Dahon Speed P8 folding bicycle review! The first time I ever saw a folding bike, my chin dropped. It had 16-inch wheels, and a long seatpost and handlebars that folded down.
Was I supposed to seriously consider such an odd looking bicycle as legit transportation?
What exactly is a folding bicycle?
According to Wikipedia – A folding bicycle is a bicycle designed to fold into a compact form, facilitating transport and storage. When folded, the bikes can be more easily carried into buildings, on public transportation, and more easily stored in compact living quarters or aboard a car, boat or plane.
How did I discover folding bikes?
I discovered folding bikes when the local grocery store I use to frequently shop at, held a contest.
Honest Tea was giving away a folding bicycle made by a company named Citizen Bike.
For over 4 months I waited to see who would win this odd, but interesting little machine.
And then something magical happened. One day, when I least expected it, I got a phone call notifying me that I could pick my bicycle up anytime it was convenient for me.
But my folding bicycle adventures were just beginning. After extensive research, I discovered a company named Dahon.
Who exactly is Dahon?
The Hon brothers started the revolution of their day with the world’s first folding bicycle small enough to fit under a train seat. 220+ patents and over 35 years of quiet evolution and ingenious technologies later, DAHON is the leader in folding bike technology, changing the way people around the world get from “A” to “B”. Read all about it below.
Meet the man who founded Dahon
Dr. David T. Hon has always been a tinkerer and cyclist. His urge to fold up “Man’s most ingenious invention” came about when commuting to and from UCLA in the 70s to earn his PhD in physics: every day, he had to remove the wheel of his bike to stuff it into his car parked far away on campus. Years later, after pioneering laser technology with great success at Hughes Research Center, Hon gave up his budding career to finally focus on his vision for “folding green transportation”.
The beginning of Dahon
Together with his brother Henry, an industrial engineer with a computer sciences degree, Hon began developing his vision – and received the first seven patents for his idea.
At design competitions around the world, their unique folding bike model won award after award. After registering the first seven patents, David set out to find a bicycle company interested in licensing or producing his distinctive vehicle. Despite the overwhelming success in the design world, however, no manufacturer was interested in taking the dare on such a “niche” product.
Dahon became a huge success!
Henry, then in his late twenties with a wife and three small children, reached into his own savings collected from his lucrative computer programming days and put up the first $60,000. That and more from 35 other visionary followers were enough to accumulate $2 million – and set up production of the first bikes in Taiwan. Of these, the Hon brothers sold the first 6,000 folders in only six months!
Dahon is all about innovative transportation
Pioneering the development of convenient, environmentally friendly transport has remained David and Henry’s passion. Fostering the way millions of savvy people everywhere get from point “A” to “B” today, DAHON is constantly developing, redeveloping and optimizing the “perfect fold”.
The technologies behind Dr. David Hon’s patents for frame and wheel configurations, metal alloys and folding mechanisms have delivered the mechanical basis for 98% of today’s folding bicycles. With more than five million DAHON folding bikes in motion, they are incontestably the global leader in folding bicycles – now a firm element of lifestyle in over 40 countries.
Where is Dahon located?
Headquartered in California, DAHON now produces their distinctive folding bikes in their own factories and production lines in China, and most recently Bulgaria – where all production for Europe takes place. DAHON’s superior parts and component technology continue to be sourced from the world’s best manufacturers.
Dahon changed my whole perspective about folding bikes
At first I wasn’t too fond of folding bicycles. Ever since I was a kid I rode either BMX bikes. Or saw everyone riding those skinny wheeled, heavy, steel road bikes.
But, after riding the 16-inch wheel folding bike everywhere, I realized why everyone loved them so much.
No matter where I went, I was able to fold my bicycle up and bring it inside with me, without anyone having a problem with it.
In fact, it was quite the opposite. Everyone thought the little bicycle was adorable. And would ask me a ton of questions about it.
