My Bikes (I) – The Brompton

This is my most recent bike and the one I’m using every single day. It’s a customized 6-speed Brompton. My general views on folders in general and Bromptons in particular are being discussed here. Configuring your Brompton isn’t particularily easy because the manufacturer offers a myriad of different options regarding the gearing, the handlebar and a lot of other things. Below, I would like to discuss the different options and explain my personal choices (M6L-X). I’ve done around 2000 miles on it in the first year, the longest ride was 40 miles.

My Brompton, ready to go

Gearing:

My bike is equipped with the new 6-speed “BWR” gearing. BWR stands for “Brompton Wide Range”. The gearing is a combination of a 3-speed hub gear with rather wide gear ratios and a 2-speed derailleur gear which helps to smooth the gaps between the three gears.

Before buying the bike I was also considering the 2-speed version which does not come with any hub gear but just with the derailleur because I was temped by the weight saves. The 2-speed adds just 188g compared to the naked bike while the 6-speed adds 920g. Weight is an issue with folding bicycles because you will carry the bike quite often. I ruled out the 3-speed gearing rightaway because it almost weights as much as the 6-speed version (3-speed adds 740g).

The folded bike

Which gearing is best for you depends mainly on your personal tastes and where you are going to use the bike. If you’re living in a completely flat region and are sure that don’t want to use the bike in hilly areas at all the 2-speed version (or even no gearing at all) is best.  However, if you live in a hilly area and/or want to have a bike which is really versatile I’d strongly recommend the BWR-6-speed.

Handlebars

I decided for the classical “M”-type handlebar. The “P”-type is heavier, and the “S”-type does only work with a very limited range of bags. (The luggage system of the brompton is ingenious, I’ll come back to that later.)

Lightweight version

I opted for the lightweight version of the bike. Titanium is used instead of steel for several parts. The bike weights one kilogram less. That’s a lot given you have to carry it frequently.

Lighting

The SON hub dynamo and the Cyo LED headlight

I took the Schmidt SON hub dynamo. The best and most beautiful lighting option, unfortunately the most expensive as well. The Shimano hub dynamo wasn’t introduced when I bought the bike but it is heavier than the Schmidt and has a lower efficiency. The big advantage of a hub dynamo over battery lights is that you don’t have to thing about your lighting. You don’t have any hassle with batteries which are running out and you have a very good front light which is highly visible (much better than those flashing LED lights). The SON is so efficient that you do not notice any difference when the lights are on. This is why I’m always riding with the lights on. It’s an additional layer of safety.

Rack

I  decided against a rack. This is the only thing I would reconsider if I had to buy a new Brompton. Without a rack the bike is more beautiful and weights less. On the other hand, the handling of the folded bike is easier when you have a rack (and those so called “Easy Wheels”). Then, the folded bike almost becomes a skateboard when it is folded. The second advantage of the rack is that you can easily carry a sixpack of Evian on it.

Update: After 1.5 years, I gave in and mounted a rack to the bike.

Modifications

Well, compared to what I’ve changed at my other bikes there are not much modifications on my Brompton. When I bought the bike it came with a rather crappy halogen headlight. I replaced it with a 60 lux LED headlight by Busch and Müller (“Lumotec Cyo 60”) which is incredibly bright and super reliable: I’ll never have any trouble with blown bulbs anymore.  Nowadays if you order a SON hub dynamo the bike comes with a similar headlamp straight from the factory. I also replaced the rear light with a better one by Busch and Müller.

I removed the Brompton stickers on the main frame because due to tear and wear the became shabby very soon. Additionally I mounted a GPS holder and a bike computer, that’s it.

Update: Here’s another rider describing his personal Brompton. An here’s another one.

5 thoughts on “My Bikes (I) – The Brompton

  1. As soon as my Brompton arrives, I will fit the Busch & Muller E – Werk (361) which should enable me to recharge (from my SON hub dynamo) a cache battery for recharging my Iphone/gps/laptop and provide camp lighting. May wait until I get to Germany and buy this direct. What do you think?

    regards,
    Doug Beames (Australia)

  2. Doug,
    sorry for my tardy reply. I have the E-werk (did not use it on the Brommi so far, but on the recumbent). It’s great, but charging the iPhone is slightly cumbersome. iPhone only accepts it if you put in the plug when the dynamo is already working.You have to unplug & reconnect after every single stop. Hence charging a cache battery it a good idea.
    However, running the Garmin GPS and charging AAA batteries works fine.
    Cheers
    Olaf

  3. Pingback: How even the most expensive Brompton pays for itself « Cycling Intelligence

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