Dahon Vitesse review

This is a review of Dahon Vitesse, I originally published on old cycling blog. I have reposted it here, with some updates


 

dahon-vitesse

My search for a suitable foldup bicycle took me to try a Dahon Vitesse at a local shop Warland cycles on Botley Road. The first advantage of a Dahon Vitesse is that it is relatively cheap – only £400-£430. This makes it half the price of the cheapest Brompton foldup. For a relative occasional user of a foldup – it is hard to justify spending much more on a foldup.

Dahon Vitesse 8 (2016) Specifications

dahon-vitesse-d8-2015-folding-bike-

  • Alloy folding frame
  • Lattice forged hinge
  • 8 speed drivetrain
  • Telescopic handlebar
  • Biologic ergo grips
  • Folding pedals
  • 11.2 kg (24.7 lbs)
  • One Size fits all

Folding Specs

Folding Size: 29 x 80 x 66 cm (11.3″ x 31.2″ x 25.7″)
Folding Time: 15 sec

  • Distance: Seatpost to Handlebar: Min: 610 mm (23.8″) Max: 635 mm (24.8″)
  • Distance: Saddle to Pedal: Min: 695 mm (27.1″) Max: 955 mm (37″)

Riding Dahon

dahon-2

The Dahon is good to ride. The 20” wheels make the ride a little twitchy compared to a normal road bike. However, it is bigger than the Brompton 16” wheels. I found it a little easier to ride than a Brompton, but there wasn’t much in it. One concern is the maximum extent of the seat post, at 6 foot 3″ the saddle seemed still a little on the low side. I’ll have to double check that before buying.

Riding Dahon Vitesse

dahon-3

The bike takes a bit of getting used to. It’s gears are good for tackling hilly / slow routes, but the highest 7th gear is not exactly fast. Some of the higher end Dahon’s are more geared towards faster / longer rides. But, for most people buying this model of Dahon, they won’t be buying for speed. The gears are smooth and easy to change. The brakes work fine, at least for the low speed I got up to.
Appearance.

I like the Dahon’s simple and understated design. It’s not a bike to show off. It just looks neat, practical with a good attention to detail. It is relatively cheap, but without any obvious skimping on smaller details.

Accessories

Another attractive feature of Dahon is that it comes already with many accessories that are useful for commuting.

  • Custom Mudguards
  • Pannier rack (which can double as carrying handle). Also the 20” wheels means that my pannier bag fits on to the bike without hitting the floor.
  • Gears are easy to change, using a handlebar grip system. If you’re stuck at lights, you can easily change down to get a lower gear to accelerate off.

Folding / Unfolding Dahon

dahon-vitesse-5

The folding size is 29 x 80 x 66 cm (11.3″ x 31.2″ x 25.7″)

To me this seemed quite bulky compared to the much smaller Bromptons

Dahon give the folding time at 15 seconds. To do in 15 seconds requires quite a bit of practice. The main fold in the frame is held together by a magnet and locking nut, this is quite simple, but, then to unfold, the next step is to rotate the handlebar post into the upright position. This must be slightly rotated to enable the handlebar assembly to fold neatly down and alongside the front wheel. This requires a little thought and practise. If you’re in a real rush, I can see this being a little irritating.

The third step is to lift the saddle into the correct position. Marks on the seat post help make this easier.

If you are very frequently unfolding and folding, the Brompton has an advantage, but once a week, and a few extra seconds is not really an issue..

Conclusion

If you are not folding the bike every day, the Dahon offers one of best value foldups. It is more bulky, it is slower than a Brompton to fold up. But, on other terms it holds it’s own. It’s 20” wheels are good to ride, and the 7 gears make it a versatile town bike. When riding, you don’t exactly feel King of the road, but it gets you from home to the train station, no problem.

My reservation about the Dahon is whether the folded size would be too big for stashing on trains and the London Underground If it’s size created problems, it would rather defeat the point. However, it is no larger than a big suitcase, therefore, it would be unfortunate to have any difficulties. It would go in the boot of any small car.

Dahon offer a huge range of models, higher end models are more sporty, but Dahon is strongest when offering a good solid foldup at a low price. A strong part of this review is the ongoing comparison between a Dahon and Brompton. In one sense they are a little different and appealing to slightly different markets and budgets. Some might buy a foldup and take for social rides in the country, I couldn’t ever seeing myself do that, as I would want a proper bike rack and proper road bike. The Dahon foldup is good to ride, so long as you have limited expectations of it as a utility bike.

Would I buy a Dahon?

There is a well known saying – you get what you pay for, no where is this more true than the market for foldups.. The Brompton is more expensive for good reason. I want a Brompton because it is a marvel to foldup and store, but also I can’t justify spending twice the money on a bike I won’t be using too frequently. From a practical sense the Dahon would be the choice. Unfortunately, it’s left me in no-man’s land – my heart wanting a Brompton, and my wallet wanting a Dahon. I’ll have to see.

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2 Responses to Dahon Vitesse review

  1. Steve November 12, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    > It would go in the boot of any small car.

    I’ve got one of the slightly higher range Vitesse’s with the hub gear (somewhat more expensive than the model reviewed, but still way cheaper than Brompton); and with a little care in positioning, it fits in nicely on the (folded down) passenger seat of my Smart Fortwo, leaving the luggage space clear; it really is that compact.

    As you say, the top gear isn’t fast, but then when I leave the comfort of fenland for more corrugated parts of the country, it makes the ascents slow but steady. As such, it’s not a bike I’d ride by choice, but it is a bike I can take places without fitting a cycle-rack, and having some bike is better than no bike at all.

  2. Bill old August 12, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

    You seem a bit mixed up as the first bit of writing mentions eight gears but you end up talking of seven! I own a 2013 Dahon Vitesse eight speed. The gearing is great and gets me up most hills. The new luggage block on the head tube allows me to use Brompton luggage. As the wheels are 20″ you can buy cheap BMX wheels and fit double butted spokes…thus getting tandem strength wheels! I think most of the cost of a Brompton is mark up as the parts cannot cost over one thousand pounds that they are sold at. My Vitesse is a great bike and a good purchase.

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