The Dahon HIT is a fairly capable folding bike that offers good comfort, an excellent fit and suitability for a large range of riders – and, indeed, a range of large riders. It's a decent enough ride experience most of the time, but a few significant quirks and an underwhelming spec stop it from being more than just average.
Let's start with the positives and it's fair to say that the HIT's comfort levels are very good. The low-pressure tyres might have something to do with this, although most folders are fairly forgiving compared with their rigid-framed brethren.
Power transfer is dependable, too. I did have a few issues with the gearing – which we'll come to later – but when everything was running as expected, there was no problem getting up to speed, keeping a good cadence, or even taking on a climb. It's not a super-enthusiastic ride, but you don't feel like much energy is being wasted. Cruising is probably its most obvious forte.
Control, though, is a mixed bag erring on the side of poor. Folding bikes' small wheels and short wheelbases can make them feel a bit flightly, at least initially, and the HIT was far from being the worst in this regard at first. However, it never really settles; this bike is a bit of a wanderer. I'm no tight-rope rider, but I like to pride myself that I can cycle in a fairly straight line without too much bother or concentration. With the HIT, it felt like I was having to react and correct the steering most of the time.
Mass-produced folding bike frames tend to have a pretty similar look and feel to them, but Dahon is the daddy when it comes to this area in the bike market and, despite appearances, the HIT is a little different.
One of its main selling points is that the 'Dalloy' aluminium frame comes with what it calls a 'Deltec' cable. This acts almost as a surrogate down tube and helps to reinforce the structural integrity of the unfolded bike, allowing the HIT to come with a 10-year warranty and being able to tolerate a maximum rider weight of 137kg, or 300lb in old money. Another slice of cake, vicar? Don't mind if I do, Miss Blennerhassett.
While you, dear reader, can hop aboard regardless of your largesse, the HIT itself is far from obese. With a folding point halfway along the frame, and another at the base of the steerer, this bike reduces to quite a small package.
Despite these hefty joints and a few sturdy quick releases dotted around the HIT, its 12kg weight is perfectly fine, too.
I should point out that the steerer is home to two of those quick releases: one to allow you to rotate the bar to get the brake levers where you'd like them; the other to adjust handlebar height.
There's plenty of seatpost available (lack of which was my one criticism of the otherwise excellent Carrera Intercity Disc 9) so even those who are 6ft or slightly taller can hop aboard and find a suitable fit.
The fork is made from high-tensile steel and helps to insulate bumps coming up the front end. As I've said, this is a very comfortable bike to ride and the fork plays its role in that.
Gearing changes come via a single Dahon-branded 6-speed twist shifter allied with a Dahon-branded 6-speed rear mech. While there's enough low-down gearing from the 14-28 cassette and 52-tooth chainwheel to conquer most slopes on a typical commute, the bigger issue will be how easy it is to access those ratios. Under even slight or next-to-no load, shifting can be hit or miss when trying to access the easiest gears.
On just one 7.5-mile test ride, I had the chain come off the back once and – incredibly – off the front twice. Admittedly that was under some load while tackling modest climbs, but it's still quite a feat for a bike running a single chainwheel with guards on both sides. I know, I know – you're not supposed to change gear when the drivetrain is under too much load. But bearing in mind this bike's USP is its heavy rider-bearing potential, this is a relevant problem.
As I say, they were also issues even when not climbing. I'm no engineering expert but it seems to me the short chainstays that come with 20in wheeled bikes mean the chainline between the biggest sprocket at the rear and the chainring becomes ever more crucial when using derailleur gearsets. Because the distance between the chainring and sprocket is reduced, the angle between them is increased, which might play a role in the troubles I experienced.
At the faster end of things, that smallest 14t sprocket isn't quite small enough and I found myself spinning out fairly frequently.
