ANATOLY IVANOV / PROSE / 2008-12-06

BIKE FRIDAY TIKIT VS BROMPTON COMPARISON REVIEW

by Anatoly IVANOV

CYCLING / TRANSPORTATION / TRAVEL / REVIEWS

Any folding bike with wheels over 16 inches (Airnimal, Bike Friday 20" models, Dahon 20", 24", 26" models, Swift) folds into a package too large to carry around, do the shopping, chill-out at the pub, hop on trains or leave at the coat checks (cloakrooms) in museums, theaters and restaurants.

If your priority is intermodal transport and maximum flexibility, 16-inch folders are the way to go.

Both the Bike Friday Tikit and the Brompton ride on 16" wheels. Unlike the Dahon’s 16" models, both compete in the top-quality market share. How do they compare?

FOLDED SIZE

 

Photo: folded Bike Friday Tikit (left) vs folded Brompton P3L (right)

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
89 x 62 x 38 cm 53 x 56 x 27 cm
35 x 24 x 15 in 21 x 22 x 11 in
Bulky. Compact.
Asymmetrical. Square.
Disorderly, cluttered look. Orderly, neat look.
Does not fit in a backpack. Fits in a backpack.

The folded Tikit is approximately 2 times bulkier than the folded Brompton.

 

Photo: folded Bike Friday Tikit (left) vs folded Brompton P3L with removed seat post (right)

Brompton’s orderly, tidy look helps to pass security inspection.

Choice: if you want the most compact folded size, choose the Brompton. If you want to carry your folded bike in a backpack, choose the Brompton as well. If you want to fit your bike into tight places (overhead compartments, squeezed bars and Paris apartments), choose the Brompton. If you want to maneuver with the folded bike in dense crowds, like in shopping malls, or pass the security checks… like in shopping malls, choose the Brompton.

FOLDING / UNFOLDING PROCESS

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
Folding time: 5 seconds. Folding time: 25 seconds.
Unfolding time: 5 seconds. Unfolding time: 40 seconds.

To fold:

  1. tap on the seat post
  2. swing the rear wheel under the main frame
  3. push down and lock the stem and handlebars assembly
  4. push the seat post down

To fold:

  1. disconnect the rear triangle
  2. swing the rear wheel under the main frame
  3. unscrew the main frame hinge clamp
  4. rotate / swing the front wheel, stem and handlebars assembly
  5. unscrew the stem hinge clamp
  6. push down and lock the stem and handlebars assembly
  7. unlock the seat post quick-release
  8. lower the seat post
  9. lock the seat post quick-release
To unfold, repeat the process in reverse.
The seat’s position remains unchanged throughout the folding / unfolding process. No need to readjust. The seat’s height and angle require readjustment after each unfold. Marking on the seat post helps, but it’s still a hassle.

I give my own average folding / unfolding times. When unfolding the Brompton, I double-check the saddle alignment, the latches and the brake cables.

Some Brompton and Tikit users claim even faster folding times: 10 seconds to fold the Brompton and 4 seconds to fold the Tikit.

Even though both bikes require a negligible amount of time to fold or unfold, the Tikit comes forward as a clear winner: world’s fastest fold, no latches or clamps to unscrew. Moreover, the Tikit’s folding process maintains the bike’s fit.

Choice: if you’re looking for the absolute fastest and easiest folding process, choose the Tikit.

RIDE QUALITY

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
Stable, “feels like a full-sized bike” handling. Twitchy, over-responsive handling.
No-hands riding is super easy. No-hands riding is super difficult.
Out of the saddle riding is stable. Out of the saddle riding is unstable.
Track standing is OK. Track standing is a challenge, although feasible.

I compare the ride quality to that of the mid- and top-of-the-line non-folding road bikes. Both the Brompton and the Tikit offer an exceptional ride when compared to lower-end folders.

Still, although the Brompton’s over-responsive handling allows for some crazy maneuvers in traffic, the Tikit is way, way better to ride. While I routinely go over 50 km/h (31 mi/h) on the Brompton, the Tikit can handle a lot more.

Choice: if you prefer a stable, predictable ride, choose the Tikit.

BIKE FIT

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
  • size small
  • size medium
  • size large
  • custom, built to size
One size fits most.
Adjustable handlebar height. Non-adjustable handlebar height. You can choose among 3 stem heights.
You can choose among 3 standard seat post to handlebars distances (in 5 cm increments) or specify a custom size. You can choose among 3 slightly different distances.
  • flat bars
  • bullhorn bars
  • drop bars
  • moustache bars
  • Bike Friday’s “H” bars
  • traditional “Dutch” or “BMX” handlebars
  • flat bars
  • “butterfly” or “touring” handlebars

Either the Brompton fits you or not.

