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  1. #1
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    Educate me on Bromptons

    I didn't want to hijack mulleady's "modded brompton" thread, so I started a new one...

    When I bought a new folder a few weeks back to replace my jack, I studied the market and went with a Vitesse p18 as it is designed as a fast road bike for long distances.

    I was looking for a fast performance bike that also happened to fold, so brompton's compact fold into hankerchief-size wasn't a priority. But i do occasionally throw the bike into my car trunk, so I still needed a folder.

    I never gave brompton serious thought, as their design and product struck me as a bike built for the over-55 retiree riding aimlessly on a tour through vietnam with 60 lbs of luggage attached...

    Brompton's reputation for making an excellent bike has intrigued me of late, as I've read reviews around the web. When I looked through their website I found it well organized and was surprised at a number of things; some good, some not so good:

    - the bad: 6 gears is the highest # offered, parts don't seem to be the highest-end, the "sporty" S-model doesn't seem to be very sporty - just a bit lighter than the other styles, not sure if overall value of the line is there given the component quality...

    -the good: reputation is very high, design is simple and efficient, fold is excellent and compact if this becomes important later on, kojak tires are an option (!), not built in china (5 stars for this alone), bike platform is exactly how dahon's should be - start with the frame and allow the consumer to customize/build from there.

    That was how I would have wanted to get my next dahon, i.e, pick a very lightweight frame, and do a mix of components between the speed pro TT and vp18...I'm guessing that this is part of how dahon keeps their pricing low - minimize this customization/mass produce more cheaply.

    Anyway, what I'm really asking is there a version of brompton that can be considered a fast/long distance road bike equivalent to what dahon has built with the speed pro TT and VP18?

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    Check out 14R for his threads as he is or has built a fast Brompton.
    Speed Uno
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  3. #3
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    Speed Uno
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  4. #4
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prtyich View Post
    I never gave brompton serious thought, as their design and product struck me as a bike built for the over-55 retiree riding aimlessly on a tour through vietnam with 60 lbs of luggage attached...
    Nah it's for under 55 working folks who need a bike to get to/from the commuter rail station.

    Quote Originally Posted by prtyich View Post
    - the bad: 6 gears is the highest # offered, parts don't seem to be the highest-end, the "sporty" S-model doesn't seem to be very sporty - just a bit lighter than the other styles, not sure if overall value of the line is there given the component quality...
    -It's not the number of gears that matter, but the range of the gears. Those six gears are basically equivalent to a ten speed. People think they need a lot more gears than they really do because you need to basically double the total number of gear on a deraillur bike just to get one extra nonredundent gear. Some people ride up mountains on singlespeeds; 6 gears should be plenty for anyone unless you're being lazy. If you make yourself pedal harder or faster when you run out of gears then you will be faster than if you add ears to accommodate your laziness.
    -Most of the parts on a Brompton are custom manufactured so it's hard to really compare how high end they are and it doesn't help that Brompton Co isn't much for overinflated claims like most businesses.
    -The sport model is simply configured for a more aerodynamic riding position. That's all that makes it sportier, but considering that a bicycle consists mostly of it's rider that's a lot IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by prtyich View Post
    Anyway, what I'm really asking is there a version of brompton that can be considered a fast/long distance road bike equivalent to what dahon has built with the speed pro TT and VP18?
    IMO a bike is a bike is a bike. The frame isn't as important as how you configure it. Wheel size isn't that important either provided they're built and equipped appropriately.

    But the thing about the Brompton is you would be paying a lot more for folding ability you don't personally need. For your pstated usage I think you'd be happiest with a Bike Friday. That way your money will go towards the things which you will appreciate.

