Brompton bikes: a guide to the London founded folding bike brand

Looking to invest in a folding bike? Here's what to expect when buying from London based brand Brompton

Brompton bikes began life in the South Kensington flat of Andrew Ritchie, in 1975. The iconic folding bike brand continues to take 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.

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The chassis runs on 16″ wheels and is constructed from steel, fused together with brass in most cases. More recently, Brompton introduced the ‘superlight’ version which features a titanium rear frame and front fork.

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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

Frames are built up via the ‘bike builder’ to suit the rider’s needs, and there’s a number of choices and selections you can make along the way.

The model name is determined by the choices made – for example a ‘Brompton M6L’ will have an M shaped handlebar, six gears and would feature mudguards but no rack.

Brompton bikes handlebar types

Brompton bikes can be built up with one of four different handlebar configurations, designed to suit different riding styles.

M type Brompton handlebars

Brompton with an M type handlebar

Brompton with an M type handlebar

The classic Brompton handlebar style, pictured above, is pretty much a middle ground that will suit most riders

H type Brompton handlebars

Brompton with an H type handlebar

Brompton with an H type handlebar

A more upright option, which raises the rider up for more comfortable rides

S type Brompton handlebars

Brompton bicycles

Brompton with an S type handlebar

A flat bar, like that found on a hybrid bike – a sportier style for those who want to feel fast

P type Brompton handlebars

A Brompton with P type handlebars

A versatile option which offers multiple hand positions

Brompton bike gear choices

The number of gears that you need depends upon the terrain you intend to tackle. Gears add weight, so if your entire journey is going to be flat as a pancake, there’s little point paying the penalty of heft whilst if you live in a valley you’ll want to be able to spin.

Brompton allows you to choose from a singlespeed, two gears, three or the maximum of six.

Brompton bike luggage options

The final part of the equation (aside from colour) will be the luggage configuration.

‘Version E’ will feature no mudguards, rack or pump. ‘Version L’ has mudguards and no rack and ‘Version R’ has mudguards and a rack.

What’s new from Brompton?

Brompton is constantly releasing new models to spruce up the range – including the rather exciting electric bike version. Here’s a look at some of the more recent additions…

Brompton Explore

brompton bikes

Push the boundaries with wide tyres, and extra luggage space. The Explore was released with a range of matching bags and equipment.

Read more here.

Brompton X Chpt3

brompton bikes

Designed in collaboration with David Millar, the Chpt3 model is a little more expensive than most at £1990, but it features some clever updates which drop the weight.

Read more: Brompton X Chpt 3 review

Brompton Electric

brompton bikes

Brompton’s electric bike comes with an added boost of 300 watts, with an integrated battery which sits on a compact bag stored on the front of the bike.

Brompton Black Edition

The Black Edition range is available in Black, Turkish Green, Orange and Black Lacquer – and comes with black components and a gloss finish. Prices start from £1,010.

Fully Customisable colourways

As well as selecting your handlebar, luggage and gearing preferences, you can also choose the colour scheme for your Brompton.

The new factory in Greenford has allowed the brand to bring painting in-house, and as a result a selection of new colours have been released as well as a lacquer and metallic finish option.

New options include:

  • Bolt Blue Lacquer
  • Graphite Metallic
  • House Red
  • Signal Orange
  • Flame Lacquer
  • Purple Metallic
  • Hot Pink
  • Papyrus White