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Old 08-01-2016, 08:27   #16
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

I used to fold, store and deploy a Dahon on a 33 foot monohull, so I know it is possible! I now have an A2B Kuo + electrically assisted bike which is a much bigger hassle to handle, even though I have a 45 foot cat and a 12 foot dinghy. But, that said, it's a wonderful folding bike and very useful either in strictly pedalling mode, or electrically assisted, or pure electric motor (for when I am going somewhere and don't want to be sweaty). At 42 lbs, though, it's way different from the Brompton or the Dahon.

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Old 08-01-2016, 08:30   #17
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

Have you looked at Bike Friday ?

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Old 08-01-2016, 08:37   #18
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Smile Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

We have two Mountain Equipment Co-op, (private labelled Dahon's). The bike is 99% aluminum and has an internal hub gear system. You can shift gears while peddling, free wheeling, or at a standstill.
Great configuration for life on board apart from a few tiny little parts that have rusted! Annoying!
MEC is a Canadian company, but I am sure the specs could be had in the USA.
One really handy part is that the tire pump is integral in the seat stem!
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Old 08-01-2016, 08:51   #19
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

My husband and I were both road racers. We are heading out next year and have been trying to figure out the best bikes to bring. We have a Co Motion custom made tandem that we had internal Rohloff hub put on and a carbon chain. We have decided that any bike we bring will have to have these two components. The fiber chain will last forever and NEVER rust and the rohloff hub will also stay rust free. Look them up!
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Old 08-01-2016, 09:14   #20
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

All the folding bikes work, after a fashion. Two considerations should be at the top of the list: If you are 5'9" or near 200lbs. Adjusting to your height and carrying your weight is a problem for most of the bikes.
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Old 08-01-2016, 09:51   #21
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

Friends of mine have the Brompton, they are bearing up well after 5 years, but do live in a nice dry locker. Good for shopping trips on paved roads.
I have a Montague Swiss Bike, this is a full sized mountain bike that folds without tools in about 30 seconds. They now make a pavement model with inhub gear box (11 gears) and carbon belt drive, no grease. They are made of aluminium and SS.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:35   #22
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

I used to be heavily into cycling, I was a roadie.
Bike Friday's back then were the only "real" folding bike.

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Old 08-01-2016, 10:44   #23
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

Take a look at Helix while you are comparing.
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:30   #24
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
The day has come.... I can no longer lug our heavy, rusty mountain bikes to shore on our dinghy. It's just too difficult to balance them on my shoulder while climbing from the stern sugar scoop platform into the dinghy, plus... there isn't enough room in the 11ft dinghy with center console for the two of us and two mountain bikes. It's only a matter of time before I go swimming with one of them... again, or get hurt lifting one of them... again.

The only folding (circus-type) bike that I can get even remotely excited about is the Brompton. Has anyone used one of these bikes in a marine environment? If so, how have they held up? Rust, cables etc. They seem to be the only ones that fold up small enough to be stowed where I have room indoors on the boat, plus they seem to be a small and easy package to move onto the dinghy by myself. I plan to store it in a soft case with some sort of moisture absorbing device.

I also plan to have one of my nicer road bikes brought over to Italy this year which I can break down into a soft bag when not in use, but I need one or two folding bikes for the daily stuff. Something even small enough to fold up and put in a shopping cart inside a soft case while getting groceries.

Point of information: I'm a competitive cyclist who up until two years ago, would ride over 14,000 miles per year and race on the Olympic velodrome. So you see why it's difficult to get excited about a "monkey bike." But now... I need something more practical.

Any Brompton reviews?


There's a big tradeoff between compactness and rideability, and no free lunch. The more compact, the less rideable.

I don't think I was ever the cyclist you apparently are, but I did ride a bicycle over the alps and into Yugoslavia and back from Germany, when I was a student some decades and pounds ago. That was a bike I built myself with a Reynolds 531 frame and Campy and Dura Ace gear. I am no longer even vaguely that fit, but I still wear cleats and still knock out 50 miles or so without thinking about it, and like to stretch my legs. So my perspective will be roughly similar to yours.

In my opinion, the Brompton is a fashion accessory for London office workers, used primarily to get from the tube station 1/2 mile to their offices in the morning. Forget about it for anything but the shortest rides on level ground. It's pretty and expensive and not made for rides of more than a mile.

