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Old 03-04-13, 08:45 PM   #1
ztrawhcs
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My Brompton test ride experience - OR - can a 6'1" gent get a good fit?

TL; DR version: I found a Brompton configuration I adore, but my LBS doesn't have them in stock and it will take 4 months to order from the Mother Land. Should I just buy an off-the-shelf model online?

For the rest of you, it's StoryTime:

There is nothing more magical than watching a Brompton unfold for the first time.

I am about four days into my obsession, having watched pretty much all the videos and read all the reviews and bike forum posts available online. I know how the Brompton unfolds. I have seen the videos. And yet there is nothing like seeing it in person. Especially when the person doing it uses a flourish, unfurling the rear and front wheels at the same time. One moment you're staring at a compact assemblage of parts; the next moment, there is a bike in front of you.

I'm a goner. The odds of me not buying a Brompton at this point are probably 5%, and it's only that high because I will have a little over a week to think it over until my next paycheck, when I will have enough extra money to buy the thing. A lot can happen in a week. It took just a few days to convince myself I needed one; given a week, I can probably talk myself out of it.

The thing is, after tonight's test right, I don't want to talk myself out of it. I tried two different types of handlebars, two kinds of saddles, and two kinds of gearing. At first I used the H style handlebar, which is a higher model than the normal bar, raising it by a couple inches. When I first stepped on the bike and started peddling, my immediate impression was that it felt kind of weird, and definitely different than riding my Trek 7100 hybrid. Within about a block I started to feel more comfortable -- indeed, the smile on my face kept getting bigger and bigger -- but ultimately it still felt like the handlebar was just a little bit too close to my body. I felt a little bit cramped. It was a bit of a let down.

I knew that the Brompton tends to fit smaller or average sized people better, according to various accounts on the Internet. At 6'1" and 210 pounds, I had hoped that the taller handlebar and extended seat post would make up for things. Unfortunately it was back to the drawing board. My next test ride used the M handlebar. My thinking was that, because the handlebar is a couple inches lower, I would be able to reach farther as I leaned forward. Frankly, this test ride was a disaster. The geometry was all wrong; I felt way too hunched over. After cutting my teeth on the Trek hybrid for 1200 miles last year, I was used to an upright position. I simply needed a taller handlebar.

I was bereft. After all that searching on the Internet, after so many videos watched and articles read, after effortlessly falling into the self-proclaimed category of "Bromptonaut," I wouldn't be able to ride one after all. Damn you for getting my hopes up, Internet!

And then I noticed something. Something that would change everything. I looked at the seat on the bike I had just tested, the one with the M handlebar. It seems there's a bit of leeway as to how far forward you can install the seat. This seat had been pushed all the way back. I quickly walked back to the first bike I'd tested…

The seat was NOT pushed all the way back! It could probably have gone back another inch! Moreover, that seat was not the Brompton standard, but was rather a Brooks model. (Very popular with the Brompton crowd, but a bit too bouncy for my taste.)

I asked if there were any other bikes with the H style handlebar, but with the standard seat, pushed all the way back. It turns out there was, although it wasn't using the extended seat post that I needed. But it was worth a try. I hopped on the bike and headed out the door…

And it was great! The seat definitely could have been a couple of inches higher -- the extended post will fix that -- but it was pushed back all the way, and I had the room I needed! I was in love.

I was on a flat city street, and I decided to see how fast I could get it. I didn't have time to push it very hard, and I wasn't even in the highest gear, but I was easily able to get it up over 20 mph. It felt very stable, and with the tiny 16 inch wheels, it was super maneuverable. I had tried both the 3-speed and the 6-speed, and although the 3-speed is fine, I preferred the versatility of the 6.

The good news is that shop, BicycleSpace in DC, has just gotten in a shipment of four Bromptons with H style bars. The bad news is that the only color available is a rather girly "Turkish Green" -- think turquoise. And the Mother Land is pumping out new custom orders excruciatingly slowly. I was told the expected wait time is four months. Ugh.

If I were king, I would custom order the lacquer frame with black extremities and a rack with EZ Wheels. But I'm not sure I want to wait that long -- summer would be almost half over by the time it arrived!! NYCE Wheels has a black H6R ready to ship, but is it wrong for me to go test out the Brompton in my LBS and then order it online? (There's also the matter of wanting access to the free tweaks and adjustments that a LBS will give you if you bought the bike there.)

So, any thoughts?

Matt

Last edited by ztrawhcs; 03-04-13 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 03-04-13, 09:59 PM   #2
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Get what you want; it's a lot of money. I tested at my LBS and then ordered online. My LBS did not seem very eager to sell one and they said it would *maybe* be May when they could get one. Clever Cycles (and NYCeWheels) invest heavily in Brompton and deserve the business too.

Order online and pay the LBS for tweaks, and don't "feel bad." They still get your business.

