Gallery: Andrea’s Dahon Speed Pro TT

I purchased my Dahon Speed Pro TT (2008) when my easy bike commute within DC changed into a 90-minute odyssey that involved a train, subway, and car.  I decided that the first thing I had to do was ditch the car, and then look for a way to shorten my trek from suburbia into DC each day.  Upon learning that folding bikes were allowed on the commuter train and Metro at all times, I immediately decided to get one. 

I purchased this Dahon after carefully considering several makes and models of folders.  I decided on the Speed Pro TT because of its speed (I can reach speeds comparable to what I do on my high-end road bike), easy folding (less than 30 seconds to fold/unfold), and relatively light weight (a mere 21 lbs).  Even though I am only five feet tall, the bike easily adjusts to fit me. 

I’ve had this bike for four months.  It made my commute far more flexible, as I am no longer held hostage to returning to wherever I left my car.  Now, my “car” is always with me!  The folder can easily be brought on the train, subway, or bus at any time.  I can ride to the Metro station in the morning and take the subway into the city, and a commuter train home in the evenings.  Or vice versa.  This is very useful given the high degree of unreliability with commuter trains and Metro in the DC area.  I no longer use my car during the week (saving a considerable amount of gas money), and get plenty of exercise, riding anywhere from 10 to 25 miles daily.  Most importantly, I love every minute of it!  I never sit in traffic and my commute actually takes less time with my folder – 60 minutes each way total, from the steps of my front door to the chair in my office!  And don’t let those little wheels deceive you – this bike is FAST and nimble. —Andrea

30 Responses to “Gallery: Andrea’s Dahon Speed Pro TT”

  • Scott says:

    Andrea: That is such a COOL bike. Nicely done! My bike commute is too long or too short, but I still use a bike almost every day. I’m kind of envious of people who have those “just right” bike commute distances–for me that’s the range you indicate, 10–25 miles round trip.

    Keep on riding.

    Scott

  • Dale says:

    That’s a beautiful bike. I especially like the orange tyres to match the bike’s colour.

    It looks like the shifting might take some getting accustomed to, though, due to the placement of the STI levers. (?)

    Great bike. It makes me want one. :- )

  • Rick says:

    Couldn’t be better timing! I was just looking through folding bikes yesterday, and I am particularly interested in Dahon. The review was great because it came from a commuter’s point of view! Thank you, Andrea!!

  • Duane says:

    Beautiful bike, beautiful story. I too love the matching tires.

  • Andrea says:

    In response to the question about the shifters – they took no getting used to at all. They work just like shifters do on a typical road bike and are very smooth. For all those thinking about purchasing one of these bikes, I do have one small warning – be prepared for a lot of questions! I am stopped at least once a day by someone interested in my bike. Friday was a record – four people stopped me and two of the inquiries were serious enough that people actually took down information on the bike (including where they could purchase one). Some people have asked me what I don’t like about the bike, and I thought I would share my thoughts on this:

    -When being really jostled around, the bike (when in a folded position) can sometimes fall open. There is a magnet holding it together so this isn’t perfect. To address this issue, I just tie a bungee cord around the bike when I know it’s going to be moved a lot while folded. My 50-cent solution has worked just fine.

    -The smaller-size tires can create a challenge when you need to stop and pick up a spare tube. Don’t expect to walk into any ol’ bike store and find the exact size tube that you need. ALWAYS carry a patch kit with you and one or two correctly-sized tubes (which you can order from Dahon) with you at all times.

    -From what I can tell, I don’t think it’s possible to install a rack on this bike (although as I sit here looking at it, I do see a couple of eyelets that might be used for such a purpose). For me, this was no concern, as I never use panniers/racks (I just rely on my messenger bag). For some commuters, this might be a deal-breaker though, so consider yourself warned.

    I am pretty rough on my bikes and, thus far, this bike has withstood my punishment. However, because there are more “moving parts” on folders, it is recommended that you have them checked out more often than you would a regular bike. It’s a safety thing – you wouldn’t want a latch failing while flying down the road.

  • eddie flayer says:

    Hello Andrea,

    Wondering if you considered Bike Friday and if if so your thoughts…and why you went with the Dahon? I know Dahon seem to be more cost effective.

  • Andrea says:

    Yes, I did check out Bike Friday folders. I even talked with a customer service rep from the company and tested a model at my local bike store. There were several reasons I went with the Dahon. First, cost was a HUGE factor. To get the folder I wanted from Bike Friday, I was looking at something over $2k (I wanted something comparable to a road bike). The second issue was the whole custom-made thing – it just frightens me. I wanted the ability to be able to try out a bike and then decide if I want to purchase it, and with Bike Friday you just can’t do that. Another consideration was how quickly and small the bike folded down. I noticed from pictures of Bike Fridays that they were a little more complicated to fold down and were really more for traveling and not daily commuting. They also didn’t fold down as small and seemed to weigh a tad more. These were all VERY important considerations for what I was going to be using the bike for – multi-modal commuting using a commuter train or subway. The Dahon folds VERY quickly – it takes me less than 30 seconds to fold or unfold the bike completely.

