Urban Performance: Dahon Mu Ex

Readers know that we’re fans of Dahons and folding bikes in general. We’ve ridden them all over the Pacific Rim in our travels and hang with the Dahon crew when we’re in Taipei.

I suspect Dahon heard our insistence that they lighten up their bikes, cause they built a super light one, and equipped it with SRAM Red components.

dahon_mu_ex.jpg

I first rode the Mu Ex during SXSW and took it with me to Portland. A pleasure to ride, the bike is responsive, fast, and performs.

Best part is it climbs … for reals. With the Ergon grips (also has the built-in Seatpost pump) and bar ends, you can use your whole body to grunt up the steepest hills.

dahon_muex_wht.jpg

It’s been a mystery to me why weight hasn’t been on the minds of product managers of folding or urban bikes. It’s not just roadies that can appreciate a 20 pound bike; especially on the steep climbs when it’s loaded up for the commute. Taking 5 pounds of a bike makes an enormous difference in the travel load and overall performance. In its category, the Mu Ex is hard to beat.

Next refinement we’d like to see is a mechanism to better hold the bike together when it’s folded.



9 Comments

Good comment about weight.  For racing and performance riding it matters a heck of a lot less than people think.  But it does matter for bikes like this, which is being lifted and carried all the time.

I totally agree. I hope this Dahon puts more pressure on the people who make folding bikes I actually like (e.g. Brompton and R&M) to lighten up their bikes :-) My Birdy weighs more that I would ideally like ...

Matt,

That’s correct—pulling 30 pounds across an airport, packing, unpacking is all tedious. The Mu Ex is noticeably lighter.

I’d like to put my Brompton on a diet and I’ve got the light one. Add the loaded up front pack to it and you’re pushing a considerable amount of weight around. One of the reasons, I enjoy traveling so much with my Modal (S&S bike) in single speed mode, is how light it is. In the case and on the road.

I still can’t get over just how nimble my Mu EX feels. The SRAM Red drivetrain hardly makes any noise and shifts like silk. Riding this bike is like gliding through the air!

Hi Byron,
I am also interested on this bike. The design, color is awesome! Not to mention its lightweight. One of my holdback is really the gears as it has only 20. Seems the smallest sprocket is not there. I would like to use it for mountain hiking. You mentioned about your experienced “steepest hills”... Just wondering how steep can it handle and whether I can use it similarly to some mountain bikes? Thanks. Joel

The gearing is limited by the chainline—a triple wouldn’t fit or have an even more extreme chainline. You could easily swap it out for compact or a smaller ring up front. I took it up a 18% grade.

I’ve been looking for some recent reviews and insights on folding bikes and how they perform for relatively long commutes (22 miles one way.) I’ve been commuting on my ‘normal’ road bike but running into problems when I don’t want to ride the entire way but can’t take the bus because the bike racks are full. A folding bike would resolve this because than I could simply take it on the bus.

How do the smaller wheels do on long rides? Are they efficient? What about throwing a rack and panniers on back? Also, I live in Seattle…so full fenders are mandatory.

What about 700c folding bikes…are there any?

I’m hoping to spend around $500 - $700. What’s the best buy out there?

Good questions—more than two hours is pushing it on a folding bike (die hard folding fans would disagree). The smallest and most folding are intended for the last few miles either way and multi-modal in the city: ride to the bus, then to a stop, and off. Folding bikes from Bike Friday, Dahon, Brompton all come with fenders and rack accessories as options. Dahon also makes larger wheeled folders that are “hinged” and don’t fold down into a suitcase like the 20-inch versions. Bike Friday’s gig is folders that ride and fit like road bikes.

Wheel geeks would argue about what size is most efficient, where you’re going to feel it more is in the size of the bike, fit, and comfort. Cyclists race folding bikes and you can go fast.

They are folding full size bikes yes, from Dahon, and custom builders. They don’t fold up quickly and are either hinged, as I said above, or use couplings. They’re intended as travel bikes and you’ll spend 30 minutes or more assembling/disassembling them v. a minute for a Brompton.

In your price range, check Dahon and Abio for belt drives.

For your commute, 11 miles one way—a folder will work fine.

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