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Verdict: 
The iconic Brompton is hard to beat, easy to use and a delight to ride
Weight: 
12,500g
Brompton S6L
8 10

If you're in the market for a small-wheeled folding bike for commuting there are many choices, but one that should definitely be on your list is the S6L from iconic brand Brompton – it's super-easy to fold, fun to ride and you can tailor it to your needs and, assuming you have at least £800 to spend, your budget.

As well as being a well-known name in this market – though there are quite a few others out there, such as Tern, Birdy, Airnimal and Dahon among others – Bromptons are acknowledged as having one of the easiest folding mechanisms and compact sizes when folded. This makes them particularly appealing for commuters who combine their ride with public transport (no need to reserve space for a folding bike on the train, and you can take them on the tube), and the addition of two small wheels that allow you to trolley the bike when folded is very useful. All very convenient.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy this online here

Brompton - folded up.jpg

Brompton - folded up.jpg

The ride

Riding a Brompton is a very different experience to a regular road bike. It's nimble and agile, and the lively steering takes a little getting used to at first, but you quickly tune into the quick reactions. What might surprise you about the Brompton is how much fun it is to ride – it really does put a smile on your face as you make your way along the road.

The 16in wheels provide impressive acceleration from a standing start – you can get up to speed with minimal lag and the range of gears on the test bike offered good low options for climbing, with enough top-end choice for fast high-speed stretches of your commute. Where the small wheels aren't so good is in dealing with rough roads and potholes, and at very low speeds the bike can feel a bit wobbly and the in-line steering feels very lively. It's part of the compromise for the extremely small folded size, but it's a handling trait you soon get used to.

Brompton - riding 3.jpg

Brompton - riding 3.jpg

There's no sense you're riding a bike that is able to fold away in seconds with a hinged mainframe, it's impressively direct handling with no vagueness when leaning over into corners or dropping down steep hills. The locking levers secure the two halves of the frame together, avoiding the old problem you used to get with Bromptons where the frame could inadvertently start to tuck under if, say, you hopped off a kerb. It handles reasonably responsively and with no huge amount of detectable flex, even when pedalling fast and swinging through corners. There's no bob when riding out of the saddle either.

The handlebar is in line with the front wheel and gives the Brompton quick steering that makes it ideal for nipping and tucking through congested streets and navigating the many hazards that face cyclists in busy areas. But it's also remarkably stable at higher speeds, and not at all skittish even over rougher roads, helped to an extent by the small polyurethane elastomer between the rear wheel and main frame.

Brompton - tube joint.jpg

Brompton - tube joint.jpg

Unlike regular road bikes, the Brompton is only available in one size, but I felt perfectly comfortable with the fit and reach with no changes necessary. The double seatpost ensures there's enough adjustment to accommodate a wide range of rider heights, and Brompton includes a small attachment that serves as a post height indicator so you can easily set the saddle at the right height after being folded. Brompton also offers four handlebar types to accommodate different positions to suit your needs; the S-Type on the test bike is the lowest and sportiest option. You're not exactly cheating the wind, but it's ideal for short commutes and tolerable for longer rides.

Brompton bits

One thing to bear in mind is that, as Iwein discussed when he reviewed the S2L-X back in 2010, there's a high level of Brompton-only parts in these bikes. They do work really well, though. Here, the padded saddle cushions your bottom from the impact of sunken drain covers and potholes, and the smart telescopic seatpost makes it easy to get the right saddle height with large quick release levers.

Brompton - saddle.jpg

Brompton - saddle.jpg

Up front, the grips are padded and grippy when riding without gloves, and a bell integrated into the brake lever is a smart detail; it's easy to operate and makes a loud and satisfying ring.

Brompton - bar and lever.jpg

Brompton - bar and lever.jpg

Brompton also specs its own brakes and tyres. The brakes are powerful enough to bring you to a speedy stop should a pedestrian step out into the road in front of you, while the tyres are robust and durable, coping with debris-littered roads and being slammed into potholes or sunken manhole covers. A reflective band around the sidewall is a nice touch for some extra visibility during darker commutes.

Brompton - front brake.jpg

Brompton - front brake.jpg

Protecting you from the perils of getting chain oil on your clothes is a neatly integrated chain guard. There are also mudguards to keep off road spray, and it's nice to see a generous-length flap extension on the front mudguard to stop your shoes getting too soaked.

