A Tale of Two Folders: A Photo Essay

Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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Brompton-Tikit Comparison Photo Essay
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52 Responses to “A Tale of Two Folders: A Photo Essay”

  • Matthew says:

    Great pictures! You’ve got to love that Brompton fold! It really shines in that aspect, though I understand the Tikit is the better ride. Haven’t had the chance to compare them for myself yet, but I am eagerly awaiting your review of the Tikit.

  • 300 Pound Gorilla says:

    I’ve owned a couple Bike Friday Metros, so I have a decent frame of reference for looking at the pictures. There are some things that I like better about each bike, but the Brompton takes the cake on account of that amazing fold. Wow.

  • akhsinak new england says:

    the reviews…don’t do it…all the bike lust this is going to stir up. i’ve managed to not want to switch bikes for 7 months now. (:

  • Brad says:

    They both have a great reputation, but the Tikit looks like a mess when folded. My money is on the Brompton.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I’ve only ridden the Tikit a short distance so far. My first impression is that the ride is not all that different than the Brompton’s. The Tikit’s front center is longer, so it provides more room for those who are tall or have a long torso and/or long arms. For those of average proportions though, I don’t think there’s as much difference in the ride as one might be led to believe. Certainly they have much more in common with one another than either have with any bike with 559 or 622 wheels.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @300 Pound Gorilla

    Yeah, no one comes close to touching the Brompton fold.

    They’re both sweet bikes….

    Alan

  • Al says:

    I love both my Tikit and Brompton and their strengths and differences are well known and expressed in countless forums. Having put many miles on both of them, my preference is for the Tikit when I do longer rides and touring. The Tikit is able to be customised to your preference and carry up to four Orb panners. Its rock steady on a high speed descent and frame rigidity is excellent (Brompton with its split frame, good but not like the Tikit).

    I love the Brompton when I have to commute on trains and buses. With the EZ wheels, it pips the Tikit for rolling around train platforms and its folded package is almost magical.

    Enjoy these two great 16″ folders. They are both tops depending on what sort of rides you do.

  • Alejandro Aranda says:

    They’re both high quality folders so it’s a dificult choice, It comes down to personal preference in the end, tons of people (incluiding me) do loaded touring on Brompton.

  • Liz says:

    What does it feel like to ride a small tire bike with extremely high stems? I know they are convenient, but I just can’t get past the look to try one. The long HB and seat stems look unstable to me.

  • Garth says:

    It is fascinating to see how two such similar bikes can be so different in mostly every photo element.

    Garth-

  • geoff says:

    The tikit fold provides theft protection: it’s a pile of bike parts. Steal THAT?!

  • Alan says:

    @Liz

    Hi Liz,

    In this case, looks are deceptive. Both bikes are well-engineered and surprisingly stiff and stable. If you have the need for a folding bike, I wouldn’t let their looks keep you from trying one! :-)

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @Garth

    “It is fascinating to see how two such similar bikes can be so different in mostly every photo element.”

    I agree! It was a fun exercise that I may use again in the future where appropriate.

    Thanks,
    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @geoff

    The Tikit’s fold certainly looks untidy, but because it rolls on the front wheel when folded, it behaves surprisingly well as a rolling cart:

    http://www.ecovelo.info/2010/05/26/shopping-with-a-tikit/

    Alan

  • Eric says:

    I’m surprised you don’t have the Hyperfold to try out! (Fastest fold?!)

  • Arnel says:

    The color scheme differences actually even out the judging since they are both extreme : out-there citrus colors vs solid black.
    But checkout the welds ! Brompton’s are almost perfect TIG welded!
    I also prefer the the braze-welded or TIG with Lugging stembase of the Brompton. It makes for a more solid and stiffer stem IMHO.
    A sweep by Brompton for sure

  • Alan says:

    @Eric

    I would have liked to try the Hyperfold. It must be the fastest fold (the videos are amazing). This model is still very quick with only one clamp to fasten/unfasten (at the handlebar stem/riser).

    Alan

  • akhsinak new england says:

    @liz

    beyond discovered its a good ride, you really have to ask yourself a personal question, are you willing to look awkwardly different in public? it might sound superficial, but it is an aspect you have to deal with. it will be quite a few years until one doesn’t stick out on a folder in the USA

  • Patrick says:

    I know that both bikes a high quality folders, but when I see the messy weld on the Tikit’s Handlebar stem (7th foto) I instantly reminded of american cars: Quality and look are often ok, but the fine details mostly are between ok and horrible…. but I was born in Germany so maybe I’m to focused on this kind of thing ;)

    Looking forward to your written impression on the Tikit

  • eddie f says:

    Tikit is now being made available with belt drive and Alfine 11. Just got the announcement today from Bike Friday. Let the games begin:

    “A belt you’d like to tighten

    The wait is over! Bike Friday will take orders for the Carbon Drive tikit beginning immediately.