  5. #5
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    I have the great advantage of never having ridden a Brompton, so can talk drivel about them all night, but your Vit. P18 has most of its extra gearing at the 'granny' end of the scale for hill climbing. The stock and budget conscious Dahon Speed D7 for comparison is within 34"-92" (that's about 21 or so mph in top) and the Vit P.18 at 26"-94". This Brommie internal 6 speed hub gives 33"-99.5", for instance, not as wide a range as your bike, but with a "quicker" top gear - which is why people fiddle with sprockets and huge chainwheels:

    http://www.ecovelo.info/2008/09/17/b...ide-range-hub/

    But gears - or indeed no gears - is a matter of choice.

    Giving a bike 5 stars for not being built in China, is some sort of brain-fart, as most of the larger Asian factories have the sort of technology and investment the West goes over there to steal. Your Dahon was made in Macau. It's one of the two administrative regions of the People's Democratic Republic of China. I would hate to equate Bromptons with 'un-pretty' but I didn't buy one. :-) I bought a Commie Dahon.

    Sturmey Archer hubs are no longer made in a shed in Nottingham by two blokes and their dogs, for instance. SunRace SA are in Taiwan.

    Thank the Lord.

    "Anyway, what I'm really asking is there a version of brompton that can be considered a fast/long distance road bike equivalent to what dahon has built with the speed pro TT and VP18?"

    Mulleady on the other thread has built a custom Brommie, LittePixel is the other infamous Brommie- botherer, and both have got very unique bikes.

    What you're asking for is a Brommie with a gear range further North than 99.5" and further South than 26", I think. :-)

    From 16" wheels, too. Will it Blend?
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  6. #6
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prtyich View Post
    Anyway, what I'm really asking is there a version of brompton that can be considered a fast/long distance road bike equivalent to what dahon has built with the speed pro TT and VP18?
    If you don't need a compact fold then I wouldn't waste my time.

    Overall, I consider the Brompton to be an excellent bike for multi-mode commuting/travel and for sneaking bikes into restricted areas. If the ergonomics are good for you, then the Brompton can be a great bike. Even if the fit is so-so, it will probably be fine for the short rides associated with multi-mode commuting and utility cycling. Personally, the big negatives are ....

    (1) the ERTO 349 size is quite limiting due to a limited choice of tires and, in particular, limited choice of tire widths.

    (2) the rear dropout size is annoying narrow limiting the drivetrain options.

    (3) fore/aft adjustability is quite limited.

    If I were to get another Brompton, I'd go with a three speed and choke on the extra expense of a Schlumpf Drive. I'd lose the rear rack and only use the front mount for carrying stuff. I'd keep the fenders and use roller blade wheels instead of the Brompton option. The dual caliper brakes are not bad; although I don't consider them good either. Whether I went titanium or not would simply depend on cost at the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    But the thing about the Brompton is you would be paying a lot more for folding ability you don't personally need. For your pstated usage I think you'd be happiest with a Bike Friday. That way your money will go towards the things which you will appreciate.
    Agree w/ everything, but would suggest a SpeedPRO TT or their new Hammerhead. You'll get a lot more for your money. I was close to getting a Tikit, but then realized I could buy a SpeedPRO TT AND a Brompton M6L for the same $$$. The Brompton was originally supposed to be for my wife, but it's gotten to the point that I may have to "swap" bikes w/ her.

    I love my Brompton, but it's not fast. In fact I look at it as a training bike and enjoy it for that reason. I'd say it keeps pace w/ most mountain bikes/commuting bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DFTR View Post
    I was close to getting a Tikit, but then realized I could buy a SpeedPRO TT AND a Brompton M6L for the same $$$.
    Okay... WHAT?

    Thor has Speed Pro TTs on closeout for $959.

    Calhoun sells the Brompton M6L for $1325 plus shipping.

    So if we want to be really generous and find rock-bottom prices in the US, the two together come to $2284.

    That's one hell of a tikit.

    The tikit Model T presently costs $1098. The "Just the Tikit" hyperfold costs $1295.

