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T / P Line Brompton for commuting

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T / P Line Brompton for commuting

Old 05-19-23, 03:12 PM
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T / P Line Brompton for commuting

I'm looking for a lightweight 16" bike for commuting by train. After arriving at the station in Paris, it's a 2 or 4 km ride depending on my destination.

I have a Tern Verge X11 which is phenomenal. I have ridden it down the Champs Elysées and all over Paris.

The problem is the train.
There are very few places for bikes on board.
When there are few people, like today (long holiday weekend), no problem. I can find a seat and leave my Tern unfolded.
But on a normal day, the train can be crowded (not enough seats). Or even overcrowded: All it takes is for a rush hour train to be canceled for whatever reason, and passengers are packed in like sardines for 20 (one stop) or 40 minutes (final destination).

I left a very old 26" MTB (no suspension) in the bike parking of the station, but it's not optimal : it's a tank compared to the racing X11 (no fun riding it) and it's a break in my trip.

I need a more compact folding bike than the X11. Let's be honest, there is only Brompton.

The Tern BYB is not as compact and I don't like the idea of a double fork.
The new Decathlon Btwin Fold Light 1 s seems interesting but opinions are mixed. If they can fix the problems, it's a cheaper alternative (€850) although less compact (71 x 69.5 x 35 cm).
I like the Helix, but the company seems to be in a rut. It's less compact but the width is great (and key on a train).

I also need a light bike because I have to carry it up and down some stairs at the stations and go through a turnstile.

So I went to the Brompton Junction in Paris during my lunch break. With my Tern of course.
I tested the P line (mid and low bar). Same weight as the X11. I find the C line too heavy (13 kg).
The environment was ideal: flat street. It rides well (I prefer the mid) and with its compactness and weight it would be useful.
However, I was disappointed by the transmission and, to a lesser extent, the brakes.
I lifted the T line and, oh boy, it looked like it weighed a feather. It would be very handy on the train and in the stations.

I ruled out the titanium Brompton clones because there's no easy way to know their reliability.
Also, shipping and VAT on price + shipping (a sure thing now) makes the cost too high (and too close to Brompton's).

The T line would be great, but it's very, very expensive.
At that price, I would expect better gears and brakes, even if heavier.
The P line would be more reasonable.

I understand why some people have built their own titanium clones.
I wish I could do the same.
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Old 05-20-23, 12:50 AM
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Two three four ideas come to mind:
  • Considering the small rides, a three-speed + 18" wheel EVO Strida could do the trick. Head for the 14th, and ask Stéphane for a ride
  • To carry the 11/13kg Brompton in stairs, try a shoulder strap
  • The Vello Rocky is not lighter and is a bit less compact, but it brakes much better, offers a better transmission, and can carry a Brompton bag. Head for the 12th
  • Although it can't carry a Brompton bag, the Ahooga is also worth a try
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Old 05-20-23, 02:37 AM
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Strida doesn't ride like a normal bicycle.

The Vellobike and Ahooga are much bigger folded and heavier.

Indeed the T-line has a poor transmission and poor brakes (for any reason, Brompton kept the same brakes as on the other models and not something better like the Ridea) but it has non competition when folded size, weight and ride quality are important.

Its easy to upgrade the brakes with the Ridea calipers and levers that are made for the Brompton. Braking is much better and they weight less. If top notch braking is wanted, same Ridea levers + eebrakes provide top notch braking and even less weight.

Upgrading the transmission is much more complicated. Its possible to find a 7s rear wheel that doesn't require increasing the OLD to 135mm but then there is the problem of the chain tensionning when the rear triangle is folded. There is no good solution for that. The Ltwoo Fold B derailleur is very heavy, ugly, low quality built and I have doubt about its long term reliability.

A major drawback of the T-line and any exclusive, expensive folding bike is that you cannot leave it anywhere unattended ! The T-line is a kind of worst case because anybody know the Brompton in Paris, anybody knows the value of that bike, its the dream bike for bike thief.

