Sunday, 15 May 2011

Brompton Launch Ride and Factory Visit

A bundle of Brompton riders
Break at The Brompton Cemetry
Our Bromptons all parked while we had lunch
The only silver Brompton in the world?
This bag I like and want.
All boxed with their address labels and ready to go.
Final stages in the factory
Interesting sport shoes for summer
Bromptons with Brooks, a good combination

Yesterday I took up my invitation to take part in the 2011 BWC Launch Ride and visit to the Brompton factory. It was a great day out.

We had a group ride starting from the Mall outside Buckingham Palace. There were about 100 riders and we were escorted by Brompton staff through South West London, (Kensington and Chelsea). The route took us past ‘Brompton’ landmarks, The Brompton Oratory, The Brompton Hospital and The Brompton Cemetery were we stopped for a short break. (None of the landmarks are connected to the Brompton bike factory.

We had a final ride along the river to Kew, home of the Brompton factory. Our Bromptons were tagged and parked and we were given drink and a hot lunch. After the 14 mile ride the wine gave me wobbly legs.

Then came the tour around the factory.

Some facts I can recall:
The factory is operational at the weekends.
To keep up with the demand they have moved to assembly line production.
The turn around for an order is now three weeks.
70 percent of the bikes made at the factory are for export.
Staff get given a Brompton when they join. This must be returned when they leave, but they get a discount to buy one.
The quality control is extremely high. Every aspect of assembly is tracked.
Different countries have different demands for the colours.
Sales of Bromptons are on the rise in Holland.
They still use the old style saddles but only as a marker that the bike will receive a custom saddle.
The steel joints are built to withstand knocks and falls.
The bike is tested to it’s breaking point to ensure it can withstand knocks and falls
There are only two matt Raw lacquer (The Bronze colour) Bromptons in the world.
There is only one Nickel (Silver) Brompton.
Brompton are open to regular colour changes and additions.
Black it still the most popular colour.
It is cheaper to buy a new Brompton than get your old one re-sprayed a new colour.
The Brompton Pods (the cases that allow you to safely pack the bike for long distance travel) will be back in production in the new year.
They don’t give away bikes to celebrities. Everyone must buy their bike.

While I loved the ride and trip around the factory. (Think Willy Wonker Chocolate Factory but without Johnny Depp.) The really best part was meeting other Brompton owners and swapping information and stories. Loved it!

Lots of interesting talk about the Brompton bags. I will look again at the C bag but while they have improved the T bag (the Touring Pannier by giving it a yellow lining they have not changed the carry strap. It is still too thin and with no padding.

Roll call
Ed, with the S Type Brompton with very stylish Brooks handles and Brooks saddle. Ed told me that the London School of Economics has secure bike parking for students that requires access through three swipe card doors.
Adrian, with his 2 speed M Type Brompton that gets him through traffic from Liverpool Street Station to The Strand each day.
Jane who had rented two tone (Aqua and Yellow) Brompton for the day for £20. She had her own much loved 6 year old Brompton stolen a week ago. She is upset about the loss but looking forward to choosing a new Brompton.
Sun, with a her very new one month old red M Type Brompton that she got from Evans after a short delay.
Ms ‘Stylish Hat over a Helmet’. Brought her hat from Bobbins with her Titanium Brompton. She said she had no regrets about spending the extra money to get a lighter bike.
Mr ‘Interesting Sport Shoes.’ He got his shoes from a recent seasonal sale at Lidals Lidl supermaket for £3.

I was so inspired by the ride and the day out that I said I would sign up for the BWC in August. (It may have been the wine talking.)

It was also so nice to meet people who had read this blog and I am very glad to have helped in any bike related decision.

Oh yes. Big big thank you to Brompton staff.

NB. Still some problems with Blogger. Not sure if this post and access to comments will go live as planned.


My Orange Brompton said...

I thought saw you on Saturday but was too scared to ask if it was you as I only recognised you by your feet. It really was a great day.

Gareth said...

That looks like a fantastic trip out. Every year I want to go and I always look at the follow up photos on flickr but can never work out how to get an invite to attend. Is it a based on finding a golden ticket in a chocolate bar?

Cycling in Heels said...

I think a last minute email was sent out by Brompton to people who had registered an interest in the 2011 BWC. I got an invite because of the blog.

Cycling in Heels said...

Hi "My Orange Brompton'. I did respond to your comment but Blogger seems to have lost it.

I wrote that I wish you had said 'Hello' as I wanted to hear about your travels across London. I also wrote that I liked that black white and orange photo on your blog.

Lim Soo 林蘇 said...

Did...did you become the new Brompton owner after the shop visit?

Thanks. Interesting facts sharing.

Cycling in Heels said...

Sadly no. I still love the Brompton I have.

Angelina Russo said...

What a fantastic tour! Amazing to have had such access. I particularly like the box the Brompton comes in. Worth framing! Just found some brompton videos by @behoovingmoving. He has the video camera attached to the bike as he's cycling through parts of the world. Great shots!
Given me some ideas for our CultureCycle tours!

mark watson said...

I also like the bag ,is it a custom flap for the s bag as they only make two at the moment thanks Mark.

Cycling in Heels said...

Only two? Shame.

Anonymous said...

Great bike, so nice you were able to go on the tour!

Sun Kyu said...

hi!!! its sun! it was great to meet you that day! Was a wonderful day, fun ride, good food :), fun tour and great bikes! Was super to meet you as well! Did you sign up for the race in August? I signed up and will be practicing running and unfolding the brompton so i dont embarrass myself!! Hope to see you there?

Cycling in Heels said...

Hi Sun! I want to go but not sure if I am up to racing. Plus I have to drive to get there too. I may just come to watch. Hope everything is still ok with your Brompton.

Anonymous said...

Wow ! .... Wish I was there. I bought my frist Brompton here in my hometown Ostend (Belgium), a 'black' one, two weeks ago. There's a bicycle shop in my street who sells Brompton bikes.
A week later, my wife bought also one, a black one too. I always had bikes, but this will be my last, I'm 74...
Love your blog !

Cycling in Heels said...

Nimeus. It may not be your last. I have met riders who have more than one Brompton! Enjoy.