This blogpost is a review of my new folding bike - the Btwin Hoptown 300. But first, here is some background behind my choice to buy a folding bike, which will put the review into context. When the Brompton Bike Hire scheme came to my local town I just had to try it out. I’ve always been intrigued by folding bikes, and love cycling too. After using the Brompton’s hired from the service I got a taste for practicality of a fold-up compared to my road bike. Especially as the Brompton bike hire service meant access to picking up and dropping off your bike was available any time.
The first week with the Btwin Hoptown 300 - A quick photography trip to Windsor
I had previously cycled or got the bus to work but having just moved company these two options are no longer open for my commute. My new journey could take a number of formats, driving (not very green), getting the train (more green) or cycling (most green). However due to the location cycling from home to the office in one leg is not viable… well, not at my current fitness level anyway! The station is also a little too far to walk, at both at the home end and the work end of the journey. The solution: Fold-up cycle and train combination. This was just the justification I needed to go from Brompton hirer to fold-up bike owner.
My fold up bike of choice: the Btwin Hoptown 300. It’s the entry model folding bicycling from Decathlon. It has a single-speed drivetrain, 20-inch wheels and steel V-brakes front and back. It comes in a grey colour all over with black seat post, pedals and other details. The reasons for my choice were: price, practicality, accessories.
Price: At only £129 (edit : in June 2018 the price is now £139) it costs over six times less than the entry model Brompton – a bike I have been very impressed with, inspite of only having used hire bikes which may not always be the most well looked after. Despite how impressed I have been with Brompton's the price difference just could not be ignored.
Practicality: This bike does not fold up as small as a Brompton, nor does it stand up on its own when folded... but with the price difference it can be forgiven. It still folds small enough to be classes as luggage on UK trains so can be used at peak times. It still
Accessories: For a £129 price tag I was more than impressed that the bike came with front and rear LED lights as well as the standard reflectors and bell which bikes are sold with in the UK. And for less than £50 more I was able to get all of the cycling essentials needed too: Clip compatible light for insertion to the frame, cycle helmet and the same clip on LED light, and even a hand pump which was only £2.79.
So how does the bike far up when in use? Well so far I've had the bike for ten days and I have traveled 47 miles over 18 separate rides. I've taken the bike on roads, gravel paths and grassy fields. The bike has been used in sun, wind and rain and in both day and night. The bike is so quick and easy to fold and unfold its been great when used in conjunction with a train journey.
One word of caution, the single speed drivetrain does limit the speed of the bike to about 15mph. My average speed on my cycles has been between 9mph and 10mph. The lack of multiple gears does add extra pressure to the knees too. The riding position is comfortable and upright. The 20 inch wheels provide a comfortable ride. Overall I'm very impressed with the design and the build quality, particularly for the low cost.
100 Mile Update
Four weeks in and I've hit 100 miles completed on my little folder. I can summarise these four weeks by saying that this bike is fantastic. It's great to quickly get from A to B quickly and easily. It's fast become my default way of getting about town. I've use it to get to and from work, as well as a trip further a field.
It works great on trains, however it is worth getting to know the best places to store your folding bike on a carriage. The wheelchair accessible sections are good as they are wider and often have cycle specific storage areas. One thing I would say on train transport is that the Btwin Hoptown 300 doesn't stand up very easily on its own... Mine has fallen over twice the train comes to an abrupt halt. That's are issue I never had with the Brompton I hired. To overcome this its best to open the wheels slightly to increase stability or just lean it against something, I often lean it against my bag.
Here are some more pictures from the last couple of weeks on the run up to a hundred miles ridden!
The Btwin Hoptown 300 is also known as the Tilt 100 on European versions of the Decathlon website and the product documentation. The decals on my bike says Tilt 100, however brand news ones have a new Hoptown 300 decal.