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Old 10-05-17, 03:00 PM   #1
prairie.dog
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Brompton H vs M Versatility

So, I'm currently trying to determine the build I want for my first Brompton, and probably the biggest thing that's troubling me is whether to go H or M stem. I'm 5'10" ish, maybe a hair less, and definitely don't want a hunched over sporty ride. I never ride the drops on my fairly upright Salsa. 99% hoods.

The problem is, I live in a bike dessert (Kansas) and the nearest Brompton dealer is 7+ hours away. So trying before I buy is nearly impossible. With that said, I'm wondering if the H stem gives me a little insurance on buying a $2500+ bike before I've tried it. What I mean is, wouldn't it be fairly simple to throw a riser bar on the h stem, shorten the cables and have a more "M" like experiece, in the case that the H ends up feeling to upright? On the flip side, if I got the M and felt to hunched over, it seems that it would be harder to raise the bars. Am I wrong in the thinking the H stem is more versatile in that sense?

As a side note, I'd also love to hear opinions on H vs M. In general, peoples impressions of the H stem are nearly non-existent out there. I can hardly find anything...
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Old 10-05-17, 06:59 PM   #2
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I'd go with the M if you're unsure. A few reasons: 1. If memory serves, I believe the H is recommended for riders 6' and up, and you're a little short of that. 2. Probably easier to sell if you decide you don't want it, more market for M than H. 3. The H is ~2.5" up and ~0.5" out compared to the M. If you don't want the stretched out experience, that half inch might make a big difference.
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Old 10-05-17, 07:10 PM   #3
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I'm 5'-7" and prefer an uprightish riding position. I bought the M model and it feels good with just enough lean-in to keep pressure off the saddle. If I were 3 inches taller I think the H bar would be better, and you're right that it's easier to swap to lower than higher. If you get the M and decide you want a higher bar, you're going to be buying/installing new cables.
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Old 10-05-17, 07:35 PM   #4
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I went to the bike shop intending to buy an M-type handlebar (I was pondering whether getting S(cool) or M(practical and comfy)). And sure enough, they gave me what I thought was an M handlebar, test rode it and felt great, but later I found out through searching the internet that it was actually an H-type black edition handlebar. I might look dorky, but I don't regret having it as it is super comfortable to ride. No back strains whatsoever, I can ride it for hours. having said that, I don't know how an M-type actually feels though. I wouldnt want to lean any further forward, I guess I cant go back. I'm 5'10.

I'd get the M type if you want to play it safe.

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Old 10-05-17, 08:15 PM   #5
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The latest B'tons have less rise on the M & H bars. If you get the current M and want more rise;
you can swap to the older M or H bar(more rise). Might also need longer cables. But I think you're right;
best bet is to get a H. If you feel it's to high; swap for low rise bar and might need to cut cables shorter.
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Old 10-06-17, 12:48 AM   #6
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I think 2017 M bar should be good with your height. I also recommend you to try P bar. I think it is even better than the M/H bar.
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Old 10-06-17, 03:11 AM   #7
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The latest B'tons have less rise on the M & H bars. If you get the current M and want more rise; you can swap to the older M or H bar(more rise).
You can't as the bike won't fold anymore then.
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Old 10-06-17, 03:43 AM   #8
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So, I'm currently trying to determine the build I want for my first Brompton, and probably the biggest thing that's troubling me is whether to go H or M stem. I'm 5'10" ish, maybe a hair less, and definitely don't want a hunched over sporty ride. I never ride the drops on my fairly upright Salsa. 99% hoods.

(...) What I mean is, wouldn't it be fairly simple to throw a riser bar on the h stem, shorten the cables and have a more "M" like experiece, in the case that the H ends up feeling to upright? On the flip side, if I got the M and felt to hunched over, it seems that it would be harder to raise the bars. Am I wrong in the thinking the H stem is more versatile in that sense?

As a side note, I'd also love to hear opinions on H vs M. In general, peoples impressions of the H stem are nearly non-existent out there. I can hardly find anything...

At 5'10" (which equals 1,77m) a H-bar would clearly be too high. M or even S is the way to go with the M having the less sporty riding position of the two. In theory you are right about the possibility of swapping the factory bar on the H for something lower. In practice for someone new to the Brompton I would not recommend that as for one having the correct cable lenghts on the Brompton is very critical for a proper fold (and not easy to determine) and second the new bars of the 2017 Brompton have a wider grip area than the older ones which makes it a bit hard to find 3rd-party riser bars that offer the necessary space for grips, brake-levers and shifters as well as not compromising the fold. Brompton bars are 53cm wide - a bit more is possible, much more usually compromises the fold. Therfore typical riser bars have to be cut and then you'll probably end up with too little space in the grip area with most of them that provide a relevant rise. Using a 3rd-party straight bar is obviously not a problem.

