Brompton M3L 2021
When I first moved to London I thought that Bromptons, the classic folding bikes, were dorky. Perhaps they still are, but I’ve now sold myself on the idea that they’re great.
I got one through my work cycle scheme last year to replace my gravel bike as a commuter. I opted for a plain black, 3 speed, upright handlebars (M), with dynamo lighting; all selected to minimise faff.
It is a delight to ride this bike. It feels nimble despite its small wheels and a rather heavy composition. The more upright position feels safer than my road bike, without feeling like every pedal is a slog. The fold of the bike is cleverly designed such that when unfolded, the rear triangle of the frame rests upon the down tube via a rubber ‘ suspension block’. This block cushions the ride, and when combined with a long seat post like mine, makes for a comfortable road feel.
Speaking of the seat post, the standard seat post that came with my M3L was a little too short for me. I’m around 1.85m tall, and felt like I could do with an extra inch or so of extra legroom. As the bike is already somewhat weighty, I started shopping around for titanium seat posts. Reading reviews, several people highly recommended a few in the £200-£300 price range, which was a bit more than I hoped to spend. I later settled for a 600mm one from eBay for around £80, and I’ve no complaints about it. It’s lighter than my old, shorter aluminium seat post, it rides comfortably and has been the ideal length for me.
The folding mechanism on a Brompton is brilliant, which makes sense given that they’re still using the same design 30 years later. I can fold it in a few seconds, faster than it took me to get a D-lock out of my bag and lock up my gravel bike. This makes it easy to stop in at the supermarket on the way home or take my bike into the pub - or the Royal Opera House, which I did the very day I bought it. The novelty of simply bringing my bike with me is yet to wear off.
Additionally, when you don’t want to be carrying the bike around too much, you can leave the handlebars up and use them to push the bike around using the small roller wheels just below the saddle. I opted to upgrade to the easy roller wheels, and while I wouldn’t say they’re that easy rolling, any assistance in pushing it around London’s bumpy streets is welcomed.
As for accessories for other accessories I’ve added, I’ve got a Peak Design magnetic mount so that I can check directions etc on my phone as I go (which I’ve described in more detail in an earlier post). It just fits into the space beside my left brake leaver and does a great job - I always get comments from people about it. I’ve also just this week received the Metro Bag as a very nice Birthday present, I’m yet to use it on the bike, however, my first impressions are very good.
If you’re reading this and you’re on the fence about getting a Brompton, I don’t regret my purchase at all, I’d highly recommend it - I’m even considering upgrading to a lighter model when my Cycle Scheme comes round again.