Yes I know, a Dahon folding bike is super sexy and super cool to ride on. But that’s not why I chose this uber masculine form of transportation… and I didn’t do it for the ladies! Ok fine, it’s really not that cool and there is a bit of a stigma attached to folding bikes especially in a town like Portland. I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve already gotten from friends regarding my folding bike…
“Hey why don’t you get a unicycle instead?!”
“Can you fit it in your pocket?”
“When are you getting a real bike?”
“Those things aren’t allowed in Portland!”
So, would I make the same purchase again if I could go back in time? After all, I’m financially wiser now, have met other cool folding bike riders and I’m a doctor and “I should buy the best”… that’s what society expects of me after all. However, the answer is no. I would still buy a folding bike just not this one. The convenience of being able to fold it and take it on the train, in the back of a friend’s car, store it in my apartment or office… these to me are very important. This particular model which I bought for about $450 in San Diego from a local bike shop is by a company called Dahon. The bike is meant to be ridden every once in a while but not daily.
Commuting in Portland
In Portland I commute on this bike full time on top of anything social I might do which may or may not include the Naked Bike Ride. The rear wheel had to be replaced because the spokes kept breaking, just wasn’t a good setup. The front hub has come loose twice so far either from not using lock-tite or just poor quality parts. The shifting mechanism works flawlessly 50% of the time.
My awesome bike mechanic: “There are folding bikes and there are bikes that fold.”
Me: “Um, which one is my bike?”
Bearded bike mechanic: “I recommend getting a full-sized bike!”
Me: “No way dude, I’m big pimping it on this ride!”
Tattooed man with a wrench: “Get a Bike Friday or Brompton then!”
I’m a firm believer in purchasing things once. We as a society have come to expect things to become cheaper and cheaper. Not because we are selfish or evil but that’s the trend we’ve seen over out lifetime. We also believe that technology should make things cheaper and we’ve made massive technologic advances over the years. The truth however is that especially in the good old USA goods are absurdly under-priced. How can a gallon of milk cost only $3.99?? How can I turn on my faucet and let endless amount of clean, fresh, beautiful water just come out and pay probably cents on the gallon? How can an electric car cost as little as $25,000 with some of the newest technology and safety built into it? Someone is paying for that difference but it isn’t the consumer, at least not directly. We’ll leave off this discussion for another time…
Durability of a Dahon Folding Bike
I would say purchase a Dahon folding bike if you have another bike for commuting. The Dahon will do very well as an occasionally ridden bicycle but will start failing bit by bit the more you ride it. The seat post feels flimsy and I’ve had one or two nightmares about it breaking and well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. The brakes are a bit flimsy and so they are hard to adjust. Despite all this, I will continue to ride it until it is no longer repairable. I will use it as an opportunity to learn how to work on bikes. Once I’m tired of the back-and-forth I’ll drop 2-large for a Brompton.
Cost to Value Calculation
A Dahon folding bike will last you a while and you can sort of repair it. And you can replace parts when needed.
But the money you spend on a Dahon may be better served buying a used Brompton. These bikes are such good quality that even used they’ll sell for quite a lot. There is a reason why.
As I’m rewriting this post in 2021, my Brompton purchase has been among the purchase I’ve made. It’s still with me and hasn’t needed any major repairs – other than the occasional tune-up.
In fact, I’ve since purchased an electric Brompton, which I actually regret. But at the time I trusted Brompton enough to buy from them again. It’s not that the electric bike is bad, I just didn’t need an elecrtic bike.