The Hon brothers started the revolution of their day with the world’s first folding bicycle small enough to fit under a train seat. 220+ patents and over 35 years of quiet evolution and ingenious technologies later, DAHON is the leader in folding bike technology, changing the way people around the world get from “A” to “B”. Read all about it below.
Dr. David T. Hon has always been a tinkerer and cyclist. His urge to fold up “Man’s most ingenious invention” came about when commuting to and from UCLA in the 70s to earn his PhD in physics: every day, he had to remove the wheel of his bike to stuff it into his car parked far away on campus. Years later, after pioneering laser technology with great success at Hughes Research Center, Hon gave up his budding career to finally focus on his vision for “folding green transportation”.
Together with his brother Henry, an industrial engineer with a computer sciences degree, Hon began developing his vision – and received the first seven patents for his idea.
At design competitions around the world, their unique folding bike model won award after award. After registering the first seven patents, David set out to find a bicycle company interested in licensing or producing his distinctive vehicle. Despite the overwhelming success in the design world, however, no manufacturer was interested in taking the dare on such a “niche” product.
Henry, then in his late twenties with a wife and three small children, reached into his own savings collected from his lucrative computer programming days and put up the first $60,000. That and more from 35 other visionary followers were enough to accumulate $2 million – and set up production of the first bikes in Taiwan. Of these, the Hon brothers sold the first 6,000 folders in only six months!
Pioneering the development of convenient, environmentally friendly transport has remained David and Henry’s passion. Fostering the way millions of savvy people everywhere get from point “A” to “B” today, DAHON is constantly developing, redeveloping and optimizing the “perfect fold”.
The technologies behind Dr. David Hon’s patents for frame and wheel configurations, metal alloys and folding mechanisms have delivered the mechanical basis for 98% of today’s folding bicycles. With more than five million DAHON folding bikes in motion, they are incontestably the global leader in folding bicycles – now a firm element of lifestyle in over 40 countries.
Headquartered in Illinois, DAHON now produces their distinctive folding bikes in their own factories and production lines in China, and most recently Bulgaria – where all production for Europe takes place. DAHON’s superior parts and component technology continue to be sourced from the world’s best manufacturers.
Dr. David Hon has always been eager to discover how things work. His family emigrated to the USA from Hong Kong when he was nineteen years old, and he was able to complete his education at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and USC. After attaining his Ph.D. in physics, he was recruited by Hughes Aircraft Company In 1972. Working for one of the world’s leading companies in aerospace technology, Dr. David Hon pioneered in the research and development of the first tactical lasers, becoming a respected and published leader in the field of laser technology during the “Space Race” era of the 70s.
When the oil crisis hit in 1975, many Californians realized that better urban mobility was needed to shift their reliance from gas-guzzling cars, and Dr. Hon was one of them. People envisioned alternatives in combinations of mass transit and light, economical vehicles, both human and electric powered. Recalling his days at college, where he had dismantled his bike every day to be able to stuff it into his car, he began his own tinkering about on a folding bike that would appeal to the masses: light, good looking, quickly foldable – and affordable.
Prototypes began to take form in his garage. Brother Henry, amassing good sums from his lucrative computer consulting business, was able to finance these first efforts. An industrial engineer himself, Henry also took part in the folding, unfolding and testing of this two-wheeled hybrid.
Having coauthored the “Laser Handbook”, the internationally referenced authority on laser technology published in 1978, Dr. Hon was promoted to Senior Physicist in recognition of his accomplishments. Now well recognized in the field, he was called to the prestigious Hughes Research Labs in Malibu, where the very first laser and western satellites had been developed. Here, scientists were encouraged to indulge in independent exploration. Dr. Hon subsequently developed and published a technique for efficient compression of high-power laser pulses by SBS in a tapered optical fiber, which has become a standard for high quality/power laser fusion and in aeronautics and engineering.
Laser nuclear fusion was viewed at the time as the ultimate answer to Man’s need for energy. The development of this green solution had long been the fire in Dr. Hon’s research, but as high technical hurdles kept success in these endeavors elusive, his enthusiasm increasingly turned to impatience. A more tangible method was needed to quench his thirst for a solution to modern energy needs. The decision to leave the limelight and privileges at Hughes Research was painful but inevitable. He chose to devote his talent to more rapid results and, in keeping with his environmental convictions, Dr. Hon said farewell to lasers.
Leaving the space trade was not without prospect or impetus, however: the first DAHON working prototype, presented at the New York Bike Show, had already gained footing with rave reviews, both there and in the media. Now launching his second career in green transportation, the enterprise was fortified by $2 million raised among 35 visionary investors, including The Carpenters and later, Acer computers. Dr. Hon and his brother Henry were in business!
Hoping to find an OEM partner to produce the spritely new DAHON folding bike, the brothers called on many of the major bicycle brands in the U.S., Japan, Taiwan and China—but no one was interested in this kind of “niche” product: “too big a technical bite”, “too risky”. As Taiwan was already emerging as the future center of bicycle manufacturing, a bold decision was made to set up DAHON’s own factory there. Dr. Hon, who had been educated in English, now had to learn Mandarin and acquaint himself with a whole new set of social and industrial structures and customs. This truly was a big bite – and he took it.
