Why I ride a Brompton folding bike

Riding in Red Square on the University of Washington campus

This is Practical Biking, not Practical Folding Biking, so I’ve resisted the temptation to ramble on about my delightfully practical Brompton folding bike, but Velouria over at Lovely Bicycle wrote an homage to the Brompton a while back, and she’d only taken a quick jaunt. (More recently, she gave a Brompton a two-day test ride.) Alan, over at EcoVelo, also has waxed enthusiastic about Bromptons, and his enticing photos will have you searching for the nearest Brompton dealer. It’s long past time for me to weigh in with my own experiences.

Folding bike in Shanghai (not a Brompton)

I bought a Brompton because I wanted to start driving less. I’m the poster child for urban carlessness—I don’t have kids to ferry all over creation, I’m in reasonably good shape, I like to bike and walk, I don’t need to drive for my job, I live in a city with a good bus system, I can read on the bus without getting queasy, the buses all have bike racks—and yet I was frittering away 10,000 miles, hundreds of hours, and buckets of money each year behind the wheel of a car. A combination of bike and bus could get me anywhere in town, but I was afraid of getting stuck: eventually I’d encounter a bus with a full bike rack just when I could least afford to be late. What then?

Enter the Brompton. I’d first noticed folding bikes (also known as “folders”) during a trip to China. Back home again, I researched folders and looked into whether I could take one inside buses in the Seattle area. (Yes.) Time and again, I ran across favorable mentions of Bromptons even in reviews of other folders, and the short list of dealers in the U.S. at the time (now much longer) included one in Seattle. After a couple of test rides at Folding Bikes West, I asked Eric to order one for me. Ever since it arrived, the Brompton has been my ride of choice.

Right: Seeing folks on folders all over China, like this pair in Shanghai, started me thinking about whether a folder could be useful back home. (They’re not riding a Brompton.)

Why do I love my Brompton? Let me count the ways.

A Brompton rides much like a full-sized bike

For many years, I rode an old Schwinn Le Tour touring bike. After I got the Brompton, I expected that I’d switch between the two depending on whether I needed the convenience of foldability. However, the ride and the convenience of the Brompton made the Le Tour superfluous, so I moved it to the attic, where it resides to this day.

The 16″ wheels make a Brompton more sprightly at low speeds and more skittish at high speeds on rough surfaces, but as long as the road is in reasonably good shape, I can happily ride at 30 miles an hour/48 kilometers an hour or more on a downhill. You have to be more attentive to potholes, road debris, and other obstacles because, for example, a 16″ wheel will drop further into a pothole than a 26″ or 27″ wheel will. If you’re accustomed to the feel of a heavy, stable mountain bike or commuting bike, the ride of a Brompton might startle you at first. I spent a week on a heavily loaded mountain bike in September of 2010, and when I got home and hopped on the Brompton, the difference in the ride was like swapping a moving van for a Miata.

Brompton saddle pin adapter

The relative positions of seat, pedals, and handlebars on a Brompton are similar to those positions on the Le Tour, so the Brompton doesn’t feel small. If anything, I had to stretch out a little more than I was accustomed to, so I added an adapter that allowed me to mount the seat a smidge further forward (see the arrow in the picture at right), and I tilted the handlebars a wee bit toward me. Neither of these changes affected my ability to fold the bike.

Inexplicably, some bikers are weirded out by what they perceive as the nerd factor of a bike with 16″ wheels, which I never considered until Alan did a survey. In my own experience, people have far more often admired its convenience (and cuteness) than they’ve sniffed at its appearance. Methinks the sniffers, and those who worry about the sniffers, just need more imagination.

Right: A key to the clutter on my seatpost. From the top:

  • Brompton offers a Brooks saddle, but this isn’t it. I like the additional comfort afforded by the springs on a Brooks B67.
  • At arrow: The Brompton saddle pin adapter lets you adjust the seat further forward or further back than you could by sliding it fore and aft on the seat rails alone.
  • The quick-release clamp secures the top part of a two-part, telescoping seatpost. At 5’10″, I was a smidge too tall for the standard seatpost, which proved to be a stroke of luck. Bromptonauts on the BromptonTalk group on Yahoo occasionally ask how to determine how high to raise the seatpost when unfolding the bike. When I bought the bike, I raised the bottom (longer) part of the two-part post all the way, set the top part to a comfortable height, and then forgot about it. Now I raise and lower only the bottom part. (Access to BromptonTalk requires a free Yahoo membership.)
  • A Planet Bike blinky buttlight. The Planet Bike products I’ve used (several blinky buttlights and a floor pump) have been of high quality, and Planet Bike gives 25% of their profits to bike advocacy, so I’m glad to give them my business.
  • The stub for the Xootr CrossRack. With the two-part seatpost, I can easily flip this around to the back when I want to use the rack and still point the seat forward. See You can carry oodles of stuff on a Brompton.

Gearing compensates for the smaller wheels

Shifting the Schlumpf Mountain Drive

The smaller wheels on a Brompton don’t mean you have to pedal faster. The default gearing is comparable to the top (harder) half of the gears on my mountain bike. I ride a lot of hills, so I got the six-speed model, and David at Folding Bikes West replaced the bottom bracket and crankset with a Schlumpf Mountain Drive for me, which gave me six additional gears below (easier than) the default gears. With this combination, the range of gears is much like that on my mountain bike, except in 12 well-spaced gears, in two groups of six, instead of in 27 gears, many of which are nearly duplicates of one another.

Right: You shift the Schlumpf Mountain Drive by tapping a button in the bottom bracket with your heel. Tap it with your right heel, as I am in this picture, and you shift into the lowest (easiest) gears. Tap it on the left side, and you shift into the highest (hardest) gears.

I briefly tried the Schlumpf with the newer Brompton Wide Range (BWR) internally geared hub and didn’t think much of that combination. You still have two groups of six gears, but there’s some overlap between the high end of the low gears and the low end of the high gears, so you’re reduced to eight or nine different gears. With so few gears over such a wide range, the jump from one gear to the next is huge, and I often had trouble finding a comfortable gear. I soon gave up and swapped for a rear wheel with a standard-range internally geared hub.

A second opinion from one of my biking gods: I stopped into Clever Cycles in Portland shortly after I wrote this piece and talked with Todd, who biked part way down the Pacific coast on a Brompton with a BWR hub. He said that only for about 10 minutes of the entire trip did he wish for gearing that was more closely spaced. We theorized that my frustration with the BWR was that I was trading back and forth between the BWR and another Brompton with a standard hub, so I never really got accustomed to the BWR.

