It was a while ago now that I was watching Channel 5’s “The Gadget Show” where they were using the Kansi 1Twenty in one of their reviews (how to create a rocket booster if I remember correctly). Anyway, I digress. I fell in love with the bike and got the chance to review it for The Strand!
The 1Twenty is part of a small range of folding bikes produced by Kansi – a company formed of self-confessed bike nuts. The 1Twenty, along with the 3Twenty and the 9Twenty make up the full Kansi range with prices ranging from £499 for the 1Twenty, right up to £749 for the 9Twenty. I enjoy using my bike but I can’t really get as much use out of it as I want, especially travelling between London and Portsmouth for University. This is where the phenomenon of folding bikes come along.
Folding bikes aren’t a new technology but classically they’re cheap bikes that rattle and fall apart after little use. They never tend to look amazing either, do they? With tiny wheels and a huge frame. The Kansi 1Twenty range changes all of that. From the second that I unfolded the bike and got on it, I knew I was dealing with a superior folding bike in terms of both quality and design.
The main reason I’ve avoided using folding bikes in the past was because it looked like more hassle than it was worth with the folding & unfolding process. The Kansi 1Twentys folding/unfolding process consists of 3 steps:
- Pull up handlebars and close the clip.
- Unfold the body and close the clip.
- Raise seat to desired level.
Easy as that. After doing it for a couple of days I managed to do it all in under 10 seconds – perfect for emerging from a busy tube station in London when it’s raining! To fold the bike back, just reverse the process. The only problem I found when folding the bike back up was that I had to bring the stand down (so it stays upright) before folding the body of the bike or the wheels would get in the way. It’s only a tiny problem though and you get used to it after doing it a couple of times.
The design of the 1Twenty is beautiful. A truly amazing design doesn’t consist of one amazing design feature but many small ones and that is indeed the case with the 1Twenty. The wheels are 20″ so are slightly bigger than other folding bikes that I’ve seen in the past. Combine that with a minimalistic design and colour scheme and you’ve got a bike that you’re not only not embarrassed to ride to work or school but would gladly ride anywhere (as I have been for the past few weeks, any excuse to use it!). The colour scheme of white and grey with a hint of blue (light and dark grey colour scheme also available) really speaks volumes about the bike. Simple and understated with an air of elegance about it.
What kind of review would this be if there wasn’t a section about the ride? Frankly, I’ve saved the best section until last. The 1Twenty is a single speed bike – perfect for getting around town, going for a bike ride or even to the pub. When riding it, you feel like you’re on a bike. I know that may sound stupid to people who haven’t ridden folding bikes before but in my experience I’ve always found folding bikes to be a bit shaky and they feel like they’re going to collapse at any moment. The 1Twenty feels sturdy and safe and glides along with no problems whatsoever.
I’ve road tested the 1Twenty, riding along on pavements, roads, dirt tracks and on grass and it didn’t really struggle with any of those surfaces. I must add at this point that there is so suspension on the 1Twenty so going over speed bumps in the road proved a bit more painful than I thought it’d be, but live and learn and all that eh?
Seeing photos of the 1Twenty, the more astute of you will realise that it only has 1 brake on the handlebars. This confused me at first too, as it only applied brakes on the front wheel when all the power was coming from the back. I expect the reasoning for only having 1 on the handlebars was because of the wires getting in the way of folding. To counter this, when you start to pedal backwards when riding it applies the back brakes. I didn’t know this at first and I have a dreadful habit of pedalling backwards when I’m gliding along a street. You can probably imagine how that ended. SCREEEEEEEECH. Once I realised though, I found that it was quite innovative and have got so used to it now that I pedal backwards on my regular bike expecting the brakes to be gently applied! (PS I am now aware that other brands of folding bikes have this feature but I couldn’t not mention it!).
Overall, I think that the Kansi 1Twenty is the favourite bike I’ve ever had the chance to ride and I’ll be heartbroken to hand mine back to the company. Everything about it just ticks all the boxes – just think of the places you could take it and just fold it up when you get there. There are also accessories available including a carry bag to put it in! Kansi have every angle covered when it comes to the folding bikes game. Even Melvin Odoom loves his, and Melvin Odoom wouldn’t lie to you now, would he?
— Melvin Odoom (@Melvinodoom) May 24, 2013
The Kansi 1Twenty is available for £499 through various bike retailers throughout the UK via the Kansi website. Just pop in your postcode and they’ll tell you the nearest place to buy one! Don’t forget to give them a follow on Twitter too!