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Brompton: decent year in a challenging market

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Brompton: decent year in a challenging market

Old 05-21-24, 11:38 AM
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Brompton: decent year in a challenging market

These are trying times in the cycle industry. The bike business news is full of closings, layoffs, and bankruptcies. In that context, Brompton is doing okay.

https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/fo...20%C2%A3106.8m.

https://road.cc/content/news/brompto...despite-308423

The entire industry is trying to figure out the 'multiple paths to consumer' thing; i.e. dealer vs. direct sales. Brompton reported a 46% increase in direct sales - given a slightly reduced total sales number, simple arithmetic says there were fewer dealer sales. I'm told the Brompton corporate website offers financing as well as exclusives in the lucrative parts/accessories/wearables/lifestyle category, too. We'll see how this plays out in the future.
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Old 05-21-24, 04:18 PM
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Bromptons seem to be selling well here in Japan. They’ve always been popular here, but I have seen a lot of new bikes on the roads. There are many dealers here, and the selection is always good.
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Old 05-21-24, 11:54 PM
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"We increased our prices by 46%"
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Old 05-22-24, 04:36 AM
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Brompton appears to be a cool bike. I'd like one for occsional travel. But they are committing one of the Seven Deadly Business Sins, the Sin of Premium Pricing, for a fully-developed, fully-tooled, patent-expired bike that could sell for less. Of course everyone wants the most profit. But premium pricing gives competitors incentive to enter the market at lower price and still plenty of room to make a profit. Now, I would not buy a Brompton copy at 2/3 the price. It would have to be 1/3 the price for brand-x of acceptible quality, or higher for a copy of known quality and warranty equal to Brompton. Plus, I won't spend $2k+ on a bike that would only be used a couple weeks a year. If Dahon gets their act together with USA distribution of the Curl D9, Brompton may be in trouble.

I like Brompton. But pricing based largely on cache and high-fashion demand, cannot endure, IMO, except for a very few high fashion items such as a genuine Birkin bag, hand made premium shotgun from a known name, etc. A Brompton is not art, it is a utility item. It's not even highly fitted, it's one-size-fits-all, except for handlebar height. I woudn't buy stock in them, not with their current business model.
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Old 05-22-24, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
Brompton appears to be a cool bike. I'd like one for occsional travel. But they are committing one of the Seven Deadly Business Sins, the Sin of Premium Pricing, for a fully-developed, fully-tooled, patent-expired bike that could sell for less. Of course everyone wants the most profit. But premium pricing gives competitors incentive to enter the market at lower price and still plenty of room to make a profit. Now, I would not buy a Brompton copy at 2/3 the price. It would have to be 1/3 the price for brand-x of acceptible quality, or higher for a copy of known quality and warranty equal to Brompton. Plus, I won't spend $2k+ on a bike that would only be used a couple weeks a year. If Dahon gets their act together with USA distribution of the Curl D9, Brompton may be in trouble.

I like Brompton. But pricing based largely on cache and high-fashion demand, cannot endure, IMO, except for a very few high fashion items such as a genuine Birkin bag, hand made premium shotgun from a known name, etc. A Brompton is not art, it is a utility item. It's not even highly fitted, it's one-size-fits-all, except for handlebar height. I woudn't buy stock in them, not with their current business model.
I myself wouldn't buy an original, London-made Brompton even at one third the price of an original, London-made Brompton. The lowest priced model in the online official Brompton store here is about $2,000. Why would I buy a compromised bike with a primitive transmission, limited gearing, tooth-filling-rattling, thin 349 wheels, not light, and full of proprietary parts for $2,000 or even $700? In the words of John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious!".


I built this for under $600, and save for the folded size it is superior to a Brompton in every way. Modern derailer transmission; wider gear range; lighter; zero proprietary, exotic, non-standard parts; and wider, cushier 305 wheels. $2,000 Brompton, GMAFB. 😂😂😂



Reportedly Jim Jones gave some of his sheep flock the option to leave the Commune and forego the Kool Aid. They refused, preferring to steadfastly cling to the cult and perish.