    So I'm trying to figure out how to configure a tikit that costs $2284. Let's see. You could do a Speeding Tikit Gruppo with Shimano Road Groups, 18 speeds, drop bars with bar-end shifters, for about $1850. If we add $175 for a two-toned custom paint package with unusual colors (say, orange and stealth black), that's $2025. Bump this to a hyperfold will probably run $2225. Throw in, I dunno, a shower cover and a rear rack and we're good to go.

    Holy cow.

  9. #9
    I... Don't care. nekohime's Avatar
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    The Brommie? I love it. It's really not made for fast rides though; it's more for pootling about in a very civilized manner.
    Wanna join my charity folding bike ride? Sign-up here!
    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way :p

  10. #10
    Schwinnasaur Schwinnsta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post

    IMO a bike is a bike is a bike. The frame isn't as important as how you configure it. Wheel size isn't that important either provided they're built and equipped appropriately.
    .
    I have to take issue with this. The frame is the most important element. You can customize most of the other things. The frame does set limits, such as tire size and gearing especially if it is aluminum. Personally, I look for high strength steel frame. I has low weight, ductility, and are usually more comfortable. Forks can be cold bent up to limit.

    Just my opinion.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    -It's not the number of gears that matter, but the range of the gears. Those six gears are basically equivalent to a ten speed. People think they need a lot more gears than they really do because you need to basically double the total number of gear on a deraillur bike just to get one extra nonredundent gear. Some people ride up mountains on singlespeeds; 6 gears should be plenty for anyone unless you're being lazy. If you make yourself pedal harder or faster when you run out of gears then you will be faster than if you add ears to accommodate your laziness.
    Wow - this just shows how differently we all use our bikes. I love my 6-speed Brompton, but the one thing I really dislike about it is its limited gears - I think it SUCKS. My problem is that I need more LOWER gears to deal with the hills where I live and work. On the Brompton the very few ways to accomplish that are really expensive and/or complicated (US$626 plus shipping and miscellaneous parts for a Schlumpf Mountain Drive? - and who's going to install it and how much would that cost??). The only solution I've found that wasn't cost-prohibitive - adding a second, smaller chainwheel - is a nuisance to use because it entails getting off the bike and moving the chain manually when I want to move it back to the large chainwheel (I even wound up reducing the main chainwheel from 50t to 44t - sacrificing the highest gear - to minimize the amount of times I feel the need to use it). I have to disagree that the number of gears doesn't matter. To me there is nothing more annoying than having gears spaced too far apart - one gear too low, the next too high. The broader the range, the more gears I want. For that reason I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be happy with the newer "wide-range" Brompton (plus the fact that the lowest gear is still not nearly as low as I'd like it to be). For me I think 9 gears is the minimum I'd want for a reasonable range. I don't understand why Brompton offers such a limited choice of gearing, especially compared to the range of options that so many other folding bike companies offer.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrys88 View Post
    Wow - this just shows how differently we all use our bikes. I love my 6-speed Brompton, but the one thing I really dislike about it is its limited gears - I think it SUCKS. My problem is that I need more LOWER gears to deal with the hills where I live and work. On the Brompton the very few ways to accomplish that are really expensive and/or complicated (US$626 plus shipping and miscellaneous parts for a Schlumpf Mountain Drive? - and who's going to install it and how much would that cost??). The only solution I've found that wasn't cost-prohibitive - adding a second, smaller chainwheel - is a nuisance to use because it entails getting off the bike and moving the chain manually when I want to move it back to the large chainwheel (I even wound up reducing the main chainwheel from 50t to 44t - sacrificing the highest gear - to minimize the amount of times I feel the need to use it). I have to disagree that the number of gears doesn't matter. To me there is nothing more annoying than having gears spaced too far apart - one gear too low, the next too high. The broader the range, the more gears I want. For that reason I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be happy with the newer "wide-range" Brompton (plus the fact that the lowest gear is still not nearly as low as I'd like it to be). For me I think 9 gears is the minimum I'd want for a reasonable range. I don't understand why Brompton offers such a limited choice of gearing, especially compared to the range of options that so many other folding bike companies offer.
    One of my requirements for my jack-replacement was at least 15 gears, and the VP18 has, well 18 of them. Dahon had a number of appealing 8/9 gear bikes, but I agree, this was too low.

