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  1. #1
    PDR
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    A review of my Brompton after one month.

    I have now had my Brompton for a month and prompted by a couple of PMs & questions, I thought that I ought to give a review of the bike.

    Before I start with the Brompton I guess I ought to explain what I am comparing it to and give you an idea of my daily commute.

    My commute is a mile from home to the railway station and then a mile ride up to work. At the moment they are replacing the railway track on the Liverpool Underground Loop and the trains are stopping at James St. (near the river Mersey) instead of Lime St. so I have a ride of 1 miles to the University which is situated on Brownlow Hill and as the name suggests, the campus is uphill from the river. At least my ride is all downhill on the way home.

    My other folder is a Dahon MU SL (bought last May). These are very light, fast bikes with 9-speed derailleur giving 31-91 gear inches. I have done some good rides on this bike (30 + miles). Normally I store the Dahon at home with just the handle bars folded down so as to take up less room. I would only fold it fully to put it in the lift to take to and from my office. At the train station I would only fold it if there was no room in the bike racks aboard the trains.

    The Brompton is a similar weight to the Dahon, especially in the configuration that I chose (S2L-X, without rack or guards). The main differences between the 2 bikes are the wheel sizes 20 verses 16, the number of gears, 9 verses 2 and the frame material aluminium verses steel. The difference in handling between 16 & 20 wheels does not seem that great, both are quick and agile. I would say that the Brompton feels stronger with far less flex than the Dahon.

    The gear range on the Dahon is plenty wide enough for most situations but even still I would like higher gearing than the 91 for going downhill and on the flat. With the Brompton I went for a compromise of lighter weight verses extra gears. I thought about the new BWR hub but in the end I opted for the 2-speed, which has 2 rear sprockets (12 & 16 tooth) and a 54T front chainring) giving 56 & 74. this is the standard factory (and highest) set up. The gearing can be lowered using a smaller front chainring but the rear sprockets remain the same regardless of which front chainring is used.

    Before ordering the Brompton I would ride up to work on the Dahon using a gear that corresponds to the 74 of the higher Brompton gear. I considered going for a single speed Brompton but thought it better to get the 2-speed as there is only a tiny weight penalty over the single speed version. I find that the lower 56 gear is fine but I would like a much higher top gear, say 100 (for riding downhill and on the flat), but Im limited by the rear sprockets. I am a fairly quick rider that prefers pushing higher gears rather than spinning like crazy.

    At the moment, James St. Station is taking the capacity of 4 stations and the lifts, platforms and trains are packed full of commuters so I have had the chance to explore just how good the Brompton is under these conditions. I do use the Brompton differently than the Dahon. The Brompton is stored fully folded at home, I fold it and put on its cover on arrival at the station and it is folded and stored in my office. I can fit the Brompton anywhere on the train, even between the backs of the seats. The light weight, smaller, more compact size and the fact that I never seem to get tired of folding the bike means that the Brompton is perfect for its intended use.

    I bought the S type front bag which has proved to be very useful. I fitted the shoulder strap which means that I can carry the bag over my left shoulder and bike in my left hand, keeping my right hand free. The maximum weight for the front bag is 10Kg and I have carried 7Kg which does have a noticeable effect on the handling but it is not too bad. It is certainly better than carrying the weight in a rucksack.
    The cover is superb and well made and it stops other commuters from touching / scratching the bike. It is quick to fold and stuff in the rear pocket of the S bag. I did try the saddle mounted cover pouch but it does get in the way of a quick fold, so I only use this if Im out on the Brompton minus the front S bag.

    The frame is finished in raw lacquer. I debated over which colour/finish to go for and felt a little worried when Brompton announced that 2009 bikes would be in a matt finish, but to be honest my fears were ungrounded as the bike looks stunning. The finish is holding up very well and I have not seen any marks or scratches anywhere..... I have used some protective film (from a motorcycle store) on areas that I think might be prone to wear.

    In the past I have criticized the look of the Bromptons brake levers and the angle at which they are set.... but I find that they are nice and comfortable to use. I know some people have complained about poor braking performance of these bikes but I can honestly say that the brakes on my 2009 model work really well. Maybe they have upgraded the brakes?

    The new 2009 standard saddle certainly looks a lot better than the older version, it is comfortable, I like the little logos and the carrying grip is very useful.

    I have not fitted bar-ends and Im not sure if I will... I find the standard grips are fine. I will probably fit a titanium railed Brooks saddle soon, once I finally decided upon the model/colour that I want. I will also fit a set of Schwalbe Kojaks rather than the current Schwalbe Stelvios.