Last edited by Jipe; 05-20-23 at 02:41 AM.
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Old 05-20-23, 05:20 AM
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It is fairly straight forward to modify a 6-speed Brompton to a 9-speed. Bike Gang sells a kit less than $50 US. You also need a new 10 or 11 speed chain and a three speed shifter. Basically you opt for say 12,14, 16 tooth cogs instead of 12 16 stock cogs that are stock. The new cogs are thinner, and it fills in the gaps in the Brompton stock shifting, which are rather wide at 6 speed. This works great. Many on this site have done this, including myself.

Last edited by Schwinnsta; 05-20-23 at 05:23 AM. Reason: added to text
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Old 05-20-23, 05:47 AM
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The T-line (and P-line) is only available in single speed and 4s.

The BWR 6s IGH add a lot of weight !
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Old 05-20-23, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Jipe
The T-line (and P-line) is only available in single speed and 4s.

The BWR 6s IGH add a lot of weight !
Right but I thought he rejected that. I do think he would happier with a t-line.
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Old 05-20-23, 11:17 AM
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Strida doesn't ride like a normal bicycle.
True enough, yet folks worldwide have ridden Stridas enthusiastically for the last 36 years. If the OP needs to ride a 'normal bicycle', they have their Tern Verge X11 ("ridden all over Paris"). The OP's use envelope is 'last kilometers, combining with overcrowded transit'. That's basically the Strida bike's design brief. It takes up very little if any extra room on transit, being held upright between the rider/owner's feet & the clean belt drive not greasing anyone's Paris designer clothing. Fast, simple fold, too.

I dunno. Seems like it would be worth a test ride.

I can think of another couple of possible bikes that might suit the parameters, but...

Let's be honest, there is only Brompton.


...the OP's mind seems to be made up.


The T-line would be great, but it's very, very expensive.


Start saving those Euros!
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Old 05-20-23, 11:42 AM
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Thanks for the comments.
Now that you mention the Strida, I regularly see a passenger with one. I probably should try it, but the aesthetics is not appealing to me.
Vello is one of the few companies trying something new. It's not as compact but I didn't realize its width was great (29 cm). I'll check it out.
I remember looking at Ahooga last year and ruling it out. I'll check it out too.
They are both 12 kg so probably too heavy. Not really but I have back pain sometimes, so I have to be careful. The lighter, the better.

I almost always take my Tern to the shops. If I buy a Brompton, I won't leave it unattended on the street.
Since a few months, I see more and more Bromptons on the train.

Although expensive, the T line would be the better choice for me.
Too bad, the transmission is not easy to upgrade. If it was easy, I think I would buy it right now (if available).
I'm currently on the waiting list. I got the link to buy it 3 months ago but never pulled the trigger. Thats a hefty price.
They will start sending links next week. Time to make up my mind!
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Old 05-20-23, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
...the OP's mind seems to be made up.
It was not my first choice but I recognize its advantages. Its folding and compactness are unrivaled.
I use the Tern for weekend cycling in the country, so a good transmission is a plus. When I bought it, there was a shortage of bikes due to supply problems. Only the more expensive and the cheapest were left. And the trains were not crowded (there was more remote working).

It reminds me of the time I went to a company for a job interview. I had to navigate the halls and corridors of the building with my Tern. Doable, but not the most efficient way. In a few months, I'll be in a new office building. I fear it will be quite labyrinthine.
Right now, my current office is on the first floor with only a few meters to push the bike before parking it.
That's another reason to look for a more compact folding bike.

Originally Posted by tcs
Start saving those Euros!
Too late for that!
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Old 05-20-23, 05:57 PM
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I have a dodgy back and would love to have a Brom with the T Line's weight. My feeling about Brompton brakes is they're not the greatest but they stop the bike adequately for its design, IMO super strong braking with that darty front end is a recipe for disaster.

I haven't ridden the 4-speed so can't say how bad the shifting is but it's gotta be tolerable, right? For your use case my thinking is treat it as a singlespeed you can eventually shift if you really feel like it, my impression is you're not planning to use it for long hilly rides.

