Bromptons! As a commuter

Hi All

I commute 8km each way (25mins) 5 days a week through heavy-ish traffic.
Currently I am commuting on my full sus carbon xc rig as I only have space for 1 full-sized bike.

I locked this outside while at work and is exposed to the elements… at home it’s kept in the garage. Its about a 3500 EUR bike. I lock it up well and is insured so I am not too worried about locking it outside - mostly just the extra wear on the parts costing money.

I was thinking of buying a brompton and commuting on this instead. This may save me money and time maintaining my full sus in the long run. Added bonus of being able to bring this on public transport and keep it in the office during spontaneous pub days.

Anyone ride a brompton to work? I’ve ridden one for a minute once but found them very twitchy. Can they pick up descent speed and is comfortable for long term regular commuting? What do you think I should do? Save my money and use it for maintaining my other bike?


I’ve got one and I bloody love it. It IS twitchy, but you get very quickly used to it. I find them super comfy, and fast. Brilliant bit of kit :slight_smile:


I bought one earlier this year and love it. The ride is very different to my other bikes but the practicality means it’s often the best bike for the job. I sometimes do a 16km on way commute with it followed by a 5k/train/8k ride home when I have an event in the city centre to go to on the way home and it works perfectly.

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I’m on my 3rd one, and love them.

I had first one stupidly stolen (left in the hallway while door wedged open), then got an ultralight version, and now a T-Line, which still surprises me at how light it is every time I pick it up (I rode the other ones for 12 years).

Interestingly, it’s the Brompton that got me into other bikes! I’d take it to NY (in the overhead compartment, fits widebody, and narrrowbody (see below in an A318) for my business trips as really struggled with the jet lag, and found myself wanting to do a bit of exercise in the mornings.


When my friends started seeing 80km rides on strava they convinced me to get a “real bike”, which was obviously a huge difference for long distances, but I would have no issues to ride long distances with the Brompton.

The straight bar (what I have on my T-Line, and I much prefer) is noticeably more reactive than the M-style (U) handlebars. I just felt too straight up on the M handlebars, especially after getting a road bike.

In the city, it’s just so much more practical, as i can just get into any shop (or put it into the back of a car after having drinks at dinner).

Heavy traffic: The Brompton is much more manoeuvrable, so passing between standstill traffic is much easier too (I used to commute all the way down Bishopsgate in London).


Just get a cheap city bike

You’re unlikely to find someone who has bought a Brompton that doesn’t love it, which is a testament to how good they are. Don’t get me wrong, they’re certainly not perfect, but they do what they are intended to do better than any other competitor bike.
The fold works really well and leaves a compact, secure, small package. They are not light, but are not overly heavy. They ride really well once you get used to the riding style.

When I lived in London, I went from working in an office with great bike facilities to one with no facilities (especially no safe parking), so I bought a Bromton. I used it almost every day, for five years - commuting (working near Marylebone station and living in King’s Cross and later Islington), errands, going to meetings, shopping, meeting friends for drinks (you can always fold it and take it on a train, bus or in a cab if you have one too many) etc.
I have the straight bar, 6 gear version, with mudguards. Good riding position for in the city, all the gears you will ever need, and the mudguards really make it usable all year round (you can’t really ride in normal clothes for half the year in London if you’re not using mudguards, as all the crap off of the roads just ruins your clothes).
Now I no longer like in London, it doesn’t get used regularly. My office is now a 26km ride away, but has great facilities (secure bike parking, good showers) which enables me to ride in everyday one of my nice normal road bikes. Whenever we go away anywhere though, if I can’t take a full road bike, it gets thrown in the back of the car and used as much as possible. I wouldn’t like to be without it, even though it now rarely gets used.


No Space

Get a Brompton.

I’d get no work done knowing I had a 3.5k bike outside, even with insurance!
For 8km each way, it’ll be perfect. Don’t even need a fancy one, and they re-sell well, so you’d get a decent amount of money back.


I have got one and ride the 8.8km each way to and from the train station on it. Also usually bring it down to London whenever I have to go.

I love it - can’t go wrong really. My classic one is fairly heavy which I do notice when I take it over the railway footbridge, so I would like a lighter model - but that’s the only downside.

Yes it does feel twitchy to begin with but as above you get used to that very quickly - the steering input is different, on the bigger bikes you steer mainly by leaning (i.e., little handlebar turning input), whereas on the Brompton it’s the other way round I find.

They are great little bikes.


Thanks for your input, think I will buy one - Probably run SPD pedals with them if that works? I just hate cycling not clipped in! I think many come with the U shape bar but will try to get a flat bar with mine. Also the front bar bag will be handy for any gear I intend to carry! When buying one second hand - what do I need to look out for? do the pivot’s work with bearings? Do these tend to wear out and are costly to replace?


I decided against a Brompton for my hilly (500ft, 150m) 11 miles (18km) post train commute but going on everything owners have told me about their Bromptons for 5miles (8km) I would definitely have one. Our office is relocating potentially about a mile from the train station if so I might move a tad further from a station at this end and buy one.

I feel the same but don’t SPD a Brompton for that distance, you lose the utility for other trips and casual use… unless it will only be used for that one thing.

As for 2nd hand, some of the older models, pre-2007 years don’t have a latch on the rear wheel, a bit of a risk if doing dirt jumps but you can fit them retrospectivly.

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Just to be different, have you considered a Montague? I have a Boston, which is a full sized single speed bike that folds in the middle, so can be taken in trains etc without any problems, but rides like a normal bike. In fact when I want to ride single speed, I ride this bike as there is no material difference between it and a ‘proper’ single speed.

Montague Boston

I commuted across London for 5 years on it, with no problems at all.

There are geared versions, and also a mountain bike version.

Yeah I wouldn’t run SPDs on it, unless you were happy with shoes like VeloSambas for all-day - cos then you will be taking a 2nd pair of shoes everywhere and you lose a lot of the utility of having a folding bike.

Also worth noting that the left pedal folds flat against the crank when the bike’s fully packed down, and that mechanism is a part of the pedal - so you’d lose a small element of packability if you had a fixed left pedal. Personally for short rides I’d not bother.

I meant to include in my first reply, I have the U bar version but if I was doing it again I would definitely get the flat bar - if you’re a regular cyclist, it’s definitely a faster position (less “sit up and beg”).

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I have heard good things about the Airnimal. It obviously won’t fold as small as a Brompton but will be more sporty.

If you’re worried about grip on the pedals, get some flat pedal MTB shoes, like five-tens or similar. They make some that look like normal trainers, which you can wear all day, and pedal grip is much better especially when its wet.

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Is converting a U bar to flat bar relatively straight forward? Definately would be keen on the flat bar? And does regular MTB grips work - something like ESI foam grips?

Not really (I looked into going U → Flat on my previous one):

  1. The stem length is different
  2. The cable lengths are different.

I was quoted 300-400 GBP for the switch. Ended up buying a flat-bar T-line instead :sweat_smile:

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As above - apparently not, sadly.

I have been trying to persuade my wife to get one so I might just donate her mine and get a new flat-bar T line as above :smiley:

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I actually wear Doc Martens most of the time on mine and grip isn’t too bad at all :slight_smile: