Full Brompton Review

I’ve been using the Brompton for nigh on two weeks now and thanks for all your helpful comments.

The first thing to note is that, after watching all of my fellow commuters and their Bromptons, what they do and where, I very quickly became adept at the folding/unfolding game.  The fold itself has become like second nature once I got the hang of the routine.  Everything has to me done methodically, which is good.  Once you remember the way it goes it’s easy and takes less time the more I do it.  I see some owners who do it in a matter of seconds but once I’d got the gist, so was I.  You really can’t go wrong.  The only thing that happened was that I caught the bell on one of the spokes (!) and in my haste, managed to stretch the spring so sorry Brompton, you’ll have to replace that when I give it back.  I don’t know how I managed it, but I did.

The second thing that made it all much easier was that it seems the trick is to wheel it about like it’s non-folding cousin right up to the very last minute and only fold when one gets to the door of the train.  At the destination, unfold as soon as the train doors open.  The whole process became a lot easier once I’d figured this out and I didn’t have to lug it around folded.  The station staff seem happy to let us wheel them through the barriers and up to the train, relying on our honesty and folding skills at the last minute.  So, that was a good lesson and made the journey a lot easier.

Them Hills!

Then it was the hill home and I have to say that in some respects the Brompton was a lot easier going than my non-folding bike.  Because it’s so nippy and fun to ride, it somehow seemed to be much easier on the hill.  I didn’t struggle with the gears at all.  I hardly needed to use the first gear, except for one short section, and didn’t need to pedal out of the saddle at all.  On my non-folding bike, I can’t bear to go in the lowest gear and do that leg-whirling thing, preferring instead to ride out of the saddle in a higher gear.  But the Bronpton felt absolutely fine.

The 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub gears performed extremely well.  My only gripe with the bike as a whole is that the gear-lever housing is made of flimsy plastic which feels as though it might snap at any minute.  It didn’t affect the gear-changing though, which was seamless and much better than my clunky derailleur gears so a big thumbs up there.  Maybe I’m just used to a dfferent style and so this housing seemed more delicate but it certainly didn’t affect the gears at all.

I carried my stuff messenger-style and didn’t feel unstable but a front-loading bag or a rear rack would be my preferred option.  I’d probably go for the rear rack just because that’s what I’ve had lately, but I note some of the comments about the front-loader making the bike more stable.  What I thought was unstable steering was just getting used to steering a smaller wheel, but it’s just lighter than non-folders because those wheels are smaller.  Once I’d got used to the feeling, it was fine.  I had a basket on my old hybrid for years and the extra weight on the front was most unsettling so I’m not sure I’d go for one but I hear what some of you say.  If I had one of my own, I’d get it equipped both ways.  And you must be right becaue I don’t think I’ve seen a commuter with a rear rack, all seming to prefer the front-loader.

Would I recommend it?

I absolutely would.  I think it’s a cracking bike.  It’s so much fun to ride and you really can take it anywhere.  I rode it to a formal lunch with some solicitors and the staff kept it in the restaurant for me.  It’s been to Antwerp and back, to work every day, sitting in my office, on the busiest of trains, and around my village lots.  My only caveat is that I’m not sure I’d recommend a Brompton as a first ride in London.  One of the women in my office came around and was asking me about it.  I’m guessing she’s in her late 40’s and she wants to get into cycling to work but hasn’t cycled for years.  Because it feels so light and nippy,  I’m not sure I’d recommend it because she might scare herself silly and be more comfortable on a heavier, non-folding bike.   I advised her to try the Boris bike for a while and see how she went on with her confidence before trying the Brompton as an every-day bike.  But that doesn’t detract in any way from the Brompton’s performance or capability.

Checkout the latest Brompton prices

That Mary Poppins Effect

The one strange thing I did notice about riding the Brompton around London was the reverse Mary Poppins effect!  Everyone I’ve had a conversation with about the bike either loves them or hates them, whether they have one or not.  The detractors seem to dislike them because of their perceived ability to go anywhere.  People don’t like to be faced with others who can nip around.  Isn’t it strange?

One theory I read was that car manufacturers, and probably bikes, sell that sense of freedom that you think you’re going to have….you know, top down, open mountain road, rock anthem for the petrol heads, smooth number for the romantics playing in the background.  The feeling of freedom from the mundane.  And when you get the machine home, to a point, you’re as much in the thrall of traffic as you ever were only now you’re even more frustrated because you have the means to go fast and escape but you can’t because of the hold-ups!  And someone riding a Brompton represents your thwarted ambition, for drivers and non-folders.  So even a woman riding a Brompton gets short shrift.  Undercutting, overtaking so close that my handlebar was clipped, general revving and impatience from behind.  I have yet to speak to any other women Brompton owners so maybe it was just me.

Does anyone else have this reverse Mary Poppins?  I’d be interested to know.

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80 Responses to Full Brompton Review

  1. James Cridland 31/05/2011 at 10:33 am #

    As a long-term (six-speed) Brompton rider – it’s in Evans Cycles now getting its first service, including its first oil for six years – I feel much less safe and happy on one of those big Boris bikes. (And they’re damn heavy, too).

    It’s not just Boris Bikes either – recently I hired a bike in San Francisco, but pined for my little Brompton. I’m now simply un-used to riding a bike with big wheels: it feels like cycling a large bus instead of a little moped.

    I find it’s light, it is incredibly manouverable, and has the added benefit that if it starts raining you can always jump onto a bus or a tube without any hassle. And I never need to carry a bike lock, because everyone’s happy if I bring my bike in and stick it next to a table, or chuck it in a shopping trolley as I wander round the supermarket.

    I’d recommend to the lady in your office to go to a local bike shop and ask to try a Brompton out. A Boris Bike might actually put her off for life. (And anyway: I rarely manage to actually get the key to work… useless system)

    • Skippper 31/07/2011 at 10:02 pm #

      I’m afraid I’m one of the haters. I cycle on folders a lot, and after owning four of them, decided to try the Brompton myth. As luggage, it’s a small as a bike can get, as a bike, the rattly front end, awful ride quality, heavy going Schwalbe Marathons and the flexing M bars and stem are a joke. I tried to love it, a twenty mile country ride today took nearly twice as long as it does on my heavy MTB, hills were a nightmare, and the hub gear demanding that one stops pedalling to change down for a hill.

