There is something magical about folding bikes. Their versatility, out of the ordinary appearance and engineering individuality make them stand apart from normal pedal powered machines.
In the world of folding bikes, the Brompton bike is the benchmark. All other folding bikes are judged against the Brompton bicycle. This is largely due to the popularity and cult following the Brompton bike enjoys around the world. Cyclists love talking about their bikes. Brompton bike owners rank as the most evangelical of all cyclists!
Since the first full production run of the Brompton Mark 1 in 1988, the Brompton bike has been through two redesigns. The current model is the Mark 3 (which we think makes it sound like another British engineering icon, the Spitfire).
Why buy a Brompton bike
The key advantage of a Brompton Bicycle, new or secondhand, is that the bike folds more quickly and more compactly compared to other folding bike brands. The Brompton bike can be folded in 20 seconds to three cubic feet. The dimensions of a Brompton when folded and locked are 585 x 545 x 270 mm. This is obviously far smaller than non-folding bikes but also compares favourably to other folding bike manufactures (Dahon, another manufacturer of folding bikes, produces bikes which can fold down to 740 x 660 x 340mm). The compactness of a Brompton a number of advantages. It can be carried on public transport, it is small enough to allow for a variety of storage possibilities at the workplace and home and when folded, the small wheels placed at the top of the rear triangle allow you to pull a Brompton bike along the floor.
The classic Brompton fold
Until the end of April 2013 we will buy any Brompton Bike listed on our marketplace that has not sold within 3 weeks of it being listed. Click here for more details.
Brompton bike models
Brompton bikes are distinctive and are instantly recognisable. But take a closer look and you will see variations amongst them.
This is because Brompton bikes are available in many configurations. As a result you will find several different models on the second-hand market and, if you’re in the market for second-hand Brompton, it is well worth understanding the differences between them.
Since 2005, when Brompton Bicycles last revamped their range, Brompton has offered three base models. Each model has different handlebar styles designed for different styles of riding and use. The M Type has the distinctive U shaped handlebars, the P Type have dual rise bars, while the S Type have sporty low rise bars.
There are myriad variations to these three base models, with Brompton Bicycle offering various specifications at differing weights. These are noted by the different codes the bikes are given. It is principally because of these differences that you will see many different models on the second hand market.
By way of example the M3L has U shaped handlebars, a 3-Speed lightweight Sturmey-Archer or a SRAM hub gear with mudguards fitted. You can also find Brompton bike models with a 2 speed gear configurations (from just a derailleur) or a 6-Speed, a combination of the hub gear and the derailleur.
The “R” suffix at the end of a Brompton model lets you know that Mudguards are fitted, plus an aluminium luggage rack and dynamo-powered halogen/LED light set.
Brompton Bicycle’s superlight specification has the suffix “X” attached to it. Here the front forks, rear frame, seat pillar and other smaller features are made from titanium. Brompton bike models with the X suffix are among the most expensive in the Brompton Bicycle range.
Pre-2005 Brompton bike models featured the “L” (lightweight) and “T” (touring) labels. As a result, if you see a Brompton bike model labelled with either of these, you should note that these will have been built somewhere between 2000 and 2004.
Handlebar configurations from left to right – S Type, M Type, P Type
A Brompton bike is known for keeping its price well. A one year old Brompton tends to lose £50 to £100 off its price. The older a Brompton gets, the cheaper it becomes. However, price levels for post 2005 models rarely dip below £400. A 2011 Brompton will cost between £650 and £1,390 depending on the model. This puts Bromptons at the premium end of the folding bike market.
As a result of Bromptons holding their value, any secondhand Brompton bike available for a really low price should be viewed with suspicion. A really low price (under £200) is more likely to be an indication of the bike having been stolen than you having found a great deal. Clearly, if there is any doubt you should avoid buying a stolen bike.
The condition of a secondhand Brompton
When buying a secondhand Brompton ask the seller if anything on the bike has been replaced or repaired. It is also a good idea to budget into your purchase price whether you will have to make repairs or replace parts when you’ve bought it. Handlebars in particular are prone to fatigue and may require replacing. Replacement bars cost between £20 and £30 and you will have you do a like-for-like replacement…you can’t switch from an “M” to a “P”.
As with all bike purchases, do what you can to make sure all parts are working before you purchase it. If you are buying a secondhand Brompton online our advice is to ask the seller relevant questions about the condition and usage history of the bike. In addition, request to see photos of the bike and, if possible, collect the bike from the seller to confirm that it is in the condition you expected.
At this point you can check the following:
-Make sure gear shifting is working properly
-Check the condition of the folding pedals
-The rear hinge on a Brompton bike is notorious for wear; check the condition of this by waggling the rear triangle. A wobble in the rear triangle or it being loose is a give-away for worn folding bearings
-Check wheels for broken spokes, the rear wheel is very prone to broken spokes
-If the paint job looks tired or has come off, little can be done, as a respray can cost the same as a new Brompton Bicycle itself.
The M Type Brompton Bicycle
Buying a Brompton
Sadly, Brompton bikes do get stolen. The sizeable secondhand Brompton market does fuel bike crime. Some will end up being sold second hand online, in print classifieds or at markets. Whenever buying a secondhand Brompton make sure you are not buying a stolen Brompton.
As part of Going Going Bike’s partnership with Brompton we provide a legitimate online secondhand market for Brompton Bicycles. We personally check that all Brompton bikes listed for sale on our site are not stolen. As a result you can be certain that you will not buy a stolen Brompton if you buy on Going Going Bike.
In particular we check the serial and frame number of every bike listed on Going Going Bike against the Brompton Bicycle stolen bike database. If we find a Brompton Bicycle is being sold by someone not registered as the bike owner we will notify the relevant authorities and remove the advertisement.
Don’t forget to check our Brompton Bicycle market for Brompton bikes that are currently up for sale.
Article photo at the top of this piece is used courtesy of Rik Panganiban