I’m 1 m 80 cm (5.9 ft) and wear size 45,5 EUR (11.5 US) shoes. I had to modify my P-type Brompton and replace its “butterfly” handlebars with flat bars to obtain a more aerodynamic position. The fit remains sub-optimal.

Choice: if the bike’s fit is paramount, choose the Tikit.

STANDARDS

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
The Bike Friday designers sacrifice the folded size to remain standards-compliant. Therefore, it’s easy to fit almost any bike component on the Tikit. Because the Brompton designers customize the entire bike to obtain a compact fold, almost everything is non-standard. For example, the rear wheel hub over locknut width is 110 mm, the handlebar clamp diameter is 25 mm, brakes are inverted down pull type, etc. Hence it’s difficult to retrofit the bike with widely available components.

Choice: if you’d like to customize your bike “just so”, choose the Tikit.

GEAR SYSTEMS

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
1 to 24 gears 1 to 6 gears

Just about any gear system available on the market, for example:

  • 1-speed: freewheel
  • 1-speed: fixed
  • 8-speed: Shimano Nexus 8 internal gear hub
  • 8-speed: SRAM PG-820 rear cassette
  • 9-speed: Shimano Capreo rear cassette
  • 20-speed: SRAM Red 2-speed front chainset combined with 10-speed rear cassette
  • 24-speed: 3-speed SRAM DualDrive internal gear hub combined with 8-speed SRAM PG-820 rear cassette
  • 1-speed: freewheel
  • 2-speed: Brompton 2-speed rear derailleur
  • 3-speed: 3-speed Sturmey-Archer SRF3 internal gear hub
  • 6-speed: 3-speed SRAM internal gear hub combined with Brompton 2-speed rear derailleur
  • 6-speed: 3-speed Sturmey-Archer BWR (Brompton Wide Range) internal gear hub combined with Brompton 2-speed rear derailleur

In my opinion, the Brompton and the Tikit “derailleur + internal gear hub” mixtures combine the worst of both worlds.

The Brompton’s gear systems do work, and work reliably. The latest 3-speed Sturmey-Archer BWR is a bit of an improvement. But frankly, that kind of gear ranges and spacings still struggle to maintain optimal pedaling cadence.

I have tried only the “8-speed SRAM cassette + derailleur” Tikit. A disappointment. The chain angle in high gears is huge. The Tikit owner and myself were derailing too often to stay calm and clean. Besides, with the 16" wheels, the chain runs very close to the ground. Much lower than the front sprocket (chainset). Curb hopping, anyone?

For urban, everyday riding I would select a modern internal gear hub like the Shimano Nexus, Shimano Alfine, SRAM i-Motion 9… Or even the Rohloff Speedhub 500/14.

Choice: if you prefer a wide-range, evenly-spaced gear system or a fixie, choose the Tikit.

BRAKES

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton

Just about any model of “V” or dual-pivot caliper brakes available on the market (SRAM, Shimano, Tektro…)

Custom Brompton dual-pivot caliper brakes with inverted downwards cable pull.

Brompton’s custom brakes pale in comparison with most standard brakes. Even after tinkering, Alhonga’s production squeaks and misaligns. While the recent introduction of Fibrax pads to the standard Brompton configuration has largely improved toe-in adjustment and overall performance, the brake brackets themselves continue to creak under load, similar to brakes in the entry-level Shimano road groupos like Tiagra. These are no higher-end Shimano or Campagnolo.

Choice: if you require dependable, powerful braking in any weather, choose the Tikit.

WHEELS

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
Quick releases on both front and rear wheels. No quick releases on either wheel. Both wheels require a 15 mm hex wrench. The rear wheel is a pain to remove because of the internal gear hub construction.

Choice: if you plan to puncture every week, choose the Tikit.

TIRES

All tires available in the 16" size (not much) fit both the Tikit and the Brompton.

Choice: parity.

FENDERS (MUDGUARDS)

Both the Tikit and the Brompton provide built-in fenders. A must for any weather riding.

Choice: parity.

TIME-TEST

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
Production model launched in 2007. Production model launched in 1988.

The Brompton has been around for 20 years. User and dealer feedback through all these years have helped to incrementally improve the machine.

Although the Bike Friday Tikit lacks such hindsight, its manufacturer has been producing high-quality, performance folding bikes since 1993. Their experience trickles into the new 16-inch wheel Tikit.

Choice: if you prefer a time-proven, fully-known product, choose the Brompton.

GUARANTEE

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
Frame, latches and cables guaranteed for life. Frame guaranteed for 5 years.
Non-Bike Friday parts guaranteed based on individual manufacturer’s warrantee. All other parts guaranteed for 2 years.

