With 20-inch wheels and a straightforward folding action, the Dahon Qix D8 doesn't pack away as small as the market leader, but it's very good value for money and has a nippy ride.
- Pros: Easy to fold, close to regular bike feel
- Cons: Doesn't fold that small
Folding bikes inevitably get compared with the Brompton, so let's get the broad comparison out of the way. The Dahon Qix D8 is less complicated to fold than a Brompton, but ends up as a considerably bigger package when folded. It's substantially cheaper though, and thanks to its 20-inch wheels feels a bit more like a regular bike than a smaller-wheeled folder.
Folding bikes are always a compromise. As a rule of thumb, the smaller a bike folds and the less it costs, the less like a standard bike it will ride. The Qix D8 is a great demonstration of this. It doesn't fold down to a tiny package, but without the clever engineering necessary to achieve a very small fold it comes out at a very reasonable price. Keeping the fold simple and using 20-inch wheels also helps provide a better ride feel.
The Dahon Qix D8 folds to 82 x 64 x 37cm. That's quite a bit bigger than a Brompton's 58.5 x 56.5 x 27cm, but the Dahon costs £750 (and can be found for under £700) while the cheapest comparable Brompton, the rack-equipped, six-speed M6R, is £1,130.
Despite its larger folded size, the Dahon has another advantage. Its 20in wheels give a ride that's rather more like a full-sized bike than a folder. You're not going to mistake the Qix D8 for a carbon race bike, but the larger wheels, especially up front, make it a bit smoother on potholed streets. To be fair, Brompton does a good job of protecting your bum from road bumps with a rubber rear suspension bumper that also contributes to its diddy fold.
When folded, it's still small enough to go in the lower luggage spot of most trains, and it's not in the way if you stand it in the vestibule area. It's also nicely balanced for short carries; you just grab the back of the saddle and away you go. Admittedly, you wouldn't want to lug it too far, but lifting it on the train or into the back of a car is fuss-free.
The Qix D8's folding action is very simple. You drop the seatpost, fold the handlebar stem, and then fold the frame at the main hinge. A magnet on the end of the right fork blade grabs a steel plate on the left dropout to hold the ends together so the bike doesn't flap around when folded.
You can also fold both pedals. Only the drive-side pedal sticks out when the Qix D8 is folded, so you don't actually need to fold them both, but being able to do so has another use that I'll get to shortly.
A rack, mudguards and a kickstand are welcome features; I don't believe a commuter bike deserves the name unless it has at least the first two. The rack comes with a luggage elastic, which is handy for your U-lock. There's also a chainring guard to stop the transmission eating your trousers. All that's missing is built-in lighting, but Dahon only seems to offer that on e-bikes, which is a pity.
Having a folding bike is somewhat of a luxury for me. I don't have the bike-train-bike commute for which folders are super-useful. But what I have found incredibly handy about the Dahon Qix D8 is the ability to partially fold it and store it in the hallway, ready for use.
This is where it's handy that both pedals fold. With the pedals flat and the handlebar and stem folded down, the Dahon Qix D8 is a little under 27cm (11in) wide. That means it doesn't have inconvenient protuberances waiting to snag on clothing and so can be stored in the hallway ready to go without getting in the way. In my house at least it also gets to snuggle against the radiator, in classic Third Policeman style. No food has gone missing in its vicinity. Yet.
The Dahon Qix D8 has a tight, accurate ride thanks to the stiffness that comes from its oversized main frame member and fat handlebar stem and seatpost. Its handling is definitely on the quick side. It responds instantly to every movement of the handlebar. That's great for dodging potholes, but it can get a little fatiguing on longer rides.
There have been some pretty ropey folding bikes over the years. The all-aluminium Bickerton of the 70s and 80s was very light but flexible as all hell; you didn't so much throw it into corners as gently coax it. The first version of the Strida folder was the scariest bike I've ever ridden, with amazing amounts of flex in just about every direction. I gather recent versions are better.
The Qix D8 has none of these problems. The joints lock solidly when closed and there's no noticeable flex from them in steady riding, or from the super-long seatpost and stem.
