Dahon Cadenza Solo £538.3

Smart singlespeed folder

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Cadenza Solo is a folding bike that combines ‘proper’ sized wheels with an almost invisible folding mechanism and ultra-low-maintenance setup to produce a fun and fast ride.

  • Frame & fork: A solid frame with a virtually invisible fold mechanism (9/10)
  • Handling: Difficult to fault – great balance for carving through town (8/10)
  • Equipment: Being a singlespeed there’s not much of it, but everything works perfectly. The pump inside the seatpost is a great idea – every commuter bike should have one (8/10)
  • Wheels: Mountain-bike sized 26in wheels are a great call on a folding bike – great ride quality and handling (8/10)

Dahon continue to dominate the folding bike market with a vast and varied range of bikes that come in every size of wheel and for every type of riding. The Cadenza range is made up of three flat-barred 26in wheel models, all with the same cleverly folding frame design but with different equipment depending on what they are intended for.

A the top of the range, the sleek-looking road Cadenza combines a compact double chainset, disc brakes, high pressure, low profile Continental slicks and flat bars for a fast city street machine.

The Cadenza 8 swaps the road gears for more robust and maintenance-free Alfine hub gears and much fatter tyres; while the Cadenza Solo – tested here – goes for one-geared purity, as low-maintenance as you can go, and a modicum of bling in terms of the red anodised hubs and a novel bar and brake lever hood setup.

As all three models share the same frame, which comes with all the right fixing points for disc or V-brakes, mudguards, rack, cable runs, a rear mech hanger...  This is a versatile frame!

The Solo’s distinctive bars aren’t just for looks – the cow horn shape lets you ride with your head high so you can keep an eye on road dangers around you, and the fact that the STI style hoods position the levers themselves under the bar means that you can use as many of your fingers for stopping as you feel necessary. It’s a much more powerful and convenient braking solution than, say, braking from the top of the brake hoods on a conventional drop bar setup.

This commanding position goes well with the rest of the ride too which, though no lightweight, is agile, planted and great for carving through busy city streets.

The 26in wheels spin up easily, and whether you’ve opted to keep the rear wheel flipped to its singlespeed side with freewheel, or flopped it round to the fixed side so that the back wheel is kept in perfect unity with your legs, acceleration is good.

The use of an eccentric bottom bracket makes for easy chain tensioning, while still letting you drop the rear wheel out for puncture repairs – something which is made even easier by the clever seatpost and seat, which doubles as an effective track pump.

Even if it didn’t fold, the Solo would be a fun, fast and stylish fixie. But add in the near invisible double ‘lockjaw’ joints – one on the top tube and one on the down tube – and you open up a whole new world of multi-modal travel for you and your bike.

Only needing half a turn with an Allen key to unlock each hinge, the fold takes just a few seconds to complete and is easily quick enough for the train platform, bus queue or the boot of your car.

A magnet and plate by the front and rear axles means the folded bike stays folded too. The resulting package is not as compact as a Brompton, or even a smaller-wheeled Dahon, and the bars do stick out a bit but it’s easily good enough for any of the above travel situations.

An even more compact fold is not much more bother either, thanks to the clever headset and steerer cover that lets you loosen one bolt, then slide off the stem and bars without the fork dropping out of the frame.

The only small niggle was that the paint at the lockjaw hinges was starting to chip – though perhaps this was expected because a small bottle of white paint comes in the box with the bike.

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