Choice: if a lifetime frame guarantee is important, choose the Tikit.

PRODUCTION PLANT LOCATION

Bike Friday Tikit Brompton
Frame manufactured in the USA. Frame manufactured in the UK.
Components manufactured in China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia or USA. Most components manufactured in Europe (UK, Germany, France, Holland) with some components manufactured in China.
Assembled in the USA. Assembled in the UK.

Both Brompton and Bike Friday are small-sized companies that currently lack the global reach and leverage of some bike giants. Their location impacts distribution, technical support and prices. The closer to the home-plant, the lower the prices and the better the availability of spares.

Choice: if costs and logistics matter, choose depending on where you live. Choose the Brompton if you live in Europe. Choose the Tikit if you live in the USA or Canada. For all other places, production location is irrelevant.

MY PERSONAL CHOICE: A MODIFIED BROMPTON P3L

I need a folding bike that rides fast and fits in a backpack. These 2 requirements have selected the Brompton for me.

I have customized my bike to reduce some of its shortcomings. I still have to live with many of the Brompton’s inconveniences, but in the end, this bike gets me into places where a Tikit would never fit.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Special thanks to Rebecca NOTORANGELO HALDEMAN for letting me inspect, ride, photograph and break her Bike Friday Tikits on numerous occasions, as well as for debating all things cyclable / foldable.

CHANGE LOG

2008-12-06 Detailed my ride quality comparison. Clarified and expanded Brompton’s brakes section. Thanks to Greg SMITH, Brompton, for suggesting these improvements.
2008-09-27 Added a distinction between folding and unfolding times, clarified time measurement procedures. Thanks to Emerson ROBERTS, Brompton, for pointing out the ambiguity.
2008-09-25 Expanded Brompton’s folding time. Added test of time perspective.
2008-09-24 Corrected Brompton’s gear systems.
2008-09-22 Updated Brompton’s gear systems and Bike Friday Tikit’s handlebars.
2008-07-06 Added side-by-side folded bikes comparison photographs.
2008-02-25 First publication.

39 COMMENTS

Marcus Hunt / 2008-09-24 14:43

Some of your points are valid (adjustable handlebars/hundreds of pounds spent on getting proper gears) but:

1. I commute 17 miles there and 17 back on awful London streets and the handling is perfectly acceptable for that distance.

2. 30 seconds to fold? Who are you getting to do the test, Abu Hamza?! I can fold that thing in under 10 secs every time, including taking the front carrier back off!

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2008-09-24 20:33

Marcus,

1. I commute 17 miles there and 17 back on awful London streets and the handling is perfectly acceptable for that distance.

I agree. Handling is acceptable. Quite good compared to most 16″ folders. It’s not the best though, in my opinion. Again, I compare the Brompton with the Bike Friday Tikit and with larger bikes. Good with the better.

And I do cycle over 60 km (37 mi) in one go on my Brompton without complaining too much.

2. 30 seconds to fold? Who are you getting to do the test, Abu Hamza?!

Err… No, myself. ;-) Am I that slow?!

I can fold that thing in under 10 secs every time, including taking the front carrier back off!

Cool!

Personally, I double-check the saddle alignment, the latches, the brake cables… I take my time. Swiss-style, I guess…

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2008-09-27 23:20

Marcus,

Actually, by “folding” I meant an averaged folding / unfolding time. I have since clarified the issue, giving specific, separate folding and unfolding times.

Nick Radcliffe / 2008-10-31 11:34

Just a quick note to say thanks very much for this review. I’m just about to order a Brompton, but still had a niggling feeling I should be taking a closer look at the Tikit. I’m still going to get the Brompton, but at least now it’s a better informed decision!

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2008-11-06 20:54

Nick,

The Tikit is indeed a very interesting machine, and indeed worth a close look.

I really appreciate your thanks. Helping others to choose, by sharing as much as I know, is one of the main reasons I publish such articles.

james simpson / 2008-11-19 20:25

Very good review know Brompton supreme compact folder that holds value but intersting to know brakes misalign and easy to forget back punctures major pain due to hub system-probably need mechanic.

Question does this mean cycle shop job for punctures?

Small transport wheels can be replaced £13 with industrial type wheels from Brompton

john evans / 2008-11-24 23:21

Thanks for your interesting comparison.

I don’t feel rear wheel punctures are a pain – just more time consuming. After the gear indicator & chain tensioner is removed (simple operations) the wheel can be removed easily & promptly, without slackening off the brake pads, as the tyre is already flat.

It takes me longer to extract the tube, find thorn in tyre, & refit tube & tyre, than to remove & refit the wheel & tensioner. Definitely don’t need a bike shop to do it.