    For all these reasons (and then some) I don’t regret selecting my Dahon one bit. I have heard great things about Bike Friday; I know several people who have bought bikes from them and have been very happy with their purchase. However, for me, the Dahon just met my needs and kept me within my budget.

  • tim says:

    I’ve got the previous year’s model without the TT handlebars and I thought I’d echo your sentiments regarding a) the bike’s speed (it’s brilliant) and b) the looks (everyone who sees it wants to know what it is!). I live in London and I can vouch for this thing as a city bike, I beat pretty much everyone else except hardcore bike riders on the road, my only slight reservation is that the tires are prone to puncture and it’s a pain changing the rears. There’s no way you can give up those mango beauties so it’s just something you have to live with I guess :)

  • Andrea says:

    Interesting about the tires….knock on wood, I have not had an issue with them (yet). Riding through DC, I encounter some pretty nasty potholes, glass, and other debris. So far, so good! I do always keep a couple of spare tubes with me, as I know that most bike stores are not going to always have this unique tire size in stock. But it’s a small price to pay for how fun this bike is! I will say that I have been looking with great fondness at the Dahon Curve SL. It’s not as fast as the Speed Pro TT, but because I’m finding more and more that I have to take my bike on various forms of public transit (which is getting more and more crowded each day), I may want something even smaller and more compact. But I’m not parting with my Speed Pro TT – this thing is just too fast and fun.

  • John says:

    I also have a Speed Pro TT for my 25-mile one-way commute, NYC Metro North Home. It’s a great bike, as fast as you say, and I wish I’d had the benefit of your review before buying it because there weren’t many roadie/commuter-oriented reviews this summer. The bike has a few drawbacks, though I’d buy it again. A) The brakes are lousy – very spongy, and a very long stopping distance. The ultegra brakes on my normal road bike are startlingly better. B) The proprietary seat and seat post (Kore I-Beam) limit you to the Kore products. Fortunately I love the Kore saddle. However, I have short legs (30″ inseam), and I extend the seat post a bit higher than the minimum insertion line, and I’d raise it higher if I could. I would caution tall or long-legged riders to test the bike before buying. C) The handlebar post creaks and groans beaucoup when I’m riding out of the saddle.

  • Andrea says:

    John, the weaknesses you identify are right on. I am actually in the process of looking for a better braking system, lest I find myself rolling out into traffic when trying to stop! I improved my brakes a bit by tightening them up, but it’s still not as good as it could be. I think the brakes can be made better simply by changing out the brake pads, and I am going to try this tomorrow when I take my Dahon up to the bike shop.

    I am pretty short and don’t have a problem with the length of the seat post, but maybe my legs are longer than I thought. I agree that the proprietary seat and seat post could be a major drawback for someone who doesn’t like the saddle. I love the saddle and, as a woman, this says a lot (just about all saddles are really made for a man’s anatomy unless they are WSD).

    I have the squeaking/creaking as well when I ride out of the saddle and pull up on the handlebars (Which I tend to do a lot). I am a bit concerned that all that squeaking was a sign that the latch was wearing away, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Is there anyone from Dahon out there who can confirm if this is normal or not?

    Also, one recommendation that I have for Dahon is to make another set of handle-bar thingies (sorry, I don’t know what they are called) that the track bar fits in that are longer. This would enable someone short like myself to lower the handlebars down even lower and to situate the handlebars closer to my body. It fits right now, but if anyone’s arms are even a tad shorter than mine, they are going to have problems. I think the solution is really easy and cheap one that would just include the option of purchasing another set of those little clasps.

  • ward00 says:

    Beware of this bike if you expect it to perform like a road bike – the brakes on my 2008 Speed – Pro TT do not stop my bike. On downhills, you will be lucky if you will be able to bring the bike to a complete stop. Even on city streets, if you are going faster than 15 MPH, you will have to give much more thought to oncoming traffic – this complaint is not just mine – there are plenty of other similar complaints on the folding bike forums. If it was not for this problem I would give the bike a 5, however safety should be Dahons primary design consideration, which it is clearly not, as evidenced by the brakes on this bike. In fact, if they do not do a recall on this bike, I suspect the first death that occurs as a result of the brakes will force one upon them. A bike that is marketed as a road bike should be able to brake like one, especially at the price it is sold as. Shame on Dahon.