Brompton - guard flap.jpg

Brompton - guard flap.jpg

 Another useful addition is having a mini pump fitted to the frame, so discreet that you could be forgiven for not even spotting it at first.

Brompton - pump.jpg

Brompton - pump.jpg

Lights are essential for winter commuting, and Brompton has smartly added lights in a very neat way to the bike. There's a large rear light and, up front, a Cateye Volt 300 mounted neatly above the front wheel. This saves having to attach lights to handlebars and seatposts with fiddly clamps and silicone bands that aren't always that secure, and meant the bike was ready to ride into the dark evening straight out of the box.

Brompton - front bracket and light.jpg

Brompton - front bracket and light.jpg

Custom exercise

You can customise the Brompton to suit your needs, and that includes the gearing. Bath is a hilly place so we chose a geared option, naturally, and went with the 6-speed model. A 3-speed BWR (Brompton Wide Range) hub gear is paired with two external sprockets and a compact derailleur system. Both the hub gear and two sprockets are operated by individual trigger shifters underneath the handlebar, with easy-to-view gear indicator windows. The triggers are ergonomic and fall naturally within easy reach.

Brompton - rear mech.jpg

Brompton - rear mech.jpg

It does take some time to get familiar with the gear range and to operate the twin trigger shifters, but you quickly get your head around it and how best to use the gears for different scenarios. The range was sufficient to let me scale steeps climbs without leaving me spinning out on flatter roads. It's a good setup, with no huge gaps between the gears.

Folding

Based in London, Brompton has been hand-building its bikes for nearly 30 years and the design hasn't strayed far from the original. Folding a Brompton is an easy and quick job, and it's mostly intuitive, once you've had a few goes. The well-designed manual outlines the few steps required to effortlessly unfold the bike, but I'll admit it does take a few attempts before it's second nature – best to practise before doing a live run on a busy crowded railway platform.

It's possible to get a bit flustered on your first few attempts, but the key is to remember the steps and to do them in the right order. It soon becomes a doddle and you'll be showing off to your mates just how quickly you can fold it down. The large plastic locking levers are easy to operate and fasten the bike securely into its upright position.

Brompton - joint.jpg

Brompton - joint.jpg

If your commute involves public transport, the Brompton really is going to work for you. It's small enough once folded – 585mm high, 565mm long and 270mm wide – that it'll fit in the luggage rack on a train.

Frame and weight

The steel frame is tough and you only need see the high number of Bromptons on the roads of various vintages to realise they're built to last. It's not light, though, weighing in at 12.5kg (27.5lb), but the weight is at least offset by the small wheels and the wide range of gears, so it doesn't feel heavy when pedalling along.

Brompton.jpg

Brompton.jpg

Where it's obviously more noticeable is when you pick it up. It's a bit of a lump. For a bike that folds so elegantly and is designed to be easily transportable, it's a shame it's not lighter for carrying; even hefting it into the boot of the car is a two-arm job unless you've been working out.

Spec to suit

A basic Brompton costs £820 but from there you can customise the bike to suit your needs and budget. If you're feeling flush and you want a lightweight Brompton, the titanium version sheds a couple of kilos but also removes a decent chunk of cash from your wallet, upping the base price to £1,400.

> Buyer's Guide: Choosing a folding bike

Our test bike, with the 6-speed gearing and a few extras such as the front luggage mounting block, front light and two-tone paint job, costs £1,090. It's not cheap, but if you have a commute involving a train journey with a short distance at either end that is too far to walk, the Brompton offers the easy fold and compact size you need. The ride may be compromised in certain situations because of the small wheels, but it's far improved from older versions. It's easy to see why the Brompton has, for many, become the default choice, and why secondhand ones still go for decent money.

Brompton - riding 1.jpg

Brompton - riding 1.jpg

The Brompton is both easy to use and a delight to ride. It's hugely customisable with a broad colour palette choice and optional extras, plus – if this is important to you – it's built in Britain.

Verdict

The iconic Brompton is hard to beat, easy to use and a delight to ride

road.cc test report

Make and model: Brompton S6L folding bike

Size tested: one size

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

From Brompton:

Each Brompton can be custom built for you, from handlebars to colours, lighting to luggage, create your bike.