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2008-12-06 22:12

interesting to know brakes misalign

Yes. I’d say the Brompton’s frame is of excellent quality, but their choice of low-endish components continues to puzzle me.

In my opinion, the brakes rotate on their fixation axle for several reasons: the axle carries a lot of additional stuff (fenders, lighting), the bolting is suboptimal (intermediate pieces, flat washers, etc), the brakes tighten up after folding due to numerous sharp cable turns (and so micro-rotate to grasp even the slightest variations in the wheel and stay in that position for prolonged periods of time).

Question does this mean cycle shop job for punctures?

As John writes above, the answer is definitely “no”.

While more complicated than the derailleur systems with wheel skewers and even some internal gear hub systems (SRAM i-Motion 9…), the Brompton’s rear wheel removal is doable even at night and in the rain. Practice at home though.

small transport wheels can be replaced £13 with industrial type wheels from Brompton

Exactly. That’s what I did for my Brompton.

Rob Olson / 2009-02-07 06:47

I am about to buy a folder for my commute (20mi round trip most days, others 35mi due to other sites). I appreciate the review. I was leaning heavily to the Brompton although am beginning to worry about the fit and my unusual size (6ft 5in, 205 pounds). It appears the more custom fit and better ride of the Tikit may sway me in the end. The size of the Brompton fold is very inviting but not absolutely crucial to me, comfort of ride and fit are significant concerns for me.

Do you have opinions about the choice of handlebars in the Tikit and Brompton?

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2009-02-10 00:48

I am about to buy a folder for my commute (20 mi round trip most days, others 35 mi due to other sites).

Great! Will this be your first folder?

I appreciate the review.

Thanks!

I was leaning heavily to the Brompton although am beginning to worry about the fit and my unusual size (6ft 5in, 205 pounds).

I’m 5.9 ft and use the extended (+6 cm) seat post, so you’ll most probably need the telescopic seat post on the Brompton.

It appears the more custom fit and better ride of the Tikit may sway me in the end. The size of the Brompton fold is very inviting but not absolutely crucial to me, comfort of ride and fit are significant concerns for me.

Do you have access to both bikes?

I would definitely suggest test-riding both. And the longer, the better. I mean, more than just around the block.

Do you have opinions about the choice of handlebars in the Tikit and Brompton?

The Tikit works with any handlebar out there. As noted above, you can choose flat bars, bullhorn bars, drop bars, moustache bars, Bike Friday’s “H” bars… Whatever.

The Brompton restricts the choice to only 3 handlebars’ types: traditional “Dutch” or “BMX” handlebars (M type), flat bars (S type), “butterfly” or “touring” handlebars (P type).

For urban use, I favor aerodynamics (faster) and permanent access to the brake levers (instant reaction).

For my Tikit, I’d choose the track-style handlebars, AKA pursuit AKA cow horns AKA bullhorn bars.

For my Brompton, I’ve combined the lowest P type stem with the flat S type bars. The picture above shows the bike before modification. Take a look at the current configuration.

Chris Sorlie / 2009-02-16 03:57

Thanks for your thoughtful review Anatoly! I need to cycle for exercise more than anything else. Will keep researching!

Thanks again!

LEK / 2009-02-23 18:12

Bonjour Anatoly

C’est un bon comparatif que tu fais entre ces deux vélos et je t’en remercie, car je recherche des infos sur le Tikit de Bike Friday. Je suis rassuré quant à la qualité du ride du BF, un peu surpris concernant le dérailleur cassette, mais c’est bon à savoir.

Je suis moi aussi assez passionné par les vélos pliants et j’en possède trois, dont un Dahon et un Brompton. Chacun des deux modèles ont leurs qualités. Selon moi, le premier pour son comportement routier et le deuxième, sa compacité une fois plié.

Tout ça pour dire que l’une des qualités que tu as omis dans ton comparatif, c’est la facilité à manœuvrer les vélos pliés :

Le BF a la possibilité de déplacer le vélo plié devant soit par sa roue avant en le tenant par sa poignet. Alors je ne suis pas d’accord avec toi quant à la manœuvre du B dans la foule même avec le kit easy weels (2 roues). Ça reste cependant plus facile avec les 4 easy weels, mais le porte bagage devient indispensable.

Malheureusement, je n’ai pas eu l’occasion de tester ce point, mais il parait bien plus facile de faire rouler sur une roue de 16″ que des roulettes d’environs 60 mm.

C’est par ce point (entre autres) que BF m’intéresse
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSSgkcWqR6I&feature=related

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2009-03-20 16:32

Chris, if it’s exercise you’re after, you might want to look at Bike Friday’s 20 inch models. If folded size is not an issue, the Pocket Rockets ride really nice.