    Our designers found the final pieces to the puzzle to make this belt drive tikit available for delivery this spring.

    After searching the globe for solutions, Bike Friday head designer Rob English discovered the answer with American made Phil Wood hubs and cogs.

    “The availability of the Phil Wood hubs and cogs makes it possible for us to build it,” English said.

    “The Phil Wood cogs allow us to offer the belt drive with the Alfine 8 or Nexus 8, and give customers a big enough gear range to suit most people.”

    The Phil Wood hub allows Bike Friday to offer matching rims with the Alfine 11. Being able to offer the 8-speed versions and the 11-speed version gives customers price options.”

  • DerrickP says:

    Wow. Beautiful.

  • Alan says:

    Thanks, Eddie. I beat you to it (just barely):

    http://www.ecovelo.info/2011/01/31/carbon-drive-tikit/

    Much appreciated in any case!

    Regards,
    Alan

  • Roland Smith says:

    Im my eyes, the Brompton looks a lot cleaner and simpler, compared to the tikit. There is a certain elegance to the design.

  • voyage says:

    Enjoying my Hooligan 8 as a commuter and general purpose little get-around. I’m doing a little this and a little that to it. The usual things. It doesn’t fold and I don’t need it to. Very simple for me.

  • Richard says:

    I bought the brompton – actually took it out to a base in iraq – soldiers not seen anything like it. It’s a good ride only stumbling when I twat into potholes by mistake. Good for commutes and s bag is amazing me still for it’s carrying ability.

  • Xtra says:

    Alan bomb down a hill on both and let us know what you think about the handling. Super curious!

  • Alan says:

    @Xtra

    Will do!

  • Scott says:

    Alan, what kind of bike stand do you have there in the first couple of pictures?

  • Nathan says:

    Well the pictures of the Brommie folded end the discussion for me. The whole point of a folder is that you can zip it up and carry it around like a briefcase — there appears to be no comparison between the Brommie and the Tikit (or any other) when they’re collapsed. Maybe that’s because the Brompton is almost completely unique, purpose-built parts.

    I just can’t see dropping the Tikit in a bag/box and throwing it on a train/plane…

  • Al says:

    You will be surprised that the Tikit is very versatile in trains, buses etc although its folded package is bigger than the Brompton. If folded size is your number one goal, then take a look at the Carry Me from Pacific Cycles. Its a stick folder whose footprint allows you to put it between yr knees when you are seated. 8kg, roll-able.

    Its great for short commutes -2-3km. As much respect I have for the Brompton, its not the last word in folded size IMO. I have 2 of these bikes :) apart from the Tikit and Brompton.

  • Chris says:

    We had two Riv 650b bikes, then I bought a Tikit for commuting, then we saw some Bromptons in Paris.

    We sold ‘em all, and now, me at 6’1″, my wife at 5’5″, are very comfortable commuting on our M6 Bromptons.

    Mind you, we rarely exceed 10 miles on a ride, but miss nothing whatever of the larger wheels or top tube frames. We absolutely use the Bromptons more often than the larger bikes.

    Wonderful.

  • Xtra says:

    Chris,

    Care to give your impressions of the Brompton vs Tikit?

  • Alan says:

    @Xtra

    I will at some point. Not quite yet though – I need more miles on the Tikit…

    Alan

  • Xtra says:

    Sorry Alan, that first one was a typo. The post was meant for Chris. Wasn’t trying to rush you.

  • Alan says:

    @Xtra

    Nope – my fault! You had it right… Sorry… :-)

    Alan

  • Chris says:

    Hey!

    Qualifier: Former designer (now engineering manager), and rarely go much over five miles any one way on a bike, but average ten miles a day.

    The Tikit doesn’t really ‘fold’, it is more of a hinged breakaway. It was selected initially because of all the limitations reported on the Brompton sizing. As soon as I saw one in person, it was over: The Tikit seemed more like an incomplete concept to me; the Brompton is a finished and polished elegant design. The two to three issues with frame faults that came up with the Tikit, its stem flex, and the overall layout did not inspire confidence (never liked the frame cable support system); I hope that has all been resolved these two or so years later.

