Author Topic: What do you think of Brompton today  (Read 3593 times)

What do you think of Brompton today
« on: September 20, 2020, 02:13:36 pm »
Sorry, it's a long ramble

I got an email from Brompton a few days ago regarding the Version 3 CHPT3 launch, priced at £2,295, with a little square asking me to “SHOP” – now that is a real joke as you cannot buy them, (or many other Brompton’s for that matter), as there are none for sale to “mere mortals”.  Also try getting even some basic spares and bits from a dealer and many are “out of stock”. OK CV-19 has slowed things down, but not that much, China are still churning stuff out in volume.

So what has happened to Brompton? – Evans, (owned by Sports direct), and Halfords are two of their dealers, talk to any small independent Bike shop who is a Brompton dealer and you will find that he is not happy.  Talk to the (young) guys in Evans and Halfords and many have never seen a Brompton…. maybe an exaggeration, but hopefully you know what I mean……….. It does not look to me as thought Brompton are supporting their smaller dealers …..they have an “online” business, which is of course “down” at the moment, but they have started selling direct to the public from their web site, (but the Bike has to be collected from and “prepared” by a dealer – “for safety reasons” – that's sometimes a laugh – ask a few who have bought from Evans and Halfords)

Again, what has happened to Brompton, OK supply falls way short of demand and many, many Bikes are going to the Far East.
But are Brompton’s now selling “boxes” not Bikes – they are a private company but have a couple of corporate boys on their Board, (they have been there for a while), are they looking to go the way of many private companies and will we see a public floatation or take over and sale to a public company in the not too distant future – shareholders and directors will be eyeing this up with some glee – but I may be completely wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my Bromptons – over the years brakes, wheels, tyres, hubs, etc., have all got better – but they have not really come that far in the last 30 years since the Mk 2’s of the late 80’s early 90’s – I would have thought that they could have been a bit more innovative as basically they just produce 2 bikes – a normal Bike with the choice of handlebars and gears and a eBrompton – their "innovation" today seems to be down to loads of Special Edition paint jobs.

What do you think – will anything more creative come out of Brompton in the future or are they happy to sit back on their laurels.

This is not a criticism of the Brompton Bikes, it is just my reflection of how I feel about Brompton today, I bought an eBrompton a few weeks ago through their on-line portal, (I'm very pleased with the bike), and after ringing around quite a few dealers I have managed to "order" a normal Brompton, but with a limited choice, (certainly no Superlight bikes available to order!), which I hope to get ....... but if you can order many dealers are saying "for early 2021" delivery.

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2020, 02:41:38 pm »
I would prefer it if they focused on their core business rather than the marketing gimmicks like the Chpt3 tie-in but I fear such things are the harsh reality of the modern world and won’t be going away in a hurry.

I really want a new Brompton but couldn’t afford one right now anyway, even if there were any available.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2020, 02:57:46 pm »
Brompton doesn't really need the support of dealers (big or small) at the moment. The bikes sell themselves.

Quote
Also try getting even some basic spares and bits from a dealer and many are “out of stock”. OK CV-19 has slowed things down, but not that much, China are still churning stuff out in volume.

The capital and lead time on orders for new bits from China is still there. The current surge in demand is still relatively new and it's unpredictable how long it will last, or whether a big order for new bits would arrive after winter killed it off.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2020, 04:22:03 pm »
Brompton is actively sabotaging their dealers’ role in retailing bikes. The factory reserves a significant proportion of production slots, so ordering directly from Brompton has a much shorter delivery time than through a dealer. The price is the same, so why use a dealer?

Brompton has significantly restricted the dealer supply of major frame components and some other items. That will just encourage the aftermarket to produce clones.

I have equipped myself with appropriate tools to avoid dealing with Brompton for the foreseeable future on anything sizeable. The Brompton aftermarket has got big enough to supply even slow-wearing items like swingarm pivots, hinge clamps and hinge pins.

I was a full-on Brompton fanboy when it was engineering-centred over a decade ago but now reject the whole marketing-based approach of endless special edition bikes, clothing and luggage variations. The lack of real engineering improvement is pitiful. The last major one was the BWR hub, plucked from the ashes of the Sturmey collapse. The last minor ones were the brake and gear levers.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2020, 04:41:08 pm »
The whole CV-19 bike boom does seem to have affected their availability more than might have been expected, especially as their new factory was built with a fair bit of excess capacity. As LWaB notes, they do seem to have been pissing off their dealer networks, not only through the direct sales, but also because they've not been able to give them bikes, whilst shipping a large chunk of production to the far east (I've seen Indonesia mentioned in particular - not sure if this is because Brompton can charge higher prices there?). I'd not be entirely unsympathetic to the 'they're specialist bikes that require specialist servicing' argument, were it not for the fact that they let Halfords sell the ruddy things... I also think stuff like stopping selling the bag frames separately (so affecting e.g. Carradice bags) is a bit rubbish.