All Brompton bikes are made in our factory in London. There are 1,200 parts which make up the average bike. Many of which are bespoke to Brompton.

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

From Brompton:

A Brompton is the perfect bicycle for the city.

It folds down to a portable, practical size (585mm high x 565mm long x 270mm wide / 23" x 22.2" x 10.6"); so can be taken on other forms of public and private transport. It can also be taken inside (homes, offices, bars) so it is a lot less likely to be stolen.

Its ride position and agility are more than a match for conventional bicycles. Small wheels mean fast acceleration from red lights and increased maneoverability through busy streets.

It is tough and can take everything the city throws at it, every day. A steel frame, efficient and puncture resistant tyres, handmade with high build quality and a design that has been refined over 25 years means Brompton bikes provide years of regular city use and beyond - check out these amazing journeys, pushing the bike to the limit.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

It's evidently a very high quality product with very good attention to detail.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Full steel frame and fork – a titanium frame option is available.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Provides very lively and snappy handling.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Very good, with the S-Type handlebar providing a sporty position.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Very comfortable, with well-padded grips and saddle.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Despite the hinged frame design it feels stiff enough to make swift progress.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Well for a small-wheeled folding bike.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

Wasn't an issue.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Lively

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

It's a snappy and direct-handling bike at low speeds but quite stable at higher speeds; it's a good balance for a mixed-speed commute.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

There's nothing I would change.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

Really liked the 6-speed setup, providing a good range of gears; it coped with hills and flat roads well.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

Wouldn't change anything.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
6/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

Doubling up the 3-speed hub range with two sprockets is a smart idea.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
8/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
8/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Use this box to explain your score

If you want a folding bike, it's likely a Brompton will be on your list. While the price is quite high, you can customise the build to suit your budget, and the performance, usability and functionality do go a long way to justifying the cost.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

39 comments

Avatar
notwelshyet [7 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

i bought a brompton  ( 3 speed) a couple of months ago and i love it - this review describes how it feels to ride it very well - it makes me smile every time i get on it. got to be honest i didn't try one before buying, wasn't that fussed, just needed a folder for when i can't commute on my usual bike, and the CTW scheme made it a reasonable price - but now i look to use it just for the pleasure of riding it - and what really sold it was the customisable colours.

Avatar
SingleSpeed [262 posts] 3 months ago
5 likes

I briefly owned the S1 version and on the flat with the gearing as it was you could generally get a good speed going, there really isn't a more sumg feeling than overtaking a muppet on a Giant Propel and deep rims in full lycra, on a brompton wearing a Pisspot helmet.

Avatar
Prosper0 [90 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Fun bikes but smooth roads on your commute are an absolute must. Ive had a few very scary moments with potholes that swallowed up the tiny wheels. 

Comments about the weight are totally true, picking it up is a bugger. Where is the carbon version? 

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Altimis [44 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

What mini wheels at the top of rear wheel are for? #pic 27/27

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beezus fufoon [670 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
Altimis wrote:

What mini wheels at the top of rear wheel are for? #pic 27/27

for when it's folded, so you're not scraping metal along the ground (I think)

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KoenM [85 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I find it weird that these folding bikes are so expensive, and I can't figure out why!
The equipment on it is crap, the frame is ok, but not worth what u pay for it, so it must be the name that u pay for?
I mean for that price u can get a very good road bike, a good mtb and a very good hybrid bike, ok those can't fold, but they should drop the price!

Avatar
keirik [118 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
KoenM wrote:

I find it weird that these folding bikes are so expensive, and I can't figure out why!
The equipment on it is crap, the frame is ok, but not worth what u pay for it, so it must be the name that u pay for?
I mean for that price u can get a very good road bike, a good mtb and a very good hybrid bike, ok those can't fold, but they should drop the price!

Reassuringly expensive for those people that buy one to go with hipster beard and man bun.

Stupid bike for stupid people. If it was just bought for its usefulness peoplw would buy a cheap chinese version.

But no, its so you can feel smug overtaking someone on a normal bike who didn't realise he was in a race apparently

Avatar
Kadinkski [655 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

I had one of these for a couple of weeks while i was house-sitting for a friend - I must admit, it was lots of fun - so zippy and responsive.

