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Folders: Brompton v Dahon

mushroom_daddymushroom_daddy Posts: 8
edited September 2010 in Commuting general
Please forgive me for raising this old chestnut yet again but ... I’m about to change jobs and start a daily home-bike-train-train-bike-work commute and therefore would like to invest in a folder (with rack and mudguards).
It seems pretty clear (from discussions here and elsewhere) that Brompton are the neatest package when it comes to folding. However I am slightly concerned about their ability to comfortably tackle significant hill climbs, and of course there is also a significant price premium for something like the S6R.
Currently used to a 8-mile each way road commute on a multi-geared hybrid, I also worry that I might get frustrated by the 16” wheels and limited gears of a Brompton.
Although I may still yet plump for a Brompton, I had been considering something from the 20” wheel Dahon range, which are more economical and appear to offer a wider range of gearing options; possibly a Mu P8 or the hub-geared Vitesse 7HG.

I’d really like to hear the experiences of other Dahon users about the practicalities of jumping on and off busy commuter trains and whether the larger fold size of a Dahon (over a Brompton) is manageable.

Of course I’d also be happy for Brompton owners to tell me that hills do not present a problem for 6-speed versions.

Posts

  • WesternWayWesternWay Posts: 564

    Of course I’d also be happy for Brompton owners to tell me that hills do not present a problem for 6-speed versions.

    It depends on the hill of course. My Brompton is fine on Archway Hill.

    There are also plenty of fixie and single speed riders who tackle all manner of ridiculous hills :-)
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Of course I’d also be happy for Brompton owners to tell me that hills do not present a problem for 6-speed versions.

    +1 for depends on the hill (and the rider!) - but with the larger chainring fitted (giving an 8% higher gear I think) and an older hub (not the new wide ratio hub), I am yet to be defeated by a hill on mine - done a few tough ones like Ditchling Beacon on it as well.
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    As a (multi) Dahon owner and having ridden Bromptons, I would say as follows:

    If your priority is smallness of fold - get a Brompton. They are really neat bits of kit, the fold is more compact than a Dahon and they are easier to "disguise".

    If you want something that is a bit "sportier", or rideable, then look at the Dahon. They genuinely have a very wide range of products and my MUSl is a really good nippy ride and I doubt that any Brompton, even if you paid silly buggers money would match up to weight and speed of the bike.

    I would say that Bromptons are a bit more "bullet proof" - although my boss rides a Dahon 7HG vitesse and has done nothing to it apart from ride it for nearly 2 years now and it has done him fine.

    You will get a better 2nd hand market for your Brompton if you chose to sell it, although Dahon's don't do too badly. There is a good forum at www.dahon.com too.

    Re getting it on and off trains - with the Dahon I just take the red slip cover and have never had any problems with it (even squeezing on at Hammersmith on the Picadilly line at rush hour). You can just stick it between your legs and it is the same as a awkard suitcase. You can even sit on the seat if there is a bit more room. A Dahon would be smaller though.

    The Folds on both are no problem - with the Dahon though you will need to learn how to tighten the handlebars as they can come loose and "flop" occassionally.

    I would really rec that you go to Fudges cycle shop in London as they stock Dahons AND Bromptons andyou will be able to get a good comparison on them. They are also v competitive on Dahons and will be able to get you any extras you need. I have backed them pretty heavily on BR, but they did a great job on my bikes, have got me spares and do good prices. I bought my first Dahon from Germany when the pound was stronger and that did me very well, but now Fudges are (or certainly were) as competitive as anyone.

    The MuP8 is a good bike, I would pay the extra money if you plan to use it lots and lots and get the MUSL just as it is lighter and higher spec. Of course - you could look at the Mu Ex (if you won the lottery!)

    Dahon also do 16" folders (and full size folders and 24" folders), but I'd stick with the 20" to make sure you get it on the train.

    I have had a couple of hassles with taking bikes inside supermarkets, but chuck the slip cover on it and most people are happy.

    Oh Bromptons still made in Chiswick London as well - rather than Dahons that are made in Taiwan (under good working conditions app, but still).

    PM me if you have any other questions - I have a MUSL (on my second as I flogged my first to my mate), a HON SOLO, a Hammerhead 7.0 and 5.0 - am a big fan of the Dahon, but am also very appreciative of the Brompton (and would get one if they weren't so expensive!)
  • wgwarburtonwgwarburton Posts: 1,863
    ... I’m about to change jobs and start a daily home-bike-train-train-bike-work commute and therefore would like to invest in a folder ....

