I narrowed it down to two folding bikes. What follows is a mini-review.
What I like about the Dahon Mu Uno (left):
- styling/build: not flashy; matte black finish; 20-inch tires; double kick-stand; ruggedly constructed.
- simplicity: no derailer or brake cables to worry about and a near perfect 62″ single gear.
- ride: stable handling; more like a full-size bike when compared to the Brompton.
- racks: none supplied, but accepts klickfix accessories.
And the drawbacks:
- more conspicuous than the Brompton when folded and not as compact;
- not designed to fold with attached fenders and racks;
- while ruggedly built, it’s doesn’t wreak of craftsmanship like the Brompton (i.e. it feels more mass produced).
What I like about the Brompton (right):
- quality engineering: extreme attention to quality and workmanship.
- folding design: ingeniously compact; easier to take on airlines/buses/metros; and a design that incorporates fenders and a rear rack!
- versatility: 3-speed internal gear hub with a perfectly spaced 48″, 64″, and 85″ set of gears; fenders and racks included on most models.
- price (more than double that of the Mu Uno);
- a few extra parts and a more complicated drivetrain make it feel more fragile than the Mu Uno with the potential for more maintenance and repairs;
- rides less like a full-size bike compared to the Mu Uno (probably due to the smaller 16″ wheels); however, in normal use, you adjust quickly to the differences.
Conclusion: These are both appealing bikes. If I just needed a simple and robust city bike for basic transportation in a relatively flat urban environment — the Mu Uno would be perfect.
I would think nothing of tossing around the Mu Uno or leaving it chained to a parking meter, but I would think twice about doing this with the Brompton (in this regard the Brompton’s elegant craftsmanship is a bit of a mixed blessing, as it is with all fine bicycles).
In the end, the Brompton’s versatile (yet still relatively simple) 3-speed gear range and ease of toting around (especially while fendered and on airlines) were the deciding factors for me.