Dahon Speed P9 and Brompton folding bike folded up next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.
City wheels

You’re Not Ready To Own A Folding Bike

You’re Definitely Not Ready To Own A Folding Bike

Every single week without failure, I hear a disturbing debate over which top folding bike brand is best. And to tell you the truth, I’m sick of reading about it on forums and watching it on YouTube.

Every single know it all internet guru has an opinion without any real facts to back it up. One week, the Brompton Folding Bike is the best that money can buy. The next, Dahon is considered the best, with the Brompton being called the worst.

It’s way overdue that someone who has extensive experience with both brands steps up, and sets the record straight, once and for all.

Just like you, I was completely clueless about Folding Bikes. I’ve never heard of or seen one in real life. As a matter of fact, if you would have told me that they existed, I would have laughed so hard to the point of falling on the floor. Might have even passed out.

And Then I Discovered Folding Bikes

My whole folding bicycle journey happened by complete accident. There’s this great little store located in Downtown Rochester, New York known as Hart’s Local Grocers. They offer an awesome selection of grocery items, but’s what’s even more enjoyable is their grilled foods.

At any time of day you can get a phenomenal breakfast sandwich. And for lunch you can select from a choice of tasty burgers, steak sandwiches, and from what I call the best French fries in the city.

Citizen Tokyo folding bicycle with 16 inch wheels.
Citizen Tokyo folding bicycle with 16 inch wheels.

One day, when I arrived to see what homemade soups they had available, I was in for the shock of my life. Chained to the big steel beam was the oddest looking bike I’ve ever witnessed in my life. With the smallest wheels imaginable, a super low frame, and spindly looking handlebars and seat post, I was speechless.

The Beginning Of A Folding Bike Education

For at least five minutes I stood there staring at this odd little bike. It was the Citizen Tokyo Folding Bike and Honest Tea was giving it away to one lucky winner, who just had to enter the free raffle.

After months of waiting, that felt like an eternity, I got the surprising phone call that I never expected in a lifetime. It was the guy from Hart’s Local Grocers, and I was the winner out of over 100 entrants. I was told that I could pick up my folding bike anytime I chose. The next day, I was riding home on the bike that would change my views about bicycles forever.

Just like you, I started doing tons of research both on and offline. You’d never believe how many forums and reviews I read on the internet. I’ve done countless test rides at different bike shops. And even talked to a few friends and acquaintances about their folding bikes.

After numerous months of trying different brands and models, I narrowed my choices between two different well known brands. These two brands are known as Brompton and Dahon. Out of every other brand that I researched, these had the best reputation for having great quality.

Brompton Versus Dahon

Now before you start jumping to conclusions, I want to let you know that I’m not comparing these two brands over which one is better. The reason why I’m not going to, and you shouldn’t either, is because each brand targets a different customer.

Right about now I know that you’re scratching your head in confusion. I know because at one point I was doing the same thing. If this is the case, then you’re not quite ready to buy a folding bicycle yet.

When I was making my choice as to which folding bike to buy, it was extremely difficult. I was use to riding a hybrid 24 speed bike with 700c wheels. It had to ride similar to a regular bike but also had to save on space at home.

At first it might seem obvious that the Brompton is a better choice due to being super compact, but in the real world it’s not that straight forward. There’s a lot to consider when buying a folding bike because they are both superior for what they are made for.

The Brompton Folding Bike

Let’s start with the Brompton folding bike and discuss what’s it designed for. When it comes to 16 inch folding bikes, Brompton is completely unbeatable. Brompton is unbeatable because that’s all that Brompton folding bike makes.

Brompton folding bike folded next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.
Brompton folding bike folded next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.

You can choose the handlebars for the type of riding you will be doing whether it’s racing or touring. The gear ratios can be selected from single speed all the way up to 6 speeds. Even the color that suits you can be chosen.

When it’s all said and done, Brompton will make you a high quality folding bike with all the options you choose with a hand brazed steel frame.

Benefits Of The Brompton Folding BIke

This is a great folding bike for someone who’s going to be traveling a lot. Or requires something as small as possible to ride the bus or train daily. For strictly city riding, the Brompton excels.

At the moment I own a two speed Brompton because I needed a bike that can fit anywhere, and very low maintenance. In the city, the speed and hill climbing ability is sufficient.

Downfalls Of The Brompton Folding Bike

The downfall to my Brompton is that I have limited gears. This takes away from the bikes versatility. For long distant riding I wouldn’t have enough gears to pick up any real speed. And if I was to come upon any very long steep hills, I’d most likely end up walking.

Brompton does offer a 6 speed option like I mentioned earlier but in my opinion, it’s not a great setup. It combines an internal 3 speed hub with a 2 speed derailleur. In order to keep the Brompton compact, this type of system was necessary.

I hate this system because it requires two trigger shifters to change gears, and it’s very complicated. To change the internal gear hub you have to stop pedaling. And to work the derailleur you have to keep pedaling. But the hardest part is that each shifter has to be selected at certain times to make up various gear ratios. To me this is way too much work for so little gears.

Dahon Folding Bikes

Dahon makes Different Sized Folding Bikes but I can honestly say that they make the best 20 inch folding bikes in the world. Known as the oldest Folding Bicycle Manufacturer in the world, they’ve been making folding bikes for almost 40 years.

Dahon Speed P8 folding bike without rack bag folded up next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.
Dahon Speed P8 folding bike without rack bag folded up next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.

My dad bought a Dahon Speed P8 Folding Bike and absolutely loves it. After riding this bike on multiple occasions, I can see why. This folding bike actually rides like a regular full sized bike, that just happens to fold. Plus it’s fast, smooth, and looks darn good.

