Andrew Mobbs (mobbsy) wrote,
Andrew Mobbs

Yesterday afternoon, having left work early, I wandered down to Drake's to talk to them about Brompton bicycles and have a go with a couple of them.

They've recently revamped their range, which isn't reflected on the website yet. So rather than the C, L and T types there's now a number of options for frame, handlebars, gears and so on that can either be ordered a la carte or through 10 standard configurations

First impression of the ride was that it's disturbingly bouncy - the frame isn't anything like as stiff as I'm used to, the handlebars seem to flex worryingly when pulling away from rest. I hope they won't break or bend with use.

I quite like the new "touring" style handlebars, with both upright and dropped positions available. I didn't like the other new style, the narrow T shaped ones, fairly low position. I didn't try the traditional style.

The three-speed hub gears seem like a good option, I tried the two-speed and didn't really like it much, I'm not sure the 6 speed adds an awful lot. The guy in the bikeshop claimed 6 speed didn't really add anything to the gearing range, the documentation suggests it adds a bit, going from 178% to 213%.

The basic bikes are pricey but don't seem hideously expensive to start with, but the extras quickly add up. The model I'm looking at starts at £515.

It looks like the rear luggage rack isn't much use, but the front-bag is, that's £58 to £85 depending on capacity. With the new models you can get dynamo lights without the luggage rack, and dynamo lights look like a sensible option, bottle dynamo set costs £57 (with standlight), hub dynamo costs £166.

The seatpost would be something to think about. I'd want slightly longer than the standard, the extended one (a no-cost option) is fine but causes the seat to stick up when folded, the telescopic one is a touch heavier and costs £29, but folds flat.

Changing the tyres to Schwalbe Marathons would be another £22, a Brooks saddle would be another £57 (but I might not bother with that).

I tried a two-speed (i.e. no hub gear) and "superlight" frame. It was impressively lightweight, but as I said I didn't like the gearing and the titanium options add another £400 to the price which really doesn't seem worth it unless you're frequently carrying the bike long distances.

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