1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Brompton for beginners questions

Discussion in 'Folding Bikes' started by e-rider, 25 Nov 2016.

  1. e-rider

    e-rider crappy member

    South West
    I've never owned a folder but I've been looking at the Brompton bike builder and have a few questions that experienced 'folder' users shold eb able to answer hopefully:

    1. extended seatpost - at 6'2" I guess I need this?
    2. handlebars - how low are the straight bars? As a tall person, the saddle will be quite high so will the flat bars then be too low? I generally don't want a 'sit up and beg' position, but...... not too low either
    3. gear ratios - I was thinking to pay the extra for 6-speed, but there are different sized chainrings available - is the 'standard' size suitable for general riding or do people find it generally quite low or high?
  2. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    1) I'm the same height, and I'd say yes.

    2) Ok - they give you a slightly more crouched position than the other bars (but do restrict your choice of front luggage, although I use a "C" bag with no problems. Try a test ride if you can (most Brompton dealers will let you out on a demo bike, ime). Aerodynamics is a relative concept on the Brompton, anyway - even on the S bars, it feels like a bike that's heavily affected by headwinds.

    3) I've seen more complaints that it's high than anything else. Personally, I find standard is ok, but as I'm in Cheshire, our hills tend to be short & sharp, and there aren't many of them.

    Other stuff - get a front luggage block - the luggage is really good, and it's worth having the block fitted given the low cost. Watch for cable rub - especially around the seat tube where the rear cables pass it, and around the BB. Stick some good quality frame protectors on before you lose a coat of paint. (I'd use those thick Bikehut ones, personally).
    Last edited: 25 Nov 2016
    shouldbeinbed likes this.
  3. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Man-Machine Staff Member

    I'd add - if there's any chance you'll want 6 gears, get them at the outset.
    Upgrading to 6 gears later is expensive and involves a new back wheel.
    And yes, standard Brommie gearing is a bit high IMHO. I've gone from a 50T chainset to a 44T/34T on what I suppose I have to now call an M12R.
    John the Monkey likes this.
  4. Kell

    Kell Senior Member

    I'm just under 6" and I needed the extended seatpost. Just be aware that it doesn't fold down as small as one with a normal height one.

    Mine goes in the boot of our Mini Convertible (just) with the extended seatpost, but I had to cut off most of the rubber bung on the bottom to make it fit.

    Conversely, when I hired one, it had the telescopic seatpost and this fitted OK.

    Here are the relative heights of the bars from the ground - note that the stems differ on all, and it's not an easy job to swap the bars out, without having to buy a new stem too, so getting it right upfront is worth the time. On my test rides, I thought the S was too low and the M too upright. In the end, I bought an H type and fitted low riser bars to get something in between the two. handlebar_types.jpg

    IMG_6362.JPG IMG_6353.JPG

    As you can see, the extra height of the H type, made fitting longer bar-ends more of a possibility.


    As for gearing, I agree with what's said above, if you think you might need 6-speeds, do it at the outset.

    I bought one with standard gearing, and originally found 6 too tall. But as my legs have got used to the Brompton's gearing, I've actually fitted a smaller cog on the rear to give me more of a top end. I now mostly use 5 and 6 while moving and 4 for setting off from lights. 5th is good to about 18-19mph and 6 is good to about 22-25mph.

    I only use 1 for the hills in high Wycombe. 2 and 3 really don't get much (if any) use.
    simon.r likes this.
  5. 12boy

    12boy Well-Known Member

    Casper WY USA
    Kell, it would seem to my untrained eye your handlebars are rotated forwards which would appear to have the ends further forward than the center. If this is to get your hands further forward, you might consider an Aber Hallo stem which allows for about 2 inches of forward placement or even upward since it rotates on an axis in line with stem handle bar opening. Many who use one couple this with a QR replacing the handle bar bolt so as to be able to adjust this so it still folds properly. The front of the Aber Hallo is removable via 4 Allen bolts so swapping bars is possible without removing grips etc. I have an S model and originally thought I would like some North Road type bars so the grips approached a 45 degree angle instead of flat and the Aber Hallo would allow me to still fold the front down properly. Ultimately went with flat bars and bar ends but I have retained the QR on the handle bar stem because I lost the bolt and it is an odd size hard to find here. It is another option for e-rider too.
  6. SavageHoutkop

    SavageHoutkop Über Member

    My advice is to try before you buy if at all possible. Mr SHK had M bars the first time, and when we had to replace the bike the H bars had been added to the lineup, and he has chosen that instead of the M bars despite the more upright riding position.
    Dogtrousers likes this.
  7. reppans

    reppans Active Member

    If you are in good cycling shape, club rider, or young and strong, that can average 15+ mph on a road bike, I think I'd stick to the stock 6speed gearing or even go +8%. Otherwise, for more recreational riding (<15 avg), hilly terrain, and loaded touring, I'd go with -12% chainring. I have the -12% and find 4th good for cruising ~12-15mph, and 5th ~16-19mph, my most often used gears.

