If you’ve ever considered a folding bike, then you’ve probably encountered Dahon.
In fact, it’s one of the most popular folding bike brands on the planet.
After test-riding a few Dahons and several competitors, and researching their entire line, here’s what I’ve learned about this prominent manufacturer.
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Here’s whether Dahon bikes are good
Dahon folding bikes are well made, and their entry-level and mid-range models are especially good values. Dahon is a large brand with worldwide distribution, so it’s relatively easy to replace parts or deal with warranty issues.
Let’s dig a little deeper into their background, then address some questions you might also have in mind.
Where are Dahon bikes made?
Dahon bicycles were invented in the USA and originally produced in Taiwan. Today, most Dahon bikes are produced in mainland China, although their European bikes are produced in Bulgaria. Its corporate headquarters are in Illinois.
Like nearly all bike brands, Dahon sources many parts from outside manufacturers. Those almost certainly come from Taiwan and mainland Chine, too, although supplier relationships are generally not public.
Why are Dahon bikes so expensive?
Even Dahon’s cheapest models have an aluminum frame and (mostly) a name-brand drivetrain. That makes them seem expensive compared to most big-box stores or low-end direct-to-consumer brands. However, Dahon folding bikes are actually less expensive than many popular, high-end alternatives.
Cheaper bikes may be perfectly rideable, but tend to fall short in three ways.
First, while high-end steel frames (like Brompton uses) are terrific, low-end steel frames on cheap folding bikes tend to be extremely heavy. So, while Dahon’s aluminum frames do cost more, they’re the most cost-effective way to reduce weight.
Second, nearly all Dahons still uses entry-level Shimano and Suntour drivetrain parts. These cost more than obscure brands, but are likelier to shift precisely and be easy to service.
Finally, Dahon bikes are generally sold through shops. This adds overhead, which the prices reflect. However, it also makes it far likelier that your bike will be properly tuned for safety and longevity.
All in all, Dahon folding bikes are worth buying if you’re looking for a good value on mid-range components, and can do without fancy features like dynamo lighting, a belt drive, or large cargo capacity.
What are Dahon folding bikes best for?
Folding bikes from Dahon are excellent for commuting, errands, and any other recreational use on pavement. They’re not designed for riding off-road or carrying large, heavy items.
You may also need to consider a different brand if you need ultra-compact storage, like for a train or bus. Brompton (discussed here) has the most compact fold on the market, so it’s more or less the default for extremely tight spaces.
(Dahon did recently introduce the Curl model. Unfortunately it’s a rather shameless Brompton imitation, with reportedly inferior build quality, at about the same price. Get the original.)
Remember that folding bikes weigh more and cost more than non-folding ones (of similar quality). If you don’t actually require folding, then you might prefer the ride quality and price of a conventional bike instead.
How much do Dahon bikes weigh?
Most Dahon bikes weight around 25-28 lbs (11.3-12.8kg), which is about as much as a typical hybrid bike.
As of writing, the lightest Dahon model is the Visc SL9, with a claimed weight of just 21 lbs.
What is Dahon’s weight limit?
Most Dahon models are approved for riders up to 230 lbs (105 kg), but there are a couple exceptions. Heavier riders should consider their strongest model, the Hit, with a weight limit of 300 lbs (137 kg).
For a more detailed overview, check out this chart of popular folding bike weight limits.
How long do Dahon bikes last?
Dahon frames and forks have a 5-year warranty (in most countries), so you can expect them to last at least that long with proper care. However, many Dahon folding bikes are still in use after multiple decades. To maximize longevity, check hinge clamp alignment and tighten them appropriately before riding.
While folding bike frames and forks should last an extremely long time, other bike parts are designed to wear out with use.
For instance, it’s common to replace tires, chains, and brake pads every 1-3 years depending on mileage and weather. You may also need to maintain or replace cables and bearings once every several years.
However, that’s all standard maintenance for every brand and style bicycle.
Recalls are rare, but have happened, so it’s important to check periodically with the manufacturer and/or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Do Dahon bikes hold their value?
Like most brand-name bikes, Dahon values drop right after purchase, then depreciate slowly over several years. For example, a typical used Dahon (good mechanical condition with some cosmetic wear) might keep 50% of its value after 3-4 years, 30% after 6-7 years, and around 20% indefinitely.
Keeping up with maintenance is best way to help your Dahon hold value. Future buyers always appreciate something ready to ride.
It’s best to avoid modifications or customizations, since others may not share your preferences. Likewise, if you need to replace parts, then use the stock part or the most similar alternative you can find.
Finally, remember that experimental or quirky bikes often fall out of favor and become hard to sell. Dahon doesn’t often make those, however.
Dahon vs. Brompton folding bikes: which is best?
Dahon folding bikes have more variety and generally lower prices than Brompton. However, Brompton bikes have better build quality, a more compact fold, and a longer warranty. If you can afford a Brompton, and you don’t need 20″ wheels or disc brakes, then Brompton is probably the better choice.
Brompton frames are hand-built in the company’s own factory in England. This allows exceptionally good weld and braze quality, which is a small detail but contributes to a finer appearance (at least to my eyes). Dahon bikes are also well built in general, aren’t as precise or refined upon close inspection.
Anecdotally, I’ve found more reports of frame failures with Dahon than with Brompton. That said, Dahons are far more common worldwide, so that’s to be expected. We don’t definitively know which has more issues per unit sold.
In brief, it’s no accident that Brompton is one of the few truly iconic bikes on the market. It’s a refined and extremely functional design that should, in theory, outlast aluminum frames as well as lower-grade steel ones. Besides, its folding mechanism is the most compact on the market today, making it a default winner for those who combine cycling with transit.
But perfection comes at a price. What’s more, Brompton offers only 16″ wheels and rim brakes. If you need 20″ wheels for rougher streets, or disc brakes for steep descents in foul weather, then Dahon may be the better choice.
Many Dahon and Brompton customers have happily ridden their bikes for decades, and both deserve consideration.