The Folding Society

The Dahon Matrix-V

By Geoff Dabbs

Test report originally issued 1 March 2005
Progress report added 26 May 2005

Another New Bike?

Having opted to take early retirement I was offered a retirement gift by my company. I chose the Dahon Matrix-V.

The Choice

I own 3 other bikes: a Phillips (Dahon) Boardwalk6 re-geared (as previously reported in the Folding Society pages) with a Mega range 6-speed cluster, a Dahon Speed Pro 2002 model (again see my reports in the Folding Society) and a Thorn Club Tour with straight bars. I use all three regularly for different purposes and felt the Matrix would give me another set of options.

Advertised as a Street Bike, closer examination of the specs and design pedigree suggested it was a Mountain Bike with Road tyres and cheaper components than the Dahon Zero G. I felt that the Matrix could get me further off road than the other bikes thanks to its sprung front end and seat post. It would also become my primary towing bike, and when fitted with a suitable set of battery lights, provide me with a night shopper mount ready for the dash to the local shops for a bottle of milk or wine.


The firm placed the order in early October 2004 and I received an email on the 14th of October asking me to get in touch with Cyclemotion to arrange delivery. Having ordered the Speed-Pro from them I knew I would soon be seeing the new bike and called to confirm delivery address, it arrived on Friday the 15th.

As is usual for Cyclemotion the bike arrived nicely boxed with spacers to protect the vulnerable parts. I spent a few minutes assembling the bike. I unfolded the frame, fitted pedals (I saved the ones supplied, and used some folding pedals originally fitted to the Speed-Pro, as I had already added strapless toe guards to them). I bolted on the handlebars, with the gears and brakes already attached, and fitted the seat tube. After adjusting the suspension front and back and checking everything was tight and in line (it was, even the gears were indexed spot on), I added bottle cages, one to the underside of the main tube on the standard mount and another via a bolt on bracket to the handlebars. After adding the trip computer, fitting the front and rear reflectors and towing connection I was ready to go.

First rides

After a quick spin round the village to check everything was working well, I decided a gentle 18 miles round the flatter parts of County Durham would be a good way of getting used to the bike and finalising the fit. The only major change I made on return was to replace the saddle with the non-Gel version of my favourite saddle, a Specialized Body Geometry Comfort. The supplied saddle is good but a bit too hard for me; many riders would find it ideal I’m sure.

In the next few days I clocked up 60 miles both on and off road. The bike was comfortable on all surfaces I tried, and I found the Suntour Forks on a fairly soft setting (about 2/3rds from hardest) very good. The road tyres dealt well with shale paths and dolomite surfaces, inspiring me to keep up a far higher pace than I would on the Thorn with slightly wider, more deeply treaded Panaracer Pasela tyres. The forks dealt with what bumps and steps I came across silently and without a bang or crash. The seat suspension was again set fairly soft and was surprisingly comfortable over these surfaces. The fact that my other bikes all have the Comfort Plus (Gel) saddle, rather than the non-gel version I’m using, is a good advert for the sprung seat post!

At this stage I bought a rear wedge, which hangs off the saddle rails, and a Crud Catcher to fit under the bottle cage under the main frame. A little work on the catcher with a pair of tin snips was needed to fit around the main folding mechanism. Result, it does what it says, catches crud, as does the underside of the Wedge. Several weeks and a couple of hundred miles later I was still very happy with the ride. The simple frame fold with the bottom bracket guard acting as a stand is a quick and easy way of locking the bike around a lamp post rear frame to front wheel using a cable lock, post in the middle.

I’m NOT a Mountain Biker and my off-road runs do not get too hairy so I cannot comment on how the bike would perform in extremis but, for me, the ability to ignore the lousy road surfaces and speed humps in our side streets and take myself off road with so little fuss was a very pleasant surprise. At this stage I was feeling more confident looking for a bit more challenge off road. My plans were then disrupted by a spell of full time training for a new job followed by a bout of minor ill health and then bad weather suspended operations on 2 wheels for a total of two months.

In Service

My return to a state of health and part time work meant I could cycle again and the Matrix was used several times as a tow bike for my Bike-Hod trailer. In this mode the bike is far better than either of the other 3 bikes I’ve used in this role (I sold my Scott Atacama Hybrid to make room for the Thorn). The brakes are now bedding in and the stopping power of the Dahon V-brakes is much appreciated when the Hod is at full load. I feel no sway in the frame and the Mountain Bike gearing is more than low enough to handle the extra weight.

I’ve also used it for half day runs locally on and off road and the gearing is low enough for me to get up any of our local hills without problems, frequently only needing the middle ring and the lower rear ratios to climb. My off road use is still limited but nothing I’ve tried has phased the bike. For anyone using the bike as a fast street bike, you may consider the gearing a bit too low. I spin out around 30mph in top gear, faster spinners may do a little better. However it does mean I can ride the bike on the largest front ring and accelerate away from a stop without too much cross-over on the chain.


