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  1. #1
    Brompton M3L, Strida 5.0
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    Impressions: Bike Friday Tikit vs Brompton

    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 didn't really understand the comments about Brompton brakes until that ride. I think the Brompton brakes are satisfactory. But the ones on the Tikit are waaay better: more powerful and easier to modulate as well.

    Weight seemed about the same. Folded size is definitely both smaller and more regular (i.e. "square" with no parts sticking out) on the Brompton, but it's not a huge difference. If I was on the subway, I'd rather have the Brompton. It's just a lot less likely to catch on people. But now that I have the bike, my subway ridership has fallen off a cliff...I've even purchased gear to ride in the rain, I like riding so much...

    I don't think either is better; they're different.

    If I was getting a folder mostly for taking up little space and throwing in my car, and I lived in a not-always-flat area, I'd probably go for the Tikit. It's not much bigger than a Brompton, and the ride is nicer, and there are 8 gears. It feels like they've put a lot of thought into the design, down to the details. An example of this that isn't immediately apparent is the integrated bell. It's brass and has a beautiful ring. They didn't have to do that. And yet, they must know (as any good cyclist does) that a bell is really a must have for a bike used in cities - so why not integrate it.

    If simplicity, reliability and friendliness with multi-mode transportation were relatively more important - I think the Brompton still wins. The Brompton design has been around for years now. So though some of the bits seem less nice than they feel like they should be for the price, they work. With the Tikit, you're taking a bit of a risk that the design and componentry will hold up over time. For exampe, apparently Bike Friday's SatRDay folding recumbent was recalled a couple of times for problems. I don't mean in any way to smear Bike Friday; I certainly don't know the details. I'm just pointing out that with any new design, you give up some certainty reliability for the improvements.

    One thing I expected to be a clear advantage for the Tikit, that I don't think is, was the ability to roll the bike folded. Rolling a Brompton folded isn't all that serviceable. I mean, good enough for pushing around at slow speeds - say in a store - but not for any appreciable distance. I expected the Tikit to excel in this regard, with its built in handle and ability to roll on the front wheel. However, as David pointed out, and I confirmed for myself, the bike's weight folded does not center over the wheel, so you need to exert arm strength to keep it balanced while rolling it around. Absolutely do-able...just not as nice as I'd hoped.

    Your best bet is to try both. If NYC is not inconvenient for you, bfold.com would be a good place to do it. David (who I only met today) seemed like a great guy to spend $1K plus with. I bought my Brompton from a place that was ok, just, I think, a little less personal.

    In any event, I think both are great bikes. I'd like to own both.

  2. #2
    Seņor Mambo
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    Thanks for the review. Were you able to fold it as quickly as is shown on the videos? How did the bike feel when folded, that is, any folded parts you think are susceptible to quick wearing (I'm particularly wondering about the internal cabling)? Was the seatpost firm, that is did it seem like it would collapse easily if you went over bumpy terrain?

  3. #3
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    More even-handed intelligent reviews like this please!
    Nice one - a joy to read - thanks for taking the time to write it.

  4. #4
    Brompton M3L, Strida 5.0
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    It's a quick fold, quicker than Brompton. As fast as the videos? No, but then I wasn't really trying to impress anyone.

    Seatpost seemed firm.

    Folded parts - that's a good question I don't have an answer to. It does seem like a less tidy package folded up, but I can't be more specific than that.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Great review. Thanks.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  6. #6
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    Good review. The Bike Friday recumbent was too expensive for what you bought.

    The Tiket would stick out like a sore thumb on a crowded bus or train and that's what these bikes were built in the first place. Since the OP no longer uses transit, he would be better off with a larger size folder like the Tiket or Dahon.

  7. #7
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Just bringing some visual effects to the thread. Very nice review by the way, thank you.










    14R

  8. #8
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    They have the same wheel size, right?

  9. #9
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Pictures, in this case, don't tell much of the story -- except that the Tikit looks like it was made in Frankenstein's laboratory.

    I prefer some simple stats, specifically folded size. A folded Tikit is barely smaller than a BF New World Tourist, actually folds bigger than some 20" bikes, and is almost 3 times larger than a folded Brommie:

    Bike Friday NWT, 20" wheels = 12" x 33" x 34" (13,464 cu in)
    Bike Friday Tikit, 16" wheels = 15" x 24" x 35" (12,600 cu in)
    Dahon Speed P8, 20" wheels = 13" x 25" x 32" (10,400 cu in)
    Downtube NS, 20" wheels = 12" x 23" x 33" (9,108 cu in)
    Downtube Mini, 16" wheels = 10" x 20" x 29" (5,800 cu in)
    Brompton = 9.8" x 21" x 22" (4,527 cu in)

    I'm sure the Tikit rides great. Maybe if it fits under your desk at work you could use it for regular commuting -- but if you have less than 10 miles to ride, why not get a tour-worthy NWT, a 6-speed Brommie or even a $400 Dahon instead? You would have to be swilling some major Bike Friday Kool-Aide made from Eugene, OR tap water to think of it as a viable multi-mode commuter bike.

