This review of the Dahon Speed Uno is designed to provide people interested in purchasing one of these fantastic folding bikes an opportunity to really see what this particular model has to offer. Below I will be outlining all of the pros and cons of this premium bicycle and hopefully will be able to give you an idea of what it’s like to ride. The Dahon Speed Uno is currently the most popular folding bike in America and this trend looks to continue well into the future, very few bicycles come even close to challenging this truly exceptional model.
It is essentially the more modern version of the original Dahon Mu Uno that was released in early 2011. This more recent version weighs in at a meager 24 pounds, or approximately 11 kilos, and so will be absolutely no trouble for anybody to carry around with them on their daily travels. It’s important to recognize the effort that Dahon have gone to in ensuring this, they have in no way compromised quality.
In fact, the way that Dahon achieved this was by utilising a singular rear coaster braking mechanism, as traditional folding bikes used, this effectively enables riders to brake by pedaling backwards. One benefit that this affords riders is that the Speed Uno therefore has absolutely no braking cables or levers to get in their way. Not only that, but the fact that this folding bike has a solitary gear also means that there is no gear shifting capability either – or any shifters too. What are the benefits of this you may be asking yourself? Well, as a consequence the Dahon Speed Uno is actually one of the easiest bikes to fold down and consequently is extremely useful for those that constantly find themselves mounting and dismounting from their folding bikes.
It’s evident to any seasoned folding bike user that the Speed Uno has been designed with perfection in mind, there is an ample amount of tweaks that have been made to the original Mu Uno that really do make riding it a truly enjoyable experience. One such modification is the implementation of the Dahon Magnetix latching mechanism, specifically designed for the Speed Uno. This is a truly outstanding step forward for all folding bikes, it effortlessly aids riders in folding the bike away and it maintains the bicycle in a compact and sturdy form once locked. Many people will simply overlook these little modifications, however once you get your hands on the bike and are using it on your daily commute, you will quickly realize quite how useful it is.
Many of you that have spent a while delving into the details of all the different brands and models of folding bikes will realize that Dahon is a world renowned brand. The fact that the Speed Uno is currently the most popular folding bike in the USA will therefore not be surprised by the fact that this bike is, as with all of Dahon’s bicycles, exceptionally durable.
However, before I dig into all of the detailed specifications of the bike, I’d like to spend a moment discussing its aesthetics. Firstly, the speed Uno has a truly stunning matte black guise, every component of the Speed Uno, from the spokes to the frame, seat and handlebars is black. Dahon opted to design this bike to appear modern and minimalistic – something that everybody on the road is sure to be envious of. The frame itself has been crafted utilizing a form of lightweight Chromoly and is therefore extremely durable. Any folding bikes that I have tested with these frames are sturdy and very few vibrations can be felt when traversing the roads, or any type of terrain for that matter. Chromoly itself is one of the most reliable metals to use as a bike frame, it is actually far lighter and stronger than steel used in most bikes.
While the frame is what most people would associate sturdiness with, in actual fact the two locking mechanisms in place also contributes to this substantially. If you are searching for a lightweight folding bike that is a comfortable ride then the Dahon Speed Uno could be the one for you. Due to the fact that this is a single speed folding bike, there is very little chain to be covered and so fortunately the chain guard does not protrude at all. Not only does this chain guard protect your clothes from getting caught in the chain, it also does a fantastic job of keeping any oil from damaging your clothes too.
Another additional feature that really does help to set the Speed Uno apart from ordinary folding bikes is the rear coaster brake that it offers. This may seem a little bit unusual if you have never used a bike with this type of brake before, however it is functions brilliantly and many do swear by it. The Dahon Speed Uno does take some time to get used to, but don’t let this put you off. One point that I will make is that coaster brakes are characteristically less capable of braking immediately, so ultimately you should always leave yourself a bit more room to brake. Similarly, you should always ensure that you do so gradually to prevent the bike from losing control on the road. All in all, the coaster brake certainly has more pros than cons and I – without doubt – see this as a positive inclusion.
The tires on the Speed Uno are actually designed and manufactured by Dahon too, these are high functioning Dahon Rotolo 20” tires. Each of them is pumped up to a total of 65 psi and has a thickness of 1.5 inches. The benefit of these wheels being large is that there is considerably more capacity to absorb shocks when traversing bumpy terrain. These tires easily soak up any shocks and they are therefore extremely versatile; perfect for a range of road cycling terrains. Furthermore, another crucial benefit that these 20” tires afford is the capacity to reach a far higher top speed than your ordinary 16” wheels found on many folding bikes. Not only that, but again due to their size, they offer far more control on the road too. The large tires do add slightly to the size and therefore portability of this model, however its folded size is rather small; 11.7” x 30.0” x 25.0” or an equivalent (29.6 x 76.1 x 63.4cm). The bike is rather narrow when folded down due to the capacity of the Suntour non-slip pedals to easily flip up and away, taking up very minimal space.
