Product Courtesy of SpeedmatrixAvailibility: NowSRP: SDG 1349
Dahon is a worldwide leader of folding bicycles since 1982, and their philosophy is to convince more people to use environmentally-sustainable forms of transportation in their daily lives. The Matrix, on review here is meant as a city bike, built with mountain bike geometry and influences, but with componentry and tyres meant for the urban jungle. With a simple flick of the lever, the bike can be folded in half for easy stowage in storerooms or cubicles which are too small for an average bike. By undoing two more screws on the NVO stem, the stem and handlebar can be detached to make the bike even more compact, enabling it to be stored in the boot of a small family saloon without having to remove the wheels. This is a great boon to people who wish to drive to public parks for some cycling, but are insecure about their bikes being strapped on racks at the back of their cars.
The Matrix’s frame was designed by Joe Murray, a Hall of Fame mountain biker, and designer of Voodoocycles. The frame is constructed from double butted 7005 series aluminum, with a forged lattice hinge and a double safety locking mechanism. This results in a very strong frame, as strong as a standard double diamond frame.
The front suspension duties are handled by a Suntour NEX fork. It uses coil spring and features hydraulic damping, adjustable preload and lockout. The fork’s action is very plush, however there seems to be little in the way of damping when hitting potholes at speed or coming down from a curb. However, this fork is not meant for mountain biking, and performs its urban tasks dutifully.
The steering department is outfitted with a Ritchey aluminum riser bar and an NVO stem with patented InfiniteAdjust technology. The NVO stem is of particular interest, as it features a groove in the ‘steerer tube’ to allow quick removal and installation of the stem without the hassle of trying to adjust the stem to line up with the tyres. Dahon has strangely fitted the Matrix with an extremely long handlebar, with bar-ends. This seems counterintuitive for an urban bicycle as it would have to occasionally squeeze through tight traffic conditions. Also, a shorter handle bar would be more compact for storage when the bike is folded. The bar-ends seem superfluous, and look out of place on a riser bar.
The bike is outfitted with full brake and drivetrain systems from SRAM – SRAM 3.0 shifters and front derailleur; and a SRAM SX4 rear derailleur. This combination has a light shifting action, and the full length cable housing reduces the need for maintenance and keeps everything neat and tidy when the bike is folded up. Braking duties are handled by Avid BB5 disc calipers and Avid FR-5 brake levers. The pedalling power is transmitted through an aluminium platform pedal with Truvative IsoFlow crankset. The chainring gearing of 48/38/28T (with a plastic chainring guard to protect the rider from chainring marks.) and the 11-32 cassette reflects the bike’s intended purpose – to speedily traverse the urban jungle.
The big surprise here is the SDG BelAir FX saddle with its patented I-Beam technology, clamped to the aluminum SDG I Beam Comp seatpost. The saddle’s fore/aft position and angle of attack is easily adjusted with only a 6mm allen key. This combination is also much lighter than a separate saddle and seatpost. Although the saddle padding feels firm to the touch, it is extremely comfortable during actual riding.
The bike rolls on Formula Disc hubs laced with 14G stainless steel spokes to WTB SX24 rims and Continental Sport Contact 1.5 inch slicks. The Sport Contact tyres get up to speed easily and have very little rolling resistance. The road grip is also good for a pair 1.5 inch slicks.
With a typical mountain bike geometry and cockpit, the bike initially feels like your typical mountain bike shod with slicks. Most people who have ridden a mountain bike would instantly feel at home on it, notwithstanding the wide handlebar. However, the high gearing allows the Matrix to attain a higher top speed on flat roads. Once you hit a stretch of long upslope, the weight of the bike begins to make itself known. But it is still manageable with the gearing low enough for climbing on city streets. On unpaved roads, the Suntour fork is very comfortable when the preload is set to the minimum. The frame is extremely sturdy, with no rattles or vibrations. The SRAM drivetrain provided accurate shifting, although it is not the fastest around.
There was initially some cable slack detected in the braking system, which required the rider to make some adjustments after a bit of hard braking. But the discs give strong stopping power and provide the bike with an expensive look.
So what kind of rider would this bike appeal to? Commuters who cycle to work, but whose companies frown on having a full sized bike next to their desk or in pantries would be wise to check this bike out. Commuters can now ride (almost!) straight up into their offices and just fold their bikes and store it in their cubicles. People who enjoy driving to places like East Coast Park to ride, but hate the hassle of car racks might want to take a look at it too. Unlike the D7 model currently being reviewed, this is a full sized bike which rides like a normal hybrid bike. And with 24 speeds and a suspension fork, it can handle a wider range of terrain and gradients at a much higher speed. If high petrol costs, ERP charges and traffic jams are getting you down, yet you are unable to find space for a full-sized bike, this could be a viable alternative to your daily commuting needs.