      I can see the attraction, nimble handling and so on, and a commuting ride being short-ish, but for me, the Brompton is bettered by almost any of the 20″ wheel bikes, unless you need to take it on a train, of course.

      I tried, though,at least.

      • Andrew Ebling 31/07/2011 at 10:24 pm #

        Skipper – certainly echoes my experience during test rides, after which I chose a Dahon with 20″ wheels over the Bromptons. Currently doing up to 30 miles a day on it (which is hard work and pretty uncomfortable at times). I now have a proper road bike on order to do the full commute – 30 miles each way.

        The folding bike certainly has it’s uses and has enabled me to progressively extend the proportion of my commute done on bike over a few months. Personally though, I think the Brompton range sacrifice too much bike for that last 20% of folding size. Provided the rail companies will let me take it on a train at any time of day, I don’t really care how small it folds up :).

        • Skipper 03/08/2011 at 6:21 pm #

          Andrew- Yes, I’ve gone back to Dahons, they are refined these days to the point of cult desirabilty. I took my 20″ bike over the same route that crippled me on the Brompton, and could not believe the difference. Each to their own, of course, 20″ bikes take up a lot of room in small apartments, even when folded.

        • Fitzroy 09/09/2011 at 10:07 pm #

          I have a Dahon 20 and being of large build the brompton just made me look silly, while I do like the neatness of the brompton on trains etc, the Dahon is a more of a stronger bike and better build for longer distances.

      • Chasso 27/04/2014 at 11:25 am #

        Yep, same here. I have an M6L which is admirable as luggage but terrible on anything other than smooth tarmac. I also have a Dahon Vitesse which is noticeably faster and much more comfortable. It was a third of the price of the Bumpton.

        So, I keep the Brompton as my ‘rat-bike’ and the Dahon for longer rides. Also the Brompton is only three months old but the forks are rusting, as is around the bottom bracket. Rubbish, really.

      • Koen van Niekerk 17/08/2014 at 8:45 pm #

        Brompton technology is from the stone age.

        Frame durability and folding concept are super and the ride is OK, once you get used to it.

        But almost every part of it is outdated by at least 30 years, making it a maintenance nightmare
        – Weak brakes (why no simple V-Brakes)
        – No break release meaning having to deflate tyre to get wheel out
        – No quick release on the wheels, replacing a rear tyre is a nightmare
        – Awkward and fiddly saddle construction
        – Dirty chain (why no belt or at least a simple guard)
        – Flimsy brake handles, flimsy shifters
        – Outdated (maintenance unfriendly) headset technology

        Come on Brompton! Time to enter the 21st century!

  2. Yvann 31/05/2011 at 10:44 am #

    Thanks for a very comprehensive review! I bought a hybrid for my first cycling in London bike (I had cycled very cheap MTBs all around uni and at home in Germany) and I’m glad I did – it’s enough of a shock dealing with the taxi drivers at Holborn Circus and the buses on Oxford St without being scared about overly light or unusual steering. So I think you are right to recommend a Boris bike or a simple hybrid/MTB to your colleague to try out cycling in London before she blows cash on a Brompton.

    I’d be interested in trying out a Brompton but as I had 2 full panniers on my bike and was carrying a rucksack today, I fear it would not meet my workhorse criteria.

    Reverse Mary Poppins – my current strong feeling about Bromptons is entirely based on a cyclist who was on one a few weeks ago. She was slower than I (no problem, I was happy to wait until it was safe to overtake), but then she ran every red light so that she would be ahead of me again. It was so rude and so frustrating because often there was no space to overtake ahead. So I cursed “Evil Brompton woman” all the way to work that day and the association has stayed with the bike. I must try to lose this mental connection and keep more of an eye out for Bromptons! But I don’t see any reason for thwarted ambition to cause resentment!

    • nicolep 31/05/2011 at 11:53 am #

      That was definitely not me!

    • Marsbartoastie 13/06/2011 at 10:46 am #

      I’m afraid that I may have been the guilty party on the Brompton – my apologies. Until reading your post it had not ocurred to me that I might be causing inconvenience, annoyance and potential danger to other cyclists. I will endeavour to be more considerate.

      • Rachel 14/06/2011 at 12:54 pm #

        Running red lights is breaking the law, puts pedestrians, motorists, cyclists and yourself at risk. It is a very big no no.

        • george 27/07/2012 at 10:48 am #

          Breaking red lights is not dangerous, just as it is not dangerous to cross the road at your leisure.

          What makes it dangerous is people not taking care. In america one is allowed turn right (in uk the equivalent would be turning left) whenever it is safe, irrespective of the lights.

          There is really no reason why cyclists cannot continue to make progress if they are not crossing a lane.

          There is far too much deference towards rules. It is certainly not rude. It’s common sense. Cyclists are not cars and not pedestrians either. They should follow a hybrid set of rules and norms.

      • Chris Elford 28/04/2014 at 1:35 pm #

        Thinking of getting a 3 speed Brompton and just read Nicolep’ review. I want to know if there any other “fat guys” that own a Brompton??? I am around 18 stones but was so impressed by my friends – the ease of folding etc – that I am almost on the point of purchase so feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

        • Will 28/04/2014 at 1:48 pm #

          I was over 18 stone and bought a 3 speed Brompton, no issues at all.

          I’m now 17stone and ride it everyday, have done for the last couple of years, bike still in good shape.

          Hope that helps.

  3. c 31/05/2011 at 11:07 am #

    This is definitely not going to be other people’s experience but this is mine:

    I rode a folding bike most days for about a year but then I got a full sized bike and don’t want to go back to folding bikes. My issue was that I found a folding bike still too heavy, uncomfortable and bulky to carry around easily. In terms of comfort and negotiating roads, a folding bike was zippy, I didn’t find it uncomfortable, and it could be fun, but I felt a little silly on it, also think it looks a bit silly on other people and prefer the about 10% extra speed and sedan-like feeling of a full sized bike.

    I had this image of being able to go on buses and trains with it but in reality it didn’t work like that, especially when I had other stuff.