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Old 05-22-24, 07:31 PM
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I agree, except for the kicker, "... save for the folded size..."; That's Brompton's killer app, its raison d'e^tre, there is no other reason to own a Brompton or brompnot. I wouldn't. If I buy a brompnot, it'll be due to visiting a country where they are no more than 1/3 Brompton, I use it for light touring on the trip, and then fly home with it completely hassle-free with zero disassembly required to meet checked bag size limits. And even then, it's not going to get used much at home, except for very rare air travel for me, for exactly the reasons you stated. So it would be mostly for a) not having to transport my 406 bifold at considerable packing hassle at both ends and lots of suitcasage, and just buy a bike onsite, and b) future air travel. Around town, even train travel, just not needed nor wanted. Although it may be an opening for asking out other cute Brompton owners... nah, they'll still think of me as a "creepy old guy", that always hurts.

Plus my 406 bifold already gets me tons of attention. "Is that electric?" Don't get me started. But fully panniered as a townie, it gets a lot of "Cool bike".

EDIT: I would also add, if I lived in NYC or other place where I needed a "frequent folder" that carried great, I'd own some brompton shaped object. I live in a 3rd floor walkup, and carrying up my unfolded bifold with loaded panniers is near my limit, and folded, not much better because less bulky but I can't spread the load over two hands. In the NYC subways, I don't know if there is a wheelthru turnstile, or whether you need to lift it over, with my bike loaded that is big weight. A brom and backpack is easier. So for tubey cities, which is what it's designed for, it has merits.

But dang, it could use some improvements.

Last edited by Duragrouch; 05-22-24 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 05-25-24, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
...

But dang, it could use some improvements.
The nature of cults and captives is that flaws are offered and perceived as features, in-group markers of distinction, and the captives rather than rebelling are grateful for them. A Stockholm syndrome of sorts. This is one reason why cults face little pressure to innovate and are loath to evolve. From the perspective of the cult leader, it is the rational choice, the expected course of action. Brompton marketeers ain't stupid. Manufacture it at the same quality in an "Asiatic" country or by colored folks, and sell it at a lower price, and suddenly the perceived prestige is gone, and the significant number of buyers who buy it for its prestige benefits will turn their back on their status symbol.

The other cult favorite in need of improvement is the Curl.

Last edited by Ron Damon; 05-25-24 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 05-25-24, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
Ditto for the other pricey cult favorite, the Curl.
The Curl D9 looks pretty good on paper, though I would need a 9T high cog for high enough top gear. I think there is at least one freehub and cassette that will do that (Capreo?) but may be out of production. I'm sure someone would gear up if Dahon wanted. The front disc setup is brilliant, prevents pullout without needing a thru-axle. The big questions on the D9 are price and availability, both big fat ??s. Brompton has more of a cult in that size market; If Dahon is smart, they will put a 9T cassette on it and sell it for no more than 50% price of a Brompton 6, and based on their other bikes, I think this is quite possible and still with plenty of profit. Chinese competitors will try to copy it along the lines of welded-steel brompnots with a D9, but priced not much lower than that to have worthwhile profit, and thus people will buy Dahon. Either that, or the Curl going with a more premium wider range IGH. Or both, they did that with the Mariner/Vitesse.

At the 20" end, if they do an all-carbon featherweight bi-fold with wide 2X gearing, I think they could easily get $1500 for it, possibly $2000. They should be able know enough about the market to math that out and pick the most profit in terms of sales and price. They gotta watch out for the sin of premium pricing, while offering a superior product to copiers, and treat their customers and dealers well, and if they do that, they'll win. They could also go with a direct business-to-consumer sales model, cut out the middleman for better profit, Brompton is selling direct, but if Dahon lacks a good dealer network, they need to contract with bike shops or a mobile repair company to provide good customer service when needed. Not sure the wisdom of that or not. Terns have gone so high into the stratosphere in price, there is plenty of room for dealer commissions and thus also good local service for people buying complex electric bikes, where local service is even more important.
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