Questions such as:
- How much does it cost?
- How does it ride?
- Is it heavy?
- Can you climb hills with it?
- Is it slow?
- Do you have a hard time steering it?
I’ll admit that it did ride much differently than my full sized hybrid bicycle with 700c wheels, and 24-gears.
Having only 16-inch wheels, it did ride rougher over bumps. And with only 6-gears to work with, it did have a low top speed, even though it climbed hills easily.
As much as I enjoyed my new, 16-inch transportation companion, it had a few problems.
Problems such as:
- For a 16-inch folding bicycle, the fold wasn’t all that good.
- There’s no magnets to hold the bicycle together while folded.
- Weighed over 33 lbs, making it very heavy to carry.
Fortunately, I found out after extensive research that other folding bicycle companies existed.
Discovering a folding bicycle company in New York City named NYCEWheels
I discovered a company in New York City named NYCEWheels. NYCEWheels was a company that specialized in folding bicycles, until they closed their doors forever a while back.
NYCEWheels, along with many of their customers, bragged about how Dahon folding bicycles rode just like regular sized, non-folding bicycles.
This got me extremely interested in Dahon folding bicycles, and urged me to go find out what all the fuss was about for myself.
After much discussion, dad and I decided to go test ride a few Dahon’s at a store located not too far away.
I figured that if this bicycle rode anything like I heard, it might be something to consider purchasing in the near future.
Test riding Dahon folding bicycles
At the time, I had a 16-inch folding bicycle with 2-gears that I purchased from NYCEWheels. It was a very nice bike, that rode very well for having such small wheels. And folded up extremely well.
It was great for my daily commute of 2.5 miles each way to work. I didn’t have to climb many hills or ride many miles.
The problem is that it’s not quite so comfortable for long-distance riding. And when trying to climb steep hills or go over a certain amount of miles, it can become quite tiresome.
What I needed was something more stable and versatile, with more gears.
After arriving at the bike shop, we test rode about 5 different Dahon folding bikes, until we stumbled upon the Speed P8.
Immediately, dad fell in love with it’s fire red painted, Chromoly frame. Along with it’s stable, quick, snappy feel.
Even I was impressed with the high-quality look and feel of the Speed P8, and would have bought one myself. Except that I had too many bicycles at the house that wasn’t that old yet.
Riding the Dahon Speed P8 was awesome
The Dahon Speed P8 folding bicycle is a high-end bike that offers a great mix of comfort, versatility, and price.
But what really got me excited about this bike was the attention to detail.
Unlike other folding bikes, the Speed P8 has a K-Series superlite 4130 Chromoly frame, with flawless hand-welded joints.
There’s also a dalloy aluminum fork with integrated crown. What all this provides is a super strong frame that can hold a rider weighing up to 231 lbs (105 kg). But what’s more impressive is that they were able to make this bike weigh only 27.0 lbs (12.3 kg).
I was also impressed with the forged alloy crankset and custom Neos 8 speed rear derailleur.
My dad couldn’t resist buying the Speed P8, and I can see why.
Putting the Speed P8 to the ultimate test
While riding through the old Historic High Falls area in downtown Rochester, New York, we came upon some harsh cobbles.
Seeing that dad was having so much fun on his new folding bike, I wanted to get a piece of the action. We decided to trade bikes for a while, and I was definitely surprised at how sturdy the Speed P8 was.
This beautiful piece of machinery ate up the road like a rocket despite how serious the cobbles were. Bump after bump, the Chromoly frame absorbed everything I threw at it without a single ounce of flex.
The fancy frame and handlebar hinges on the Speed P8 aren’t copied by other folding bicycle manufactures for nothing. These bad boys, once you clamp them down, don’t jiggle, wobble, or make any noise whatsoever.
The Dahon Speed P8 is very adjustable
I like to ride a little more aggressively than my dad of course. So, I had to lower the handlebars, and the seatpost in order to get the more aerodynamic position that I prefer.
