Dr David Hon: folding bike pioneer, enhancing the future of urban transportation

Dr David Hon: folding bike pioneer, enhancing the future of urban transportation

Folding bike manufacturer Dahon chaiman Dr. David Hon has developed a patented technology called Deltec for all new Dahon bikes. This technology empowers folding bikes with unmatched strength and speed, surpassing the performance of conventional mountain and road bikes on the market.

During the year, folding bike pioneer Dr. Hon plans to publish four academic papers, shedding light on functionality and safety solutions across various types of bikes. These publications are set to become valuable industry references, contributing to the advancement of the cycling technology.

Notably, Dr. Hon's groundbreaking research several decades ago has played a significant role in a recent major breakthrough in nuclear fusion by the U.S. Department of Energy. Scientists attained a net energy gain in nuclear fusion reactions for the first time, with one of the core technologies behind this milestone stemming from Dr. Hon's earlier work. 

Dr. Hon has dedicated himself to seeking the perfect balance between change and constancy, from groundbreaking advancements in nuclear fusion to the transformation of folding bicycles into truly user-friendly, convenient modes of transport.

Committed to Green Travel

In 1972, Dr. Hon joined US-based Hughes Aircraft, a world-leading aerospace technology company, where he played a pivotal role in the early R&D of tactical lasers. During the space race in the 1970s, he gained recognition as a leader in the laser technology field. The Laser Handbook, of which Dr. Hon was a co-author, became a go-to reference for the scientific community, and his research achievements earned him numerous invitations to present lectures at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In 1975, amid a severe oil crisis, the pressing need for more efficient urban transportation solutions became evident, urging a reduction in reliance on automobiles. Recognizing the future potential of sustainable travel, Dr. Hon embarked on a transformative mission to revolutionize public transportation. He began conducting in-depth research into more convenient ways to carry bicycles.

While still maintaining his primary job, he devoted seven years of in-depth research aimed at enhancing the convenience of bicycle transportation. He focused on refining existing folding bicycles, replacing their once cumbersome design with a more user-friendly alternative. He meticulously optimized five critical aspects of folding bicycles: rideability, foldability, lightness, safety, and economy. In 1982, he introduced the first Dahon folding bike, which has been serving as the prototype for the majority of contemporary folding bicycles.

Dr. David Hon devoted seven years of in-depth research aimed at enhancing the convenience of bicycle transportation”

Dr. Hon fearlessly diverged from his flourishing career as an accomplished aeronautical engineer and physicist when he reached the midpoint of his life's journey. With a steadfast commitment to the betterment of society, he embarked on a new path, driven by the belief that his endeavours would contribute to the greater good. Subsequently, Dr. Hon became known as the Father of Modern Folding Bikes, transitioning from a physicist to a passionate advocate for low-carbon travel and a staunch defender of the environment.

In 2008, Dahon achieved a momentous milestone, garnering Guinness World Records' acknowledgement as the world's largest producer of folding bikes, with an annual production surpassing 500,000 units.

Industry growth through resource sharing

Starting from humble origins, Dahon has risen to prominence as an industry frontrunner in terms of sales, solidifying its reputation as a globally recognized brand in mass-produced bicycles. With subsidiaries and manufacturing facilities strategically established in diverse nations, Dahon has cultivated a formidable international presence, embodying its commitment to cater to a diverse global market.

Establishing a business is arduous, and sustaining it presents great challenges. One of the challenges was the inadequate protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs), resulting in many competitors unlawfully appropriating Dahon's patented technology. This gave rise to a flood of counterfeit and substandard folding bikes in the market, significantly impacting Dahon's global operations. Faced with this development bottleneck, Dahon confronted a pivotal decision: to engage in a protracted battle against infringement or to pursue revolutionary breakthroughs.

As China continues to place greater emphasis on IPR protection, Dr. Hon implemented a technology-sharing and dual-brand marketing strategy in 2019, which allows industry peers to utilize widely recognized or trusted IPRs. As a result of the approach, Dahon to date has established stable partnerships with over 40 prominent domestic and international bicycle makers, offering them a wide array of high-tech key components.

The collaborative effort enables the makers to streamline their brand development processes, optimize resource allocation, and gain a competitive edge in the market. Dr. Hon’s entrepreneurial vision is reflected in his unwavering dedication to building an innovation-driven business and fostering industry growth through resource sharing.

A single-tube folding bike reinforced with a Deltech steel cable.
A single-tube folding bike reinforced with a Deltech steel cable.

In 2023, a groundbreaking era for folding bikes with single-beam frames will be ushered in as the popular bicycle brand equips all new models with the cutting-edge Deltec technology. Deltec enhances the frame’s strength and rigidity, delivering unparalleled performance. This was visibly demonstrated at the speed challenge race during this year’s China Cycle in Shanghai, where bikes equipped with the Deltec outpaced those with large wheels.

Dahon is set to be listed on on the Beijing Stock Exchange in 2024, wholeheartedly embracing Dr. Hon’s business philosophy that revolves around technology, fashion, environmental protection, and convenience. The company will continue to foster innovation, share its expertise, and strive to become a frontrunner in the sustainable travel sector.

This article is sponsored by Dahon.