    BTW – swapping brake pads does not help

  • Alan says:

    I’ve had a Speed Pro for about 4 years and its only done less than 1000 miles and I weigh about 154 pounds. I loved it for first few weeks – it was fast and fun. But then many problems started. Firstly, the rear spokes creaked badly. I had to keep tightening them to try and stop it. I perserved with the original tyres for a few months but the frequent cuts and punctures made me give up and put fatter ones on. The steering tube needs adjusting very frequently and I am concerned that the head bearings must be about worn out by now. The frame pivot became so sloppy that Dahon had to replace it. The rear brake noodle was in the wrong position from stock and wore out one side of the rear wheel. Then the rear spokes started snapping. I had to have the wheel rebuilt with a new rim. Since the rear wheel was re-built the hub gears havent worked properly. I’ve just had a concerned sounding message from the shop I took it about these and I am not looking forward to the call… Oh and the brakes really are dangerous. I feel that all these problems could have been avoided if the bike had built properly. Although I like going fast, I would get a more durable folder next time and not something that is so ‘highly strung’.

  • Alan says:

    Further to my above post. I’ve just learned from the bike shop that the bike needs a new 3 speed hub and that, as I suspected, there is something very wrong with the headset. Due purely to its poor quality I am now considering scrapping a bike that cost £750 after less than 1000miles.

  • Andrea says:

    I have had some issues with the hub gear, but nothing my local bike shop wasn’t able to fix in a few minutes with some adjustments. When I purchased the bike I specifically went with a store that offered free life-time tune-ups because I knew folders were known to have some issues. I still have a strange noise from the hub gear at times, but nothing that has impacted the ride of the bike. So far, it still rides very nicely. No issues with the spokes that I can see. I probably have about 1200 miles on the bike at this time.

    As for the original tires, I did replace mine with some more durable tires recommended to me by someone on BikeForusm.net. I never had any problems with the original ones (and probably had close to 800 miles on them), but didn’t want to take any chances, as my commute is fairly long. I also replaced the brake pads with Kool Stop Salmon pads and noticed a significant improvement.

    I think poor braking is a function of all folders, not just this bike. From what I’ve read/been told/experienced, the longer cables result in slower braking time. I tried a Bike Friday and another Dahon model out and they both had the same “slow” braking. A lot of this problem was helped when I replaced the brake pads, but I sort of see this as one flaw in riding any folder. Hopefully, they will come up with a way to address this, but I don’t currently see a way to get around the need for the longer cables. This is a function of all folders, as they need the longer cabling to enable the bike to fold.

    There are three of us with Dahons at work and we’ve all had similar positive experiences. One of my coworkers did have some trouble with his hub gear after quite a few miles, but I believe the issue was fixed at a local bike shop.

    Folders do require a bit more tender love & care than your average bike. They are definitely delicate and can’t be roughed up the way some other “regular” bikes can. It also helps if you replace the cables regularly (1-2 times each year) because the dirt and grime that gets in them definitely slows down the braking.

  • ed says:

    The DAHON Speed Pro is indeed a fine bike. Have had 2. Great for air travel since with minor dis assembly it can be packed in a bag that on South West will qualify as a free checked bag.
    Need to keep after spoke tension, need to tighten the head tube clamp on a frequent basis (that is where many of the squeaks come from). Also carry several spare spokes and the unique spoke wrench. Install Stop Flats tire liner to prevent minor flats. We ride them and sell them. BTW the MU P24 is also a fine choice. Dahon has a recall coming on some of the front head tube hinge clamp assembly so watch for cracking.

  • John says:

    As this seems to have become a forum for riders of the Speed Pros, I thought I’d post a happy discovery. Kore now sells an adapter so that you can put a normal railed saddle on a Kore seatpost (see http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/accessories/seatpost.htm, bottom of the page). I now have my Rolls on the SPTT, and I’m much happier with it, plus it adds a bit of height to the saddle.

    And for what it’s worth, I continue to commute 25 miles on the SPTT over horrible roads, dirt, curbs, and speed bumps, and the bike has been solid and reliable (but for some creaking from the stem and the cranks). The barrel adjuster on my front brake recently broke, making the bad front brake even worse, but I don’t consider this an unusual level of malfunction.

    Andrea, thanks for hosting this board! Hope you’re

  • John says:

    … still happily commuting!!

  • Andrea says:

    Yep, I’m still riding the Speed Pro TT, although I’ve not been on it the past few weeks due to lots of travel for work. So far, it’s still working well and I don’t have any complaints. BTW, I was in Philadelphia for work last week and saw quite a few folders (mostly Dahons) and even TWO speed pro TTs. What’s with that city and folding bikes?

