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Old 08-14-12, 08:18 AM   #1
CSG
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Brompton is just a great bike

I bought one last year with the idea of always having a bike with me in my vehicle. While I do a number of short rides where I live, I've been in SoCal this past week. Last year I'd shopped all the folding bikes I could find in SoCal and felt the Brompton was clearly the best but balked a bit at the price. None the less, I bought an ML6 and added a Brooks B17 and Ergo grips.

Yesterday, at Newport beach, while my family played in the sand, I took off for a ride and realized just how effortless it was (did around 10 miles). When I was done, it folded back into its tiny foot print and i tucked it away into a back corner of the Land Cruiser. I kept thinking on this ride (I'm a bike path rider, not a commuter, tourer, or anything really serious; just like the Zen of bike riding) that I really had no need for my full size bike any longer; the Brompton does everything I want in a bike with the added benefit of being a no-brainer to always have with me when I travel.

I know there's lots of stuff out there with new stuff coming out all the time but if you can swing the price, want a brilliant fold, and an excellent riding bike for casual riding, I can't think of a folding bike I'd rather own. Of course, I got the usual comments ranging from "Cool bike!" to "Someone stole your wheels!". At least I didn't get, "Where's the circus?"
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Old 08-14-12, 10:11 AM   #2
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Yes, it's a very convenient and practical bike indeed. About a year ago I got a 6sp S as a super folder for special occasions but since then I did not touch my TSR. It just works. I wish it would be lighter though.
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Old 08-14-12, 11:50 AM   #3
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I'm amazed at people saying it contains low quality pats. It really is a reliable bike. It is not perfect for every use but comes into its own for trips like you describe as well as shorter commutes or commute n'go. I use mine for trips like yours and get the train into London and cycle it all around the city without having to deal with the overcrowded and sweaty underground system.
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Old 08-14-12, 12:24 PM   #4
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I agree, it's not for every use, but I don't think that it should be restricted to just short rides or commute and go's,... my 10 year old & I did a 22 mile ride this past weekend and I felt I probably could have gone twice as far but we called it quits when the little guy kind of got tired.
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Old 08-14-12, 01:39 PM   #5
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The parts are functional so I think one has to judge that in relation to the price of the bike, and of the price of spare parts. You can take the headset as an example, it's about as low quality as they come and this type of headset would only normally be found on the cheapest of bikes, but there you have it on an £800+ bike. It works OK but it's unnecessarily heavy and functionally inferior to cartridge headsets. I replaced it with a cartridge headset that weighs 95g (the standard steel headset is 155g and the alloy version used on the ti models 120g) the action is now much smoother and I won't have to replace worn cups.
Another example: the bottom bracket retails for around £21 but the same BB is sold without the Brompton branding in Germany for around 14 Euros. Similar story with the chainset, it's a slightly altered bottom-of-the-range Stronglight model but sold for a much higher price.
So the parts are functional but it's unheard of for such cheap parts to be used on a bike of this price, and replacement parts are often heavily marked up. Strangely, and conversely, some of the spare parts are very cheap, e.g. the chain tensioner. One would have to feel that the overall quality of the product justifies the tendency towards inflated prices.
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Old 08-14-12, 01:42 PM   #6
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The parts are functional so I think one has to judge that in relation to the price of the bike, and of the price of spare parts. You can take the headset as an example, it's about as low quality as they come and this type of headset would only normally be found on the cheapest of bikes, but there you have it on an £800+ bike. It works OK but it's unnecessarily heavy and functionally inferior to cartridge headsets. I replaced it with a cartridge headset that weighs 95g (the standard steel headset is 155g and the alloy version used on the ti models 120g) the action is now much smoother and I won't have to replace worn cups.
Another example: the bottom bracket retails for around £21 but the same BB is sold without the Brompton branding in Germany for around 14 Euros. Similar story with the chainset, it's a slightly altered bottom-of-the-range Stronglight model but sold for a much higher price.
So the parts are functional but it's unheard of for such cheap parts to be used on a bike of this price, and replacement parts are often heavily marked up. Strangely, and conversely, some of the spare parts are very cheap, e.g. the chain tensioner. One would have to feel that the overall quality of the product justifies the tendency towards inflated prices.
Can't argue with the parts you're talking about. Very fair and informative thanks.
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Old 08-14-12, 04:13 PM   #7
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So the parts are functional but it's unheard of for such cheap parts to be used on a bike of this price, and replacement parts are often heavily marked up. Strangely, and conversely, some of the spare parts are very cheap, e.g. the chain tensioner. One would have to feel that the overall quality of the product justifies the tendency towards inflated prices.
I always feel like your Brompton posts boil down to "It's the worse folder out there, except for all the others..." :-).
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Old 08-14-12, 04:17 PM   #8
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I always feel like your Brompton posts boil down to "It's the worse folder out there, except for all the others..." :-).