These are the stock heights of the various bars (these are the old models up to 2016 with the higher bars but overall height did not change):



In 2017 the stem on M an H models is about 2,7 cm higher whereas the bars are about 2,7 lower, achieving the same overall height regarding the riding position. The old H stem had about the same height as the S stem, so more or less 92,4 cm, the new one has roughly 95 cm, with the bar bringing riding height to 107,2 cm - defintively too much for you. So while you are absolutely right that the H-stem is the best basis for experiments with different bars in your case it does not seem to be necessary. If it helps keep in mind that the H was only invented in 2012 (and the S and P in 2005). From 1988 on until then everyone used the M - it fits more or less anyone.
Regarding the P model: I my eyes it looks a bit awkward but offers various grip positions. Unfortunately you cannot use ergon-grips with it and most people barely use the lower grip position. Plus it has more flex than the other bars. Would not buy it w/o trying. Some love it, some hate it.

Personal experience: I am 1,87m and for me the S is too low (back hurts), the M is ok and the H is too high. Of my three Bromptons one is a M, one is a S with an 8 cm riser bar and one is a (pre 2017) H with a stock S-Bar on a 5 cm riser. For most peole but the tallest the H-model is like riding a dutch bike in a very upright position. Ergonomically a kind of worst-case scenario.

As a sidenote you might think about getting the longer seat post with your bike. Depending on your leg length the standard one might be too short (again for an ergonomically correct position).

Last edited by berlinonaut; 10-06-17 at 03:49 AM.
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Old 10-06-17, 06:54 AM   #9
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I would be careful about listening to some of the advice here as some of the posters prefer a more "aero" position and find that to be normal- and the best, telling you a H is too high. I have been watching such discussions trough the last 10 years and have seen this happening again and again.

I guess it is difficult- maybe impossible for peopel who ride with theyr bum in the air and theyr nose 2" over the front wheel to understand that this is not the best and only way to do it, jus like peopel who like the "sit up and beg" riding position would find it impossible to ride in a "agressive" style.

Around here MTB bikes was the only thing the shops sold for 15-20 years and peopel bought such bikes, rode them twice and parked them forever in the garage. I ride one of them now, nice cro mo bike 1990`s MTB free from the dump. Only thing I did was to change out the crazy long and low stem for MUCH more upright and much less reac and some swept bars. As a result I also needed a wider saddle. My friend bought a MTB from a person who work in the LBS and was told "this bike is perfect for you". She feel she was cheated and can hardly ride it.

Peopel know bikes is my hobby so they often ask how to be more comfortable on theyr bike. I found that 95 % of those who say they want the bars to be highter really need them to be much closer to theyr body becouse of the MTB craze here.

What you need to do is to find some way of measuring how the most comfortable riding position for you is and then find the B that fits best. You can do this by measuring a bike you really like- or go looking for bikes to find out what you like.

Imagine you take a photo of you on that comfortable bike, then photoshop out the bike and then "insert" different bikes in that picture to see what fits. You can have almost the same riding position on a hybrid or other bike as on a B so you do not need a B to test but you need to do some more work to find what fits you.

You can also do a professional fitting in a bikeshop but you then need to convince them what you want and not accetpt a forward position they would tell you is best.

Maybe take a look at the forum here called "bike fitting" and see if you can pick up some ideas about how to measure a bike you find comfortable.

I am 175 cm with long legs, normal to long arms. I ride a M (becouse the H was not invented) and I use a telescopic seatpost becouse the standard one was too short and I did want to pack the bike small for travel. The extended seatpost sticks out more than the regular but with a telescopic you just pull the top one out with saddle atatched. Remember the H is taller in the front when folded (in case that matters).

You can adjust the angle of the bars a bit, towards you or away from you. Not so much if you do not want to compromise the fold but on longer rides you just pull out a tool and adjust if you want.
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Old 10-06-17, 09:54 AM   #10
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I am 5-10 and ride an H, but I have some back issues. I did start out on an M but as issues came up, I switched to H.
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Old 10-06-17, 10:45 AM   #11
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I'm 5'11 and a bit . I also get back issues. The H bar has been perfect. I think there's only a few inches difference so if unsure I personally think having something higher would be more comfortable than too low.
Does your dealer offer a 30 day return warranty if you buy from stock? If you return in 7 days after only checked it for height, I'm sure theyd be fine with that. Could always then go the custom route once decision made.