The bikes themselves are to an extent fashion items, trading on the 'made in London' thing, and so command a premium for that. OTOH as multi-modal commuter bikes they're unsurpassed, and it's hard to see how they could make major improvements without breaking backwards-compatibility of parts etc. IMO less plasticy shifters and better hinge clamps (like the Speedial ones) would be useful improvements. At one point there was a rumour that they were going to be producing a disc-braked version with bigger clearances, but that seems to have gone quiet - not sure if that's Covid-related, or whether it was indeed just rumour. I'd like to see what a 20" Brompton would look like, and how much bigger the folded package would be, but I can see that might be a niche market.

Though they're not perfect by any means, they do seem to have hit a sweet spot in terms of the compromises; Dahons and Terns just don't seem to have gathered the cult-like followings that Brompton have. I have to say on a smiles per mile basis my Brompton probably comes out best of all of my bikes.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2020, 04:48:22 pm »
If the original Dahon Curl had been properly engineered and continued to be developed, that would have been where I would have gone. The current Curl isn’t noticeably better than a Brompton and lacks integrated luggage (for no sensible reason).

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=15582.0 refers to the Curl of a decade ago.
http://warmplanetbikes.com/bikes/dahon/dahon-curl-i8/ is the current Curl.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2020, 04:49:37 pm »
I think they're treating it as a cash cow.  There are still glaring flaws in the design, but no pressure to improve.  C2W has been an enormous boost for them.  The market is ripe for a Brompton-slayer with decent components and a lighter frame (hi-tensile steel, ffs) but their lawyers pounce on anything similar-looking.  I'd like to see a firm with deep pockets really challenge them in a copyright court case (the patent on the fold is long expired).

I get roasted by a fanboy if I express this opinion on another forum, which is funny.
And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2020, 08:35:04 pm »
They are falling into the same complacency that killed off the British motor industry fifty years ago.

Selling as many as they can make, so why improve/develop the product? Special paint jobs cost next to nothing.

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2020, 08:52:31 pm »
The CHPT3 marketing puff is woeful, devoting more space to a few squiggly graphics than to the weight (it's basically an S6E-X) or any supposed technical advantages.  It reminds me of car manufacturers prolonging the life of an old model with special editions.
And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.

StuAff

  • Folding not boring
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2020, 09:21:51 pm »
Dahon fell into multiple traps. For over a decade, far too many changes, year after year, with far too little attention paid to supporting previous models, result being many spare parts were no longer available when needed. Then, after Josh Hon left to form Tern…dear lord. Boring model range, a few old favourites ruined by rubbish colour schemes and lousy component selection, plus utterly pointless new frame designs. I love my Speed Pro TT (it doesn't get ridden much, haven't got it out of the garage in ages, though when I ride it again, it will make me smile…), but if and when I replace it, it'll be a Tern, or AN Other brand. 

Unfortunately, Brompton have just created a whole load of traps of their own. Relying on third parties to fix some of the flaws in your product is not a good model, but they've been getting away with it, so why stop…No-one has done the complete package as well as Brompton. But Brompton should be making a better complete package, or trying to. Unfortunately, those who've really innovated in the folding market have remained fringe players, or gone out of business altogether. Brompton has learnt nothing from the competition, or just ignored those lessons, in favour of gimmicks. So, commuters and other devotees of folders, pay a fortune for this thing that weighs a ton (it's almost like they're trying to punish their customers, unless they're bodybuilders). But hey, special edition colour scheme and tan tyres!

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2020, 09:53:49 am »
I agree a slightly lighter bike would be nice, but I wonder if the hi-ten steel and the weight is a conscious trade-off against durability? A folder on public transport is likely to get knocked about a fair bit; thinner-gauge tubing would be lighter but more prone to dents.

I'm slightly suspicious of the British car industry analogy; have 3-speed utility bikes really improved in any meaningful sense since 1980? As a fundamentally mature design, you're then left with twiddling at the edges (brake levers, new bars, etc), and with special paint schemes to drive the marketing.

(Edit: I don't meant to sound like a Brompton apologist! I'm not a fan of their recent direction of travel wrt spare parts supply etc., but I think it's understandable from a commercial POV).

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2020, 02:22:23 pm »
I would seriously consider buying a Hummingbird over a Brompton if I could afford one. They are eye-wateringly expensive though.

Tbh, I suspect part of the reason the Hummingbird is so expensive is because it is built in Britain by F1 engineers. If they maybe built it to a slightly lower spec and/or shipped out production to the Far East, plus made a few design tweaks to make it more suitable for commuters (ie mudguards), it could be a genuine competitor to the Brompton.

Even with the weight of the motor, the electrically assisted version of the Hummingbird is still lighter than the Superlight Brompton and it goes like shit off a shovel from a standing start, so ideal for stop-start journeys with lots of traffic lights.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2020, 02:29:35 pm »
I suspect that Brompton’s continued use of thick-walled hi-ten steel is for ease of manufacturing. Thinner, stronger tubes are less forgiving of overheating and cold-forming. Butted Cro-Mo tubing works well for fabrication but costs quite a bit more than exhaust pipe (ERW).