    With kids in college, my wife wasn’t thrilled seeing *two* folders, along with our two 650b bikes, and … anyway, I mentioned I liked the Brompton so well, I didn’t know if I needed the 650b. She insisted (many bikes have been through that garage) the Brompton go through a trial period before *anything* was sold (but it was okay to sell the Tikit).

    Then *she* rode the Brompton. It is a nice cream white colored M6R. I have never been able to ride it since. I got an as-new P6 (now M6) black Brompton (with Carradice!) A month or so later the 650b’s were gone; I don’t even look at other bikes now. This says a lot, given I typically bought a different bike every year or two.

    I find the Brompton more solid to ride than the Tikit. The only benefit I see for the latter is if the owner wants drop bars. I no longer care, I find Ergon grips with integrated bar ends more comfortable than any Nitto combination I had before. Its nice not having choice. I don’t think about bar types or wrap or twine any more than I entertain changing the paint. I will add that with the M type (standard) bars and Pentaclip seatpost adaptor, my wife and I are within a cm of our previous 49cm and 61cm bikes. There is no loss in comfort and fit.

    The integrated front luggage system is *brilliant* for bi-modal commuting (or any commuting — bi-modal has a few more challenges). The Tikit rack *broke* with panniers. You *can* wheel a Tikit, for a few yards, then the balancing act weighs quickly on the wrist. The Brompton is far superior in its ‘push cart’ mode. We take them to the library, the supermarket, the local pool, Trader Joe’s, the bus, etc. The Tikit would *not* work as well on the bus, or in my office. In fact, it wouldn’t work at all in either situation (for me). The Tikit would track road grit on our nice carpet; not so the Brompton.

    We have ridden the Bromptons several times on the order of forty miles a day (Bay Area, Napa, Sun Valley) without any complaints. Just feels like a bike.

    If you like customizing, and really just need something that can kind of collapse into a trunk, then the Tikit may be best. If you demand elegance in design, and want something that will fit behind the each of the two front car seats(!), or that you can throw in a canvas bag and onto the airline luggage rack (for no added cost … other than today’s $15), by all means try out the Brompton.

    Coming on two years now, we love these bikes. We use them more than we have any other bike, and we’ve owned a few (Ritcheys, Bridgestones, Rivendells, customs …).

    Cheers,

    Chris

  • Alan says:

    @Chris

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks so much for the thorough report!

    Regards,
    Alan

  • Al says:

    Thank you Chris for your very passionate report of the Brompton. I enjoyed reading it and agree with its wonderful wheeling ability and solid build quality. However, I’m curious to know why the Brompton provides a more “solid” ride than the Tikit. 2 factors I find in my ownership experience of both bikes that tell me otherwise. These are:

    1. The split frame of the Brompton is not as rigid as the unbroken frame of the Tikit. I can feel this every time I hit a big bump and fly downhills at high speed.

    2. The very irritating “bounce” of the Brompton especially when climbing hills due to its rubber cone rear suspension.

    If you are a big guy, then the Tikit can be customed to fit you better with the appropriate stem and any handlebar style you desire, not just drop bars. The Brompton unfortunately is a bit compromised here.

    I’m sure many of your readers are familiar with Sean’s Tikit review (a bit dated) which provides a view of the other side and here it is for those who haven’t read it.

    www.http://cs.gmu.edu/~sean/stuff/tikit/

    His conclusion is here…

    In my review, I compared the Tikit extensively with a P8-class Dahon. Since then lots of people have brought up questions about the Tikit vs. Brompton on BikeForums. As mentioned, I’ve done some testing and comparison with Bromptons in response. So here goes: I have come to agree with Antoly Ivanov that the Tikit is a better bike than the Brompton in every respect except for one. Folded size. It folds faster; it has real bike geometry; it handles and steers much better; it rolls more realistically when folded; it has standard parts (a big deal), it rides more smoothly, it has a better warranty, etc. At my height and reach (fairly average), the Brompton M3L was pretty cramped, and though the S2L allowed a bit more reach, it did so by having handlebars so far down (for me) as to feel very unsafe. If you’re an average-sized male, only get a Brompton if you must fold down to its level of compactness.

    I suppose I’m more of a tourer and long distance rider rather than a commuter, and hence, prefer the Bike Friday Tikit for my kind of riding. But certainly for commuting and shorter distance riding, I love my Brompton. Once again Chris, appreciate you sharing your wisdom so that we can all can learn more about these 2 great folders.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_3IaCHnNBMCU/Sz48t1HOH7I/AAAAAAAADLI/vAmVwcS6HUw/s1600-h/tikit+portrait+arch.jpg

  • Xtra says:

    Thanks guys for all your comments. I’m 5′ 2\ so I don’t think the size of the brompton would be an issue. Love to hear any other comments you have as I will be buying one of these bikes soon without a test ride. Mainly using the bike for commuting but it is important that the bike be comfortable on long rides and some touring.