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2009-03-20 16:39

Rav LEK makes a good point… in French. :-)

He says I’ve omitted the folded bikes’ “rolling” comparison. The Brompton can be moved on its auxiliary wheels (3 or 4), the Tikit rolls around on one of its 16 in wheels.

Personally, I dislike pushing / pulling my folded bike for further than, say, 20 cm in a supermarket queue, so I haven’t really tested nor compared the “rolls when folded” functionalities of the bikes sufficiently in depth to write about.

Christoph Moder / 2009-04-12 18:12

A very nice comparison!

I’ve had a Brompton for several years, now I ride a Tikit, and I agree on everything you said. But for me, the following aspects were crucial:

* Brompton’s quality is horrible. I kept on repairing all the time, I’ve spent a lot of money on spare parts, and finally I gave up after some accidents and after having replaced nearly every part of the Brompton. The Tikit has a much higher quality, and if that’s not enough, you can exchange most parts by other standard components. If you are riding fast, Brompton’s quality is simply not sufficient. And there is also no reason to build the swing arm so narrow that only 3-speed gear hubs fit; an 8-speed gear hub is more appropriate.

* As Rav has pointed out, the way of pushing the folded bike is an important thing; especially when using public transport. If the subway station is crowded or if there are narrow stairs, it is better to fold the bike. And then, it is nice to be able to push it instead of carrying it. Brompton’s little wheels are nice, but pushing the Tikit on its front wheel is much better — is is not only easier on a rough surface, but one can also steer the bike easily through a crowd. So you can push a Tikit even when running, but not a Brompton.

* Because the folding hinge of a Brompton is located behind the bottom bracket, the chain is shortened when folding, and a chain tensioner is always necessary. On my Tikit, I have installed a gear hub, and together with adjustable drop outs I don’t need a chain tensioner, and could install a full chain case — which is extremely nice in bad weather, it saves me a lot of chain maintenance, and my pants never get dirty.

* Backpack/cover: Your backpack is very nice! But when looking at the default covers, I like the Tikit solution more. The Brompton cover is stored in a little bag under the saddle, you have to take it out and pull it over the bike; then you have to carry the bike. But the Tikit cover is already installed on the frame (where it remains), you only have to pull it over the bike, and there is a handle to carry the bike — the Brompton must be carried at the saddle. And, if you have a front rack on the Tikit, it keeps the cover off the front wheel, so you can still push the bike with the cover on it.

So my opinion is: The Brompton has a great concept, but the quality is absolutely out of question. I think it would be possible to build a Brompton which is both lighter and more reliable, it could even use Tikit’s hyperfold locking mechanism for the hinges, but the other two aspects are harder to achieve — the Brompton is so small because the main frame is folded (=> pushing it on the front wheel is impossible) and because the swing arm has to fit underneath the frame (=> the hinge has to be behind the cranks).

On the other hand, also the Tikit could be improved; it cannot be made shorter, but certainly narrower.

Conclusion: The Brompton is more compact, The Tikit has some interesting features, but especially a far superior quality.

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2009-04-16 17:36

Christoph,

Thanks for the huge comment, I think we all appreciate your feedback.

I kept on repairing all the time, I’ve spent a lot of money on spare parts, and finally I gave up after some accidents and after having replaced nearly every part of the Brompton

Interesting. That’s not my experience. Which parts were breaking down?

I replace mainly the cables, yearly, especially the gear-shifting cable. They wear out much quicker because of the constant folding-unfolding and the friction caused by the suspension.

And there is also no reason to build the swing arm so narrow that only 3-speed gear hubs fit; an 8-speed gear hub is more appropriate.

There is a good reason for a narrower rear triangle: a narrower folded package.

Yes, I too would love to have an 8-speed hub instead. It’s possible to fit the Nexus-with-brake hub by removing the rear brake and spreading (cold-setting) the rear triangle just a bit.

I think instead of developing the recent 3-speed Sturmey-Archer BWR + derailleur system, Brompton ought to steer towards an in-hub solution instead. Why Brompton chose to go that route, I don’t know. Yet.

I think it would be possible to build a Brompton which is both lighter and more reliable

Totally agree.

tim / 2009-05-29 12:59

Anatoly,

spasiba for your writing. Illuminating.

I own a Brompton bought in Malaysia and made in Taiwan in 1996!!! It has been fun but it is getting a bit rusty, the brakes are dreadful and the chain often slips off when folding. So I shall go and test ride a Tikit here in Japan. My local dealer has the T model. Is the bike names after the Beatles’ song?

