The original EZ wheels from Brompton are made of plastic with a spacer as the center core. It’s attached to the frame or rack with 35mm M5 screws. There’s no ball bearing therefore creating a lot of friction when rolling and that’s why almost every owner upgrade the EZ wheel on the first day.
There are many different types of aftermarket EZ wheels, ranging from SGD $15 all the way to few hundred ! No kidding, check out this beautiful Koeing Hanami with a hefty price tag. I got the OEM classic biscuit EZ wheel from Taobao about SGD$18 per pair. Remember to get the 58mm, I tried the 46mm and it’s too small to keep it the bike above the ground. You will need a M5 25mm screw, 2 nuts and 2 washers on each wheel, this is the order of how I install the wheel. Result in smooth rolling, easy to push the bicycle around when folded and very affordable modification.
It’s a common debate among the cycling community, Brompton vs similar tri folded bicycle brands. 3Sixty(SGD $850 +-) and Pikes(SGD $1000+-) are the most popular one, other brands like litepro (SGD$1000+), GoGoBike (SGD $800+), weekeight (SGD $800+) also start to popping up in the market. Let’s start with the folding system, they all fold the same way with the same steps. The end result measurement up to 585 x 565 x 270 mm only and it can fit into a standard size suitcase easily.
I only have experience with 3Sixty and Brompton so I can only share the differences I observed between these 2 brands. Some 3Sixty owners comment the welding is not as nice as Brompton but that’s not true, my chrome 3Sixty came with quite a good weld finishing and comparable to my Brompton so probably depend on your luck.
Next let’s look at the parts. 3Sixty does come with an integrated shifter, I got mine from BikeRepublic and it included but excluding the bell and the signature logo. 3Sixty come with CSTtires (est 20+- each) whereas Brompton come with Schwalbe Marathon Tyre (est 70+- each), you can easily feel the different when riding on wet condition that’s why tyre is the first item most 3Sixty owner upgrade. 3Sixty provide a 3Sixty branded crankset which really not much different comparing to Brompton’s stock crankset apart from the design, so purely aesthetic. Most riders (including me) upgrade their chain ring to bigger one with more teeth to be more efficient. Similar for the brakes, 3Sixty come with their own branded brakes which I personally felt it’s a decent brake so really not much different comparing to Brompton. Brompton give a very solid left foldable pedal and non-foldable pedal on the right comparing to 3Sixty’s plastic pedals definitely a much better one.
Both 3Sixty and Brompton uses sturmey archer internal hub but 3Sixty probably use different type of nuts therefore the tuning gear hub guide on Brompton site will not work on 3Sixty.
Lastly, most important differences is the frame. Brompton spend lots of efforts on the frame, the folding system is actually protected under the patent system. There’s a file against a Korean company Chedech that produce bicycle which is very similar to Brompton, you can read more about it here.
Every unit of Brompton come with a unique serial number to certified the authenticity and come with a 7 years warranty, that’s very important when come to the quality of the bicycle, especially the clamp. The clamp holds the bicycle together when it’s unfolded, you can see from this diagram how the pressure is apply and transfer to the clamp.
Here’s the comparison, You can see the Brompton clamp is much thicker than the 3Sixty’s clamp, the thicker clamp give a better force absorption, better contact surface for the joint and hold the bicycle together sturdily.Here’s a picture of a Pikes clamp I found online and you can see the clamp is not align.
This is definitely a concern, in long run the bike might not fold properly or even post a risk when cycling. Conclusion, they are all very similar in terms design, the way it fold and the parts they use. Very compact transport that let you explore around the island and you can just fold and hop on to public transport if it start to rain. If you plan to keep it for long, then you might want to consider investing on a Brompton, it’s about SGD$1700 different and give you 7 years of warranty and confident on the quality of the frame.