  10. #10
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    Pictures, in this case, don't tell much of the story -- except that the Tikit looks like it was made in Frankenstein's laboratory.

    I prefer some simple stats, specifically folded size. A folded Tikit is barely smaller than a BF New World Tourist, actually folds bigger than some 20" bikes, and is almost 3 times larger than a folded Brommie:

    Bike Friday NWT, 20" wheels = 12" x 33" x 34" (13,464 cu in)
    Bike Friday Tikit, 16" wheels = 15" x 24" x 35" (12,600 cu in)
    Dahon Speed P8, 20" wheels = 13" x 25" x 32" (10,400 cu in)
    Downtube NS, 20" wheels = 12" x 23" x 33" (9,108 cu in)
    Downtube Mini, 16" wheels = 10" x 20" x 29" (5,800 cu in)
    Brompton = 9.8" x 21" x 22" (4,527 cu in)

    I'm sure the Tikit rides great. Maybe if it fits under your desk at work you could use it for regular commuting -- but if you have less than 10 miles to ride, why not get a tour-worthy NWT, a 6-speed Brommie or even a $400 Dahon instead? You would have to be swilling some major Bike Friday Kool-Aide made from Eugene, OR tap water to think of it as a viable multi-mode commuter bike.
    As an NS owner, I can tell you that the fold is a *lot* bigger than 12X23X33, even with the stem turned to fold over the bike.

    I was there, too, but didn't get to ride the Tikit. It has lower end components, is a bit on the heavy side but looked thoroughly eccentric (which I like). The bent rails give it the appearance of having been in a bad accident. But in a controlled way. David at bfold is a great guy, and will take care of you after you buy the bike from him, so if you are looking for one, he's your Tikit.

    The only long distance commuter that folded as fast on demo that day was the Swift, which isn't in this list, but doesn't really fold; it mostly just changes from a horizontal bike to a vertical bike. It can really only be used as a car/closet bike/big suitcase travel bike. The Swift designer was there to demo it, and seemed super nice.

    The Tikit looked big next to my folded Birdy (11X22X31), but sure folded faster. I can fold my Birdy in 10s if all goes well. (I was able to fold other people's Birdies faster because they had the huge and heavy chainguard on them that keeps the chain from falling off.)

    The Brompton demo took a touch longer than 10s. So, there is another trade off among multi-mode commuters: speed of folding versus folded size.

  11. #11
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    I went with my wife to Bike Friday HQ in Eugene, OR and she took a Tikit (as well as a couple other models of BF) for a spin. She was very impressed with the Tikit. She said " I want one of these" when she finished her ride. I was impressed by the build quality and the personal touch every Bike Friday owner receives from the folks in Eugene. They are a very customer oriented bunch of people. I must admit I am a little biased as I own a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket.

  12. #12
    Seņor Mambo
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    I rode the BART train today which was packed because the A's and Warriors were playing at the Coliseum. As I entered the train with Brompton in hand, I thought "If the folded package were any bigger, I'd get death stares all around." I'll take folded size over speed any day for this type of commuting.

  13. #13
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    yep, I bought one

    I went down to Eugene and drank the kool aid -- the ride and gearing on the Tikit were just amazing. As for the fold: after trying it 2 or 3 times, I could fold it as fast as the video. It really is a 5 second fold. I could unfold it in about :10, but I'm sure that gets faster with practice. No knobs, no quick releases. It just folds.

    I did my best to bounce around as I was riding, and never felt like the seatpost release was going to come undone on its own. The only scenario I could see triggering an inadvertent fold is if you got rear-ended while stopped -- and if that happens, you have far bigger things to worry about than your bike folding.

    I looked at how the cabling worked folded and unfolded -- it's very secure both ways. The only time anything dangles is while you're in the process of folding and unfolding.

    I ordered one on the spot -- it should be in my hands by the end of the month. I'll be using it as my "buzz around town" bike.