There are better 16" bikes than the Brompton for the serious cyclist -- bikes which are lighter, have more rigid frames, and have more gears.

But I did not go down that road when I bought my boat bike. I decided to bite the bullet and go for 20" wheels, which I think is about the minimum for anything like normal riding. Also the maximum for reasonably getting in and out of your dinghy, so in my opinion, 20" is the sweet spot for cruisers.

I bought a Dahon Jetstream EX which has a full suspension to make up for the wheel size (in terms of ride, but not in terms of gyroscopic force). It has very good quality shocks and a very rigid alu frame.

This bike has 27 gears, which are from a combination of a 3 speed internal hub and a 9 speed derailleur. You can't use a front derailleur on a folding bike because it gets mangled.

It is an engineering trick to make a small wheel folding back rigid enough for serious riding, but there are a few available. These Dahons are good in that regard, then there are others like Bike Friday, but none of them are cheap. You will need to spend a couple-three grand each to get something decently rideable.

The net net is that my Dahon is pretty close to being as rigid as my old road bike was, so is quite efficient. It's sold without pedals, so I put on Dura Ace pedals and I almost always wear cleats. The big difference to a normal road bike is that you have much less gyroscopic force, so it becomes quite terrifying at speed. I don't go more than about 50 km/h downhill; it's just too risky.

The Dahon is quite a bit heavier than my old road bike was, but it's more or less manageable in the dinghy. It's not that easy to store it on board, and it takes up a significant part of the my lazarette.

Every bike rusts like crazy when kept on board, so you have to stay on top of that, and you will be replacing various components every year.

But all of that is very much worth it for me, because it's my land tender. I use it a lot. In Finland last summer it was pretty much primary transportation; I even went between towns on it (Finland has an incredible network of bicycle highways). I've done up to 100 mile rides on it.

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Dahon Jetstream EX Folding Bike –
"Parce que je suis heureux en mer, et peut-ętre pour sauver mon ame. . . "
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:47   #25
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

Anacapa, good find. I wonder how they would hold up in a marine environment being an electric bike. Cost was less than the Helix and approximately 40 lbs. Pretty cool.
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:47   #26
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

We bought 2 Bromptons 3 years ago. They were the only bikes which neatly fitted into a tight spot above our generator. They have been fantastic. Sturdy, reliable and great on all surfaces. Naturally they find it hard to compete with big road bikes but for a boat they are great. We live permanently on our yacht in the Med and ride often. Yes all bikes require maintenance, every year we grease, and clean well. We keep them in their covers when stowed. However often they have had to endure being left on the dock in the rain and come up like new. Their portability is their strength. Both still look great. Plus it is easy to get spares when needed.
Go with the Brommie !
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:55   #27
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

Bike Fridays are real bicycles that fold. They are designed to fold into a suitcase that can convert into a trailer. Great for storing the bike, hauling large lightish objects behind the bike, and shipping the bike to the boat as cheap/free baggage not expensive bicycle. The suitcase is water resistant, not water proof, so can be left on deck at anchor and tossed into the forepeak with the bike inside. The frames are steel so do need to be careful though not religious in treating nicks and scrapes. Rest of hardware is standard bike that needs the care that any bike requires. Have replaced all steel fasteners with SS and/or titanium as they showed rust. Bikes are semi custom so you could probably specify any equipment that may be more salt water friendly. They do have a belt drive version for those that don't want to deal with a chain. Other than that, regular freshwater rinses are all the maintenance the bike has had.

If you want an instant fold mass transit bike, they also make a model called the Tikit. 16" wheels instead of 20" for smaller package faster folding.

Have had mine for years, ridden thousands of miles and it's lived aboard the boat for much of the time though mostly in a marina. Takes about 15 minutes to fold into the suitcase but folds quickly to fit into a carry bag which I use for dinghy transport. Have the New World Tourist (NWT) model which is their touring bike with all the necessary braze ons for racks, etc. Have a 9 speed rear deraileur with a 3 speed hub. Plenty of gears to take on seriously large loads and hills and make up for this not so in shape 71 year old body. Have a touring and 2 mountain full sized bikes but actually prefer riding the Bike Friday.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:57   #28
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

Funny, the OP asked for Brompton reviews and mostly got reviews of other bikes, friends had them, considered them once...

