Last year, I made a comparison between Brompton and Dahon to find out which is the best folding bike manufacturer. I favored Dahon because they make high-quality bikes for a much lower price. Since then, I’ve tested more Dahon bikes and some of them are even at the same price range as Brompton. Therefore, the price tag is no longer a clear advantage when comparing the two manufacturers. Let’s see which is the better choice now.

Some notable releases by Dahon in the last year include the Dahon Jifo Uno, EEZZ D3, and the new Dahon Curl. These are built to compete with Brompton as all of them have the same 16-inch wheels.

The Dahon Curl looks like a blatant clone of the Brompton. We are seeing exactly the same folding mechanism with a flip-fold rear wheel. However, the frame geometry of the Curl looks really weird. Personally, I prefer the classic and minimalist look of the Brompton, with the subtle curve in the main tube. As compared to a 3-speed Brompton, the Curl has almost the same price while there is no clear advantage. Therefore, Brompton is obviously a better choice in this case.

The Dahon Jifo Uno is the lightest, smallest and cheapest folding bike in the comparison but I don’t recommend the bike. It is $300 cheaper than the single-speed Brompton S1E but the design, build quality and performance are rated way lower than Brompton. Besides, the Jifo is too short and small, so it becomes impractical for tall riders.

The Dahon EEZZ D3 is probably the closest competition but it still falls behind. The bike has 3 gears but the gear inches are quite low, so it can’t compete with a Brompton in terms of speed. Again, the EEZZ is built for cyclists with average heights only; tall riders will find the cockpit cramped and uncomfortable for long rides.

Overall, Dahon has made some expensive bikes with 16-inch wheels but none of them could be on the same standard as Brompton. I prefer Brompton in the high-end category not just because of the better design and performance, but also because the resale value is still very high after years of usage. Besides, the design of Brompton almost doesn’t change over the years, so you can easily buy accessories and replacement parts.

Obviously, Dahon has done a much better job with bigger 20-inch folding bikes. I’ve used some cheaper Dahon bikes like Mariner, Vybe, or Qix D8 and I’ve never had to bring them to a repair shop. The riding quality and comfort of those bikes are also equal or even better than Brompton. Therefore, if you don’t really need a compact fold, those Dahon bikes are totally worth your consideration while not breaking the wallet.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I am newly in the market for a folding bike and am getting quickly
    overwhelmed by the choices available.

    The purpose of this bike is to commute to and from work, with the
    option to occasionally take the bike in a car trunk or light rail
    commuter train.

    I am 5’10, 185 lbs, 41 y/o.

    I currently use a Cannondale Street Hybrid which I’ve had since 2005
    and works well, if a bit squeaky and not the smoothest braking or gear
    changing.

    I commute about 10 miles each way (from suburb to city) and it is a
    very hilly ride. It is paved the whole ride with occasional potholes,
    splits in the road, etc.

    When I arrive at work, I go up an elevator (which is often crowded)
    and then have my own office which can easily accomodate any folded
    bike. At home I have a garage where I keep the bike.

    I use panniers daily so a rack either in front or back is important.

    Part of my commute is in the city on bike lanes, but the ability to
    stop quickly for pedestrians or car doors is imporant.

    I have been curious about features such as Gates CDX carbon drive and
    Shimano Alfine hub which seem to offer more durablity, less
    maintenance and smoother ride.

    I have heard mixed things about small wheels and going uphill. Again,
    my commute has a few big hills and so it is important to me that my
    bike not make these harder. For this reason, I was really drawn to the
    Montague Allston. However, I worry that folding may take longer than
    other bikes and that it may be too bulky for a crowded elevator or for
    taking on a train.

    I’ve been now considering other options such as:

    Allen UItra (X or 1)
    Tern Verge Tour
    Dahon Clinch Pro
    Brompton
    Downtube 11H
    Bike Friday Pocket Rocket

    I know that ultimately it will be important to test ride a few in
    order to make a good choice. However, if you have any suggestions —
    based on my particular specifications — which could help narrow down
    the bikes I should consider, it would be very helpful. Or if there are
    other bikes not listed which you think I should be considering.

    thank you very much!

    • Hi benjamin,
      Yes, you will have to sacrifice performance for the smaller size. It’s really not a good idea to use 16- or 20-inch folding bikes when you have to climb a lot of hills. So, I will recommend you the Dahon IOS D9 (http://amzn.to/2vaL0q5). It’s a compact folding bike with 24-inch wheels and disc brakes, and it folds a lot easier than Montague bikes.
      In case you want smaller wheels, you can also consider some electric options like Brompton Electric or Tern Vektron. They would cost more than $3,000.
      Hope it helps.

  2. I wouldn’t necessarily skip the 16in wheels simply because there are hills, that’s a matter of appropriate gearing. But I’d sure give them a berth in case there are many potholes or gravel. I own a Brompton and have ridden the Allen-X and the BF pocket rocket. If you commute 10 miles each way over hilly terrain then for me the Brompton would be out for sure. You can do it (I’ve ridden mine upto 90 miles on a day) but it’s far from ideal and you will tire of it. If money is not an object then I’d go with the Allen: it’s reasonably quick to fold, reasonably light and rides beautifully, feels a lot like a road bike, certainly compared with the Brompton. I loved the BF when I was riding it, for that aspect it would be my favourite bike. Less so when I needed to fold/unfold it, which was extremely messy and more often than not left me with dirty hands due to the chain dropping off. Folding bikes are all about compromises, there is no perfect solution.

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