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Dahon Speed TR – Touring Bicycle Review

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The Dahon Speed TR is a folding touring bicycle.  It folds in half just like all the other Dahon bicycles. Where it differs, however, is in its low-gearing capability, and its front and rear racks, which make the bike suitable for light touring.

I own the 2008 model of the Dahon Speed TR and I paid around $1,100 USD plus labor for the shop to assemble and tune it for me.  Although there are many online retailers for Dahon bicycles, I always recommend working with a local bicycle shop if you can.  Doing business with an authorized Dahon dealer extends many benefits as well.

The Speed TR is really a complete bicycle, with touring racks, a generator light, battery-operated rear light, removable pedals and even bar ends.  You would be hard-pressed to think of anything that would need to be added.  The first thing I added, however, were fenders, which makes a lot of sense if you intend to be riding this bike daily and or using the bike in rainy, snowy, or muddy conditions.

The bicycle also comes with a front mount for optional luggage from Dahon.  After purchasing the bicycle, I later bought the front tour bag, which came in handy for packing small items during local commutes (e.g. take-out food, small groceries and my bike lock).  It mounts directly to the frame with a special attachment, so it won’t affect handling.

The Speed TR is more upright than your typical road bike.  This is great for enjoying the view while you ride.  The handlebars feature a fore and aft adjustment to rotate the handlebars further away or closer to you, depending on how much reach you need.

Unlike some of the other Dahon models, the steering on the Speed TR is not telescopic. However, you can raise the bars an inch or so by rotating the handlebars to the top/center position.  I stand sixty-six inches tall, with a short inseam measurement, so I have difficulty fitting on regular road bikes.  The Dahon Speed TR was easy for me to adjust to and the frame makes it easy to mount and dismount.

If you’re worried about frame flex, there isn’t any.  Dahon seems to be phasing out steel frame bicycles, and to date, the Speed TR might be one of three models left in the line-up that isn’t made of aluminum. It’s made out of chromoly steel instead!

One of my favorite features of this bicycle is the SRAM Dual Drive.  It features an internal three-speed hub, which simulates the action of a front derailleur.  The nice thing about this hub is that you can click through it at a standstill — very handy for traveling through frequent traffic lights or for making a sudden, unplanned stop.  The Dual Drive is paired with a normal rear derailleur and shifting takes place with a trigger shifter on the handlebars.

After some extended rides on the Speed TR I found myself searching for more hand positions.  The bicycle’s bar ends were useful for climbing, but with only two hand positions, I found myself going numb on long rides.  I also had trouble with my thumbs getting tired from frequent shifting, although I believe the 2012 model now comes with a grip shifter, which seems to be a better option.

The only other minor quibble I have with the bike is the bottle cage mounting point.  Because of the frame’s design, the water bottle is mounted nearly horizontal.  A steep descent or even a sudden stop is enough to send your bottle flying.  Plus, anyone who has cycled any non-trivial distance knows that one water bottle isn’t sufficient anyway.  I wear a hydration backpack and/or store additional water bottles in my panniers.

To solve my problem with the flat handlebars and the numbness I was experiencing as a result, I eventually swapped out the standard handlebars that come with the bike and replaced them with Syntace bullhorns, which gave me more positions in which to rest my hands.  Road-style shifters replaced the triggers, so brake adapters had to be installed.  The rear brake adapters also displaced the rear rack’s usual mounting points, and so the struts had to be re-mounted with clamps along the seat stays.  It’s not a big deal; just be aware that this was a consequence of modifying the bike’s original design[1].  After the modifications I made, the bike seems to perform just as well as it did previously, although I sometimes wonder if the new shifting arrangement affected the gear range on the lower end.

The Dahon Speed TR is a great bike for light tours.  Because of its smaller stature, however, you have to be realistic about its load-carrying capacity.  With front and rear racks, it can be tempting to try a fully-loaded configuration.  I have tried this, and with twenty-one gear inches on the low end, I found climbing to be difficult.  I am not a small person, and carrying four loaded panniers is exceedingly tough.  Nowadays, I stick only with what will fit in two bags.  You can still use four panniers, but I would advise against filling them all to full capacity.  Personally, I limit my load to two moderately filled rear panniers, whatever the front tour bag can carry, plus a hydration pack on my back.

The Speed TR is a great travel bike.  I have often used it on multi-modal tours.  My favorite way to travel is to pack the bike into the optional Airporter Suitcase, send it to my destination via Federal Express, and then unpack it when I arrive.  The rest of my trip is an enjoyable bicycle touring experience.  I have also used the Airporter suitcase once on a Greyhound bus trip[2].  Because of the Speed TR’s versatility, it also happens to be my daily commuter bike.  I have often done my grocery shopping with it, carrying a 2.5-gallon water jug in a pannier, groceries in the other, and a couple of other grocery bags secured to the top of the rear rack.

In the end, the Dahon Speed TR is a great little bike for light touring and local commuting. For those who want to conduct some shorter bicycle tours and at the same time enjoy the benefits that come with a folding bicycle, the Speed TR is a great and affordable choice.

To learn more about the Dahon Speed TR, be sure to visit the official website at: www.dahonbikes.com

[1] In hindsight, I probably would have been just as happy had I replaced the standard handlebars with perhaps a mustache bar or similar bar that would have made possible retention of the standard components.  The biggest pain point seems to have been the use of v-brake adapters, from having chosen STI levers.

[2] Although I wasn’t charged for it, the suitcase is technically over-sized.  I doubt I would want to try the same thing for an airplane trip, because of the potential fees involved.

About The Author: Enrique Pineda is a forty-three year old bike commuter, who tries to travel at least twice a year with his bicycle. Between out-of-state bike tours, Enrigue likes to camp year-round at Georgia’s many fine state parks.

About Enrique Pineda

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8 Comments

  1. Shana Carranco

    June 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I have been looking to purchase this bike for a while, it has been discontinued & there is nothing similar in the Dahon line.

  2. Jon Bloom

    July 1, 2012 at 6:49 am

    After you have arrived and picked up your bike, what do you do with the Airporter case while you are touring around for a few days?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      July 20, 2012 at 4:38 am

      Jon,

      The answer to your question depends on what type of bicycle tour you are doing and where you are staying, etc. If you are flying out of the same airport that you traveled into, then you simply find a hotel or bike shop nearby that will store your bike box during your travels.

      If you are flying into one airport and out of another, you will probably have to have the bike box shipped to your departure point so that you can pack the bicycle back in it for your return flight home.

  3. sue mclean

    July 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Shana,
    I have the Dahon speed TR bike in dark green. I bought it for my son and he only used it a few times. It is like brand new. Let me know if you are interested. I have finally decided to sell it.
    Sue McLean

  4. PAtricio

    August 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    thinking of getting this bike!, if im able to find it anyways, a doubt that i have that maybe you can help we with is the size, I´m 1.9 meters tall (74 inchs) would you say the bike is to small for me?
    thanks!

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      August 31, 2012 at 5:05 am

      Patricio,

      I’m not sure about the sizing on this bike. The best thing for you to do would be to contact a Dahon dealer in your area and work with them. They might be able to find the bike for you… and they would be able to give you more help in regards to the proper size, etc.

  5. Douig

    November 4, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Sue

    If you still have the TR and still want to sell it, I may be interested. How much would you like for it?
    Thanks.
    Doug
    doug.2be a? gmail d0t com

  6. Alexander

    January 4, 2013 at 12:02 am

    A very good bike, but I wonder will it be good also for the long and serious tours?

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