I think deep down Chags is a secret admirer who wants to work for them and push them a bit harder lol!
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Old 08-14-12, 04:18 PM   #9
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Useful recent review for the op from a guy in NYC. They tested several folders:

http://www.theactivetimes.com/review...l-folding-bike

http://www.theactivetimes.com/tested-five-collapsible-commuter-bikes
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Old 08-14-12, 04:52 PM   #10
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^^mulleady, they called them "collapsible bikes". Nuff said.
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Old 08-14-12, 04:55 PM   #11
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I always feel like your Brompton posts boil down to "It's the worse folder out there, except for all the others..." :-).
Both yourself and Mulleady are right.
If only I could have my own factory, workforce, unlimited financial backing etc., just so I could create the bike I want to have for myself and then run the business as a sideline.
In fact, I think I'll start tomorrow and aim to have the product ready in time for christmas. Take note Brompton, improve your product & lower your prices or lose 85% of your market share very soon. Or alternatively employ me to redesign the stem/steerer and other bits.
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Old 08-14-12, 04:56 PM   #12
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both yourself and mulleady are right.
If only i could have my own factory, workforce, unlimited financial backing etc., just so i could create the bike i want to have for myself and then run the business as a sideline.
In fact, i think i'll start tomorrow and aim to have the product ready in time for christmas. Take note brompton, improve your product & lower your prices or lose 85% of your market share very soon. Or alternatively employ me to redesign the stem/steerer and other bits.
lolllllllllll
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Old 08-15-12, 06:26 AM   #13
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... It works OK but it's unnecessarily heavy and functionally inferior to cartridge headsets...
In all fairness are sealed bearings really better? I'd say that depends upon the user. I recommended them to my customers who don't wrench on bikes because they are 'no maintenance' but that also means that they are a disposable item. Since my bikes are subjected to all kinds of weather and riding conditions I have destroyed cartridge BBs and wheel bearings in less than a year yet I can routinely clean and repack the old C&C bearings and have them last indefinitely. To me, that's a far more desirable trait than saving a little weight.
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Old 08-15-12, 06:54 AM   #14
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I'm no expert on headsets but I've found my mid-priced Tange cartridge headset to be way smoother in operation and far easier to set up, i.e. there's no need to fine-tune preload. The way it's designed so long as you apply grease liberally when installing there's no way water could penetrate so the bearings ought to last a very long time.
From what I've read there's a general consensus that the cartridge design eliminates brinelling, the action by which the constant high frequency vibration coming through the forks leads to erosion of the cup surface and eventual pitting. At that stage one needs to replace the cups, which whilst not particularly difficult requires a lot more effort than switching out bearings. Also, cartridge designs tend to compensate for small imperfections in the cup alignment allowing for a more precise fit overall.

If one wants to argue that a traditional c&c headset design is superior then one might still ask why it is that on the standard Brompton models they have an all-steel headset that is very heavy instead of the still-cheap alloy version that's reserved for the ti models. I'd say it's because they can, and because it helps preserve the distinction between the weight categories by keeping the standard version heavier.
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Old 08-15-12, 07:54 AM   #15
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Since my bikes are subjected to all kinds of weather and riding conditions I have destroyed cartridge BBs and wheel bearings in less than a year..
Less than a year? Wow! I ride salty, MI roads all winter on cartridge bearings and have done so for years without seeing a failure rate like that. Service life for things like BBs I measure in multiple years despite the salted roads (does it get any worse conditions? Maybe fording streams, but who does that, and on a Brompton?!). I don't do really high mileage, however, but I also don't run the cheapest bits I can find.

I did have a set of cartridge GT hubs in the mid 90s that fragged out really early, but no wheel issues since then. I guess I kind of prefer caged bearing wheels (or freeballing) in some ways, because nothing is quite as sweet as repacked, perfectly adjusted wheel bearings! They just feel so good, like riding a new bike!
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Old 08-15-12, 07:57 AM   #16
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brinelling, the action by which the constant high frequency vibration coming through the forks leads to erosion of the cup surface and eventual pitting.
Adding that to my vocabulary!