Shiny, stainless steel “city hoppers” began rolling from the assembly line in the new Taiwanese factory by 1984 – and they were a success. In the first six months of that year, 6,000 folders were built and sold, and Californians loved them. Soon, word spread throughout the country, and they were rolling out bikes by the tens of thousands. David Hon’s star is born: DAHON!
Over 35 years later, DAHON is the best-known name in folding bicycles around the world. But their pursuit of newer, better light mobility technologies always continues.
Henry Hon, David’s youngest brother, came to the USA from Hong Kong with his family when he was eight years old. Due to the financial hardships of a family just arrived in the “New World” in the early 1960s, Henry began working as a paperboy, selling and delivering newspapers and giving all of the money he earned to his mom, who was raising four boys as a single working parent. This was the humble beginning of living the American dream: Henry continued delivering newspapers until he got into college. He got a break with a computer programming opportunity, which he used to fund his college expenses and education. He is thankful for a system and society that provided the opportunity for the son of a poor immigrant family to graduate from the University of California at Berkeley, one of the top universities of the world, with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Operation Research.
Teaming up with two of his other brothers in their computer software and insurance companies, Henry not only continued in software and technology, but cut his teeth as a business person, learning the art of sales and marketing. Just a few years after graduation, his income ballooned, which allowed him to readily support David’s budding ideas for a folding bike.
While David was busy working out the first patents for his visionary folding bicycle in the early 80s, Henry was making money – and, as the main supporter of the enterprise, invested over $100,000 to file patents, build prototypes, and get the business started. As intent on energy conservation and environmental impact as David, Henry was also an avid cyclist, until first his prized Peugeot P10, and then the all-chrome Bianchi to replace it, were both stolen. He thought that a full performance folding bike that he could take with him would certainly solve that problem! He took over the logistics of opening DAHON’s first factory in Taiwan, and joined the company full-time in 1983.
Henry’s responsibility as Executive Vice President of DAHON was to start-up marketing and sales in the USA. Due to the strong initial resistance against folding bikes among traditional bicycle channels, Henry had to come up with many creative ways to market and sell the all-new DAHON folding bikes. He first created a buzz in the market by working with major upscale catalogs, then produced a self-sustaining direct TV advertisement which built momentum nationwide, and finally targeted the major RV and marine chain retailers for national distribution. Seeing the untapped market for folding bicycles opening, the bike dealers started to stock and service DAHON folding bikes. With DAHON on track for steady worldwide growth in 1989, Henry left DAHON to pick up once again on his former interest in computer technology, and embarked on a few technology startups. Since then, Henry has been executive in companies advancing in chip level hardware products, in the important field of network security, and in Internet cloud computing. Along the way, he has been granted a few patents as the lead inventor, with three still pending. Currently, he is the lead investor and executive of Vyew.com, an engagement workspaces application.
In 2010, Henry revved up activity for DAHON once again, strengthening management and forming new corporate strategies, now as Corporate VP and a company Director. His dedication to DAHON’s folding green mobility philosophy has increased and not lessened: like David, he is convinced that energy conservation is more necessary today than when he first began this mission more than thirty years ago. Adamant in practicing what he preaches, Henry, commutes routinely to and from the office on a Vybe, his favorite DAHON folding bike: from home to the bus stop, folded on board bus and train, then unfolded to ride the last stretch to the office… Freedom unfolds!
DAHON products provide performance that exceeds expectations. A DAHON bike performs seamlessly splitting lanes on an urban street, a 30 mile weekend outing, or even a journey with a mountain pass descent. DAHON products also provide the convenience to go anywhere, anytime. A DAHON bike provides the flexibility to use other modes of transportation in order to get from point A to point B and stows easily when not in use.
DAHON was founded on a vision of “green” mobility, a form of transportation that not only serves to keep people healthier, but also preserves the environment for the next generation.
Our philosophy holds that a truly green product is one that is not disposable but is well made, and designed to bring its owner many years of enjoyable use. DAHON holds a premium place in the market by continuously striving to provide the best folding bicycles money can buy, and always staying a step ahead in terms of technology. We feel that foldable bicycles can, and should, deliver ride performance as good as or better than a traditional bike.
Dr. Hon is by nature a relentless innovator. Before the newest product even lands in the shops he’s already pursuing ways to make the next generation of DAHON folding bikes even better. This is our company culture. By making bicycles that are easier and more convenient to use, we can help increase the number of people able to fit cycling into their lives. That’s why you’ll find there’s a DAHON folding bike that’s right for virtually every individual, and for every situation.
What’s more, we at DAHON practice what we preach: many of our 800+ employees travel to work by bike, public transport, or a combination of both and participate in biking events on weekends and holidays.