    Curious on any thoughts about swapping the stock saddle for a brook B-17, the stock folding pedals for removal Grip Kings and the regular suspension vs. the firm suspension especially in light of Al’s comment on bounce.

    It is interesting the number of times people comment on preferring the tikit ride because it feels more like a \normal\ bike and the comments in Sean’s review on handling and steering much better. When other people say there isn’t that much of a difference?

    thanks.

  • Alan says:

    @Al

    “1. The split frame of the Brompton is not as rigid as the unbroken frame of the Tikit. I can feel this every time I hit a big bump and fly downhills at high speed.

    2. The very irritating “bounce” of the Brompton especially when climbing hills due to its rubber cone rear suspension.”

    Interesting. I feel absolutely zero flex in the Brompton mainframe (I weigh 157 lbs.). The Brompton’s stem/riser is markedly more rigid than the Tikit’s (at least the copies that I have). Overall, mainly because of the Tikit’s stem flex, the Brompton feels more solid to me.

    Regarding the Brompton’s rear suspension, have you considered the “firm” block? My wife weighs less than me yet she prefers the firm block. I actually prefer the softer block, even though I do get a bit of bounce while climbing.

    Alan

  • Xtra says:

    Just to follow up with another comment from someone giving there opinion on brompton vs. tikit. Who also mentions the tikits superior ride.

    “Background:
    I own a Brompton M3L (3 speed hub, all steel, traditional handlebars) which I purchased about a month ago, and typically ride a) from home on the Upper West side to work downtown on the Hudson River bikeway and b) on weeknds in Central Park. I’d say I’ve ridden it over 100 miles and am very happy with it.

    Today I visited the Times Up! Folding Bike Festival in NYC. David from bfold.com was there with a couple Tikits, and I talked to him, rode it, and compared it folded and covered to my own Brompton.

    The Tikit is a very nice ride. I like my Brompton ride; what seemed at first “twitchy” compared to a full size bike, I now think of as manuverable & responsive. But the Tikit feels smoother. More like a full size. It is just better. ”

    I think I’ve basically decided on the Brompton for all the reason Chirs mentioned. And the fact that a custom tikit is quite a bit more expensive than even a tricked out Brompton. At the same price point the Brompton seems like a better deal. I’ll just have faith in those who ride bromptons frequently and have toured on them that ride and handling are up to task.

    But if anyone out there feels they can clarify or add insight into the difference in ride that people mention I would love to hear.

  • Al says:

    David Lam of BFold, a NYC folding bike dealer, made this v informative video of Tikit and Brompton. He sells both and prefers the ride of the Tikit, esp for longer distance riding. I suppose if you have the chance to ride both on an extended distance, then this will be more apparent.

    Do check out this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW5ALx_XjyM

    I do like my Brompton and it is my first folder. Please don’t get me wrong but after riding both for over 3 years and thousand of kms over various terrains and countries, my experience points me to the Tikit. If you prefer the Brompton’s ride, which is very respectable, that’s great.

    Some of my thoughts in my blog are here if its a long day in the office for you…

    http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2010/12/brompton-by-ecovelo.html

    http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2010/05/debate-continues.html

  • Al says:

    Correction – The video was done by Lynette Chiang – ex Bike Friday Galfromdownunder. Apologies.

  • Chris says:

    (Same Chris here)

    My dimensions are 175lbs, 6’1″, and I usually ride with a 10+lbs up front, maybe a pair of shoes in the Carradice rear. The M3L has the same compartment spacing, within a cm, as my 61cm Bleriot with 10cm Nitto and drops … just without the drops! This was a pleasant surprise, given the warnings I’d read about cramped compromises.

    Concurring with Alan, I sense no flex or bounce, and find the steering more positive on the Brompton. ‘Real(istic) rolling and bike geometry’? It works great, in my experience, better!

    Another example for the bi-modal: The Tikit would’ve probably needed to go on the front of my bus (never a guarantee of a front seat, not standing for an hour, thanks), but then it couldn’t go on the bus, because a standard derailleur is so low on a 16″ wheel, that it can’t go on the bike carrier … just didn’t work!

    Brooks are great, but they stain!!! I ride often in dress slacks, so I currently use a Selle Italia Gel Flow (it has rear loops for a saddlebag!), and I use MKS folding pedals, which are fine.

    Bottom line (I think Alan will agree): Get what you like!!!

