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Moulton vs Brompton

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Moulton vs Brompton

Old 01-18-23, 10:27 AM
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Moulton vs Brompton

I'm going to put this out there for anyone considering purchasing one or the other bicycles and wondering which one is right for you. As I've had some time with the Moulton now I can give my understanding which bicycle does what best. Of course the Moulton is not a folding bike but once you get the hang of taking it apart and putting it back together it's pretty easy. First the ride. The Moulton is a very sluggish bike at a stop light. It's heavy and is no where as fast as the Brompton from a dead stop. I have rode with road bike riders with a Brompton and at every light for the first 200 yards I was out first. That said the Moulton is the faster bicycle but not by much. I'd say about 1 to 2 miles an hour faster and if this is important to you than the more power to you. Where the Moulton does shine is on gravel. I'm riding with 28mm Schwalbe Durrano tires and the bike did just great on gravel. I could not imagine a better bike on gravel with 28mm tires. Now I have also riden the Brompton on the same gravel and it did okay but there is no comparison between the two. The Moulton wins hands down. As far as stability again the Moulton wins. As you come to a stop the Moulton is solid and stops as well as any full size bike I have riden. The Brompton is a little unsure of itself at a stop and needs some attention as do most small wheel bicycles. With this said would I buy a Moulton over a Brompton and the answer for me is no. The fold and the easy way it is put together out ways the better riding Moulton. A few weeks ago I had to bring my car in for new tires and I took the Brompton and rode home. It's just too easy with the Brompton where the Moulton would have been a real hassle. Also the Moulton takes up much more space in the back of my car. Whereas I can get two Bromptons in the back of a Honda Crv the Moulton takes up the whole back. Now I have never traveled on an airplane with either bike but I'm sure the Moulton is much more difficult. I will say that the Moulton is not very difficult to put together and I thought I'd have a hard time with it but no. It's not an ordeal and the front and back go together very quickly but it is no Brompton. For me fold wins over ride because the Brompton is close in riding. Also what you get for your money with the Brompton is much better. I paid $1500 for a used Moulton but would not pay the $3,500 for it new. Another issue with the Moulton is you have to be careful not to touch the small little cross welds on the frame. They are not strong and could break off if you are not careful. So Moulton or Brompton for me the Brompton wins. That said I'm very happy with the Moulton but would never pay full price for it. It's a bike for someone who has more money than they know what to do with. That is not me so go with the Brompton unless you can afford the Moulton without feeling pain.
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Old 01-18-23, 11:42 AM
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"Moulton"

Moulton/Alex Moulton has offered ~dozen different models equipped with a variety of componentry over the last 60 years, from basic shoppers to record-setting race bikes. Which one are you speaking about?

I'd definitely agree that Moultons, not being folding bikes, are not great folding bikes.
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Old 01-18-23, 11:44 AM
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What type of Moulton do you own, is it a TSR, SST... ?
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Old 01-18-23, 03:11 PM
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For that matter ... Bromptons ... there are what, four? Five different models at quite a range of pricing.
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Old 01-18-23, 03:25 PM
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I owned two Moultons. A 1964, 4-speed Std. Huffy-Moulton and later Space frame Land Rover model. I found that the front suspension on both wasted more power than it saved for city streets. I would not really compare them to Brompton. Brompton is a super compact utility folder.
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Old 01-18-23, 04:22 PM
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I agree, Brompton and Moulton aren't comparable at all, neither for performances nor for features. The only point in common is that they have both small diameter wheels.
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Old 01-18-23, 07:35 PM
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If you've followed this channel for years, you'll know that the experience with Moulton described here ("sluggish"), unique but hardly mind-blowing in performance, low performance to price ratio, etc. was highlighted here several years ago by Pinholecam.
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Old 01-18-23, 08:11 PM
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So why do people buy Moultons, especially considering how much they cost + their size when disassembled?