After years of lusting I bought a Brompton in 2001, right after Sturmey Archer (UK) went out of business. Brompton had a stock of the 3 speeds so that is what I got. Since then the design has continued to evolve, with a slight stretching of the frame and many component upgrades, so the newer models are somewhat better. For my use I added a Swiss Mountain drive, a 250% reducing planetary drive inside a crank and spider assembly. This yields a 6 speed system with almost perfect spacing. I also added system (clipless) MKS removable pedals - a nice upgrade. I bought the model that had the rear rack, but deleted the lights/generator option (I use separate rechargeable lights). I also bought the large front bag.

I rode the bike nearly every day in the Mediterranean, running up a few thousand miles. N.B.: the tires do wear faster than larger tires so keep spares. It is definitely worth getting the optional Schwalbe Marathon tires for the quality and durability; if you prefer performance then buy the optional slick Schwalbe Kojaks but avoid the stock tires (the ones included when I bought were different, and not very good).

For shopping the large front bag is incredibly useful, and capacious. I used the rear rack less often, but for large and boxed items it is useful. I have hauled serious amounts of provisions with this bike, so it has been very valuable. BTW I am 6' and 220# so technically I have been overloading, to no ill effect.

The great advantage of the Brompton over other small folders is the geometry when open. Most other small folders have distorted geometries which make riding them painful for a large man - take a look at the distance between axles on a Brompton vs. full size (similar) and vs. other folders (too damn short). The long distance with small wheels makes the Brompton look a bit funny but that is the reason they are comfortable to ride. I strongly recommend a try before buy for any folding bike.

The small folded size is a huge win, and not just aboard the boat/dinghy. When shopping at a supermarket I put the folded bike into a shopping cart and don't worry about theft. I have often carried the folded bike into shops as well. Bike theft is a reality pretty much everywhere so keeping it with me is comforting.

The Brompton does seem to resist rust better than most other folders, but it is still something to avoid with good maintenance. Many components, esp. brakes, have plated screws which will eventually rust if not kept clean - unavoidable. Some plated steel parts can be replaced with SS but many are unique. So clean and wax whenever it is convenient.

When I returned to Portland I tore the Brompton down and rebuilt it. The frame hinges were worn loose and needed replacing, the paint needed some touchup, the cables and housings got replaced along with the brake levers (the new Bromptons have much-improved levers). I added Ergon grips for improved comfort. Also Brompton now has different shock absorbers for rider weight, so I added a stiffer one. The only major problem was a cracked rear assembly, which results from rough handling when folded or folding; as durable as this bike is it can't take abuse. One maintenance issue for any bike with small wheels is broken spokes; spokes absorb impacts and the shorter ones don't hold up as well. It is important to keep the spokes tuned correctly, particularly with heavier riders and loads.

I have not seen a small folder that rides as well, but this is at a price. DaHon makes some quite adequate folders at a lower price point; the range is wide and offers something for most tastes. Larger folders (20"+) can ride better but not enough for me to justify the larger size. YMMV. No folder is going to give the feel of a full size road bike: that is an unrealistic expectation. But for 10-20 mile shopping excursions they can work well.

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Old 08-01-2016, 13:18   #29
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

I would second the recomendation for a Bike Friday, expensive and not as sturdy as the Brompton, but with lots of options, custom builds and probably the highest performance for a folder. I visited the factory when we ordered one for my wife and was impressed. I have a non folder with an 11 speed alfine hub and gates belt drive and agree this would be a good way to go on a boat, although the cost is high. I also like the option of a typical 6 or 7 speed rear cassette set up with a three speed hub to get away from the front shifting which is easily damaged.
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Old 08-01-2016, 13:38   #30
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Re: Brompton Folding Bike Reviews?

bought 4 Bromptons 15 years ago, my children are grown now but my wife and I still have them, they stay on the boat for six months of the year. They still look like new, no rust at all and they do fold small enough to put in the lazarette and the dinghy, the tires wear out faster than on a regular 26" but otherwise they are great, we also have a folding dog trailer which is good on long rides (for the dog) or for loading it up with groceries when shopping. BTW we have other bikes at home so we do bike a lot. I recommend the Bromptons

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