I've had mine nearly a week (DH went for special order, due in late April). I ride it every day. My other bikes have barely seen any use in a year. This is a bike that's just too easy to ride. I'm a happy Bromptonaut.
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Old 03-04-13, 10:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice. What I want is to not wait four months. I vaguely prefer one of the non-stock colors but I don't feel strongly enough about it to wait 4 months. And it's funny, like you, my LBS also didn't seem very eager to sell one. They were very nonchalant about the whole thing -- they said, well, they just got a shipment in and it's going to be a long time before they can get more. From what I understand they can't just call the UK and place an order; they told me some guy calls them every few months and announces that Brompton is now taking orders.

OK. I'm leaning toward one of the online shops.
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Old 03-04-13, 10:41 PM   #4
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maybe?:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Brompton-P6L...item3a7ecf07a7

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BROMPTON-M6R...item35c505cc47
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Old 03-05-13, 08:49 AM   #5
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... What I want is to not wait four months. ... I'm leaning toward one of the online shops.
I have sent you a private message.

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Old 03-05-13, 10:50 AM   #6
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The H steering mast part, is made to fit taller riders.. the last year's added component part
to select when ordering your bike, Higher Bars, by 60mm, packaged with extended seat post
also 6cm taller, or the telescoping 2 section, seat post ..

[ you could fit a straight bar, as if you got the S model ,
comparison chart puts the center clamp at that height, but hinge height gains folded ground clearance.] or a lower Rise than the M bar.

As far as the Local shop , tipping them for their help is not out of place..
particularly if you had to buy it elsewhere.

There is of course secondary shipping from NY, where that is not added, if you walk in and ride away
from the 'nearby' shop.

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-06-13 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 03-05-13, 01:51 PM   #7
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I'm 5'11" and 200+ lbs. I'm pretty active and I ride my Brompton pretty hard. Plus I carry lots of stuff most of the time. I'm pretty sure a Brompton will fit and serve you fine. I have the extended seat post and with you being only 2" taller than me, I suspect you'll be quite happy. Besides, "Peter" in the NYCE videos is, what, 6'3"? If he can ride a Brompton, I'm sure you can!

As for the LBS being not too keen... I suspect that with Brompton filling such a unique niche, bike shops that carry them are much more keen to sell you stock on hand. Unlike more conventional bikes, if you don't buy a Brompton, the next person won't necessarily either!
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Old 03-06-13, 03:45 PM   #8
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My opinon is no brompton fits people over around 5 foot 8 to 9 very well in standard forms. That's why prefer the faster folding but slightly larger folded mezzo, but that's another thread!
There are threads about bromptons with santori or gubb handlebar reach extenders. These threads might give you the ridding postion you prefer. I added a dahon andros stem extender to my brommie and bull bars. This gives me a really good riding postion like a road bike. I started a thread on this, there are others. Little pixel showed how to turn the santori in to a quick release.

Another option is to use wide bull or tt bars that are wide enought to fold either sde of the wheel when folded. You need about 45 cms width bars for this. But then you do not need to add another folding stage nor do you need another type of stem.
Other mods people have included ergo grips or bar ends. Ask if you are interested and I can llook for the threads when not posteing on a smart phone.

Last edited by bhkyte; 03-06-13 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 03-06-13, 04:48 PM   #9
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I'd try a P type, the upper section of the bars is higher than an M type and the stem adds an extra 5cm or so of cockpit room, eliminating the need to set the saddle right back. . . mind you, Jur knows his geometry and he put his pentaclip in reverse.
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Old 03-06-13, 05:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bhkyte View Post
My opinon is no brompton fits people over around 5 foot 8 to 9 very well in standard forms.
Well, I'd have to disagree. I stand 5'11", have an M handle bar, and other than the extended seat post, which is not really all that extended, my Brompton fits me fine. I don't think the OP at 6'1" is too tall at all.
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Old 03-07-13, 01:37 AM   #11
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Brompton policy forbids purely online sales. Or perhaps the policy was changed?
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Old 03-07-13, 04:28 PM   #12
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Well, I'd have to disagree. I stand 5'11", have an M handle bar, and other than the extended seat post, which is not really all that extended, my Brompton fits me fine. I don't think the OP at 6'1" is too tall at all.
Indeed, I'm also 5'11" and the M type is pretty much ideal. . . with the standard seat post being perhaps a little short. Bhkyte has a short wheelbase model, I think. But the M type allows for rotation of the handlebars, i.e. a reach adjustment of around 2 inches. The aspect that I dislike is the upsweep of the M handlebar which I find to be uncomfortable.
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Old 03-07-13, 09:12 PM   #13
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Indeed, I'm also 5'11" and the M type is pretty much ideal. . . with the standard seat post being perhaps a little short. Bhkyte has a short wheelbase model, I think. But the M type allows for rotation of the handlebars, i.e. a reach adjustment of around 2 inches. The aspect that I dislike is the upsweep of the M handlebar which I find to be uncomfortable.
I'm 5'5", but my legs are disproportionately long. I'm actually using the standard seatpost almost as high as it will go.
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Old 03-07-13, 09:34 PM   #14
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Old 03-08-13, 12:15 PM   #15
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I'm 5'5", but my legs are disproportionately long. I'm actually using the standard seatpost almost as high as it will go.
I think 95% of brommie owners do this
I use extended seatpost, which also pull all the way up. I am 5.11 also.
Standard seatpost on Mezzo seems to just fit me on min insertion mark. Strange as standard brompton post is about same lenght.