 

Been thinking about buying one, even though I only commute about twice a month!

Avatar
poppa [57 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
KoenM wrote:

I find it weird that these folding bikes are so expensive, and I can't figure out why!
The equipment on it is crap, the frame is ok, but not worth what u pay for it, so it must be the name that u pay for?
I mean for that price u can get a very good road bike, a good mtb and a very good hybrid bike, ok those can't fold, but they should drop the price!

I think the frame is still manufactured in the UK (although this could have changed), which probably bumps up the price, and constructing a folding frame is a lot more complicated than a non-folding one as well. 

I agree that they are expensive, but they fold up a lot better than a a road bike or MTB... The Brompton has one of the best folding systems and smallest folded sizes, so it is fairly unique in that regard.

Avatar
Beatnik69 [376 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I doubt that I'd be buying one anytime soon but hypothetically what sort of distance could I be expected to do comfortably? My commute is 8.3 miles each way.

Avatar
RMurphy195 [78 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
Beatnik69 wrote:

I doubt that I'd be buying one anytime soon but hypothetically what sort of distance could I be expected to do comfortably? My commute is 8.3 miles each way.

I regularly travel into Birmingham town centre on my P6R along the cycle tracks/towpaths etc - a round trip of about 20-22 miles depending on what detours I take.

I've also been along the trails in the Peak District several times on it, the longest being Ashbourne-PAarlsey Hay and back (a little under 30 miles)

I found the original saddle to be handy for carrying but not very comfortable (=painful on the first trip on the Tissington Trail), so swopped it for a more comfortable one along with the softer rear suspension bush. However don't forget that on such trails, and around the forest of Dean etc. the sufaces can be a bit pebbly, letting air out of the tyres helps but let too much out and the Marathons I have fitted get a bit draggy (you can hear them!).

I wouldn't be without the 6 speeds (I live on top of a small hill).

IMHO if you currently ride regularly you shouldn't have a problem with your 17-mile round trip commute. If you don't ride regularly you would have to get used to it as you would with any bike.

NB its a very handy bike for many things - I've folded it up and had it at the side of my seat now in  pubs, cafes, even the ICC and in various shops! So much so that I no longer bother to take locks with me in the town centre, the bike just comes with me everywhere.

Carrying stuff - I use a rack pack with a shoulder strap.

Avatar
davel [1207 posts] 3 months ago
12 likes
keirik wrote:
KoenM wrote:

I find it weird that these folding bikes are so expensive, and I can't figure out why!
The equipment on it is crap, the frame is ok, but not worth what u pay for it, so it must be the name that u pay for?
I mean for that price u can get a very good road bike, a good mtb and a very good hybrid bike, ok those can't fold, but they should drop the price!

Reassuringly expensive for those people that buy one to go with hipster beard and man bun. Stupid bike for stupid people. If it was just bought for its usefulness peoplw would buy a cheap chinese version. But no, its so you can feel smug overtaking someone on a normal bike who didn't realise he was in a race apparently

The only time I can remember racing someone away from the lights it was someone on a Brompton. I'm normally extra chilled out on my commutes, but sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do...

I was in the bike box of a side road at a big, wide crossroads across an A road. No other cyclists, cars... just me. I'm looking all commute-sporty on my CX bike. Hipster clipped in (SPDs) to a Brompton squeezed past me and then nudged sideways so he sat, right in front of me, in front of the bike box. RIGHT in front of me.

The affront to my manhood! Did he not guesstimate my enormous straight-line 5sec wattage from the sheer size of my thighs as he loafed past?! I did the only thing a man in my predicament would do... I tilted my steerer ever-so-slightly right, so as to avoid blatantly riding over him from directly behind, but to ensure I would steam past him closely enough for him to FEEL MY POWER. And I waited simmered...

The lights changed...

I EXPLODED into action... I started to overtake him immediately... Hahaaah! Take that, tweedy. Observe my whole bike bending as I surge past you with every stroke. RAAAAAAR.

As I MONSTERED into the centre of the junction, he very casually turned left.

 

Oh, touché.

