Since I have owned my Brompton for a few months now, and have used it for a wide variety of short city and long country rides, I figured it would be a good time to write a review. The following review details the good, the bad, and ugly of my Brompton folding bike.
It’s good to start with the good, and it’s even better in this case, because most of my feedback about the Brompton is, in fact, good.
For starters, it is definitely one of the quickest and easiest bikes to fold and unfold. After just a few practice runs, most riders will be able to fold the bike in less than 10 seconds. Unfolding is just as fast. And, it’s super easy, involving just four steps (five if you count the Herculean task of folding up the pedal). 😉
Another advantage of the fold is that after doing the first step, where the rear tire swings under the rest of the bike, you can easily push the bike around in this position, or leave it standing upright. I sometime do this when I need to get through a no-biking zone, but don’t want to carry the bike. Pushing or pulling it from the handlebars is much easier in these situations.
It you’d like to be able to pull the bike in this position, you will need to get the optional rear rack. It comes with some standard rollers. I upgraded to higher quality rollers so I could more easily and more smoothly pull my bike.
Probably, the best and coolest thing about the Brompton’s fold is how ridiculously small it is. When completely folded I can easily put it under my desk at the office, or on the overhead rack of the Shinkansen (bullet train).
Riding the Brompton around the city is great fun. It handles well, and can be down right sporty on high-speed corners. Riding speed in relation to effort is adequate for most city commutes. However, for longer urban rides, the Brompton suffers somewhat in comparison to lighter bikes with thin tires.
The fenders on the Brompton are nice for protecting your clothes when riding in the rain or on wet roads.
Since my Brompton has the “gull wing shaped” handlebars and center shock absorption pad, the ride is relatively smooth. I did try the S-Type Brompton which uses T-shaped handlebars, which don’t flex as much as other handlebars, and felt the ride was a little too bumpy for my taste.
While we were still on “the good” I definitely need to mention the quality construction and componentry of the Brompton. The bike is built to last and the components, from the locking nuts to the brakes and shifters, are all built for precise and repetitive usage.
Lastly, I really like how a full line of accessories has been designed for Bromptons. These include the rear rack, electric lights, and several different front-carry bags which can be easily detached for use as day packs or carry baskets.
The only negative things I can say about the Brompton is that, at approx. 28lbs, it really is quite heavy. You don’t notice it much when cycling. However, if you have to carry the folded bike very far, your arms will continually remind you of the advantages of carbon fiber. If you want to give your arms a rest, there is a way to rig up a carry strap, but it does take time, and it sometimes comes loose.
The upright riding position is both a good and a bad thing. For casual riding it is a comfortable position which provides riders with a much better view of their surroundings that a hunched over riding position required on most road bikes. However, it’s not the most aerodynamically efficient position and will really slow you down if you are out for speed.
The other thing I have not been totally impressed with is the shifting system on the six-speed model. Since there are shifters on both sides of the handlebars that utilize a type of alternating shifting process, it does take some time to learn how to shift in the appropriate manner. The three speed models would obviously not have this issue.
Hah, are you serious!?
We are talking about one of the classiest most timeless designs amongst all folding bikes. So, aside the from the price (a little on the high side) and some of the more outlandish colors, there really isn’t, as far as I’m concerned, anything “ugly.”
Riders should always remember to keep the tires properly inflated. It only takes a week or two of riding for my tires to become underinflated. This will not only slow you down, it can be dangerous while cornering. In fact, I had my front tire actually start to fold while doing some high speed cornering.
In conclusion, if you have the budget and are looking for a well-designed, high quality, easy to fold and fun to ride bike, you should definitely take a Brompton for a test ride or two.
If you’d like more information, visit the Brompton site which has a biker explorer section detailing all models and options.