The price? MADNESS, but if you dig the bike and have the cash it's pretty dang cool.
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Old 05-21-23, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Hrodwolf
Vello is one of the few companies trying something new. It's not as compact but I didn't realize its width was great (29 cm). I'll check it out. I remember looking at Ahooga last year and ruling it out. I'll check it out too.
The Vello and the Ahooga are still more compact than a Dahon/Tern — bring it to the store, so you can see both folded next to each other —, but they do weigh the same as a regular Brompton.

Considering how short your trips are (2-4km), you could also try the Dahon K3(Plus = mechanical disk brakes + baggage lug in the front; A Brompton-compatible baggage block is available from TWTOPSE) or the Dahon Curl (4/8 speed gear hub; No baggage lug → backpack). Dahons are hard to find, but since you're in Paris, you could ask Anne-Marie at Gepetto in the 5th.


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Old 05-21-23, 02:32 AM
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Those two bikes fold small but are much heavier than a T-line.

At this moment for the combination low weight+small folded size+decent riding nothing beats the T-line.
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Old 05-21-23, 04:31 AM
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Yes, but the T-Line is too expensive, cf. OP
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Old 05-21-23, 08:45 AM
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I checked the bikes but they are not compact enough. The width is the most important part with the weight.

11 kg is the upper limit.

The T line seems to be the best option.

I'm not rich, but I can afford it. I'll just have to be careful with the expenses.

The only thing that bothers me is the transmission.

For the price, I expect a more versatile bike. Not for touring, but at least a better gear range for short trips.

I take an underpass at the station and there is an incline. On the way back, I have to climb it from a standstill. Very easy with the Tern. I have no idea how it would be with the T though.

Its weight is an advantage there.

I saw a comment on youtube about a creaking noise from the headset that someone attributed to a design issue. At least in the first models released.

I wonder if it's still the case.

The T is more expensive than a Birdy Rohloff or even the Helix, which would be a contender if it were available.

I feel that Brompton is more interested in releasing limited versions than in innovating and improving their bikes.

Last edited by Hrodwolf; 05-21-23 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 05-21-23, 09:10 AM
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Helix Ultralight with 20.3LBS naked is significantly heavier than the 4s T-line 7.95kg that include mudguards, front block and front+rear lights.

If you upgrade the brakes, you will also save some more weight

And its bigger folded than the T-line.

For the transmission, according to information found on the web, its easy to add one cog to have a 5s and a (slightly) wider gear inch range.

Now, I agree with you, instead of spending money to develop and manufacture their ridiculous 4s proprietary derailleur, Brompton should have taken a look at the transmission of the Birdy that has 11s and a nice wide range of gear inches with a standard reliable and not expensive at all Shimano 105 11s (or the excellent 11s Ultegra) and a reliable chain tensionner around its bottom bracket.
.

Last edited by Jipe; 05-21-23 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 05-21-23, 11:10 AM
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Exactly, they should use standard components to make a better and more reliable folding bike.

The Helix is heavier, yes, but this is an acceptable compromise considering its components and performance.

I will return to the Brompton Junction to try the T-line.
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Old 05-21-23, 04:56 PM
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The Helix is DOA at the moment. Even if you manage to order it, don't expect delivery until who knows when.
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Old 05-21-23, 11:08 PM
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The Helix concept, helicoidal fold+bigger wheels is by essence heavier than the folding system of the Brompton and smaller wheels.

As far as I know, nobody ever compared the performances (efficiency, comfort...) of the Helix to any other folding bike ? And of course not to the T-line.

When riding on not too bad roads with as efficient tires, smaller wheels are as efficient as bigger ones. Bigger wheels become more efficient when the road surface become bad.

What could make the Helix more efficient is a stiffer frame which is probably the case (I never had the opportunity to ride an Helix) but this stiffer frame without any suspension combined with relatively narrow high pressure tires mean a lack of comfort that reduces the bike efficiency on very bad roads (which is also the case for the Brompton).

Some people own both steel Brompton and the new T-line and claim that the T-line is more efficient ? Personally, I doubt that it is better than the former Superlight/P-line (excepted of course for the lower weight that make it easier to carry).
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Old 05-22-23, 11:18 AM
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I tested the T-line today.

