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The next time you visit London, take a look around, and you’ll notice a vast number of cyclists have something weirdly specific in common: most of them are riding Bromptons.
These iconic fold-ups have gone from a ‘love it or hate it’ novelty to an iconic necessity in just a matter of years – not just in London, but most other urban areas around the country, too.
The Brompton has become a staple bike for metropolitan living, loved by commuters and casual urban riders everywhere, but what makes the Brompton so good, and is it worth the investment?
Stick with us for the complete run-down on everything you need to know about these classic rides.
Are Brompton Bikes Any Good?
Brompton bikes have an excellent build and ride quality, and they’re an excellent size for any rider. Their compact, folding design makes them ideal for commuters. You’ll have a bike that can take you anywhere, but you can quickly fold it up, bring it on public transport, or carry it around if needed.
Despite their 16” wheels and compact frame, these bikes feel like the real deal when you’re cruising along. Bromptons still include all the ‘classic’ bike features like gears, integrated lighting options, bags, and upgrade options.
All Bromptons share one distinctive feature in common: their folding frames. Their curved frame consists of a hinged main tube, rear triangle, fork, and a hinged handlebar stem. Bromptons are built with urban rides in mind. However, they can handle the occasional off-road detour in moderation.
Why Are Brompton Bikes So Expensive?
Two main reasons: their frames are handmade, and they have an incredibly high resale value, which often transcends their initial purchase price.
Brompton frames are handmade in England. Because Bromptons fold up, their frames also require two hinge axes instead of one. Two hinge axes require extra tube work, lugs and fittings. You’ll be paying for the extra work that goes into their construction, and because they’re handmade in London, you’ll automatically pay more to reward manufacturers with a price that’s in keeping with the capital’s expensive standard of living.
Their components are incredibly unique, too, with around 80% of Brompton components made exclusively for their bikes. During manufacturing, steel parts are brazed rather than welded, and each bike is stamped with the signature of the brazer who worked on it.
Are Brompton Bikes Worth the Money?
Absolutely – these bikes may have a high price tag, but they’re worth every penny. Their folding mechanism, durability, hand-crafted frames, and excellent ride quality offer a truly unique experience; plus, they’re the most compact folding bike on the market.
When fully folded, most Bromptons condense to around 10” wide x 24-25” long x 24”-25” high – the most compact fold on the market. Despite their small size, Bromptons don’t compromise on quality.
They fold out to a longer wheelbase (that’s the length from axle to axle) than other hybrid bikes. A longer wheelbase guarantees acceleration and manoeuvrability – you’ll get this with the Brompton, meaning you’ll have a robust, versatile ride for your multimodal transport.
What makes the Brompton folding mechanism so exceptional is the speed at which it folds out. Some fold-out bikes require a lot of faffing about to expand them. This can include adjustments that require you to reach into the frame. The Brompton unfolds in just a few clicks – and that’s not the best bit.
When you unfold your Brompton, you can use its various fold phases to function as other items, including a kickstand and a shopping cart. Is there anything better for urban living?
Do Brompton Bikes Hold Their Value?
Brompton bikes tend to hold their value exceptionally well. They’re iconic, well-made, and in high demand, so even on the second-hand market, you can expect to fetch a handsome price for your Brompton.
Compared to other bicycles, age has minimal effect on their value. Brompton bikes have had a few changes over the years, including the internally-geared hub in 2009 and a combined handlebar, brake, and shifter improvement that came out in 2017.
Although changes like these can affect value slightly, the difference is minimal compared to other bicycles. The Brompton is easy to retrofit and upgrade, and many modifications can use standard, ‘non-Brompton’ parts.
This makes them an attractive purchase for enthusiasts, but the modification element is a very small factor. The truth is, the value is in the name and their stellar reputation – enthusiasts and eagle-eyed purchasers are rarely deterred by age and condition with Bromptons, mainly because they’re so well-made.
They’re unlikely to wear down as quickly as other bicycles, and they require minimal maintenance. Even the oldest Brompton models can still function today with a little TLC.
Why Are Brompton Bikes Sold Out?
During the 2020 lockdown, the country’s love for cycling boomed. Unfortunately, some of the most popular bikes, like the Brompton, gained even more recognition, leading to a massive nationwide shortage, slamming the brakes on the country’s supply of bikes.
Exceptionally high demand was also encouraged by a “supply chain nightmare”, with many bike factories closing down and raw material producers struggling to meet demand.
Brompton has been struggling to meet the sharp rise in the number of prospective buyers and has received more demand than they can keep up with. Social distancing measures also put a strain on Brompton warehouses and other manufacturing spaces, which saw a decline in production rates when paired with staff illnesses.
The Brompton is an iconic statement of urban living. Popularity may have ebbed and flowed over the years, but the Brompton has proved it can still roll with the times, and with demand for these classic rides still soaring, we doubt they’re going away anytime soon.
Despite a steep price tag, each Brompton guarantees an exceptional level of craftsmanship and durability – perfect for commuters everywhere. If you’re a busy, multimodal rider, the Brompton is still an ideal ride for you!