Folding and unfolding a Brompton is quick and easy

I’ve never timed myself, but it certainly takes me no more than 20 seconds to fold or unfold the bike, and I’ve made no effort to improve my speed.

Once the bike is folded, it mostly stays that way, which is not true of all folders. If you jog a folded Brompton much, you can spring the handlebars loose from the clamp that holds them in place. For the rare occasions when I want to be sure the handlebars won’t start flopping around, I keep a foot or so of two-sided velcro (available at a fabric store near you) wrapped around the frame and use it to secure the handlebars to the front wheel.

You can take a Brompton nearly anywhere

The small size of a folded Brompton means that you can take it almost anywhere and not have to worry about leaving it outside to get wet or stolen. I’ve never tried to take it into Canlis, but I’ve checked it at the coat check at the Seattle Art Museum; have confirmed that the coat check at Benaroya Hall (home of the Seattle Symphony) will take it if ever I need them to; have taken it into innumerable grocery stores, department stores, hardware stores, bike shops, chocolatiers, and assorted other retail establishments; and have parked it next to me (and out of the way) in many a restaurant, pub, bakery, dessert shop, and coffee shop. Often I’ll end up talking about the Brompton with the folks at the next table, and more than once someone has walked out with me to watch me unfold it.

My employer provides secure bike parking in the basement of our building and, with office space at a premium, forbids parking full-sized bikes anywhere else in the building, but I’m allowed to take the Brompton to my office and park it next to my desk.

A folded Brompton takes up very little space

Brompton at home

Unlike a full-sized bike, you can squeeze a folded Brompton into any number of out-of-the-way places. My house is a good deal smaller than average (under 900 square feet/84 square meters), and bookcases take up quite a bit of the available wall space, so space for parking bikes is at a premium. Among the many benefits of a Brompton is the ease with which you can find an out-of-the-way corner in which to hide it away. Alas, you can’t get a Brompton in paisley or in wood grain, so it may clash with the adjacent furniture.

A Brompton doesn’t weigh much

Straight from the factory, and with all of the heaviest options available, my Brompton weighed around 27 or 28 pounds (12.3 to 12.7 kilograms). If you skip the rear rack and some other optional bits and pieces, and if you get a couple of (very expensive) titanium parts, you can get it down to the low 20s (around 10 kilograms). For most folks, 27 or 28 pounds is a carryable weight for short distances, for example, to lift it onto a bus or into the trunk of a car.

You can roll a Brompton around even when it’s folded

Tim walking the folded Brompton in Red Square

If you need to move a Brompton further than you want to carry it and you can’t unfold it (because, for example, you’re somewhere that doesn’t allow bikes), you can roll it around on two, three, or four itsy-bitsy wheels that are attached to the frame, the rear fender, and/or the rear rack, depending on which options you choose. I wanted a rear rack, so I got four wheels. The factory wheels rolled well, but when they started to come apart (too much grocery shopping), I replaced them with larger and more durable Razor scooter wheels.

The larger wheels have the additional advantage of getting the bike a little further off the ground, which allows you to install the Ergon ergonomic handlebar grips that have the longer bar ends. (You can install the Ergon grips with shorter bar ends without changing the wheels on the rack.) On long rides, the bar ends give you another hand position, so you can change your grip from time to time.

Digression alert: You can’t use the Ergon grips on the Brompton P-type handlebar, which moustaches out from the stem to shoulder width or so, turns up for six or eight inches, and then turns back toward the middle. Think rectangular donut with a bite taken out of the top. I tried the P-type bar for about a year and finally replaced it with the M-type. The M-type bar is a little wider and maybe a tad taller, and the hand positions aren’t quite as far forward, so you ride more upright, which I prefer. I also never used the lower position on the P-type bars because it took my hands too far from the brakes.

Above right: My friend Tim, who had never rolled a Brompton around like this, quickly caught on. You only need to lift it as Tim is when you’re turning a corner.

Another mystery solved: I got an email from the North American agent for Brompton shortly after I posted this piece, and he explained why Brompton installs wheels that are squooshier than my Razor scooter wheels:

We see people putting larger/thicker roller wheels on the bike, which arguably makes for a better roll. But we intentionally design the rollers smallish and a bit fragile! The idea is exactly like crumple zones on a car, or a modern bike helmet. If you drop your folded bike or it falls a distance (or it’s bashed in shipment) there’s a likelihood it could land crooked; on just one roller. If the wheel is massive/solid it transfers the impact into the little arm on the rear frame. These can bend or even break with significant impact. A little wheel that gives first and absorbs impact is more likely to protect the frame itself from damage. So there’s a method to our madness ;-)

You can carry oodles of stuff on a Brompton

I carry too much stuff wherever I go on a bike: a few tools, a spare tube, a pump, something to read, a foldup nylon duffel bag in case I somehow end up with even more stuff, rain gear if the weather’s looking dodgy, maybe a sweater, a water bottle or two, sometimes a camera, occasionally a change of clothes. With the Le Tour, I always rode with at least one pannier hooked to the rear rack, so one of my concerns when I was first looking at the Brompton was how I’d haul everything on a bike that is too small for panniers.

The Brompton engineers took my silly ilk into account when they designed their luggage system. Bags that attach to the front of the bike come in several styles and sizes, the largest of which, at 31 liters, holds about three-quarters of the volume of a pair of the largest Ortlieb panniers (42 liters). (That’s not an endorsement of Ortlieb panniers, which I don’t much like. I mention them only because they’re a well-known brand of enormous panniers.) The Brompton bags clip securely into a sturdy bracket (the luggage block) that is bolted to the frame instead of being attached to the front fork or to the handlebars. This means that, when you turn, you aren’t swinging the weight of whatever is in the bag. If you’ve ever ridden with front panniers or with a handlebar bag, you know what a difference this makes when you’re carrying a heavy load.

The luggage block from the front Inserting the bag into the luggage block
The luggage block from the front. Inserting the bag into the luggage block (view from left rear).
The bag secured in the luggage block Bag from the front
The bag secured in the luggage block (view from left rear). The bag from the front.

Never one to be satisfied with three-quarters of a load, I added a seat-post pannier rack—the Xootr CrossRack—and an Arkel utility basket, which is really naught but a big (27 liters) grocery bag with a zipper top that attaches to a bike rack. Combined, the Brompton and Arkel bags let me carry the equivalent of about three big bags of groceries. Be forewarned that the Xootr rack has some quirks. The diameter of the clamp is smaller than the diameter of the Brompton seatpost, and the clamp is not padded, so you have to add a lot of padding of your own to prevent the clamp from denting the seatpost. I used part of a 4″x6″x3/32″ sheet of red rubber that I found in the plumbing section at my local Ace Hardware, and that has worked reasonably well.