    I wish there was a simple, inexpensive way to in crease the top gear ratio from 96" to 110" or more...someday...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by prtyich View Post
    Anyway, what I'm really asking is there a version of brompton that can be considered a fast/long distance road bike equivalent to what dahon has built with the speed pro TT and VP18?
    I agree with most of your original thinking. I bought a Brompton 6-sp with titanium parts 2 years ago to complement my Trek road bike. I love it… the cleverness of the design, the ease of folding/unfolding, the precision you feel when, folding the bike, the handlebars fall perfectly into their lock. And, surprisingly, I've found the Brompton a blast to ride. It's the perfect bike for NYC, which is mostly flat with a few moderate hills here and there. I ride it to the office, fold it up in 20 seconds, cover it with its black vinyl bag (another 20 seconds), and then carry it through a revolving door in a building that doesn't allow bikes. By day, it sits hidden beneath my desk instead of being locked to a bike rack on the street where it could be vandalized or stolen. It's quick to accelerate, surprisingly fast, turns on a dime, and is very comfy with its Brooks saddle.

    That said, it sounds like you are, indeed, looking for a Bike Friday. Doesn't fold as small and tidy as the Brompton, but everything I've read and everyone I've talked to say they are much better suited to long distance, high speed riding - just like a regular bicycle. Bromptons are not really designed for that; I wouldn't want to ride mine much more than 30 miles. I'm thinking of buying a Bike Friday (Pocket Sport, Pocket Crusoe or Pocket Rocket) for bike touring locally and away from home.

    But I will always keep my Brompton.
    Last edited by New Yorker; 05-19-10 at 01:46 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Next year, the Shimano Alfine gets 11 gears, my spies tell me.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...hub-gear-24930

    "Won't shift under load", the fast road-bike boys are moaning. "Looks great" the commuters are saying.
    Last edited by snafu21; 05-19-10 at 01:57 AM.
    - every mile of road has two miles of ditch -

  15. #15
    tcs
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    In a post titled "Educate me on Bromptons"...


    Quote Originally Posted by prtyich View Post
    ...not built in China (5 stars for this alone)...
    The modern world has completely overrun most folks' concept of "built in".

    The Brompton's steel frame and steering mast, including the folding parts, are fabricated in the UK, and that's where final assembly of the bikes takes place.

    Burried in a single line at the bottom of the Brompton page on their factory is the fact that most of the components come from Asia.

    If you were interested in a "go fast" Brompton, you might want to sit down to hear this. The lightweight front and rear forks are fabricated in China out of Russian titanium. (This option roughly doubles the bike's cost.)

    On a top spec Brompton, a shockingly small part of the value of creating the complete bike happens in the UK.

    tcs
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by New Yorker View Post
    ...and then carry it through a revolving door in a building that doesn't allow bikes.
    FYI: in NYC, a recent law was passed where office buildings cannot refuse people from bringing their bicycles:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bic...uildings.shtml

    That said, it sounds like you are, indeed, looking for a Bike Friday. Doesn't fold as small and tidy as the Brompton, but everything I've read and everyone I've talked to say they are much better suited to long distance, high speed riding - just like a regular bicycle. Bromptons are not really designed for that; I wouldn't want to ride mine much more than 30 miles. I'm thinking of buying a Bike Friday (Pocket Sport, Pocket Crusoe or Pocket Rocket) for bike touring locally and away from home.
    You might want to try a Vitesse p18 or speed pro TT, I myself have never tested a bike friday but from appearances seem similar to several dahons.

