Brompton Folding Bikes Buyers Guide

The Brompton is the world’s favourite folding bike. This small, perfectly formed and fabulous folding bike is loved by commuters, holidaymakers and anyone else who appreciates their elegant simplicity. Brompton bikes are built for people who love to ride. 

In this advice guide, we tell you a little bit about this iconic company, talk you through the Brompton range and give you the rundown on some Brompton basics.

What is a Brompton? 

Brompton bikes are recognised across the world as the definitive folding bike. Today, like the day they started in 1975, all Bromptons are hand-built in London. From an in-house design team to skilled braziers and expert technicians on the assembly line, Brompton’s commitment to a best-in-class product that just works is absolute.

In a world of customisation and choice, there’s an elegance in the simplicity of Brompton bikes. Every Brompton folding bike uses the same sized frame and runs on 16” wheels. Brompton bikes are unisex, which means any model is suitable for men and women.

However, Brompton offers a range of production models which they differentiate using their own system. To the uninitiated, it can be confusing to tell the difference between them, but it’s actually pretty simple.

Each Brompton has a standardised three-digit acronym that you can use to identify their specifics:

  • The first letter (M, S, H or P) describes the type of handlebars fitted. 
  • The middle number refers to the number of gears the bike has.
  • The last letter can either be an E, an L or an R depending on accessories fitted to the bike. E bikes have no mudguards, Ls have mudguards, and Rs are fitted with a rear rack.

We go into detail about the different options that are available in the guide to give you a proper rundown of Brompton basis.

Why should I buy a Brompton? 

A Brompton is the perfect partner for city life and beyond. It’s a fast and agile machine that’s more than a match for conventional bikes. In a nutshell, it’s a highly capable road bike that folds flat in less than a minute. With some practice, it can be done in around 20 seconds (quicker if you’re in a rush!).

People ride Brompton’s for all sorts of reasons, but it’s among commuters where the Brompton earned its reputation. Travel to any train station, and you’ll see the familiar site of Brompton’s being carried on to trains and pulled off them.

Commuters love the fact that a performance bike can be folded up, carried and stored. Whether it’s the boot of your car, the luggage space on a train or next to your desk at work, Brompton’s are ultra-portable. It’s not just convenient, it’s much safer too to have your bike to hand rather than left to face the elements and potential thieves.

How a Brompton is built

Frame

The majority of Brompton frames are made of steel. The main frame, rear triangle, fork and handlebar are formed of lightweight steel tubing, welded (brazed) together using brass to form a strong yet light bicycle.

You can find Brompton bikes in a range of colours, from classic black to cool blue. At Halfords, we stock a range of Bromptons finished in classic colours, and cool contemporary finishes.

Handlebars

At Halfords, we stock Bromptons with the classic Brompton M bars and stylish S bars.

  • M Type – The classic Brompton handlebar shape. Offers an efficient, comfortable ride.
  • S Type – For those that prefer a more responsive ride. This handlebar allows the rider to adopt a lower, sportier position. 

Brompton H Type bars are a specialist option for taller riders.

  • H Type – The same style as the M, but with a 60mm higher stem, for taller riders.

Brompton’s P type handlebars were discontinued in 2019.

Gears

Brompton offers four different gear options. On 2-speed Bromptons, there’s a derailleur transmission. On 3-speed Brompton bikes the gears are provided by a Sturmey Archer rear hub. On 6-speed Bromptons there is a 3-speed sealed rear-hub gear and a double chainring at the front.

At Halfords, we currently stock the single-speed B75 and 3-speed and 6-speed Bromptons. These offer the best combination of value and flexibility, wherever you’re riding.

Your choice of gearing will reflect how you expect to use the bike. Here are some pointers on selecting the right Brompton gears.

  • 1 Speed - Light and simple for flat city riding.
  • 2-speed – Basic stop and go gearing.
  • 3-speed - A robust, enclosed hub gear - an excellent choice for everyday cycling. An excellent every-day choice.
  • 6-speed - The ultimate all-rounder. For those who wish to take on longer rides and challenging inclines. The ride-anywhere adventure Brompton.

Saddle Height

As a guide, Brompton bikes are suitable for riders between 140cm to 203cm (4’6” to 6’8”). At Halfords, all Bromptons come fitted with a standard seatpost which is perfect for most riders.

If you find the standard seatpost is too short or want greater flexibility to alter the seat height, then Brompton offers telescopic and extended options which you can purchase directly from them.

Luggage, mudguards and lights

The basic Brompton is an excellent city bike, but by adding a few extras, it can be transformed into the ultimate all-weather super-commuter.

The Brompton luggage system has been designed specifically for the bike, providing extra carrying capacity all over the bike.

You can use the front carrier block to carry up to 10kg of luggage. Mounting bags on the head tube allow you to carry even more  and the rear rack models (available as an add-on) is built to comfortably carry a sizeable load in the Brompton rack bag.

The solid Brompton frame means no flex and the low-centre of gravity and small wheels means even a luggage-laden Brompton will handle well. Just remember to take it all off before you attempt to fold it!

If you’re thinking about commuting to work on a Brompton, mudguards are a sensible investment. Models such as the favourite Brompton S3L come with mudguards fitted. These hardwearing factory-fitted mudguards will keep the worst of the road spray away from you and your clothes during the worst weather.

At Halfords, we believe mudguards are a must which is why all models we sell, excluding the B75, come fitted with mudguards. Factory fitted mudguards are sturdy and robust and will protect you and other road users whatever the weather.

The perfect Brompton

If you’re interested in a Brompton, but don’t where to start, here are some suggestions to help you narrow down your search.

The go-anywhere rider

If your prospective commute is a sizeable length over rolling terrain, then consider the Brompton M6L. The 6-speed gearing will help as you power up ascents and speed down the other side, with the M shape handlebar offering a comfortable ride position.

For the super-commuter 

Spin to the station, fold, hop on the train, unfold and you’re on your way again. If this sounds like your perfect commute, choose the Brompton M3L and invest in some luggage. Three gears are enough for most riders, and this bike is built to last so it’ll be a folding friend for many years.

The stress-free basic Brompton

Live and work somewhere flat? Ultimate simplicity comes in the form of the classic and affordable Brompton B75. An M-shaped handlebar helps you to nip between meetings, the shop and your house and the single-speed gearing keeps riding simple and maintenance stress-free.

You can see our entire range of Brompton bikes and accessories on our website. If you’re interested in test-riding a Brompton then you’ll find our Brompton range in 49 Halfords stores across the UK. 

Zip to the train station, nip to a nearby meeting, bundle it into the car for a weekend away or simply pound the pedals and commute to work - folding bikes really are the swiss army knife of the cycling world. Add an electric motor and you’ve got it all in one small but perfectly formed package.

If you’re looking for information on folding e-bikes, you’re in the right place. In our electric folding bikes buyers guide our experts explain how electric folding bikes work, the features you should look out for and just why an e-bike could be right for you.

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