Dahon Speed Pro TT Folding Bike: The Rave Review

By Raymond Britt -- The Dahon Speed Pro TT folding bicycle is perfect for traveling triathletes and for those who want a compact, performance bike at the local office for quick rides and remarkably easy and compact storage. This Changes Everything. You'll be amazed. You're going to want one. And you'll have plenty of reasons to do so.

This Changes Everything

The bike can be folded down in less than 15 seconds, and with a little hex wrench work on the handlebars, it's completely collapsed to approximately 30" x 15" x 20" in less than a minute.  [see folding instructions and photos here.]

Separate the wheels from the frame, and you can pack the whole bike inside Dahon's Airporter Mini suitcase. Take the bike on your next trip, no extra baggage fees.

This changes everything. It's huge.  It opens up a completely new set of training possibilities.  Now you can take a performance bike almost anywhere -- to the office, on business trips, on vacation. 

I wish this bike existed 10 years ago. I traveled all the time. When I had consulting assignments that put me out of town for two or more nights, I often took my bike. I had to go through the routine over and over: disassemble, pack, check as oversized luggage, pay $$, get to destination hotel, unpack the bike, assemble, ride. Reverse steps for the trip home. 

And then consider doing the same routine several times per year. It was a huge hassle, expensive, and ultimately a lot of work just to keep up my bike training in the midst of heavy travel periods.

Never again.  Wherever you go, you can ride the Dahon. Imagine that. Too good to be true? Not anymore. Amazing.

The Speed Pro TT and Airporter Mini Bike Suitcase

The Dahon Speed Pro TT folding bike we're reviewing, list price $1499, is a high-end performance bike featuring innovative folding technology, solid construction, an efficient 27-speed gearing system, everything you need for a great training ride, anywhere. Here are the bike spec highlights:
  • Weight 21 lbs/9.7 kg, without pedals
  • Aerodynamic, light 20" Kinetix Pro wheels, Schwalbe Durano tires, Kinetix Pro V-brakes, and an aluminum SlipStream fork.
  • SRAM Dual Drive rear hub for 27 speeds,  Shimano Ultegra SL derailleur, and Kinetix Pro ultralight V-brakes. SRAM 9-speed cassette, 11-26.
  • Syntace VRO adjustable handlebar system, Shimano Dual Control ST-4500 3x9 speed shifters and brake levers.
  • Aluminum Radius VRO handlepost with patented Fusion and V-Clamp technologies.
  • KA Series frame made of 7005 butted aluminum allow, custom drawn Sonus tubing with patented V-clamp forged hinge. Solid. FSA crankset, Dahon special edition.
  • Kore I-Beam seatpost, Dahon Turtleneck seatpost clamp under a 228-gram saddle.
  • See the bike and specs in action here
The wheels and frame don't exceed 26 inches, but the long handlepost and extreme extended seatpost allow you to fit the bike to roughly the same measurements on your main bike. See the Speed Pro TT compared with my full-sized raving bike, here.

We're also reviewing Dahon's Mini Airporter, listing at $299, the airline-legal bike case. Measuring in at about 64 linear inches, you'll be surprised that it holds a bike. To fit the Speed Pro TT inside, beyond folding the bike, all you need to do is remove the wheels and place them on a protective divider in the case. Strap the bike into place, and you're ready to fly.

Innovations and high quality parts make the Speed Pro TT ride almost like your high-end road or triathlon bike. With the huge benefit of collapsibility and easy transport. That's what makes this the next piece of gear you should consider.

Dahon has many other folding bikes to choose from, and, depending on your needs, they are worth considering. LL Bean carries two models: and entry-level Eco 3, priced at about $369, and the MU-P-8 'urban performance' bike, selling for less that $700 in the catalog. REI also sells Dahon bikes, as well as selected dealers in most major cities. You can find the Speed TT Pro and other Dahon bikes on Amazon.com. Visit Dahon.com for more. 

A variety of practical accessories are available for most Dahon bikes, including Biologic iPhone holders, bike racks, stowage/carrying cases, and more.

First Impressions

The initial impression, out of the box, just assembled -- look, feel, performance, wow factor -- is: awesome. I had my local bike shop assemble it, and they were blown away. 

A quick comparison comes to mind: Speed TT is like the iPad: you know it's cool, you know triathletes will want one, the thing that needs to be determined is: is there a reason to get it? With the iPad, more than 2 million were sold, and I'm certain many buyers had to jump through the 'can I rationalize getting it?' hoop.

Same with this bike. Initial indications are strong enough that the rationale to get one will be instantly convincing. 

Impression after a few early test rides: very impressive. Gearing works well, I can get it to a decent workout speed, 20-22mph. 

