Author Topic: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?  (Read 576 times)

New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« on: May 10, 2020, 10:57:12 am »
In the next week I hope to be joining the Brompton owners’ club, delivery ETA permitting. Whilst a custom spec, mine is essentially an S3L with the telescopic seat post.

I’ve never owned a Brompton before. Does anyone have tips or advice to share with this newbie? Use will be very occasional, 10 mile journeys max and with no on-bike luggage.

Everything appreciated. I’m currently thinking most about:

1. Build quality. How much should I go over it to check the assembly? I usually go over any new bike with a tooth comb and each time it has confirmed how necessary it is. Are Bromptons better?

2. Seat post height. My knees are very saddle height sensitive. How do people try to ensure a consistent-ish height each time they unfold?

Thanks in advance.

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2020, 11:27:43 am »
1. No, assembly problems are routine. They depend on the bike shop doing a thorough check before handing it over to the customer. Loose bolts and incorrect cable routing are particular problems. Post some hi-res pics here if unsure.

2. Standard practice with the telescopic post is to pull the lower section all the way up and use the top section to set the right height. Then you only retract the lower section when folding.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2020, 11:29:06 am »
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2020, 12:02:09 pm »


1- Learn to fold it and unfold it properly before worrying about doing so quickly.

2- Get in the habit of making sure that the two bolts that hold the bike together once unfolded are tight. There are two types of Brompton owners, those who have riden off with a lose bolt then had the bike start to fold on them, and those who will.

3- Bromptons still need maintenance, don't forget to lube the chain etc... If necessary, get your LBS to service it every year.

4- Be aware that every time you fold or unfold the bike in public, you will get an audience, try to resist the temptation to declare in a bold voice "GADGET BIKE, ACTIVATE!" every time. If you can resist, teach me how.

5- Bromptons are fun, but they are harder to ride than a typical upwrong. The tyres available are quite draggy, and there's a lot lost to the suspension block. But who cares, you can fold it up, and it's hard to ride a Brompton without a smile on your face.

6- I find the tyres quite sensitive to pressure, half a bar one way or another is the difference between draggy as fuck, nice to ride, and bum is now sore.

Welcome to the Brompton owners club! have fun!

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

robgul

  • Cycle:End-to-End webmaster
  • . . cyclist, Cytech accredited
    • Cycle:End-to-End
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2020, 12:30:34 pm »
... all of that applies.   

I have a couple of very small marks filed into the seatposts (telescopic) on my Brompton to get seat post set to correct height quickly.

AND search YouTube for the Hugh Bonneville/Jason Watkins videos from the 2012 and W1A spoof progs for some amusing stuff on folding/unfolding a Brommie!

... one of the funniest bits (to me) was when the two of them pulled up outside the BBC and Jason Watkins had a new Titanium Brompton - which Hugh Bonneville commented on and admired -   Watkins: "Yes, new - I only went into the shop for a pump"    How true!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2020, 12:52:07 pm »
I was fortunate enough that with careful adjustment of the saddle clamp, I get the right height with the standard seatpost at full extension.  I believe there's a widget now for automagically getting the right extension every time *googles* "Saddle Height Insert" appears to be the thing, but if more than one person is using the bike, you're probably better off marking the seatpost.

Resist the temptation to over-torque the seatpost clamp.  If you have problems with it slipping, clean the post with alcohol.

The Brompton bell is there to make a satisfying PING! as the handlebars drop down when you finish the fold.  All other functions are secondary.

If you ever do find the need for luggage, the front luggage block system is well worth it.  The bike handles well with some weight on the front, and it's quick and convenient.  OTOH, as a telescopic seatpost user, saddlebags may also be practical without making the fold significantly worse.