The Qix D8 has a classic setup for a round-town or commuting bike: eight-speed SRAM derailleur gears operated by twist-grip shifters and V-brakes. The 53-tooth chainring and 11-32 cassette would give a high gear range on a standard bike, but with the 20-inch wheels that 53T chainring is the equivalent of a 40T on a road bike, giving a gear range from 33in to 96in. You're not going to be setting any downhill records with that top gear, but it's plenty high enough for zooming round town. The low gear is very sensible; you should be able to cope with the hills in most UK towns and cities, though residents of places like Bristol and Sheffield might feel differently.
The Winzip V-brakes are a fairly ordinary offering. They have a spongy feel and lack authority, but they do the job.
I didn't love the Dahon-branded saddle, but it's wide and deeply padded so it works fairly well in an upright riding position.
The folding pedals are tidy. To stow them away you push the plastic outer cage toward the frame and free it from the aluminium body. They're a bit slippery when wet, though; a few BMX-style steel grip studs wouldn't go amiss. I'd be tempted to add a few stainless steel self-tappers and cut the heads off.
The tyres are unremarkable offerings from Schwalbe's budget brand Impac, but at least they have reflective sidewalls. Fixing a flat on a small-wheel bike is a serious pain in the bum, especially in the case of the Qix d8's rear wheel which is held in place with nuts rather than a quick release. This application cries out for Schwalbe Marathon Green Guard or Marathon Plus tyres to minimise the risk of a flat.
Dahon has done a good job with the Qix D8. It rides well and folds easily to a usefully compact package. It has a reassuring feel of both quality and solidity, as well as handling that's just right for dashing round town. The few component compromises can be forgiven in a folder at this price.
Dependable folder that's easy to stash away and rides well
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Dahon Qix D8
Size tested: One
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame and fork are aluminium alloy with various clamps and hinges for foldability.
Wheel Size : 20"
Weight : 11.9 kg (26 lbs)
Folded Size : 82 x 31 x 81 cm (32" x 12.2" x 32")
Model No : JAA083
Frame : Flush Vertical Hinge Qix Arc Using Dalloy Tubing, Forged BB Struts
Fork : Lightweight and Responsive Dalloy , w/ Integrated Crown
Handlepost :DAHON Forged Aluminum Radius-V Handlepost
Drivetrain : 8-Speed Sram X5 rear Derailleur and twist Shifter
Wheels : 20' aluminum rims with 20 Hole front and 28 Hole rear Hub
Brakes : Winzip Smooth and Powerful 110mm V-Brakes
Rider height : 142-193cm (4'8" x 6'4")
Max Rider Weight : 105kg (231 lbs)
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
"Inspired by both the Jifo and EEZZ 16' bikes, the Qix D8 is the new 20' version with a larger frame and multiple riding positions. Vertical folding technology allows the Qix D8 to roll directly into folded mode with minimal effort and time. A rear carrier with in-built guide wheel lets it roll easily along when folded. Finally an 8-speed SRAM drivetrain and V brakes get you where you need to go quickly and safely."
I can't argue with any of that. It's a commuter for folks who need to be able to stash a bike in a fairly small space. It fills the brief well.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
No complaints; it's all very tidy.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Lots of very oversized aluminium alloy, which helps keep everything rigid.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Surprisingly conventional: 1,040mm wheelbase and 73° head angle.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
I prefer a longer reach even on a round-town bike, but it's a perfectly acceptable compromise.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Not as comfortable as a bike with full-sized wheels, but, again, acceptable.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
No complaints here; it's plenty stiff.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Very lively. Good for urban pothole-dodging, but a shade irritating on longer rides.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The steering is almost twitchy. That's good for those moments when a gaping chasm of local council neglect opens before you, but it makes this bike far less suitable for relaxing countryside pootling.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I'd swap the saddle for something that better fits my bum. I find the Brooks Cambium C17 works really well for me on more upright bikes.
I'm not a big fan of twist-grip shifters, though these are a hell of a lot better than the amazing self-destructing mountain bike types of the 90s. Nevertheless, they work and there's something very friendly about them.
Wheels and tyres
20-inch wheels help with comfort compared to the smaller wheels on many folders.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Dahon Qix D8 is a commendably competent commuter ride, folding small enough that it can be tucked out of the way in most situations, but still riding well.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.