While we have a few criticisms, that we’ll get to in a moment, Dahon’s MuXL is a lovely machine. It blends commuting practicality (hub gears, lights, rack and mudguards) with features that will please speed merchants, namely the Schwalbe Marathon racer tyres on the Kinetix Comp wheels.
The ride is, not surprisingly, suitably racy. You can just about dance on the pedals up the steeper hills, despite the steering geometry being that bit more twitchy than on bigger wheeled bikes, and it positively rushes down the other side. The Kinetix V-brakes are more than adequate.
What makes this bike unusual among the massed ranks of Dahon’s 20-inch wheeled models is the Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub gear. I’ve tried this on several occasions and like it a lot. It really is the ideal choice for serious commuters in moderately hilly areas (boasting a gear range of 28-86in), it’s super reliable and super slick changing, setting the standard for top end hub gears.
Like all the Shimano Nexus 8s I’ve tried, this hub gear never missed a beat and the usual characteristic of some gears being a little rough was, pleasingly, missing.
Where Dahon really stands out is in the constant process of innovation within this largely ‘standard across the board’ fold-in-half frame. Over the years both the main frame hinge and several of the quick- release adjustments have been redesigned to be stronger and smoother to operate, a process that has by and large succeeded but is still ongoing.
Elsewhere, the removable MKS EZY pedals are relatively unusual but another quality touch. The highly impressive Biologic postpump is also a great addition to any commuting bike.
Also worthy of comment is the lovely Dahon- specific front wheel hub dynamo, although rather strangely this only powers the tiny front Hella light (and on a bike this price you would expect a more modern and powerful light).
The startlingly bright rear light is battery powered. Okay, a cable run would mess up the lovely, sleek curved frame but couldn’t it have been run inside the frame? After all, running cables through frames seems to be all the rage these days.
Also rather odd is the fact that the front light fouls the Klik-fix luggage attachment point on the very front of the head-tube, meaning you can have a front dynamo light or front luggage but not both!
Although any kind of bag for a folder is usually a bit of a faff, if you do require one the MuXL comes with a pretty tough looking El Bolso bag that lets you rather handily sling the bike over your shoulder.
Coming later in 2008 will be a lightweight version, the MuXL Sport, so watch this space for a review.
Editor’s note: as pointed out below we have the price wrong: it should be £749.99.