    • Will 14/06/2011 at 12:49 pm #

      Was it a brompton?

    • Davey 23/06/2013 at 11:21 pm #

      I’ve ridden all sorts of bikes since I was a boy. For some reason (an old colleague who is a yachtsman eulogizing over something he’d only read about) I bought a used Brommie on eBay. Oh dear! The previous owner was (AFAIK) a young lady weighing a lot less than me. Anyhow the bike had Raleigh 55 psi maximum tyres which IMHO are only suitable for children’s bikes. Even at the maximum pressure these tyres drag and the back wheel gets rimmed on bumps. It is without doubt the WORST bike I have ever ridden and I’m now a Senior Citizen. I hope to try some proper tyres that will take a higher pressure but at the moment the bike sucks.

      Full marks have to be given to a Viking Safari dual sprung six speed folding bike that has an alloy frame and 20″ wheels. This bike rides better than a full size rigid frame bike with 28″ wheels. Its magic! Main snag is that a mate has borrowed it “because he had a puncture and needed to get to work”. Over a year to fix a puncture? More like taking the p***. Time to do the bailiff routine? (it shows what a superb bike it is but you don’t see them anymore)

  4. tim 31/05/2011 at 11:15 am #

    “At the destination, unfold as soon as the train doors open.”
    this is why the majority of train users hate the majority of brompton cyclists. MOVE AWAY FROM THE DOORS! DO NOT STAND THERE BLOCKING THE PLATFORM FOR EVERYONE ELSE!
    here endeth the rant :-P

    • nicolep 31/05/2011 at 11:52 am #

      Maybe I phrased that wrongly. I meant, as soon as I’m off the train, I move to the side and unfold. I obviously wouldn’t unfold in a manner that was blocking other users. But hey, ho. If I did have to stand behind someone who unfolds, 20 seconds won’t kill me and it won’t make me late either.

  5. Andrew Ebling 31/05/2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Based on my own experience, I think folding bike riders in London do get a harder time from other road users. Perhaps we just get an extra helping of derision for riding a less conventional looking machine?

    Nicole – any chance you might be able to get a Dahon for review too? As someone who almost bought a Brompton (and yes – that flimsy/plasticy gear shifter put me off too!) but plumped for a Dahon instead, I’d genuinely be interested to hear your views.

    FWIW I ride up to 2/3rds of a 29 mile commute on my Dahon…

    • Adrian from Oz 03/06/2011 at 6:23 pm #

      Wow, that’s impressive. I too have a Dahon. I found the build quality low, and it’s currently unusable: two broken spokes for which I can’t get replacements. I know I can get a wheel builder to cut spokjes to size and re-thread, but the cost!

      My experience was very different. I hated the small wheels. My Dahon has 20″, I can’t imagine going smaller. Used it for an 8 mile commute, and I found that folding became a chore, so I never folded it. It ended up locked up out the front of the office with the standard bikes. In the end I swapped to a hybrid as I wanted a sturdier bike with panniers.

      It was very light and nippy though!

    • Mike 11/06/2011 at 2:00 pm #

      hi andrew
      i’ve got a dahon jack

      interested in your model as my commute is about 26 miles but i use a road bike on days when i travel all the way in and back.

      • Andrew Ebling 11/06/2011 at 3:23 pm #

        I have the entry level Speed D7. I would definitely be looking at a road bike for doing the whole distance by bike.

  6. Emma 31/05/2011 at 1:13 pm #

    I’ve had my SL6 Brompton for nearly 5 years and I still love it. The plastic gear thingy has never been a problem. If needs be I can cycle my 13 mile commute to or from work – can’t do both journeys as it hurts my back. It’s fast, nippy and it really annoys male cyclists when I overtake them!!
    As for trains…God forbid that I were to get in the way of other psaaengers…but it’s OK for them to get in my way ;-( I don’t quite understand why passengers feel the need to get on the train first and then have me standing in the middle of the doorway with nothing to hold on to and the risk of anyone squeezing by knocking the Brompton over. But hey, there’s nothing so queer as folk!
    When I get to work I keep my Brompton under my desk, if I want to take it Sainsbury’s I put it in a shopping trolley and if I want to go to a shopping centre I drag it round by the extended opened handlebars. It goes in the car, it gets left in my hallway at home and now my teens use it too.
    I have a front bag which is brilliant – large enough for a laptop (not that I have one) and spare clothes and lunch.

    Having told you all the positives & negatives of my experience I prefer to avoid the train altogether where I can so I ride a singlespeed road bike most days!

  7. Henz 31/05/2011 at 1:30 pm #

    I have been trying to put off buying a Brompton for a while, this review is going to make it all the more difficult.

    The front loading on a Brompton is quite different from having a basket attached to the handlebars. It’s attached directly to the frame, which means the weight doesn’t swing around with you when you steer.

    • nicolep 31/05/2011 at 2:51 pm #

      That’s exactly what I found with the basket. No matter how securely I fixed it, and I tried all sorts of things, from plastic cable ties to bits of wire, the thing swung around all the time with an alarming de-stablising effect.

      I guess being attached to the frame would stop that swing.

  8. Karl 31/05/2011 at 2:11 pm #

    I tried several bromptons from Condor, and borrowed a couple of friends’ bromptons too, and eventually (and with a little regret) bought a Dahon Mu p8.

    The Brompton (to me) looks wonderful, and it’s British designed and made – the Dahon was about £200 cheaper and (most importantly) was a lot faster than any of the bromptons I tried out (it’s a little lighter, and has 6 speed derailleurs which I found better than the S6), was much more comfortable, and rode a bit more like a big bike (20″ wheels).

    I have just 8 miles each way in London (with one big hill). I’d have happily spent the extra £200 on the Brompton, if only it had been faster (or maybe just the same speed) as the P8 – but it was 10 minutes slower over the 8 miles (that’s 20 minutes a day more with my family).

    The Dahon’s not cool, but it’s quick: my 2 cents.

    One caveat though – I’d buy a brompton second hand, I wouldn’t buy a dahon second hand.

    As far as treatment by other cyclists and motorists goes – I notice no difference in my treatment on a hybrid (which I had for 8 years) to a folder (4 years) – but any bike that isn’t “normal” usually gets a few looks and the odd comment.

