MEC Dahon Origami Folding Bike

The household bike fleet has had a new arrival, a shiny new Dahon folding bike from Mountain Equipment Co-op, the Origami. This bike replaces my wife’s old bike, an 80’s vintage Dahon V. The old bike had made her a fan of small wheeled bikes, liking their small size and nimble handling. The old Dahon however was a rickety specimen and not a particularly good bike overall. We had considered some of the higher end folding bikes but considered that this one would best suit her needs and our budget. On Mother’s day she gave one a test spin and was quite taken with it. The two they had in the shop were on hold but they had two more in stock not assembled. We paid for one and the MEC bike shop had it ready by Tuesday. This is a momentous occasion. It is the first time I have ever purchased a bike new from a shop as I am more of a used bike kind of guy. It was nice that the bike came with some instructional documents and a two tubes of  paint for touching up scratches.

The specs according to MEC are:

  • Centre hinge allows lightweight aluminum frame to fold back on itself.
  • 20 x 1.5in. tires provide plenty of cushioning.
  • ProMax V-brakes are powerful and easy to maintain.
  • Nexus 8-speed internal hub allows rider to change gears whether pedalling or not. Gear range suits most city riding.
  • Folded size is approximately 34 x 67 x 64cm (13.3 x 26.1 x 25in.).
  • Adjusts to fit riders from 125 to 188cm (4ft. 10in. to 6ft. 2in.).
  • Designed to support a maximum weight of 105kg (230lb.).
  • Seatpost telescopes into the frame.
  • Handlebars telescope and fold flat.
  • SunTour pedals fold against crank when not in use.
  • Comes with a canvas carrying case, fenders, and a rear rack.
  • Manufactured by Dahon to MEC specifications.
Weight 11.9kg (One Size Fits All)
Frame Dahon R-series custom-drawn 7005 aluminum
Fork Dahon Integrated
Stem Dahon Folding
Seatpost BioLogic w/pump
Headset Dahon Fusion+
Handlebars Dahon Flat
Grips/Tape Velo Ergo
Brakes ProMax V (V-brake rim)
Brake Levers ProMax V aluminum
Shifters Shimano Nexus Revo
Derailleur (Front) N/A
Derailleur (Rear) N/A
Crank + Rings Dahon aluminum
Bottom Bracket Dahon
Pedals Suntour folding
Hub (Front) Dahon Mini
Hub (Rear) Shimano Nexus 8-speed
Cassette Dahon 13T
Chain KMC Z410
Spokes Stainless
Rims Dahon aluminum
Tires Dahon Roulez 20 x 1.5in.
Collar Dahon Covert
Saddle Dahon Comfort

I took the bike home using my Chariot child trailer. Folding the bike was easy enough to do without consulting any sort of instructions. It doesn’t fold particularly small or quickly but this is not a feature we will be using often. If they were easier to find we might have purchased a small wheeled bike that doesn’t fold at all. Still, it is definitely an improvement over the old Dahon which was a beast to fold. The center hinge does seem stiff to me but is quite solid.

In short order it was unfolded and ready to go. My wife took a short spin and was very pleased. Later that evening I snuck off and took a short spin myself and I

Ready to go!

Unfolding.

can report that this is quite a nice little bike. It is very solid with no flexing or creaking, has a nice tight turning radius and is overall very zippy (technical term). It is SO much more rigid than the old Dahon. I quite like the internally geared hub. It is shifts to lower gears very smoothly, almost unnoticeably. The shifting to higher gears is more obvious but still smooth. Being able to change gears while stopped is certainly a commuting advantage . I haven’t taken the time to figure out the gear inches or to test it on hills but so far the gear range seems spot on for urban use. It has a number of other nifty features that I’ll  detail in the photos below.

Home from the Famer’s Market with a load of groceries.

Loaded Panniers.

