Dahon Curl i8

$1800

Dahon Curl, a Brompton for the 21st Century

Dahon sent me a Curl last week, and I’ve been struggling with this review; how to highlight the Curl’s slickness without comparing it to Brompton? But you know what, sometimes you’ve just got to own it. The Curl is totally a Brompton knockoff upgrade.

Seriously, there’s a lot of butthurt reviews of the Curl out there, mostly by Brompton fetishists, but if they were honest they’d have to admit that Brompton has needed a major makeover for some time. Dahon has put a lot of design work into this bike and their subtle and not so subtle improvements on a decades old design that predates the Brompton mean a bike that rides better, folds better, and repairs better.

There are several really cool things about the Curl:

Rides better
Stiffer frame, improved geometry means a much more responsive ride. Remember that first noodly ride on a Brompton? That’s all fixed.

Shifts better
Shimano Alfine 8 speed internal gearing. I took a ride up to Corona Heights and while I did have to walk the steepest block, a smaller chainring or an Alfine 11 would give me mountain climbing gears.

Industry standard parts
Oh dear lord, a few years ago Brompton bought a hub factory just so they could keep using Sturmey Archer 3 speed hubs. With the Curl, you won’t be locked into sole source repair parts for everything including the cables.

Folds smaller
OK, I’m fudging a little here, the Curl is marginally bigger, but they’re functionally equivalent:

Curl: 63x57x31cm (24.8×22.4×12.2″)

Brompton: 58.5×56.5x27cm (23×22.2×10.6″)

That’s less than two inches taller, two tenths of an inch longer, and an inch and a half narrower. Is this really something worth arguing about on the internet?

Folds faster
Look Ma, no twiddle knobs!

But how does it ride?
I was impressed by the silence of the hub, the smoothness of the chain, and how confidently the bike tracked on the steep descent down 14th street. I even rode it no hands for a little bit.

But really, it’s a Brompton knockoff, right?
Nope, it’s an upgrade on a design that predates Brompton. Dahon has a great explanation in their quite snarky Curl faq.

Wheel size:16 inch
Weight:13.6 kg (28 lbs)
Folded size:62.9 x 56.9 x 31 cm (24.8″ x 22.4″ x 12.2″)
Color:Red