Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tern Bicycles to Dahon: Challenge Accepted

“There are things we wanted to do with product, organizationally with philanthropy, being able to take the brand a lot further, and the issues we had within Dahon weren’t allowing us to do those things... rather that getting mired in negativity, we decided, ‘Hey, let’s take the hard road.’ We have an amazing team in place. We hope by taking the hard road at the beginning, it will be an easier, smoother road at the back end.”

It's good to be a blogger because you can write about whatever is in your mind. And here I have news of the launch event held last weekend in Taipei... about the new folding bike company, Tern Bicycles.
WTF? Why do we need another folding bike company? And why is it that the face of Dahon, Josh Hon (the guy who's trying to sell you Biologic products on Youtube), has seemed to transplant himself from the good ol' Dahon to Tern?

According to him, he enjoyed working in Dahon, but that marked his past, and what he deemed as the future is an entirely new company that has no affliation with Dahon at all, and the strong impetus lied in the differing vision between the management of Dahon and... probably some guy bearing the surname Hon.

But don't worry. If you love Dahon, you'll love the fact that Josh is taking quite a good bit of his army of Dahoners with him, such as the senior manager of product design, Joakim Uimonen. And with 21 new designs, you'll be surprised how they managed it all in eight months.

Why is it if they put a Dahon logo on it, I'd be immediately convinced it's one?
From what I gather, Tern's company vision is to create good commuting bikes as a means to amelioriate the excesses of today's transportational system. Tern is a foldable bike company, and has a range of mostly 20", though spanning out to 24 and 26" foldable bikes. If you are familar with Dahon, you'll be familar with the naming conventions - [Random name] [Componentry grade][Number of gears][Internal hub/misc info].

The bikes will be available to distributors in the fall, and will be exhibited in Interbike and Eurobike. For us mere mortals not in the trade, just watch the video (below) of angmohs riding in Taipei. Yesssss, no disguising the fact that it's filmed in Taiwan despite the numerous tricks - white actors, orderly traffic (it's not normal in Taiwan), lack of scooters all over the place, etc.

And if you're wondering - a tern is a bird, which probably explains the bird origami in the logo. But the question I really want to ask is... how are they going to differentiate themselves from Dahon, because as of right now, Tern seems to be like Dahon's renegade.


  1. Competition is always good.... and customers are getting more savy and there is only so much snazzy graphics and videography can do..... here is my thoughts on this... http://smallwheelsbigsmile.blogspot.com/2011/06/tern-whats-ur-story.html

  2. On first sight, the Tern look like a Dahon, but there is many vital changes.

    I had the opputunity to rode several of the new bikes at the media lunch and the ride quality is second to none.

    The stifness of the frames (5 platforms) are sighnifently improved. The hinges are all new construction using floating points for improved reability.

    The focus on details are on components and finishing. All frames are made on Taiwan which have far better quality and process control than the mainland chinese factories.

    The key for Tern is riding quality, service and building quality.

    Tern Bicycles are one of few foldingbikes the feel and rode like an ordinary bike, that is why they focus on 20-26" inch wheels.

  3. "Why is it if they put a Dahon logo on it, I'd be immediately convinced it's one?"

    Because they were designed by the same team that's been running Dahon brand globally for the past odd years. The real question is: "What happens next to Dahon with that team gone?"

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    Yes, agreed. There's also something to do with the fact that Dahon Global's patents are owned by Tern too, and therefore.

  5. Fortunately for Dahon they have all the technical knowledge of these bikes. They really just need to hire new people to replace the old ones. A company like Dahon has too much knowledge and size to be hurt by loss of employees. Companies are constantly getting poached for talent. It's my opinion that a company that large and old can survive these types of corporate changes.

  6. Hi Anonymous,

    One critical thing I noticed after researching is that Tern owns Dahon Global which owns the patents to whatever Dahon has done. Therefore, I'm not too sure if the "new" Dahon will pan out the same as the "old" Dahon, just with new people.

    See: http://bikecommutinginsg.blogspot.com/2011/06/more-info-on-tern-via-interview.html

  7. I do not necesaarily believe that they actually own all the patents. If they really owned all of the patents they wouldn't need to leave and start and entirely new entity(with a smaller product line). It doesn't make sense. Maybe I'm a skeptic but sure seems like theres some PR mumbo-jumbo floating around.