    I have taken my Brompton into both Liverpool and Chester City Centres and have not had a single problem taking it into shops, though I do normally use the cover.

    Im very attached to my Brompton now and the more I ride it and look at it the more I realise what a fantastic piece of engineering it really is.

    Any regrets? Well only that I did not buy a Brompton sooner

  2. #2
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    Thank you! This was helpful!
    S

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    In the past I have criticized the look of the Bromptons brake levers and the angle at which they are set.... but I find that they are nice and comfortable to use. I know some people have complained about poor braking performance of these bikes but I can honestly say that the brakes on my 2009 model work really well. Maybe they have upgraded the brakes?
    The 2009 brakes look very similar to the previous model but use brass bushes, rather then plastic. The brake pads have been upgraded also.

  4. #4
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    How much does the cover weigh and is it cumbersome carrying and using it compared to not even folding the Mu?a

  5. #5
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    Nice review PDR.

    I was able to get a 2008 raw laquer S6R recently after owning a downtube mini. The fold is simply amazing and the ride is much faster than my stock mini.

    The brompton is a joy to ride

  6. #6
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Regarding brakes ... if you got the dual pivot upgrade, it is a significant improvement over the standard brake.

  7. #7
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    Great review, thanks. What's the weight of your 2 speed brommie? How does the weight compare to the Mu?
    Last edited by ShinyBiker; 04-28-09 at 10:28 AM.

  8. #8
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    Brompton

    I've had my Brompton for a year in New York. Picked it over a Tiket and absolutely no regrets. It is engineered beautifully -- a work of art in my opinion. I've never had a problem with my brakes--got the better ones. I've taken it into restaurants, movie theatres, picnicked with it and gone shopping-- using it as a rolling cart with the Brompton pannier. It is the perfect bike for urban living. I've found that the bike when folded up can be almost invisible even in a crowded store or restaurant--- the more matter of fact I am about it, the less attention I get. If I need to get back home quickly--fold it and into the subway or a cab even if need be. If I take a trip outside the city, it fits neatly in the back and I'll leave the car and meander for a while.

    Haven't flown with it yet -- when I do -- will get the Brompton hard case --- this thing packs cleanly in about 20 seconds.

    The only thing I would have done differently knowing what I know now -- would have bought a 3 speed --- don't use more than two gears.

  9. #9
    Senior Member gringo_gus's Avatar
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    thanks PDR. Can I ask, do you not like the original saddle ? Brookes titanium is an expensive route to go, but any other Brookes is going to have weight issues ?
    it aint the size of your wheels, its the rhythm of you cadence. And I got powergrips too.

  10. #10
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    I have now had my Brompton for a month.....

    ......My other folder is a Dahon MU SL (bought last May). These are very light, fast bikes with 9-speed derailleur giving 31-91” gear inches. I have done some good rides on this bike (30 + miles). Normally I store the Dahon at home with just the handle bars folded down so as to take up less room. I would only fold it fully to put it in the lift to take to and from my office. At the train station I would only fold it if there was no room in the bike racks aboard the trains......
    I do tend to resent people who don't know a thing about bike-especially folding ones-and like to lump the wide bike type and styles into one mass of bikes. Dahons are really nice bikes but they are not the most compact fold.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    ....The Brompton is a similar weight to the Dahon, especially in the configuration that I chose (S2L-X, without rack or guards). The main differences between the 2 bikes are the wheel sizes 20” verses 16”, the number of gears, 9 verses 2 and the frame material aluminium verses steel. The difference in handling between 16” & 20” wheels does not seem that great, both are quick and agile. I would say that the Brompton feels stronger with far less flex than the Dahon......
    Agree. I can see and feel similar differences between my Dahons and the Brompton.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    .....The gear range on the Dahon is plenty wide enough for most situations but even still I would like higher gearing than the 91” for going downhill and on the flat. With the Brompton I went for a compromise of lighter weight verses extra gears. I thought about the new BWR hub but in the end I opted for the 2-speed, which has 2 rear sprockets (12 & 16 tooth) and a 54T front chainring) giving 56” & 74”. this is the standard factory (and highest) set up. The gearing can be lowered using a smaller front chainring but the rear sprockets remain the same regardless of which front chainring is used......
    My own C type or Companion model Brompton was chosen for it's lack of frills and accessories. It is very simple and pure in the image of what Bromptons were intended for-compact folding and squeezing into the oddest of places avoiding compromises on performance or durability as best as can be had.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    .....I do use the Brompton differently than the Dahon. The Brompton is stored fully folded at home, I fold it and put on its cover on arrival at the station and it is folded and stored in my office. I can fit the Brompton anywhere on the train, even between the backs of the seats. The light weight, smaller, more compact size and the fact that I never seem to get tired of folding the bike means that the Brompton is perfect for its intended use.....
    I think people have to experience the bike's potential before they pass judgment on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    .....I bought the “S” type front bag which has proved to be very useful. I fitted the shoulder strap which means that I can carry the bag over my left shoulder and bike in my left hand, keeping my right hand free. The maximum weight for the front bag is 10Kg and I have carried 7Kg which does have a noticeable effect on the handling but it is not too bad. It is certainly better than carrying the weight in a rucksack.
    The cover is superb and well made and it stops other commuters from touching / scratching the bike. It is quick to fold and stuff in the rear pocket of the “S” bag. I did try the saddle mounted cover pouch but it does get in the way of a quick fold, so I only use this if I’m out on the Brompton minus the front “S” bag.....
    I have made a couple of covers for my bikes 1 for my especially for my Brompton and the other as a universal one for all three bikes. You can see the Brompton one on my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/world-o...7601331380862/ My storage saddle bag is a bit more open than the Brompton's official one. I can access the cover whenever I need to. When the bag is not used and stuffed in it, the thicker demin fabric makes it almost impossible to fall out as I ride (it never happened and I doubt it will).