The Benefits Of Dahon Folding Bikes

Every bicycle that Dahon produces has a very modern and sleek look to it. Their folding bikes are absolutely stunning. The welds in the frames are flawless and the paint jobs are perfect. They also use very fast working, high tech hinges that set the standard for every other manufacturer to follow.

I’m a huge fan of the components that they use from Shimano. Dahon uses standard parts that not only provides excellent reliability but also makes their bikes more affordable. What this means is that you get more bike for the money.

Dahon also makes a larger selection of models to choose from. If you like to race, they have a model for you. You’re a daily commuter? They have different models for that too. No matter what type of riding you plan on doing, Dahon has a model to meet your needs.

Another huge benefit that Dahon folding bikes have is their gearing. Most models offer between 7 to 8 gears. This makes Dahon folding bikes super versatile. You can gain considerable speed on the flats, and conquer long steep hills without having to walk. Basically, you can ride much longer distances

Dahon Speed P8 folding bike with rack bag folded up next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.
Dahon Speed P8 folding bike with rack bag folded up next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.

All this is made possible due to one simple thing. It’s called a derailleur, and what I prefer over internal geared hubs. They are way simpler, give better efficiency, and easier and cheaper to fix.

The Downfalls Of Dahon Folding BIKes

Don’t panic. The downfalls I’m going to mention aren’t really major ones.

Dahon folding bikes in the 20 inch size are slightly bigger than the 16 inch folders. They take up more space and can’t quite fit into as small of spaces. But as I mentioned earlier, this size is for the rider who wants to ride farther and be able to conquer various types of terrain, something a 16 inch folder will never be able to match.

Which Folding Bike Brand Offers The Best Value?

Deciding which folding bike brand between Brompton and Dahon, was no easy task. They both offer exceptionally high quality folding bikes that last forever. Ride superbly well. And look stunning.

If it was up to me, and we lived in a perfect world, I’d recommend both. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Everybody has to live on a fixed budget because we have families to support and bills to pay.

Buying two folding bikes is very unrealistic for most regular consumers. If I had no choice but to choose only one brand, I can honestly say it would have to be Dahon.

Dahon has managed to get the cost of manufacturing an astonishingly high quality folding bike down to an affordable price.

Take their most popular selling model known as the Dahon Mariner. Every year this model has been chosen as the best folding bike you can buy for the money.

It has everything a daily commuter could ask for. A sturdy rust proof aluminum frame. Fenders to keep you dry and clean in bad weather. And a rack to carry your belongings. Plus it comes with 8 gears and rugged tires.

This amazing model is more than equipped to handle the challenges of everyday commuting, while still folding to a small compact size. And because it has 20 inch wheels, it handles bumps and rough surfaces on the road, much better than a 16 inch folding bike.

Now You’re Ready To Own A Folding Bike

If you’re still here reading, good for you. That’s awesome and with all the great information that you just read, should be able to easily choose the folding bike that’s right for you.

If not, here’s a brief summary to help clarify. Plus a little bit extra bonus information to help make the decision easier for you.

Brompton and Dahon are both exceptionally well made folding bikes, with outstanding customer service. These things are very important when choosing a folding bike.

There’s hundreds of cheaper less known brands available, but they don’t follow strict safety standards. Imagine the pain and suffering you’ll experience if your folding bike suddenly crumbles underneath you.

With high quality brands with a great reputation such as Brompton and Dahon, your folding bike will not only last much longer, your life will be in much safer hands. Remember, your life depends on it.

As far as size goes, the most common wheel sized are 16 and 20 inches. If you’re looking for the most compact size that will easily fit into anywhere, the Brompton makes the best 16 inch available.

If you’re looking for the best folding bike to travel longer distances, handle various terrain, and still fold up nice and compact, Dahon has the best 20 inch folding bikes in the world.

Also, if you’re looking for the best quality and longest lasting folding bike for the money, Dahon is definite the obvious choice, and the one that I would choose if I was buying a folding bike at this time.

Let’s Not Forget The Bonus Material I Promised

And now for the bonus material that I promised and something that I know you’ll appreciate.

When I first got back into riding I knew very little about the materials used to build bicycle frames. The most common is aluminum and steel.

Benefits Of Steel

Steel is usually more durable when it comes to taking punishment from being banged around. Steel is harder to dent and usually offers a more forgiven ride.

Benefits Of Aluminum

Aluminum has come a long way since it first was used to build bicycle frames. With the creation of better manufacturing techniques and the introduction of alloys being combined, aluminum has become just as strong as steel, with the advantage of being more rust resistant.

What this means is that, it doesn’t matter what type of material your bike is made of, but instead what’s more important is how it was manufactured. I’ve seen both good and bad bikes made out of both materials.

Doesn’t It Feel Good To Learn About Folding Bikes?

It’s tough to find honest unbiased information about folding bikes, yet that’s just what I’ve done. After many hours of researching and testing these two brands, among others, I’m confident that I gave you honest, factual information that’s not based upon opinions.

Hopefully all this great and tough to obtain information will help you in choosing a folding bike, that not only suits your needs, but also absolutely love. And hopefully, all the know it all internet gurus will end the debate over which brand is better, between Brompton and Dahon.

Dahon Speed P9 and Brompton folding bike folded up next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.
Dahon Speed P9 and Brompton folding bike folded up next to table at Hart’s Local Grocers.

Or better yet, actually go out and ride the actually products so that they know what they’re  talking about, the next time someone asks for information about them

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