Avatar
arfa [846 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

I have regularly commuted 20+ miles on mine with only a marginal slowing in pace vs road bike. I have done a few 40+ miles days on it and felt it at the end but nothing too bad.
It's a great bit of kit with only 1 flaw, rear tyre punctures are a dockyard messy job.
Yes it is expensive but they are mighty durable and don't have the fundamental flaw of a fold in the middle (where there's maximum stress).
Yes you can get cheaper and buy badly, buy twice. Having had a mid section folder fail on me mid ride, I would never ride one of those again. You pays your money, you makes your choices.
Heck, people have even ridden round the world on them but by all means go for the cheapo folder if it suits you best.

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poppa [57 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

P.S Much as I like my Brompton, it's not a road bike. It is fun, especially for urban cycling, but it is significantly slower than a road bike, particularly on bumpy roads. Whilst you can happily ride long distances on them, it wouldn't be my first choice.

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LastBoyScout [141 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Friend of mine that used to commute regularly into London used to use one bike to get from his house to the station and then keep another hack bike chained up at Paddington to get to the office. Clip on lights and away you go.

If the weather was truly miserable, he'd use the tube instead.

Avatar
Bikebikebike [291 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
KoenM wrote:

I find it weird that these folding bikes are so expensive, and I can't figure out why!
The equipment on it is crap, the frame is ok, but not worth what u pay for it, so it must be the name that u pay for?
I mean for that price u can get a very good road bike, a good mtb and a very good hybrid bike, ok those can't fold, but they should drop the price!

But  the problem comes when you try to fold those bikes up so you can take them on a bus, train or taxi.  Even if you manage to fold them up, unfolding them and then riding them would be problematic.

Avatar
KoenM [85 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Bikebikebike wrote:
KoenM wrote:

I find it weird that these folding bikes are so expensive, and I can't figure out why!
The equipment on it is crap, the frame is ok, but not worth what u pay for it, so it must be the name that u pay for?
I mean for that price u can get a very good road bike, a good mtb and a very good hybrid bike, ok those can't fold, but they should drop the price!

But  the problem comes when you try to fold those bikes up so you can take them on a bus, train or taxi.  Even if you manage to fold them up, unfolding them and then riding them would be problematic.

 

I do Agree that it's harder to make a folding frame, but i'm 100% sure it can't be that expensive, they've been doing it for years so it's not new, and the steel isn't that expensive either. No i'm quite sure they keep the price high, because they can. And that's cool if they can get away with it, but what's not cool is asking so much for the rest of the bike, if i were to buy a folding bike it probably would be a dahon, for the money u get a better bike.

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [465 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Plenty of folk on my commute into London use Bromptons and I always marvel at the greatness of how it folds up so neatly and takes up relatively little space.  Engineering perfection!  Certainly beats those crappy fold in the middle bikes that take up lots of room.

Avatar
Markopic [22 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
Rapha Nadal wrote:

Plenty of folk on my commute into London use Bromptons and I always marvel at the greatness of how it folds up so neatly and takes up relatively little space.  Engineering perfection!  Certainly beats those crappy fold in the middle bikes that take up lots of room.

I agree completely, they are really great bikes. Those who compare them to "non folding" road or any other bike are completely missing the point. These bikes are made to specific use case and they work well.

I have two of them, I find them so practical that I have one at home (to carry around and run errands in the city) and one at the office. Steel frame is heavy, but it is very well made (brazed,  not welded),  so there is no flex and the power transfer is very similar to proper road bikes. I have M3 models, with 3 speed hubs and so far they have been very reliable. Brakes are also pretty powerful, so no compromise there either. Small wheels roll great, but due to small diameter they are much more sensitive to potholes or any other road debris.

I have only replaced seat due to personal preference, grips to ergonomic ones and pedals to some flats (although original ones are not so bad).

Please  do not compare them to non foldable bikes, these are great bikes to carry with you wherever you go, and usually the choice is to ride Brampton or wait in a traffic jam.

Avatar
KoenM [85 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Markopic wrote:
Rapha Nadal wrote:

Plenty of folk on my commute into London use Bromptons and I always marvel at the greatness of how it folds up so neatly and takes up relatively little space.  Engineering perfection!  Certainly beats those crappy fold in the middle bikes that take up lots of room.

I agree completely, they are really great bikes. Those who compare them to "non folding" road or any other bike are completely missing the point. These bikes are made to specific use case and they work well.

