Review: Dahon IOS P8

By Maurice Tierney

The Dahon IOS P8 might be considered the Cadillac of folding bikes with its 24” wheels. Folding almost as small as Dahon’s 20”-wheeled counterparts, the IOS has nearly everything one might ask for in a bike, plus the benefits of the fold.

I spent weeks riding the IOS all around the East Bay and San Francisco area, and not once did I long to be riding my regular bike. The big wheels roll nicely and don’t fall into potholes, the handling is normal, and I’ve even added a rack and panniers for load carrying.

A key reason I was so interested in trying a folder was the Bay Area’s public transportation system, BART, which does not allow bikes on board during certain hours, except folders. The IOS folds up in a few seconds as I transfer from street level to escalator to train platform. (Mind the gap.) Once on board, I don’t feel like quite the second-class citizen I would if I were pushing a full-sized bike, as they do tend to get in the way, especially during rush hour.

More like a full-sized bike than the usual folder, yes. But compared to my usual 700c/29er, it’s like riding a skateboard. Negotiating through tight spots, pedestrians and the like is easy and fun. Folded or not, it’s compact, easy to handle, and quick to accelerate. At 28lbs., the IOS is the heaviest of our three test bikes. It’s also quite a bit larger than the Brompton when folded. If I were carrying this bike to my desk each day, I might be inclined to go for a smaller, lighter option. The IOS is plenty small for me, and drops nicely into the trunk of the Toyota Camry, away from prying eyes. Note here that the pedals fold as well, although I switched them out for some spiky platform pedals because the folding pedals’ rubber surface was a little slippery for me.

The IOS comes in one size to fit most everyone. That means a pretty small cockpit for my 6’4” frame, but that’s OK because I am left nicely upright and able to enjoy my surroundings, rather than being all bent over in the usual aggressive riding position. The seatpost is mighty long, enough to accommodate riders from 5’2” to 6’4”, and the Andros stem has a quick-release mechanism that allows the handlebars to rotate from straight up to low and forward. I ran the stem up high and the seat as well, and found myself highly comfortable and upright, able to take in the sights around me.

The bike I rode was the IOS P8 retailing for $900. The “8” indicates a SRAM GripShift 8-speed external drivetrain. By the time you read this, the P8 may not be available. A P7 ($1,100) is available with a 7-speed internal hub for low-maintenance people. If you really want to get all Cadillac with your bad self, the IOS XL is available for $1,600, which includes a dynamo hub-powered, cell phone-charging light system, fenders, internal gearing and disc brakes, too! And it’s black. The new black.

On the accessory front, I’ve been able to try a few of Dahon’s extensive selection of useful things. The ArcLite rear rack allowed me to use my panniers. The Tour Bag with its removable shoulder strap mounted onto the head tube for smaller, man-purse-style travel. The PostPump, a full size pump, resides inside the seatpost for flat repair. Lights and fenders are available as well. A kickstand is standard equipment, a nice touch for a sweet ride.

Read more about folding bikes in our introduction.

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