    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    .....The frame is finished in raw lacquer. I debated over which colour/finish to go for and felt a little worried when Brompton announced that 2009 bikes would be in a matt finish, but to be honest my fears were ungrounded as the bike looks stunning. The finish is holding up very well and I have not seen any marks or scratches anywhere..... I have used some protective film (from a motorcycle store) on areas that I think might be prone to wear.
    The covers and the bags I keep the bikes in when not in use have protected the paint on each well. It also keeps all of the bikes looking good and new (even though they are all are ranging in age from 2-5 years old).

    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    ....In the past I have criticized the look of the Bromptons brake levers and the angle at which they are set.... but I find that they are nice and comfortable to use. I know some people have complained about poor braking performance of these bikes but I can honestly say that the brakes on my 2009 model work really well. Maybe they have upgraded the brakes?.....
    My Brompton's brakes were slightly modified. I had to turn the levers upwards a little bit as my fingers are smaller than most. I added Kool Stop brake pads and have been using this system even in the rain (yes, it does rain in Southern California).

    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    ....The new 2009 standard saddle certainly looks a lot better than the older version, it is comfortable, I like the little logos and the carrying grip is very useful.
    I have not fitted bar-ends and I’m not sure if I will... I find the standard grips are fine. I will probably fit a titanium railed Brooks saddle soon, once I finally decided upon the model/colour that I want. I will also fit a set of Schwalbe Kojaks rather than the current Schwalbe Stelvios.....
    I am glad you missed the old stock saddle. You did not miss much as that saddle was simply put awful. I replaced mine with a Nirve Cruiser one. As for tires, I have the basic Raleigh Records and plan to have the Marathons placed on as soon as I can. I am more for flat protection than speed or overemphasis on performance. I am not interested in winning races on my Brompton.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    I have taken my Brompton into both Liverpool and Chester City Centres and have not had a single problem taking it into shops, though I do normally use the cover.

    I’m very attached to my Brompton now and the more I ride it and look at it the more I realise what a fantastic piece of engineering it really is.

    Any regrets? Well only that I did not buy a Brompton sooner
    A good cover/bag is far more effective than a lock of any type. The point of folding bike ownership is to take the bike with you most anywhere. And not be limited in any way. The protection against theft is built into the bike but can be only effective if you take the bike with you rather than lock it up outside. I like to think my covers and bags add to the bike appeal to me and make me look rather smart (rather than a bag lady).

    Best wishes and many years of happy use with your new Brompton. I will not part with mine for any reason. I am sure you will feel the same too.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 04-28-09 at 12:25 PM.

  11. #11
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Now for other people's posts:

    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB View Post
    The 2009 brakes look very similar to the previous model but use brass bushes, rather then plastic. The brake pads have been upgraded also.
    That is good news for me. I don't have to go into additional expense to upgrade the brakes themselves or the brake pads with my next Brompton.

