 is one of the sportiest looking folding bikes I've worked with. Part of that is the frame shape, which is modeled after a regular bicycle, and part of it is just the sheer beauty of how the frame tubes come together. The Dahon Dash has clean lines and the compact crouching stance of a cat ready to pounce. This folding bike looks ready to take off at any moment.
What I really enjoyed about the Dash P18 was its 18 speed drive train. 18 gears is a lot for a folding bike and really speaks to the high performance nature of the design. Most folding bicycles have 3 to 9 gears (and do fine with that) but the Dash folding bike has double the norm for an extra wide range drive train. In layman's terms, this folding bike is as fast as you want and can climb any kind of hill. Emphasis on going fast though...
I took this folding bike home for a few days to see how it would compare to other folding bikes I've ridden and found the gearing to be one area where it excelled. For my folding bike review I did a loop around Central Park, chasing road bikers, and a few trips up some very steep hills on my way home. The Dahon Dash kept right up with all the roadies I was zipping along with on the loop and had no problem easing up for the steep hill climb from 125to to 135th on the West Side. I really shouldn't forget to talk about the most unique thing about the Dash P18, its frame.
I think the main reason for the feeling of high performance I got from the Dash P18 was its frame design. The Dash P18 uses the Dahon midtown mini frame, an interesting combination of traditional bicycle design and the latest in folding bike geometry. You can read more about folding bike frame design else where but to sum up: because the Dash P18 frame has two tubes leading from the seat to the handlebars it has additional stiffness. That means the frame flexes less under load (from you pushing down on the pedals) so less power is lost per pedal stroke. Simply put, you get more speed for your effort. I really enjoyed the instant acceleration and quick reaction of this folding bike. The Dahon Dash frame also has Dahon LockJaw hinges, the strongest folding bike hinges you can find.
Let's not forget about the folding process for this bike. The Dash P18 folds up in 4 main steps: drop the seat all the way, undo the main frame hinges, rotate the stem 90 degrees, and fold it in half. The frame locks together with magnets and rests on a stand bolted to the frame. It's not as small when folded as some other compact folding bikes, but I think that's not so much a drawback as a trade off. You see, the Dahon Dash is a folding bike that's perfect for people who want a little more performance and don't mind a slightly larger folded package. It won't work so well for someone who needs to ride the subway 5 times a day or someone who wants a bike that folds super fast, but there are other bikes for that with trade offs of their own.
On the whole I'd say the Dash P18 was a really amazing folding bike. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a responsive, road bike style ride and doesn't mind that it's not the most compact folding bike out there. It's great for tall and heavy people because of the stronger more spread out frame. It's perfect for road bikes who are tired of putting a bike rack on their car and want a folding bike for their trunk.
Once I hopped on the Dash P18 I quickly realized this was one of my favorite folding bicycles. It has all the performance of a regular bike without the large footprint. Check out the product page for more details on the Dash P18 folding bike.