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: grips on pre-2017 Bromptons and 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.
Our top three grip choices for the Brompton would have to be the PDW Cork Chop Grip, the Cinelli Mike Giant Art Grip (available in red and black) and the Walnut City Grip (available in brown, black and honey). Each offers something a little different in terms of styling and feel. The Cork Chops sport an ergo shape, grippy rubber construction and vintage look, whilst the Mike Giant ones are certainly different to your average grip, with a soft velvet-feel and awesome artwork. Both are a lock-on design offering a secure fit. The Walnut grips are another eye-catching option - these can be cut to size making them a good option for pre-2017 M- and H-type Bromptons, and are great if you have gone down the Brooks saddle route, as the three colour options pair well with them.
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. Another nice option is Moto pedals - these are specifically designed with urban riders in mind and are available in a reflective and a sleek wood option.
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.
Pump & Tools
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.
For roadside puncture repairs, as well as a pump or CO2 inflator you will also need tools to get the tyre off, and, for a tube change rather than a patch-up, the wheel too (although the removal of the rear wheel is a whole other story again!). Our top picks for this would be the Full Windsor Nutter Tool (which has a 15mm spanner for axle nuts and integrated nylon-tipped tyre lever), or the Silca Premio Tyre Levers (perhaps the most high-end tyre levers we have come across!).
SHOP INFLATION AND TOOLS
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 like the Trace and Tracer Light Set from Exposure, which is 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. A god alternative to the Trace front light if you want a brighter option is the Switch, also available as a set or on its own.