One of the things that attracted me to the Brompton folding bicycle above and beyond all of the other folders on the market was the range of elegant accessories available by third parties (accessories just make any product more fun!) I also love the fold!!
Here is a list of the upgrades that i’ve made to my 2012 Brompton with a 6-speed hub, H-Type handlebars and an extended seat post (at 6’2″, I’m a tall rider and much of my height is in my legs).
#1 – Brooks B17 Special Saddle
I added the Brooks saddle at the time of purchase (which is less expensive than buying it later). I couldn’t resist the beautiful brown leather and of course it looks and feels amazing.
#2 – Ergon PG1 Grips (now discontinued – model GP1 BioKork shown)
I added these handlebar grips at the time of purchase. They make a real difference in my hand positions and allow me to ride further and more comfortably. If I had it to do again I would probably get the GP1 BioLeder grips which are essentially the same thing available in all leather – they look really swank but I question if sweaty palms from riding could make them slippery. The cork grips really nicely. Ergon also offers some versions that allow for additional hand positions – while I like the idea of this functionality I find the grips a bit ugly and I’m concerned that they could interfere with the fold.
#3 – MKS FD-7 Folding Pedals 9/16″
I was having problems with my original Brompton folding peddle starting to click with each rotation after the first couple of of hundred miles. I considered just replacing my folding Brompton peddle but upon doing some rather exhaustive reading learned that the MKS FD-7 Folding Pedals were superior to the Brompton folding pedal. I purchased and installed a pair of these in black and I’ve been extremely happy with them (and it’s nice to have two folding pedals on a folding bike!). I’ve now been riding on these pedals for two years and they show almost no signs of wear. They are extremely well engineered and I think that they will last a long time.
Update 9/2014. I’ve discovered that this pedal is problematic for use with the B&W Folding Bike Clapton Box. I had to remove the right pedal in order to fit it into the box and the left pedal is very tight. I’m going to try some MKS removable pedals next to see if they solve the problem. This is disappointing because I really like these folding pedals. If you aren’t planning to use the travel case, definitely consider them.
#4 – Brooks Challenge Tool Bag
I was searching for an elegant tool bag that I could permanently attach to my Brompton for carrying and storing a few tools (this was before the Brompton Toolkit came along). It is very nice and the attachment method with leather straps is old-school, which I really like. There are some other knock-off bags made in S. Korea which I haven’t seen in person but which looked a little bit cheap to me, so I ended up going with the Brooks. In reality I don’t use the bag very much, but it looks nice and I like knowing that my tools are available if I ever need them. These bags are available in many colors (red, green, yellow, black, brown – I opted for a honey brown color that nearly matches my saddle (70 pounds).
After using this tool bag for 1 year I found it slightly outsized for my Brompton (but I still liked it). Mostly I kept a couple of tools in it in case of flats or needed adjustments on the road. While I like the classic look of the brooks bag, the buckly is definitely old fashioned and takes longer to open and close then I would like. I would have left it hanging on the back of my saddle indefinitely, but then the The Nutter Cycle Multi-Tool came to my attention. I ordered it and prefer it’s slimmer and more compact profile on my Brompton. For now the Brooks Challenge Tool Bag sits in my drawer dreaming of a renewed life on some other bike….
#5 – Leather Frame Protector (no longer seems to be available)
I purchased this leather frame protector on ebay from Eduardo Martinez in Spain. It matches my saddle, it’s practical and I think it looks really terrific! He used to have a website, bikebrompton.com, but sadly it is no longer registered. Eduardo, please bring this product back – it was the best on the market!
#6 – Brompfication Brass Hinge Clamp Set
These hinge clamps, aside from looking really nice also offer a major improvement to the folding and unfolding of my Brompton. A spring has been added that keeps the bracket pushed out all of the way while it is unhinged, thus making it faster and easier to tighten. I love this little accessory and I think that my Brompton also looks nicer with it. The only drawback is that the Brompton Tool Kit won’t fit inside of the tube with this mod so think carefully about which is most important to you before purchasing it.