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2009-06-01 03:31

Пожалуйста, Tim, заходите ещё.

The current Bromptons are much better than the previous versions, especially the Taiwan-produced. So I’d suggest to check out a new Brompton as well. Comparing a Tikit to a 1996 Brompton isn’t quite fair ;-)

Don’t know about the Bike Friday’s naming inspiration, but could ask, if needed.

Syb Pereira / 2009-09-07 01:49

It was very timely that I came across this excellent review as I am looking to purchase a folding bike and have now decided on a BF. Thank you.

Piotr / 2009-09-23 14:17

Many thanks for your extensive comparison, Anatoly. I am about to choose either of the following:

1/ Bike Friday Tikit;
2/ Brompton S2L;
3/ Airnimal (quite a few models to select from);
4/ Strida 5.0

Funny thing, 3 out of the 4 models are British makes, only Bike Friday is an American one.
Anyway, with my priorities fixed at the comfort of riding (but balancing slightly towards compactness of the folded bike and ease of fording/unfolding), I should probably be choosing Airnimal, then Bike Friday Tikit, Brompton S2L and then Strida 5.0.

With the compactness of the folded bike in mind, Strida comes first, then Brompton, Bike Friday and Airnimal.

Folding/unfolding time/ease wise, Strida first or maybe similar to Bike Friday, then Brompton and Airnimal.

Spend-wise, Strida comes the cheapest, then Brompton, while Bike Friday and Airnimal are probably similarly priced to each other.

Sadly excluding Strida, as despite having one racer and one MTB (or maybe because of that) I probably need a bike more suitable for biking (although some tests of Strida show that you can actually ride it!) and leaning towards excluding Airnimal due to its folded size, atypical wheel size and being not as easy and quick to fold/unfold (I am going to test it soon).

I am also leaning towards excluding the Brompton as I have just tested it for a while and it feels a bit tricky and uncomfortable (although I am sure you can get used to it). Also, its cheaply accessories/parts do not appeal to me when choosing a bike.

The (not so clear winner) seems to be Bike Friday Tikit but I will have to check on the Airnimal capability to fold/unfold soon. I will have a few test rides so that to compare the roadability of the bikes. Maybe I will also test the Strida but I think it its design and roadability fall too far from what I am ready to accept for a folding bike.

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2010-02-08 16:36

Piotr, you might also want to consider the Mezzo.

As I was saying on my Twitter, I’ve briefly test-ridden the Mezzo during Eurobike 2009. About 15 minutes on good asphalt. Max and min speed, cornering, track standing. Very stable ride, folded size inbetween Bike Friday Tikit and Brompton.

However the distance between the saddle and handlebars have seemed too short for me, and the handlebars too high as well. That’s after the adjustments for my 1 m 80 cm body at Mezzo booth.

Peter Bartlett / 2010-02-15 09:05

It is possible to fit an 8 speed sturmey archer hub gear to a brompton as the standard hub with spacers removed will fit between 155 mm dropouts. if you want some one to do this for you try Kinetics at http://www.kinetics-online.co.uk/html/8-speed.shtml . The advantage with this hub (apart from the width) is that you only need a small front chain ring as direct drive is first gear. Of course you can also fit one to a Tikit and with the extra drop out width choose an intergral drum or disk brake.

Jean Dille / 2010-03-09 14:55

After 3 days commuting with a borrowed B. I did appreciate the compactness of the bike when folded in a train. But I didn’t appreciate the riding position on the bike (I feel cramped even with a seat post extension – I’m 6.30…)

For a new bike I consider shifting as lazy and I wasn’t convinced by the poor gear spacing with 2×3 mixed dérailleur and Sturmey archer neither by just sufficient race bike-like brakes.

So I was happy to find a travel Tickit test bike size L at a reasonable price.

I’m delighted by the handling of that bike for 16″” wheels. Braking (V-brakes) is perfect and dual drive 24 speeds permits fast descents and Hill climbing as well.

I’ll recommend the tikit for tall people and for those concern by good handling of their bikes
(I think perhaps many Brompton users are not cyclists used to better bikes so they endure B. faults)

Richard Kaufman / 2010-04-22 19:44

Regarding the Tikit, I’m pretty sure the name ‘Model T’ is a playful tribute to the iconic Model T Ford – the world’s first basic, inexpensive, mass-produced car. Like the original Model T, the newer Tikit is more affordable, mass-produced (i.e. not built-to-order) and possible more reliable (if you believe the twist knob will prove to be more reliable than Hyper Fold). Like the original Model T, the newer Tikit “is available in any color you like as long as it’s black” just like the original Model T Ford.… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Model_T

(Bike Friday probably also chose to call it ‘Model T’ to highlight the feature that separates the Model T tikit from all other tikits: the twist knob that one twists (or twiddles) to fold/unfold the bike. Twist, twiddle, T… get it?)

