Monday, August 30, 2021

Dahon Boardwalk 6-speed vs. Eco 3 7-speed

I have ridden my Dahon Boardwalk and Eco 3 almost exclusively for the past two months. Swapping between the two periodically has allowed me to compare their differences and similarities, their unique qualities (rack, fenders, handle bars, folding mechanisms) plus, the most important factor: road handling.

From a riding perspective, the Boardwalk has always been a comfortable bicycle, I suspect, primarily because of it's steel frame. However, the Eco 3 has been surprisingly smooth and zippy. I haven't burdened the red beauty with as much baggage, so initially I suspected it's spritely ride feel came from a lighter aluminum frame with added steel fork to dampen stiffness. Or was it a combination of all three features with seemingly decent, if old, tires?

After getting to know the Eco 3, it impressively felt like a larger bike. How could that be? The wheels seemed larger, the top tube larger, and of course, without the front bag I was used to on the Boardwalk, I could visually watch the front wheel zip around corners - what I especially love about folders, their nimbleness.

While both bikes are low end 20" wheel Dahon folders for their respective eras, it means the newer Eco 3 (model offered in 2010-11) has updated characteristics that are especially appealing. I like the cockpit comfort, which feels more upright and has a more ergonomic, slightly curved handlebar with telescoping handle post for maximum adjustment. The pedals are grippier; the rear rack is aluminum; the fenders are either aluminum or a stiff, molded plastic that neither rattles nor shifts even when folded. I presume the Eco 3 weighs at least 3 lbs less. While the components are lower end compared with the Boardwalk, the easy shifting, better braking (could be newer brake pads), and similar if not the same low gearing, and secure hinges, means this shiny, barely ridden folder holds a lot of appeal.

Interesting that the center of crank distance to ground and the crank arm length are the same - considering frame geometries and style are quite different.

Riding impressions aside, it was the actual dimensions that shed more light. The Boardwalk's wheel base, seat post to handlebar length, and lower top tube show how it's a longer touring machine compared to the Eco 3. In the photo, the Boardwalk's seat and head tubes are obviously at slacker angles. 

While I generally enjoy the classic Boardwalk style, the red Eco 3 captured my eye, and upon further observation, it's clean lines, chrome accessories, and a curved fork, which I, in hindsight, obviously, couldn't resist - it oozes vintage Dahon. And who could resist a bike that was in pristine condition?

My first love.

There's room in my heart for this one too!


  1. They both look good Annie. The Eco 3 has a different head tube angle which gives it a more upright ride. If you wanted the best of both you could swap the bits you like onto one bike and put the other together with what you dont want and sell it. Unless you want to keep both bikes !!

    1. That was my initial intention but I have space for both.


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