    Sadly, I sold my jack b/c of lack of space in the apt for multiple bikes - I have 3 family members each with a bike, and the wifey has said I couldn't have 2...
    Last edited by prtyich; 05-19-10 at 09:21 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    In a post titled "Educate me on Bromptons"...The modern world has completely overrun most folks' concept of "built in".
    Not to get all political on a bike forum - but right now, I'm not a big fan of china, and so much of what we buy IS made there. I play ice hockey, and almost all of the equipment is made there, same for so many other things; furniture, pcs, etc. It is VERY difficult to try to vote with one's dollars these days away from China.

  18. #18
    Senior Member brommie's Avatar
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    I was looking for a fast performance bike that also happened to fold, so brompton's compact fold into hankerchief-size wasn't a priority. But i do occasionally throw the bike into my car trunk, so I still needed a folder.

    I own a Brompton for many years now. Did some touring, even in hilly environment and used it for a train-bike-, to go to work. It's a good bike with a classy look you might like or not. But with a very good folding system.
    Now a days I still have and use my Brompton, but for a tour I take my Airnimal Joey, which fits easily in the car trunk. It's more bike looking with the 24 inch wheels. And it has more gears (27) than the Brompton.
    I recently used it in hilly Austria and it was a nice to ride bike even in the mountains and of the asphalt. Of course it's not a mountain-bike, but it copes well off-road. And it's no race bike but it sure is fast! Or was that me?; )
    So if you don't need the compact fold an Airnimal might be the right bike for you.

    And there is the case of the small tyres.
    I've noticed that some folks don't like the small wheels. They think it makes the bike look childest. I personly like the look of the small wheels, it gives the bike that remarkable look. But it also makes the bike feel less stiffer and the ride quit different from "real "bikes. You might enjoy that, like me, or you don't like it, than you certainly got the wrong bike.
    The feeling of the Airnimal Joey is (almost?) like a "real" bike.
    To your last question, my answer should be "No there is no Brompton version that is the equivalent of the Speed Pro TT (very nice looking) or the VP18.
    But many owners of a Brompton got a special relationship with there bike. They make all kind of modifications to make the Brompton more capable of f.e. touring, racing, hilly environment etc.
    They really like there bike and are willing to spend many hours on these modifications, it becomes a great part of the hobby called Brompton riding. For me, there was a time I like to ride my Brompton above my "normal" bike. (and I still do).

    But right now for touring it's the Airnimal Joey. But if you want to join the Brompton World Championship you need a Brompton!

    You might have seen this treat but just to make sure you might take a look at http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...er-for-touring
    Last edited by brommie; 05-19-10 at 03:35 PM. Reason: forgot something
    "A trip on my Brommie, -or is it the Airnimal Joey?- makes me smile. . ."

    http://airnimaljoey.blogspot.com/ (English)
    http://plooifiets.blogspot.com/ (Dutch)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/plooifiets/

  19. #19
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    I considered an upgraded Brompton, but sold and bought a Mezzo and upgraded that instead. Not a lot bigger folded even with bull bars, 27 speed and very quick.

    However, a Brompton can achieve 16 speeds using a Stermely archer SA8 with a Steven Perry front mech. Adding a modified Aber Hallo stem can be modified to accommodate bullbars with road racing shifters.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by bhkyte; 05-21-10 at 03:40 AM. Reason: Who the hell is "John Perry"
    Dual drive Mezzo (GOLD), Dual Drive Mezzo with bullbars (black), White Brompton thingy with Dahon Androes stem and bull bars. Birdie (old sytle) 7 speed. Downtube NS8. Birdie red.

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    Quote Originally Posted by prtyich View Post
    FYI: in NYC, a recent law was passed where office buildings cannot refuse people from bringing their bicycles:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bic...uildings.shtml
    Yes, that's true; it's a first step. Unfortunately, the new law has loopholes that let buildings continue to not allow bikes. For example, the law says you must use the building's freight elevator. But many older office buildings don't have one. (When they need to carry freight, they simply use the regular "people" elevators.) Since, technically, those are not "freight" elevators, they claim you can't use it.

