Bromptons. Quirky folding bikes produced in London, are beginning to find their feet in Melbourne. This passionate brand has perfected the 'fold' and is offering a bike that is loaded with practicality for the modern city cyclist. We've have one on test at La Velocita and have been pleasantly surprised by the versatility of this bike and its ability to put a huge smile on our faces!
About - All Brompton folding bikes are made in the company's factory in London, England. Brompton has been producing its now world famous folding bikes since 1998. You can find Brompton bikes for sale in over 40 countries and they are extremely popular in Europe.
To get your hands on a Brompton you can head to their website at www.brompton.com and find your closest dealer.
The Brompton is a small one-size-fits-all bike that can be simply folded in a matter of seconds into a compact package to be carried or stored. When folded the bike is 58.5cm high, 54.5cm long and 27cm wide.
What we really liked about the Brompton was the simplicity of the fold and the way the bike stays firmly locked together making it really easy to pick up and carry. The bike can be carried by the saddle like a suitcase with all the delicate parts protected. There is also an option to wheel the bike along the ground while folded.
It's a great bike if you don't have any storage and don't want a bike sitting in your hallway, or you have no secure bike parking at work. The Brompton is also a great bike for many rides. We did find that it was harder going than a bike with full size wheels, but it's also pretty light so the smaller wheels are not a huge impedement.
Quality - The Brompton bikes are really nicely built, the paint is generous and all the parts and frame are well finished. The custom Brompton parts are nicely machined and branded, and the bike feels very solid. The bike really feels like it could stand up to some abuse and will still look good with a quick wash. The Brooks saddle is tough and will last you years, and the wheels spin well and are super tough.
Build - When buying a Brompton you choose from a range of options. The bike is then made to order and shipped. Brompton dealers do carry a range of Brompton bikes, so depending on what you want you may not have to wait.
Your options are:
- Frame - All steel or combination of steel and titanium frame parts.
- Paint - 15 colours. You can choose one colour or a combination of any 2 colours.
- Bars - 4 shapes available offering a range of positions.
- Gearing - 1, 2, 3 or 6 speed.
- Option to add mud guards and racks.
- Saddle - Brompton own or Brooks leather.
- Tyres - 3 options.
- Suspension - normal or firm.
- Lights - dynamo options.
On test today we have an all steel, racing green, 3 speed (Sturmey Archer hub), M-type bars, with Schwalbe Marathon tyres, 'L' mud guards and a Brooks saddle.
Ride - The Brompton bike is a bike that that is not to be underestimated! We have found during testing that it's a lot faster than it looks. The 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub provides a really useful range of gears allowing us to spin up pretty steep hills and zoom along the flats and down hill. On some of our rides we surprised a few riders on hybrid bikes and road bikes by passing them on the flat and on hills.
The steering is light and feels a little twitchy at first, but we are soon used to to it. The bike easily handles 10km rides carrying a handy front mounted bag, containing a change of clothes, laptop and other supplies.
The riding position with the M-type bars is upright but very comfortable. If you hit a head wind you'll find yourself bending forward to duck into the wind.
If you want to try something a bit different the Brompton is capable of caring a bit of luggage, so is a viable option as a touring bike. Its lightness, tough build and agility make it a bike that can handle a lot of situations.
Weight - Bromptons range from 9kg to 12kgs depending on the build.
Size - One size fits all! If you are very tall there is a longer seat post or telescopic seat post option.
Price - In Melbourne you'll pay from $1,750 upwards to over $3,000 depending on your choice of spec.
Overall - The Brompton is a fun, good looking and well built bike. It is very practical for the commute, weekend ride, ride to the market or for those who live in apartments or those who have no room for bike storage. The bike will put a smile on your face and make you part of an awesome worldwide Brompton community.