This week-end my wife borrowed  a set of my panniers and went on a shopping trip to the Farmer’s Market downtown. The rack is quite small and my feet had heel strike problems with the 40L panniers when I was testing them out on the bike . My wife, on the other hand, has much smaller feet (size 5 1/2 AA) and had no such problem. The origami proved quite able on this utility trip and she hauled home lots of groceries and some bedding plants. It is worth noting that we have been having uncharacteristically windy weather here in Edmonton and she was able to power through the headwind.

Time will tell how this bike holds up an performs but so far, so good. My wife says it makes her feel more like a real cyclist though she does miss the smaller 16 inch wheels of the old bike. I’m looking forward to trying out more myself and I’ll be sure to post any new observations here.

UPDATE:  I have discovered that to incorporate the built-in pump the seatpost is a larger diameter than is normal. This made it harder to fit a rear light to the post using the light’s provided mounting clip. In the end I had to find a longer bolt.

UPDATE (May 2013): MEC has put this model of bike on clearance for $550.00 which is an absolute steal. If you have been considering it I recommend snapping it up while supplies last. 

The old and the new.

The brake lever has a nifty little integrated brass bell.

Fenders and rear rack with cargo bungee.

The cargo bungee hooks into this little slot on the rack.

The pedal in the folded position. The pedals are a little clunky looking for my taste but they work just fine. (EDIT: These pedals are fairly slippery when wet)

The seatpost contains a built in pump.

Here’s the pump. The flexible hose is nice but it doesn’t have a quick release. I haven’t used a screw-on pump since I was a kid. Or maybe there is a part missing.

I do love a double legged kickstand.

A litte magnet doohickey for holding the frame together in the folded state.

Showing the chainguard.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “MEC Dahon Origami Folding Bike

  1. Great report. I think it is sweet that one of your first LBS-purchased bikes was for your wife. You must be a hopeless romantic! 🙂

    I also cannot help but notice the distressing lack of foliage on your trees. Hang in there, I’ll try to send some spring weather in your direction!

    Very nice bike, by the way!

    Like

    • Thanks. My wife really needed another bike and this one will make her feel more like cycling. I bought myself 3 used bikes last year so it was definitely her turn!

      Since I took those photos about a week ago the garden has greened up nicely. There are apple blossoms and flowering strawberry plants and rapidly growing weeds.

      Like

  2. There’s plenty of people buying Origami (I know because its on back order!). Appreciate this detailed review (as do many others). Helped me decide on this over the Dahon D7HG Vitesse. I think they are similar and this one is priced better (especially in Canadian funds).

    Like

  3. No, we haven’t brought it on a bus or any other sort of public transit. In fact, we have seldom used the folding capability at all. My experience is that it doesn’t fold super quick or small. It’s also fairly heavy. If I were planning on taking a folding bike on a bus on a daily basis I’d likely spend a bit more cash and get a Brompton or Friday. For occasional bus use the Origami is probably just fine.

    Like

    • Yes,MEC has become more of a general outdoor equipment supplier. The bikes are new addition to their product line as of only a few years ago. My wife got her bike out for the first ride of the year today, and we were noticing again the nice little details like the bell.

      Like

  4. Thanks for this great review. I found it while searching for information about folding bikes in April/May of 2013 and it convinced me to buy the Origami (already on sale for $550). It’s my first foldie and I couldn’t be happier.

    The new model has changed quite a bit. It no longer comes with a chain guard and only has 7 speeds instead of 8 (although without knowing the gear inches, it’s hard to say how much has been affected). It also seems like it’s no longer using Dahon technology: the frame is completely different and the clamp for the handlebar stem has been totally redesigned. The seat also looks like it’s angled further back. According to the parts list, there are a number of components by Tern, which is new. I do love the bright orange paint job, though; much better than the drab purple of the old model.

    Like

    • I’m glad it was useful.

      The new bike is made by Tern, which is the company that resulted when the estranged son and wife of the Dahon founder went their own way. Their bikes are unsurprisingly quite Dahon-ish.

      Like

  5. Pingback: Folding Bike for Sale – Toronto or St. Catharines | Mandi's Dance & Personal Website

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s