Twelfth Bike

or Ride What You Will

Adventures on a Dahon: Dirt Roads, Double Centuries, and the Duomo

Posted by Susan on July 26, 2010

Well, here’s a first review of a couple of vehicles I really like: the Dahon Speed P8 and the Dahon Mu P8.

Lucy and the Dahons

Lucy has happily herded the Dahons

They fold fairly compactly and are light enough to put in the overhead bin of the Northeast Regional. They can also fit into a Samsonite legal size suitcase, after some disassembly, for flights to Italy. Dahon folded

They come stock with 8 speeds, a gear inch range from 30 to 83 inches, and can go anywhere that a “real” bike can with nearly the same expenditure of energy.

Don’t believe me? Take a look, the Speed P8, the red bike in the pictures, has performed dependably and beautifully on a few epic adventures:

  • Florence to Bologna over the Appenines
  • Steep climbs into the Florentine hills, gravel roads, and cobblestones
  • STP(Seattle to Portland) in one day
  • 200k Berkshire Brevet
Climbing out of Bologna

The Climb out of Bologna

The Mu P8, the white bike in the pictures, carried me on a recent excursion over the Delaware Canal Towpath from Trenton, NJ all the way to the end of the Delaware and Lehigh Trail in Allentown — 65 Miles all on dirt (Yet, all flat as a giant tilted pancake) and to my joy – almost entirely on a path closed to cars!

Liz on the Dahon

Liz on the Dahon

The first half to Frenchtown was fairly smooth, and the Dahon felt fast on the hard pack. The last half was rather bumpy, but the Mu P8’s 40mm Schwalbe Racers were enough, although I would have been more comfortable on 50mm tires. The trip was immensely enjoyable, despite riding 20 inch wheels, ¬†straight bars, on a stiff aluminum frame that was manufactured in China. (I’m accustomed to riding drop bars on hand-built steel frames ). Really, isn’t pleasure all in the mind anyway?


Set up with Ergon grips and Paul thumby

Now, if you’re curious about folding bikes, and you’re wondering what the difference is between a Dahon and a Brompton, here’s a little info:

Brompton is a superior, more compact fold, on a superior quality frame. It’s a favorite of the Harris crew. (Yes, Harris Cyclery sells them!) Gearing and handlebar options are somewhat limited, but this does not reduce their versatility significantly. I have my own reservations about riding 16 inch wheels over rough dirt roads, but as a commuter, it’s by far the best folder on the market, very well thought out design, exceptional quality. Way better for frequent folding than the Dahon. I lust after one.

Dahon: They have many different models for all purposes. In general, I find their 20 inch wheeled “urban performance” models to have features sufficient for epic rides, while remaining easy enough to fold for train hopping. ¬†They also happen to be available through Harris Cyclery.

Susan on Dahon

Me Riding Slooowly By


4 Responses to “Adventures on a Dahon: Dirt Roads, Double Centuries, and the Duomo”

  1. Willy said

    Wow, it’s a nice yet simple Dahon Speed you have. Are you using single speed? or internal hub gearing. Also how would you possibly fold the bike as picture showed a bullhorn handlebar installed? Is it folded properly?

    • Susan said

      The Dahon in this picture is a Speed P8 that has been converted to a fixed gear using an Eccentric ENO hub. The bike folds just fine with the bullhorns. The only issue with those bars is that I had to over-tighten the handlebar clamp to keep them from slipping, and I imagine that as not a good thing, so I wouldn’t recommend bullhorns for that reason alone.

  2. xepe71 said

    Brompton might be in a higher quality class, and for sure they take less space when folded but… they are so limited because of their 16″ tyres and 1/3/6 speeds (compared to 1/3/7/8/18/24/27 speeds of Dahons!). Anyway, thank your for this post!

    • Susan said

      Yes, the Brompton is certainly higher quality. I like Brompton a lot, and it would be my bike of choice if I had a daily commute combining public transportation with cycling.

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