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2010-05-03 19:04

Peter,

Yes, you’re right about Sturmey Archer’s 8-speed hub.

The Shimano Nexus can fit the Brompton in the same manner: choose the one with the brake, remove the brake and spacers, spread the rear triangle a bit.

Otherwise, as I’ve tweeted from Eurobike 2009, Sturmey Archer also makes a 5-speed gear hub available in Brompton’s 111 mm over locknut width: the S-RF5. 256%, 13 T, 1 kg. So no tinkering required.

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2010-05-03 19:12

Jean,

I’ll recommend the tikit for tall people

Yes, I agree. I’d say 1 m 85 cm is the maximum for a Brompton.

I think perhaps many Brompton users are not cyclists used to better bikes so they endure B. faults

Maybe some Brompton users are indeed like you describe, but I think the majority is well aware of the Brompton’s handling shortcomings. It’s a compromise.

Martin Briscoe / 2010-06-11 22:44

Great review – I have an old 3speed bromi and its perfect for my trips to london. On the train the small fold size is fantastic, nothing can beat it.

For me the ride is fine for 5 miles or so but nothing like a full size bike, so if I dont need a fold I use my road bike.

Could you add a rough price comparison? perhaps cheapest to most expensive for both ranges?

A weakness of the bromi is that they are highly prized by thieves, so I tend to keep it with me rather than lock it up. so another comparison could be security.

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2010-07-20 17:00

Thanks Martin.

// PRICES

I apologize, but I can’t add prices. I omit pricing for all reviews I publish. The reasons?

1) My web site is read globally, so I’d have to calculate prices, shipping costs, VATs and currencies for the whole planet.

2) Bike configurations vary so much! A friend of mine bought a used Brompton for 300 EUR… and if you look at Bike Friday web site, they list a SRAM Red outfitted Tikit priced at 3 880 EUR. And that’s not the limit, if you choose some other components, both for the Brompton or the Tikit.

// SECURITY

I don’t have a bike lock for my Brompton. You’d have to knock me out to get my bike. Or steal a strange and heavy backpack that I use to leave the folded Brompton in cloak rooms and on trains.

But, yes, you’re right, I probably should add a security overview for both bikes. Thanks for the tip!

Konstantin Kouzovnikov / 2011-03-12 01:24

Just wanted to thank you for such a comprehensive and objective review. In my days in Yorkshire I have learned to love Bromptoms. Now back in Canada I found it almost impossible to ID a source of a good review on bikefriday products vs brompton. Well done! It looks like I should go ahead and order a BikeFriday. Best!

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2011-04-02 20:59

Thanks Konstantin! If you choose a Bike Friday, I’d suggest to get the one with a Nexus internal gear hub and a carbon belt drive.

chuan lim / 2011-04-14 05:47

Thanks for the comprehensive review though i wonder if some of your comments still hold true for the 2011 version of the Brommie? I am deciding between the two, in this case i’m a sucker for looks, and i just love the classic curves of the Brompton :)

However, my rational side might just push me to get the tikit instead, ASSUMING that the negative qualities of the Brommie still holds true today.

I shall have to research more!

Stef Jones / 2011-04-30 07:16

Nice little comparison.

I’d just like to add that while the folded size of the Brommie is wonderful you RIDE a bicycle therefore ride quality should take preference especially when you think about being in traffic, coasting down hills and braking.!!! That’s why the Tikit wins for me even though I love the look and design of the Brompton.

The Tikit with the Nexus hub is also well capable of doing longer rides and light touring if need be, where the fit and body position on the bike is much more important. The belt drive is ridiculously expensive compared to a chain drive and has to be set to fine tolerances to function properly and requires special cogs which wear sooner than the belt itself. Fine while it’s working, big trouble when it’s not. I have discovered that Bike Friday’s advertised prices do not correspond to their actual prices which seem to be ( much ) higher. Be careful of them. And the add-ons are expensive.Saddle…add if you need it, pedals..add if you need them. Last I heard all cyclists need these things! Also the custom color options on the Tikits are frighteningly expensive due to the powder coating ,multi-oven baking process at Bike Friday, so Brompton’s colorways are a much better option if this is something that matters to you.

Having said that, I STILL think the Tikit is superior in terms of the ride quality if you want to do any more than the hourly commute to and from work. I think…

Short trips, small spaces = Brompton
Short trips, longer rides, light touring, performance = Tikit

Both nice machines.

One last thing. I saw the rear wheel removal video for the Brompton. My goodness! I would NOT want to have to do that very often!!!!