    Also, the law doesn't have much teeth - it seems there's little penalty in ignoring it. When you tell building management it's now legal to bring your bike in, they say something like "we'll review it with the owners". Except they don't, and nothing happens. If you ask again, they'll say they still haven't had a chance to get to it. So basically they're hoping you'll get tired of fighting and will decide it's way less hassle to just park it on the street or not bring one. Just like before the law was passed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by New Yorker View Post
    Yes, that's true; it's a first step. Unfortunately, the new law has loopholes that let buildings continue to not allow bikes. For example, the law says you must use the building's freight elevator. But many older office buildings don't have one. (When they need to carry freight, they simply use the regular "people" elevators.) Since, technically, those are not "freight" elevators, they claim you can't use it.

    Also, the law doesn't have much teeth - it seems there's little penalty in ignoring it. When you tell building management it's now legal to bring your bike in, they say something like "we'll review it with the owners". Except they don't, and nothing happens. If you ask again, they'll say they still haven't had a chance to get to it. So basically they're hoping you'll get tired of fighting and will decide it's way less hassle to just park it on the street or not bring one. Just like before the law was passed.
    From my link:

    "The Law only applies to commercial office buildings with at least one freight elevator. It does not apply to residential buildings."

    As for any commercial building with a freight elevator playing games, hand the bldg mgmt a letter giving them 2 weeks to resolve the issue. If they do not by the end of the second week, follow up and ask if they are now allowing bicycles in. If they still are obfuscating, explain you will have both the DOT as well as your attorney contact them.

    I suspect that that would be sufficient.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    In a post titled "Educate me on Bromptons"...




    The modern world has completely overrun most folks' concept of "built in".

    The Brompton's steel frame and steering mast, including the folding parts, are fabricated in the UK, and that's where final assembly of the bikes takes place.

    Burried in a single line at the bottom of the Brompton page on their factory is the fact that most of the components come from Asia.

    If you were interested in a "go fast" Brompton, you might want to sit down to hear this. The lightweight front and rear forks are fabricated in China out of Russian titanium. (This option roughly doubles the bike's cost.)

    On a top spec Brompton, a shockingly small part of the value of creating the complete bike happens in the UK.

    tcs
    Hardly" buried", its written clearly in a paragraph (not hidden as you seem to imply) saying that many parts are outsourced in the UK and some from Europe and Taiwan.
    However you are certainly right about the "built in" part. I doubt there's much of anything that is solely made from parts from same country its built in.
    Last edited by ddez; 05-20-10 at 01:50 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bhkyte View Post
    I considered an upgraded Brompton, but sold and bought a Mezzo and upgraded that instead. Not a lot bigger folded even with bull bars, 27 speed and very quick.

    However, a Brompton can achieve 16 speeds using a Stermely archer SA8 with a John Perry front mech. Adding a modified Aber Hallo stem can be modified to accommodate bullbars with road racing shifters.
    How much does an SA8 cost? How easy it is to install if you're not a tech? I spent about US$80 on a John Perry front mech + about $50 for derailleur/cables/shifter plus another $100 for a tech to install it for me and wound up removing the whole thing a few days later, exasperated by how impossible it was to adjust so it would work properly and not rub somewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snafu21 View Post
    Next year, the Shimano Alfine gets 11 gears, my spies tell me.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...hub-gear-24930

    "Won't shift under load", the fast road-bike boys are moaning. "Looks great" the commuters are saying.
    How much is this likely to cost and is it something that can be easily installed on a Brompton?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrys88 View Post
    How much is this likely to cost and is it something that can be easily installed on a Brompton?
    heard that it's in the area of $400 + . check this link about it: http://travellingtwo.com/3856

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