Brompton vs Tikit

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……






no further comment.

A while ago I backed a Kickstarter project for an unusual raincape called the Boncho. The original delivery date was March 2016, but delivery was somewhat delayed (par for the course for Kickstarter projects). My Boncho arrived last week. Here are a couple of unboxing pictures.

The Boncho weighs 422 g (size medium).


Here is a comparison with the Cleverhood rain cape.


The main feature of the Boncho is that there is an embedded wire loop that keeps the front of the poncho semi rigid over the handlebars.  However, you can see that the coverage is considerably less than the Cleverhood, especially to the sides.

Here is a picture on the bike.


Again with the helmet.


It is useful to compare this with the Impac raincape, which has considerably less coverage


or the Cleverhood.


So the Boncho is between the Impac and the Cleverhood.

Here is the comparison of the packed sizes.

Here is a view of the Boncho hood, with some adjustment cords, and a water resistant zipper, and some reflective trim.


The hood barely fits over my helmet, but then the zipper won’t close.


Here is the back of the wire loop, showing the straps that you can use to hold onto the poncho.


I rode with the Boncho in the rain for the first time today.  It did a good job of keeping me dry. Also, I can see some advantages to the wire loop stiffener. It holds the front edge of the poncho forward enough that my lower legs were fractionally drier. Also, it was very easy to reposition the poncho when I used one hand to do a hand signal. Finally, it also avoids the puddle between the arms that can accumulate with any other poncho.

However, the downside to the Boncho was that the frontal area is huge, and extends to the sides much wider than the handlebars, so if you are concerned about aerodynamic drag, this is not a good choice for you.


What is the alternative?  The Impac rain cape is lighter, but the coverage is minimal to the sides. The Cleverhood gives the best coverage, but it is heavy and relatively expensive. However, I recently discovered that Cleverhood has come up with a much less expensive option called the Cleverlite raincape. The Cleverlite does not have the bells and whistles of the Cleverhood, in particular the very handy pass thru slits for your hands that have magnetic closures. However it is less than half the price, and it is still sewn in the US.

Here is a comparison of the coverage of the Cleverlite and the Cleverhood.


The same amount of coverage front to back, and only a little less to the sides.

Here is a flash photo of the back, which highlights the reflective trim. (The Cleverhood electric houndstooth still looks awesome.)


The Cleverlite weighs 210 grams.


If you roll it up, it packs pretty small, smaller than a Marmot Super Mika rain jacket (typical for an ultralight rain jacket) but bigger than the Impac rain cape.


My preference for a rain cape is that it packs small. At the same time, the coverage of the Impac rain cape is marginal in windy conditions. The Cleverlite offers the best balance of packability and coverage at a very reasonable price point. The Impac is still a good option to stash in a saddle bag to “just in case” if I’m not sure that it will rain.

Summary table

Cape Weight (g) Price Origin
Cleverhood 660 $249 US US
Cleverlite 210 $99 (on sale for $79) US
Boncho 422 $74 Taiwan
Impac (Cape Scott) 104 $50 CDN China

A few other notes:

  • Impac makes a heavier rain cape that provides more coverage and has a transparent window for a headlamp beam. I have no experience with this.
  • No rain cape will work well without full coverage fenders.
  • The Cleverlite raincape was provided by Cleverhood for this review.

My previous posts on rain capes:

Open Streets TO

Today was the first of two days for Open Streets TO. This year, they extended the range all the way west to Dufferin St. (On Sept 18, they will also close the Bloor St. viaduct, and extend the closure to the Danforth). At the same time, a cargobike meetup was advertised on Facebook, so we set off to see how many people would show up.


One presumes that when there is car traffic, it would be too dangerous to unicycle while playing the ukelele on Bloor.


I see that these booths are blocking the Bloor bike lane, but I guess we’ll give them a pass.


Nice to see many families out biking.


Some of them were riding cargobikes.

Here is everyone that showed up for the cargobike meetup.


These guys are test riding our Haul a Day.


Jeremy is ready to ride!


Doug toted Honey in a messenger bag today.


Lucy says it’s time to ride.


These are the faster guys.


I like how the booths east of Spadina leave the bike lane clear.


I had not seen an Omnium cargo bike before today.


Let’s turn south at Yonge and Bloor.


Headed down Yonge St.


Meeting up with Cycle Toronto volunteers who were collecting signatures for bike lanes on Yonge.


Lucy says it’s time to ride north.


We meet Andy and Elise.


Honey strikes a post at Curbside Cycles, who had a full display of Babboe cargo bikes.


So we had lots of fun riding during Open Streets. However, the format of the cargobike meetup was less successful than the last time. In particular, we didn’t manage to get a group back to the starting point, which might have been a bit of a disappointment for Curbside, since everyone was riding at different paces, and it was difficult to predict our progress during Open Streets. Next year, perhaps we’ll go back to the format of one or two weekend kids and cargobike rides during Bike Month.

Update: Dandyhorse has posted their coverage of this meetup.




BM2016: 3.5 weeks to go

HPVDT has been busy with several projects running in parallel this summer. However, as the dates for  WHPSC 2016 approach, they are making final preparations for the event.

Their main effort this summer has been their submarine AXIOS. Here is a fuzzy shot of the male buck used to make the hull mold


and here are the molds.


Everything is being made from fiberglass that was sourced as scrap from a wind turbine factory.


Here is the rear portion of the hull.


Calvin holds one of the propeller blades.


In terms of Battle Mountain, their plan is to bring Eta Prime, and either Vortex or Bluenose. Here is a picture of Eta Prime, Vortex and Cyclone.


Here is Eta Prime with the rear part of the fairing installed.


Eta Prime is pretty much up and running. It has been track tested up to about 50 mph. The test speed was limited by the roughness of the track causing severe vibration. If things go well, Calvin has a shot at upgrading his hat. In the meantime, he has to defend his Master’s thesis in about a week.


Locke St (Hamilton)

Was in Hamilton this weekend, and I noticed some changes on Locke St since our last visit to the neighbourhood. Firstly, I see that Steam Whistle Brewery bike repair stations have made it to the Hammer.

Also, it seems that the bikeshare system is a hit, and I noticed some nice enhancements at this station. I like the fact that the advertising on the rack and sign is hyperlocal.


Also, it looks like wayfinding has been added as part of a 100 in 1 day project. This should be done in Toronto.



Today was the late Tooker Gomberg’s birthday. Appropriately enough, it was also the day that the Bloor bike lane pilot was officially opened. I posted some pictures over on the Bells on Bloor website, so I won’t repost them here.

However, I will note that this picture (by Martin Reis) showed up in the CBC news coverage of the opening.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 5.00.57 PM

The other piece of good news was the official announcement that the West Toronto Railpath will be extended south past Queen and Dufferin which could be a game changer for the west end.

Finally, just a link to an article showing that not all aspects of bike infrastructure in Vancouver are ideal.



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