Dahon folding bikes are known around the world for their quick and easy fold-in-half action, 20 inch wheels, and lightweight aluminum frames. With many different variations on the same theme Dahons fall in quite a wide price range but are generally a bit more affordable than their top of the line competitors. The main problem facing people looking into Dahon folding bikes is the multitude of options. With so many models that appear similar at a glance it can be hard to sort out the folding bikes you want from the folding bikes you don't.
Well for starters, after reading this article you'll find yourself a bit more oriented in this diverse world of folding bikes. The key to making the right decision (as with so many big decisions) is to consult the experts. Narrow your focus by eliminating options you don't need and then selecting the best of what's left. What should you focus on first? Well...
Start with wheel size. Dahon folding bikes come in all different wheel sizes from tiny 12 inch wheels up to full sized 26 inchers. Wheel size is one of the most important factors in determining how a folding bike performs. What it basically comes down to is a fundamental trade off:
As a general rule smaller wheels will make your Dahon folding bike a bit more bumpy with a tendency towards more "squirley" handlebars. Larger wheels absorb bumps better and have a smoother feeling but you lose much of your folding function. After all, a folding bike cannot fold smaller than its wheels. Take the Dahon Vitesse, its 20 inch wheels are not so small that it sacrifices comfort but not so large that you can't fold it up and put it in a trunk.
Next to consider is how many speeds you want on your Dahon folding bike. Opinion on the necessary number of gears varies greatly but I'd say for a folding bike, where simplicity and practicality are paramount, having between 3 and 10 gears is all you need. The Dahon Mu P8, for example, has 8 speeds. This bike is both fast on flats and forgiving on hills, plus it has the strong Mu frame design.
Some Dahon folding bikes, like the Curve D3 have internal gear hubs which means you can shift without pedaling. Commuters really like this setup because when they come to a short stop it's simple to shift to the easiest gear and start up again. With normal "derailleur" shifters you would have to work really hard to jam down into the easiest gear before continuing.
Weight is something most bikers are concerned about, especially with folding bikes where portability really matters. But like with all things there is a trade off. Lighter Dahon folding bikes are usually made of better materials and will be easier to pedal and carry. Heavier Dahons are less expensive but not so easy when it come to climbing stairs or lifting the bike in and out of cars. Most Dahon folding bikes in the $500 to $700 range weigh between 22 and 27 lbs and are light enough to easily maneuver when folded. Any heavier and you may end up feeling like you have an expensive door stop rather than a convenient folding bike.
I hope this has helped you narrow down the choices of Dahon folding bikes and set you one the way to choosing your perfect folding bike. We have selected a few Dahon folding bike models fit for New York City which we feel are strong enough to take everyday commuting. Have a look to see if one catches your eye.