    This may not be a useful contribution, but hey, that doesn't usually stop me...

    Have you considered the two-bike solution, where you leave a bike at the home station during the day and the work station overnight? Depending on many factors... the main one being security, I guess, this can save the hassle of folding the bike, getting on the train and using bikes that have been compromised to some extent by the need to fold.

    I've used this approach successfully in Edinburgh, where there is covered parking at Waverley Station. If your work station has bike-lockers you'd be sorted.

    The solution can be extended to multiple workplaces, of course, depending on how hard the N+1 effect has hit you... :-). See the review of the £70 singlespeed for a possible solution if you happen to suffer a lack of suitable cycles.

    Cheers,
    W.
  • mroli wrote:
    As a (multi) Dahon owner and having ridden Bromptons, I would say as follows ...

    Re getting it on and off trains - with the Dahon I just take the red slip cover and have never had any problems with it (even squeezing on at Hammersmith on the Picadilly line at rush hour). You can just stick it between your legs and it is the same as a awkard suitcase.

    Many thanks for your comprehensive post and helpful response,. It's good to hear from an experienced Dahon owner.
    I don't get London very often but there's a possibility I may do so next week, if I do then I'll try to visit Fudges.
  • Have you considered the two-bike solution, where you leave a bike at the home station during the day and the work station overnight?

    It's a good thought, and one that I haven't completely ruled out. It has however lost some favour as a couple of the Oxford commuters I spoke to (with Bromptons) had their 'station bikes' stolen!
  • AguilaAguila Posts: 622
    I've just spent quite a while testing these with the mrs. Bromptons do fold very small but we found them censored to ride, really are like circus bikes in feel. Got a Dahon speed 7 and a mezzo d9 for a longer trail and have gone for the mezzo. By far the best ride of all those tested, gets highly rated in mag tests too. Slightly bigger to fold than brompton but neat none the less.

    Def recommend that you add one to your shortlist.
  • Clever PunClever Pun Posts: 6,778
    Hills aren't a problem for my brompton I've got the +11% gearing and only 3 gears and I've not had to get out of the seat
    Purveyor of sonic doom

    Very Hairy Roadie - FCN 4
    Fixed Pista- FCN 5
    Beared Bromptonite - FCN 14
  • Aguila wrote:
    and a mezzo d9 for a longer trail and have gone for the mezzo. By far the best ride of all those tested, gets highly rated in mag tests too. Slightly bigger to fold than brompton but neat none the less.

    Yes the Mezzo looks interesting, http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/folding/product/d9-10551
    But at around £725 they do not appear very different price wise to a Brompton. I'll see if I can find one for a closer look.
    Do you have any experience of lifting them on/off trains; is the fold secure?
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    If you want a folder that rides well, the new kansi will be arriving soon, try to demo one. They are excellent, i took a prototype one for a spin and it rode like a proper bike.

    Basically it was designed as a bike, then made to fold rather than the other way round like most of the other bikes on the market.
  • I have done a hilly 24 mile ride round north London with someone on a Dahon. He dropped me on all the hills, I only managed to catch up on the down hill runs :cry:
  • AguilaAguila Posts: 622
    Aguila wrote:
    and a mezzo d9 for a longer trail and have gone for the mezzo. By far the best ride of all those tested, gets highly rated in mag tests too. Slightly bigger to fold than brompton but neat none the less.

    Yes the Mezzo looks interesting, http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/folding/product/d9-10551
    But at around £725 they do not appear very different price wise to a Brompton. I'll see if I can find one for a closer look.
    Do you have any experience of lifting them on/off trains; is the fold secure?

    They aren't cheap no, wiggle have them a bit cheaper. Ours gets lifted in and out of the car boot, not actually had it on the train. I can't imagine it would be a problem though. The fold all clicks together so there isn't anything loose to go flying around when folded.
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    I've had a quick look at the Kansi out of interest and if I was Dahon, I'd be VERY interested! Design of frame looks v like the Dahon. Also being distributed through Fishers and if I'm being totally honest, this was one of the problems with Dahon - although this could have been a Fishers/Dahon problem. Fishers weren't great to deal with though (although again to be fair, I heard that they were going through a transitional time/MBO etc etc, so this may be better now.)

