I’ve been commuting on my Brompton H6L for nearly eight months and have covered somewhere in the region of 1,500 miles.
By and large, it’s been a very satisfying marriage. The bike has performed admirably and has the capacity to surprise and delight with its nimble ride and ingenious fold.
However, the Brommie has not been without problems and in this post I’ll set out the some of the more negative aspects of my Brompton ownership and offer some advice for riders who may be considering taking the plunge.
There’s no escaping the fact that the wheels on the Brompton are not that great. While strong enough for the task for which they were specified, the quality of the build leaves something to be desired.
The spokes on the rear wheel, in particular, are quite alarmingly bent and on changing the tyres for heavier Schwalbe Marathons, I discovered some pretty shoddy rim tape. This was quickly replaced with some Velox.
Both wheels remain pretty true, although the front has developed a slight wobble.
Significantly, new Bromptons are now fitted with an improved rear rim featuring new an angled drilling to ease tension and improve overall strength.
Although I had planned to order my bike with the rear carrier, the effectiveness of the front luggage system convinced me that the rear carrier was surplus to requirements.
This has proven to be a mistake. More on the front luggage system next, but the rear mudguard has cracked on my Brompton as a result of repeated folding.
Now I’ll admit that them not the most careful… But when you’re running for a train and performing a quick fold, there’s little scope to proceed in a gingerly fashion.
The rear rack provides an extra line of defence while making the folded package that bit more stable if wheeling the bike around.
I may change the rear configuration of my bike and add a rear rack to prevent this happening again. That said, a new rear mudguard is a relatively cheap Brompton replacement part at £12.
If you use your Brompton regularly and in all weathers, the seat post will eventually start slipping. Road crud and spray are thrown into the bottom of the open seat tube while riding, and this collects over time, along with other grease and grime, resulting in the slippage.
The only solution in my experience is to periodically remove the seat pin and degrease, along with the seat tube. This should cure the slip.
Front luggage block
While I remain convinced that this is an excellent design, I think I was unlucky that one of the bolts holding the luggage block in place sheared leaving a stud in the frame thread. Despite careful drilling and attempt to remove this stud, the thread is still clogged with metal (as can be seen in the picture).
I’m disappointed as I regularly checked these front bolts and took care not to overload my Caradice City folder.
So for now I am commuting with a pack and I’m a bit stuck as to what to do next with this. I’m sure a handy framebuilder or metalworker might be able to offer a fix but this may mean losing my Brommie for a couple of weeks.
It’s a price I may have to pay and reflects just how reliant I’ve become on this useful little bike.