Founded in 1983 by Dr David Hon, Dahon claims to be the worlds largest manufacturer of folding bicycles.
In the early 1980s David Hon was a physicist working on solid-state laser technology at Hughes Aircraft Corporation in California. With a CV like that, I would bet good money that he once had an ‘ASCII Art’ portrait of Jimi Hendrix printed on a line printer by a Fortran program running on an IBM 360. I know I did (or am I confusing Jimi with Che?).
In 1982 Dr Hon decided to forsake the military-industrial complex and designed a high quality folding bicycle (a very rare object at the time). When he failed to license his design to any of the existing bicycle manufacturers, he moved to Taiwan and set up the Dahon company to manufacture it himself.
Dahon now claims to be head-quartered in California, although I have listed the company on this site as being from Taiwan - as that is where it seems to me to be really based.
As far as Dahon bikes go, I have always liked the engineering of the hinges and the general frame build quality. However I find their steering geometry a touch too fast for my taste - something to do with the head angle, fork rake and trail.
For their 2005 model year (released in late 2004) Dahon introduced the Dahon Neos derailleur, which they had developed in conjunction with SR SunTour especially for use on folding bikes. Its key feature was that the parallelogram is mounted further forward and further in-board - making it a very ‘low profile’ design. This is important on folding bicycles as the derailleur is generally one of the most exposed parts on the outside of the folded package and can be easily damaged or knocked out of adjustment during transportation or storage.
For the 2008 model year (released in late 2007) Dahon have added a second model, the Neos 2.0, which has a similar design but with a higher specification.
Dahon has a history page on its web site.