Monday, 19 October 2009

Buying a Brompton

A couple weeks ago I got an email requesting advice on buying a Brompton from someone in Canada. Here is the response I sent, but I don’t know if it was helpful as they didn’t let me know what happened.

Dear M

I have a 6 speed Brompton, M Type with tyre dynamo lights and Eazy wheels. As you can see I got the basic Black but there are lots of fabulous colours to choose from.

If I was starting again I would still go for the M Type, but with Titanium frame because I do a lot of folding and carrying of my bike when I am travelling across London and using public transport. I am now used to the weight of the bike but it is heavy to carry up and down stairs. For the first few months I was really tired.

I would also not have the dynamo lights to cut down the weight for me. I have additional battery lights and find LED lights are much better and safer than dynamo lights

What I found very useful was the Eazy wheels. When the Brompton is folded and you just need to push it along these wheels turn the bike into a little trolley. Be sure to check you have the Eazy wheels which are larger than the little wheels that come as standard on a Brompton. A few Brompton owners have asked me how come I was pushing my Brompton as a trolley much more easily than they could then they noticed they didn't have the same wheels. Oh yes I forgot I have a rear luggage rack too.

As for handling and cycling. The 6 speed has been brilliant for me as it gets me up most hills. Despite what I said about the weight of the standard frame for carrying, the Brompton is a fairly light bike for cycling and if you have the leg power and inclination you can speed along with the Sporty types. When cycling in rush hour in the city of London I have noticed that other non-Brompton cyclists are surprised that I can keep up with them or in some cases move faster, even though I have not trying to race them.

As you can see from my blog I also have a Trek bike but this is definitely a slower ride compared to the Brompton.

I haven't had any problems with the gears or the bike itself. It is tough. I have had to replace the seat. You will see that Brompton have now upgraded the seat and it is much stronger. I did have a few problems with the dynamo lights due to loose wiring but were easily fixed at no extra cost to me.

As for bags, I personally didn't like the Folding basket. I think is is a little overpriced for what it does and it is not as attractive as an actual wicker basket. The one I have is not by Brompton. When I first started cycling I got and constantly used the Touring pannier, which is easy to clip on and off, and does carry a full load of shopping. Eventually I didn’t want to carry something, which was that large, and I got a smaller Brompton zip top bag, which they don't seem to make anymore. I love mine because it comes with a strap for my shoulder. I think the new messenger bag on the Brompton site is the replacement.

While it is great to have a bag when you buy the bike, get the bike first and find out what your needs are before investing in a bag as they are expensive. You will then know whether you need or want a bag or whether you can get by with strapping an ordinary bag on the back or carrying it across your shoulder.

The one item I brought but never used was the bike Cover and Saddlebag. Some rail networks in the UK require your folding bike to be covered when you are travelling by train. But I discovered that this isn't a problem for any of networks I use in London.

I do love my Brompton and it is always a thrill to see another owner when I am out on the bike. If I got another one I would go for a colour, like, orange or blue.

Finally, I do have a super strong (and heavy) D ring lock. But recently I have not been carrying the lock with me because I can fold the bike and push it into a shop. At work I just fold it completely and it can be tucked away in a corner or under a desk. When I went to the Tate Museum recently the bike was put in the cloakroom for free. When folded the Brompton is smaller than a lot of suitcases and lighter too.

I hope the above has been helpful. Enjoy your test ride

Suede shoe.

Above is a photo of my Brompton when it was all shiny and new, with the large pannier I now rarely use, the old saddle before it split, and the bike pump before it got mangled.  Still loved by me.


Cinaed said...

Wonderful timing, I reserved a Brompton on Saturday for a December delivery but have to go into the shop this afternoon to confirm in detail exactly what I want. Colour has been difficult, two sleepless nights! So many look great but I'm down to white or yellow now. Maybe white will win out. I'll talk to them at the shop! I've loved having the choice.

I was unsure what to do about bags but waiting makes a lot of sense to me.

Thanks again for your advice.

tricotmiss said...

I'm the Canadian and I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. Mainly it was because I'm still dithering about some of the details! :)

I'll be ordering my bike this week (fingers crossed) and I'll fill you in once I'm all locked in.

Your advice was extremely helpful (especially confirming the value of the rack and Eazy wheels).

Joseph said...

This article was extremly helpful to me, as I am deciding between a M3L, M6L, or M6R. I have tried the 3 speed and am very impressed at how well constructed and zippy it is; I even managed to overtake people on fullsized 18+ geared bikes going uphill! So impressed, that I don't know whether it is worth buying a 6 speed, afterall the 3 speed does all I wish.

So it's that, or whether I want a rack. Of course I can imagine plenty of situations where a rack could hypothetically come in useful, but after spending a lot extra for one (£100 price difference at ComptonCycles) I don't know if I will in practive use it.

How often do you use the rack? Afterall you seem more interested in the various front panniers and baskets :)

Suede Shoe said...

Glad to hear the information has helped everyone. Thanks for additional question Joseph and as you see I have done a post on the rack. I didn't realise how expensive it is.

Neil B. said...

Thanks for the advice Grace, especially in terms of the bags & Eazy wheels. I'm another Canadian who is seriously consider purchasing a B and am researching all I can to help choose the right configuration for my needs... so far I'm headed towards an H6R. I recently came across your site and have been enjoying reading about your experiences with your B.

Grace Black said...

Hi Neil

Glad to be of help.