“The good news is that macro economic forces such as skyrocketing [petrol] prices and government support for ‘clean’ transportation will only intensify the demand for our products in the coming years,” said Hon.
Revenues were boosted in part by licensing fees paid by the increasing number of companies now licensing Dahon’s patents, some of them former infringers of the patents.
Dahon has been making folding bikes since 1982. Hon is based in California and Dahon has factories and offices in Taiwan and China. The bikes are brought into the UK by Mark Bickerton of Cyclemotion.
Dahon has sold 1.3 million folding bicycles since 1982.
Hon founded the company whilst a physicist at Hughes Aircraft Corporation in California working on highly classified US government projects. Breakthrough laser technology that he and his team developed is now used on NASA space shuttles, missile guidance systems, and laser-guided anti-aircraft guns.
But, preferring plough-shares to swords, Hon left to channel his energies into producing a form of transport that he hoped would cut America’s dependence on gasoline.
He knew the bicycle was one solution but it needed to be more easily adaptable with other forms of transport like buses and trains. His solution was a portable folding bicycle.
Dr. Hon visited major bicycle manufacturers around the world, hoping to find a company to either license his design or build the bike for him. None did, so he formed his own company.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Many of Dahon’s patented designs have become de facto standards for folding bicycles, with many manufacturers violating Dahon’s patents, said Hon.
“Last year, at least 500 000 folding bicycles were sold in Japan that violated a key Dahon patent. Many of these bicycles were sourced from Taiwan and China. This year, [we] initiated an aggressive patent enforcement program in Japan. The legal action has resulted in numerous patent licensing agreements and the addition of many new customers.”
For 2002, Dahon will introduce an expanded range of folding bikes that includes a 17 kg. folding electric bicycle and new models using Dahon’s VAX suspension technology. Dahon will exhibit at Eurobike, Friedrichshafen and InterBike, Las Vegas.