But that was easy because the Speed P8 can accommodate rides between the height of 4’8″- 6’4″ (142-194 cm). And offer a more upright, laid back riding style, like my dad prefers. Or a faster, more tucked riding style like I prefer.
I was very comfortable riding the Dahon Speed P8
For daily commuting and longer rides, the seat is the most important component, if you don’t want a sore butt.
Fortunately, the seat on the Dahon Speed P8 not only looks awesome with it’s red lettering. It’s also extremely comfortable. It’s just the right length and width, and not too hard or soft.
You can also adjust the seat post very easily, because there’s marks that allow you to set it at the right height, every single time. Something that many other folding bikes just don’t have, but should.
Another great feature that comes on the Speed P8 is Streetpac 20″ x 1.75″ tires. Every bump and rough patch was absorbed into the tires, instead of me, eliminating a jarring, tiresome ride.
The Street P8 rides just as fast as a full-sized bike
Picking up speed on the Dahon Speed P8 didn’t take very long.
As soon as I applied pressure to the forged crankset this speed demon took off like a jet. I could feel the stiffness in the crankset, that allowed me to put maximum pedaling efficiency into it, without any flexing.
Trying to keep up with this insane pace was easy with the DAHON Neos Twist Shifter.
I’m usually not a fan of twist shifters, but this one was as smooth as glass and allowed me to whip through all 8-gears with ease.
I’d highly recommend this folding bike
This is one awesome, fast riding, sleek looking, folding bicycle that thinks it’s a regular non-folding bicycle.
One glance at the Speed P8, and you’d think that it costs twice as much as it does. The Street P8 comes in a fire red color with black accents. Flawless welds. With black seat post, handlebars, and wheels.
Of course the Speed P8 isn’t just about impressive looks. It’s also an incredible riding bike that’s great for commuting, touring, and exploring.
All this is possible because of the amazing technology that Dahon has packed into this phenomenal transportation machine.
- Color: Fire Red
- Speeds: 8
- Weight: 27.0 lbs (12.3 kg)
- Folded Dimensions: 12.60″ x 32.28″ x 26.38″ (32 x 82 x 67 cm)
- Frame: K-Series superlite 4130 Chromoly
- Fork: dalloy aluminum with integrated crown
- Tires: Streetpac 20″ x 1.75″
- Rims: 20″ aluminum double wall
- Handlepost: adjustable forged alloy Radius Telescope
- Handlebar: 6061 Double Butted Aluminum flat bar
- Front Hub: 74 mm compact alloy 20 hole
- Rear Hub: Sealed bearing aluminum FreeHub, 28 Hole
- Bottom bracket: Sealed Bearing
- Chain: KMC Z82
- Rear Derailleur: DAHON Super Compact Neos 8
- Shifter: DAHON Neos Twist Shifter
- Brakes: Winzip 110 mm V-Brakes
- Seatpost: DAHON Custom 6061 Aluminum
- Kickstand: Alloy
- Suggested Rider Height: 4’8″- 6’4″ (142-194 cm)
- Rider Max Weight: 231 lbs (105 kg)
- Pedals: Foldable
Great customer service
Another thing that I’d like to mention, is the great customer service that Dahon offers to their customers. My dad ordered a part called the Landing Gear from the bike shop where he bought the Dahon Speed P8, so that he could roll it easily while folded.
It seemed to be taking a lot longer than he expected, so he decided to call the Dahon headquarters in California himself. A gentleman who answered the phone immediately found out what was going on with the order, and made sure that the part was at the bike shop within two days.
He went out of his way to make sure that my dad was completely happy with the service, and said that if he had any more problems just call back, and he’d personally take care of it himself.
They offer a lot of bike for the money and put a lot of effort into the quality and attention to detail. As Nycewheels would say, Dahon bicycles are built to last. And after riding one myself, I’d have to totally agree.