    To be fair: I've seen the Bromptons in person, but never got the chance to ride one. Looking at the gearing, the Tikit seemed better suited to Portland's hills, and when it came down to a smaller folded size vs. an easy speedy fold, I opted for the quick fold. (Our light rail trains have hooks for full-size bikes, so you certainly won't get any nasty looks bringing a folder of any size along.) And since BF is just down the road (well, 80 minutes down the road in a car), I can get the Tikit back to the factory for service, should it ever need it.

    -Aaron Weiss
    Portland, Oregon

  14. #14
    Seņor Mambo
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    Thanks for the detailed and specific responses, Aaron. As you may know, our light rail in the Bay Area is not as sophisticated when it comes to accommodating bikes, and I think it's a well established *fact* that Brompton gearing can be pretty tragic for anything other than flat terrain. Please continue to update us about the tikit when you get it and as you ride it more.

  15. #15
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    Interesting thread, and I appreciate reading more about the tikit from people who have tried it out.

    One thing, though, which I think I've brought up before in other threads. It is of some interest to know what folder will fold up the fastest. For practical purposes, though, I don't see that an extra 5 to 10 seconds to fold a Brompton would be worth even mentioning. If you're cutting it that close, maybe you needed to leave the house a couple of minutes earlier.

    Which is not a criticism of the tikit. Obviously, the fold is faster and easier than the older BF designs, and that's what's important.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaFriMon
    For practical purposes, though, I don't see that an extra 5 to 10 seconds to fold a Brompton would be worth even mentioning. If you're cutting it that close, maybe you needed to leave the house a couple of minutes earlier.
    And if you leave your house sufficiently early, you could just ride your bike all the way to work. And you won't even need a folder.

  17. #17
    Brompton M3L, Strida 5.0
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    I agree, I don't think speed of fold is that important - or rather, it's really more a question of complexity. Tikit is faster, but Brompton is plenty fast. In fact, I kinda doubt any serious folder is really "slow". It's really more about how compact it gets.

    Also agree that the Tikit is very likely better for hills. My Brompton is a 3 speed and I'd probably be ok with 2, I rarely use top gear. It's not the kind of bike I want to bomb around on. I tried a 6 speed but found it fiddly, with two levers required.

    I would be curious to hear from a Brompton owner in a place like SF. Do you have a 6 speed? Reduced gearing?

    Also agree that the Tikit looks like Frankenstein. The Brompton is really a quite pretty bike. I've attached a crappy cell picture of mine...
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    There's a picture of the Tikit on a bus but I doubt you'll be able to bring that inside the cabin of most city buses during rush hour. I'm sure you can but if the bus is crowded, I'm sure you'll get dirty looks. It woudn't surprise me if the driver gets upset or does not allow you to boad.

    However, trains are a different story. You shouldn't have any trouble getting this bike on a train because there's more room and there should be a handicap spot you might be able to take advantage of. If a conductor makes a fuss about the bike, I'm sure a Brompton or any folder would have trouble too.

  19. #19
    Senior Member wubrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makingmark
    I agree, I don't think speed of fold is that important - or rather, it's really more a question of complexity. Tikit is faster, but Brompton is plenty fast. In fact, I kinda doubt any serious folder is really "slow". It's really more about how compact it gets.

    Also agree that the Tikit is very likely better for hills. My Brompton is a 3 speed and I'd probably be ok with 2, I rarely use top gear. It's not the kind of bike I want to bomb around on. I tried a 6 speed but found it fiddly, with two levers required.

    I would be curious to hear from a Brompton owner in a place like SF. Do you have a 6 speed? Reduced gearing?

    Also agree that the Tikit looks like Frankenstein. The Brompton is really a quite pretty bike. I've attached a crappy cell picture of mine...
    Even with a 6ML Brommie, I will not recommend hill climbing. Tacoma possesses some of the longest and steepest hills I have seen. Beat SF ones hands down. I climb those hills easily with my Birdy 9. Brommie is good for short flat commute.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by makingmark
    I agree, I don't think speed of fold is that important - or rather, it's really more a question of complexity. Tikit is faster, but Brompton is plenty fast. In fact, I kinda doubt any serious folder is really "slow". It's really more about how compact it gets.
    I don't know. I think the speed issue is really more an issue of ease than it is of speed. I mean, an extra 20 seconds usually isn't going to make you miss the bus/train, but it sure can get on your nerves after the 1000th time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    There's a picture of the Tikit on a bus but I doubt you'll be able to bring that inside the cabin of most city buses during rush hour. I'm sure you can but if the bus is crowded, I'm sure you'll get dirty looks. It woudn't surprise me if the driver gets upset or does not allow you to boad.