I do not fold the bike that often but the quick fold is enough for me to pop the bike in the back of a small MPV without rearranging the seating, and further work will get into a medium size hatch easily enough. Try removing the front wheel and turning the bars to the line of the quick folded bike for a faster fold that unbolting the handlebars. The twist lock on the top frame tube will work slack occasionally, but not so much the bike will fold if you open the main latch; the lock may be slack, but it’s still on the thread enough to hold rigid. I know I accidentally tried it! A suggestion to Dahon would be to make the twist lock slightly knurled so you can put a little more force on it on locking and more especially unlocking. Cold, old, hands can find the unlock a bit of an effort if it’s wet. The usual Dahon Velcro strap holds the folded bike together.

Fittings and Fixtures

The general impression is a well thought out mix of quality and price. The paint job is excellent and seems chip resistant ,so I’ve not had occasion to use the touch up paint supplied with the bike yet. This is in contrast to the paint on the Speed Pro, which had a few chips when I got the bike (used as a demonstrator before I got it) and a couple more since.

Gearing is a little low for its intended market I feel, but fine for me. The twist grip changers work well and the actual sprockets and cogs change reliably. I thought the actual noise made as I changed a little loud, but was advised by a dealer friend that aluminium bikes seem to act as a sounding board more than steel. I was sceptical but took my wife’s Dawes Discovery out one day and I now think he has a point. The gearing on that is identical to that on my old, steel, Scott and it certainly is far louder.

As previously mentioned the brakes are good, very positive and with plenty of feel.

The bike has the 17” frame and fits my 5’ 7” well.

I like to ride fairly well sat up due to joint problems, so I have the adjustable stem set right up. This gives me a position as far forward as I would want to go, but others who want it certainly could drop down a lot lower.

The ride is positive with plenty of response but not too twitchy, it turns into  corners at speed as if on rails and the semi-slicks fitted inspire confidence.


The bike is a useful and reasonably priced large wheel folder. The aluminium frame and accessories compare with similarly priced bikes which do not fold, £500 will buy you several similar specification 26” wheeled bikes with front suspension forks and off road tyres.

The wheel size alone would make it a popular choice for in town commuters. The only reservation being the somewhat low gearing, 19.5” to 99”. However that would make it ideal for anyone living in one of our hillier towns and cities and of course useful to those of us who live ‘out in the sticks’.

Remember Dahon also make several other folding bikes with 16” to 700c wheels. For most folding bike users, 20” wheels are a good compromise between ride and folded size. For those who need or want larger wheels, or more gears than usually found on a folder there is a choice from Dahon. For me the Matrix-V offers a smart package with a reasonable specification. It does everything I want it to and more!

The looks mean that you avoid the silly comments you sometimes get when on a small wheel folder, but also looks good to someone who has a more experienced appreciation of what makes a good bike.

Nice one Dahon.

Progress report - May 2005

I now have clocked over 350 miles on the bike and at least 100 of that has now been off road. As I was feeling adventurous, I fitted Michelin Hot S 26 x 2.20 knobbly tyres; these are about the largest the frame will accept.

The bike is completely different with these fitted! I first took it down a rough muddy path and found how easily it would continue to ride on surfaces I would normally be walking along. The low gearing really came into its own and I was very pleasantly surprised with how sure-footed the bike felt. On road these tyres roar and there is a discernable drag from them. On poor surfaces I quickly started to pick up the pace and except for a shattered pedal on a bit of a jump (not the original pedals, I fitted some old ones as they had toe clips already fitted) I have had no issues with the ride or suspension. Surprisingly I have not felt the need to change the settings on the forks or seat post from my original road set up. The top frame lock ring continues to slacken occasionally and I now routinely check it on the move, it usually is still tight from the last check.

The gear changing is getting quieter, which may be down to my greater experience in using it. I find the brakes are truly fantastic and are getting better by the day. There is plenty of feel but boy do they stop the bike when needed.
I have had 3 inner tubes blow. One was a pinch flat (with the original tyres still fitted) as I hit a curb with a soft rear tyre, my fault. The other two have been caused by the plastic rim tape riding up near the valve after a tyre swap, first to knobblies then swapping back. 

I am now back to the original tyres for the summer and they roll beautifully. My last blow out was at a touch over 30mph on a busy main road, I’d like to thank Joe Murray for the steady frame geometry which kept me upright as I slowed with a completely flat rear while HGV’s whistled past me at 60mph. I have now changed the tape!!!

I will be fitting the knobblies again for the winter and and off road runs but will continue to use the slicks in the summer. I feel I got two bikes in one, as the taut handling road bike and the sure footed off-roader are a tyre change away from each other.

As a retirement present it has supplied me with a great deal of fun.

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Copyright ©2005 Geoff Dabbs
Last updated 26 May 2005