Brompton Bikes has been in the news recently with James Houston completing the Transcontinental ride on one and a new book about the company having been released last week, so let’s take a look at the classic British folder.
Chances are that when you hear the words ‘folding bike’ you picture a Brompton. That’s a measure of how popular the bikes have become since the brand was established in the 1970s.
Bromptons are built around several different frames but they all share a curved main tube design and feature the fold that was invented by company founder Andrew Ritchie.
Essentially, there are four steps to the fold:
1 The rear wheel and back end of the hinged frame fold towards the centre.
2 The front wheel, front of the frame and fork fold towards the centre.
3 The handlebar folds downwards.
4 You drop the seatpost and saddle.
That’s it. Within about 20 seconds – once you get the hang of it – you have a small, locked package that measures 585mm x 565mm x 270mm. You can carry it on a bus or train and it takes up very little storage space at home or in the office.
A Brompton’s appeal isn’t all down to the fold. The classic description is that it’s a small-wheeled folding bike that rides like a non-folding big-wheeler. Certainly, the ride quality of any Brompton is exceptional.
We reviewed Brompton’s P Line Urban bike earlier in the year and called it a “fantastic and innovative high-performance option”, although it’s pricey at £2,324.
The 'P' in the name stands for Performance with this model hitting the scales almost 1.5kg lighter than a standard Brompton A Line (which has prices starting at £850). The P Line we reviewed was 10.17kg. The light weight is most appreciable when you’re carrying the bike.
As part of the weight reduction process, Brompton fits a titanium fork and rear triangle, as well as a redesigned rear suspension block.
Reviewer Matt Lamy said, “These measures, along with the sheer length of the Brompton frame design, help to dissipate a lot of under-tread lumps and bumps.”
One of the reasons for Brompton’s success is its attention to detail so the P Line gets the usual mounting block at the head tube for the brand’s proprietary luggage range, the main frame is beautifully finished, and our review model had oversized roller wheels for easy manoeuvrability.
The P Line comes with Brompton’s own patent-pending 4-speed derailleur gearset which we found sturdy and easy to use. Overall, it’s a fabulous machine.
As mentioned, there are various other Brompton models available, starting with the A Line and going all the way up to the T Line (pictured below) that we told you about in January. There are electric models too.
The T Line is built around a lightweight titanium frame and weighs as little as 7.45kg, although Brompton says “it can be comfortably ridden by a 110kg rugby player”. Most Brompton bikes are built in London but the T Line is made in a new facility in Sheffield.
You get features like carbon cranks, a one-piece carbon fork, and carbon handlebars, but you’ll need to pay at least £3,750.
If you’d like to know more about Brompton, a new book called The Brompton, Engineering for Change by the company’s CEO Will Butler-Adams was released last week. It’s as much about the company as it is about the bike, and it’s an interesting read.
The millionth Brompton is expected to be produced within the next few weeks.
Head over to www.brompton.com to check out the entire range.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.