For much less, a Birdy makes a lot more sense, with an actual fold and close to Brompton's, disk brakes, performance, and comfort as compared to a Brompton.
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Old 01-18-23, 08:18 PM
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Prestige, unfounded hype, bragging rights, uniqueness, wanting to join a cult or exclusive group of people. You know, some of the reasons that people buy, to varying extents, other brands too. Those motivators exist as a continuum rather than on|off among all of us. This is just one particular case.
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Old 01-19-23, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
Prestige, unfounded hype, bragging rights, uniqueness, wanting to join a cult or exclusive group of people. You know, some of the reasons that people buy, to varying extents, other brands too. Those motivators exist as a continuum rather than on|off among all of us. This is just one particular case.
As usual, an invalid answer!

Riding a Moulton doesn't provide any prestige just because almost nobody knows what bike you are riding. Even professionals of big high end bicycle shop selling very expensive bikes do not know what it is.
And there is no "exclusive group of people" because the chance to encounter anybody else having a Moulton is close to zero.

The motivation is performances with the unique small wheel behavior, the same reasons why many people in Japan like small wheel race bikes like high end Tyrell for instance. The craftsmanship of the stainless steel framed Moulton is also gorgeous.

But these performances do not exist with the Moulton having a Pashley made frame like the TSR, SST, XTB.

Besides that, as pointed out by Pahana, the Moulton are also pleasant to use in gravel use.
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Old 01-19-23, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Winfried
So why do people buy Moultons, especially considering how much they cost + their size when disassembled?

For much less, a Birdy makes a lot more sense, with an actual fold and close to Brompton's, disk brakes, performance, and comfort as compared to a Brompton.
Birdy does make a lot more sense which is why I bought it.
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Old 01-19-23, 04:17 PM
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Indeed, if the goal is to have an efficient, small fold, gravel able folding bike, the Birdy is probably the best choice. But probably too expensive for some people.
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Old 01-24-23, 08:30 PM
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Been there done that.

Moulton TSR souped up is still a heavy bike that even though I can ride with road bikes, its not going to accelerate as well if the pack surges (especially on climbs and downslopes ).
The suspension is a double edged sword and robs power (yes, in theory we can talk about 'smooth' pedaling, but when the hammer drops in a group ride, there is less luxury to ease into the power )
It does ride like a luxury car though with a stately planted and smooth feel. (this is what I really miss and can't get back on any other bike I have used )

The Brompton though, is still far behind for fast riding, even vs the Moulton.
Draggy IGH, lack of right gearing when the legs are at the lactic threshold (and other riders surge some more ), small wheel = more rotational losses and prone to road imperfections )
It is perhaps the best bike that folds into a small package.

So in the end, right tool for the right job.
If I travel, only do short rides, then the Brompton is better.
The case of the Moulton is much weaker nowadays, there are better folding bike options that fold faster/ easier, give comparable rollover on poorer roads, less heavy, less maintenance. (Change Bike; Montague; Birdy; Various Dahon like folders with plusher tires )
Its a nice bike though, just that its use case is less travel and more of a ride it with the occasional travel.
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Old 01-24-23, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Jipe
Indeed, if the goal is to have an efficient, small fold, gravel able folding bike, the Birdy is probably the best choice. But probably too expensive for some people.
I don't find that the Birdy is that great for gravel for the money.
In the end, gravel/trails not only mean ride cushioning, but also traction.
So in the end, tires also need to go lower pressure and that "high pressure tires and let the suspension deal with the bumps to ride fast" equation does not equate anymore.
It also does not deal with poorer roll over of trail undulations.
So in the end, a 24", 26", 650b folding bike with low pressure tires do as well and in fact better.
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Old 01-25-23, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by pinholecam
I don't find that the Birdy is that great for gravel for the money.
In the end, gravel/trails not only mean ride cushioning, but also traction.
So in the end, tires also need to go lower pressure and that "high pressure tires and let the suspension deal with the bumps to ride fast" equation does not equate anymore.
It also does not deal with poorer roll over of trail undulations.
So in the end, a 24", 26", 650b folding bike with low pressure tires do as well and in fact better.
I didnít buy Birdy for gravel nor do I use it for gravel rides, but regarding high pressure tires: I have awesome low pressure cushy Schwalbe Big Apple. Pump them on 40psi and coupled with suspension have very pleasant ride on bad roads.
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Old 01-27-23, 04:24 PM
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I've never ridden a Moulton or even seen one live in person. The reason to own one in my opinion is you can afford it and they're cool. It's a good reason.

