Brompton H6L… Delights and disappointments

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. Continue reading

Brompton H6L -One month down the line

I’ve been commuting on the Brompton for one month and, 160 rapid miles down the road in these balmy summer conditions (i.e. rain, and lots of it), I offer some thoughts.

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First, what don’t I like: Well, I those small wheels do take more energy to keep at pace and they are susceptible to potholes and other road imperfections, certainly more so that the 20-inch wheels on my Bike Friday or a regular bike.

The first complaint sees me working the gears more to maintain momentum, the second requires me to dart around obstacles more so that I would do on a regular bike. Road conditions being so bad now, and unlikely to get much better given the parlous state of council highways budgets, it is sometimes impossible to avoid a juddery ride.

Continue reading

Bye bye Citroën, hello Brompton

Forgive the interruption to the Hebrides write up… there’s more to come in due course. I’m just wandering off on a tangent to bring you some pics of the new bike, a Brompton H6L.

As explained in a previous post, my old car has now gone and the Brommie is a ‘transport solution’ for my forays to the dirty old Smoke.

The build on the bike was delayed  – predictable really, as Brompton can’t make these bikes fast enough and most seem to go for export nowadays.  It’s a pretty standard spec from the factory with the addition of a telescopic seat post, cover/saddlebag, firm suspension elastomer and a luggage block.

The SPD pedals are my addition, as are the stubby bar ends, which do not interfere with the fold. Talking of the fold, it is as good as you’ve heard. The bike snaps together into a fantastic compact, contained package.

So what’s it like? It’s a different experience, no doubt. There are certain compromises you have to make when riding one of these machines, not least the flex in the stem. This, initially, is a wee bit disconcerting but you soon get used to it. The handling is sharp, but not unduly so, and with the addition of the bar ends, the bike feels surprisingly comfortable.

As for like-for-like comparisons in the cockpit, the saddle height is the same as a regular bike thanks to the extender post while the reach comes in the same as the ‘flats’ on my tourer and audax bike. Considering I ride on the hoods most of the time, that means it’s shorter, even when using the bar ends.

Anyway, here are some shots (forgive the bunting, these were taken post-Jubilee party although provide a fitting backdrop for the Brit Brommie). I’ll report back after a few weeks on the road.

Brompton H6L bicycle – All good things come to the taller rider

A change of job is going to see me in London more and more. Such a lifestyle change will be all the more bearable if I have a bicycle to hand and that bicycle will be the quirky Brompton.

Brompton H6L Image courtesy of Brompton
Pic:  Brompton

I used to commute daily from Essex and the dreary journey via ‘overland’ and the Central and Victoria lines suddenly became enjoyable when I swapped the Tube for a bike.

The multimodal nature of the trip required a folder. However, my height and (then) weight ruled out the superior option – the British-made Brompton. I remember vividly wobbling around the car park of AVC in Bath and quickly rejecting the Brommie… the dynamics seemed all wrong.

I ended up buying a Bike Friday and, although not offering the greatest fold, it was still good enough for my daily train ride from Chelmsford.

Now my requirements have changed. Although I’ll regularly commute from sunny Essex again, I’ll also have to ferry the bike by Virgin Train from not-so sunny Manchester. Add to that my short and crowded commuter trip here in the North West and the ‘Friday is no longer an option.

A Brompton could be, though.

Two subtle but significant tweaks have been made to design since my unfortunate encounter in Bath. First, the mainframe hinge was redesigned in the 2003 increasing the wheelbase a little.

Second, and perhaps more significant, the London company has introduced the H-type stem which increases the handlebar height to a shade over 107cm, making much more sense for this six-foot-sixer.

It was high time to test ride a Brompton again and the best place to check these folders out in Manchester it Harry Hall Cycles. The shop stocks a wide range of Bromptons for you to try, and the guys know plenty about them… not least Andy who commutes on one daily.

I took a standard M-type for a spin with a telescopic seat post. Bad memories of previous Brompton experiences were soon erased. The Brompton, once you get it going, is an absolute blast to ride. The handling is nimble and quick, my preference for commuting as I don’t want to be caught dozing. Even with the standard bars, I found the bike offered acceptable comfort. With the extra 5-6cms of bar height, longer rides will also be an option.

Now I’ve found a model that suits I am going to have to wait that little bit longer, though. I’m in the build cue and my Brommie will start to take shape on 14 May… I hope.