I have two of them, I find them so practical that I have one at home (to carry around and run errands in the city) and one at the office. Steel frame is heavy, but it is very well made (brazed,  not welded),  so there is no flex and the power transfer is very similar to proper road bikes. I have M3 models, with 3 speed hubs and so far they have been very reliable. Brakes are also pretty powerful, so no compromise there either. Small wheels roll great, but due to small diameter they are much more sensitive to potholes or any other road debris.

I have only replaced seat due to personal preference, grips to ergonomic ones and pedals to some flats (although original ones are not so bad).

Please  do not compare them to non foldable bikes, these are great bikes to carry with you wherever you go, and usually the choice is to ride Brampton or wait in a traffic jam.

U really don't see my point, i'm not saying they aren't good bikes.
I am saying they are WAY TO EXPENSIVE for what u get, and yes u can compare them to roadbikes, they are lighter and their frame is as refined (al be it for another purpose) as bromptons and get alot better equipment (brakes, gears, wheels,...) so yeah u can compare them pricewize.  

Avatar
poppa [57 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

I think that one reason they are expensive is because they have no direct competitor. Most other folding bikes dont fold as small, which means that they can afford to charge a premium.

I know that KoenM doesnt believe this, but I also seriously think that the complexity of the folding frame would make it harder and more expensive to make. The frame has many welds and must be able to fold in multiple directions in just the right way so that all of the parts line up, otherwise it wouldn't work. IIRC the design is out of patent and so it could be copied, but no one has, and this could be because it is a pain to get right.

If you don't need the compact fold size then you can save yourself some money and buy something bigger, but if you do need the coimpact fold size there are few options.

 

 

 

 

Avatar
Bridgey37 [13 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
KoenM wrote:
Markopic wrote:
Rapha Nadal wrote:

Plenty of folk on my commute into London use Bromptons and I always marvel at the greatness of how it folds up so neatly and takes up relatively little space.  Engineering perfection!  Certainly beats those crappy fold in the middle bikes that take up lots of room.

I agree completely, they are really great bikes. Those who compare them to "non folding" road or any other bike are completely missing the point. These bikes are made to specific use case and they work well.

I have two of them, I find them so practical that I have one at home (to carry around and run errands in the city) and one at the office. Steel frame is heavy, but it is very well made (brazed,  not welded),  so there is no flex and the power transfer is very similar to proper road bikes. I have M3 models, with 3 speed hubs and so far they have been very reliable. Brakes are also pretty powerful, so no compromise there either. Small wheels roll great, but due to small diameter they are much more sensitive to potholes or any other road debris.

I have only replaced seat due to personal preference, grips to ergonomic ones and pedals to some flats (although original ones are not so bad).

Please  do not compare them to non foldable bikes, these are great bikes to carry with you wherever you go, and usually the choice is to ride Brampton or wait in a traffic jam.

U really don't see my point, i'm not saying they aren't good bikes.
I am saying they are WAY TO EXPENSIVE for what u get, and yes u can compare them to roadbikes, they are lighter and their frame is as refined (al be it for another purpose) as bromptons and get alot better equipment (brakes, gears, wheels,...) so yeah u can compare them pricewize.  

You do realise that they keep their value for YEARS. 

You say they are expensive - yes they are but for every year I've kept mine it's been an excellent value for money all around. 

I preferred to be on the Brompton than on the carbon specialized I had so much I sold the carbon for lack of use / love. 

They also have a different species of riders - more friendly and always happy to chat about the bikes.  

Most of my Brompton friends are in the N+1 category and this is the most social bike to go for!

 

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nigel_s [43 posts] 3 months ago
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Two main reasons why Bromptons are expensive:

1. Built in UK by craftsmen/women paid UK pay rates.

2. Market forces. If they were crap bikes they wouldn't sell in the numbers that they do.

 

Others have mentioned the complicated construction of the frame. There was an attempt a few years ago (mentioned in the book Brompton Bicycle by David Henshaw) to get frames manufactured more cheaply in the Far East, but it didn't work. They failed to meet the tight manufacturing tolerances required.

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horizontal dropout [288 posts] 3 months ago
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There are several comments here which are in the category of "what I think I would think of a Brompton if I had one". Owning one makes you appreciate various aspects of them which are not immediately obvious. The fun of riding them, appreciation of their amazingly high quality engineering and design etc.

