Home Bike Stuff Brompton vs Strida – Comparing 2 Iconic Folding Bikes

Brompton vs Strida – Comparing 2 Iconic Folding Bikes

by bromptoning

Though both Bromptons and Stridas are folding bicycles with little wheels invented by British dudes, that’s where the similarities end. That said, I bought a Strida EVO for a completely different purpose than my Brompton S6R, and will explain my reasoning at the end of this post. But first, let’s examine how the bikes compare in terms of ride, fold, quaxing, and components.

The Ride

Riding Positions – Brompton vs Strida

I’ve always ridden sporty bikes — that’s the North American way. Before buying my Brompton, I had mountain bikes and vintage road bikes, so I was used to leaning forward on the handlebars. This is why I selected the sporty S-bars on the Brompton, rather than the more upright M- or H-bars. Sitting upright in “cruiser position” just didn’t feel natural. 

Well, the Strida has only one position and it’s upright. This felt extremely weird at first. I found myself automatically leaning forward and bending at the elbows to facilitate that lean, and had to remind my body to sit up straight. However, if you’re used to cycling on a cruiser bike, this upright position will feel normal. 

But how you sit isn’t the only thing that affects the ride of a bicycle. The length of the wheelbase, how you dismount the bike, shock absorption, shifting gears, and, last but not least, the speed!


Brompton Strida
Riding Position Sporty or Upright Upright
Wheelbase 1045mm 895mm
Dismounting Forward Side
Shocks 1 rear shock None
Shifting Gears Handlebar shifters Backpedal shift
Speed Very slow to very fast! Moderately slow to quick.

Wheelbase

The wheelbase is the distance from the centre of each wheel. The Brompton has a much longer wheelbase than the Strida — 1045mm (41.2”) compared to 895mm (35.2”).  The Brompton’s wheelbase is exactly the same as my road bike, just 50mm shorter than my winter hybrid bike, and actually 60mm longer than Pier’s road bike. Since the Brompton has a similar wheelbase to most standard-sized bikes, it handles like one too, with one exception — the small front wheel makes steering more responsive. But not so much that it’s twitchy. I like to describe the Brompton as “zippy!”

Because the Strida has a short wheelbase, it is twitchy. Any movement of the handlebars and it turns. This means that the bike wobbles a tad when you first start peddling. However, if I need to turn in a tight space, the Strida can do that. 

Dismounting

I never even considered how I get off my bikes until I got a Strida… and could not go forward to dismount. On my second ride on the Strida, some motorist did a u-turn in the middle of a busy street and almost ran me over! To prevent my death, I hit the brakes and automatically went forwards to dismount… and hit my public bone on the Strida’s frame. Ouch! 

Because of the Strida’s triangle frame, to dismount one must stay in the saddle and lean to the side to reach the ground. Problem is, I like to have my seat far enough from my pedals that my leg fully extends when riding, and this means that my saddle is fairly high and I have to lean a lot before my foot reaches solid ground. 

Dismounting – Brompton vs Strida

After a few more rides, I’m getting more comfortable with the lean and it doesn’t feel as extreme anymore. If I’m cycling on a main street and able to stop beside a curb, then I don’t have to lean and just put my foot down on the curb. 

However, I’m a bit concerned about this lean for winter riding. In general, you don’t want to lean too much on one’s bike if the roads are slippery, so I’m considering getting a set of 16” wheels, smaller than the 18” I currently have, which will put me an inch closer to the ground (less lean) and fit Schwalbe Marathon studded tires (which aren’t made in the 18” size).

Shocks

The Brompton has one rear shock, and the Strida has no shocks and a stiffer aluminum frame. However, the springs on the seat help significantly. I’ve never had a seat with springs and, when I went over streetcar tracks for the first time on the Strida, I was surprised at how much those springs help! Maybe I should get a saddle with springs for my Brompton.

Shifting Gears

The Brompton has gear shifters on the handlebars, but the Strida uses a cable-free kickback bottom bracket by Sturmey Archer that you backpedal to change gears.

It didn’t take me long to get the hang of shifting gears this way, but there is a downside to this system — I cannot easily adjust my pedal position when stopped. With my Brompton or any other freewheel bike, I simply tap the pedal up with my toe, but since the Strida shifts gears when going backwards, it takes more than a toe push, I need to step down on the pedal and click backwards until I get it in the position I want it to be. And then it might not be in the right gear!