Handlebars are, on first inspection, interesting. But they took surprisingly little time to get used to. I found myself picturing swapping my profile-design horn/aero bar combo, but decided I'll wait, and stick with the stock bike for the first review.  But I could see the flat T2 aero bars working perfectly with the folding design. 

Collapses like a dream. Intuitive, innovative, clean fit, immensely impressive. An immediate double-take generator, too. People can't believe it. To a triathlete who is used to breaking down a big bike to travel, this is amazingly convenient. 

First impressions confirmed what I had anticipated: Not only is this going to be great for the triathlete who travels on business, but a great case can be made for having one at the office for short mid-day rides. Pull it out for a quick 30-minute spin, clear the head, return to work far more attentive and productive.


I have been putting the bike to the test under a variety scenarios, from longer weekend rides to short-mid-day 30-minute escapes from the office, and before long, I'll be bringing it to Ironman Lake Placid with me. I won't be racing this year, but I will be riding it all over the course, shooting photos from the race's many beautiful locations.

You'll have many of the same questions I had. Here's what you want to know:

What's it like to ride?  Good at speeds up to 22mph and more. Gear changes are flawless, and there's plenty of power in the 11-26 cogset.  Out of the saddle, digging in a little for short hills, all solid.

The bars were very comfortable. Location of bars and seat are good to facilitate good weight distribution. Surprisingly so. Unless you look down, you'll find yourself forgetting you're on a bike that fits in a suitcase.

Will it be just like my tri-bike? You don't just get on and hope it's going to be pretty close to your road or triathlon bike. It's not those bikes, it's a collapsible bike with very significant benefits. And there's a trade-off for less frame, higher seat etc. But the net benefits, including transportability, more training time, etc are more than worth it. Really.

Key point, and this is a good thing: you need to work with the bike to get the best performance.

I've got a lot of experience 'working with' innovative products. I have ridden Softride bikes since 1999; too bad they went out of business. I race far better on the beam bike than a traditional bike, and comfort is a real plus for long distance rides. But if your form is bad on the Softride, you'll bounce all over on the beam. The innovation is powerful if you use it right.

With the SPTT, early impression, I'm letting myself learn how to work with the bike. Weight distribution is important. You don't just get out of the saddle and lean into the frame when trying to get a burst of speed or it will creak a bit. 

You need to finesse it, remembering that the mid-frame joint is strong but not completely bulletproof. It's not supposed to be. Again, the bike is made to collapse, and to get that benefit, you need to work with the frame.

Same is true with the seat post. If you want to see if it bends under weight (I'm not as light as when I'm in peak racing form, have to admit), sure it moves a little. As does my Softride beam. Again, if you ride with correct form, the seat post remains perfectly in position, and maximum energy is transferred to the pedals. 

I've heard some concerns about the brakes, and it's true, they don't stop on a dime. The brakes take a little getting used to, but they're fine. Maybe I'm being a little too forgiving, but I'm wondering if you want to be able to stop on a dime with a bike this small. I can see going over the handle bars if it were to stop cold. 

So I'm learning to get the most out of the braking system as it is. And I'm not trying to ride fast into intersections or situations that might require an instant stop.

But the bike is doing everything I expected it to do, and more. Excellent.

Advantage: Dahon

Let’s start with the example of this year’s Ironman Lake Placid, set to take place on July 25. Lake Placid is an outstanding and intensely popular race. At this point, nearly 3100 triathletes are listed as registered participants. Nearly 3100. Clearly a record field. 

The 3100 triathletes have been training for months, and are now moving into the final, critical weeks before the race. They need to do everything they can to find a competitive edge before race day. Can they? 

Can they train more? Maybe not. As always, priorities matter: family first, work next, and whatever’s reasonably left over can be training time. For me, that is usually around 7 to 8 hours per week. Not much. 

Is it possible that they may have to train even less? For most triathletes, business success involves an expanding commitment to longer hours in the office and more days traveling on the road. 

Put the two together, the scenario is common: limited training time, and the priority of work is ever more likely to restrict training opportunities.  That's where this bike comes in. 

The Dahon folding bike can give triathletes a new edge over the competition: take it anywhere, ride anywhere, ride anytime you can find the break. What used to be a wasted hour or two of downtime on the road can now become riding time. 

It's this simple: having one means you can get more training done without cutting into family or work time.

From now on, there will be two types of traveling triathletes: a) those who bring a Dahon folding bike, and can ride 15, 25, even 35 miles after dinner (or instead of it) and b) those who don't ride at all. Guess which triathlete will be faster on race day?

In short, the Dahon Speed Pro TT gives more training time that you never thought you had. It turns down time into ride time. And every triathlete wants that extra edge . . .


Part 2 of Speed Pro TT to come after Ironman Lake Placid. Until then, Advantage Dahon.