    Cheers,

    Chris

  • Alan says:

    @Chris

    Yup. Both are very nice bikes; that explains the frequent comparisons on forums all over the internet. Neither is “better”, it’s just that one or the other will fit a particular person’s needs slightly better than the other.

    Alan

  • Al says:

    Well put Alan. I must say I am just so impressed by the passion of Brompton owners here in Ecovelo. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Some prefer the British ones and some the American ones and thats fine. I’m just very happy to be able to taste the best from both worlds.

    I love the MKS pedals too. Ingenious and so smooth. May I ask what tires do folks here like on their foldies?

    Al :)

  • EcoVelo compares tikit, Brompton in photos | 16incheswestofpeoria says:

    […] But both bicycles have at least one thing in common: the discerning photographic eye behind EcoVelo. […]

  • Steve says:

    I really wanted to like the Brompton ( small fold and brilliant luggage system) but my not huge feet kept clipping the small rack wheel on the back while pedaling..dangerous! and the brakes… scarily poor at stopping, plus the lack of handlebar adjustment and poor ride when unloaded. I’m a little guy, only 5 foot four but this didn’t work for me at all. The Tikit RIDES and rides well.I don’t see how you can seriously say there is not much difference in the ride. i noticed the difference riding just two blocks! and it was a huge difference.

  • Al says:

    @Steve – “The Tikit RIDES and rides well.I don’t see how you can seriously say there is not much difference in the ride. i noticed the difference riding just two blocks! and it was a huge difference.”

    Ride it 300km and the difference is even more apparent…

    http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2009/10/tikit-in-borneo.html

    http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2009/12/looping-langkawi.html

    But yes, the Brompton’s amazing fold and build quality still amazes!

  • Daniel says:

    I got a Brompton (6 speed, firm suspension, rear rack, ez wheels) a few month ago. I LOVE this bike. I bought is sight unseen, no test ride. Was concerned about people saying the bike is twitching/unstable, bad brakes etc. My previous main ride was an almost 70 pound xtracylce (nuvinvi hub, roller brakes, big apple tires). A super stable, slow steering ride. I’ve ridden road bikes that were so twitchy that I almost literally could not ride them after getting use to my xtracycle. I’ve had no issues with the Brompton steering, loaded or unloaded. Generally I ride with a pretty good load in the front touring bag but not always. When I first got the bike I rode it very gingerly, not taking turns to fast, slow down hills etc. expecting the bike to suddenly go out of control. Since I’ve learned to trust it I can speed around corners or bomb down hills, it never feels unstable to me. I get out the saddle to pedal when I want no problem.

    To me it feels like a quick, nimble regular sized bike. I’vs never noticed the brakes lacking in any stopping power I’ve needed. I’m small, 5′ 2″ 125 pounds. While I haven’t taken the bike on any long rides yet, I’m on the bike all the time as I’m car free. The bike goes inside where ever I go. I’m folding it and unfolding it all the time to take inside, clipping on the bag and it rolling through stores, down the sidewalk, etc. People are constantly amazed when they see ‘me folding and unfolding it (i’m pretty fast, on par with the guy in Time Square video, it so simple it doesn’t seem difficult to do). the small size is great for tucking under tables at coffee shops, putting in people cars etc.

    I’ve not ridden a Tikit so I can’t compare, but the Brompton is great for me and the luggage system and folding are just so slick and well thought out. Just wanted to put this out there as another persons view for those trying to decide.

  • Chris says:

    I’ve posted here before, mentioning I owned both a Tikit and Brompton; my wife also owns the latter.
    Repeating I’m 6’1″, and she’s 5’5″; I wear size 46 shoes. No problems with the rear wheels. None.
    I prefer the Brompton overall ride experience, and find its design far superior for travel (bus, auto, and flight) and portaging (the front baggage system is great; the other design had a costly rack that failed). I didn’t like the stem flex with the Tikit, otherwise it was fine.
    It is probably a good idea for the folder curious to try both. That’s not always easy.
    I am very thankful the folding bike companies exist, and offer these great solutions. The 16″ wheels are great!
    Cheers,
    Chris

  • Al says:

    I just did a 70km ride on the Brompton and it made it. Longest I have done on a Brompton. Certainly very impressive for a commuter bike but I cant help feeling the Tikit certainly is more suited for this kind of riding.

    http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2011/07/puncture-in-wilderness.html

    That said, some of my mates are doing a 128km ride around Singapore this morning and some are using the Brompton.

    I appreciate and respect the differing points of views and this is where we grow and learn from each other especially about the wonderful world of foldies.

 
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