I had the same decision to make, H vs M and also telescopic vs extended. I went with H & telescopic.....I also get knee issues too so wanted maximum adjustability for my height. I bought from stock just in case (30 day return). It's been awesome and my best purchase I've made in a long while.

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Old 10-06-17, 11:19 AM   #12
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With the H mast you can always change the handlebars to a lesser rise, even a straight bar ,

the center clamp is at a similar height as the S bar Mast, the hinge is 3cm up and 3cm is added above it,
to keep the M bar from hitting the ground when folded..,

the bend offset is indicated in the drawing above..




....
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Old 10-06-17, 11:39 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by prairie.dog View Post
... trying to determine the build I want for my first Brompton ... whether to go H or M stem. I'm 5'10" ish ... definitely don't want a hunched over sporty ride. I never ride the drops on my fairly upright Salsa ... I live in ... Kansas ... nearest Brompton dealer is 7+ hours away ...
Our shop in Oklahoma City may be your nearest Brompton dealer. We often work by appointment since many of our customers are outside the OKC area. I am 5'7" (160 lbs., 67 years old next week) with some back, neck and shoulder issues. My personal Brompton is a 2015 H6L-X. I need an upright riding position. The M bar is too low for me. FWIW, more than half of the Bromptons we have sold since becoming a dealer in 2012 have been H models. Feel free to send me a private message if you prefer.

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Old 10-06-17, 11:43 AM   #14
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I would be careful about listening to some of the advice here as some of the posters prefer a more "aero" position and find that to be normal- and the best, telling you a H is too high. I have been watching such discussions trough the last 10 years and have seen this happening again and again.

I guess it is difficult- maybe impossible for peopel who ride with theyr bum in the air and theyr nose 2" over the front wheel to understand that this is not the best and only way to do it, jus like peopel who like the "sit up and beg" riding position would find it impossible to ride in a "agressive" style.
The thing is that there are best practices regarding ergonomics and some of them are counter-intuitive. One of those is that a wide, massively padded saddle feels more comfortable when testing but is in fact less comfortable to harmful when riding, another is that a higher handlebar-position is more comfortable. Again this is true when trying it out and proves to be false when riding a distance more than a couple of kms.

There is however not only black and white. When I was young there was a rule of thumb saying that the handlebars should be at level with the saddle for comfy riding and below the saddle for a more sporty style. A setup with the bars higher than the saddle should be avoided. While a lot of things I knew about cycling changed over time this kept true - but only as a rule of thumb. As I know much more about bike-ergonomics today than I did years ago today I put my saddle a bit higher than I used to. Which helped a lot. And, while being everything but a sporty rider, I have my bars a couple of cms below my saddle. For one simple reason. If you look at this pictures you can see why:



Source: Beratung

With the upright position all your weight is carried via your bum. This leads to pain in the bum and - even worse - every bump you hit goes directly to your backbone. This is uncomfortable and unhealthy - and leads to backpain. Rising the bars even more is the wrong answer here. With the bars lowered and the position a bit forward you have parts of your weight on your arms, you are able to even out bumps to a degree via the muscles on your back and your weight is distributed over a bigger amount of the surface of your saddle at the same time (a proper fitting saddle assumed) which leads to much less pain in your bum.

It may lead to backpain in the beginning because most people tend to sit wrongly on their bikes, not making use of the muscles in their back.

What people do (and what leads to backpain):



How it should be (compare the shape of the backbone):



(pictures from Beratung)

So it requires a bit of consciousness in the beginning but is no issue at all after a short while. It helps to face the saddle-nose a little bit downwards to achieve the correct position of the pelvis and from there the backbone more easily. This way you have a certain amount of body tension and are using the muscles in your back. Goodby backpain, welcome bikefun!

The amount of peaking of the saddle towards the bars is to a degree a matter of individual taste - it can be specified more exactly if you do a professional bike fitting on a test machine like the patria velo-checker (along with some other relevant values). And a good bike-fitter will find out with you your personal area of comfort while a bad one will force you into a standard position. Trouble is that only very few people know how to use machines like that properly and to my knowledge the Paria velo-checker is the only machine to offer a full amount of adjustability (the others are limited in one or more aspects, at least the ones that I know of)...

On the Brompton one specific issue is that the distance between saddle and bars is relatively short (most bikes, folders as well as non-folders are too short in that aspect). But for a person of the op's (or your) size it should work pretty well. With the M for my size (1.87m) the bars are just below the saddle. Having in mind that the op is 10cm shorter than me his saddle should be a couple of cms lower and the M should be a pretty comfy ride for him and within what makes sense ergonomically. The S would be possible but a more sporty ride and the H would clearly be too high. From an ergonomic perspective. For that reason I recommended the M for him.