I further expanded the range of stuff that I can haul around by getting another rack that I can attach to the seatpost. The Topeak MTX BeamRack is a substitute for a rear rack, after a fashion, although the recommended weight limit is a measely 20 pounds. The seat-post clamp is padded, and it’s just big enough to fit the Brompton seatpost. The Topeak bag that you can get for the BeamRack is so small that it’s marginally useful at best, but the rack itself has allowed me to haul assorted awkward stuff, including some trim that I bought at the lumber yard. (I had them cut it to the lengths that I needed so I wasn’t trying to secure 8′ lengths to a rack that’s less than 12″ long.)

Brompton with trim at Dunn Lumber

The silver tubes on either side of the main tube are the neon lights of a Down Low Glow. A while back, I showed how to install a Down Low Glow on a Brompton.

The rear rack on the Brompton isn’t much use as a rear rack if you fold the bike very often, as I do. Brompton makes a bag for the rear rack, but it’s wide enough that the few times I used it, I constantly kicked it with my heels as I pedaled. That bag now keeps the Le Tour company in the attic.

Brompton tech support weighs in: I’ve traded a few emails with a nice chap in Brompton tech support who checked in after seeing this blog entry. He was concerned about the amount of weight that I’m hanging off of the seatpost in the picture of the Topeak Beam Rack above. Instead of trying to accurately paraphrase him, I’ll just quote him (with his permission):

This offset weight, particularly the rack with the lumber hanging on it, puts a lot of offset loading onto the seatpost clamping area of the mainframe. We have seen a small number of examples of the mainframe cracking in this area [11 since 1996, all discovered while raising or lowering the seatpost, he reported in a later email] when owners have done similar loading of the seat post at the top e.g. by attaching a trailer to a hitch mounted at the top of the post (we recommend attaching trailers on a rear axle hitch) where the load imposed at a radius of 500mm+ from the clamp can cause distortion of the seat sleeve and potentially cracking around the seat slide tube to mainframe tube joint.

He went on to say that the Arkel bag is fine as long as it’s resting on the rear rack. Sadly, it’s not, so he also discourages using the CrossRack/Arkel combination. (For pictures, see Traveling with a Brompton can be less trouble than traveling with a car and You can use a Brompton as a shopping cart.)

On the theory that weight firmly secured to the seatpost might somehow be different from weight hanging from a saddle, I asked what he thought of large saddle bags, and his response was in the same vein:

Any large saddle bag will inevitably result in a significant weight being loaded offset to the seatpost and adding a magnified bending force on the frame at the seatpost clamping area.

In short, if my frame breaks at the seatpost, I’ll have a tough time claiming ignorance.

Russ of Path Less Pedaled fame did a video about how he and Laura attach backpacks to their Bromptons in a way that Brompton tech support would approve of. Next time I need to carry a really big load, I’m following their lead.

You can take a Brompton onto buses, subways, light rail, and Amtrak

Brompton on the bus

In Seattle, if I need to get somewhere faster than I can bike there but I want the bike for later, I take it inside the bus or onto Link light rail. On articulated buses (extra-long buses with a hinge in the middle), there’s an ideal space for the Brompton between seats in the area where the bus folds. On regular city buses, I sit near the front, in the seats that face the middle, and put the bike between my legs and parallel to the seat.

Right: The bike sticks out into the aisle a little, but not as far as my legs do when I’m sitting next to it instead of taking pictures.

I’ve also taken the Brompton onto public transit in other cities, including:

On some subway and light-rail systems, including BART, you can’t take a full-sized bike on the train during rush hour, but you can take a folding bike.

When I’m traveling by Amtrak, I take the Brompton on board with me and stash it in the luggage rack at the end of the car. I checked it a few times, but checking it in on one end of my journey and getting it back on the other end takes almost as much time as checking luggage with the airlines.

You can fly with a Brompton easily and inexpensively

If you want to check something with the airlines and not pay an oversize charge, the sum of the length, width, and height of the object must be less than 62″. For a Brompton, the sum of those dimensions is 56″, which makes it the only folding bike with 16″ or larger wheels that qualifies as standard checkable luggage. This means you pay the fee for checking a regular bag but not the outrageous fee that most airlines now charge for checking a full-sized bike.

You can fit a Brompton into a few models of hard-sided suitcases, but I don’t recommend it because then you have to figure out what to do with the suitcase when you reach your destination. Brompton makes a soft-sided travel bag that has wheels and a handle, so you can roll the bag around with the bike inside. When the bag is empty, you can fold it up enough to strap it to the rear rack (assuming your Brompton has a rear rack). In the debates I’ve seen in the BromptonTalk group on Yahoo, many Bromptonauts prefer the soft-sided Brompton travel bag to a hard-sided suitcase because, the logic goes, baggage handlers are less inclined to treat soft-sided luggage roughly or to put it on the bottom of a tall pile of bags. The Bromptonauts encourage padding the bike just in case, though. (Chris Rust, one of the frequent contributors to BromptonTalk, has written in detail about how he flies with a Brompton.)

I’ve flown a couple of round trips with the Brompton, and both times I slipped it into the Brompton travel bag, locked the bag with a TSA-approved lock, and checked it as regular luggage. TSA inspectors don’t always know what to make of it; twice I’ve opened the travel bag to find a notice inside about the importance of preventing terrorism, meaning they’d opened the bag for a peek when they couldn’t decipher the contents from an x-ray.

Oops: As I was taking the pictures for this piece, I discovered that the combination of Ergon handlebar grips and Razor scooter wheels make my Brompton just enough bigger that it no longer fits in the Brompton travel bag.

Todd at Clever Cycles takes his Brompton through security and gate-checks it as you would a stroller or a wheel chair. Inspired by Todd, I took my Brompton to SeaTac Airport for a one-way flight to San Diego on Southwest. (I rode Amtrak back to Seattle.) I planned to gate-check the bike, but I had another bag to check, so I had to go to the ticket counter anyway. When the Southwest agent saw the bike, she called over a supervisor, who explained that if I gate-checked the Brompton, it’d still end up in the baggage hold and would come out at baggage claim, not at the gate. He offered to send it, for no charge, with the special luggage, including oversized trunks and the upright bass that Matt Weiner was taking to Wyoming for a gig with the Blue 4 Trio.

In many cases, you can get your bike to and from the airport either by riding it or by taking it on public transit. For example:

  • In Seattle, Link light rail takes you right to the airport.
  • BART takes you right to the San Francisco airport. (In the comments, Nigel notes that most of the time you have to change trains to get to the San Francisco airport.) When flying into or out of Oakland, a bus with generous luggage racks takes you between BART and the airport.
  • In Washington, DC, Metrorail (the subway) takes you to National, as does the Mount Vernon Trail. The subway doesn’t go all the way to Dulles, but buses connect the subway to the airport.
  • In Palm Springs, California, you can bike out of the airport and directly into a residential neighborhood.