The best way to do clipless pedals on a Brompton is with one of the quick release systems (there's no such thing as a folding SPD pedal, but a quick release one can be removed from the left crank and stuck in a bag, and as a bonus you can easily swap to flat pedals for use with civvy shoes): Either the MKS EZY system, or Wellgo QRD.  AIUI the Wellgo pedals have better compatibility with Shimano cleats, but MKS is more popular.

Koolstop Salmon brake blocks are a worthwhile upgrade, if only on the grounds of rim wear.  Regardless, Brompton braking is best described as 'adequate', with speed primarily regulated through the inefficiency of the bike as a whole.

Due to the fold, Brompton cable outers are extremely sensitive to length.  If you replace the cables, measure carefully.

Ergon GP2s are a good upgrade to the S-type for an alternative hand position without compromising the fold.

Squeaks are usually the suspension block.

The rear end of a Brompton is a complicated system for collecting road crud.

Keep an eye on chain wear, my Brompton seems to wear chains a lot faster than my other bikes.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2020, 12:55:04 pm »
Assuming you've got a model with internal gearing, practice removing the rear wheel and reconnecting the gear cable. It isn't that big a deal but it is something new to learn to do if you've only used derailleur gears before.
YACF touring/audax bargain basement:
https://bit.ly/2Xg8pRD



Ban cars.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2020, 01:02:52 pm »
Assuming you've got a model with internal gearing, practice removing the rear wheel and reconnecting the gear cable. It isn't that big a deal but it is something new to learn to do if you've only used derailleur gears before.

Ah yes.  It's not complicated, but it's a faff multiplier, which can be miserable in the cold.  Unlike more enlightened hub gears, the adjustment is lost as you disconnect the chain thingy.

Related: There's no release mechanism on the brakes, so you'll either need to disconnect the cable (potentially causing fraying and need for re-adjustment), or re-install the wheel before inflating the tyre.  Typically, you'll only remember this after you've re-inflated the tyre, and make a decision based on how good your available pump is.

Fold it into a bus/train/taxi and sort it out in the warm is a legitimate Brompton puncture repair technique.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

S2L

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2020, 01:06:06 pm »


Fold it into a bus/train/taxi and sort it out in the warm is a legitimate Brompton puncture repair technique.

Used to be, but now with social distancing you'll have to sort it on the roadside... and don't forget the water purifying device... apparently the new must have  ;D ;D

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2020, 01:09:10 pm »
Ah yes.  It's not complicated, but it's a faff multiplier, which can be miserable in the cold.  Unlike more enlightened hub gears, the adjustment is lost as you disconnect the chain thingy.

Related: There's no release mechanism on the brakes, so you'll either need to disconnect the cable (potentially causing fraying and need for re-adjustment), or re-install the wheel before inflating the tyre.  Typically, you'll only remember this after you've re-inflated the tyre, and make a decision based on how good your available pump is.

Fold it into a bus/train/taxi and sort it out in the warm is a legitimate Brompton puncture repair technique.

Wait, there are other PR techniques when riding the Brompton? While on my big bike I carry a tool kit that would put some bike shops to shame, on the Brompton I don't carry anything for most riding. If I have an issue, I'll hop a bus.

Btw, if you haven't already, install the rack, and the best rack wheels as you can. The rack is utterly bollocks as a mechanism of carrying stuff on the bike. But it provides crucial stability for moving the bike around on hard surfaces. Leave the seat post up, fold the rest, wheel round the shops. For non running trips of under about 50m (say between trains, or shops), leaving it in this state is usually more time efficient.

The rack plus rack wheels are one of the most misunderstood and underrated upgrades for a Brompton.

Fold it into a bus/train/taxi and sort it out in the warm is a legitimate Brompton puncture repair technique.

Used to be, but now with social distancing you'll have to sort it on the roadside... and don't forget the water purifying device... apparently the new must have  ;D ;D

Excellent call back to another thread, on a totally different style of cycling, in entirely different conditions. Well done. Nice work...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2020, 01:30:09 pm »
When folded, it fits nicely into a supermarket trolley, whilst leaving room for your comestibles.

