Brompton is one of the most notable brands in the electronic bike industry. Reputed for their folding bike designs, Brompton bicycles have endeared themselves to the hearts of cycling enthusiasts for their portability, stylishness, and premium security.
But as typical of all electric bikes, they always have one or two issues – ranging from minor to irritating. What then are the common problems associated with Brompton bikes?
Brompton bikes are expensive, with 2-speed options costing around $6,500 and 6-speed options costing over $6,700. Aside from their intimidating cost, some other challenges users commonly complain of about Brompton bikes include stiffer ride experience, the complexity of Kickstand mode, scratched hinges, complicated internally geared hubs, flexing STEM, and the Sturmey Archer rattle.
Let us dig into these issues, learning their respective causes and what you can do to alleviate them.
Brompton bikes are very expensive
Traditionally, folding bicycles tend to cost a premium – but Brompton bikes appear to cost even more than the average folding bike. A Brompton 6-speed option will mop almost $7,000 from your net worth.
But then the priceyness of Brompton bikes is not terribly out of place. Brompton is one of the very rare brands with handmade frames. More also, these frames are domestically manufactured with high-grade materials in London.
Of course, you don’t expect things made in London (with all that costly operational cost) to come cheap.
These materials are unique and, most times, exclusive to Brompton bikes. Specifically, 8 in 10 Brompton components can’t work for a bike from a different brand. Instead of being welded, Brompton bikes are brazed.
A lot of work goes into making a Brompton bike. Given their folding design, Brompton bikes are commonly fitted with double hinge axes, unlike the commonality with single-hinge designs.
Designing double hinges can be laborious and technically intense, especially regarding getting the fittings, lugs, and tube work right.
Brompton bikes also have outstanding second-hand value if you fancy selling them later on. In some cases, you can sell them at a price higher than what you bought them for.
Not a bad bargain, is it?
Users complain of a stiffer riding experience
Many Brompton buyers have complained that their ride is bumpier, with the bike feeling stiffer and less maneuverable.
While this is true of Brompton bikes, it is commonly associated with folding bikes. Let us explain.
By the nature of their tire sizes, folding bikes can’t deliver the same smoothness (when you ride it) as a non-folding bike would.
Most folding bikes – including Brompton – have their tire sizing ranging across 24, 20, and 16 inches. These are far smaller than you get in non-folding bikes.
Such smaller wheels imply that your Brompton bike can’t manage bumps as efficiently as a full-suspension mountain bike or a bike with a fat tire would.
New Brompton users struggle to understand the Kickstand mode
The Kickstand mode is a remarkable statement of engineering excellence from Brompton. Sadly, many users – especially new Brompton users – struggle to grasp (or maximize) its functionality.
In a Kickstand mode, you swing your Brompton’s rare wheel lender. This gives the bike the capacity to stand independently.
But users often attempt to align the handlebars when their Brompton bike is in this mode.
Trying to align the handlebars comes with the risk of smashing the front wheel into the rear wheel. Often, users crush their fenders when their bikes are in this mode.
When putting your Brompton bike in Kickstand mode, the recommended way is to carefully rotate the handlebar to the left.
Also, considering that the bike’s rare wheel may push against the bottom bracket’s shell, it is wise to safeguard that area with tape.
Users commonly complain about the complicated internally geared hubs
Many cyclists are not yet acquainted with the internally geared hub design seen in the latest Brompton models. While they are more durable, reliable, and need minimal maintenance, they can be challenging to understand at first.
Fundamentally, internally geared hubs are less mechanically efficient compared to derailleurs. The decline in mechanical efficiency (in internally geared hubs) can be traced to the produced power being mandatorily transmitted across several gears.
This chops the energy anytime power is moved between gears.
Also, Brompton buyers reckon it is more challenging to shift internally geared hubs under pressure. This is typical when you ride your Brompton bike up a hill.
Brompton users complain of scratched hinges
A significant slice of Brompton bike users we investigated complained about their bike hinges scratching too easily. The common theme was the paint around the contact points wearing off after a few rides.
This is nothing to be worried about, actually. It is not unnatural for hinges in folding bikes to scratch.
Hinges in folding bikes are the receiving end of enormous stress in folding bikes. The contact points face significant abrasion and will naturally lose paint after you ride it for a while.
If you are concerned the scratches may spoil the pretty looks of your Brompton bike, you may as well patch those patches up.
Normally, you can use the paint kits from Brompton as befitting your bike color. If the scratch is not too deep (say a minor scratch on the surface), you may use Flitz paste to patch the scratch.
You can also use nail varnish to patch the scratch if the color matches that of your bike.
Users complain of their stem flexing
Many of the Brompton users we came across pointed out their stem flexes when they pull the handlebars hard. For people who don’t know, the stem is the connecting component between your bike frame and its handlebars, basically supporting the handlebar.
It is not entirely out of place for your Brompton stem to flex.
In your everyday bike, the stem is stiff and short. But in Brompton bikes, you come across really long stems, some even up to 40cm in length.
This makes it very possible for the stem to flex when you pull the handlebars forcefully. Your Brompton bike’s stem would also flex when you ride it uphill.
The flexing is because the stem is trying to absorb the vibration. If such vibrations are unabsorbed, they could substantially distort the smoothness of your riding experience.
Brompton users complain of the Sturmey Archer rattle
This is admittedly one of the most unnerving issues associated with Brompton bikes. Yet again, this relative deficiency can be attributed to the internally geared hub mechanism Brompton bikes operate.
Brompton bikes tend to give off this rattling sound – particularly from the rear wheel. Commonly denoted as the Sturmey Archer rattle, it often sounds like the rear hub is collapsing.
This rattle is most noticeable (or loudest) when you are on the third gear.
There is not much you can do about this rattle. The best way to eliminate the rattle is to pressurize the pedals. This stops the noise as the hub’s interior elements are engaged.
Some users resort to using saddlebags to suppress the sound. This is only a minor remedy, and the sounds may emerge again once you step into the third gear.