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Old 03-08-13, 01:27 PM   #16
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Brompton policy forbids purely online sales. Or perhaps the policy was changed?
The oldest Dealer in California foldabikes.com, in Palo Alto is apparently A Home based Business ,
Retail Shop in like a 2 car Garage [Im thinking] since Appointments are taken before visits.

I have bought through Him, a few components, but Got the bikes used from others.

But He will ship to where you are, the B Spoke bike you Order, & pay for, When He gets it from England.

http://foldabikes.com/
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Old 03-12-13, 02:31 AM   #17
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Bhkyte has a short wheelbase model, I think..
Yes your right.

I have owned a newer model also, and ridden them. They are about 1" longer? Newer versions are better in the areas I mentioned, but not enough to make it fit me still, and I don't like the steering still.

However, adding the stem extender to mine ,(plus ext seatpost), turns it in to a good fitting bike with much better handling and steering. It rides better than my bullbar mezzo for fit and possibly steering, but its no where near as quick. I would like to add a 135mm axle rear frame and add brifters and more gears like My Mezzos have, but that would be too expensive.
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Old 03-13-13, 10:31 AM   #18
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I am 6'3, and found my F type just fine, with the telescopic seatpost. Sadly, it fell out of the back door of my van whilst driving, and was gone by the time I was able to get back. I'm picking up a used 5 speed M type tonight, also with the telescopic post, and will report my findings, but I expect it to be fine.
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Old 03-13-13, 12:39 PM   #19
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... Sadly, it fell out of the back door of my van whilst driving, and was gone by the time I was able to get back...
That's called not getting there in the 'nick' of time.
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Old 03-14-13, 05:23 AM   #20
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That's called not getting there in the 'nick' of time.
It was not the happiest day of my life. My fault, too, for not checking the tailgate was shut properly, though I am more than a little bit chagrined with the person behind me, who did not so much as honk their horn to warn me, and presumably, picked up my bike and absconded with it. It's coded, and registered on the Police Database to me, so if it had been handed in I would have it back by now. Grrr.
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Old 03-15-13, 12:02 PM   #21
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It's official! I've ordered my Brompton. The bike shop had let me take their store bike out for a couple days for an extended test ride to see whether I needed the lower gearing. I realized on my commute, I didn't (I did get off to walk at one point, but only when it got to an 8% incline; I could have ridden but I always feel stupid spinning up a hill at 3 mph).

However, I must admit that after my test ride, I wasn't quite sure whether I wanted the bike after all. That damn standard seat is just SO uncomfortable. But when I got back to the store, they let me have a go on a somewhat-broken-in Brooks saddle, and ohmygod what a difference!

I ordered the H6R with the extended seat post -- installed on the top of the pentaclip, it fit me perfectly extended all the way up. Also got the C-bag. I went with Cobalt blue and I plan to put a nice decal on for a little Go Blue cheer. :-) Here's my mockup... it should arrive by the end of April! So excited!!!

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Old 03-21-13, 11:47 PM   #22
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I had a similar experience with test riding a Brompton. I'm 6'2" and have long femurs and need a setback seatpost on a normal bike.

With the standard post all the way up and saddle slammed all the way back it was workable, but a few more millimeters of setback would still be helpful. I think even a longer railed saddle would get it in the ballpark.

I'm trying to scoop a used one with the help of a friend, but if that doesn't pan out I'll probably be giving Clever Cycles or my local dealer a call.
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Old 03-21-13, 11:54 PM   #23
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Brompton's SAP, saddle adapter pin, will gain more setback.. It goes atop the seatpost.
another tube, horizontal, Pentaclip goes on it, saddle, above,,
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Old 03-22-13, 12:40 AM   #24
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Brompton's SAP, saddle adapter pin, will gain more setback.. It goes atop the seatpost.
another tube, horizontal, Pentaclip goes on it, saddle, above,,
Well that's awkward looking, but does the job I guess.

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Old 03-22-13, 10:14 AM   #25
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With the Brompton pentaclip the saddle can ride lower..

CM Wasson , mods them with a QR, to pull off the saddle to pack.. the lever is on the other side..

Todd @ Clever says they get used to Dutch~ify sport bikes for commuters, in PDX

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