Sunday, 22 September 2019

An obsession with 16 inch wheelers : Brompton, 3 Sixty, Camp Pikes, Element Pikes, Cigna

Element Pikes, a strong contender to Brompton
Set against Brompton

My first cycle tour was done on a Tern D16. The bike was literally bought so I could follow Love the Fold to Batam and Bintan. Back then, all foldies went into the cabin while the sole, full sized bike was strapped to the deck, held down by ropes. I never looked down on foldies ever since that trip.

As Alvin, the Chief of Love the Fold once said, "Everyone who seriously love bikes will need to go through a Brompton at least once in their lifetime". I think what he meant is, if affordability is not an issue, bike lovers should own a Brompton at least once in their lifetime. Keeping it depends on the love hate relationship. 

So when I was offered a price I could not resist, I bought my first Brompton on 26 July 2016. The very next day, VT and I returned to the shop for another one !!!

It was not an instant love affair. The bikes were hardly used for the first 5 months. I found it heavy and I kept forgetting the steps to fold and unfold!

It was only after I took it to Fraser's Hill at the end of the year, that my love for 16 inch wheels actually began. Yes, it is doable though with many out of breath stops! 

Ever since, I have taken it on 120 km and 160 km distances without much body aches, thanks to its steel frame. So what if the gradient is too much? Get down and push the bike!

The bike is so compact it had saved us in many awkward situations. Bag it and travel as luggage on public transports. Roll it under the table in small restaurants. It can even be stored under the bed!


Element Pikes @ 8 speed - IDR 7.0 million

Tom and Jerry
Comfy saddle
Sturmey Archer thumb shifters
Loved the grips with wrist support
Hated the gigantic hinge clamp levers initially but as an after thought, it is easier for my hands

Ugly pedals
Sturmey Archer X-RF8 (W) hub

Chain tensioner
48 T Chainring

Note the top tube is not a cylindrical tube but narrows towards the end
Proudly made in Indonesia
The use of hex nuts as spacers drives me crazy!
It also fits into a Dimpa though the seat post has to be removed

The bike comes assembled but it is NOT road worthy. The bike mechanic took at least an half hour going through the whole bike from wheel alignment to tuning to ensuring every screw and nut is in place.

The folding and unfolding of the bike is a tad stiff. Not sure if the joints need to be lubed but will certainly  into this further.

Riding wise, the positioning differs slightly from the Brompton but having said that, I can't give a direct comparison as my Brompton is on P while VT's is on H handlebars. Comparing to 3 Sixty's straight handlebar stem, the Element Pike's ride positioning is the closest to a Brompton.

The Sturmey Archer X-RF8 (W) hub comes with a wide gear ratio of 325% with the middle 6 gears evenly spaced at 14% apart. There's a 30% jump between gear 1 to 2 and 7 to 8 which are supposed to rescue your leg muscles during those steep climbs and adds a boost during the descents. 

I am saying "supposed to" because I was using gear 1 (strangely built on direct drive) for flat roads! Switching to gear 2, I could feel the immediate jump in loading, required to turn the crank. this rate, I will never hit gear 8!

I only began to appreciate the hub on Day 2; during my short 10 km ride through killer traffics and narrow backstreets of Jakarta. The gear shifts were smooth, the little monitor helps me keep track on what gear I was on and any gears can be selected while stationary. I could feel the transfer of power and the bike propelling forward after gear 3 which is such a joy on so little effort. It also helps that all 8 gears are in sequence so gone are the complications with the twin-shifter system as in most 6 speed Bromptons. Having 8 gears in an internal hub without a derailluer also reduces maintenace as well!

The hub is said to be noisy but it wasn't drowning the noise on the busy streets like I had hoped it would! Jokes aside, it was slightly more audible than the S-RF3 but nothing too disturbing. Anyway, I do not think it was a fair comment as its like comparing between a M26 and M67 hand grenade. Besides, our gentle giant weighs a whopping 1.5 kg!!!

The Sturmey Archer thumb shifter comes with 2 levers. The longer shifter reduces the gear while the little one behind it is for loading. Both requires an outward push to click which was a bit complicated even for a girl's hand. Both aligned together, I have to feel my way behind the longer shifter every time I want to increase my speed. What happens if someone has a big thumb?

Riding wise, the chromoly frame absorbs the rattling quite well. The grips with wrist support was a joy and you can't help smiling from ear to ear for such a STEAL !!!

14.05 kg !!!!


Camp Pikes @ 3 speed - last known retail price was RM1450, September 2019

Supposedly the older versions of Element Pike with straight stem and lower specs
Kenda tyres 
Flimsy Chain tensioner
44 T chainring
Also Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub


3 Sixty @ 3 speed - last known retail price was RM2300 in metallic bronze, aluminium seat post and handlebar, September 2017

3 Sixty without a luggage block, placed next to a Brompton.
Rear view
48T Chainring
3 speed Sturmey Archer
Chain tensioner
Stem is shorter compared to Brompton. 
Ugly foldable pedals
Aluminium seat post, considered a higher spec!
Front wheel
12.28 kg
The 3 Sixty price range varies trememdously. While this bike shop tries to sell a basic model at RM2988 (July 2017), most buyers gets away with RM1600 to RM1900, after some hard bargaining! 

Cigna @ 3 speed - last known retail price was Baht 16,000, also on 3 speed Sturmey Archer Hub
Cigna also runs on 3 speed Sturmey Archer Hub


  1. Thanks for the beautiful sharing.
    You probably have the better experience to share about how is the riding qualities of these cost conscious bikes as compare to Brompton...

  2. hi,,iM from JB...can i know the 8speed shifter is original ?...i just buy a pikes 8 speed...but the shifter is other type...

  3. Please share the shop details in photo