Last edited by Joe Remi; 01-29-23 at 04:11 AM.
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Old 01-27-23, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by CEBEP
I didnít buy Birdy for gravel nor do I use it for gravel rides, but regarding high pressure tires: I have awesome low pressure cushy Schwalbe Big Apple. Pump them on 40psi and coupled with suspension have very pleasant ride on bad roads.
I'm not against any of the bikes, but that I don't find that they are that great for some of the type of riding that they have become inflated to do.


Originally Posted by Joe Remi
I've never riddem a Moulton or even seen one live in person. The reason to own one in my opinion is you can afford it and they're cool. It's a good reason.
Nice ride. Planted, smooth.
Looks really classy too.
I'd still ride one if it wasn't my habit of trying to beat road bikes with small wheel bikes every Sunday.
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Old 01-28-23, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by pinholecam
Nice ride. Planted, smooth.
Looks really classy too.
I'd still ride one if it wasn't my habit of trying to beat road bikes with small wheel bikes every Sunday.
I would buy one for that. Bromptons are great for the magical fold, but it's not a priority for me and I quickly discovered after I moved last year that our choppy roads are miserable on one.
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Old 01-28-23, 07:34 AM
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More or less the same problem: in the city were I live, there are a lot of cobbles roads and a lot of short steep roads.

The Brompton is miserable on cobbles and its transmission very bad in case of steep climbs and steep downhill, not enough overall gear inch, too much gear inch difference between gears.

I upgraded my Brompton with a Rohloff that solves the climbs/downhill but the problem with cobbles remain, the frame of the Brompton is also not very efficient.

The solution for me is the Moulton when I do not need to fold and want a sport riding (the one I have are lightweight and very lightweight, actually the lightest possible Moulton) or the Birdy which is very versatile, ride everywhere efficiently due to its wide tires and full suspension, much more efficient frame than the Brompton, a lot of possibilities to carry stuff with a Brompton front block + rear rack with Vaude rear pannier and folding only slightly bigger than the Brompton.
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Old 01-29-23, 02:41 PM
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I have a Mounton ABP; it is not lightweight, far from it.
Equipped with 7-speed drivetrain, 3-speed internal hub, about 14.5 kg (32 lb.) ready to ride with pedals, no fenders.
I've been looking to lose some weight on the Mounton, but it's been sitting in my basement for a few years.
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Old 01-29-23, 04:33 PM
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Its not really possible to make a lightweight bike with an APB frame because the frame is too heavy (also valid for the TSR).

The APB had a weak point: its rear suspension block is placed on the seatpost tube between the bottom bracket and the horizontal top horizontal tubes of the frame (instead of being more or less aligned with the top horizontal tubes of the frame) with as consequence that on some APB the seatpost tube was bent.

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Old 02-08-23, 09:33 AM
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The Birdy felt closer to a Brompton than a Moulton to ride when I tested them in close succession.
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Old 02-08-23, 10:57 AM
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There are several versions of the Birdy frame, Birdy 1 with frame made of aluminum tubes, Birdy 2 monocoque, Birdy 2 World also frame made of aluminum tubes and Birdy 3 monocoque (+ a Birdy 3 with frame made of tubes, 3 generations of limited series Titanium Birdy and an hydro-formed frame P40 limited series not commercialized by Riese & MŁller so not officially commercialized in Europe and US).