We’re happy DAHON folding bikes are making such a difference in the lives of people around the world. Rest assured, we aren’t slowing down – we’re only getting started! – Dr. David Hon
DAHON is a diversified company, serving markets around the world with a broad array of innovative products which we manufacture and assemble in our factories and facilities on several continents. Our employees, too, are a colorful mix: individuals talented, creative and dedicated to environmental conservation as a lifestyle. To support all this vitality, our management teams are flexible and their style evolutionary, dealing with changing markets and rapid company expansion and development. We nurture team effort and reward excellence, encouraging individual and group contributions to innovation. This is DAHON’s commitment, and what CEO and founder Dr. David Hon calls “management with a human face”.
In committing 15% of our annual efforts to innovation, we pledge to deliver our customers our best efforts every year. This 15% development goal manifests itself in increased riding performance and comfort, improved folding and other technology and enhanced durability.
ISO 26000 is a voluntary International Standard established to provide guidance to businesses and organizations of every kind in their assumption of social responsibility in both the public and private sectors.
DAHON proudly supports ISO 26000 and actively integrates these guidelines for social responsibility into our philosophy, all our company practices and policies.
The DAHON story began when Dr. David Hon, one of the leading experts in laser technology, decided to leave the laboratory behind him and focus on green transportation for everyone, his own star was born – DAHON. Dr David Hon started a revolution, with the world’s first folding bicycle small enough to fit under a train seat. 300+ patents and over 35 years of quiet evolution and ingenious technologies later, DAHON is the leader in folding bike technology, changing the way people around the world get from “A” to “B”. Read all about it below.
Dr. David Hon, aerospace physicist and leading expert in solid-state laser technology at Hughes Aircraft Corporation in California, becomes Section Head and Senior Physicist in his field.
With the realization that laser nuclear fusion as the ultimate clean energy solution may never be achieved, Dr. Hon became increasing dissatisfied with his work.
The mounting world oil crisis manifests itself in Dr Hon’s thinking. Struck by the magnitude of the world’s dependence on oil, he returns to his college mode of transportation – his bicycle. The seed is sown for DAHON folding bicycles.
Dr. David Hon has already filed for and received 7 patents for his visionary folding bicycle. His vintage hon convertible won awards the world over.
Henry Hon took charge of marketing the new folder, seeking a bicycle company which would produce their idea. As they could find no one to support their “niche” idea, Henry began raising the money to begin production on their own.
Undaunted at the turndowns, Dr. Hon quit his job and went to Taiwan, where he built his first factory with the $2million in venture funding he had been given by idealistic supporters. By the end of the year, DAHON folding bicycles were rolling from the assembly line.
The first folding bike was a success: offering all the riding performance of a standard bike, but transforming quickly to a compact size for stowing or carrying. 6,000 folders were built and sold in the first six months.
Henry left his lucrative computer programming company and took up the marketing and administration of DAHON’s finances full time. He became Vice President the same year.
The DAHON folding bike caught on across the country, and the press got wind of the DAHON brothers’ revolutionary idea. Even television was interested in showing this timely invention, and David and Henry became celebrities in their own right. DAHON has sold 10,000 bike this year.
DAHON bikes take to the air! The ingenious DAHON folding bike appears on the cover of a 1987 Great American Airways “In Flight” magazine, and under the seats of the passengers.
DAHON wins the Taiwanese TAITRA/CETRA Outstanding Product Award.
The new Shenzhen factory opens in China, turning out 400,000 bicycles every year.
DAHON is cited in the Guinness Book of Records Millennium Edition as “the world’s largest producer of folding bicycles”.
DAHON received the Taiwan Symbol of Excellence award for its bicycle innovation.
Fortune Product of the Year award for the Flo break-away bike, co-designed with Joe Murray.
The revolutionary step-through Ciao won a Eurobike award and Cycling Plus cites DAHON with Silver Bike of the Year Awards for the Speed D6 and Budget bikes.
Eurobike Silver Design Award: Glide P7/P8 and the Ciao won Fiets RAI Bike of the Year.
Taipei International Cycle Show: Innovative Products Award
DAHON celebrated 30 uninterrupted years of excellence and innovation in folding bikes – continuing to set the trend for environmentally conscious people everywhere. Gained Eurobike Award and Taipei Cycle Show d&i Award for EEZZ.
DAHON procured exclusive distribution deal for SKS in China and launched the Turn a New Leaf green living initiative.
Primary production facility and offices relocate to Nanshan in Shenzhen, China in a move that doubles production capacity. DAHON partnered with Ford for global line of Ford branded bikes and DAHON TW LLP is founded.
Taipei Cycle Show d&i awards for Clinch and Quickpark D4D stem.
DAHON celebrated its 35th anniversary as world leader in folding bikes, continuing their vision of ‘green mobility’. To mark its 35th year, DAHON produced brand new model – the CURL. This ultra-compact, multi-patented model successfully launches on Kickstarter with backers pledging to bring the project to life. Later that year, in celebration of DAHON’s anniversary, the special edition CURL i8 was released, strictly limited to a run of 500.
DAHON launch NuWave technology at Beijing Bird’s Nest! The brand-new technology debuted by DAHON offered faster and more compact folding and could be used for all bicycle types including small wheel units, regular or electric and even big wheeled MTB and road bikes.
DAHON wins the China Cycle Creative Award for the NuWave electric folding bike