Review: Dahon Jifo Uno folding bike

Tester: Eric McKeegan
Sizes: One size
Price: $799
Weight: 21.5 lbs

The “last mile” problem affects almost anything and anyone that moves via high capacity transport. It is in the “last mile” that the efficiencies of mass transport can be lost in, when moving people and things from the train station or distribution hub to the destination. Meaning, if the bus drops you off a mile away from your office, and you live a mile away from the bus stop, you might end up driving into work because the time needed to walk those distances makes the car a more attractive option.

The Jifo Uno sets out to solve that. It is unapologetically designed for short trips and the smallest possible folded size. It is a simple tool, but it doesn’t skimp on the features needed to make that last mile problem disappear.

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How this bike folds is the star of the show here. Lift and turn the dial on the main tube, open the quick release lever on the seatpost and flip the locking lever on the handlebar extension. Push the bar and seat away from each other and the bike folds right up and locks into position with a magnet. Then fold the bars down, lower the top part of the seatpost and you’ve got a compact package. If you need to get even smaller, the pedals pop out of the cranks with an air-compressor type fitting and click into storage ports above the rear wheel. The handlebar can be rotated to fold the levers in even closer. The basic fold is easy to do in under 30 seconds, and the complete takedown takes less than a minute. Unfolding is even faster.

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Those little 16 inch wheels keep things small, but still have fenders keep your slacks clean. A rust resistant chain keeps maintenance at bay, and a chainring guard provides enough coverage to keep pant legs out of the drivetrain.

The single speed drivetrain is pretty special. It uses a 9 tooth cog matched up with a 39 tooth chainring. Most cassettes stop at 11 teeth; dropping down to a 9 allows for a smaller front chainring, but makes for a big enough gear to travel at a decent clip. The double-pulley chain tensioner is needed to keep the chain snug when the bike is folded, as the rear wheel rotates closer to the crank. As a side benefit that tension keeps the chain perfectly adjusted, even as the chain stretches over time.

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As expected, this little bike is great at little rides. Since the Jifo is very much about being tiny as possible, it comes as no surprise the bike feels small while riding it. But it also feels like a quality ride. Effective brakes, a comfortable saddle and a very low bottom bracket make for an adept little transport device that can slice and dice between slower traffic. It might seem like a small thing, but not having jiggly-feeling folding pedals is a big plus as well.

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The Jifo isn’t a great match for long climbs or rough surfaces. The short wheelbase and small tires make this a nervous ride on dirt or gravel, and the narrow bars and tight cockpit compromise climbing. This isn’t so much a complaint as a reminder about this bike’s intended purpose as a short trip machine.

The Jifo Uno folds into one of the most compact packages on the market today, and does so with a minimum of fuss. For last mile trips or a super-compact travel bike, Dahon has hit the mark.

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Love folding bikes? Apply to become a Dahon Explorer

Since 1982 Dahon has been designing and building folding bicycles that have taken people on two wheels to places that they never thought possible. Now the brand is looking for a few of those Explorers to become ambassadors of the folding bike lifestyle to inspire others to take a trip short or far. Now through August 20 anyone is welcome to apply. Those selected will receive Dahon products to promote online.

Print Learn how to apply here.

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Review: Dahon Formula S18

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This bike isn’t like most folding bikes. On first glance, it looks similar to the standard 20-inch-wheeled folder seen on the streets and public transportation in every city. Closer inspection reveals some standout features: disc brakes, high-end Schwalbe road tires, and an 18-speed drivetrain with gearing suited to spirited riding.

The ease with which the Formula folds—a trait of the highest importance—reflects well on Dahon’s three decades of folder manufacturing experience. Within a few attempts I had the Formula folded up in under a minute. A small magnetic clasp keeps the bike closed when carrying it, and when closed, it supports itself upright. High marks all around, particularly for the simple and sturdy metal folding pedals.

Dahon designed the Formula for riders “with tougher commutes that demand speed, portability and endurance.” Claiming to fit riders from 4-foot-8 to 6-foot-4, the handlebar and seat height adjust easily with quick-release levers. I found the handlebar height adjustment particularly useful—slide it up for comfort and a heads-up position for short trips, drop it down for more speed and leverage on longer rides. The frame has mounting points for a rack and fenders, and Dahon sells versions of each designed specifically for 20-inch wheels.

Read the full review here.

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