Brompton Shows Some Nifty New Up-grades at Interbike 2012.
Even though Brompton folding bikes seem perfect already, they have added some new pieces that can ramp-up your riding pleasure. One of my stops at Interbike was the Brompton booth and I sure got an eyeful there. They had many bikes on display, but the real kicker was the small items that will make a big difference. Most, if not all of these can be retrofitted to the bike you already have.
When I visited the Brompton factory last year, I saw technicians working hard on stress testing and CAD designing. I know now that some of these up-grades were what they were developing. Not one to just slap on new components and let the public be the first to see if they work well, you can be sure each of these items has been wrung-out heavily before they hit the shelves of your Brompton dealer.
The piece that caught my attention first is the new crank. The change they have made here is to allow different sizes and types of chain rings to just bolt on. Using a regular 130 BCD five bolt design, you can change gearing to fit your ride needs with a simple gear ring swap. The cranks are said to be stiffer and they should be seen on next year’s bikes.
The standard gearing on the three-speed Brompton is to high for me. First gear is not low enough for hill climbing and top gear was just to high. They already offered under and over gearing options, but changing the entire crank and gear was necessary to effect the transformation. Now, a simple gear exchange and chain modification will do the trick. You could also add a non-circular or custom-look gear if you wanted.
The brake levers have a new look. That is nice, but it’s not the looks that make the difference. They have redesigned the internal cam angle to make the brake action feel better. This allows more braking power with less pull. Another result of this is increased clearance between the brake pads and rim when they are released. The new all aluminum construction is stiffer and lighter than before. Taking up less room on the handlebars is another plus.
I think these new brake handles will be right at home on any Brompton. The brake handles we have now work ok, but the extra power during initial braking will be welcome. That is one comment I have gotten many times as I let people try out the test Bromptons I have had. Although the overall braking is quite good, as you first pull the levers they feel weaker that you would like. I haven’t had a chance to try the new levers, but I believe Brompton when they say they work better.
Different rims are also on the list. These new double-wall rims will be stronger and more durable, but the real plus is not visible. A deeper well in the rim will make wrestling the tires on and off the rim much easier. Small tires on a bike like this can be tougher to mount, so this change will be praised by Brompton owners and mechanics alike.
They have made some minor angle revisions in the spoke hole drillings on the rear hub. This will reduce the stress on the spokes to allow more strength and less fatigue in this area. Once again, small wheels like these have some minor drawbacks and this will address an important one. Look for this modification to add many extra care-free miles to your new Brompton.
A couple things I didn’t notice, but have read about, are part of the new package too. Some redesigned hand grips are on that list. Although I have been happy with the Bromptons I’ve ridden, many people haven’t. That seems to be the first change most owners make. I wish I had noticed these new grips, but they are bound to be much better than what they have supplied in the past.
Brompton apparently is changing the factory available rear tire too. It seems that there are many options already, but maybe that is only on the NYCeWheels offered bikes. Once again, tire choice is up to the owner and are commonly changed on new bikes when purchased. I am sure the factory is offering what they feel to be the best all-around rubber as the bikes leave the assembly line.
The long awaited tool kit is not part of the items you get with your new Brompton, but is very nice. I got to touch and feel this baby and let me tell you they really hit a home run with this kit. It tucks into the hollow frame tube and has most every item you might need for adjustments and road repairs. I still don’t know if you can get one today, but if not, it won’t be long. I know many owners that are on the edge of their seats trying to get one.
Water bottles that fit Bromptons always seem to be a hot topic. Well now they have one. Stamped with their logo and easily mounted to the handlebar stem, these new bottles are retained to the mount with a ultra strong magnet. I bet these sell like crazy. It sure seemed like a nice solid set-up.
The word is that all these up-grades will be on the 2013 bikes. My contact at Brompton, the lovely gal who hosted our factory tour last year, has not been able to confirm this though. I still await word on all these goodies and when we will see them on the bikes. I do know they exist because I saw them in person. Like every good thing, there is room for improvement and who doesn’t like that?
Got Brompton? Turbo Bob.
“I love the bicycle, I always have. I can think of no sincere, decent human being, male or female, young or old, saintly or sinful, who can resist the bicycle.”—William Saroyan, from his introduction to The Noiseless Tenor.
Brompton’s website in the U.K.
Your U.S. Brompton dealer
More info on the Brompton folding bike
Here is a video I took of the Brompton booth at Interbike 2012