Brompton 3 or 6 gears

Rebelsurfer

New Member
Location
Surey
Hi Fellow folding bike people!

I am about to make the plunge and buy a Brompton. I would like to pootle around London and maybe venture further afield. The big question (well it is for me) should I buy a 3 speed or a 6?? I'm a newbie, so be kind... Looking forward to parting with my cash for a new or second-hand Brompton. Hoping to meet up with other Brompton owners for days out !
 

Tenkaykev

Veteran
Location
Poole
Six is more versatile for only a little extra weight over the three.
It’s better to have six available and not need to use them than to need them and not have them.

Bromptons are great fun and very versatile, I'm sure you'll love yours, but if it proves not to be for you then you can always sell it without losing a lot of money.
 

ianrauk

Tattooed Beat Messiah
Unless you are doing lots of hills and/or touring then I would go for the 3 gear option.
I commuted in London for a while with a 6 speed version. It was 3 more gears then I really needed.
The other main problem with the 6 gear option is that if you are using the bike in all weathers then the derailleur has to be cleaned after every rainy or mucky ride. You fail to clean it and the shifting will become troublesome in a very short time.
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
I have a three speed and it's been up a few alpine cols amongst other outings. Just need to get out the saddle a bit more for steeper gradients. Otherwise fairly maintenance free.
 

mitchibob

Well-Known Member
Location
London, UK
If you're only riding around London, the 2-speed is the best option. Apparently, it's pretty good for the Ride London 100 too, although I'm not that hardcore. But it's a lot lighter and more efficient.

However, between the 3 and the 6 though, I'd go for the 6 if you really are planning on going further afield as it's just that little wider choice of gears with the ratios a little closer together, and it's not much extra weight. I'm also finding that the 54T chainring on the 6-speed to be ideal around town, but also for the Ride 100. 5hrs 59mins 47seconds on Sunday... used every gear.
 

JulesBlue

Member
I have a six speed, but I only seem to use the first three, the rest are way too hard, and I cycle most of the time, so my legs are pretty used to it. Having said that, I don't know if the ratio of the first three of a six speed differ to the ratio of a three speed only bike.
 

TheDoctor

Resistance is futile!
Moderator
Location
Stevenage
I've always been of the opinion that if there's any chance at all of needed the 6 speed, then get it.
While you can convert a 3 speed to 6, it's bloody expensive and needs a new back wheel.
For touring and hills - just get the 6.
Having said that, some people just don't get on with the double shifts of the 6 speed.
Any chance you could have a test ride before deciding?
FYI, the gear inches of the various gearing options are as follows.
6 speed 33 41 52 64 81 100
3 speed 48 64 84
2 speed 56 74

I can vouch that the lowest gear of the 6 speed will get you (and touring kit) up a steep hill at just-above walking speed, and the highest gear will get you going far faster downhill than feels sensible. Or fun.
Lowest gear on a 3 speed is not low enough IMHO.
2 speed is just silly unless you're somewhere really flat. Again, IMHO.
 

alicat

Legendary Member
Location
Staffs
I have a six speed, but I only seem to use the first three, the rest are way too hard, and I cycle most of the time, so my legs are pretty used to it. Having said that, I don't know if the ratio of the first three of a six speed differ to the ratio of a three speed only bike.
It's possible to lower the overall gearing by fitting a smaller chainring at the front or bigger sprockets at the back. That's what I did and now I use all six gears.
 

Tenkaykev

Veteran
Location
Poole
Wot Alicat said ^^^

I swapped to a 44 tooth ring on my and my wife's Bromptons, it's a tad hilly around Dorset. Now I find I can make the last 50 metres to the pub without having to get off and push

Top gear is plenty fast for me, I even managed several laps of Saturday's Brommie race without disgracing myself.
 

berlinonaut

Senior Member
Seems like everyone is recommending what they have. So I will too.
Hmm, I have all three. :becool: I'd recommend either the two speed or the six speed with the smaller chain wheel (44t). Two speed for simplicity, fun and weight - it is able to deliver way more than one would expect and ist in no way "just silly". Six speed offers a wider range but is way too long in factory mode. Thus 44t chainwheel. To get rid of the relatively huge gear steps I converted mine to a nine speed with 3 sprockets in the back. Still dealing with the two shifters is a bit annoying though one get's used to it after a short while. Cannot imagine to run the six-speed with a 54t chainwheel - I consider this to be far to long.
The three speed has the weight and the drag caused by the hub of the six speed, but offers nothing relevant in addition to the two speed, it basically combines the downsides of six-speed and two speed with no upsides. Weight and drag of the six speed, limited range and huge gear step(s) of the two speed. Too long for steeper hills and - worse - the third is considered too long by most people even in the flat where the 2nd speed is too short. 179% spread of the three speed are in practice not much more useful than the 133% of the two-speed (if at all - I consider it in fact LESS useful). A sprocket with one or two teeth more is helpful but the other limitations still apply. So I'd avoid the three speed and go for the two speed for commuting and touring in flatter areas. For wider touring or hilly areas go for the six-speed with 44t chainwheel.
 
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T4tomo

Veteran
I have a six speed, but I only seem to use the first three, the rest are way too hard, and I cycle most of the time, so my legs are pretty used to it. Having said that, I don't know if the ratio of the first three of a six speed differ to the ratio of a three speed only bike.
Your chainring is too big then
 

berlinonaut

Senior Member
@berlinonaut I meant the two speed standard gearing is just silly. The -19% option would be perfect for me in not -very -hilly Stevenage.
I run the 2-speed with a 60t chainring, mainly in mostly flat Berlin but also everywhere else (but not on a daily basis). For my taste the stock 54t delivers a very good compromise that should fit most riders but obviously this highly depends from your fitness, your preferred cadence, your preferred speed and also the terrain that you are riding. For me the -19% on the two-speed would be as silly as my 60t chainwheel would probably be for you. :smile:
 

TheDoctor

Resistance is futile!
Moderator
Location
Stevenage
*envies*
I liked cycling round Berlin, even if it was just for a few hours on a borrowed fixed.
I think we're all busily proving @Dogtrousers right! The OP really needs to try a few and see what suits...
 

12boy

Veteran
Location
Casper WY USA
Here's my 2 cents. This setup is easy and cheap and much lighter than the IGH option. 58 and 38 tooth chain rings up front and 12 and 17 sprockets on the rear. This yields 78 and 51 gear inches on the big chain ring and 55 and 36 on the little. I can climb the hills in my area fairly well on the 38 and cruise along on level to slightly rising or with headwinds on the 58. Downsides are it doesn't fold well with the 38 so I fold on the 58. I shift with the greasy finger method but unless it steep and long I don't bother. I may try a 18 tooth sprocket which would yield a low of 34 gear inches, but I am not sure if that difference is really noticeable. If my rides involved a lot of cargo weight I would have to go lower on climbs.
 
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