I’ve now been riding with these hinge clamps for over two years and I have definitely found them to be a a great and lasting enhancement – they have also improved my unfolding speed by a couple of seconds, which is a benefit that cannot be underestimated in value! I would plan to add these hinge clamps to any Brompton that I purchase in the future (until of course Brompton themselves develop the spring opening feature, which is the element that I value the most).
#7 – Brompfication Easy Wheels
These wheels role much better than Brompton’s Easy Wheels. I have been having some issues with the rubber frequently breaking. My set came with a couple of extra sets of rubber and I’m not desperate for more replacement sets yet, but I am concerned about the viability of this product over the long run because of this challenge. It is nice to have wheels that really roll nicely when the bike is in a folded position. I’ve learned that there are several other 3rd party after market wheel manufacturers and I’m considering trying a different brand to discover if I can improve the easy wheel role – Kamoya makes the Tilt49 BR-05 and BikeFun out of Taiwan makes an easywheel product that extends so that the bike doesn’t tip when being pulled. It’s not clear to me yet if these products will work with a rear rack.
#8 – 2013 Brompton Bike Lever Upgrade
These were first introduced in September 2012, but initially only available with new Bromptons. I went to b-fold in NYC (my favorite Brompton shop in the city) and they had the brake levers in stock by August, 2013. I wasn’t sure that it was going to be worth the cost for this upgrade, but I have been mightily impressed by the improved stopping power of the brakes with them installed. I consider the braker lever upgrade to be a must for every Brompton owner! This upgrade didn’t come cheap – The Brake lever set was $50, new brake cables were required for $12 and labor costs me $75. In total with tax this upgrade cost $149.16 USD in August 2013.
#9 – Brompfication Seat Clamp Quick Release, Titanium
I’ve ordered two of these from Brompfication (I required a second one because of my extended seat post). I like my Brompfication Brass Hinge Clamps so much that I thought it would be nice to match them and to have this brass and leather look all over the bike. The cost for two of them was $98.34 USD in December 2013.
Unfortunately, this seat clamp was inferior to Brompton’s original seat clamp (even though I liked the way that it looked better).The basic problem was that it wasn’t able to achieve the same tension as Brompton’s original seat clamp. Each time I would put my saddle up this seat clamp would spin around into the wrong position and overall it ended up greatly increasing the time that it took me to put up and secure the seat. Even after that my saddle was frequently not tight enough and I would be forced to adjust it multiple times. The last time I tightened my seat using these I pushed so hard that some of the brass from the hinge rubbed off revealing the material underneath. Very disappointing. I really gave these seat clamps a chance, and tried to improve my skill with them, but alas it was an engineering failure and not a failure of skill that was the problem. Sadly, I have just reverted to Brompton’s seat clamps and now I’m reminded of just how amazing they are! I’m glad I tried these, but in my opinion they ding Brompfications engineering credibility and I’ll think twice before ordering from there again.
Of course I love my Brooks Challenge Tool Bag (#4), but this tool kit is tinier and seems to be full of all of the practical tools that I need to carry. My first choice would be the Brompton Toolkit, which unfortunately won’t work for me because of my Brompfication Brass Hinge Clamp Set (#6). Given these conditions, this kit seems to be the nicest choice. The Nutter was a result of an outrageously successful Kickstarter campaign. I guess I’ll be selling my Brooks Tool Bag or finding another place to hang it. I purchased mine from wiggle.com for $72.29 USD in December 2013 (which is about $10 less than the cost of purchasing from the manufacturer).
#11 – Jenny Suspension from Kamoya from Japan.