    Once I did see a guy on a lovely red racer stopped by a youth “I like your bike, how d’you get one” – “By working hard” said the feller – when I passed the youth he just said “I don’t like yours” about my P8 – which to be honest I was quite pleased about having had 2 bikes stolen :)

  9. skippy 31/05/2011 at 6:41 pm #

    Agree with Karl they were on the lookout for ripping someone off !

    Watched a few “fly boys” in Milano Sunday chatting bike owners , hoped none would be gullible and let one loose on their bike , would have been the last they saw of them .

    On the way back to Austria i set up a “Book of Condolence” on “Hill108( Mendola Pass )” would be interested to try riding that bump on a Brompton ! Perhaps a “sponsor” will provide the opportunity after the TDF !

  10. Adam Edwards 01/06/2011 at 8:34 pm #

    Carrying the Brompton trick for the station footbridge:

    Don’t fold the bike. Stick the pointy end of your saddle over your shoulder. Stand still and let go with all hands. You will find the whole bike balances neatly there. Then with one hand to steady the bike and the other free for the hand rail, up you go. I usually find I can do this with the front bag attached, unless it’s really heavy.

    Luggage:

    Front bags are best as they are very easy to click on and click off. I love the C bag (25 litres), especially the yellow inside so you can see things.

    The rear rack bag is much more limiting as it’s harder attach and when on means you can’t fold the rear wheel under. I only use mine when off on a longer trip, along with the T bag. Total capacity with both is 47 litres, so just under the capacity of a couple of front panniers on a normal bike.

    Adam

  11. eric 02/06/2011 at 9:13 am #

    “[…] the trick is to wheel it about like it’s non-folding cousin right up to the very last minute and only fold when one gets to the door of the train.”

    This is always my approach. However, two hours after reading your blog, on my way home I was stopped by a jobsworth at St Pancras train station and told to fold up my bike before going through the barriers. He was adamant and I had to do this, ending up carrying my Brompton folded up. Annoying because I tend to go to the end of the platform.

    However, in the 5-6 years I have had my Brompton, this is the first time I have had this happen.

    Great review; fantastic bike!

  12. Emma 02/06/2011 at 9:22 am #

    If I had station staff asking me to carry my folded Brompton I’d have to ask a member of staff to do it for me. I’m physically too pathetically weak to carry mine any further than about 10 metres! Also, I’d just get in the way of every other commuter dashing for a train as I’d be so slow and risk having it knocked out of my hand – that’s happened a couple of times getting on the train with it folded.

  13. Jon F 02/06/2011 at 11:57 am #

    South West Trains seasnon ticket holders can hire a 3 speed Brompton for less than £2 a week (includes servicing I believe). I don’t know about availability. Seems like a very reasonable deal. Bike Cover @ £25 annually covers the gap between the deposit and cost of replacement if the bike is lost or stolen.

    http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk/bromptonbikes.aspx

    Glad you’ve enjoyed the Sturmey Archer gears. I had my Dawes retro-fitted with a secondhand 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub which is brilliant for changing gear at junctions and pedestrian crossings etc – so much easier to get going again after you’ve slowed or stopped compared to derailleurs which I have on my touring bike. Going back to derailleurs takes some getting used to for town use.

    You haven’t stated (well I don’t think you did) which model/ specification of Brompton you tested. The current CTC magazine has a review of, I think a M3L model. Is that what you tried? Of course Brompton have many variations available to suit different requirements and tastes, but they have a few ‘key’ models to save having to specify absolutely everything from scratch. How much would the bike you tested cost?

  14. Andy S 02/06/2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Like Andrew Ebling, after a lot of soul searching I plumped for a less-than-groovy Dahon over a Brompton in the end, because of the speed and ‘feel’ mostly. Mine is a P8 with 20 inch wheels. It doesn’t fold up anything like as small as a Brompton, and it is quite heavy, but it has 8 gears and rides much more like a full size bike. It’s just a lot faster and more stable feeling than a Brompton – I borrowed a mate’s before I made my mind up to check. I do about 20, pretty hilly, miles a day (of a 40 mile or so total round trip) so these are clinchers for me. It was cheaper, too, although the style, ‘Britishness’ and amazingly compact fold-up of the Brompton would be worth the extra money if the riding experiences were comparable.

    Prior to this I cycle commuted 20 miles a day on a hybrid for several years. If I didn’t have such a long journey to work now I would stick to the hybrid, it’s a bit faster, quite a lot more comfortable and way superior as a load carrier. But riding the folder has proved surprisingly good fun for all that, it has a certain minimal appeal and is very versatile. The alternative was not to cycle to work at all and that was really doing my head in!

  15. Simon 03/06/2011 at 11:02 am #

    I have been using a Brompton for 10 months averaging *round 250 miles a month and currently have 6 speed as my journey from home to station is quite hilly. The London Journey is flat so two or three gears would be fine. I have It is a fantastic machine. It folds quickly and neatly lives under my desk, under tables in restaurants. With a rack and eazy wheels it converts. To trolley with the C bag on it. The fold is paramount and I do get fed up with cyclists who do not fold up their bikes . These tend not to be Brompton riders. I have been in a compartment with 6 bormptons and they took up v little space I am always allowed to wheel it onto the platform if tired or the weatther awful I suppose a Taxi or tube can be used I use it far more because I can put on public transport however I have only had one Tube journey in 6 months .

  16. Rebecca Olds-Bartlett 03/06/2011 at 12:00 pm #

    “My only caveat is that I’m not sure I’d recommend a Brompton as a first ride in London. One of the women in my office came around and was asking me about it. I’m guessing she’s in her late 40′s and she wants to get into cycling to work but hasn’t cycled for years. Because it feels so light and nippy, I’m not sure I’d recommend it because she might scare herself silly and be more comfortable on a heavier, non-folding bike. I advised her to try the Boris bike for a while and see how she went on with her confidence before trying the Brompton as an every-day bike.”

    No, it’s exactly the opposite. Think about it! (Two years ago, that was me.)

    • Angela 17/03/2014 at 5:20 am #

      I’m guessing she’s in her late 40′s and she wants to get into cycling to work but hasn’t cycled for years. Because it feels so light and nippy, I’m not sure I’d recommend it because she might scare herself silly and be more comfortable on a heavier, non-folding bike.