    However, trains are a different story. You shouldn't have any trouble getting this bike on a train because there's more room and there should be a handicap spot you might be able to take advantage of. If a conductor makes a fuss about the bike, I'm sure a Brompton or any folder would have trouble too.
    Well, you shouldn't have trouble getting any 20" wheeled bike on a train, folder or not. If you ask me, the fact that you need a folding bike to board some trains is more of a formality than anything else.

  21. #21
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    Well, you shouldn't have trouble getting any 20" wheeled bike on a train, folder or not. If you ask me, the fact that you need a folding bike to board some trains is more of a formality than anything else.
    OK, someone obviously has never taken a busy subway to get to work in the morning....

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    OK, someone obviously has never taken a busy subway to get to work in the morning....
    1. I commuted on the NYC subway for several years.
    2. Regardless of whether or not you can convince people to make room for your bike, there's no rule that says you can't take a nonfolding bike on the subway.
    3. The context of the conversation was commuter railroads (the kind with conductors). Commuter railroads are generally more spacious and have fewer stops than the subway, which would suggest that bike policies for commuter railroads should be at least as liberal as they are for the subway. However, for some reason most commuter railroads in the Northeast have bans on nonfolding bikes.

    I take my Downtube on the LIRR a few times a month, usually folded. However, if there is another bike in my car I generally find that we can arrange our bikes more efficiently if I unfold mine than if I leave it folded.

    It should go without saying that the actual folding feature of a folding bike doesn't actually make the bike smaller. It just changes the shape. In my opinion most commuter rails can more efficiently carry the unfolded shape than the folded shape. Nevertheless, the folded bike is still better than a full sized unfolded bike and, thus, the folding requirement imposed by many commuter rails is merely a formality whose real benefit is to encourage smaller bikes in general.

    I mean, think about it, why should two 26" Dahon folding bikes placed unfolded side by side be any different than if they were folded in half and placed one in front of the other? It's the same thing. In fact in my experience the unfolded arrangement is better because you can point them up whereas putting one folded bike on top of the other is unstable. Of course, this requires the two bike owners to work together, which the commuter rail arrangement probably facilitates better than the subway.

    In any case, this is the world that we live in, so it's good that the tikit folds, even if the folded size isn't that practical.
    Last edited by makeinu; 05-17-07 at 06:58 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    1. I commuted on the NYC subway for several years.
    2. Regardless of whether or not you can convince people to make room for your bike, there's no rule that says you can't take a nonfolding bike on the subway.
    New York City has one of the most liberal rules regarding bikes on board trains. These changes were made on behalf of Transportation Alternatives so you're lucky to have them. Try to bring your non-folder in Path, SEPTA or the Chicago El during rush hour and you'll get kicked off fast! There are many others that will not allow non-folders during rush hour so this is nothing new.

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    I used to commute regularly on the NJ Metro. While I didn't see tons of folding bikes, I saw tons of people that got on with ridiculous amounts of baggage that equaled more than 1 or 2 folding bikes. Of course someone is going to complain, but as long as there are people in the world, people are going to find something to complain about.. It's human nature. While I wouldn't bring a full size bike onto the train, which by the way is illegal during rush hour, I wouldn't hesitate to take a 20" folder. It's both legal and plenty small enough. And I have been on the train when there were wall to wall people, so I know what that is like.
    You may all think I must be rude or something, but if someone wants to complain about my perfectly legal folding bike, that's their problem and I'm not going to worry about it. They are probably complaining because their boss treated them like #$*& or because they had a hard day. These are things I cannot control. These things are also not my fault and I am not going to let them effect how I choose to live my life.
    Sorry for the rant,
    Juan

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    I take the NY subway whenever the ride home from work is too long ( I work all over the city), my legs are too tired, or the weather is too bad. Whenever I have had to take the subway with my BF , I have folded it so that I don't take up too much real estate. A long bike, be it a folder or not, in the way of commuters is far more of an inconvenience than a folded one by my feet.
    When I get out of the train, it takes me about 2 minutes to get the bike set up and ready to go, including putting the chain back on the front chain ring ( the greatest short fall of the BF). I don't fold it a lot, so I would imagine that if I did it often, the unfolding time would decrease by 50% or more.
    Foldability combined with the fantastic ride of my Carusoe, makes me take the bike out far more than I would if I had either a crummy folder, or a full size non-folder.
    Its going to rain today, probably pretty hard in the afternoon....... Think I'll ride to work.................

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