The geometry and feeling given by these several versions is quite different.
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Old 01-04-24, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Pahana
I'm going to put this out there for anyone considering purchasing one or the other bicycles and wondering which one is right for you. As I've had some time with the Moulton now I can give my understanding which bicycle does what best. Of course the Moulton is not a folding bike but once you get the hang of taking it apart and putting it back together it's pretty easy. First the ride. The Moulton is a very sluggish bike at a stop light. It's heavy and is no where as fast as the Brompton from a dead stop. I have rode with road bike riders with a Brompton and at every light for the first 200 yards I was out first. That said the Moulton is the faster bicycle but not by much. I'd say about 1 to 2 miles an hour faster and if this is important to you than the more power to you. Where the Moulton does shine is on gravel. I'm riding with 28mm Schwalbe Durrano tires and the bike did just great on gravel. I could not imagine a better bike on gravel with 28mm tires. Now I have also riden the Brompton on the same gravel and it did okay but there is no comparison between the two. The Moulton wins hands down. As far as stability again the Moulton wins. As you come to a stop the Moulton is solid and stops as well as any full size bike I have riden. The Brompton is a little unsure of itself at a stop and needs some attention as do most small wheel bicycles. With this said would I buy a Moulton over a Brompton and the answer for me is no. The fold and the easy way it is put together out ways the better riding Moulton. A few weeks ago I had to bring my car in for new tires and I took the Brompton and rode home. It's just too easy with the Brompton where the Moulton would have been a real hassle. Also the Moulton takes up much more space in the back of my car. Whereas I can get two Bromptons in the back of a Honda Crv the Moulton takes up the whole back. Now I have never traveled on an airplane with either bike but I'm sure the Moulton is much more difficult. I will say that the Moulton is not very difficult to put together and I thought I'd have a hard time with it but no. It's not an ordeal and the front and back go together very quickly but it is no Brompton. For me fold wins over ride because the Brompton is close in riding. Also what you get for your money with the Brompton is much better. I paid $1500 for a used Moulton but would not pay the $3,500 for it new. Another issue with the Moulton is you have to be careful not to touch the small little cross welds on the frame. They are not strong and could break off if you are not careful. So Moulton or Brompton for me the Brompton wins. That said I'm very happy with the Moulton but would never pay full price for it. It's a bike for someone who has more money than they know what to do with. That is not me so go with the Brompton unless you can afford the Moulton without feeling pain.
Your incite is very welcome! I learned a lot from your comment. I'm in the market for compact/folding bike and I'm confused. At first, I thought I wanted to get a Brompton T-Line, with Hubsmith Bumbee carbon wheels and components from "781 Brompton Premium Parts." - the ultimate Brompton. The advantage is that the Brompton is fast but also easily foldable to bring into grocery stores and restaurants here in NYC. Then I discovered the Moulton Speed. I like the Double Pylon too but it seems a bit overkill and if fully decked out with premium parts, the cost is $18K. The Moulton Speed decked out with premium parts would bring the cost more in line with a custom Brompton T-Line. I honestly can't tell which is a better bike. The Moulton Speed is more exotic but what does that mean? Is it faster than a customized Brompton? I don't know. Qualitatively, is one bike better than another? The Moulton would not be able to be used for errands and for going out. Locked up outside, it would be stolen in heartbeat. Maybe there's a quick release front wheel so I can lock the Moulton up outside and bring the front wheel with me inside? I've got too many questions. You answered your own question regarding the Moulton vs. the Brompton but do you still hold this position? Your expertise would be a great help. Thank you.
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Old 01-04-24, 03:53 PM
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The Moulton Speed is much faster than any Brompton, its a real road bike, its also not separable (excepted a special series of separable Speed which are also heavier).

These two bikes are absolutely not comparable.

For the price, a complete Moulton Speed with Campagnolo Super Record components but standard Moulton wheels costed about 10K GBP in 2017, its about twice the current price of the T-line.
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