Dahon Mu SL Folding Bike—Sleek Performance for 2014.
Here’s a beauty that you will have to wait for, the rep told me it’s coming out this spring. Being one of my first reviews on Dahon bikes (not counting the IZIP E3 Compact, based on a Dahon chassis I had for several months) I am not that familiar with the old model this supersedes. It apparently was well received, so Dahon has done a remake of that lightweight folding bike. And what a remake it is.
Right off the bat the great looks and feel when riding it brings a smile to my face. The frame design and colors (white and mercury) just stand out in a crowd. One feature that caught my attention are the internally routed cables for the rear brakes and shifting system. The closer you look, more and more neat design highlights pop-out. All that aside, the speced pieces add up to a great folding bike experience.
Like most the bikes I get to ride, this one has been handed over to many interested riders. Some have folding bike experience and others haven’t tried one before. The first thing you (and they) notice is the strength and quality that give you that full-sized bike ride. You have to look down every now and then to remember you are on a bike that folds to the size of a small suitcase. Still, the Dahon Mu SL is so much more than just a stylish folding bike.
The smooth shifting comes from a double tap SRAM drivetrain. 10 gears are ready for use at any moment and the range of ratios covered every riding situation I’ve encountered. All those gears are backed up with some smooth rolling hubs and a low count on the scale’s dial. Choosing your gear feels great, as the double tap shifter on the swept-back handlebars is right at hand and operates in a way anyone would love. No quirks in this department.
In addition to the SRAM Apex derailleur, the brakes come from the same supplier and all are finished in a beautiful white baked gloss. The rims too are painted white which might explain an occasional squeaking when using them. Still, the brakes work great and have a dual pivot design. As long as we are talking color schemes, I want to mention the blue that peeks out in many places. The pin striping on the frame is sweet, and even the nipples, ferrules, chainguard and seat are blue trimmed.
Every corner of the Mu SL has vibrant colors, a very finished appearance and as a whole is just plain awesome. Even if this Dahon was a dud in the bike department, just gazing on it would be enough. Then again this bike is no dud, it is a solid, nearly weightless speed machine. Riding it is dream like and I loved being on-board for many solo and group rides. The cockpit has a slightly racy feel and the bars can be adjusted a little to find your sweet spot.
On the bars are a pair of ergo grips and some stout brake levers. It has a one piece stem that has no give whatsoever. The aluminum frame is as rigid as they come. The main folding hinge mechanism is better designed then other Dahons I have taken out. It also has a spring loaded safety catch that adds to your confidence. The fold is quick, making for easy work as you pop it in the trunk, head for public transportation or bring it anywhere you go for nearly 100% security from the bike meanies.
Another place you will see and experience the speed and toughness factor is in the wheel sets. These 451 mm Formula Xero paired spoke compact wheels have sealed bearing hubs with quick-releases, bladed spokes and are matched up with a pair of Dahon branded Kenda nearly slick tires. Running at a high-pressure they slide down the road as a great team. Looks and performance, like most every corner of this Dahon, are found in the rolling items at each end.
So let’s take a ride. Two fast moves brings the bike to full-size. Slide the seat post up to the right height, pop the pedals pivots into place and we are off. With the first couple pedal strokes you feel the ease of movement from the Mu SL’s light-weight and low-friction bearings. As you pick-up speed some up-shifts come fast to keep the pace rising. The steering is quick but not so much that it is uncomfortable. It is stable at the higher ranges so you push on to feel the rush of the air on your skin. As I’ve noted before, I am no racer, yet this Dahon brings thoughts of competition to mind.
Changing pace is a natural feeling as the brakes and gears are responsive and smooth. Working the roads and pathways was fun on each ride due to the bike’s extension of my riding needs. Once you stop for a break, just looking at this folding bike rounds out the total package of desire for a mount that covers all the bases you might be looking for in a folder. Each time I took it out I was pleased with every aspect the Mu SL delivered. What a functional beauty it is.
The two bad parts of this test are worth mentioning. One is although there is a spot for a kickstand, none was mounted. I get so used to having one, and for all I know Dahon will make sure each bike has one ready to use. This is a demo / prototype so I can’t always be sure of things like this. The other bummer is that like always the bike will go back to the rep when I’m all done. Good news is that I’m not done yet so let the ride continue.
I just loved my first real Dahon experience, how about you? Turbo Bob.
“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.”—John Howard.
Dahon on the web and Facebook
Here is a video I posted. There are some others on my site that show the Mu SL on different group rides we joined in on.