A couple of weeks ago, when we started to stock the all-new Kansi folding bikes, many people at the office seemed to be interested in these truly good-looking bikes. So we took all three models out of stock and gave them a spin. I asked colleagues with different folding bike background: on one end of the scale was me, who have never ever ridden a folding bike and then there was Mark Smith, who has been riding a Brompton for almost 20 years. Let’s see how it went.
Dave Patterson, Content Assistant
As one of the first to test out the selection of shiny new Kansis we got in the office I got first pick and ended up borrowing the single speed Kansi 1Twenty for a couple of days to commute to work on. As a BMXer I was comfortable riding the single speed version although the coaster brake did take some getting used too, it did make the journey too and from the station much more fun than a traditional folding bike. One of the first things I did to the Kansi was take the front brake off as it was completely useless, European standards say that the bike has to be sold with a front brake but the coaster brake is more than adequate. With the brake off the 1Twenty looks clean, simple and fast, and combined with a low weight and stylish paint job, make this bike perfect for those who want a less traditional foldup bike like a Brompton for example. After 3 days of commuting to work, taking on the train, even taking down to the Pub I had very little complaints about the Kansi other than the folding mechanism was a bit on the fiddly side, but 2 minutes of adjustment with an Allen key managed to fix that. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Kansi and I can highly recommend it to anyone who wants a stylish no-hassle fold-up bike
Mark Smith, Retail Director
I have been riding folding bikes for 15-20 years now and travel up and down the country on a mix of trains and folding bikes (there is nowhere in the country you cannot get to this way!). In that time I have ridden about 10 different bikes and the Kansi is right up there with the very best.
It is light and fast with a really comfortable riding position. Personally I prefer a slightly longer reach and lower bars to really get upto speed and often felt myself stretching forward for a racier position but the comfortable position will suit most riders much more – especially those doing short journeys either side of a train trip. I tested the 9 speed version and the gears were sufficient to cover any terrain whilst the brakes stopped me smoothly and abruptly whenever they were needed. One of the more common problems with folding bikes is with cables snagging during folding and so impacting the gears & brakes but I got little of this with the Kansi and the gears and brakes worked as true as on day 1 at the end of my 4 week trial. My only minor criticism of the ride was that the handlebars do flex quite a bit when pulling away fast – it is a bit un-nerving initially but you quickly get used to it and the flex probably adds to the comfort of the ride by absorbing the bumps.
The Kansi is stunning to look at and grabbed attention wherever I rode it (I even sold one on the station one day – the lady got her laptop out & ordered it there and then!) and the fold is great – the hinges are amazing! The only nag I had with the fold was that the catch that holds the wheels together is a bit fiddly and over-engineered – you get used to it but always feel it could be a bit smoother.
Overall, I loved the bike and am sad to have to give it back – it looks as good as the market leader (Brompton) and rides much better & faster. If you buy one then my only recommendation is to fit some mudguards – I cannot understand why Kansi do not fit them as standard on what is a comfortable folding bike (perhaps they are worried it will spoil the looks). Thankfully it only rained heavily a couple of times during my trial but on both those days I ended up with a nice brown line up my back and soaking shoes!
Fisher CEO responds to mudguards: The Kansi will come with colour coded mudguards and racks (they look amazing) on selected models next year and will be available as aftermarket accessories early next year.
Rob Jarman, Online Marketing Executive
The Kansi looks great and is simple to fold. While riding it was a fast and stable ride, this is due to the larger wheel size. Riding in terrible weather I really needed some mudguards and in comparison with a Brompton the bike does not fold as small. The Kansi rides well and handily folds in the middle to get around train restrictions, Its good fun and a fresh looking folding bike that’s a credible alternative to what already occupies the market. If the way a bike looks is on the top of your list of priorities then this could be your bike.
Balint Hamvas, Community Manager
I have never ridden folding bikes before, so the whole concept was new to me, but I quite liked the idea of a nice, compact bike. My first ride to the train station from work was accordingly smooth. Riding the Kansi was really similar to riding the GoCycle which is not a surprise as their tyre sizes (20″) is identical. The Kansi 9Twenty offered ample choices in gear and it was very easy to get around in traffic. But then I arrived at the train station and the need arose to actually fold the bike. And it didn’t go well. Before I left, I had practiced it but I did find it difficult to align the stay-fold catch and it took me several minutes to fold it properly. I presumed that by practice it was going to get better, but it wasn’t. I checked the manual but that didn’t offer any futher help. Then I accidentally stumbled upon the solution the other day: you need to use the kickstand while folding! That makes the whole folding process neat, quick and smooth.
The bikes look really good and they are definitely a talking point – I got stopped during my commute by people asking about the bike almost as often as when I was riding the GoCycle.
It’s probably the perfect holiday bike if you can’t or don’t want to bring proper bikes: it folds down to a pretty small size and it rides very well but it didn’t really convince me about it being a good commuter folding bike.
Will Lockie, Online Marketing Manager
I ride a Brompton every day, so the Kansis had a lot of work to do to convince me! Let’s start with what I liked overall on both the singlespeed and the 3 speed versions: the long wheelbase means these bikes are fast and stable. No twitching basically – the bigger wheels roll faster and are easier on rougher surfaces. I quite liked the riding position, and as you are that little bit higher it helps to see over cars and look at the traffic around you if you stand on the pedals. One night I was stranded late at London Bridge, so did the dash across town to Victoria station in record time – and was very thankful for the extra speed! I also really liked the kickstand, and overall the fresh white looks of the bikes, plus the pared down looks of the singlespeed.
But there were some niggles. Firstly the fold – I just couldn’t get the hang of it and was often frustrated not being able to get the front wheel to lock into place. I found it odd the handlebars were left to bump against the frame, but Fisher have developed a clip that attaches the handlebar to the front fork, keeping it nice and secure when folded. The size of the bike when folded is just about right for a train carriage, but does poke out a lot more than the Brompton. Whilst the singlespeed coaster brake was a lot of fun, I did find it inadvertently applying if I didn’t keep the pedals horizontal – and the gearing was a bit too low for my liking meaning my legs were spinning out a lot of the time. On the 3 speed, I found the cables getting occasionally jammed in the hinge mechanism was a little annoying but not a major problem. The strangest thing is that there are no mudguards – folding bikes are generally used to commute, and if you commute every day, not arriving to work wet is essential. This is being fixed though and next year they will come with colour coded mudguards.
These things aside, maybe I have it wrong about the Kansi bikes – if you want an occasional use folder that looks great, this is right up your street – if you want a daily workhorse to use on public transport, then there are definitely other bikes to consider.