Brompton Folding Bike Buying Guide
If you’re looking for the most practical folding bike on the planet, then you’ve found it. Brompton bikes fold small, but have all the features of a regular sized bike. Gears, fenders, integrated lighting options, easy-to-use bags and endless aftermarket upgrades. The first time folding a Brompton is befuddling. But with just a little practice, the fold becomes second nature. A word of warning: everyone will be curious about your Brompton folding bike. Not only will the Brompton gain you new friends, it’ll make everyday biking easier.
Why buy a Brompton folding bike?
Brompton folding bikes fold into an incredibly compact package. 23 in x 25 in x 12 in. It’ll fit under a table or in a car trunk without issues. It’ll even fit in some airline overhead bins. The best part about how small it folds is that everything stays together and the greasy bits are on the inside of the fold. Certainly a big plus over Dahon and Tern bikes. If you’re looking for a folding bike that folds small and travels well in the folded position, the Brompton folding bike beats the competition hands down. If you get the optional EZ wheels, it’ll even roll around in the folded position so you don’t have to carry it.
Brompton has been manufacturing folding bikes in West London since the mid 70’s and it shows in the number of accessories that are available and beautifully integrated with the bike. The most important being the front luggage carrier. Brompton has this ingenious luggage block that’s fixed to the headtube so that even a heavy load doesn’t affect the steering. Actually if anything, carrying stuff makes the bike more stable. Brompton offers over a dozen bag options that integrate with their luggage block. All you have to do is drop the bag onto the front carrier block, listen for the click and ride away. The T-bag (touring bag) is probably the most practical and capacious, but there are lots of smaller and more colorful options to fit your mood and needs. The other really neat accessory is the Brompton toolkit. It’s basically everything you’d need to adjust your seat or fix a flat in a tight little package that fits inside the frame with a magnet. That, and all Bromptons (except the Superlights) come with a pump!
Bromptons may not be the lightest weight folding bikes, but they make up for that with features. Gears, racks, bags, lights, fenders. You can outfit your Brompton however you see fit, but a 6-speed with fenders (M6L in Brompton code) is probably the most practical for hilly Portland riding. In a flatter city, you could probably get away with a 3 or 2 speed. If you’re looking to make the Brompton a regular commuter bike, the dynamo lighting makes riding that much more practical. The lights are always there and never run out of batteries. Really, seriously, dynamo lights will change your world.
There are also lots of slick aftermarket parts! Have you seen the titanium seatposts and pedals? Not to mention the ez wheels and diet kit. Swoon.
What type of Brompton folding bike should I buy?
The first choice to make in deciding which Brompton is for you is to determine what type of riding position you would like to be in. The first letter of the Brompton model type indicates the type of handlebar installed. It is important to determine which is the correct one for you, as switching handlebars involves more than just the handlebar. The riser section needs to be swapped out as it changes in length and bend radius between the types.
Brompton M Type
The M Type Brompton is the most popular Brompton model and suitable for riders over 5' who prefer a leisurely upright ride. The M Type riding position allows the rider to see and be seen a little easier -- especially useful for city riding. The M type is 2.32 inches lower than the H Type Brompton and 3.5inches higher than the S Type.
Brompton H Type
The H Type Brompton is the most upright version of the four Brompton model types. The H Type riding position allows the rider to be extremely upright with minimal weight on the hands. Suitable for taller riders or anyone who prefers not to be hunched over. As there is not much weight from the rider on the handlebars, steering is very light. Test riders will comment on this, but after riders get used to the steering, there are no complaints.
Brompton S Type
The S Type Brompton is the sportist Brompton model. The flat bar has no rise, so cyclists who are used to riding a road bike with dropped handlebars will feel most at home. The S Type bar is 3.5 inches lower than the M Type and almost six inches lower than the H type. Be advised that the S Type does not allow for the larger luggage options to be installed as the bag can interfere with the gear and brake cables.
Brompton P Type
The P Type Brompton is certainly the strangest looking Brompton model, but in some instances can be the correct choice. The P Type has two handle bar positions, which create kind of a hybrid between the S Type and M Type positions. The lower position allows for better climbing and fighting headwinds, while the upper position is more comfortable and useful for city riding. Just having an option for another hand position can help with longer rides. The P type is our least popular Brompton model and not usually something that we have in stock.
Brompton Gearing Options
The second digit in the model code is the number of gears. Brompton folding bikes are available in either one, two, three, or six speeds. Most of our Brompton sales are of the six speed variety, but we do sell quite a few two speed S Types, as the aggressive nature of the bike combined with the lightweight two speed drivetrain makes for an even more performance oriented bike. In addition to the number of gears, the actual gear range can be altered up or down to allow for better hill climbing or faster riding.
Brompton L, R, or E Type
The third digit of the Brompton model code designates if the bike has fenders (L), rack and fenders (R), or no fenders or rack (E). The rack version of the Brompton always includes fenders. Most of the Bromptons we sell are of the L type. Because the small wheels of a Brompton spin faster than larger wheeled bikes, they tend to kick up more spray from the road, thus we feel fenders are important and sell mostly L Types. Remember even if you don't plan to ride in the rain, you may find yourself riding through a puddle now and again. In addition to added cargo space, a rear rack will provide more stability when the bike is folded and also allow the bike to roll better when folded.
Which is the best Brompton folding bike for me?
We would be happy to help you figure out what Brompton model is right for you. If you have a current bike that you like riding, send us a picture. We may ask you to take a couple measurements if we can't determine what Brompton model would be ideal from the picture.