+++PLEASE SCROLL DOWN IF ALL YOU WANT IS THE BIKE REVIEW++++
Short intro: I've been a member from this forum since 2004 after developing an interest on folding bikes. Since then I had the chance to own a few 20" wheeled bikes (Giant Halfway, Giant Halfway RS, Downtube VIII NS, Downtube VIII FS, Merc GT6, Dahon Curve, Brompton C3E, Brompton S6L Plus and the last version of the same Brompton, a S6E). I have 3 very serious hobbies: Traveling, photography and bicycles. With a folding bike I am capable of adding these 3 things and enjoy my trips (and bike rides and photos) in a better way.
After saving money for over a year I was able to finally buy a Brompton that, for a nice while, was my dream bike: Good enough as a "real bike" replacement (as we had a chance to see one of our members finishing BPB on a Brompton) and small enough to travel without any major disassembly (I am not a big fan of any of the folding pedals I had a chance to use, so my pre-flight disassembly procedure consists on removing the pedals, deflating the tires and removing the seat). Well, after spending time researching for the best upgrades and finally reaching my ideal bike, a very good friend of mine fell in love with my bike while I was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I ended up selling the bike for him and starting again just to reach about the same results I did with my black S6L.
www.bfold.com is my source for Brompton related products. Unfortunately, David didn't have an S-Type bike in Raw lacquer (the color I always wanted but couldn't afford until now), so I ended up buying an M-Type and also buying a Silver S-Type stem (yes, and the cables necessary to make the conversion possible). The Silver didn't work as well as I expected so I stripped the powder coated stem and add a raw lacquer finish myself. I might need an "official" S-Type stem in Raw Lacquer from Brompton, but for now, it is working great.
A few things that I new I would need upgraded:
The saddle: S-Type Bromptons come with the nice Vitesse saddle (Pentaclip adaptor included) but I am a big fan of the Specialized Body Geometry line, so I just went with what I was used to (Cateye TL-LD1000 rear LED Light also featured on this picture)
The pedals: as I menioned before, I still haven't had the chance to see folding pedals that are "conventional pedal replacement". I feel them weak and/or slippery. I once again went with what I was used to and got the "campus" pedal (one side clipless, one side conventional).
The brakes: So far the brakes are my only serious complaint about the Bromptons. They just do not offer a nice speed reduction power. I repeated the Avid levers and got Koll-Stop Salmon pads (mixed texture this time) and I would say the brakes are now a 6/10. I'm still wondering what can be done just to make them as efficient as V-Brakes from the Curve or the Merc GT6 (BY FAR, the best braking power I ever saw on a folder).
The home made Raw lacquer ended up looking pretty good, besides the fact that it took me aproximately 15 hours of work (would be cheaper just to order a new one...well...I had fun doing it, so it is justified)
Halfway there (M-Type and S-Type stems):
OK, now that you know who I am and Why I have this bike with these specific upgrades, let me tell you about my experience riding this bike during my weekend stay in New Orleans, LA:
+++++++++++REVIEW STARTS HERE++++++++++++++++
As usual, the bike came from Bfold in NYC properly packed, damage free and in perfect riding conditions (including adjusted brake and gear cables). For safely reason the tires were not race-ready, but overall the bike was rideable out of the box. After a nice 3 mile spin the bike went into internationally accepted luggage and checked in to LA.
First thing I noticed comparing the R type Bromptons (Rear Rack models) with L (just fenders) or E (no rack, no fenders) is how stable and easier to move once folded the bike becomes. Transporting an R type bike is hassle free and even without the need of a rear rack I might keep that just for the convenience of playing with the bike once it is folded.
The second think I noticed about this bike, and it has nothing to do with the presence or abcense of rear rack but (at least I believe) with the lenghs of cables, is how estable this specific bike is! I could ride no hands for an UNLIMITED amount of miles (something that I could dare to attempt on my previous Brompton for about 5 seconds, 15 at most). Besides the cable lenghs (specially the brakes ones that I custom cut myself) I cannot imagine a different reason for this bike to be so superiorly estable when compared to an almost identical Brompton.
New Orleans was a nice place to test ride this bike: I had a chance to ride in traffic (both friendly and hostile), good and bad asfalt (it reminded me a lot of Rio de Janeiro, where the cracks might swallow your entire bike), crazy pedestrians not knowing what do do once spotting a high speed bike going their way and the classic barking dog that can be the annoucer of the meeting between your face and the asfalt.
The bike performed really well. The S-Type handlebar give you enough cockpit for you to feel comfortable on longer rides, yet provides you a higher point of view (like a mountain bike instead of a 700c with drop bars bike). For the circumstances that I was riding the little bell wasn't the most appropriate device to use but it actually worked well with pedestrians. The 6 speed provided me the gears that I needed for both fast starts, slow manouvers and fast paced stretches (Average 16mph on those). Brompton yellow tires did really well, going over some glass and not giving me any flats.
The trip was a success. I went where I wanted to go fast and in a reliable way. Packing and unpacking the S6R is no diffetent that the S6L: Fold the bike and go! If it wasn't for the below average braking power, this bike would be a nice 9/10 (10/10 if the price was more friendly!).
I strongly recomend anyone considering a Brompton to check an S-Type and an R (rear Rack option). You can always remove the rack under specific circumstances, it costs less to have it originally coming with the bike and even if you don't need it, it might be a good weight compromise once you have the bike folded (it makes the folded package more estable and easier to manouver on the wheels).
I continue to believe that, for now, the Brompton is the best choice if you need a bike that is close to a "real size" bike and yet can be packed under 60 seconds.
I will write more about this bike after my next trips (Orlando Florida on November 6th and Brazil on November the 14th).
St Louis Cathedral and equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, Jackson Square, French Quarter. New Orleans, LA.
EDIT: Picture resized to fit most screens