19 April 2014

Working On A Friend's Brompton

Last night I did something I've never done before.  No, I didn't drive a Tesla (or any car at all) or buy a carbon fiber seat post rack.  And I didn't sleep with a Republican or an astrologer. (I've done both before, but not last night.)  And I didn't eat Jell-O.

What I did was something I never got to do when I was working in bike shops:  work on a Brompton.

You see, bike in my days of working at Michael's BIcycle Company and Highland Park Cyclery, Bromptons weren't yet being made.  And, by the time I was employed at Emey's and Open Road. the bikes were still all but unknown in the US.

I had promised a friend I would help him with his annual maintenance of his steed, which he purchased second-hand several years ago.  I knew that Bromptons had some proprietary parts and, of course the folding mechanisms (which I didn't have to work on).  But, really, it's not much different--at least mechanically--from other bikes. The front hub still had the same cups, cones and bearings; so does the headset.  And the Sturmey Archer 8-speed hub is like other multigear hubs I've maintained and adjusted.

The thing I found most different about the Brompton is its cabling. It takes the same sorts of gear and brake cables as other bikes, but there is a lot less room for error in cutting the cables and housings to the proper lenghts.  Also, the cables have to be routed in a particular way.  Otherwise, they would bind and prevent the bike from folding--or get caught in the folding mechanisms.

But, other than that, there was nothing particularly difficult or unusual about working on the bike.  Were I to get a folding bike, it's the one I'd want.

By the way, my friend's Brompton is finished in "Celeste" (a.k.a. Bianchi) green.


  1. LOL, that's a good one about the Republican! I'm still chuckling :>)

  2. Is the Brompton popular in NYC? Do you see an advantage of a folding bike in the city as far as security- not having to lock it up outside? Just sold a Bromoton on EBay last week and it had the most views and watches of any item I ever listed.

  3. Lucky--Although I relish the irony, I feel a little guilty. I must say, though, that as long as we didn't talk politics, it felt good.

    Chris--Bromptons have become very popular here in NYC. Almost any time I rode, whether to commute or for fun, here in the city, I see someone riding one--or another folding bike. Last week, I saw someone riding a vintage Raleigh Twenty.

  4. This is the first time that I've heard of a Sturmey 8-speed being fitted to a Brompton. In my occasional perusal of Bromptons, I've seen them set up as either 3-speed or 6-speed. I'm guessing this was a custom setup?

  5. For the record, it was a three speed. And Brompton calls the color "Egyptian green." I've never locked it on the street, and it goes inside with me wherever I go.

  6. Err, sorry, that's "Turkish green."

  7. MT and Wilfried--Mea culpa. (That's Latin for "my bad!")