For information on whether a given airport is readily accessible by bike, do an internet search on <city name> airport bicycle access.

Folded Brompton from the rear

Brushing against a folded Brompton won’t get you greasy

In Washington, DC, you can take a folding bike on the subway or inside a bus at any time of day, but you have to cover it up first. Bromptonauts in the UK report similar regulations on various modes of public transit. My guess is that transit managers are trying to protect other riders from greasy chains in cramped quarters. On some folding bikes, the chain and derailleur are exposed when the bike is folded. This isn’t true of a Brompton, as you can see in the photo at right. The chain, the gears, and the derailleur are all safely tucked in between the frame on one side and one of the wheels on the other side.

Brompton makes a lightweight nylon cover that you can toss over the bike and zip closed to satisfy the transit police. The bottom of the cover is open, so you can still roll the folded bike.

Right (bike-nerd alert): Fresh from the factory, the left pedal on a Brompton folds up and out of the way. It’s a pretty good pedal, but I wanted something that was easier to attach toe clips or Powergrip straps to, so I got a pair of MKS quick-release pedals. Then I spent a summer riding a mountain bike that had neither toe clips nor Powergrips, which I found much more convenient for all of the city riding I do. In the end, I got a pair of MKS Lambdas (also known as Grip Kings if you get them from Rivendell Bicycle Works), and swapped the spindles on the Lambdas with the spindles on the other pedals. Now my Lambdas are quick-release pedals. That’s what you see in this photo.

Traveling with a Brompton can be less trouble than traveling with a car

Brompton on the BC ferry from Salt Spring Island to Vancouver Island

Especially in a big city, where parking can be expensive and hard to come by, traveling with a Brompton instead of a car can save you a lot of trouble and expense. You don’t have to pay the outlandish hotel rates for parking your car, you don’t have to wait for a valet to retrieve it when you want to go out, you don’t have to circle the block, then two blocks, then five, then ten blocks in search of a parking space at your destination, you don’t have to worry about whether the car will have been broken into when you return. You do have to learn how to travel lighter because you don’t have an immense car trunk in which to carry the kitchen sink, but most hotels have plumbing these days.

A couple of summers ago, I did a few days of spur-of-the-moment island hopping in the Gulf Islands, the islands between Vancouver, British Columbia and Vancouver Island. I had to be back in Seattle in under a week, so I didn’t have a lot of time to waste. Twice on my journey I rolled past long lines of cars that were waiting to get onto the next BC Ferry, or maybe the ferry after that. I bought a ticket as a walk-on passenger, which is much cheaper than taking a car, and was on my way hours before the folks at the tail end of the car line. On the ferry that had a passenger cabin, I was able to take the folded Brompton inside instead of leaving it on the car deck, and I wasn’t charged extra for traveling with a bike.

Above right: The Brompton and I are riding on the BC Ferry from Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. The bag on the front is the large Brompton touring pannier (now called the T bag), and the bag behind the seat is the Arkel utility basket. For more information, see You can carry oodles of stuff on a Brompton.

You can use a Brompton as a shopping cart

While I was first researching folding bikes, I ran across a photo of a Brompton being used as a grocery cart. Cute, sure, but probably not practical. Then I tried it, and now I go grocery shopping that way all the time. I fold the bike almost all the way, but I leave the handlebars up. The bike by itself is reasonably stable, but I have to be careful how I distribute my accumulated groceries so the bike doesn’t tip over and smash six perfectly good bottles of beer or an expensive bottle of olive oil.

Grocery shopping with a Brompton

Riding a Brompton is just plain fun

In addition to the boundless pleasure I get from riding a Brompton, I have a marvelous time talking with folks about it. I’m not a salesman or a proselytizer—I’ve never asked anyone if I could show them my bike—but I can only guess how many conversations have started because folks asked me about the Brompton (as many as three or four in a day), how many times I’ve demonstrated the fold (hundreds, at least), or how many times I’ve heard someone, even kids, call out, “Cool bike!” as I ride down the street (a few, anyway). Sometimes when I’m sitting at a stop light, the driver in the car next to me rolls down the window to ask about my bike. When I get on the bus, the driver often looks at the bike and grins, and several have said, “I want your bike.” Of course, if you’re an introvert, all of this attention could be agony, but I want more people to ride bikes, and anything that makes someone more likely to ride more often—for example, the convenience of a folding bike—is something worth demonstrating and explaining.

Siobhan on the Brompton

My friends’ daughter, Siobhan, on my Brompton.

40 comments to Why I ride a Brompton folding bike

  • Chris Miller

    Nice photo at the end!!

  • Dave H

    You forgot to mention (although the picture does illustrate this), that the Brompton can be purchased for the 8th-10th birthday and the recipient will never need to buy another bike.

    You’ve also omitted the convenient detail that a rack equipped Brompton can carry another rack equipped Brompton to collect a visitor from the station, and passengers can also be carried on the rack as illustrated by the Chinese example.

    Long loads can also be carried – my record being 5.2 metres of specially cut timber moulding and often 4.8m standard planks. This gets you great respect on the road as you ride in the style of a knight with charger and lance.

    • My fear in buying a Brompton for an eight year old is that it wouldn’t be cool enough when she turned 17, and she’d trade it in for a brakeless fixie. ;-)

      The folks on the BromptonTalk group on Yahoo have written of carrying a Brompton with a Brompton, but I haven’t tried it yet, nor have I tried carrying passengers, but that sounds like my next challenge.

      I love the thought of jousting on a Brompton and bow before your superior riding skills. For the unmetric, 4.8 to 5.2 metres is about 15′ 9″ to 17′.