I could get my pedals in the “launch” position before I stop, but sometimes in the city there isn’t enough time to plan for that, what with the fast-moving traffic and cyclists needing to brake fast to avoid inattentive motorists turning into us. 

Here’s a video showing what I mean:

Note: This would not be an issue on a single-speed Strida, or on a Strida with an Efneo gearbox, which is something Bill at Strida Canada West recommends because it’s a more robust gearbox than the EVO. However, I got this Strida EVO secondhand, so I’ll just have to get used to the odd gear system for now.

Speed

I like to go fast, so both my Brompton and Strida are the fastest versions of each bike. My Brompton is a 6-Speed with the big chainring (54 teeth as compared to the standard 50 teeth or the smaller 44 teeth). The Strida EVO has 18” wheels and 3 gears, the top one of which goes faster than a single speed Strida or an EVO with 16” wheels. 

With 6 gears, the Brompton has a better range for speed, with the highest gear being much faster than the Strida EVO, and the lowest gear being even slower for those steep inclines. But for casual city riding, the Strida EVO’s gears are perfectly sufficient!

Here’s the “gearing in inches”, which is the diameter of the hypothetical wheel each gear creates. The higher the number, the bigger the hypothetical wheel, and the faster you go!

Brompton Gears — 1st = 35.7”, 2nd = 44.0”, 3rd = 56.0”, 4th = 68.9”, 5th = 87.8”, 6th = 108.0”

Strida Gears — 1st = 47.2”, 2nd = 60.0”, and 3rd = 74.5”

The Ride – Verdict

For me, the Brompton is a much easier ride because it handles more like a standard bike. The Strida EVO, with it’s upright position, short wheelbase, and unique gear system, takes some getting used to. That said, I do have a specific reason for getting this Strida that relates to the components of the bike, not the ride. But first…

The Fold

Three questions people always ask about folding bikes are:

1) How easy is it to fold and unfold?

2) How small does it get?

3) How heavy is it?

The Brompton fold is more complicated than the Strida fold, but I’ve had my Brompton for 8 years and I’ve become very fast at folding it — it only takes about 10 seconds. Less time to unfold. The Strida takes me about the same amount of time to fold, but I’ve only had it a couple weeks, and I think once I get better at snapping together the wheels so the magnets connect, it will be even faster to fold the Strida than the Brompton. Also note, in the video I don’t bother folding the Strida’s handlebars or pedals, which saves me time. 

You can see in the video that I’m still pretty awkward when unfolding the Strida. Some people just stand beside it, but I find I have to secure the back of the bike with my legs to create enough leverage to unsnap the magnets. Those wheel magnets are strong!

As for size, the Brompton folds down much smaller — 23”x 22.2”x 10.6” (59x57x27cm) or 3.1 cubic feet. The Strida folds down to 45.2”x 20”x 9” (115x51x23cm) or 4.9 cubic feet. 

Lastly, the Brompton weights anywhere from 9kg (19.8lbs) to 13kg (28.7lbs), and the Strida EVO weights 12.3kg (27lbs). My Brompton is on the heavier side because it’s steel, has all six gears, a big chain ring and a back rack (the only thing missing is the Dynamo lighting system), so it weighs about the same as the Strida EVO. But because the Brompton is smaller, I find it easier to carry than the Strida. However, the Strida is easier to roll folded, which I explain in the next section.

Quaxing

Quax [verb; past: quaxed, present: quaxing] — to shop by means of walking, cycling or public transit.

Twitter users

If you’re not familiar with the term “quaxing”, this article explains everything: https://momentummag.com/quaxing/

As a city-dweller who sold her car over a decade ago and has been cycling in the city for almost two decades, quaxing is how I roll. I especially like folding bikes for doing errands because I don’t have to find somewhere to park at each place; I just fold and walk inside. Both the Brompton and Strida excel at this. The difference between the two bikes is in how easily they roll folded, and how much they can carry.

For carrying stuff, the Brompton rules. Not only does it have a luggage block on the front that I can attach a big bag to, it has a rear rack with bungee cords. In short, the Brompton can carry a LOT of stuff. The Strida has a small back rack, but that’s it. I can buy a front bag for it, but nothing nearly as large as the Brompton bags. When running errands with the Strida, I definitely need to bring a backpack to put stuff into.