      I am in my late 40s and a woman and thought this statement was really patronising. Why would she ‘scare herself silly’ – odd thing to say.

      • ok 12/07/2014 at 9:39 pm #

        I agree!!

  17. mark stotesbury 03/06/2011 at 8:58 pm #

    I Love my Brompton, recently cycled it from london – bath – bristol – wells – glastonbury – taunton in a lazy 5 day camping holiday. It performed perfectly and so nice to be able to take it into the tent at the end of the day and to know its safe. Looking forward to the forthcoming electric one, might try a world tour with one of those. :)

  18. Emma R 04/06/2011 at 12:09 am #

    I want one, I want one, I want one. They’re just so expensive. What’s the expert view on 3 gears vs 6?

  19. Emma R 04/06/2011 at 12:16 am #

    on the note that ‘I want one’. I have a dahon – much like the ones described above with 20″ wheels and purchased because it was £200 cheaper. It’s a lovely ride and light enough to lift up and down stairs – but far too hefty to carry folded or down the northern line… but if anyone would like to buy it at a very reasonable price I’ll invest in a brompton…!

  20. emma 04/06/2011 at 7:21 am #

    Emma, I think it depends where you’re cycling as to whether it’s worth having 6 gears. I only use 3 of my 6. Although there are hills in South London I don’t feel the need to drop to the lowest gear. But that said I’m glad I have them because there may be a time when I need them.
    Just look on a Brompton as an investment. Mine sits in the corner of the living room most of the time but it’s worth it’s weight in gold when I do actually need to use it!

  21. Mike 07/06/2011 at 1:44 pm #

    there’s a lot of Brompton lovers here (and riders too I suspect). I’ve never ridden a folding bike of any description – I have to carry around my daughter on my bike and so it’s just not an option but my over-riding impression of Brompton riders (if you’ll forgive the gross generalisation) is that they seem to think they are not like other bikes and regularly sail past me at traffic lights to queue-jump or just go sailing through the crossings contra-lights and when people are crossing. I cycle a lot around Kings X and St Pancras so it’s very much the commuter crowd but I see it every day. Fold-up bikes are still bikes and their riders need to respect the rules like the rest of us.

  22. Emma 07/06/2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Personally I don’t cycle any differently on my Brompton than a ‘normal’ bike. Yesterday, while riding my road bike, I had this guy riding a high spec MTB and he didn’t like that I kept overtaking him so he jumped every red light and pavement hopped if he got stuck in the traffic. But Mike your “respect the rules” applies to all road users – there’s currently a Mercedes being driven around London with information at the DVLA which is false wanted for knocking me off my bike and then driving off leaving me with injuries serious enough to have 3 months off work!

    I do take a whole lot more crap from other motorists and cyclists when I’m on my Brompton. I’m not much slower on my Brompton than my road bike – still do 13 miles in an hour – but I’m treated like I’m slow: guys pavement hopping off in front of me, cars pulling out from the left in front of me with inches to spare…. These incidences are far more frequent when I’m on my Brompton. In fact every time it gets a puncture it takes about 3 months to fix it that’s how enthused I am about riding it! But I love it really. It’s a fab bike.

    • Mike 07/06/2011 at 4:54 pm #

      Sorry to hear about your ‘off’ Emma, that must have been really traumatic. I ride very defensively especially when I have my daughter on the back but I still have the odd incident … and it could be with another cyclist, pedestrian or motorist but usually the first two! Like I said, I was making a gross generalisation and I think the Kings X area exibits an unusually high proportion of Brompton users (mostly men I should add) but of course, all road users must respect the rules otherwise they’d be anarchy on the roads.

      However, back to the topic … I can’t see a time when I would ever have need of a Brompton and with two more children on the way I’ll probably be looking at some kind of trailer next!

  23. Emma 07/06/2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Both my kids are teens now so I’ve done the seat and trailer.
    I didn’t think I’d ever need a Brompton either – Southern trains forced me to buy one when they banned bikes on peak services. So never say never Mike! Enjoy cycling with your kids x

  24. Rachel 09/06/2011 at 12:12 pm #

    When I purchased my 3 speed brompton from Evans in Soho I took it home on the tube; this was the first and only time I would make this mistake.

    I proceeded to use the bike for 2 months, cycling 2 miles to paddington, hopping on a train and cycling another mile at the other end. It was super convenient and I was free.

    I quickly learnt to only fold the bike if I had to / at the train doors and found that I rarely needed to fold it at all. I was also very pleased with having a front mounted bag.

    After quitting that job and started reading, so skipped cycling for the next 6 months but recently went back to my beloved bike and have been doing a 5 mile trip each day. I found this harder, maybe due to the warmer weather or the distance and have been looking at getting a hybrid. I also no longer need to use a train so the folding benefit of the bike is somewhat moot.

    This isn’t to say that I don’t love the bike still and I will continue to use it when getting trains or going away in a rented streetcar. I am a Virgin trains user but am far too dis-organised to rent one of their bike spaces in advance so the brompton is excellent for this.

    I’ve never ever had the experience of someone acting jealous of me being free and on a bike, not on my brompton or on any other bike though pretty much everyone I speak to seems to have a dislike of cyclists, mostly for pavement cycling and running red lights, both things that I never do.

    Overall, I love the brompton, though I am still struggling at getting the tire back on after changing the inner tube :-(

  25. Shreds 09/06/2011 at 10:24 pm #

    I know the superlight titanium Bromptons are expensive but they really do help when lugging it around. I had a conventional T6 Brompton until one very warm day last Spring, when I decided that the order for a bespoke titanium version had to go in.

    Wow, what a difference! I also had the flimsy chainwheel swopped for something light and rigid and I subsequently found I didnt need any gears at all! No wasted effort.

    The front bag is a must and I have carried masses of stuff in it. No need for a rear (heavy) carrier then. Its also great for a quick rummage for anything that you need quickly. A bar bag with much much more capacity and not attached to the bars!

    Taken it into multi-million pound mansions, houses and offices and its always welcome. Great discussion point particularly when folding!

