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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:46 am 
Windmilling for a Scotch Egg
Windmilling for a Scotch Egg
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Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:27 am
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Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
OK, my office is due to move to a city centre and I am thinking of getting a folding bike so I can park outside the centre and ride a couple of miles in. A friend has a Brompton which he kindly lent me to try out over the last couple of days - the normal office is shut so we are in Leeds centre.
 
Parked for free (Hi Ringo!!) and weaved my way through the city streets to my office, about 1-2 miles, some slight hills. Then up 2 storeys to the office for the day.
 
As an added advantage (well I think it was) I had to fix a puncture on it at home and it needed a good clean and fettle so it also gave me a chance to check how it was made, and how easy it is to maintain.
 
The bike I borrowed was a specced up 6 speed bike, with M bars, rack, mudguards and a full set of luggage (not used but had a good look). Cost £1000 all in with the luggage....  :shock:  :D
 
Folding/unfolding
 
You really need someone to show you or watch an online instruction video to see how best to do it. It folds up really small but it's very difficult to figure out how to do it with no instructions. Once you've got it practiced a few times and figured out the order you need to do things its really quick.
 
You can put lights on the bike but I did notice that if you have a front light attached to the bars, if it projects forwards (like a torch shape) you'll have to remove it when it folds up or it'll smash to bits on the wheel when you fold it....  :cry: The rear light I mounted on the top of the seat post but if you have the rack you could put it where the reflector is. As it wasn't my bike I didn't want to fiddle with all that but the post mount is fine even when folded up.
 
Gears
 
The gears were a love/hate thing. I loved the 2 speed derailleur, very simple and fast to shift. Very nice mechanism and self adjusting - I was very impressed. However the 3 speed hub gear I hated. Nice to be able to shift when at a standstill but it slipped a bit, wasn't as positive as a normal mech and not very confidence inspiring. Good range of gears but in all honesty you might not need it if you live in a reasonably flat area.
 
Brakes
 
Adequate but nothing more. They might work better with some better blocks on but the arms are very long and flexible, the levers plastic and a bit naff and the cable runs long. I'd love to try some Ultegra deep drop brakes (they might fit) and some proper XT levers or similar. If you're used to V's, or even modern road brakes, they won't feel great. Mind you, I like to stop pretty quickly so I may be a bit biased....
 
Brompton could probably improve things by beefing up the callipers a bit and installing some proper levers. Even £200 bikes come with metal levers nowadays.
 
Equipment
 
Most of the equipment on the Brompton is fairly basic. To be honest, I struggle to see how they justify charging so much for the basic bike as most of it is pretty simple construction, using cheaper materials. Ok, so much of it is unique to Brompton but they sell a lot of them nowadays and have done for many years so I would expect a little better in some areas.
 
The brake levers are plastic and naff, same with the shifters. The cranks are very basic too, the pedals very slippy. There isn’t anything special about the wheels either, basic hubs and basic rims. I liked the back end frame section, intricate and very clever, but the front end is very heavy and chunky – surely this could be made from aluminium to save heaps of weight? The grips feel really naff too…. The list goes on!
 
Handling
The handling is pretty sharp. It was probably one of the biggest surprises. The bike goes round corners like it’s on rails, it’s very impressive. I pumped the tyres up to a ridiculous 80psi and the bumps were still soaked up reasonably well too, thanks to the rubber bumper suspension. It felt like a small wheeled bike but it was never an issue – I’d be happy riding longer distances (flattish areas) no problem.
 
The only thing I didn’t like was that it seemed very short (but I didn’t want to adjust the bars too much as it isn’t mine) and the front end was very flexible. This might be because the M bars are a bit noodly – I’d try the straight bars first before I committed to anything. I suppose it was good as the bumps were absorbed a bit better but I’d prefer it a bit stiffer for better control and confidence.
 
Weight
 
It’s heavy. Really heavy. I know the one I had had the rack and 3 speed rear hub and longer seatpost but I didn’t expect it to weigh so much. It’s ok lifting it in and out of a car but up the 2 floors to my office was ridiculous. My arm still hurts from carrying it up those stairs.
 
If I was buying one I would really try to get the weight down a fair bit when speccing it up. I’d lose the rear hub gear, the rack and maybe plump for the straight bars.
 
Overall
 
I quite liked it but the weight and front end flex are a concern. That, along with the price, would make me search out alternatives before buying the Brompton. I suppose the very small folded size isn’t something that I was concerned with but it is the leader in that respect – so if that’s important to you then it might be a winner.
 
