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Dahon Boardwalk Folding Bike Review

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Dahon is often thought of as the U.S. equivalent to Brompton, but a key difference is the affordability of its entry-level bikes.

The Dahon Boardwalk makes high-quality folding bikes affordable. That’s true of the Boardwalk D7 and D8 and even more true of the budget-friendly S1.

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  • Wheel Size: 20”
  • Material: Hi-Ten steel (S1) or SuperLite 4130 chromoly (D7, D8)
  • No of Gears: 1, 7, or 8 (S1, D7, D8)
  • Weight: 27.6 lbs. (S1), 26.2 lbs. (D7), 26.9 lbs. (D8)
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs. (S1), 230 lbs. (D7/D8)

So, why would you buy a Boardwalk? Why would you not? This article tells all.

The Dahon Boardwalk Is Aimed At…

Whatever Boardwalk you go for, you’re forfeiting some of the luxuries of Dahon’s top bikes. So, who would buy this bike?

The Dahon Boardwalk in all its versions is a functional bike that’s ideal for everyday tasks or short commutes. Paying the best part of $1,000 for a folding bike might be considered elaborate by some, as much as we all like nice (or iconic) things.

You can get lighter folding bikes than the Boardwalk, but the latter is not “heavy” compared to many foldable alternatives. Thus, it’s easy to carry onto trains or buses for intermodal commutes or travel.

The S1 is a similar weight to the D7 or D8 because it has one gear, despite having a heavier frame. You shouldn’t choose the S1 if you live in a hilly area. The Boardwalk D7 and D8 models are better suited to undulating terrain.

You’d also be happy taking the Boardwalk on vacation for some gentle rides around town or along the seafront. The bike’s name even hints at this kind of halcyon use.

Top Features Of The Dahon Boardwalk Folding Bike

There are several top features to admire in the Dahon Boardwalk, as follows.

Steel Frames

All models of the Dahon Boardwalk have a steel frame, which means great strength, durability, and comfortable ride quality. Because the D7 and D8 models use lightweight 4130 chromoly steel, they have a particular potential for plushness.

ViseGrip Technology

All recent Dahon Boardwalk models feature the company’s ViseGrip technology. This is a patented latching design that operates ergonomically and smoothly and is remarkably strong.

It’s robustly made with a stainless-steel hinge pin and brass bushings.

Video: Folding And Unfolding A Dahon Boardwalk D7

Fusion Technology

The Boardwalk also includes Dahon’s Fusion Technology. This ensures that the frame, handlebar stem, and fork all operate as one rigid unit whilst keeping the bike adjustable for different rider heights. It avoids any unnerving rickety feeling in use.

Adjustability

A height-adjustable handlebar is a property of the Boardwalk, making it easier to adapt to the rider’s proportions.

Be aware if buying an old used bike that the earliest models didn’t have this feature.

Simple Brakes

Part of the reason the Boardwalk bikes are cheaper is that they have simple rim brakes. Except for the S1, which has a V-brake (rim brake) at the front and a rear coaster brake. A coaster brake stops the bike when you pedal backward.

You might argue that disc brakes are stronger and more dependable in the wet. And that would be true, but on folding bikes, the need for extreme all-weather stopping power is not so great. Lightning speeds and hair-raising descents are less likely.

With simple rim (or coaster) brakes, the weight and price of the bike are kept in check.

Boardwalk Gears

It’s possible to put a positive spin on one-speed bikes because they do have their plus points. The single-speed Boardwalk S1 saves weight, time, and money by not providing a choice of gears, but it’s still eminently rideable in most towns and cities.

A lack of gears makes a bike easier to maintain, so there are multiple reasons to forfeit the luxury of a multi-speed bike.

Of course, the reverse side is that gears make a bike more versatile. Track down a Boardwalk D7 or D8 if you live in the hills or commute to a hilly city. Another useful thing about gears, even without hills, is they let you pick a cadence you’re happy with.

Folded Size

As a rule, the smaller the wheels, the smaller the folded size of the bike is. Some bikes have sophisticated ways of folding to enhance compactness, but the Dahon Boardwalk folds down pretty small. Here’s a comparison:

  • Dahon Boardwalk S1: 12.6” x 29.5” x 26” (32 x 75 x 66 cm)
  • Dahon Boardwalk D8: 11.8” x 30.3” x 24.8” (30 x 77 x 63 cm)
  • Brompton A-Line: 10.6” x 25.3” x 23” (27 x 64 x 58 cm)

The Brompton has 16” wheels rather than 20”, so it has an unfair advantage. In theory, bigger wheels mean a slightly smoother, less squirrelly ride at the cost of a larger fold.