    Wouldnt dream of using my road bike around town any more, thats reserved for jaunts in the country. The Brompton is the red London Bus for one! Totally practical and total icon.

  26. David House 12/06/2011 at 11:29 am #

    For anyone who’s a long-term Brompton user: how much difference do the smaller wheels make over a bike with more traditional geometry? Where do you notice the difference? (E.g. in climbing, in coasting, in accelerating from a standing start?)

    • eric 12/06/2011 at 7:18 pm #

      Once I’m on the bike, I don’t really think about the differences. I’ve been using a Brompton for 6-7 years and use a MTB as well but usually in very different locations (like a forest!).

      For me, the biggest noticeable difference is the weight, more than the wheel size. The Brompton is very nippy. The wheel size matters most in terms of potholes and the like so you do have to be careful riding it in some conditions.

    • Andrew Ebling 12/06/2011 at 11:07 pm #

      Smaller wheel sizes are generally harder work and can get rather squirrelly at speed (30+mph) or under heavy braking.

      • David House 12/06/2011 at 11:10 pm #

        What do you mean by “squirrely”?

        • Andrew Ebling 12/06/2011 at 11:14 pm #

          The steering becomes prone to rapid oscillation which can be hard to control.

  27. dominique 14/02/2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Im a brompton big time fan. I have a chunky mtb a road bike for long country roads and ofc my brompton for all London cycling commuting. Its an awesome bike and so versatile. The ability to filter in traffic is phenomenal! People say bromptons are slow, i think that depends on the rider i motor on mine. Yes in comparison to my road bike but my road bike is an elephant in London traffic ! Which trust me makes all the difference in the log run.

  28. Northern walker 06/04/2012 at 9:21 pm #

    I have just ordered Brompton h6l after an extensive test ride around Manchester today. A job change necessitates a folder again. I say ‘again’ as I commuted across London on a Bike Friday for five years including a train journey. This machine was for superior to the Brommie on the test ride. However, the fold wasn’t as convenient. It certainly would not work on the Virgin Pendolino that will now form part of my multi-modal trip. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the Brompton ride. They seem better now than they did eight years ago when I last tested one. The h bars are a major improvement for me too being 6’6″.

  29. Sarah 25/05/2012 at 8:58 am #

    could someone tell me if the Brompton’s Superlight frame is worth the extra cost? In the U.S. it’s an extra $811.00 and weight difference of 12.4 kg to 11.6 kg. I am of small stature so perhaps the difference is significant?

    • Will 25/05/2012 at 9:38 am #

      I’ve just gone through the same decision process, so hopefully my thoughts will help…

      I think it comes down to two factors:

      1. How much are you going to be carrying the bike? I bought my brompton for my commute, so as soon as I’m off the train, I unfold and wheel bike rather than carrying it. If you plan to carry a significant distance, that 1kg (or close to it) will make a difference.

      2. The type of riding you’re planning on doing, if you have a lot of hills where you are, and plan to do longer distances then I’d look at the superlight, if it’s flat riding then you’ll be fine with the standard frame.

      I went for standard frame and it’s perfect for buzzing around london on, and a few shorter jaunts.

      Even without the superlight option the brompton was the most expensive bike I’ve bought, but it also is probably the bike that depreciates least too, so even though you might be worrying about the expense, if you look after it and decide it’s not for you the second hand market for these bikes is good, in the UK anyway.

      Hope that helps.

  30. Davey 12/09/2012 at 12:15 am #

    I’m a Senior Citizen these days and officially retired. Of course cars being what they are need a LOT of maintenance (Anyone remember the old car insurance policies that gave one free moped cover which was very handy when the annual decoke and overhaul came around) Cars still need heavy maintenance especially now that they have that infernal invention – the timing belt. I had bought a 4×4 a Land Rover Discovery. It was timing belt time again already as the sellers had messed-it-up but didn’t let on. It turned out that valves and pistons had been hitting one another so it was a big job.

    I have other bikes but they’ve gone rusty. A very good one for getting groceries was the Raleigh Shopper, spokes all rusted through now unfortunately. Anyhow I bought a used Brompton. OK it beats walking but the ride quality is IMHO appalling. Flat tyres and the wind against me didn’t help. On little imperfections it felt as if the wheels were being “rimmed”. Best bit of the Brompton was its shopping bag. This will take two large loaves of bread, two cottage pies and a bottle of beer. Each pocket at the rear will easily take a pint bottle of milk. At Esso-Spar I inflated the Raleigh tyres to their maximum of 55psi. This reduced the rolling resistance considerably. In spite of the “soft” rear end the bike is bone-shaker and it NEEDS a fully sprung saddle. Greatest feature is how small it folds.

  31. Sarah 17/09/2012 at 2:53 pm #

    I’m a biking novice. I’ve been riding the Boris bikes for a couple of months on and off but i’m going to take the plunge and buy a folding as i need to do my return journey/school run on train/tube and then ride the last bit where as going to work in the morning is a straight ride down from tottenham to shoreditch.

    Not so easy to do it seems. Firstly my limit is £500 or less so that pretty much puts Bromtons out of the race for me. Then i figured through research that a Dahon or a Oyama were the next best things but so far haven’t found anywhere to test them out!

    And I’m begining to think that most bike shop employees have something personal against cycling newbies! Okay i’m a little over weight and i’m also in my 40’s but hey! I’m still allowed to a. buy a bike & b.ride a bike. To be honest i’m almost ready to buy something online!

  32. Andrew 17/09/2012 at 3:03 pm #

    @Sarah – check out the Tern range which are available from Evans; they have licensed a lot of technology from Dahon and their base model is well within your price range.

    Personally I have a Dahon Speed D7, but I wish I had gone for the version with hub gears, due to lower maintenance.

  33. David of Cornwall 30/12/2012 at 5:02 am #

    With Brompton’s it is said that you either love them or hate them. I regret to say that I am in the second camp. When it comes to cycling one knows what feels right and what doesn’t. OK I bought my Brompton used on eBay but it still cost plenty. It has Raleigh 55 psi maximum tyres which are not suitable for my weight as they drag and get rimmed on bumps. So far I have ridden it twice doing a total of about four miles and I hate it.

