I’ve been a Tikit owner for several years now, and I’ve certainly been happy with the bike for its intended use: being able to suitcase the bike so that I can have my own bike on hand during trips. However, I’ve always wondered about the Brompton as an alternative, and for city use, I could see how the extremely compact fold would be an advantage. Last weekend, I participated in the Brompton Urban Challenge, and I was able to secure a loaner for that event. I was able to bring it home to practice folding and unfolding it. At the same time, this was a golden opportunity to compare the bikes side to side.
The loaner bike that I got was the six speed with straight bars and fenders. In Brompton parlance, this would make it an S6L, in red. Here it is, loaded up for the journey home from Curbside Cycle.
Since the primary use for my Tikit has been as a travel bike, the first thing to do was to see if the Brompton would fit my existing F’lite case, just like my Tikit.
I’m thinking how wonderful it would be not to have to partially disassemble the bike for travel. However, you can see that the Brompton will not fit.
I’m assuming that the Brompton hardcase is much more square in proportion than a typical suitcase.
Next up: a side by side comparison. Here I get another surprise: the Brompton actually has a longer wheelbase.
You can also see that the type S bars put my hands lower than they are on the Tikit.
From the side, the folded sizes don’t look that different.
However, looking from the front to back, you see that the Brompton is much more compact, even ignoring the fact that I’ve put custom handlebars on the Tikit that stick way out to the side.
Here’s a top view of the two handlebar setups. If I ever do get a Brompton, I’m going to have to figure out how to get a similar bullhorn type setup on it. This will necessitate using a quick release to clamp the handlebars on the Brompton. The total widths of the handlebars are similar.
Back to back test rides confirm the impression that I got during my test ride at Kinetics: the Brompton stem (and perhaps frame) is significantly stiffer than the Tikit. This photo shows why: the diameter of both the frame member and the stem are larger on the Brompton. (for the record, my Tikit is a size M with the heavy rider upgrade)
The other differences between the two bikes that I felt:
- Braking was much better on the Brompton, especially the rear brake (which is very marginal on the Tikit). The braking was good enough that perhaps the disc brakes on a Kinetic Brompton would be overkill.
- Shifting was much better on the Tikit. Granted, mine has a belt drive 11 speed Alfine. Nevertheless, the 3×2 gearing on the Brompton was awkward, and I was also very concerned about how flexy the Sturmey Archer shifters seemed.
- The folding was more solid on the Brompton, and not only is the folded package a more compact shape, it was also significantly easier to carry.
Speaking of carrying, interestingly enough, the two bikes as specced weighed in at exactly 26.8 pounds (to the precision of my bathroom scale). This included fairly heavy saddle and pedals on the Tikit, as well as the extra weight of the Alfine hub.
Interestingly enough, Bike Friday is launching another 16″ wheeled folding bike called the Pakit that breaks down to be more compact than a Tikit, and it also lighter. The question is whether the Pakit will replace the Tikit in the Bike Friday lineup in the long run.
Would I be tempted to buy a Brompton? Given my budget, I’d have to sell the Tikit to fund the purchase, so this would not be an easy decision. I’m going to hold off until I also see the Helix folding bike, which is due to materialize sometime in the fall. It has larger wheels and still supposedly fits into an airline legal suitcase.
The other issue of Brompton ownership is that it is a bit like joining a cult. Speaking of which, I did have a blast at the Brompton Urban Challenge. My report appears elsewhere. However, I can show a few extra pictures from the weekend.
Have you ever seen so many ETRO 349 wheels in one place?
I really liked this number that belongs to one of the mechanics at Curbside. It has a custom paintjob from Velocolour that puts my Canadian flag themed Tikit to shame.
It is the lightweight version with a Ti fork and rear triangle. However, the low spoke count front wheel is definitely not stock.
Here is the rear triangle, showing also the Nokon cabling.
Carbon bars and a higher quality rear shifter.
The Brompton Urban Challenge was a great event, hanging with a very fun group of people. Thanks to Curbside for the generous loan of the bike. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad joining the cult. We shall see……