Of course one cannot judge validly and exactly what fits in detail over the internet just from a person's size but a rough valid advice ist clearly possible (assuming the op does not have very short legs). Basically you start with your saddle height and go on from there.

If you only ride short distances like something like 3 kms a too high bar probably won't be much of an issue. If you want to go further it will be.

Quote:
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Around here MTB bikes was the only thing the shops sold for 15-20 years and peopel bought such bikes, rode them twice and parked them forever in the garage. I ride one of them now, nice cro mo bike 1990`s MTB free from the dump. Only thing I did was to change out the crazy long and low stem for MUCH more upright and much less reac and some swept bars. As a result I also needed a wider saddle. My friend bought a MTB from a person who work in the LBS and was told "this bike is perfect for you". She feel she was cheated and can hardly ride it.
Indeed with many MTBs the bar is too far below the saddle to be comfy for my taste.

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Peopel know bikes is my hobby so they often ask how to be more comfortable on theyr bike. I found that 95 % of those who say they want the bars to be highter really need them to be much closer to theyr body becouse of the MTB craze here.
A streched out position is not too bad, you just have to get used to it AND want to ride in a sportive way. To be fair: That's what MTBs have been developed for. Does not help if the bike is sportier than the rider... But again most shops do not do the least amount of bike fitting beyond adjusting the saddle height. A bit like if you had a car with a fixed drivers seat (or at least backrest) - probably you could drive it but it would only be comfy for some people.

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Old 10-06-17, 11:49 AM   #15
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With the H mast you can always change the handlebars to a lesser rise, even a straight bar ,

the center clamp is at a similar height as the S bar Mast, (...)

....
It is not, as the stems changed for 2017. It is higher than the S now.
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Old 10-06-17, 11:53 AM   #16
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I am 5-10 and ride an H, but I have some back issues. I did start out on an M but as issues came up, I switched to H.
Possibly not the best decision at your size. The root cause is possibly in your backbone (as outlined above).

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Originally Posted by DarrenM343 View Post
I'm 5'11 and a bit . I also get back issues. The H bar has been perfect. I think there's only a few inches difference so if unsure I personally think having something higher would be more comfortable than too low.
Depends from the amount. A couple of cms makes a hell of a difference.

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I also get knee issues too
Possibly a too low saddle position in combination with a too low cadence. Just as a hint.
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Old 10-06-17, 12:15 PM   #17
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Possibly not the best decision at your size. The root cause is possibly in your backbone (as outlined above).



Depends from the amount. A couple of cms makes a hell of a difference.



Possibly a too low saddle position in combination with a too low cadence. Just as a hint.
Cheers. Both my back and knee issues are existing issues, not caused by the bike but are the reasons I went with the H bar and telescopic seat post. For the telescopic seat makes it easy to set exactly rignt each time too. I tend to leave the telescopic part set and know I only have to pull up the main seatpost as high as it will go and lock it
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Old 10-06-17, 01:27 PM   #18
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You know, we're all doing something here that's kind of dangerous - trying to predict fit at a distance. We're all proportioned differently, and we all have differing degrees of strength and flexibility. Those factors make anything we say here no more than a guess.

OP, I know you're jonesing for a Brommie, but I really recommend not buying any bike until you have a chance to test ride and go over it first, much less a folder. If this is your first ride on a Brompton, or on any folder, you owe it to yourself. Saves a lot of trouble and heartache later on.

I know a 7 hr. trip each way is not the most pleasant experience, but it would at least tell you which setup you'd like. For a bike this expensive, I think it's worth the trip.
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Old 10-06-17, 02:04 PM   #19
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Possibly not the best decision at your size. The root cause is possibly in your backbone (as outlined above). ... Possibly a too low saddle position in combination with a too low cadence. Just as a hint.
Berlinonaut - I appreciate your thorough analysis. However, as a bicycle rider for over 62 years (but never a "cyclist") and a "local bicycle shop" owner for over 7 years, my experience has been that many "cyclists" have a narrow focus when it comes to bicycles. Some have even expressed contempt for people who ride bicycles without changing their shoes.

Many bicycle riders have not heard the term "cadence" since their high school marching band days. Some of our customers have hand/wrist/forearm issues that prevent them from riding comfortably if their arms are supporting much of their weight. I, personally, cannot bend my neck back without having sharp pains. So an upright position allows me to ride comfortably AND safely. FWIW, almost all of my bicycle rides are less 8 miles. My normal daily ride to the post office is ~3 miles; I sometimes stop to talk with friends.

