Love your brilliantly bespoked Brompton but fancy customising it a little further?
As bicycles go, the Brompton is more customisable than the average: choose to go down the bespoke route rather than getting an ‘off-the-shelf’ model and you get to pick the handlebar style, seatpost length, number of gears and gear ratio and countless other options and add-ons not to mention the 14-odd colour choices which are periodically updated, and the limited edition models which are regularly released.
However, many proud folding bike owners choose to seek out Brompton accessories to enhance their already handsome steed still further, tweaking and altering componentry and finishing kit to get a truly individualised bike that is perfect for their needs and is completely unique. There are some fairly drastic alterations that can be made to Bromptons. A Rohloff rear hub conversion and electric conversion are the two that immediately spring to mind, although there is at least one example of a real Frankenstein bike whereby someone has created a ‘Brompton tandem’ - noooooooo! In this blog we’ll explore less extreme options for pimping your Brompton, all of which are fairly simple to fit and will not affect the fold or other fundamentals of the bike.
Probably one of the most common upgrades, a change of grips is a perfect way to enhance your ride experience or make your Brompton more individual. A note of caution: Brompton grips are around 2cm shorter in length than most grips and so if you do change your grips, you will either need to move your levers along the handlebars (this is only really an option if you have a straight-bar ‘S’ model) or cut the grips down to fit onto the Brompton bars.
One grip option we really like for the Brompton is the Lizard Skins DSP grip. The stealthy black option looks excellent on the sleek Black Edition Brompton, and there are loads of different colours available to complement or contrast with your existing colour scheme. We also couldn't help ourselves, and added the Cinelli Mike Giant Grip shot below - man oh man that's a nice grip.
One of the main pluses of the Brompton saddle is that its underside has a finger grip which makes lifting the bike easier and more ergonomic. However, many riders sacrifice this convenience for an alternative offering a more personal fit or look. One thing to think about if you do choose to upgrade a saddle on a Brompton is riding position - if you ride in a more racy position (for example if you are relatively tall and use an ‘S’-bar Brompton), you will probably find a relatively narrow saddle more suitable, whereas if you ride relatively upright (a smaller person on any of the models or a taller person on a ‘H’- or ‘P’-bar model), a wider saddle would be more appropriate.
If you’re a fan of classy British manufactured items (which is probably quite likely if you’re a Brompton owner), Brooks saddles really complement the Brompton range, with leather models such as the Swift, B17 (featured above in drool-worthy titanium) and Swallow ideal for more classic-looking Bromptons. Brooks’ new generation Cambium saddle, which is made of vulcanised rubber with a cotton canvas upper, is a good option for more contemporarily styled Bromptons. For any Brompton owners leaning towards the hipster persuasion, some of Cinelli Bike Saddles represent excellent options, and they sure are colourful!
Pedals are a key contact point on the bike and clipless pedals are a nice option if you want added power and control when riding your Brompton. Many riders choose half clipless pedals, which offer the flexibility to choose between standard shoes and clip-in cycling shoes. Changing the pedals on a Brompton does slightly affect its folded size, as the left hand pedal can’t be tucked away neatly as it can with the folding pedal that comes as standard, but this will only really add a few centimetres of width in the pedal area.
There are many urban cycling shoes which would be ideal for Brompton users. For example, Chrome and DZR make shoes which are specifically designed for urban cycling and are really practical for combining on- and off-bike usage, being SPD cleat compatible but with the cleat attachment area recessed so you can walk around unhindered when not cycling. Giro also has a range of smart and casual options suited to on- and off-bike usage.
Unless you have a super-pared-back ‘E’ model, your Brompton will have been fitted with an emergency mini-pump. This pump is light, attaches into the frame and is pre-set up for the Schraeder valves used on Brompton inner tubes. However, there are some other options worthy of further investigation. If you want something to complement your existing Brompton pump, a CO2 inflator may be the thing for you. Brompton tyres have a very high recommended psi (90-100psi) and a CO2 inflator with pressure gauge (like this one made by PDW) is a nifty option for achieving this without breaking a sweat.
If you are considering a more general pump upgrade, there are some nice features available which are not included on the standard Brompton pump. A pressure gauge is really useful for getting as close to the recommended psi as possible (Crank Brothers make a really nice mini pump with a pressure gauge), and there are also options for reducing the amount of effort required to pump your tyre up, such as dual-piston designs which pump air into the tyre on both the inward and outward strokes.
One of the best things about the Brompton bicycle is the freedom and flexibility it offers, and a lot of this is related to being able to take it with you wherever you go. However, sometimes it is useful to be able to pop in somewhere and leave the Brompton outside for just a few minutes, or sometimes you may want a deterrent to potential ‘grab and go’ incidents inside places. In these instances, there are a few neat options which complement the Brompton perfectly.
Abus folding locks work excellently with Bromptons: they can be strapped securely to the top tube using the rubberised carry case and strap that they come with and the concertina design is ideal for wrapping through a folded or unfolded Brompton. They are ideal to use for short stops where you don’t want to bring the bike inside or situations where you will be overlooking the place you lock the Brompton.
Aside from the in-buily dynamo light option Brompton offer, there are other lights on the market that offer greater versatility in terms of the light modes, brightness and portability. We use a couple of the Lezyne Zecto lights on our Bromptons, which are ace. Top tip! Put the light on the right hand side of your stem and you'll be able to fold the bike and leave the light on!
An important thing to look out for in alternatives to the Brompton lights is the attachment system - lights will need to be able to be quickly removed to allow for folding.