  • “…
    I briefly tried the Schlumpf with the newer Brompton Wide Range (BWR) internally geared hub and didn’t think much of that combination. You still have two groups of six gears, but there’s some overlap between the high end of the low gears and the low end of the high gears, so you’re reduced to eight or nine different gears.
    …”

    Whatever one might think of the practical use of Schlumpf-drives in combination with the Brompton BWR…,
    it is important to get the facts right/straight.

    there are 3 different Schlumpf-drives…
    all available in special versions to fit Bromptons:

    • Mountaindrive
    => reduces the selected hub-gear by ≈ 60% ( gear x 1/2,53)
    In combination with the 6-speed BWR that amounts for:
    - 12 gears, non of them real duplicates…,
    but twice there is a gear-difference of just over 3%
    - total gear-range is over764%
    - in practise you have two sets of six gears…
    the lowered-gear set for (extreme) uphill riding
    the standard-gear set for downhill cruising
    - the gear-sets overlap (without real duplicates)
    this makes that the few smaller gearsteps are not to hinderous since they are fall in the overlap between lowered- and standard-gears; Actually it makes both sets useable without a sharp divide between them.
    - from 12 gears in theory you end up with 10 noticebly different gears/gear-regions
    - the resulting 4 lowest gears are very low indead (the two smallest are impractically low)
    - on a Brompton one is best advised only to use a MD in combination with the largest chainwheel that will fit the B without problems (56T)

    Example setup BWR 13t-16t + MD 56T
    lowered gears:
    1,17m – 1,43m – 1,83m – 2,25m – 2,86m – 3,52m
    standard gears:
    2,95m – 3,63m – 4,62m – 5,68m – 7,24m – 8,90m
    Range: 764,28%

    range standard BWR 302% (2,63m – 7,95m)

    • Highspeeddrive
    => increases the selected hub-gear by ≈ gear x 253% (mostly stated as ≈250%)
    In combination with the 6-speed BWR that amount for:
    - 12 gears, non of them real duplicates…,
    but twice there is a gear-difference of just over 3%
    - total gear-range is over764%
    - in practise you have two sets of six gears…
    the lowered standard-gear set for (extreme) uphill riding
    the increased-gear set for downhill cruising
    - the gear-sets overlap (without real duplicates)
    this makes that the few smaller gearsteps are not to hinderous since they are fall in the overlap between lowered- and standard-gears; Actually it makes both sets useable without a sharp divide between them.
    - from 12 gears in theory you end up with 10 noticebly different gears/gear-regions
    - the resulting low gears are very low (the smallest gear is impractically low for most)
    - the highest gear is well over the top for most mortals

    Example setup BWR 13t-16t + HsD 27T
    lowered standard gears:
    1,42m – 1,75m – 2,23m – 2,74m – 3,49m – 4,29m

    increased gears:
    3,60m – 4,43m – 5,63m – 6,93m – 8,83m – 10,86m

    Range: 764,28%

    range standard BWR 302% (2,63m – 7,95m)

    • Speeddrive
    => increases the selected hub-gear by ≈ gear x 165%
    In combination with the 6-speed BWR that amounts for:
    this is much different than the other two Schlumpf-drives…
    - 12 useable gears
    - 8 gears do overlap (non of them being real duplicates)
    - possibly more need for frequent gear-change og the Schlumpf unit but with better gearssteps due to the overlap.
    - gearchanges are much alike (normal) frontderailleur-use with overlapping ranges

    Example setup BWR 13t-16t + SD 34T
    lowered standard gears:
    1,79m – 2,20m – 2,80m – 3,45m – 4,39m – 5,41m

    increased gears:
    2,95m – 3,63m – 4,63m – 5,69m – 7,25m – 8,92m

    Range: 498,44%

  • Thanks for all of the specs, Simon, I’d been thinking about trying to get them from my own Brompton dealer.

    You and I apparently have had different experiences with the Mountain Drive and the Brompton Wide Range hub. I didn’t find the lowest gears unrideable on Seattle’s steepest hills, but I did find the (for me) unusually large gap between gears uncomfortable. I discussed different gearing options with David at Folding Bike West before I got the BWR, and none of them (again, for me) was going to be a huge improvement over the default Brompton gearing. The overlapping gears may not be exactly identical, but they were plenty close enough that the large gaps between the other gears was all the more frustrating.

    I’m aware of the Speed Drives, but my desire was for lower gears, not higher gears, so I opted for the Mountain Drive, as I mentioned: “…David at Folding Bikes West replaced the bottom bracket and crankset with a Schlumpf Mountain Drive for me….”

  • Allan

    How often do you use the cross-rack setup? how heavy is it packed up to usually? have you noticed any sort of bend in the seat-tube or does it affect the handling too much from fully loading the crossrack? my ideal weight would be about 25-30lbs max. I’m concerned about that much weight hanging from the seat post. thank you.

  • Allan, Brompton also was concerned about the Xootr CrossRack and especially concerned about the Topeak BeamRack. I’ll update that portion of the blog entry this weekend, but the short story is that I got a very polite email from them today, and they’re concerned about hanging stuff off of the seatpost for the very reason that you are. The load of lumber is by far the greatest weight that I ever carried on the BeamRack, and that wasn’t all of 20 pounds, but the weight was cantilevered about four feet out from the seat post. I can just imagine some engineer in London fainting dead away at the sight. ;-)

    The BeamRack plus the Arkel bag is less than five pounds. My jaunt through the Gulf Islands was roughly 100 miles/160 kilometers, but the load in that bag was no more than 15 pounds in addition to the weight of the rack and bag. On average, I might use it once a month for a mile and a half round trip to the grocery store on fairly smooth roads, so the seatpost isn’t taking a lot of abuse. I’ve carried 20-25 pounds of groceries in it a few times, but that’s the exception; more typical is something closer to 15 pounds. Another factor is the weight of the rider, and in my standard riding garb I weigh about 170 pounds, well under the recommended maximum weight of 242 pounds (110 kg).

  • Nigel Healy

    The Schlumpf Mountain Drive chainring looks small, I have a 56T as otherwise the lowest gear is useless and there is some benefit at the highest gear. The 56T Mountain Drive with the older 6-speed does as you state make 12 evenly-spaced gears and better than with the newer BWR, and all gears usefully usable.

    The fold, if you’ve only played with Brompton is taken for granted til you see other folders, I have to cover my mouth to hide the chuckle.

    Rolling your Brompton, with the lack of Ti and the added customizations (Schlumpf, saddle) its still going to be quite a weight. With also your saddle and upwards customization you’d also struggle in certain public transport to get it to stow with the height, so given both a Telescopic seatpost. I can see you have from the photo the telescopic post, it is mentioned in passing, but its not mentioned in the roll the B around section, and your friend is lifting the rear of the B rather then extending and letting all 4 wheels on ground.

    In San Francisco, to be precise, most BART trains do not take you STRAIGHT to the airport, you have to change at San Bruno for the airport, also when coming from the south on the CALTRAIN you often have to ride PAST the airport then double-back and it’s still a change. Riding the Brompton to the airport from the south or west (e.g. Millbrae) can be faster and with a little local knowledge you can ride right to the the escalators for international or cycle through some security and to the domestic terminals, that then means LESS of a walk from the airport train which terminates quite a walk from the terminals.

