27th April 2015

The Ultimate Guide to Brompton Bikes

Brompton logoWe are proud to offer the unique British-manufactured Brompton folding bikes (including the much anticipated Brompton Electric) at the Bike Co-op because…

  1. The only bicycles Brompton produce are 16”-wheeled folders. This makes Brompton probably the most specialist bicycle company in the world.
  2. Every Brompton is hand built in Britain. This makes them (along with Pashley) the last surviving volume bicycle manufacturer in this country.
  3. A proven design – although Brompton have introduced incremental improvements over the years, every Brompton bicycle is built on fundamentally the same engineered-in solutions that company founder, Andrew Ritchie, conceived in the 1970s.
  4. That is to produce a bicycle that rides well and which folds faster and neater than any other. See Brompton’s own video:
    The Brompton Fold.
  5. With practice, a Brompton can be folded and unfolded in 10 seconds. That’s at least twice as fast as the majority of folding bikes. Don’t believe us? We had a competition to see how fast they could be unfolded.
  6. When folded, the front wheel guards the drivetrain so the chain can’t touch you or your clothing.
  7. Once folded, a Brompton is more compact than any other folder so it takes less storage space.
  8. Once folded the bike can’t spontaneously unfold, with the result that carrying a Brompton onto a train, using the bike’s frame or saddle as a handle, becomes as routine and drama-free as carrying a suitcase.
  9. Integral rollers behind the seatstays make the folded Brompton stable when you park it and easy to roll, say along the railway station platform.
  10. A company that manufactures in this country and creates real jobs, Brompton are deservedly cited as an example of British industry at it’s best.

Brompton Bikes | Folding Bikes

‘What I really like about my Brompton is it is fun to ride, a doddle to fold and it is well made. When I take it on the tram, it folds neat and small, not much bigger than its 16” wheels. When you unfold it, people look in amazement as if you have pulled a rabbit out of a top hat. I am so glad that as a company we have decided to sell such a well-made and well-presented British-made bike that does what it says it can do.’
Former Bike Co-op member Alan Knott

Sheffield Brompton ride 2015

Sheffield Brompton ride 2015

What makes a Brompton bike different?

Every part of the bike must comply with Brompton’s design goal – to produce a bicycle that rides well and which folds faster and neater than any other, beginning with the frame.

The Frame

  1. Every Brompton hand-brazed hi-tensile steel main frame is essentially identical: the steel tubing, the hinge, the dimensions and the geometry.
  2. Brompton (like nearly every bespoke frame builder in the world) trusts in steel tubing for its reasonable light weight, its strength and its time-proven longevity.
  3. Especially important for a folding bike, the Brompton’s steel main tube can be narrower diameter than an aluminium tube of similar strength.
  4. The steel frame therefore contributes to making a Brompton a more compact bike when folded.
  5. The Brompton’s steel main tube is extraordinarily stiff to eliminate unwanted flex – this is especially crucial when the main tube incorporates a hinged mechanism that will be used daily.
  6. An elastomer bung behind the seat clamp (between the main frame and the rear triangle) acts as an effective shock-absorber to compensate for the frame’s stiffness.
  7. The low top tube makes a Brompton extraordinarily easy to hop on and off – a great attribute on a city bike.
  8. Producing one type of main frame in one material and in one size helps ensure consistent quality control matched with manufacturing efficiency.
  9. This efficiency helps explain why Brompton can continue to flourish while manufacturing in this country, and why they don’t feel compelled to emulate nearly every other Western bike company by moving production to the Far East.


The Components

Every component on a Brompton is fold-friendly – and we don’t just mean the hinged hi-tensile steel handlebar stem and the folding left-hand pedal.

  1. 16 inch wheels make a folded Brompton more compact, compared with the majority of folding bikes that come with 20 inch wheels.
  2. The rear dropout spacing (where the wheel fits) is only 112mm (135mm is the norm on most bikes to cope with multi-cog gearing).
  3. A singlespeed hub fits these 112mm dropouts perfectly.
  4. Brompton also offer 2-speed, 3-speed or 6-speed gearing options (which use either a simple 2-speed derailleur or a 3-speed hub gear or or a combination of both) which all comply with their 112mm dropouts.
  5. Dual pivot brakes protrude less than, say, V-brakes so that’s what Brompton spec.