As the most affordable folding bike Dahon ever made (the S1) and one of the most durable (all models), the Boardwalk is a popular bike. We’ve found plenty of love for it on social media, as shown in this Reddit post:

Dahon Boardwalk Alternatives

There are various bikes you might look at as alternatives to a Dahon Boardwalk. Some are expensive, others less so.

1. Brompton C Line Explore Mid Folding Bike

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Bromptons are not cheap bikes. However, they are invariably made of steel, like the Dahon Boardwalk. Thus, a bike like the Brompton C Line Explore Mid Folding Bike will last you a long time. You’re getting similar durability in the frame material.

The Brompton C-Line has no great weight advantage over the Boardwalk, weighing in at 26.7 lbs. It has 6 gears versus the Boardwalk’s 7 or 8. But, Brompton’s 2×3 BWR (wide ratio) gears have a 302% range that beats the range of even the Boardwalk D8.

Brompton bikes fold smaller than Dahon models owing to the 16” vs. 20” wheel size employed by the two manufacturers. The difference isn’t great, but it does make the Brompton easier to fit into a wider range of suitcases.

What We Like

  • Durable: made of steel like the Boardwalk.
  • More compact when folded (10.6” x 25.3” x 23”).
  • BWR 6-gear drivetrain with a slightly wider gear range than the Boardwalk D8.
  • Handmade in London, UK (as opposed to factory-made in Shenzhen, China).

What We Don’t Like

  • Prohibitively expensive if you’re on a modest budget.
  • Smaller wheels create a slightly bumpier ride, at least in theory.

2. Zizzo Forte Heavy-Duty Folding Bike

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Zizzo is the prime maker of budget-priced folding bikes. As such, the Zizzo Forte Heavy-Duty Folding Bike is one of its pricier models, owing to the reinforced frame.

The frame of the Zizzo Forte has visibly gusseted welding that enables the bike’s 300 lbs. load capacity. This capacity is 50-70 lbs. more than the Dahon Boardwalk or a typical Brompton.

As strong as this bike is, it still isn’t made of steel. Aluminum keeps its weight down, but it also makes it technically less durable. You may still expect years of service from it. The folded size is a fraction larger than the Boardwalk models.

What We Like

  • Capacity supports 50-70 lbs. more weight than the Dahon Boardwalk.
  • Lightweight despite its strength (still heavier than the Boardwalk).
  • Includes rack, fenders, and Shimano Tourney gears.

What We Don’t Like

  • Aluminum is a less durable, less reparable material than steel.
  • Marginally bigger when folded than the Dahon.

3. Vilano Urbana Single Speed Folding Bike

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An alternative to the Boardwalk S1, in particular, is the Vilano Urbana Single Speed Folding Bike. This bike only has a coaster brake, which limits its safe use to flat roads. The front rim brake on the Boardwalk S1 makes the Dahon bike more versatile.

The lack of any rim brakes in the Vilano as well as an aluminum frame help cut the weight down to 21.5 lbs., making this an excellent intermodal commuting bike. It’s still not as compact as a Brompton, however.

The bike is sparse when it comes to extras, even though it has eyelets for a cargo rack or water bottle holder. You do get a capable, minimalistic machine for about the same price as a new S1.

What We Like

  • The aluminum frame & minimalistic features make this bike light.
  • Ideal lightweight bike for flat urban commutes (akin to the Boardwalk S1).
  • Includes mounts for extra features.

What We Don’t Like

  • Aluminum is a less durable and reparable material than steel (less important on bikes that don’t go far).

Is The Dahon Boardwalk Good?

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What We Like

  • Steel – durable, reparable, comfortable.
  • Accessible – affordably priced (especially the S1).
  • Low-maintenance – the single-speed S1 has less on it to fix.
  • Technology – Dahon’s Fusion and ViseGrip technologies are integrated.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – steel is heavier, and a chromoly version of the S1 would’ve been nice.

Unlike most Dahon bikes, the Boardwalk is made of steel. That promises more durability, more reparability, and more comfort than the average aluminum bike. It also makes the Boardwalk a good secondhand buy.

In addition, the Boardwalk S1 is the most affordable folding bike that Dahon has yet sold, mainly because it uses less expensive steel (Hi-Ten) and pares down the drivetrain to a single gear.

Check out the specs of the Dahon Boardwalk D8 here. Any of the Boardwalk models is a great buy!

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Glenn Harper
Glenn Harper
When I’m not contributing articles to Bike Push, I can often be found cycling on the rural roads around me. If I can help you benefit from bicycling in some small way, I’ll consider it a win.

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