    Whilst the front touring pannier can take a lot and you can add luggage to the rear, there are other benefits of keeping your luggage within one small front luggage bag. Some airlines allow only 1 checked bag for free and certain aircraft the carry-on overhead bins can be quite small. So even though you CAN carry it on the Brompton, for travelling there is still advantage in minimalism. I can pretty much get all I need in the S-bag and spill-over to a 16L daysack which stows in the S-bag. On an airline the rear pockets stuffed can be too tall to fit in overhead bins so re-pack to place daysack under seat.

  • Good eye, Nigel, I do have the 50-tooth Schlumpf. Yes, the low gear is really low, but Seattle has a few hills on which that low gear is a welcome relief, and I live near the top of one of those hills.

    Everything I replaced was heavier than the original, so my Brompton is now up to 34 pounds.

    On Amtrak, removing the saddle (which takes two seconds with the telescoping seatpost) is sufficient to get the bike into the luggage rack. Before I added the Xootr rack clamp, I think I could slip the bike into that rack without removing the seat, even with the telescoping seat post.

    Think of Tim as lifting the back of the bike to turn a corner. ;-)

    I’d forgotten about the mucking around required to get to the San Francisco airport on BART, and I’ve never done it on Caltrain. Thanks for the clarification and for the thoughts about navigating SFO.

    I travel with much less than I once did, but I’ve gotten lazy about trimming further because I usually fly Southwest, which allows me to check the Brompton and the touring bag for free. You make a good case for lightening the load still more, though.

  • Scott,
    the Speed-drive does offer (very) low gears on a Brompton…,
    remember that the chainwheel then normally will be 34T (or 36T)…
    versus 50T or 44T offered by Brompton
    => compared to a 44T, that alone asures a drop of almost 23%…;
    you can however go as low as 27T…
    => a drop of 39% (compared to a 44T)

    Further:
    when using a MD equipped with 56T chainwheel…
    you get gears that compare to ≈ 22T (front) to 41t (rear) combination…,
    (or to be more precise: 22.134-T chainwheel combined with a 41.366-t sprocket)
    ->Did you realise that in your discussions about gearing options with David at Folding Bike West?
    If so, have you or David ever seen such monstrous gearing in real live on a ‘normal’ derailleur-bike.
    When realising that, how do you think others on non-Schlumpf equiped bikes/Bromptons have to cope with those ‘unrideable’ steepest hills in Seattle’s.

    BTW,
    there still are better options…,
    they only ask for some/a lot of work (and possibly expense)
    Get yourselves either a MD or HsD (personally I’ld prefer the latter)
    Get yourselves two hubs/wheels…
    1 X BWR
    1 x BSR
    -> take the innerhubs out
    -> than swap both driver and RH-cup of the respective inners
    -> than put the BSR-inner (with BWR driver and RH-cup) into the BWR-shell
    -> put on two sprockets (preferably 13-15)
    The result:
    This hub-modification It will give you 6 exact equally spaced gears…
    => even better than previously with the SRAM 3×2
    => when combined with one of the Schlumpf-drives (MD or HsD) you’ll end up with 12 beautifully equal spaced gears with a total range of ≈519%
    Similar to Rohloff, still less expensive, less bulky rear, little or even no frame-modifications needed.

  • Simon, good point about the Speed Drive, I hadn’t looked carefully enough at the specs to see the similarity between the Speed Drive and the Mountain Drive. I stopped reading as soon as I saw the +250%.

    However, now that I read the specs more carefully, I see that the Speed Drive still doesn’t solve my main problem with the combination of the Brompton Wide Range hub and any Schlumpf x-drive: the gear spacing is still too wide. As David and I were discussing gear combinations with the BWR, the Schlumpf Mountain Drive, and the two external gears on the rear wheel, I kept hoping for some mathematical miracle that would eliminate the overlapping gears in the middle of the range. David humored me by redoing the calculations for every hare-brained idea I offered, but no matter how you tweak, you still end up with too few gears over too large a range.

    The regular Brompton hub and the Mountain Drive offer a range of gearing comparable to the gearing on my mountain bike (low gear is a 22-34). Folks who choose road-bike gearing have my sympathies. On Seattle’s steepest hills, they’re either climbing out of the saddle or they’re pushing their bikes, while I’m slowly making my way up in the saddle and barely breaking a sweat.

    Thanks again for your detailed comments.

  • Scott,

    As I tried to explain you before:

    You’re ‘problems’ can (easily) be solved…
    because there really are better options…,
    they will offer you 12 equally closely spaced gears…,
    at they will fit your Brompton with minor or no frame-modifications at all.
    They only ask for some/a lot of work (and possibly expense)

    1)
    Get yourselves either a MD or HsD…,
    personally I’ld prefer the latter, I suspect you tend to prefer the first one.

    2)
    Get yourselves two hubs/wheels…
    1 x BWR
    1 x BSR

    3)
    -> take the innerhubs out
    -> than swap both driver and RH-cup of the respective inners
    -> than put the BSR-inner (with BWR driver and RH-cup) into the BWR-shell
    -> put on two sprockets (preferably 13-15) (only that combination ensures 2×6 completely equal gear-steps)

    4)
    reasons to not just swap the drivers…
    but instead to swap the RH-cups as well…,
    is because of the slightly different layout of the hub-shell’s of BWR and BSR.
    The BWR main-shell is slightly narrower than the BSR-one in order to bring the flanges slightly more inward and thus make room for the derailleur-movement that otherwise might hit the spokes (frequently/all the time).
    In order to make up for the lost space inside the width-deduced shell the RH-cup is slight wider/deeper. This way the rest of the hub-inners are completely compatible in size so you have the option of fitting hub-inners with a small sun-wheel (20t=BSR) or a bigger sun-wheel (34t=BWR).
    The 3-spline/notch drivers and the N-nine-spline drivers are completely compatible with either inner; When ordering (decent amounts of) hubs from SA one can specify either driver on any 3- or 5-speed hub.

    5)
    The result:
    This hub-modification It will give you 6 exact equally spaced gears…
    => even better than previously with the SRAM 3×2
    => when combined with one of the Schlumpf-drives (MD or HsD) you’ll end up with 12 beautifully equal spaced gears with a total range of ≈519%
    Similar to Rohloff, still less expensive, less bulky rear, little or even no frame-modifications needed.