And while I'm on a moan, I'm also not a massive fan of twist shifters. I understand they might seem more accessible to new or novice riders – and a £550 folder isn't really aimed at the kind of folk who have ridden the Marmotte – but thumb shifters tend to offer far more satisfying gear changes.
Talking of features that would attract novices and newbies, the slightly plump, apparently fundament-friendly Dahon Ergo Comfort saddle might appeal to anybody who equates saddle time with being unable to sit down for a week, but it's overkill in my opinion. Considering the amount of comfort already inherent in the frame, that excess cushioning seems unnecessary.
The other finishing kit is fine. The handlebar grips are nondescript but not uncomfortable, and the folding pedals are always a fun addition.
Incidentally, the frame also features a mounting point for compatible racks or bags at the head tube, and our test model came with another mounting point for bike luggage just behind and under the saddle.
Slowing down comes courtesy of aluminium v-brakes. They're okay, but no better than that.
More than once I found myself squeezing the life out of the pretty basic levers to try to stop. The best I can say is that you'll be unlikely to lose control locking up.
The HIT's custom Dahon 20in wheels roll very nicely and didn't really put a foot wrong.
Perhaps even more pertinent in terms of ride quality, the Dahon custom 1.75in tyres offered very good cushioning. On the other hand, with a maximum inflation of 45psi and very secure grip, they also served to deaden the ride. While they provide excellent road purchase – and are probably a genuine year-round tyre – they also hamper fun-seeking on dry days when you want to enjoy a bit of unbridled speed.
Value and conclusion
The HIT comes from Dahon's wide stable of folding bikes, so if this particular model doesn't float your boat, you're fairly certain to find another Dahon that will. For example, assuming you don't need that reinforced rider weight limit, there's the slightly lighter and funkier VYBE D7 with 7-speed gearing for £675, or you can even buy a version of the HIT that is suited and booted with rack and mudguards for £600.
Elsewhere, Decathlon has the B'Twin 900 folding bike for £449.99, which features a smart aluminium frameset and Shimano Sora gearing.
However, there is a folding elephant in the room. Aside from one passing mention, I've assiduously tried not to reference the Carrera Intercity Disc 9 in this test, but I can't really avoid it now. While the Dahon HIT bears an rrp of £535, for £85 less (£450) you could have the Carrera, with its smart aluminium frame (albeit not weight-reinforced), Shimano Altus/Sora 9-speed gearing and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. Add in a fantastically enthusiastic ride quality, and the Carrera is actually the biggest hit in the folding bike market that we've tested recently.
> Buyer’s Guide: 6 of the best folding bikes
Quite apart from that comparison, and forgetting about the poor gear changes, the HIT has two major fundamental issues. One is that speccing is a bit too sensible and stolid. The frame has been reinforced for bigger riders: that's sensible. The gearing is neither too high nor too low: that's sensible. Comfort levels are high: that's sensible. Even tyre grip is fulsome: that's sensible, too. But none of it is exciting.
The second issue is handling – it's quite tiring having to correct your line constantly. I realise I've been spoilt recently with tests of the Brompton P Line and the aforementioned Carrera, as both bikes have genuinely realistic big-wheeled bike ride qualities. In the saddle, this Dahon HIT feels much more like you'd expect from a 20in wheeler – it's all a little twitchy and unsettled.
That said, it could still be a fine workday commuting companion, and it might be especially welcome if rider weight is an issue for you. But there are more satisfying folders on the market.