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2020, 02:43:41 pm »
The saddle height insert is very good if there is a single rider using the bike (and you don't have a telescopic post, as above). It's just a bit of plastic, but works really well.

bhoot

  • MemSec (ex-Mrs RRtY)
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2020, 02:53:43 pm »
2. Standard practice with the telescopic post is to pull the lower section all the way up and use the top section to set the right height. Then you only retract the lower section when folding.
This works well for setting the height but results in a slightly taller folded bike - which may be critical in certain storage situations eg Pendolino luggage racks (my partner's bike** with slightly extended telescopic won't quite fit and mine** with standard seat post will)

** as in the Bromptons we used to have before they were stolen!

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2020, 02:59:34 pm »
All good advice above but FWIW every Brompton I have ever worked on has had insufficient grease on every single nut and bolt holding it together. If I ever get a new one I shall take it apart and put it back together properly.

I expect I'd fit a grease nipple to the swingarm pivot too.

cheers

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2020, 03:00:56 pm »
Fold it into a bus/train/taxi and sort it out in the warm is a legitimate Brompton puncture repair technique.

Wait, there are other PR techniques when riding the Brompton? While on my big bike I carry a tool kit that would put some bike shops to shame, on the Brompton I don't carry anything for most riding. If I have an issue, I'll hop a bus.

Some people do do Silly Bike Adventures on them.  :)

So far, my Brompton punctures have all been at home or within pump-some-air-in-and-hope distance of my destination, except for a fairly cold Origami ride earlier in the year, where I got the traditional slow deflation while we were in the pub.  Front wheel though, so less faff to fix (and because it was a proper ride - extended because BloodyTrains - I'd brought decent tools and CO2).
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2020, 03:18:08 pm »
Stubby bar ends.  SPDs.  Jubilee clip around the "suspension" block - even the firm one is too squidgy. 

Check the wheels.  Mine were so bad that I pulled them apart the next day and rebuilt them.

Practise the Limehouse Flick for unfolding:

1. Pull seat up.

2. Unfold stem and fasten stem hinge.

3. All in one action, swing the front wheel out and kick the back wheel into position.

4. Fasten main frame hinge and ride.

10-15 seconds.  Done nicely here: https://youtu.be/blUJ07Qhv1o

And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2020, 06:25:24 pm »
So much experience and good advice. Thank you everyone. YACF at its best  :thumbsup:

I'm looking forward to a very different n+1 and your suggestions will be put to good use.

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2020, 06:30:52 pm »
1. No, assembly problems are routine. They depend on the bike shop doing a thorough check before handing it over to the customer. Loose bolts and incorrect cable routing are particular problems. Post some hi-res pics here if unsure.

All good advice above but FWIW every Brompton I have ever worked on has had insufficient grease on every single nut and bolt holding it together. If I ever get a new one I shall take it apart and put it back together properly.

I expect I'd fit a grease nipple to the swingarm pivot too.

Cheers. If I adopt my usual good-once-over approach, it's unlikely to be time wasted and an opportunity to learn some new bike-fu.

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2020, 06:37:25 pm »
2. Standard practice with the telescopic post is to pull the lower section all the way up and use the top section to set the right height. Then you only retract the lower section when folding.

Thanks. Makes sense now you've pointed it out. I don't envisage needing to fit it into tight spots when folded, so bhoot's train space consideration probably won't impact me. The saddle height insert looks interesting. If I wasn't of the taller-variety (6'5"), I'd have the insert on my shopping list. I reckon I'm going to look strange* enough perched atop such a small frame anyway! Closest to that Raleigh Burner I always wanted but never bought for that very reason.

(* more strange than usual. All relative.)

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2020, 06:41:35 pm »
2- Get in the habit of making sure that the two bolts that hold the bike together once unfolded are tight. There are two types of Brompton owners, those who have riden off with a lose bolt then had the bike start to fold on them, and those who will.