    6)
    The result is very similar to the previous set-up of Brompton with a 3×2 SRAM hub combined with one of the Schlumps.
    The differences are (apart from SRAM no longer seems to be willing/able to supply the special B-driver and LH-cone)
    - even better more equal gearsteps
    - slightly less weight
    - much better dirt/water seals
    - alluminium alloy hubshell (less sturdy but also lees demanding in cleaning)
    - the use of widely available Shimano HG-compatible sprockets that are much more suited for small sprocket-sizes (the 3 notch DIN-sprockets tend to burst when they get as small as 12t, and even the 13t ones Brompton uses sometimes give such troubles)
    - slightly reduce 12-speed range (c.a. 519 versus 541%)
    - overall the BWR/BSR conversion is technically better than the previous setup with SRAM

    Happy modding
    Simon

  • Simon, you’re a maniac. ;-) Have fun with that. Me, I’ll stick with the standard-range hub and the Schlumpf Mountain Drive, which is a combination that I’ve become quite attached to, and which didn’t require the expense of two hubs or the effort of a hub transplant.

  • In your case…
    you already have the Md?
    you already have the BWR!
    you’ll only need the either:
    - a BSR hub
    - just the BSR inners
    - or the compatible (much cheaper and only very slightly heavier) original SA S-RF3

    If you’ld buy just the SA S-RF3 inners it would set you back between $50-100 tops…;
    And still you’ll end up with two very usale hubs/hub-inners…, so there is no waist…, there are others who might like/want some Super Wide Ratio 3-speed (not per se on a Brompton)

  • Thanks for this very thorough review! We’ve been considering buying a pair of Bromptons for the past 2+ years and some day I am sure it will happen – particularly since we no longer have a car and I have started to use the commuter rail for work trips. The huge size of the front basket that is available with this bike was one factor that surprised me – I had no idea you could comfortably carry so much weight on the Brompton.

  • John Dow

    Scott, this is a great article. Thanks!. I wonder what kind of rear suspension elastomer is shown in the “A folded Brompton takes up very little space” picture? It seems shorter and more pointed than the stock one I got with my bike. When I roll the bike the elasomer often hits the ground and yours seems to provide more clearance. (my B has only two rolling wheels).

  • Sorry for the delay, John, I got sidetracked. Right you are, I tweaked my suspension to reduce the amount of bounce. I’s not really shorter, though, it just looks that way because it’s fatter. I wrapped the standard suspension block in a coupling that you use to connect drain/waste/vent pipes. I explained the process in more detail in a new blog entry:

    http://practicalbiking.org/2012/01/how-to-stiffen-the-suspension-on-a-brompton-folding-bike.html/

  • Bob

    Good read – I would say that you’re just slightly enthusiastic about your Brompton!

    Take care with the seatpost loading – my 4 year old titanium seatpost on my S2L-X failed today and has only ever had the deadweight of me (182lb) bearing down on it through the saddle It cracked about 1/2 inch down in the clamp area and the failure started on the front side. This smacks me as being consistent with the load trying to bend the top of the post towards the back of the bike. I only use it for less than 5 miles but four folds every day.

    • Bob, sorry to hear about your cracked seatpost. I wonder if that’s why Brompton stopped selling their seatposts in titanium.

      Oddly enough, you’re not the first person to suggest that I’m pleased with my Brompton. ;-)

  • Bernard Thomas

    Hi…I just wanted to ask about your eazy wheels…where ever did you buy them?

    • My Eazy Wheels aren’t actually Eazy Wheels, they’re Razor scooter wheels. I got them at Toys ‘r’ Us, the chain toy store, and at a sporting-goods store. (They come in twos, and I couldn’t find two pairs that matched in any one place.)

      Installing them took some doing. I had to get longer bolts because the Razor scooter wheels are a bit wider than Eazy Wheels:
      - For the front bolts, you have to use metric bolts because the holes have metric threads.
      - For the rear bolts, the holes are unthreaded. I couldn’t find 6 mm bolts at my local hardware store, so I bought 1/4″ bolts, which are just a wee larger than 6 mm bolts, which meant that I had to drill out the rear holes a smidge with a 1/4″ drill bit. I strongly recommend bolts made of grade 8 steel. I don’t know exactly what that means, I just know that ungraded bolts bent shortly after I installed them, presumably because of the greater length.

  • James

    Scott, I have a standard six speed Brompton, love it, but REALLY hate the stock shifters. Have you or anyone else you know of played with other shifter types, perhaps those shifters used on road bikes that combine the brake handle and shifter?

    Also, I found that my luggage rack arms (aluminum 5/16 OD tubes) were bending, probably from a few rougher folds. I created replacements out of carbon fiber that look cool, are lighter, and stiffer. If anyone is interested let me know and I can manufacture a set.

    JPK

    • Dear James,

      I’m also not having a love affair with the stock Brompton shifters. I just sent an email this afternoon to the owner of http://www.brompfication.com, asking him if he is attempting to build a higher quality version of the shifters. If you happen to find a solution for this, please contact me.

      Thanks,

      Eric

    • George Downs

      James,

      I saw your post about the carbon fiber replacements for the Brompton luggage rack. I would like to replace the aluminum tubes on my 2 Bromptons with your design. Can you make them for me? What would be the cost? Thanks a lot.

      George

  • Hi James and Eric,

    The Brompton shifters don’t make me weak in the knees, but I also don’t deplore them. Admittedly, my previous multi-geared bikes all had friction shifters (downtube shifters and bar-end shifters), meaning that I had to change gears and then fine-tune the shift so the chain would settle quietly into one gear. The thrill of indexed shifting perhaps makes me more tolerant of the Brompton shifters’ quirks, but they do have some advantages:
    - Unlike grip shifters, they’re out of the way, so you won’t shift accidentally.
    - Unlike downtube and bar-end shifters, they’re close enough that you don’t have to reach for them.
    - Unlike the huge shifters on my mountain bike, which have separate levers for upshifting and downshifting, they don’t eat up much real estate on the handlebars and one even has a little built-in bell.
    - They’re made of seemingly indestructible plastic (except the bell).

    Scott

  • Mel

    Scott,

    Love your Arkel setup in the back. What is that part you use to mount the bag to your seatpost?

    I searched Arkel’s setup and tried to find the mount you used but I don’t see it there. I guess then it musn’t be from Arkel.

    I’d love to know because I’m doing some research on paniers that I could take on a world tour with a Brompton.

    Mel

  • Hi Mel,

    It’s the Xootr CrossRack, but I wouldn’t recommend it any longer because the diameter of the clamp is just a tad too small for the Brompton seat post. (I emailed Xootr about this, and they were most defensive and unhelpful even after I emailed them a photo showing the problem.)

    While you can pad the clamp to prevent it from denting your seat post, the padding I used eventually compressed. By the time I noticed, the clamp had dented the outer (lower) part of my two-part seat post just enough to make the inner (upper) part a little difficult to remove.

    A nice chap in technical support at Brompton also expressed some reservations about weighting the seat post in that way, noting that too much could cause the Brompton frame to crack where the seat post is clamped.