A folding bike for heavier riders that offers good comfort but falls short in other areas
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Make and model: Dahon HIT Folding Bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Dalloy aluminium, lattice forged hinge with ViseGrip Technology
Fork: High-tensile steel blades and steerer
Chainring: 52T with double chain cover
Bottom bracket: Loose ball
Cassette: DNP 14-28T 6-Speed
Rear derailleur: Dahon custom 6-speed
Shifters: Dahon custom 6-speed twist shifter
Headset: Fusion zero stack cartridge bearing
Brakes: Aluminium 110 mm V-brakes
Brake levers: Dahon 3-finger composite bracket, aluminium lever
Rims: 20in lightweight aluminium
Front hub: Dahon custom 74mm compact aluminium 20 hole
Rear hub: Aluminium 28 hole
Spokes: 14g stainless steel
Tyres: Dahon custom 20in x 1.75in
Handlebar: 6061 aluminium flat bar, 580mm wide
Grips: Dahon Ergo Comfort
Saddle: Dahon Ergo Comfort
Seatpost: Dahon custom 6061 aluminium, 33.9mm x 580mm
Pedals: Dahon foldable (made by Wellgo)
Kickstand: Lightweight aluminium
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?
This is a folding bike, aimed fair and squarely at the commuter market. It's a little more stylish and youthful than some folders, though. Dahon says: "Take back the streets! Dahon conceived the HIT as an economical and ecological tool for our most recent global challenges. Affordable folding lets you skip choked up public transit and traffic jams, looking after your health and wallet. The Deltec cable is its safety secret weapon upping the max rider weight limit to 300 lbs and the warranty to 10 years."
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
It's a bit hard to tell. While Dahon does a lot of folding bikes, they're all focused at slightly different types of rider. This is one of Dahon's more affordable options, though.
Overall rating for frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's not the prettiest bike I've ever seen, but it's put together quite nicely.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made of aluminium – or what Dahon calls 'Dalloy' – while the fork is high-tensile steel.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Not much to say here – this is a folding bike after all. However, there is a good range of adjustability in the seatpost and handlebar height.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
See above. A quick release on the steerer and a long seatpost allows for a good range of fitting adjustment. Wheelbase length is pretty good, too.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, very comfortable – this is the HIT's trump card.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
By and large, it's OK.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer seemed competent but not stunning. There's not a whole lot of wasted energy, but equally, it's not super eager. Solid rather than spectacular.
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? Lively at first and while it does settle down a bit, it never really feels quite right.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
This is a bit strange. It's generally just a bit twitchy and feels like it's never quite settled. It's not so much down to the front end, more a whole bike issue.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Soft tyres did a good job, and the frame itself seems to provide most of the comfort.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
I think the tyres are just a bit too soft and grippy and make the ride feel just a bit turgid.
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Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The drivetrain works OK most of the time, but some gear changes – especially when trying to choose the smallest gears, and not even under much in the way of load – are unreliable.
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Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
Pretty standard 20in folding bike wheels. They seem fairly solid and dependable, though.
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Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Great tyres for grip and comfort, not so good if you want to minimise rolling resistance and maximise speed.
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Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Pretty standard stuff, really. Saddle's a bit too plump for my liking, but the bar grips are fine. Brake levers seem a bit rudimentary.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
It's a shame we only get unbranded aluminium V-brakes – they're not the best.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? So so. When everything was going well, yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Nope
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? I do have some big-boned chums, but even then, I'm not sure.
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Dahon has the slightly lighter and funkier VYBE D7 with 7-speed gearing for £675, or you can even buy another version of the HIT that is suited and booted with rack and mudguards for £600. Elsewhere, Decathlon has the B'Twin 900 folding bike for £499.99, which features a smart aluminium frameset and Shimano Sora gearing. However, the best folding bike that we've come across (so far!) at this point in the market is the Carrera Intercity Disc 9 which costs £450 and comes with Shimano Altus/Sora 9-speed gearing and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. It's also fab to ride.
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Use this box to explain your overall score
If you have trouble fitting on other folding bikes, the HIT is an option that offers a true folding bike experience. However, other than a comfortable ride, there's not much that stands out. On-road power delivery is dependable, although not particularly inspiring, and stability is generally lacking. Add in some very average own-brand components and a drivetrain that's too ready to complain or even give up entirely, and you have a package that doesn't really hit the highs.
Age: 39 Height: 6'0 Weight: 16 stone
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure
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