The single speed of the Dahon Speed Uno can pose a slight issue when climbing steep hills, but we found that for the most part it was more than capable of climbing most inclines. I will say that if you are planning on using this bike on hilly routes regularly then it may be better for you to search for a geared folding bike. Another small qualm we had with the bicycle was the inability to adjust the handlebar height. This is a feature many riders have become accustomed to over the years, Dahon have made slight amends by providing an adjustable seat post instead – but this is slightly limited and possibly not best suited for people well over six foot tall. You should always try to ensure that you are comfortable when riding a bike, so if you are extra tall, take note.
Other key features that add to the prestige of this bike is the well refined aluminium kickstand. Despite having a relatively basic design, it works very well and I have personally had no issues with it whilst testing it out. Similarly, when the bike is completely folded down it can be stood upright via the utilization of a tripod based mechanism, I thought that this was an extra impressive touch.
To top all of this off, Dahon as standard include a full inclusive one year warranty for the Dahon Speed Uno and will also offer riders the ability to upgrade to a newer model after owning the bike for a few years too, this is definitely something that caught my eye when testing it.
Another excellent adaptation that the Speed Uno boasts is the DoubleLok mechanism. This world’s first technology ensures that the bike’s latches and locks are completely fail safe. Essentially Dahon have created a secondary locking system so that if the Magnetix does not completely lock together, the DoubleLok will prevent the bike from coming loose when folded down.
So, here is what you have all been waiting for. The coveted review of the Dahon Speed Uno folding bike. I received the bike via courier on a Friday evening and un-boxed it right away, it was well packaged and covered in bubble wrap to prevent any form of damage to the matte black frame. I decided to wait until the following day to take it out for a spin. Myself and my wife took the bike down to the local park and had a few hours riding it to get a real feel for it – and to get used to the rear coaster brakes too. One thing that I will make clear to anybody thinking about purchasing this folding bike is that Dahon are all about quality. This is evident in the highly sturdy components that are utilized in this model. I struggled to find anything to critique for quite some time and decided that Dahon have produced a very highly refined piece of kit.
I never found myself uncomfortable when riding the bike, with many folding bikes you can feel every single bump on the road. Not with the Dahon Speed Uno, this bike handled perfectly and was never out of control once. As I mentioned earlier in my review, the rear coaster braking mechanism did take a while to master, but once I had the technique down, I was effortlessly slowing to a stop. The bike has an impressive top speed for a folding bike, this is characteristically something that is a downfall for most folding bike models, but definitely not with this one.
In terms of practicality, the Speed Uno isn’t the smallest bike, due to its 20” tires. But it is very lightweight and was no difficulty to carry around by my side when walking for a relatively long distance. After some practice I managed to unfold the bicycle in under 15 seconds, which is pretty impressive considering that it actually has two mechanisms – both mentioned earlier. This essentially enables riders to easily transition from walking to riding, perfect for those who regularly use public transport for part of your daily commute. Many of you will be extremely surprised at how well they manage to keep the bike in one piece, this is a stark difference to many other bike manufacturer’s attempts. Despite the handlebars not being adjustable, I managed to get the bike to fit my body shape perfectly by changing the seat height slightly, this made it a wonderfully smooth ride. I think that the only serious downfall I can find about the Speed Uno is the inability to tackle steep hills – due to having a solitary gear.
The Dahon Speed Uno is fully customizable and if you are thinking about buying this folding bike then you should certainly check out some of the potential upgrades for it too. These can turn it from being the premium folding bike that it already is, into something else entirely. Some of the modifications that you can make are; a new seat, pedals or handlebar grips too.
Folded Size: 11.6″ x 29.9″ x 24.9″
Folded Time: 15 seconds or less
Speeds / Gears: 1
Wheel Size: 20″
Frame Type: K Series – SuperLite 4130 with ViseGrip technology
Brakes: Rear Caliper
Max Rider Weight: 240lbs
Best Available Price: $399
To conclude, I would like to say that for the money this bike really is top notch. You will be extremely hard pressed to find a bike that is quite as functional as the Dahon Speed Uno for such a low price point. This folding bike offers a simple but elegant means to get around. All of the components of the bike are of the highest standards and it is evident to anybody who tries this bike out that it is one of the best folding bikes around today. Click here to read more customer reviews. Also check out my other Dahon folding bike reviews.
Easily folded and unfolded in less than 15 seconds
Brilliant breaking mechanism
Very lightweight at 24lbs
Single gear design that copes well with hills
No break or gear shifting cables
Compact folded bike with 20″ wheels
Very durable bike in general
Designed to cope with city or suburban landscapes
Elegantly styled bike
Paint can become damaged easily
No disc breaks so requires practice to get used to