EDIT: and "false brinelling"
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Old 08-15-12, 08:13 AM   #17
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I agree that cartridge bearings are easier to install and don't require maintenance. Honestly, if I had a company mass producing bikes I would use cartridge bearings because they could bring down production costs not to mention be a great bullet point in marketing blurbs. Although I've never witnessed the effects of brinelling in c&c bicycle headsets (that still contained grease), the theory is sound and I could use it and other such theories to further promote the advantages of using cartridge bearings in marketing my product line.

Good quality cartridge bearings certainly have their benefits, alternatively so do good quality c&c bearings... IMHO it's up to the user to decide which suits him/her best. But of course poor quality cartridge and c&c bearings do exist and should be avoided altogether.
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Old 08-15-12, 09:46 AM   #18
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It works OK but it's unnecessarily heavy and functionally inferior to cartridge headsets. I replaced it with a cartridge headset that weighs 95g (the standard steel headset is 155g and the alloy version used on the ti models 120g) the action is now much smoother and I won't have to replace worn cups.
1. Is it a simple drop in replacement or does it require a modification of the frame?

2. Are all cartridges the same or do I need to look for certain model or dimensions?
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Old 08-15-12, 10:00 AM   #19
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I won't argue which is better, all I'm saying is the Brompton is a brilliant bike that for many folks works brilliantly too. When you're riding and not thinking about the bike because it's an extension of you, that's a successful bike in my opinion. I'm 6' and about 185# (just for scale). I'm also 61 and, as I wrote earlier, ride for pleasure and exercise.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:16 AM   #20
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It's the best fold and seems to me to be The Fold, i.e. I don't see how it can be improved upon. The only aspect that seems improvable is that weight isn't distributed evenly when folded and therefore it's not as stable as it could be, though I don't really find that to be a problem.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:34 AM   #21
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Brompton chose to not import the whole bike, but build it in England.
now seems they are the largest bike manufacturer in the UK,
because, they chose to not outsource .. join the race to the bottom..
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Old 08-15-12, 11:35 AM   #22
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... Maybe fording streams...
Oops, I guess that's considered unusual?
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Old 08-15-12, 11:48 AM   #23
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... join the race to the bottom...
I see what you did there... set one's bearings toward the cup.
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Old 08-17-12, 02:53 PM   #24
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At the risk of getting flamed, I really don't get why the bromptom doesn't produce a better bike. For years I've lived in cities - New York, Tokyo and now Los Angeles - and I get folding bikes. The problem for me is that performance is as important as the fold. I test rode the bromptom, dahons, tern, Bike Friday, etc. and had problems with the stem flex with both the bromptom and Bike Friday. The dahon that I looked at is no longer being producted (mute point). the tern was light, well built and rode great. (as a disclaimer, I did end up buying a Tern.)

I really tried to like the Bromptom. Really really tried. I think Kotler calls it the share of heart. When I lived in Tokyo, I used to drool over a pair of bromptoms that I passed on my way to/from work. Looking through the internet forums, there are bikers who use the Bromptoms for touring, even participate in racing contests. Bromptom owners are passionate about their rides. But, there are also horror stories of the bikes failing. Feels like 20 zillion threads on how to mod your bromptom because it has cheezy foam handlebars or uses a frankenstein derailer +hub system to get six speeds. Love the fold, but can't understand why the folding mechanism hasn't been improved on. Kind of reminds me of how BMW doggedly refused to put an adjustable steering column in their cars. For a while, I was willing to live with the problems. I would start putting money aside for the bike, but then I would go out and test ride the bike. When it came to lay down the credit card, I just couldn't do it.
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Old 08-17-12, 03:45 PM   #25
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According to the official website Terns are heavy.

I've found flex to be a major problem with the Brompton and, indeed, it's frustrated me greatly. In a way it's ludicrous as most of the stem is thick steel tubing with zero flex (way stiffer than aluminium varieties) but it attaches to the steerer via a puny 1" wedge insert which totally defeats the purpose of the upper section being so beefy. This is just crap design, but it almost works, i.e. for certain riding styles and particularly for the S model the flex is within tolerable limits. I've managed to improve matters slightly by installing a better headset and inserting the stem all the way down contrary to the advice of the manual. Having it buttressed against the headset nut improves rigidity a little, hopefully it won't cause any problems.
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