The transmission was badly adjusted. Therefore, the ride was less enjoyable than with the P-line.
The reduced weight is noticeable while riding. The front wheel came off the ground at a certain point. The center of gravity is higher on this bike.

I rode on paved roads. It was surprisingly much more uncomfortable than with the Tern (20", no suspension and thin tires).
I did not expect the wheel size difference to have such an impact.

I'm really disappointed with the transmission. Of course, my reference is the one on the X11 and it is great. Even compared to my 20+ year old MTB (mid-range components), the P/T transmission feels cheap.

The shop prefers the P-line. I agree.
I have not experienced a better ride and I don't think the reduced weight and other changes justify the price difference.

The weight is really its main advantage.
It comes at a high price though.

I think I'll wait. I'm not in a hurry.
If I were to buy a Brompton, it would be a P-line.
I lifted a C-line and found it too heavy for my use cases.

As for the Helix, I don't think the titanium will change much for shock absorption.
My MTB has no suspension either. It rides well on all kinds of roads, but it's a 26" with big tires. The position on the bike is uncomfortable though (I can't adjust it satisfyingly).
Wider tires on the Helix would have been great.
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Old 05-23-23, 04:06 AM
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The T-line has a very low weight for a folding bike.

But it remains a Brompton with the well known drawbacks of a Brompton, the worst being the narrow tires and a not so efficient frame design.

On top of this, there is this ridiculous "patent pending" 4s derailleur.

You should also try a Birdy Touring with 10s derailleur, just to have an idea about the efficiency of a folding bike with wide tires, full suspension and a real derailleur+cassette. The Pacific Cycles Birdy R20 11SP would probably fit you much better but its not available in Europe.
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Old 05-23-23, 06:26 AM
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Or even better the Titanium Birdy in 2030!
I should definitely try the Birdy. I'm concerned about the folding process. It's more complex or longer and the main drawback if I remember correctly. I'll find a store to try it.

I had to fold the Tern this morning. It's quick to fold though it takes up space. Everything is fine as long as the train is not too crowded.

Brompton T- line vs Tern Verge X11

Yesterday, two tourists (Scandinavian or German) entered the Brompton Junction and asked if Brompton was a French brand!
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Old 05-23-23, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Hrodwolf
Or even better the Titanium Birdy in 2030!
I have own a Titanium Birdy 2019, the third and last generation.

As delivered by Pacific Cycles at 10.5kg, its not very lightweight. The frame is excellent but most components are not high end or even low end (the wheels for instance, with no-name hubs and narrow rims while the much cheaper Birdy R20 11SP has Hubsmith wheels) and relatively heavy, only the FSA SL-K Light crankset.is an high component but not at the weight level of a Campagnolo Super Record crankset.

The transmission is too short (its a compact 52-36 front and a 11-28 11s cassette) and not lightweight (its Shimano 105, not even Ultegra).

I had to change both wheels for custom made wheels with a Tune SRAM XDR rear hub and a 19-32 11s 3T cassette to have long enough gear inches (9-32 is what Riese & Müller mount on the Birdy Touring but its an heavy Sunrace proprietary hub+cassette solution).

Brake levers are cheap Shimano and brake caliper normal not lightweight TRP Spyre with heavy TRP discs.

And that bike cost 6500USD + shipment !

FYI, there was a forum member who was selling such a titanium Birdy (and another person in Singapore trying to sell one on Carousell for a ridiculously high price https://www.carousell.sg/p/2020-limi...um-1048569163/)
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Old 05-23-23, 01:11 PM
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When I was looking for titanium bikes, I came across the Birdy on Carousell. 12000€, peanuts!
I'm glad you were able to tinker with yours to make it significantly better.
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Old 05-23-23, 03:17 PM
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The wheels mounted by Pacific Cycles on the Titanium Birdy at the price they sold these bikes is a shame!
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Old 05-24-23, 03:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Hrodwolf
I had to fold the Tern this morning. It's quick to fold though it takes up space. Everything is fine as long as the train is not too crowded.
You could carry more with a Brompton-compatible luggage block:

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