Thinner walled tubes would be even more flexible than the current tubing and should be compensated for by a small diameter increase. That would involve a major redesign because of the close clearances when folded and the hinges and other aspects.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2020, 03:06:02 pm »
I would think most of the flexibility comes from the joints or the compromised frame geometry (it's not ideal for resisting torsion between the bars and BB).  Anyway, steel diamond frames, with very few exceptions, kept the same OD when butted tubing was introduced.  I know a lot of newer steel tubesets are a bit oversized, but the 1 1/8" headset is as much to blame for that as anything else.
And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2020, 03:47:28 pm »
The Ti frame copies are meant to be horrendously noodly, which would suggest that it's at least partly down to tube stiffness.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2020, 03:52:37 pm »
Which isn’t too surprising. Ti is about half the stiffness of steel (and half the density), so needs a noticeable diameter increase and/or a lot more wall thickness for the same sectional stiffness. Al is about 1/3 of steel, so more so.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2020, 04:06:44 pm »
I would seriously consider buying a Hummingbird over a Brompton if I could afford one. They are eye-wateringly expensive though.

Tbh, I suspect part of the reason the Hummingbird is so expensive is because it is built in Britain by F1 engineers. If they maybe built it to a slightly lower spec and/or shipped out production to the Far East, plus made a few design tweaks to make it more suitable for commuters (ie mudguards), it could be a genuine competitor to the Brompton.

Even with the weight of the motor, the electrically assisted version of the Hummingbird is still lighter than the Superlight Brompton and it goes like shit off a shovel from a standing start, so ideal for stop-start journeys with lots of traffic lights.

Wow, they are expensive!  I didn't hang back on bells and whistles with my Airnimal. only stopping short of the shiny German IGH, but even so, custom paint job, dyno hub and lights, travel case, still came in less than the basic 4-speed Hummingbird.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2020, 04:35:26 pm »
The electric Hummingbird is more expensive still, but the weight savings are huge. It’s less than half the weight of my Vektron for example (although the latter has a rack and guards etc.).
https://www.hummingbirdbike.com/shop-1/electric-bike

That motor with built in battery is pretty tidy - regenerative braking too:



Sorry. Back to the Brompton. At the end of the day, folded size and carrying convenience are everything with a folder, and the Brompton still can’t be beaten in those respects (unless the budget allows, of course).

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2020, 10:37:00 am »
Fascinating comments. Agree with all. Excuse my ignorance,but why doesnt Brompton go with alloy frame or wotever? Inherent structural weakness? But since when have I seen reported some other frames...collapse? Anyways,would it save on costs? Sometimes I defer to those better educated,sometimes not

I see a great demand in Indonesia for Brompton bikes. I read the peoples are hoovering them up and selling them at double costs. The Asian market appears to be one steroids for the bikes: boys and girls. Once purchased the machines are upengineered with better add ons or improvements by mostly men and clubs formed.

When there's money and demand afoot we can only expect capitalisation on the product. Maybe this product has zenithed. A few years of plateau then...downhill? Or maybe mass production,with reduced prices? Once the corporates come in the blood will be spilt on the factory floor: Made in London means...well,anything you want it to mean,because made means whatever your best legal team decides what it means.

I dont own a Brompton myself,but am addicted to watching all things about them.

I would be interested if they could come up with some 20 inch wheeled job that was economical and offered some reasonable commuting,touring,folding proper properties

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2020, 12:41:23 pm »
Made in the UK for the Mini means construct in Belgium, get it off the car transporter and stick the badge on the front before loading it onto another car transporter. #cynical
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2020, 02:39:59 pm »
Nah...body panels are pressed in Swindon and assembly is at the Cowley plant in Oxford.  Not sure where the engines come from now.  They were Brazilian in the first generation.
And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2020, 05:05:25 pm »
Not all, as i understand it, though some as you say are Cowley
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2020, 05:36:22 pm »
Does Brompton have any competitors? Is there another bike that folds as small as a Brompton, and is cheaper and lighter, and as easily available in the UK?

The Hummingbird looks great and it's much lighter but then it costs three times as much. And folds bigger, although narrow.

Dahon Curl has the same fold as a Brompton but it's no lighter and not cheaper. And it's hard to find.

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2020, 07:12:07 pm »
The Hummingbird looks great and it's much lighter but then it costs three times as much. And folds bigger, although narrow.

Yes, it’s significantly narrower folded than a Brompton - this makes it much easier to carry (as does the fact that it’s so much lighter).

It also means it slips easily into the luggage space between seats on the train, which a Brompton doesn’t.

Can you tell I’m a fan?
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Arellcat

  • Velonautte
Re: What do you think of Brompton today
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2020, 05:28:41 pm »
I would be interested if they could come up with some 20 inch wheeled job that was economical and offered some reasonable commuting,touring,folding proper properties

All things are possible, but not necessarily feasible.

Having spent ten years crashing over Edinburgh's roads on my Brompton I've wondered for a long time whether a bike with 20 inch wheels and a Brompton-style fold would work.  Well, Juliane Neuss made one, involving lots of frame alterations, plus an electric one that looks like it was dragged backwards through a barbed wire fence and left in a ditch for a year.  Kinetics recently prototyped a 20 inch Brompton too.

How about a 24 inch wheeled Brompton?
Quote
I like that you think any of your conveyances might qualify as "a disguise".