    I’m now using a Radical Design Cyclone III trailer (https://www.radicaldesign.nl/en/products/bicycle-trailers/cyclone), which is extremely convenient. Were I to take on a trip like yours, I’d likely use a backpack as Russ and Laura of PathLessPedaled did:

    http://pathlesspedaled.com/2011/07/video-backpacks-on-bromptons/

    They also have a couple of videos about how they crammed everything into their bags:

    http://pathlesspedaled.com/2011/12/video-packing-bromptons-for-extended-tours/

    Scott

  • Mel

    Lots of thanks, Scott!

    Given your info about denting the seat post, I think I’ll eliminate it from consideration. I thought about still getting one for the market, but I think I might go for the Burly Travoy Trailer (http://www.nycewheels.com/burley-travoy-review-mk.html) instead. I can probably even put my Brompton on in when in the hand truck mode since sometimes EzWheels aren’t that easy.

    Moving up in position of consideration is something like a Carradice saddlebag off my saddle… or yes, a backpack strapped to the rack.

  • Davey

    I bought a used Brompton on eBay and I regret to say that I am extremely disappointed with it. OK it has got Raleigh tyres which I suspect are for a child’s bike as the side-walls are marked 55 psi maximum. The tyres drag even at 55 psi and on bumps they get rimmed.

    Another bike purchase was a Viking Safari folding bike (an old model I think) This has 20″ wheels and it is dual sprung with an alloy frame. I have let several people ride it and they are all amazed at how well it rides, in fact its ride quality is similar to or better than a full sized unsprung bike. Of course it doesn’t fold up as small as a Brompton and when it is folded the mucky chain is on the outside.

    I see that Schwalbe also make a 16 x 1.75 Marathon tyre. Does anyone know whether these will fit a Brompton? The Brompton forks and brakes seem very narrow and the wider tyres might foul and be a waste of money.

    I’ve got people who want to buy the Viking but I don’t want to sell! Unfortunately the dual-sprung model seems to have disappeared from the market place. Does anyone know where another might be obtained?

  • Hi Davey,

    The quality of the tires (or tyres) isn’t the ideal way to judge the quality of a bike. Clearly, someone replaced the tires on your Brompton with tires that aren’t suitable. Were you to install tires that fit without rubbing, you could ride with much less effort, and you’d be able to enjoy the benefits of the Brompton suspension system. I can’t guarantee that it’d be better than the Viking Safari suspension system, but I’ve certainly been pleased. (I did, however, stiffen my suspension system up a bit; see How to stiffen the suspension on a Brompton folding bike.)

    I haven’t tried 1.75″ tires on my Brompton, but I’d be surprised if they fit. Given that you are now the owner of a bike that, when new, cost at least as much as 25 new high-quality tires, you might want to splurge and buy a couple of the Schwalbe tires that Brompton installs on new bikes. See http://www.brompton.co.uk/spares/w2/tyres.

    As an aside, some portion of the Bromptons (and bikes in general) that you find on eBay have been stolen. You might want to check the stolen-bikes database on the Brompton website:

    http://www.brompton.co.uk/environment-society/stolen-bikes

    Scott

  • Your text
    I wanted something that was easier to attach toe clips or Powergrip straps to, so I got a pair of MKS quick-release pedals.

    My question
    Can you advise which model of MKS pedals these were please?

    • Hi Dave,

      I used the MKS Promenade EZY pedals. Note that there seem to be two types of MKS Promenade pedals; the ones without the EZY don’t appear to be the quick-release variety.

      Scott

  • Dave Gee

    Hello again.
    The Razor wheels look a good idea. Did you have any trouble fitting them? Does the existing frame bolt fit?
    Regards
    DG

    • Hi Dave,

      The Razor wheels are quite a bit wider than the Brompton Eazy Wheels, so you’ll need to get longer bolts. Take a look at my comment on 2012/05/05 at 9:09 pm for some additional details. Eventually, I’ll get the most useful comments into the blog post itself. :-)

      Scott

  • Seth REEDER

    Hello, I recently attached a ‘TopPeak Beam Rack and Side Frames’ to my ‘Brompton’, I thought you might be interested in the result. You can see the pix on PicasaWeb at:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/108283119948153487015/BromptonBikePix

    Seth – /0^0\.

    • Seth, that is a sweet setup, and it looks like it would satisfy the nice folks at Brompton who are concerned about hanging too much weight off of the seatpost. Thanks for sharing.

      Scott

  • Pablo

    Hi, I also have a Brompton. I’m looking for a topeak mtx rack. I saw on the page Topeak has three models, but I don’t know which is the best for the Brompton once it’s folded. Unfortunately every time I go to the stores they never have in stock and I can not see how it looks. Could share me a photo of your folded Brompton with the rack forward?

    • Hi Pablo,

      Because of the response I got from Brompton, I’m no longer recommending the Topeak rack that I formerly used on my bike. (I haven’t seen it recently, and I may have given it away.) Cantilevering weight from the top of the seat post could cause your frame to crack, so it’s a much better idea to attach a backpack to the seat and rest most of the weight on the rack. See the video from Russ and Laura of Path Less Pedaled fame at http://vimeo.com/26700747. The rack wasn’t very useful, either. The platform of the rack and the racktop bag that Topeak makes for it were quite small, so you couldn’t carry very much even if Brompton didn’t object. If you only need to carry the small quantities of light stuff that you could carry with the Topeak rack, you might consider a saddle bag instead.

      Alternatively, you might consider getting a trailer. I’ve started using a Radical Design Cyclone trailer (https://www.radicaldesign.nl/en/products/bicycle-trailers/cyclone), and it’s extremely convenient. You can carry a lot more stuff, and you can even fold and unfold the bike while the trailer is still attached. See the YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo5CS0b1TyE.

      Scott

  • That’s an interesting add-on to make the B67 saddle go further forward. I’ve just got a B67 for my partner’s M6L and the pentaclip seems to allow a fair bit of front to rear adjustment as it appears to be reversible.

    • Hi Adrian,

      I think the designers intended the pentaclip to point backward so riders who have long arms and legs can stretch out. I like to ride more upright, though, so I flipped mine around to bring the seat closer to the handle bars.

      Some riders contend that you should carefully calculate the perfect fore/aft position of your seat by dangling a plumb bob from your knee with the pedal in a certain position. A seat position as far forward as mine likely wouldn’t pass muster with the plumb-bob crowd, but I’ve ridden about 8,000 miles with this configuration, and I haven’t had a whit of trouble. On the other hand, I don’t race, and I rarely ride more than about 30 or 40 miles in a day.

      Scott

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