    I had a look at the Mezzo (and a ride too) and think it is a very good looking bike - I thought it was a bit heavy though (this may be just compared to the v light MuSL) and enjoyed the more "sporty" ride of the MUSL. Smaller wheels too didn't totally convince.

    A mate of mine has an Airnimal and this is even closer to the "proper" bike, but he says it is a sod to dismantle/fold.
  • Here's another thought I've just had while looking at the dimensions on some of these and noting that Brompton handle stems are not height adjustable: Being somewhat vertically challenged at a mere 5'4" :oops: -- is reach likely to present any more of a problem on any one of these bikes?
    Polite comments always welcomed
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Here's another thought I've just had while looking at the dimensions on some of these and noting that Brompton handle stems are not height adjustable: Being somewhat vertically challenged at a mere 5'4" :oops: -- is reach likely to present any more of a problem on any one of these bikes?
    Polite comments always welcomed

    I ride an S-Type Brompton and my girlfriend borrows it quite a lot and she's 5'4 and has no problems with reach at all.

    Hope that helps remove any worries.

    As with all bikes - best thing to do is get out there and test ride anything you are interested in.
  • marcusjb wrote:
    ... she's 5'4 and has no problems with reach at all..
    That's good to know, many thanks!
    And I do plan to get to Fudges (or similar) sometime soon for try outs.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,011
    We have a couple of Dahons at work which I use as much as possible. TBH, the fold is pretty badly designed IMO and the bike tends to try to break bits off itself when folded. OK to ride though (Nexus hub 8 speed version) - not brilliant at climbing but I have got up a 'single arrow' hill on it. Downhill the handling is interesting at speed (not that it carries any speed at all!).

    Something with a decent spread of gears might be more fun. Don't get me wrong, I quite like riding the Dahon but it feels like a childs scooter rather than a proper bike!

    Ultimately, for me even without a test ride there'd be only one choice - the Brompton. If you are getting a bike as compromised as a folder, might as well get one that does the folding well. Secondly, the economic mess we are in can only be solved by UK manufacturing - not by buying houses on credit. So any opportunity to buy the best when the best is British should be taken :D
    Faster than a tent.......
  • I'm in a similar situation and I'd really appreciate any further advice out there.

    My commute is a 6 mile cycle from Marlow to Maidenhead, going up Winter Hill (which is about 0.75 miles long and a 1:4 gradient) followed by the train to Paddington and a 5 mile cycle to work. I used to run the 2 bike solution, but just had my London bike nicked so I'm looking for a folding solution. When on my road bike I often get up to 20mph on the flat and over 35mph on the big downhill near home.

    Are small wheel folders suitable for this type of riding? I'm not too concerned about folded size, the ride is more important to me.

    What about 26" wheel folders?

    Bikes I'm considering:
    - Dahon Cadenza P18
    - Dahon Speed Pro
    - Brompton?

    My budget is around £500 and I'm prepared to get an older 2nd hand model to save on cash (essential for the Dahon Speed Pro!)

    Absolutely any advice would be greatfully received. :lol:
  • stuaffstuaff Posts: 1,735
    I'm in a similar situation and I'd really appreciate any further advice out there.

    My commute is a 6 mile cycle from Marlow to Maidenhead, going up Winter Hill (which is about 0.75 miles long and a 1:4 gradient) followed by the train to Paddington and a 5 mile cycle to work. I used to run the 2 bike solution, but just had my London bike nicked so I'm looking for a folding solution. When on my road bike I often get up to 20mph on the flat and over 35mph on the big downhill near home.

    Are small wheel folders suitable for this type of riding? I'm not too concerned about folded size, the ride is more important to me.

    What about 26" wheel folders?

    Bikes I'm considering:
    - Dahon Cadenza P18
    - Dahon Speed Pro
    - Brompton?

    My budget is around £500 and I'm prepared to get an older 2nd hand model to save on cash (essential for the Dahon Speed Pro!)

    Absolutely any advice would be greatfully received. :lol:

    First off, you won't get ANY of those new for £500, though you might just get an end-of-line '08 or '09 model Cadenza. Secondly, do you mean a Speed Pro TT? The (flat-bar) Speed Pro is out of production, last were 2007 model year.

