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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I'm a first-time cyclist looking to get into the hobby as a way to get exercise, commute in a greener fashion, and have some fun getting from A to B instead of treating it as a chore. I'd like a folding bike to prevent theft, and allow me to make combined train/bike commutes (the Boston MBTA does not allow full-sized bikes on the line I live on.) I've narrowed down my choices, and they are all made by Dahon, but I am curious as to which of the 3 below I should buy. Does anyone have any experience with these products?

There's the Cadenza: http://www.dahon.com/us/cadenza.htm
the Matrix: http://www.dahon.com/us/matrix.htm
and the Espresso: http://www.dahon.com/us/espresso.htm

The Espresso's lower price tag worries me: why is it so cheap? Are the materials shoddy? The Matrix is not a mountain bike, but it has certain features of mountain bikes, so I wory as to whether it would be efficient for use when I'm mostly riding on roads, and whether I could keep up with my road-biking mates. The Cadenza would be the solution, except that I am not sure it will handle Boston's HORRIBLY maintained roads and potholes, as well as light park riding (flat areas of grass/dirt).

Any advice?
 

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To some extent you've answered your own question since you are concerned about riding on Boston's bad roads. The Matrix is the only one of the 3 bikes you list that has a front suspension so if potholes and light off-road riding are a concern, it would probably be your best bet. The Espresso is the cheapest since it uses the lowest end components of the 3 Dahon bikes you list.

Are you committed to 26" folding bikes? Since you say you are going to be a train commuter, a smaller wheeled folding bike might be a better choice since it takes up less room on the train. I came across a folding bike buyers guide a while back that may help you in your decision making.
 

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Are you married to Dahon?

I bought a folder last year to toss in the trunk when I didn't feel like putting the rack on the car, and I'm surprised how competent it is. Initially I wanted a Dahon, but I'm 6'4" and 240 lbs, outside the envelope for the Dahon models I was interested in. After poking around for a few days, I ended up with this Downtube: http://www.downtube.com/product531.html
I didn't really want the rear suspension, and I wanted an internally geared hub rather than the derailleur, but when I told them how tall I was, they recommended the full susp, and you can't get that with Sturmey Archer. The 20-inch wheels do allow a smaller fold, which is nice, and they're fine on the road or on gravel/dirt. Sucker is HEAVY, though--it weighs noticeably more than my 64cm, steel frame Atlantis. You don't feel it when you're riding, though.
I put on a longer stem, because the "cockpit" was pretty tight, and replaced the big squishy 45 psi tires with some slightly skinnier 70psi ones. It's comfortable and pleasant to ride for a couple of hours, at least.
If you decide to buy one, check eBay. Downtube uses eBay as its retail outlet, and the bikes listed there are from the factory, with full warranty and everything. Sometimes they go for list price, sometimes $50 or so under, depending on the bids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think the Matrix will probably be my choice for the reasons than OmniRider states above. After all, even though the frame is mountain bike-y, there's no reason I can't attach skinny tires when I don't expect to run into trouble, is there?

What method should I use to determine whether a bike has parts that are interchangeable with industry-standard parts, or proprietary pieces?
 
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