It’s been about six months since we first took a look at the Brompton folding bicycle. I’ve ridden it more than ever lately and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned in the last six months.
First, there are a couple of details that I left out of the last review. Both my wife and I purchased Bromptons with M-type handlebars and 6-speed (BWR Hub standard ratio) gearing. Each of us also chose to replace the stock Brompton saddle with a Brooks saddle and the stock grips with a more ergonomic-friendly pair.
We chose the M-type handlebars because they accommodate standard after-market grips but still tilt forward or back to adjust to different riding styles. The decision to get a 6-speed was a bit impulsive (it’s what they had in the shop that day) but it has certainly come in handy when I’ve ridden it on some roads in Portland’s West Hills.
And although Brooks are a bit heavier than a standard saddle, it was no contest when it came to comfort. The standard saddle was a perfectly decent saddle, but we both prefer Brooks.
The stock grips, however, were uncomfortable from the start. Handlebars on a Brompton are not as wide, left to right, as standard handlebars. If you have average to broad shoulders your hands come in at an angle, which is uncomfortable on the stock round foam pads. The simple solution is to get a pair of wider grips with enough room to rest your palm.
Neither of us chose to get a rear rack, although I’m now considering the idea. Bromptons are equipped with a front cargo block which allows you to attach bags straight to the front of the frame with a proprietary clip. There are lots of options for front bags and most are big enough to carry anything you need (I’m an especially big fan of my Ortlieb Brompton bag). But I’ve occasionally been in a situation where my front bag is full and I need to carry another large box, crate, or something else. In those rare occasions where the front bag doesn’t offer enough room, it’s be nice to have a rear rack.
Alicia and her Brompton
I’ve also heard some great stories from my friend Alicia, who writes about Cycling without a helmet
in the Netherlands. When my wife and I visited Amsterdam, we met up with Alicia and told her all about our love for Bromptons. After we left, Alicia decided to get one too and now I’m quite jealous of her bike’s cargo-carrying capability!
Even without the rack, my Brompton has become my most-used bicycle. It allows me to travel simply, by taking it into stores or on busses when necessary, and it can carry a lot of stuff. The last six months it’s been a nearly constant companion while I’m traveling around and I hope it will be at my side for much, much longer.