The cost reflects not only UK manufacturing costs but also the extra cost or R&D, of which there is a lot because everything has to work with the bike folded as well as unfolded. Eg brake and gear cables have to be cut to mm tolerances.

I've travelled with a near top model Dahon and a Brompton. The Dahon is like travelling with a recalcitrant child having a tantrum, unfolding at every opportunity, the Brompton just behaves.

I also have a Merc, the cheap Far East copy. It's actually a not bad bike and rides quite nicely but it doesn't stay folded, the cabling is all over the place, the chain line is way out, and some of the engineering is really not up to the standard of the Brompton.

Lastly it's a shame the article didn't mention the luggage carrying capability. The front bag mounts on the luggage block fixed to the front of the frame not the handlebars and forks so load it up with 10kg or more of stuff and the steering is unaffected. You can also get a rack which takes another 10kg of stuff.

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kegor [1 post] 3 months ago
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I bought a Brompton M6R  fifteen months ago as I wanted a folder to take on trains and buses and these are by far the best.  It is now my favourite bike.  

Brompton marketing department sell themselves short in their 'bike for cities' advertising.  Mine is the reduced gearing option.  Last year I road it in the Lake District, Scotland, Cornwall, the Pembrokshire coast, Llyn Peninsular, South Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and in gentler Norfolk.  It is also ideal for lightweight cycle camping as you can use a train or a bus at either end without have to book.  With careful choice of specification, Bromptons are well built, go anywhere  road cycles.

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muppetteer [88 posts] 3 months ago
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Picked up an SL6 Black Edition last Friday and had it stolen on my first ride on Saturday. Don't lock them with anything other than an industrial anchor! Thiefs cut right through the lock. 

But, I ordered another immediately! Its really fun. And if anybody spots an as new 2017 SL6 Black Edition for sale, please let me know. 

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andyeb [30 posts] 3 months ago
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I've had 3 folding bikes over the years, which see daily use, including a Brompton S6L. I ride between a total of 3 and 30 miles each day, depending on how much of the distance I do by train.

 

This review is spot on. I do wish I'd gone for the titanium upgrade though.

 

My only criticism would be that the rear derailleur is of such a design that it clogs up with dirt and grit quite easily and it's harder than a normal road bike drivechain to clean.

 

In terms of enjoyment, I enjoy riding the S6L more than my MTB but less than my winter road bike.

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kamoshika [214 posts] 3 months ago
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I think it's telling that the positive comments about Bromptons are generally from people that own and ride (at least) one, and the negative from people who don't. I'm another very happy Brompton owner. For me where they really excel is mixed mode transport. If I'm hiring a car or using the local car club, it's the Brompton that gets me there. If I'm going somewhere by train and need local transport at the other end, I'll ride my Brompton to the station and take it with me. Trips to London are much more pleasant being able to get around by bike rather than tube.

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Chuck [587 posts] 3 months ago
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KoenM wrote:

I am saying they are WAY TO EXPENSIVE for what u get, and yes u can compare them to roadbikes, they are lighter and their frame is as refined (al be it for another purpose) as bromptons and get alot better equipment (brakes, gears, wheels,...) so yeah u can compare them pricewize.  

I'm not sure it's meaningful to compare a road bike mass produced in the far east using off the shelf components with a relatively niche product hand built in the UK using a lot of bespoke parts. It's never going to be anywhere near the same price.

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torquerulesok [25 posts] 3 months ago
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muppetteer wrote:

Picked up an SL6 Black Edition last Friday and had it stolen on my first ride on Saturday. Don't lock them with anything other than an industrial anchor! Thiefs cut right through the lock. 

 

A Brompton you fold at your destination and take it with you. They are thieves' prime targets because there is huge demand for used Bs. 

 

Take them into museums, theatres, etc and leave them in the cloakroom. At the pub or a restaurant the folded B stays under the table.  At work under your desk. At the surgery or hospital it stays with you.  The medical staff are curious, so it's a great conversation starter. 

 

Try it, you'll be amazed. And keep an eye on eBay and Gumtree. Join the London Brompton Club on FB and put the word out re your stolen bike. Hope your contents insurance pays up.

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