    My late father and a friend once rode from Manchester to Bristol and back in a weekend on a tandem before the war. Now that is cycling. My late mother and father would often ride from Manchester to Southport and back just for a day out – that is cycling too!

    I bought an absolutely wonderful second-hand folding bike on eBay. It has 20″ wheels, an alloy frame and dual suspension. It is really marvellous and it rides as well as or better than a bike with 28″ wheels. Unfortunately a mate has scrounged it for the time being with a sob story about needing to get to work in the morning and having a rear wheel puncture in his own bike. OK it doesn’t fold as small as a Brompton and the mucky chain is on the outside but the ride is absolutely superb even without a Brookes saddle.

    I’ve bought some Schwalbe Marathons for the Brompton but I can tell that they will be no good just by looking at them. They are too narrow and not much thicker than a condom. I’d like a tyre with a width between 1.5″ and 2″ but just how wide one can go without fouling the brakes I don’t know.

    Anyone want to buy a Brompton?

    • Mahesh 21/01/2013 at 10:30 am #

      I would love to.
      Let me know if you are selling it David

  34. Harry 24/02/2013 at 8:45 pm #

    David,
    Which model is your Brompton ? What is your asking price ?
    For me I would be quite unable to reach a conclusion on any bicycle after 4 miles, let alone 40 miles ! I would still be learning after 400 miles . . .
    My claim to (in)famy, Aberystwyth to London in one day on a Dawes SuperG.

  35. Bill F 20/05/2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Some opinions from a brompton owner. I bought my Brompton on a whim, to get fit cycling to work, hadn’t been on a bike for years. That was a 2004, 6 speed model.My journey inludes stretches of the Downs (ie hilly) plus London. Here are my impressions:

    It’s a strong effective bike
    comfortable
    Is not slow. Riders are slow, not bikes
    small wheels are fine. The fastest bike ever also uses 16 inch wheels.(Moulton)
    If you are around 6 feet tall, you probably need the longer seat post
    Standard Brompton non kevlar tyres are best, for all weather grip. The gentleman who bashed his rims – you must have been riding with flat tyres, these tyres take 100 psi.
    It climbs hills just fine. You can stand on the pedals and honk, but I have the braced handlebars
    The fold quality is really important for usability
    The rear rack makes no sense for commuting.
    Front bag system is great, doesn’t affect handling
    Never seen anyone pulling one along, so large castors probably pointless

    If buying another I would consider:
    6 gears are too many. 2 or 3 would be fine, but the new Sturmey plastic gear changer is horrible to behold
    I would grit my teeth and pay for the lighter titanium X model, to carry it more easily, and I am a large 15 st bloke
    The sit up versions will never be any good on eg a cycling club training ride. Too much air resistance. Horses for courses. You could probably use the S model for that purpose though.

    • Davey 27/06/2013 at 12:01 am #

      The Raleigh Record 16 x 1-3/8 tyres are marked ” INFLATE TO 55 P.S.I – 3.8 ATM MAXIMUM” which is the pressure that I put into them at the garage. STILL NO GOOD as I think that these tyres are intended for children’s bikes and I weigh about 75 kilos. (The Raleigh Records are very cheap tyres compared to Schwalbe Marathons and they are destined for the Charity Shop as they might still do someone a good turn)

      I am in the process of upgrading the tyres to 110 psi versions but I suspect that I may be throwing good money after bad, time will tell. A Marathon Plus is awaited for the rear wheel but allegedly the snag with these is fitting them without pinching the tube. (spare tubes are on order as well as I know all about Murphy’s Law!)

      A good tip is to write ones surname and the first part of ones postcode on the rim-tape. I knew someone who nailed a thief this way! The thief on a delightful council estate in North Cornwall stole the blokes front wheel. The bloke knew who had stolen his wheel so he dropped a note through the thief’s letterbox that stated that as the bike was now no good he may as well steal the back wheel as well. The stupid thief obliged so the bloke called the police. “How do you know its your wheel?” said the policeman. “Well if you take off the tyre you will find a bit of paper with my name and address on it.” said Roger. I think the term is “Banged to rights!” Take care!

  36. Porscha 12/06/2013 at 11:33 am #

    Very insightful reviews to say the least . I have contemplated buying a brompton for the past three years , I am now going to commit to buying one :) my Trek mountain bike is weight to heavy and most times very difficult to commute (when i have to ) . I am 5’11 and the commute to work is not hilly only a small stretch of about a mile what would people recommend ?

    I am happy to join the Brompton crew .

    • S2L-X 21/06/2013 at 4:00 pm #

      Porscha, get a 2-speed. It’s the best compromise of weight vs performance. The 3 and 6 speed options weigh A LOT and add complication. The KISS principle at work :-)!

      • Porscha 21/06/2013 at 5:55 pm #

        Thank you very much I will bare that in mind ! #veryuseful :–)

  37. Gianni 03/11/2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Just my two cents on the Brompton. I love touring on a bike and have always wished for a compact bike that can travel on buses, trains, planes more easily than a large bike but also perform well on a long ride with bags at the back and front. I had purchased a Dahon touring model with racks that proved extremely unreliable especially in the folding mechanism of the handlebar. If folded often it needs a visit to a bike shop any few months to get the bearings in the system changed etc… At bike shops I heard this is a common problem on Dahon and now Tern models and their only suggestion to solve the problem was to not fold the bike which makes the all purchase a bit pointless.
    Having read positive reports on the quality of Bromptons I decided to get one and am happy to report that I had a blast of a time cycling the Pacific Coast, almost 1000 miles in 16 days on a 6 gear Brompton with only one flat tyre to report… Fantastic bike and can’t wait to take it around the world a bit more!

    Full story is on this blog http://worldcyclist.blogspot.com/2013/11/pacific-coast.html

  38. Davey 08/03/2014 at 8:00 pm #

    With a Brommie you either love them or hate them. The big plus point is that they fold smaller than just about anything else. The demerits are a rather poor ride especially if the tyres are the old type which are only rated for 55 psi. I gave those tyres to a charity shop after attaching labels stating that the tyres were ONLY for children’s bikes or for people up to about nine stone. The new tyres are rated for up to 110 psi so hopefully the wheels won’t get rimmed anymore on bumps. Where I live the roads are so bad that one can get quite a pounding in a 4×4 or even on a farm tractor. If one was to ride a Brommie into a pothole like that you might easily end up with a broken neck after flying over the handlebars. Take care!

