Brompton bike range explained and reviewed

Brompton bikes

The Brompton bike range began life in the South Kensington flat of Andrew Ritchie, in 1975. The London-based marque is often considered the manufacturer of the best folding bikes and continues to make its home in the capital city, having invested two million pounds in a move to its new home in Greenford.

The decision to maintain a base in London was motivated in part by a desire to maintain the expertise of the brazers - each who have been trained over a period of eighteen months to hand join the components of a Brompton frame to be strong and resilient for the city environment.

The chassis runs on 16" wheels and is constructed from steel, fused together with brass in most cases. In more recent years, Brompton introduced the 'superlight' version which features a titanium rear frame and front fork, and other lightweight components to make this range up to 1kg lighter than the all-steel Brompton.

How to fold a Brompton bike

When folded, the chain and gears sit in the centre so that they don't interact negatively with your clothes. The pedals tuck neatly away and the handlebars can stay in the raised position allowing the two small rear wheels to turn the bike into something a lot like a wheelie suitcase.

So how do you fold it?

  1. The seatpost must be in the 'up' position
  2. Flip the back wheel in with your foot
  3. Undo the middle joint, and concertina the front wheel in (ensure the pedals are not on the way)
  4. Push the seatpost down into the 'locked' position
  5. Undo the handlebar joint and fold them down unless you're going to leave them to roll the bike behind you
  6. To unfold the bike, follow the instructions backwards (5 to 1)

Building a Brompton bike

In 2021, when unveiling the 2022 line-up, Brompton completely overhauled its range. 

Gone is the configuration by handlebar type (S Type, H Type, M Type), and in their place, three destinct lines: A Line, C Line, and Electric C Line. 

Brompton a line bike

(Image credit: Brompton)

Brompton A Line bikes

The A to B city bikes

Specifications

Handlebar: Mid rise
Gears: Three hub gears
Luggage/mudguards: Not supplied

Reasons to buy

+
Simple, easy fold option
+
Hub gears require minimal maintenance 
+
Cheapest option in the range

Reasons to avoid

-
Luggage/mudguards not supplied
-
No choice of gearing

The A Line bikes are designed for getting from A to B, they are compact and easy to store. To reflect this, these bikes have three hub gears, and a 'mid rise' handlebar, putting the rider in a more upright position. 

These bikes do not come with mudguards or luggage capacity, though both can be added if required. RRPs begin from £850.

Brompton c line

(Image credit: Brompton)

Brompton C Line bikes

Utility, Explore or Urban builds

Specifications

Handlebar : Low, mid or high handlebar
Gears: Two to Six
Luggage/mudguards: Available on some builds

Reasons to buy

+
More gearing choice
+
More handlebar choice
+
Some builds come with luggage/mudguards

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive range

The C Line bikes feature the classic three-part fold system, and can be bought in 'Urban', 'Utility' or 'Explore' guises.

The C Line urban bike comes with two gears, which makes it more suited to flatter terrain, but equally makes it lighter. The C Line Utility comes with three hub gears, whilst the C Line Explore features six gears and capacity for luggage.

All of the C Line bikes can be purchased with a low, mid or high handlebar - pending your riding position preference, and seat post lengths vary to suit height requirements. Luggage carrier blocks and mudguards are fitted as standard, these bikes start from £1195.

Brompton elec

(Image credit: Brompton)

Brompton Electric C Line bikes

The powered choice

Specifications

Motor: 250w hub based
Range: 25-30 miles
Gears: Two or six
Luggage: Can be specced

Reasons to buy

+
Extra power for your commute

Reasons to avoid

-
Range isn't as long as non-folding e-bikes

The Electric C Line range bikes start from £2,995 and have been developed with Williams Advanced Engineering, to help you arrive at your destination feeling fresh. 

The bike folds down just as easily as any other Brompton, but comes with a lightweight removable battery pack that takes four hours to reach capacity. 

The Brompton Electric C Line bike offers pedal-assist technology via a 250w hub based motor, its range is around 25-50 miles (dependent on user and conditions).

These bikes can be specced to feature two or six gears, pending your requirement, and there is space for a luggage rack.

Brompton bikes we've reviewed 

Brompton S2L Superlight

(Image credit: Cycling Studio)

Specifications

Handlebar: Flat
Gears: Two hub gears

Reasons to buy

+
Superlight frame makes for fast, agile ride 
+
Ease of fold and carrying 
+
Compact folding size
+
Range of options to suit different sizes and riding styles

Reasons to avoid

-
Cost

Brompton's Superlight range is made for speed by making it easier to jump on and off public transport and rush up flights of stairs with a lighter package that remains compact.

It is up to 0.74g lighter than an all-steel Brompton, with standard components replaced for a titanium front fork, real frame and mudguard stays, as well as a lightweight wheelset and headset.

If you are a typical all legs, no arms cyclist, the Brompton Superlight options promises to take the edge off which will make a nasty commute with lots of changes a lot easier and more pleasant.

Brompton X CHPT3

(Image credit: Brompton)

Specifications

Handlebar: Flat
Gears: Two hub gears

Reasons to buy

+
Relatively lightweight
+
Folding action
+
Ride

Reasons to avoid

-
Little more expensive than the standard lightweight models from Brompton

Brompton teamed up with David Millar's brand Chpt 3 to create this unique specimen, and our tester found it a to be a clear favourite. 

It's 2kg lighter than a standard model, sitting just over 10kg. A lot of the saving is due to a titanium rear end and fork - which also makes for a springy ride quality. 

Other adjustments are small but neat - such as the excellent 35mm tan side walls. 

brompton folding electric bike

(Image credit: Future)

Brompton electric

Specifications

Handlebar: Flat
Gears: Two or Six

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to transport
+
Quick charge

Reasons to avoid

-
Range isn't huge - but probably enought for intended use 

We didn't have this one long enough to write a full review, but we did record some early ride impressions on the Brompton Electric.

Brompton's very own electric motor is powered by a rechargeable battery, that can be removed to ensure the Brompton is compact as ever. It provides three levels of pedal assist that will give you an extra push when you need it.

It is ideal for riders who have climbs on their commuter route which prove to be particularly troublesome or if it's important for you to arrive at your destination, relaxed and sweat-free.

Brompton say the battery has a range of 20-45 miles (30-70km), so it can also be used on the longest of commutes.

The electric boost does not have to be always used but can be reassuring having the choice of a little extra oomph if needs be.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1