Reminds me of a similar comment about two types of male cyclist. Those suffering erectile dysfunction, and those who will.  ;D

4- Be aware that every time you fold or unfold the bike in public, you will get an audience, try to resist the temptation to declare in a bold voice "GADGET BIKE, ACTIVATE!" every time. If you can resist, teach me how.

Aw.

Welcome to the Brompton owners club! have fun!

Thanks. I'm looking forward to it.

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2020, 06:45:43 pm »
I was fortunate enough that with careful adjustment of the saddle clamp, I get the right height with the standard seatpost at full extension.  I believe there's a widget now for automagically getting the right extension every time *googles* "Saddle Height Insert" appears to be the thing, but if more than one person is using the bike, you're probably better off marking the seatpost.

Resist the temptation to over-torque the seatpost clamp.  If you have problems with it slipping, clean the post with alcohol.

The Brompton bell is there to make a satisfying PING! as the handlebars drop down when you finish the fold.  All other functions are secondary.

If you ever do find the need for luggage, the front luggage block system is well worth it.  The bike handles well with some weight on the front, and it's quick and convenient.  OTOH, as a telescopic seatpost user, saddlebags may also be practical without making the fold significantly worse.

The best way to do clipless pedals on a Brompton is with one of the quick release systems (there's no such thing as a folding SPD pedal, but a quick release one can be removed from the left crank and stuck in a bag, and as a bonus you can easily swap to flat pedals for use with civvy shoes): Either the MKS EZY system, or Wellgo QRD.  AIUI the Wellgo pedals have better compatibility with Shimano cleats, but MKS is more popular.

Koolstop Salmon brake blocks are a worthwhile upgrade, if only on the grounds of rim wear.  Regardless, Brompton braking is best described as 'adequate', with speed primarily regulated through the inefficiency of the bike as a whole.

Due to the fold, Brompton cable outers are extremely sensitive to length.  If you replace the cables, measure carefully.

Ergon GP2s are a good upgrade to the S-type for an alternative hand position without compromising the fold.

Squeaks are usually the suspension block.

The rear end of a Brompton is a complicated system for collecting road crud.

Keep an eye on chain wear, my Brompton seems to wear chains a lot faster than my other bikes.

Thanks so much, Kim. I hadn't even considered the possibility of SPDs. Spent a while searching for the MKS EZ version without much success (c. $150 from the US), before concluding that my Brompton rides are going to be of the far more casual variety and cafe/pub shoes would be more appropriate.

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2020, 06:49:52 pm »
Assuming you've got a model with internal gearing, practice removing the rear wheel and reconnecting the gear cable. It isn't that big a deal but it is something new to learn to do if you've only used derailleur gears before.

Good idea. Assuming it's the same little chain thingy that was on my 3-speed Raleigh Grifter as a kid, that would be time well spent save those slipped-gear-gonads-into-the-top-tube panic moments, even though the "top-tube" is considerably further away on a Brompton.  :thumbsup:

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2020, 06:54:20 pm »
Btw, if you haven't already, install the rack, and the best rack wheels as you can. The rack is utterly bollocks as a mechanism of carrying stuff on the bike. But it provides crucial stability for moving the bike around on hard surfaces.

I opted for no rack as I thought the same about it's carrying function. Will see how I get on.

Re: New Brompton arriving soon. Any tips?
« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2020, 06:58:16 pm »
Stubby bar ends.

Aero all the way!

Practise the Limehouse Flick for unfolding:

1. Pull seat up.

2. Unfold stem and fasten stem hinge.

3. All in one action, swing the front wheel out and kick the back wheel into position.

4. Fasten main frame hinge and ride.

10-15 seconds.  Done nicely here: https://youtu.be/blUJ07Qhv1o

I'll give the BWC a miss this year. Good luck! I'm pinning my high hopes on the cyclo-cross season being relatively unaffected.