    Quote Originally Posted by itsajustme View Post
    How much does the cover weigh and is it cumbersome carrying and using it compared to not even folding the Mu?a
    WEIGHT: 240 gms. for the purchased official Brompton cover. It is light and slips very quickly onto the bike with ease. The bike appears to "disappear" all folded up and with one over the bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    Regarding brakes ... if you got the dual pivot upgrade, it is a significant improvement over the standard brake.
    +1. I am planning to upgrade my present Brompton with this set-up as soon as I can do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by poboxnyc View Post
    I've had my Brompton for a year in New York. Picked it over a Tiket and absolutely no regrets. It is engineered beautifully -- a work of art in my opinion. I've never had a problem with my brakes--got the better ones. I've taken it into restaurants, movie theatres, picnicked with it and gone shopping-- using it as a rolling cart with the Brompton pannier. It is the perfect bike for urban living. I've found that the bike when folded up can be almost invisible even in a crowded store or restaurant--- the more matter of fact I am about it, the less attention I get. If I need to get back home quickly--fold it and into the subway or a cab even if need be. If I take a trip outside the city, it fits neatly in the back and I'll leave the car and meander for a while.

    Haven't flown with it yet -- when I do -- will get the Brompton hard case --- this thing packs cleanly in about 20 seconds.

    The only thing I would have done differently knowing what I know now -- would have bought a 3 speed --- don't use more than two gears.
    I like the basic 3 speed set up as I like to have as many gears as possible in the event I need an extra one (I very rarely do).

  12. #12
    PDR
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    Ok, I will try and work my way through the recent questions.

    1. the cover: this weighs 250g and the pouch weighs 70g. The material is heavier than the red cover I use for my Dahon and is better made, stitched and easier to use. The carry pouch is designed to fit onto the back of the saddle. The only thing you need to be aware of is that you need to swing the pouch back out of the way while lowering the saddle.

    2. Saddle: I have not done any long rides yet so I can’t vouch for extended comfort, but so far I have found it to be very comfortable. I don’t need to fit a Brooks saddle, but I’d like one for the looks and to see what all the fuss is about. I would need to go for a titanium version as there is no way that I would want to add any extra weight to my bike.

    3. Cockpit: both the Brompton S-Type and Dahon MU SL share similar dimensions. I had the MU SL handle bars set low and forward. The MU SL is about an inch longer between saddle – handlebars than the non-adjustable bars of the S-type.

    4. The other difference in regards to controls is the gear shifters. The Brompton 2-speed shifter (fitted to the left –hand bars) is a simple affair, a little slow at first but you soon get used to it. The shifters on the Dahon are much nicer and quicker to use and you can rapidly change through the 9 gears.

    5. Weight comparison: I weighed both bikes the other week and they were both very close to each other at just over 9Kg.

    6. Folded size: reading cold figures does not really help, you need to see both bikes together to appreciate the difference. The folded Dahon is considerably larger in both length and width than the Brompton. I kind of feel different towards folding each bike.... with the Dahon it is a case of folding it to make it smaller, but it is still an awkward shape and I don’t fold it unless I really have to. With the Brompton, it is different... I don’t know if it is the gadget aspect, the compact fold or the sheer beauty of the engineering, but I just love folding up the Brompton.

    My experience: it is just over 18 months since I bought my first folder. In this time I have owned a cheap, heavy Chinese Titan Folder bought for 125. Two Dahon MU SL’s (2008) and now the Brompton. I have also test ridden “S” & “M” type Bromptons (I don’t like the “M” bars), a Birdy Speed, Airnimal Joey, a Moulton/Pashley TSR 30. So I would say that I now have some experience of various folders. I would like either a Airnimal Rhino or a Bike Friday Llama next for riding off road trails.
    Last edited by PDR; 04-28-09 at 04:11 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDR View Post
    I kind of feel different towards folding each bike.... with the Dahon it is a case of folding it to make it smaller, but it is still an awkward shape and I dont fold it unless I really have to. With the Brompton, it is different... I dont know if it is the gadget aspect, the compact fold or the sheer beauty of the engineering, but I just love folding up the Brompton.
    It has been described as "Bromptons are so easy to fold, they get folded even when not needed."

    I guess that Tikit owners might do the same thing but don't own one myself.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB View Post
    It has been described as "Bromptons are so easy to fold, they get folded even when not needed."

    I guess that Tikit owners might do the same thing but don't own one myself.
    I can attest to this. There are plenty of times when I don't completely have to fold my Tikit, but I do anyway because it's so freakin' easy, fun and cool. I never get tired of folding it.

    With my Giant Halfway, it wasn't difficult to fold, but it certainly wasn't as easy and it required a bungie cord to keep it together.

    The only downside to the Tikit is that it is fairly awkward to carry when going up and down stairs. In those cases, it's actually easier to carry in its unfolded form.

    --sam

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    Thanks PDR for the review of the Brompton. I've cracking my head these few days over to get a Brompton or Reach racer. I know these 2 bikes are totally different. After reading your review and comments by other Brompton owners, it certainly help me with my decision.

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