As for ease of rolling when folded, this is where the Strida excels! Because it rolls on it’s regular wheels, it handles bumps and uneven sidewalks with ease. It’s also simple to steer; just hold onto the handlebars with one hand and push. Whereas the Brompton rolls on small wheels attached to the back rack, which is nice if you don’t want to get road dirt on the floor, but not so nice for actually rolling the bike. Those little wheels do not handle bumps well and easily get stuck in sidewalk cracks. Plus, the Brompton is a bit tippy when folded. I could buy an extendable easy wheel to improve this, but I haven’t.

Components

For me, the components of each bike is what makes them suited for different purposes.

Starting with the Brompton, it has a steel frame, chain and derailleur, and caliper brakes. These are well-made components, but there’s one problem with them — they don’t fair well on salty streets. Toronto drenches its roads with salt in the winter so that they’re not slippery, which is wonderful for safety but terrible for the steel frame and chain on my Brompton. On top of that, the salt creates a grey slushy mess during snowfalls that coats wheel rims and impedes the effectiveness of caliper brakes. 

The Brompton is beautifully engineered, but all those moving parts can get gunked up with salty slush and snow.
The Brompton is beautifully engineered, but all those moving parts can get gunked up with salty slush and snow.

Because of that, I don’t ride my Brompton in the winter. Instead, I ride a rust-resistant “winter bike” with an aluminum frame, belt drive and disc brakes. That bike does the job, but it’s not much fun to ride. So when I found out that the Strida has an 7000-series aluminum frame, kevlar belt drive and disc brakes, I realized that a Strida could be my new FUN winter bike!

The Strida's belt drive and disc brakes are set to repel slush!
The Strida’s belt drive and disc brakes are set to repel slush!

Strida as a Winter Bike

So I bought a Strida EVO for the winter. I will see how it fares. I think it will be perfect for salty, slushy road conditions, but I’m not sure how the slick 18” tires will do in snow. I’m already floating the idea that I might need to get some 16” rims to fit studded Marathon tires (studded tires aren’t made in 18” size) to handle ice and snow. However, Toronto doesn’t get a ton of snow, so maybe I’ll just keep my other winter bike in rotation this year for super snowy days.

Brompton as a Spring/Summer/Fall Travel Bike

I don’t see myself traveling with the Strida like I do with the Brompton. For one, the Strida doesn’t fold nearly as small and is more awkward to carry onto other forms of transportation, like buses, trains and planes. Second, the Brompton can transport significantly more luggage, which is essential when bikepacking. Finally, the Brompton is a better ride for me with regards to speed, gears for all terrain, and comfort. Though I’ve been told my feelings on comfortable riding positions will change as I get older. Apparently upright bikes are more comfortable for older bodies, but currently I’m young enough that I still prefer to lean forward on the handlebars. 

That said, I’ve only had the Strida for 3 weeks, and every time I ride it I get more and more comfortable on it. 

Where to Buy a Strida in Canada

There is literally ONE Strida dealer in Canada, and that is Bill Wilby of Strida Canada West in Grand Forks, British Columbia. I’m in Toronto, Ontario, much too far away to go test ride Bill’s Stridas. Not that he had any left after this pandemic summer when everyone was buying bikes! However, he set me up with one of his customers in Toronto so I could test ride a Strida. After determining that the gears weren’t too slow (my biggest concern), I emailed Bill and said I wanted to put in an order for his spring shipment of Strida bikes. But as luck would have it, he had just acquired a secondhand Strida EVO. Except for a few paint chips and a worn-out gearbox, it was in great shape. Bill said he’d put in a brand new gearbox, and I said I’d take it! And here I am…

In Conclusion…

I’m happy to have two fun, folding bikes! This might just be the beginning of a collection…

You may also like

4 comments

David Masse November 11, 2020 - 11:17 pm

Great post. Thanks for introducing me to quaxing. My Vespa is to motorbikes what the Brompton is to bicycles: a cargo beast. I have brought an Ikea cabinet home, and a full size artificial Christmas tree from Canadian Tire,

Reply
bromptoning November 12, 2020 - 9:10 am

Nice! I think that is my favourite part of the holiday season – seeing people transport Christmas trees on two wheels!

Reply
Dave November 11, 2020 - 8:28 pm

This was really interesting. I’ve never owned or operated a folding bike – I learned a lot here! I had never heard of kickback shifting. Great videos as always! Looking forward to the post winter review

Good luck

Reply
bromptoning November 11, 2020 - 8:41 pm

Glad you found the post informative! And yes, winter is coming, and now that I have a new bike to ride this season, I’m actually looking forward to it! 😀

Reply

Leave a Comment