DAHON Founder Dr. David Hon: The Evolution of a Physicist to the Father of Modern Folding Bikes

DAHON Founder Dr. David Hon: The Evolution of a Physicist to the Father of Modern Folding Bikes

Exploring the Balance between Change and Constancy in Pursuit of Innovation and Sustainable Travel

Dr. David Hon, DAHON’s CEO and chairman, has been a pioneer in the folding bicycle industry, and has developed a patented technology called DELTEC for all new DAHON folding bikes this year. This patented technology has been proven through extensive indoor and outdoor testing as well as riding data analysis. The DELTEC cable empowers DAHON bikes with unmatched strength and speed, surpassing the performances of mountain and road bikes on the market.

During 2023, Dr. Hon also plans to publish four academic papers that will shed light on functionality and safety solutions for many types of bikes. These publications are expected to become valuable industry references, contributing to the advancement of cycling technology.

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

For many years, Dr. Hon has been dedicated 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.

Dr. David Hon, DAHON’s CEO and Chairman

Committed to Green Travel, Pursuing Change in Life

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 highly respected leader in the laser technology field. The Laser Handbook, of which Dr. Hon was a co-author, had a significant impact on the industry and became a go-to reference for the scientific community. His outstanding 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 user-friendly bicycle transportation. Dr. Hon 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 economics. This relentless pursuit of excellence allowed him to maximize the potential of these bikes while achieving a harmonious balance among these crucial elements.

In 1982, Dr. Hon introduced the first DAHON folding bike to the world, which has served as the prototype for the majority of contemporary folding bicycles. He fearlessly diverged from his flourishing career as an accomplished aeronautical engineer and physicist when he reached 40 years old. With a steadfast commitment to improve society, he embarked on a new path, driven by the belief that his endeavors 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 acknowledgment from Guinness World Records as the world’s largest producer of folding bikes, with an annual production surpassing 500,000 units.

From Protecting IPRs and Contributing to Industry Development 

For the past four decades, DAHON, under Dr. Hon’s visionary leadership, has wholeheartedly pursued its mission of delivering unparalleled products and services to customers while maintaining an unwavering dedication to innovation. Starting from humble beginnings, DAHON has risen to prominence as an industry frontrunner in terms of sales, solidifying its reputation as a globally recognized brand for mass-produced bicycles. With subsidiaries and manufacturing facilities strategically established in diverse nations, DAHON has cultivated a strong international presence, strengthening its commitment to cater to a diverse global market.

A group photo of representatives at DAHON’s International Distributor Conference in 2014

DAHON’s folding bikes have achieved remarkable success with robust production and sales, captivating public attention. Nevertheless, establishing a business requires a lot of hard work, and sustaining it presents even greater challenges. One of these challenges has been 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 challenge, 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 manufacturers, offering them a wide array of high-tech key components. The collaborative scheme enables them 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.

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 cutting-edge DELTEC technology. The revolutionary DELTEC enhances the frame’s strength and rigidity, delivering unparalleled performance. This superiority was visibly demonstrated at the speed challenge race during this year’s China Cycle in Shanghai, where bikes equipped with it, outpaced those with large wheels. While integrating DELTEC technology may entail increased production costs and crimped profit margins, it is instrumental in maintaining the brand’s leading position in the market by focusing on product differentiation and continuous improvement.

Thanks to the Chinese government’s increased emphasis on IPR protection, DAHON’s innovative folding technology enjoys efficient safeguards. Led by Dr. Hon, the company’s dedicated R&D team has secured over 500 bicycle patents in domestic and international markets. Approximately 10% of the 130 million bicycles sold worldwide each year are folding bicycles, with the vast majority incorporating 5 to 6 patented technologies developed by DAHON.

With its extensive experience in R&D as well as exceptional product quality, DAHON has demonstrated its strong technological advantages as well as its strong leadership role in the industry. No longer limited to folding bikes, DAHON’s product portfolio now encompasses electric, power-assist, cargo, carbon fiber, telescopic, off-road, children’s bikes, as well as a new product category of electric mopeds and motorcycles.

Moreover, DAHON is set to be listed on the Beijing Stock Exchange in 2024 with the support of CITIC Securities, further solidifying its position in the industry.

Dr. Hon’s pursuit of excellence and his entrepreneurial mindset has been evident in the company’s numerous iterations throughout the years.

With Hard Work, the Core Mission Remains Unchanged

As is often said, hard work pays off. Over the past several decades, DAHON has received numerous national, ministerial and provincial-level awards in addition to being recognized as a National High-Tech Enterprise by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, a highly regarded designation in the country. Other honors have included a Taiwan Invention Award, and a Gold Medal at a Eurobike design competition. Most notably, the firm’s new disc brake and CURL electric bike has won the Innovation Gold Award at China Cycle.

At the 2023 China Bicycle Design Event, DAHON’s ultra-light carbon fiber folding bike received the Gold Award, standing out from hundreds of competitors by earning a spot on the 2023 Ray Top Bicycle Design List.

In 2021, Dr. Hon was featured on the cover of China Bicycle magazine and invited for an exclusive interview with CCTV’s Extraordinary Craftsmen program in 2022.

While earning these accolades, Dr. Hon remains committed to his original mission of “serving the people”.

Dr. Hon philanthropic efforts include his active participation in Zhejiang Xinhua Compassion Education Foundation’s “Hope for Pearl” program. Over the past ten years, he has provided financial assistance to over 200 underprivileged Pearl students through the program, empowering them to pursue higher education while spreading support and warmth through eco-friendly public services.

Throughout his remarkable 80-year journey, Dr. Hon has evolved from a physicist to an environmental advocate, inventor, and philanthropist. His numerous transformations highlight his noble character and unwavering dedication to serving society with selfless devotion and compassion.

Moving ahead, DAHON is poised to wholeheartedly embrace Dr. Hon’s business philosophy, which revolves around technology, design, environmental protection, and convenience. The company will continue to foster innovation, share its expertise, and strive to become a frontrunner in sustainable travel.