The Ride

For all the ingenuity that goes into its fold, the feature that most impresses people on their maiden voyage on a Brompton is how nicely it rides.

The smaller, lighter weight wheels with short spokes are intrinsically stronger and faster accelerating. The steering is similarly responsive and nifty. This is balanced with the frame’s low centre of gravity, which makes the bike feel stable and the handling very predictable.

We’re not saying that a Brompton will outsprint a pure road race bike. Nor will it cope with rough terrain like a mountain bike. But we can assure you that a Brompton is a complete blast when used for what it was built for – nipping around town as quickly (or as slowly) as you like, while being more than capable of longer jaunts. Plus, never forget that it’s ultra neat fold makes the Brompton especially compatible with other forms of transport, making it an excellent companion when you travel afar on bus, train, boat, ‘plane or car.

Brompton Electric Bike | Brompton Bike

Strong and Durable

It might be smaller than most bikes, but that doesn’t mean a Brompton isn’t tough, strong and durable. Its shorter frame tubes and smaller spokes make it intrinsically more rigid. Even if you are 6 foot 6 inches (2 metres) tall and weigh 18 stone (114kg), you can ride a Brompton with confidence.

This reputation for reliability, plus the fact that the design remains fundamentally unaltered from one decade to the next, means that on the off chance you should ever decide to sell on your Brompton, it will probably hold its value better than any other brand of bike.

Customise your Brompton

Another feature that makes Brompton truly stand out is that it is a modular design. Brompton might only do one version of their main frame, but they make up for this by offering a host of options that allow you to customise the bike to your needs and wishes.

This flexibility about specification, which Brompton call their B-spoke service, is another example of the benefits of these bikes being built in Britain. Brompton will build a bicycle just for you. That just ain’t going to happen if your bike is mass produced on the other side of the globe.

In fact this B-spoke service is so popular, we rarely sell an off-the-peg Brompton, like the ones you will see on display in our shops in Leeds, Aberdeen and Edinburgh Canonmills. And that’s despite the fact that you will have a wait around two months between ordering a custom built Brompton and picking it up from one of our shops.

One of the reasons Brompton’s B-spoke service is so popular is because it’s can be such a good deal for you, the rider.

Take saddles. If you go for the standard spec, you get a nice, modern, cushioned, lightweight, unisex saddle, which most people get on with fine. However, if you want to upgrade to a genuine Brooks B17 Special leather saddle in either the men’s or women’s version, Brompton will fit this saddle (which normally retails at £110) for only £65 extra (prices checked Jan 2017).

To view the most popular options available (handlebars, gearing, mudguards and rack) see our BUILDING YOUR BROMPTON document.

More Options

  • You can save up to a kilo if you opt for the Superlight version with titanium rear triangle, fork and mudguard stays; a lighter front wheel and a lighter alloy headset (though, starting at around 10.5kg, a basic all-steel framed Brompton is a reasonably lightweight bike for the money).
  • Extended and telescopic seatposts for taller riders (inside leg measurement over 33 inches / 84cm), though a Brompton with a standard seatpost will fit almost anyone from around 4 foot 6 inches to 6 foot 3-ish.
  • 15 colours to choose from.
  • Two tone options: one colour for the main frame, another for the rear triangle, fork and stem.
  • Battery or dynohub lighting.
  • Lowered gearing to make hills more manageable or higher gearing to go faster.
  • A great range of bags and covers to make your Brompton suitable for commuting, day trips and touring.
  • More puncture-resistant Schwalbe tyres (though Brompton’s own Kevlar tyres are fine and dandy).

Brompton Bikes | Folding Bikes | Brompton Electric

Read more

If you need another reason (or four) to buy a Brompton, take a look at our blog Folding Bikes: Why You Should Buy One

Or take a look at this blog and learn How to go Touring with a Folding Bike


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