By Jim Woffenden
I recently bought the Tactic Panache after reading a review in the Cycle Plus magazine which was reasonably complimentary. When it arrived the chain guard was already broken which was obviously a disappointing start; when we contacted Tactic about this they told us that this had happened to many bikes and as a result they had run out of chain guards. My other main experience with a folding bike is with a Brompton T3 and so many of my comments are based on comparing the Panache with that.
We were pleased with the riding position which is very adaptable and the bike does ride well, in particular it is very good for tall people - one of the disadvantages of the Brompton. Another positive is the grip shift which is far superior to the thumb controlled shift of the Brompton. The fact that the bike can also be wheeled with luggage on the pannier rack whilst folded can also be handy. On the other hand it is far more difficult to fold when compared to the Brompton and does not fold as small.
Unfortunately, the rest of our experiences were not positive. The way that the bike folds tends to mean that the handlebars damaged the dynamo connections and this was the next thing to break. Once we repaired this and learned that we had to be careful when folding to avoid this problem we thought that our problems with the dynamo were resolved. Within another couple of months however the front light was only working intermittently, before we established the reason for this I managed to knock the front light very gently which snapped it off and it is now not repairable costing £20 to replace. A few weeks later the clip that holds the whole thing together when folded snapped in half.
I have been trying for three months or so to get hold of replacements for the bits that have broken, but the standard response from tactic has been "ring back in a week and we might have some in stock".
This is all very disappointing for a £500 bike and given that price tag I would strongly recommend that buyers choose some other model. As I mentioned above, the only other folding bike with which I have much experience is a Brompton, and in terms of the quality of build and the design, in my view there is simply no comparison. I have perhaps not been as careful as I should with the bike which has contributed to some of these problems, but what I like about the Brompton however is that it is sufficiently robust to take being knocked about - in the four years that I have owned a Brompton, not one thing has gone wrong.
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Copyright (C)2006 Jim Woffenden
Original report: 20 April 2006