    PS The Brommie bag is brilliant and it will hold a lot of groceries. Its ideal for when the car is being overhauled as it will hold enough shopping to last about two days.

  39. mez 15/04/2014 at 8:37 pm #

    I too have and love a Brompton
    Mine is a 2 speed S Type with front O bag all in black
    My bike saves me time and money on my 5 mile commute from Golders Green to Warren St
    And allows me to be free of the Horrible Northern Line and its ghastly commuters

  40. Simon 05/05/2014 at 11:01 am #

    Bought one last week and rather annoyed that all the reviews I’ve ever come across do not make mention of some really bad points.

    Is it just me?

    The Brompton actually just does not roll on its little wheels when folded! The ground clearance is a couple of millimeters, so lino or marble would be fine, but nothing else! The mudguard would be in shreds if indeed it could roll. But it can’t anyway because in addition to the lack of ground clearance, the, SA gear chain puller actually fouls front wheel spokes and the distance cannot be adjusted!

    A standard seat post does NOT go up to a 33″ leg. It’s 2 ” too short at its max position for me (and I’m 31″), unless that is, you ride with your instep on the pedal.

    The seat is also too far forward even at its rear most position.

    The brake levers are pointing down when in fact they need to be at something closer 4 O’Clock. They cannot be put in a comfortable position because the bike won’t fold.

    It is almost impossible not to scratch the paintwork when folding the bike. The hook on the front wheel that engages the rear frame takes the paint off, while the folding pedal bashes the top tube amongst others.

    The seat post when dropped, hits the floor when it should stop just short to enable the folded bike to be rolled.

  41. Sam 23/05/2014 at 8:42 pm #

    I have a couple of 20″ folders, and a Brompton. There is no doubt that for conventional riding, mile after mile of country roads, my 9 and eventually to be 27 speed Downtube is the winner by miles, specially after I moved to drop bars. In stop start traffic, weaving in and out of cars, carrying luggage conveniently, the Bromfield wins by miles, and I rarely to never get dropped by a rider on an alternate folder. It’s when I get to a customer site or a hotel room though, that the Brompton really wins. Having carried a 20″ centre fold bike into such places, there is no comparison. If I need to get off the train and do 20 miles across the Yorkshire countryside, give me the Downtube. If I’m biking through London traffic to a customer site, and thence to a hotel, you can prise the Brompton from my cold dead hands.

  42. Simon 25/05/2014 at 11:49 pm #

    The Brompton Co. could not give two hoots about its customer.

    It relies on and takes for granted an undeserved reputation and prices its product at more than double its worth … .

    You can get the thing on a train. That’s it!

  43. Eric 26/05/2014 at 11:10 am #

    Whether the reputation is deserved or not is obviously a personal opinion. I bought my Brompton 10 years ago and love it. I have a 36″ leg so had to buy the extended seat post but otherwise the bike suits me perfectly.

    If you want the bike to roll when folded, buy the luggage rack (whatever it is called) which has wheels on it for this purpose. Otherwise, carry the bike or leave it unfolded while walking, which is what I do. I only fold the bike to take it into the train.

    I’ve had no problem with paint scratching or actually any other problem to speak of. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I am a satisfied customer and would buy another in a flash were I to need one.

  44. Simon 26/05/2014 at 11:20 am #

    This is a con (in my view, of course). The standard wheels are useless, so you buy the Eazy wheels .. which don’t work either. Why would Brompton not put the Eazy wheels on the thing in the first place? Then you’re advised to buy the rack … around £100 …!

    The folding pedal not only makes contact withe frame, but also mashes into your finger nails.

    Carrying the thing through a station as one must because stations invariably have stairs is a huge effort because it’s so heavy.

  45. Eric 26/05/2014 at 12:46 pm #

    Actually, I find carrying the bike while unfolded, especially up/down stairs, is easier than carrying it folded. Pick it up from the central bar and it is nicely balanced and the bike just hangs there.

    Whether needing the extra wheels, and having to pay for them, is a con is of course debatable. I don’t need those extra wheels so would rather not have them so as to minimise weight.

    You do indeed have to be careful with the folding pedal :(

  46. Simon 12/07/2014 at 10:07 pm #

    Eric, you’re not allowed to take the bike into the station onto the platform unfolded.

    What annoys me most, now, in fact, is that the company is so blindingly arrogant it just completely ignores its customers having sold their product to you.

    I have now contacted them 3 times … totally ignored.

    I would say DO NOT buy a Brompton …utterly useless company …and I would, now I know, have bought another fold up bike.

  47. Nigel 11/08/2014 at 8:58 am #

    as a part-time bike mechanic recently returned to the trade after 40 years of farming and maintaining farm machinery I get Bromptons in for servicing. Has anyone had problems getting spares from them, I have one that’s very weak on the long coil spring that’s supposed to change the 2 speed derailleur (on a 6 speed) back to the smaller cog on flicking up the left hand changer. I’ve freed off the changer pivot and re-newed the cable that’s easily shifting, but the coil spring is just not strong enough to pull the cable back to allow the chain to shift to the smaller cog. It’s an old SACHS 3 speed hub, hopefully there’s a stronger spring now available but can you get spares, comments above suggest this may be a problem?

  48. Koen van Niekerk 17/08/2014 at 8:46 pm #

    Brompton technology is from the stone age.

    Frame durability and folding concept are super and the ride is OK, once you get used to it. But almost every part of it is outdated by at least 30 years, making it a maintenance nightmare
    – Weak brakes (why no simple V-Brakes)
    – No break release meaning having to deflate tyre to get wheel out
    – No quick release on the wheels, replacing a rear tyre is a nightmare
    – Awkward and fiddly saddle construction
    – Dirty chain (why no belt or at least a simple guard)
    – Flimsy brake handles, flimsy shifters
    – Outdated (maintenance unfriendly) headset technology

    Come on Brompton! Time to enter the 21st century!

  49. Simon 17/08/2014 at 10:30 pm #

    All valid questions, but Brompton don’t do customer care …. as long as they’re still selling them they dont give a hoot

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