I might get the chance to buy it off my friend one day. If that happened I would lose the rack and fit a standard rear wheel to make it a 2 speed, then try the flat bars too. That’s save a fair bit of weight and the bars might stiffen the front end up. I’d also look at replacing the pedals and grips with something better quality. I’ve seen a mod which enables you to replace the standard transport wheel for skateboard wheels which I would try as the standard ones are a bit flimsy. Some better quality cranks might reduce the weigh a touch, and certainly improve the looks a bit…. (oooh I’m so vain!). I’d see if there was any other brakes I could fit, and if not at least replace the levers.
 
There is a mod online to fit an 8sp gripshift controlled rear hub which is a much better option for gears if I ever wanted more range, that’d be worth looking at, and selling the current setup would recoup some of that cost too.
 
 
If you have any specific questions fire away! Any suggestions for mods or alternatives specs are very welcome too.
 
Thanks all!!
 
Rob.
 
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:52 am 
aka Leo Swayer
aka Leo Swayer
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Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:15 pm
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Location: Wales.UK
Think i'd rather shoulder a proper bike that be seen dead on one of those :D
Really not my cup of tea, and certainly not a the sharp end of a grand :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: .
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:03 am 
Windmilling for a Scotch Egg
Windmilling for a Scotch Egg
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Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:27 am
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Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Grannygrinder wrote:
Think i'd rather shoulder a proper bike that be seen dead on one of those :D
Really not my cup of tea, and certainly not a the sharp end of a grand :shock:


I think the luggage he bought was quite expensive.

Just checked and the luggage was £160 so that makes it £840 for the bike. Still expensive though, I'll agree.


As for the other point - they do ride a lot better than you expect. Some people have no choice but to use a folder, a full size bike isn't an option. And I'd rather ride this than walk, it was actually quite fun!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:49 am 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:00 pm
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its the price you pay for safely parking it at work though.

i cant bear leaving my bikes locked for more than a few minutes outdoors let alone a full working day.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:38 pm 
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:55 pm
Posts: 8220
Location: New Forest, UK
Many peak rail services don't allow bikes - except folders. Also, they go without questions on buses and coaches. While they are of course a compromise compared to a non-folder, the practicality makes up for it.

I go regularly to the Netherlands on business and flying with a Brompton is really simple and you slot straight into their cycling system when you arrive.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:53 pm 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Rob

I'd still ride a folder into Leeds if I didn't have safe storage at work...

You parked down Ivory street today? and did you see my Blue M5?

Have a look at the strida website... £500+ but folds and unfolds in 10 secs max... I have a cheap copy of one if you wish to have a go...

Stem at home but can bring in tomorrow!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:53 pm 
Retro Guru
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when I had the chance to commute (train & bike) to work I was lucky to find a cheap used Dahon bike (Mu P...) which was geared and folds into a bag. Geared, cause a hill was in between the train-station and workplace, needs to fold into a bag because the train company would charge me extra if I carry a bike into the train, in the bag its categorized as luggage which is free :?

folding was not that easy, riding a bit flexible (due to seatpost and fork/stem/handlebar combination) but could live with it.

was looking at Brompton too, but to expensive for what you get.

When I would buy me a folder for life - I would get me a Bike Friday 8)

Good luck finding the right bike. From next summer on I want to commute to work as often as I can, but with my road bike - 35 km one direction, would be a bit steep with a folder :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:03 pm 
Windmilling for a Scotch Egg
Windmilling for a Scotch Egg
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Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:27 am
Posts: 4840
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
ringo wrote:
Rob

I'd still ride a folder into Leeds if I didn't have safe storage at work...

You parked down Ivory street today? and did you see my Blue M5?

Have a look at the strida website... £500+ but folds and unfolds in 10 secs max... I have a cheap copy of one if you wish to have a go...

Stem at home but can bring in tomorrow!


Parked on road that joins ivory street - in front of gas works?

I did do a bit of an odd journey to work from there as I didn't know which way to go!!

I got there at 7.30am so may have missed you.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:16 pm 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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I was there at 07.45!

On foot at mo, as I cant fit bike in Beemer...

You there tomorrow?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:50 pm 
MacRetro rider
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Posts: 8658
As regards the brakes, did that one have dual pivot calipers. Mine did and they felt pretty good, never noticed any front flex, my gears didn't slip and it could handle a bit of single track surprisingly well. I agree its surprisngly heavy, the hinges are cast iron, its true :shock:

I reckon a Dahon would be a better bet for better money or Reisse muller Birdy for the same price though. Brompton is I feel trying to trade too much on its rep like harley davidson do in the motorbike world. Bike should be made of aluminium or high end steel for that price nowadays. I know a titanium one exists but that stupid money.


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