The Kansi 3twenty is the mid-range machine in a new family of UK-designed folding bikes. As well as this 3-speed, there's a singlespeed with a coaster brake, the 1twenty, and 9-speed derailleur version, the 9twenty. They share the same frame.
It looks like a Dahon Mu, although there are some subtle differences. The chainstay shape and cable run are different, and the steerer folds differently. The main difference, however, is the marketing. It's the only folder that I've seen advertised on big posters at train stations.
Kansi have put a lot of thought into the way their folding bike looks and what sort of people might be attracted by the bike's image and what the brand promises. I kind of like that; it's certainly a fresh way of thinking. Kansi say their folders are 'bikes that ride well, fit into our lifestyles and reflect our personalities'.
By that they mean you can colour-coordinate your bike. The mykansi box is a free pack with different colour decals, grip collars and end-caps. All you have to do to get it is register your Kansi online. As well as the free pack, Kansi will upgrade your warranty to three years, which is very nice indeed.
You can even get mudguards that match your frame colour - for example, a grey one to match the rear triangle and a white one to match the front part of the frame and forks. I was surprised at how many people came up to me to ask about the good-looking folder I was sporting.
So much for the looks. How does it ride? The hinges hold the frame solid and it handles perfectly fine. It's not going to set the world on fire: it's still a small-wheeled folder with little forward extension for its stem. Steering is a bit trickier, especially cornering slowly and negotiating stationary traffic. Granted, the wheelbase is a bit longer and the head angle a bit more relaxed than other folders, which makes the steering a little less twitchy. And it does cruise very nicely once up to speed.
Stopping and slowing down is taken care off by a couple of Avid Single Digit V-brakes. These work very well, relative to the brakes of other folders. Compared to your big-wheeled bike you will still find yourself descending more gingerly, especially in traffic. You get the feeling that if you had to slam on the brakes suddenly at speed you might end up doing an endo.
The 3twenty has Sram T3 hub gears. I am all for hub gears, particularly on this type of bike. There's less maintenance, fewer bits exposed that can go wrong, and the chain is further from dirty roads. But 3-speed? It will be fine if you live in the flatlands. I don't. I live in Bath, on top a hill. Even after gearing down to a 39-tooth chairing, the range was inadequate. I got up the hill. It just wasn't pleasant sweating my way to the top in civvies. To be fair, the 9twenty would have suited me fine, and that's the one I'd have chosen if I were buying a Kansi.
The 3-speed hub has been around for a century and is durable and efficient. Sram T3 hub gears themselves have a good reputation too. I found that the gears worked flawlessly as long as I was gentle. You need to back off the pressure on the pedals for the gears to shift. On the plus side, you can change gears while stationary. Shifting is via a twistgrip control. There's no chain tensioner; you take up any slack by moving the wheel back in the rear-facing track dropouts.
Kansi haven't compromised the finishing kit. The saddle is very comfortable and the handlebar grips feel nice to the touch. White isn't the best choice. After a couple of months of use the grips aren't so white anymore and the graphics on the saddle are starting to wear off. There aren't any accessories apart from a kickstand, which I found surprisingly useful. The frame has bosses for mudguards and racks, but these don't come as standard.
Ride quality is only half the story with a folding bike, of course. It's important how well and quickly the bike folds, and how portable the resulting package is. It's easier to fold the Kansi than many folders because of its kickstand. You just pop the bike on its stand, lower the saddle, flip the handlebars down, and fold the frame. The folded package stays upright on the stand, although it has a tendency to fall over without it. The Kansi's fold is not as compact nor as well designed as the Brompton's. It's on a par with my Dahon.
Carrying the folded package is okay, provided you're happy to lean the bike against your leg. It's easy enough to fit in the boot of any car, or take on the bus or the train. One feature that I did really like is that both the frame hinge lever and the steerer hinge lever have a push-button locking mechanism, which prevents unwanted folding.
Overall, the Kansi looks good and rides well. I would prefer more emphasis on function than form: mudguards as standard and a 7- or 8-speed hub gear would really improve this bike for me. But if you're after a stylish folder and you don't have hills to worry about, this one's a good bet.
Looks good and rides well, although similar Dahons are better specced at this price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Kansi 3twenty
Size tested: n/a
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: kansi 3twenty - Custom kansi 6061 aluminium tubing
Size: Optimised 20" wheel cockpit with adjustable saddle heightBB centre to top of saddle 30" Max (70cm seatpost length to bb)BB centre to top of saddle 24.5" Min (56cm seatpost length to bb)
Colour: White / Grey
Fork: Custom 6061 kansi fork with stay fold adjuster tab - white
Brakes: Avid Single Digit 3 V Brake
Lever: Avid Flat Rate 5 Levers
Stem: K20 - Control tower folding handlebar post
Handlebar: K20 - City Limits bar 565mm
Grips: mykansi custom semi sleeve diamond grip - white
Shift levers: SRAM T3 right hand quick display twist shifter
Chain wheel: Truvativ Alloy 52T with chainguard
Crankset: Truvativ Isoflow Road 170mm
Freewheel: SRAM T3 16T sprocket
Chain: KMC Z30
Pedal: Wellgo B152 Black
BB: Tange Seiki LN-3912TBS H68/W113
Rim front: Jalco 20" x 1.5 28 Spoke - silver
Rim rear: Jalco 20" x 1.5 36 Spoke - silver
Tyres: CST Dual 2 Zeppelins 20" x 1.5
Front hub: Joy AO51 28 Spoke
Rear hub: SRAM T3 internal 3 speed hub with 186% transmision 36 spoke
Saddle: kansi custom K series with K-mount system
Seatpost: mykansi Optipost
Seat clamp: kansi Q Clamp (Quick release)
Kick stand: QK-CA01B
Weight: 11kg fully built including pedals
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Kansi reckon it's for not too hilly commuting and across town journeys. They also say "we want bikes that ride well, fit into our lifestyles and reflect our personalities." If you want a stylish folder, then this might be for you.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Seems pretty well built
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Custom Kansi 6061 aluminium tubing
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's got a slightly longer wheelbase and more relaxed angles than most folders, making it a bit more stable.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It was fine for a folder
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The bike was comfortable enough for a folder.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
I didn't experience any toe overlap.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The bike handles fine at cruising speeds but can be a bit twitchy at low speeds. This is the same for all folders that don't have a stem to speak of.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I particularly liked the saddle.
The hub gear works fine, but you do have to be careful when shifting.
It's not built for winning sprints.
The 9-spd version would have been a different story
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? I liked cruising on the flat, I didn't like hoiking up hills.
Would you consider buying the bike? I would not buy the 3 speed, and would probably not pay the premium for the stylish design
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? If they were after a good looking folder I would certainly recommend looking at the Kansi range.
About the tester
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Cervelo Dual
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, Audax