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Old 10-06-17, 02:29 PM   #20
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Berlinonaut - I appreciate your thorough analysis. However, as a bicycle rider for over 62 years (but never a "cyclist") and a "local bicycle shop" owner for over 7 years, my experience has been that many "cyclists" have a narrow focus when it comes to bicycles. Some have even expressed contempt for people who ride bicycles without changing their shoes.

Many bicycle riders have not heard the term "cadence" since their high school marching band days. Some of our customers have hand/wrist/forearm issues that prevent them from riding comfortably if their arms are supporting much of their weight. I, personally, cannot bend my neck back without having sharp pains. So an upright position allows me to ride comfortably AND safely. FWIW, almost all of my bicycle rides are less 8 miles. My normal daily ride to the post office is ~3 miles; I sometimes stop to talk with friends.

-HANK RYAN-
Norman, Oklahoma USA
Thank you, you saved me the work of writing.

@ Berlinonaut: I choose not to be ofended becouse of all your previous posts I know you have a lot of knowledge and you always want to help but you need to understand that there are a lot of peopel out there that do not fit into your theory.

My experience (not opinion) is that if a person want to ride upright to want to ride at all then for gods sake let them do so! If they ride more and more (and the body is in fair condition) they wil after some time seek towards the position you tell us is the best- becouse theyr body is then stronger and they are interested in riding faster, further and more effectivly. If you try to force them to start off in that position most of them are going to stop riding wery soon, unless they have to keep riding for some time (like economy or no drivers license) but they are not going to enjoy it.

I hope we can agree that riding upright is better than not riding at all?

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Old 10-06-17, 03:25 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by HGR3inOK View Post
Our shop in Oklahoma City may be your nearest Brompton dealer. We often work by appointment since many of our customers are outside the OKC area.
Thanks! I just might be in touch. I'm going to try to get in touch with a local owner to take one for test ride.

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Originally Posted by berlinonaut View Post
The thing is that there are best practices regarding ergonomics and some of them are counter-intuitive. One of those is that a wide, massively padded saddle feels more comfortable when testing but is in fact less comfortable to harmful when riding, another is that a higher handlebar-position is more comfortable. Again this is true when trying it out and proves to be false when riding a distance more than a couple of kms.
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Thanks for the in-depth response! those pictures are extremely helpful. I was going to ask you to clarify "ergonomic" from you previous post, but this did it perfectly.

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Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
OP, I know you're jonesing for a Brommie, but I really recommend not buying any bike until you have a chance to test ride and go over it first, much less a folder. If this is your first ride on a Brompton, or on any folder, you owe it to yourself. Saves a lot of trouble and heartache later on.
I do think this is good advice. I found the blog of a Brompton M owner less than 30 minutes from me, so I'm hoping to reach out to him in the least creepy way possible, and see if there's any chance he'd let me take his bike for a spin.

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Originally Posted by badmother View Post

My experience (not opinion) is that if a person want to ride upright to want to ride at all then for gods sake let them do so! If they ride more and more (and the body is in fair condition) they wil after some time seek towards the position you tell us is the best- becouse theyr body is then stronger and they are interested in riding faster, further and more effectivly. If you try to force them to start off in that position most of them are going to stop riding wery soon, unless they have to keep riding for some time (like economy or no drivers license) but they are not going to enjoy it.

I hope we can agree that riding upright is better than not riding at all?
This is an interesting thing for me to consider. I'm 28, pretty young and spry, and I'm already used to the bent over position of drop bars (or their hoods, to be accurate). So If the slightly bent position is an "evolution"/point people try to get to, it seems that I could "skip" the H. The problem is, I'm just not sure that's something I want. The whole reason this journey started was to find a more upright bike from what I currently have. I'm sick of looking at the pavement in front of me, and having to crane my neck to enjoy my surroundings. My interest in going fast is minimal. Sure, it's fun to speed around a bit, but my rides can generally be described as leisurely. I ride so that I can be outside, enjoying my surroundings. I ride to think. As a writer, I like to poke along and let me mind wander a bit.
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Old 10-06-17, 04:27 PM   #22
Schwinnsta
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Originally Posted by berlinonaut View Post
Possibly not the best decision at your size. The root cause is possibly in your backbone (as outlined above).
Thank you very much. I rode the M for couple years as my issues, arthritis, progressed I went to the H. Due to arthritic knees I adjust my seat high for my size to get full extension. So my seat is an inch or so lower than the bar. I am 71 and view the Brompton as a prosthetic device.

I notice that many companies advertise the size limits based on seat height and generally their seat extension length is much greater than their handlebar's extension. So they can say it fits, provided you will ride bent way over.
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