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Would you spend £25,000 on a secondhand Brompton?

Rare early model from the British folding bike brand has gone up for auction… but you'll need plenty of the folding stuff to buy it

A rare early Brompton folding bike has just gone up for auction with a starting bid of £25,000.

Andrew Ritchie came up with the Brompton concept in London in 1975 and tried to license the design, but eventually began manufacturing the bike himself in 1981. Brompton has experienced various ups and downs since then but the brand has become iconic and achieved something of a cult status over the years.

> Read our review of the Brompton C Line Explore 

1981 Brompton No 2 - 2

Now an early Brompton has just been put up for auction by Cyclecare Swindon with bids of at least £25,000 being invited. The bike has been owned by Cyclecare Swindon’s Tim Whitty for more than three decades.

1981 Brompton No 2 - 1 (1)

“This bike is one of the earliest Brompton's made,” says Cyclecare Swindon. “The Brompton No 2 folding bike was made in 1981 and is numbered and stamped on the frame with proof of manufacture.

It is built with a 3-speed Sturmey-Archer rear hub that’s marked as being produced in May 1980.

1981 Brompton No 2 - 3

“This Brompton No 2 clearly shows the early development of the brand concept,” says Cyclecare Swindon. “It is unique in the way the frame and stem fold. Both of these folds are operated using lever/locking mechanisms. The cable routing is opposite to the norm and the gear cable router is in a different orientation. Several components are clearly handmade.

1981 Brompton No 2 - 4

“The entire aesthetic gives a very different appearance to the modern Brompton but is clearly an ‘early runner’ for this benchmark folding bicycle brand.”

> Check out our review of the Brompton P Line Urban 

The main frame tube has more of a distinct bend to it than you’ll see on modern Bromptons – which are gently curved – but the positions of the folds are the same as they are today. Although the design has clearly been refined, the key elements were in place from the early days.

1981 Brompton No 2 - 5

Owner Tim Whitty said, “I have been a Brompton dealer since 1988 and the No 2 bike came my way over 30 years ago. I have the name of the original owner and can provide this to the successful bidder.

“I have stored the bike in a clean dry space and the condition is very good (except the mudguards). In the time I have had it, it’s been ridden no more than a few hundred yards.

“I believe this is one of the oldest Bromptons that shows the compact size of the bike that’s gone on to set the standard for folding bikes.”

To find out more, or to place a bid, head over to the auction

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.

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