Brompton has added a new 12- speed option to its range of folding bikes. The increased gear range will be available on the T Line, Electric P Line, P Line, and Electric C Line models.
In keeping with the compact and innovative design that is the hallmark of the brand, a similarly neat solution has been applied to the addition of more gears. The 12-gears are achieved through the combination of a 3-speed internal hub and a 4-speed derailleur.
The 3-speed Sturmey-Archer hub helps extend the bike’s range while still delivering the weather-proof benefits of a sealed unit. The technology promises owners “years of service with minimal maintenance”.
It’s paired with a 4-speed derailleur that was originally designed for the lightweight titanium T Line model. It weighs just 60 grams and is small enough to tuck out of harm's way when the bike is folded. To utilise the 12 gears, the rider simply uses the right shifter to control the hub gear and the left shifter to control the derailleur.
The increased gear range has been added to offer a Brompton that can compete with road and hybrid bikes while still delivering the convenience of a folding bike. For those who commute over long distances or live in hilly towns and cities, the extra gears should prove appealing.
Likewise it opens the Brompton up to life beyond the city limits. Press photos of a 12-speed T-Line being ridden up Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, a 4.6km climb with an average gradient of 4.2% and pitches of over 11%, serve to demonstrate its increased versatility.
First ride review
CW Editor Simon Richardson has the 12-speed P Line on hand below are his first impressions.
I’m on my fifth Brompton now, and despite unashamedly identifying as a Lycra clad roadie, nothing makes me happier than unboxing one of these. They are fantastic little bikes, with loads of clever tech all squeezed into a tiny space. Riding them is fun and the fact you can fold them, then pick them, up makes them about the most versatile bikes in existence.
But they’ve always had a limiting factor - the number of gears. Most come with a Sturmey Archer three speed internal hub gear, although I have tested one with a four speed cassette and double chainring before. The 12 speed variation combines the three speed hub and four speed cassette to make for a more versatile machine.
The lowest gear was enough to get me up my local one kilometre 20% climb. I wouldn’t say I span up there comfortably, but at no point was I pedalling so slowly that I risked toppling over. On other Bromptons I’d only made it up the same hill by contorting myself around the bike with every slow, grinding pedal stroke.
The cassette has 11, 13, 15 and 18 teeth sprockets, and it feels like the extra gears come at the lower range, meaning more, smaller gears. This should make the bike more appealing to more people. I’ve always found Bromptons to be a little overgeared for my liking, with the largest gear only really useful at speeds that Bromptons rarely travel at. But I do concede that a) I live on the North Downs so steep hills are a way of life, and b) I like to spin a small gear when riding on the flat.
The Sturmey Archer is controlled by the paddle shift on the right, and although it doesn’t always engage first gear at first attempt - it can be a bit stiff, it’s simple to use and famously maintenance free. The left hand paddle operates the rear mech. This is Brompton’s own product, and made so that it doesn’t get in the way when folding the bike up. Not an easy thing to do. Gear change is reliable although adjusting is a little fiddly if the mech goes out of alignment.
The look, feel and ride is like any Brompton, but with those extra gears you’ll be able to ride it over a greater variety of terrain.
Pricing and weights
T Line Explore 12-speed
From 8.8 kg / 19.4 lbs
$5,850 / £4,725
P Line Explore 12-speed
From 10.5 kg / 23.1 lbs
$3,250 / £2,450
Electric P Line Explore 12-speed
From 16.3 kg / 35.9 lbs with battery
$4,950 / £3,895
Electric C Line Explore 12-speed
From 17.3kg / 38.1 lbs with battery
$4,250 / £3,150
For more information visit www.brompton.com
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