    If you're sticking it on a train, I'd suggest the Cadenza is a bit risky- you'll almost certainly have problems getting it on at peak times. It's a big lump (in both senses- bulkier than smaller-wheeled folders, and over 12 kg), and not exactly the easiest package to carry around when folded. You'll also want an allen key to fold and unfold. Great bike though, once you're up to speed it runs beautifully, and I've done a ton on it in a day with no problems.

    20" folders are great for long distances- I've done multiple 60+ milers on my Jetstream (which has a very similar gearing setup to the Speed Pro & TT). So, perfect for your commute I'd say. 20 mph+ cruising more than doable even for someone like me, and I've happily gone down Reigate Hill at 35 mph on it. With 40mm tyres, runs smoothly and agile without being too twitchy. I'd also look at Dahon's Mu models, there's some great options there (including one with SRAM Red, but that's four times over budget....).
    Dahon Speed Pro TT; Trek Portland
    Viner Magnifica '08 ; Condor Squadra
    LeJOG in aid of the Royal British Legion. Please sponsor me at http://www.bmycharity.com/stuaffleck2011
  • Thanks for the replies!

    I had been considering the Speed Pro over the TT as it's a bit cheaper second hand. Other than the handle bars and the number of gears, are there any major spec improvements with the TT?

    I'm moving away from the Cadenza now and will have a look at the Mu. What do you think of the Vitesse?

    So many options! :roll:
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    Marlowtrips - I would suggest the MuSL would be great for your purposes. I can do those sort of speeds on it no worries - but it would be a second hand one - unless your work runs the cycle scheme?

    Cadenza is a bad idea - full size folders are going to become increasingly unpopular on trains I reckon. You can also pop the 20" ones in a bag so they become indistinguishable from luggage.

    I reckon you'd appreciate the "sportiness" of certain Dahons over the Bromptons doing those sort of distances every day - although I would happily concede that the Bromptons are more "bomb-proof".

    If you go into Paddington - you aren't far from Fudges, go have a look.

    Rolf F - I'd be interested in which parts you have managed to break off your Dahons when folded - I have owned 3 and the only problem I have had with the fold is making the magnets align properly. How is the fold badly thought out? I know a friend with the D7HG has problems with the handlebars fitting in the fold and I know other people moan when the handlebars are on the outside of the fold too.

    Basically - Dahon has a number of variations on the same fold "theme" and it is worth making sure you get the one you want. Totally agree with you on the buying British thing - but for me Brompton a) don't innovate enough (stick with the tried and tested); b) could be cheaper (they regulate the prices they allow the shops they stock to sell to the public) and c) aren't sporty enough unless you spend £'s (ie on the superlight frame and various upgrades. I do think they are amazing bits of kit though.
  • stuaffstuaff Posts: 1,735
    Thanks for the replies!

    I had been considering the Speed Pro over the TT as it's a bit cheaper second hand. Other than the handle bars and the number of gears, are there any major spec improvements with the TT?

    I'm moving away from the Cadenza now and will have a look at the Mu. What do you think of the Vitesse?

    So many options! :roll:

    Pro & TT are identical apart from the bars & gearing differences. No idea about a Vitesse, never tried one.
    Dahon Speed Pro TT; Trek Portland
    Viner Magnifica '08 ; Condor Squadra
    LeJOG in aid of the Royal British Legion. Please sponsor me at http://www.bmycharity.com/stuaffleck2011
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,011
    mroli wrote:
    Rolf F - I'd be interested in which parts you have managed to break off your Dahons when folded - I have owned 3 and the only problem I have had with the fold is making the magnets align properly. How is the fold badly thought out? I know a friend with the D7HG has problems with the handlebars fitting in the fold and I know other people moan when the handlebars are on the outside of the fold too.

    Might be doin' it all wrong but...

    IRRC the pedals got snagged into the wheels and cracked the mudguard up. The thing was unstable on the ground unless I let the seatpost down enough to support it - but that action caused the seatpost pump to pop out. There were other things too. It wasn't bad but just felt like they had nearly got it right but couldn't be bothered to do it properly!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • After visiting Fudges http://www.fudgescyclestore.com/ (as suggested) and also the equally helpful CH White in Malmesbury http://www.foldingbikes.biz/ I have finally plumped for the Brompton over the Dahon.
    As I'm really after something to take daily on the train, it was the fold-size-ease that clinched it for me.

    Many thanks to the Forum for all for the helpful discussions/suggestions.

    Excitedly awaiting arrival of shiny new Brompton S6R, complete with S bag system :) [/url]
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