I haven’t been wild about the stock soft suspension that came with my Brompton – I feel like the bike has been bouncing around a bit too much as I ride, especially over rough pavement and pot holes in NYC. I also think that some of my pedaling energy is being converted into bouncing, which demands some experimentation! I read every source that I could find regarding the Jenny Suspension from Kamoya in Japan. Kamoya makes some interesting accessories for the Brompton, but they appear not to be frequently exported from Japan. According to the Kamoya website the suspension is about 4,800 yen ($46 USD). One also needs to purchase their “Elastomer” for 350 yen ($3.50), but they do not export to the US. The only importer that I found was “kuganicrafts” on ebay who presumably purchases Kamoya accessories in Japan and ships them to individuals in the US. kuginicrafts charged me $85 USD for the suspension, including the Elastomer – $92.90 with tax. This was a pretty steep price to pay for this accessory in my opinion, but curiosity got the better of me. I can’t wait for it to arrive!
I’ve now been riding with my Jenny suspension kit for about 8 months. I have to say that it really tightened up my ride and I now think that this was well worth the money and has become one of my top 3 favorite upgrades!
I’ve had the Brompton Suitcase on my wish list for quite some time and now finally mine has arrived (9/2014). Two things had been holding me back from purchasing this travel case – #1 I was worried that with my customizations that my Brompton wouldn’t fit. #2 – That with the added weight of my customizations that my Brompton with case would be over the weight limit for most airlines, limiting my ability to travel with my bike. I read every forum that I could and tried to anticipate the results prior to ordering, but strangely not that much has been written about the Clapton Case with customizations yet. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- My Brooks B17 Special Saddle with extended seatpost needs to be removed for them to fit. I tried twisting the B17 as one reviewer had suggested, but for me, due to some other customizations it didn’t work. Not only that, but after I had finally successfully fit my Brompton into the case, in order for the Saddle and extended seat post top to fit I had to take them apart into two separate pieces.
- My Ergon PG1 Grips (which I love) are twisted such while the Brompton is in its folded position that they make the bike an extra inch wide for each grip. I had to loosen and twist them to narrow the profile, otherwise it wasn’t going to fit into the case.
- My MKS FD-7 Folding Pedals, even while folded the right pedal was sticking out an additional three inches on the right side, making it impossible to close the case. I removed the right pedal and was able to finally fit the bike and close the case (barely). I’ve now ordered some MKS Exim EZY Superior Pedals to replace the FD-7 which I’m hoping will work (I couldn’t find any testimonials on the internet that described the fit of the case using these removable pedals, so an attempt to try this pedal type is purely experimental).
- Also, the Brompfication Brass Hinge Clamp Set (which I also love) does widen the profile of the Brompton very slightly and makes closing the case slightly challenging. I’m not planning to remove these hinges or revert to the stock hinge clamps and I think that they are going to work, however until I’ve traveled with the bike and case with these hinge clamps installed, I won’t know how well they work.
My early assessment is that it is possible to travel with my customized Brompton, but it won’t be quite as easy as I had hoped. I was imagining opening the suitcase, popping out a fully in-tact bike, unfolding it and riding away. Realistically, it’s going to be a bit more work than that to prepare the bike for travel and to put it back together again after upon arrival. This is disappointing as I was hoping to keep the suitcase with my Brompton in the trunk of my SUV so that it was always ready to fold into action. Realistically, I probably won’t be doing this now. This experience is starting to push me towards considering the purchase of a secondary simplified Brompton for travel purposes. I should also mention that the overall weight of my customized Brompton folded in the case with all parts is roughly 46 pounds. The weight limit of Delta Airlines in the U.S. is 50 pounds. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to travel with it without paying over weight fees (barely). I have a couple of trips coming up and I’m planning to take the bike along to give this a try.
- I would love to get the SON Hub Dynamo and get rid of my lights attached to the handlebars and rear seatpost. I’m planning to get this upgrade in the fall of 2014.
- A new company, spurcycle has developed a really nice modern bell that sounds and looks spectacular. Currently they only have a stainless and a black version of the bell, but I’ve reached out to the owner (8/2014) and he mentioned that they are explore a brass finished bell in 6-8 months. I’m going to wait for the brass version.
- Upgrade to chain tensioner. BikeFun offers a version in titanium that looks pretty nice.
- These wooden fenders with stainless steel inlays in mahogany from Bike 48 look pretty amazing.