  • Joel M. Tiquia says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I have been keep on reading reviews on Dahon bikes the past coule of months. Currently I already have 2. One 14 and one 16 inches Curve D3 due to I have 2 kids 6 & 9. I also got an old mini-mountain bike. I have been looking for 20 inch for sometime as recently I have joined a cycling group of friends that goes for a bit long distance (as I never ride long distance all my life!). I had quite really a bit a pain experience using 16 inch bikes as with my friends are having rodie mountain and racer bikes :( (though they don’t leave me alone… hahaha)

    I have been fond of your review and read it for several times. To be honest, I do not really like the design of Pro TT (as I probably not a serious biker). I am more of MU EX or MU SL type. But since I will be riding more long distance stuff, my mind turned to this pro TT. Espcecaillyin Hong Kong, where space is an issue for storage. I have read lots of positive reviews on Pro TT that really has convinced me to have this model.

    Finally I bought one this morning !!! and we’ll pick it up by next Saturday :)

    Many thanks for your great and awesome review!! For sure I’ll keep you posted.

    Cheers,

    Joel of Hong Kong.

  • Joel M. Tiquia says:

    Enjoying my New Dahon bike, finally ….. every minute… can’t sleep the last few days waiting for my order to arrive.. Had a great time riding with the Family as well today … Naidz (my wife) had big improvement in her biking lesssos… She was able to bike from the Airport to our House… Wow!

    Enjoy the photos from my facebook

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1884…mp;id=575761667

  • Matthew Kwong says:

    Googled this page… Joel’s page is actually http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=85508&id=575761667

    Happy Family with the TT pro :)

  • Joel M. Tiquia says:

    Many thanks Matthew for correcting the link :

  • tonyt says:

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for covering this bike in your blog. I am wondering if you or anyone posting here has compared the 2008 Speed Pro TT against the 2009 model of the same bike. There were some significant changes between the two years. The 2008 has a cromoly frame whereas the new model is aluminum. I have a general preference for steel, but there were a few other changes to the 2009 model as well.

    Any experience? Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Tony
    Brooklyn, NY

  • Jean says:

    I am looking at the Dahon Speed Pro TT . It looks like a great machine. I am doing a lot of traveling and I am dying to take a good bike with me on the road. I am 6’5, 215 pounds and good amateur cyclist who can push a big gear. I am wondering how much garage work would be required to complete the Dahon designed bikes so that I can ride one. Or would this be a waste of time. I know already about the breaks on the Speed Pro TT, they have to be redesigned. What else? I am also contemplating the ritchey breakaway bikes. Any comments will be greatly apreciated. Cheers.

  • Alan says:

    For me, the Speed Pro was a great machine for several weeks before a comprehensive list of major components began to fail with expensive, and ultimately terminal, consequences. I am a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and am convinced that the bike has many design faults. It may tolerate very gentle treatment but doesn not seem to resist normal riding – particularly for a relatively strong cyclist.

    You might the find the bike a bit short for you. I think its best for riders of between 5ft 7 and 5ft 11

    Poor brakes seem to be a feature of most small wheeled bikes so its hard to blame Dahon for that. I assume that the reason that disc brakes are not fitted as standard on more expensive models is because the hydraulic pipes would be too vulnerable to folding.

    If I get another folding bike I would avoid Dahon and probably get a Montague. Check out their website and reviews!

  • Jean says:

    Thank you Allan. I have checked the montague website. These bikes look good too. Too bad they don’t make road bikes. Maybe I could modify one of their product to make it road friendly. I like those swissbikes.Cheers.

  • Alex says:

    It’s very helpful to hear comments from all here for Dahon TT, coz I just placed order for one and will get it 2 days later.

    I will try to use it first then come back here to share my point of view for Dahon TT with all here.

    Lee
    China

  • zepher says:

    Earlier Dahon Speed Pros (not TT) have V-Brakes. They don’t have the TT Bar, or Ultegra STI shifters, but instead use a straight mountain style bar, bar ends and sram grip shift. V-Brakes stop real well and would be a better option than the caliper brakes on the TT. Ideally they would have kept the V-Brakes and w/ the STI shifters…. Not sure if they would work together though. The speed pro has road wheels and is spec’d similar except for the brakes and bars. Might be an option for readers that have issues with the braking system on the TT. Thanks for the blog & Enjoy the Ride!

  • Victor Khong says:

    I have a Dahon Helios P8 with V-brakes fitted with Schwalbe Kojak tires (light, fast and puncture resistant!). It is ironic that the Speed Pro TT with caliper brakes isn’t equal in braking power to its V-brake equipped stablemates.

    For those suffering from frequent punctures, try changing tires. They make a big difference. For those who want better braking power, it may make more sense to change to a V-brake equipped bicycle. Another option might be to investigate changing the front fork to one which can accommodate a V-brake.

 
© 2011 EcoVelo™