    I like lower bars for less wind resistance, but went with the M-bars for the larger T-bag which I use for touring. I've since rigged a lower "drop bar" aero grip position in bottom of the "U" on my M-bars that I use for headwinds and the smooth flats - it helps me sustain a higher gear than otherwise. Also have Ergon GP2 bar-end grips, so have 3 comfortable grip positions.
    Last edited: 25 Nov 2016
  8. OP

    e-rider crappy member

    South West
    I'm between M or S - the H will defo be too high. I will see if I can try both before deciding
  9. Adrian

    Adrian Heed the elf's wisdom

    That is odd because I would say that, if you are a fit rider, who doesn't mash gears, go for the reduced gearing. All a matter of preference and perception I guess.
    jay clock likes this.
  10. smutchin

    smutchin Cat 6 Racer

    The Red Enclave
    I know others have answered this already but I'll just add that I'm 5'9" and have the standard seatpost fully extended.

    I have the M bars on mine but if I were buying a new Brompton now, I would definitely go for the S bars - not so much because they're lower but because I find the M bars too flexy.

    This is such a difficult one to answer because it varies so much between individuals. I'm no masher but I always found the standard gearing too low - and I had a fairly steep hill on my regular commute. But I know I'm in a minority and most people prefer the reduced gearing.

    I guess I've just got incredibly powerful legs. So powerful, in fact, that I once managed to shear the crank off the chainring when pulling away from the lights (or maybe it's because the original components were made of cheese). After that, I replaced it with a much bigger chainset and found the gearing spot on. (The current generation of Bromptons have a much improved design of chainset with a spider and replaceable chainring.)

    If I were buying a Brompton now, I'd go for the two-speed option for simplicity. I did run my Brompton as singlespeed for a while and I loved it - even raced in the Brompton World Championship on singlespeed and finished well inside the top 100 even though I lost time through stopping to put my seatpost up because it had slipped.
  11. Lonestar

    Lonestar Rat Run Cyclist

    CS 2 and CS 3
    I haven't got an extended seatpost and I'm 6'2" but I have the P handelbars.
  12. jay clock

    jay clock Massive member

    Hampshire UK
    In terms of seatpost I am 5,9 with 32 inch leg and perfect with the standard seatpost fully up

    Gears I changed my chainring to a 44 (with 3 speed) I can do up to 20mph on the flat in top gear. Easy gear is not too easy either
  13. samsbike

    samsbike Über Member

    I am 6ft and I found the standard seatpost too short, so I think you will need the extended or telescopic post.

    I had a S bar version and much prefer it to the M which I demoed. However the new 'M' has a slighter longer stem and less of a rise in the bars, so maybe much better. Note I have not measured this but I was in my local Evans and they had the new and 'old' model side by side.

    Also think about which tires you want and whether you want a rack or not.

    I found the standard gearing fine on the six speed and I am neither quick nor fit.

    Good luck
  14. shouldbeinbed

    shouldbeinbed Rollin' along

    Manchester way
    5`11 & was at the limit of the standard post with the saddle rails on the top side of the pentaclip.

    Bars. I want for the S and was quite happy on them, certainly didn't want the M type; even though I am a sitter upper and beggar of a rider; they didn't give me the same solid feeling or confidence I could really throw it about like flatter ones. I put cowhorn ones on like @Kell in the end cos. I have a problematic neck.

    Gears. Oldham, up and down Pennine foothills, long drags and short sharp shocks and was happy on the standard 3 speed. I appreciate I'm in the minority on here but really didn't have any problems other than spinning out going downhill.
  15. OP

    e-rider crappy member

    South West
    extended seatpost it is then, and standard 6-speed gearing
    just need to test ride the different bars but at the moment I'm thinking S