Sorin Petcu / 2011-06-09 20:19

About folding a Brompton. There is no fold without a scratch!

Alexis Grant / 2011-11-16 06:15

Anatoly – I read your comparison site some time ago when I started seriously thinking of getting a folder. It was really useful to me since I knew that fast fold and good ride quality were my top priorities, so it helped me decide to get a Tikit, which I finally did recently. I’d forgotten all about your review until it came up in a search and wanted to let you know it was helpful.

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2012-04-11 23:33

Sorry for the huge delay — have been (and still am) swamped.

@ Chuan,

All my comments still hold true for the 2011 and 2012 versions of the Brompton. I’d suggest trying out both and decide more on the feel and intended use than the looks. Even though I’m a photographer and designer and looks mean a lot to me.

@ Stef

I agree that the Tikit is much more versatile ride-wise. However, it’s much less versatile transportation-wise. You just can’t get into a Macy’s kind of store (BHV in France, Manor in Switzerland) as easily with a Tikit. Or hop in a TGV just a minute before departure with all the luggage space already occupied.

I totally agree about the rear wheel removal process on the Brompton. It’s a pain. Fortunately, I ride the Kojaks, with only 1 puncture in 4 years.

I disagree about Bike Friday being too expensive. I mean, I compare their prices to a custom one-off sport car with yearly insurance and gas. I have a built-to-order Pocket Rocket Pro and it’s been priceless to me.

@ Sorin

What do you mean by “There is no fold without a scratch!”?

@ Alexis

Thanks!

Paul Mann / 2012-06-08 05:18

Superbly done. Thanks.

ANATOLY IVANOV / 2013-08-30 06:58

Thanks Paul!

Robert Clark / 2014-03-26 18:44

Updates Noted : field spotting..
Bi Fri Adds a rear portion fitting that opens to pass a Gates Belt thru the rear stay .

so another drive train Option.. quiet and clean but, if chosen, a cost increase.

And there was that fork steerer recall and replacement program done in the recent years.

They are JIT made , the build starts when customer order comes to the front of the Queue.
little inventory ..
OTOH, Brompton stocks Its frame components in various color batches ,
and the parts are assembled from Inventory to fill B-spoke orders.

and ’013 Brompton adds a spider crank for 130bcd chainrings to allow worn or alternate chainrings to be replaced.. changes brake lever design , and folding pedal somewhat.
Drops some ‘X’ light weight bits .. L Ti Pedal Core , and seat post option.

Rims made with a double wall extrusion, and rear specific directional drilling for spokes .

H riser option added under the M bar, 30mm added to both sides of the hinge,
so as with the extended seat post, 6cm gained , but +3/-3 means the bar grip
is still not hitting the ground when folded

Shimano Dynohub option gets B&M Lyt BN LED headlight , vs the halogen bulb.
And for Brompton assembly efficiency, made with central plug and play cord. (2nd input path)

seemed a be seen spot beam for urban use..
but is is lacking a standlight capacitor such as offered at a slight bump in price from B&M.

for my own retrofit I bought B&M’s Eyc wider beam and brighter and includes the stand light

Adding accessory option, Ortlieb makes their own bag mount clip for the B head tube mount
and so offers a small, a version of their Bar Bag, and the Larger based on the downtown bag,
but adding 2 rear pockets , using the add on pocket fittings, so may be swapped with their
bottle cage and larger add on Pocket.

wish they were not so short on the straps webbing that the Snap buckles have,

to stow a bit more stuff under the flap. like the rain-gear when I get to take it off.

Oh and noted older T bag was replaced by a touring bag with a liner fabric of yellow.
the older was Unlined so black inside T’s edge binding comes loose as the Cordura
mill coating is all that is holding the weave together ..
in the process of getting the top binding re sewn, zig-zag stitching on 2″ velcro
around the whole edge to then re apply the binding again..

new Touring bag is $ 160 up from T at $100 (in US) FWIW ..

checked out Kinetics new modifications to front and rear forks?
Disc brake Alfine/Rohloff becomes an option, … thru them , not the factory

Abdullah Hukum / 2016-08-22 05:58

Adjustment:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IGJj8PjITrU

Adjustment of latch pin:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=svTdP_A9cjc

I see these video and go wow!! Taking a hammer and bending plates seems like a very crude way to do adjustments. :-0

I don’t have any folding bikes but I am looking to buy one. Nice balanced review btw.

ADD YOUR COMMENT

ABOUT ANATOLY IVANOV / PROSE

Find out more about my posting and comments policy, as well as publishing frequency and copyright issues.

TIP: To print images, enable “Print backgrounds” in your browser preferences.