Personalizing the Brompton

It’s been three months since Emee and I have gotten our Bromptons. We bought them from REI, since no one else seemed to have them when we were looking (at least not at an affordable price.) I’m really thankful that REI had them (hello, dividend!) but they only carry bare-bones versions, and only in black. I didn’t mind black, and I knew that I’d be changing out things to fit my preferences, so it wasn’t the biggest deal. What have I done so far?

Grips. The stock Brompton grips are perfectly okay, but I wanted something with a little more flair, and a little more cushion. I found a set of leather PDW ergonomic grips. They looked and felt nice, but were just too long for the not-that-long M-type handlebars. I then got the cork version of the PDW ergo grips, and they fit after a little bit of trimming. They are indeed comfier than just straight grips.

Bell. There is an integrated bell on the Brompton, but it gives a pretty pathetic “plink” sound. I could have replaced it with brass, but it still wouldn’t be that great. I got a Crane E-Ne hammer strike brass bell. It’s small enough to fit on the tight space of the M-type handlebar. And it sounds so much better!

Bartender Bag. One of the big issues with a Brompton is that because of its frame style and the fact that it has to be able to fold, adding a water bottle cage or the like is hard. I got around that by taking the RandiJoFab Bartender Bag Plus that was on the Heavy Duti and installing it on the handlebars. Now I have a convenient spot for a water bottle and some other odds and ends.

Strap. It’s a bit of an indulgence, but I got a leather handle from Walnut Studiolo out on the Oregon Coast. It also matches the color of the B17 saddle! And it does make carrying the folded Brompton easier.

Saddle and Seatpost. As if I’d keep on the non-leather Brompton saddle! That got swapped with a Brooks B17 on day one. I found the stock seatpost a bit too short so I got the slightly longer version.

Dynamo Lighting. This was definitely a thing I wish I didn’t have to deal with after-the-fact. I was hoping to pick up a Brompton with dynamo lighting included, but no such luck. The first three months I got by with battery lighting–front and rear USB rechargeable dealies from Cygolite. Lights that I had to purchase new, since I haven’t really used battery lights in years! 1 I’m a big proponent of dynamo lighting and all my bikes up to this point had dynamo systems, so it would be natural that I’d want one for the Brompton.

But there’s a more practical reason why most Bromptons you see have dynamo lighting (besides never having to worry about batteries)–there’s not a heck of a lot of real estate for battery powered lights on the bike. As it was, the only spot I could put my headlight was on the “bottom of the curve” of the M-type handlebars, and this light had to clear the big Carradice front bag. It was a delicate balance of light placement and aim. And it was highly annoying.

So last week I brought the Brompton to Clever Cycles, who had a few dynamo wheels built up around a Shutter Precision hub, my modern dynamo hub of choice. 2 I already had a spare B+M front headlamp, but needed to get a rear light from them. I took the bike on a test ride on the eve of Thursday January 20th (which was also my third and last Midnite Bicycle League ride of 2022) and everything worked perfectly. Now I don’t have to worry about recharging or constantly fiddling with light placement!

I’m sure there will be some more tweaks and additions over the months and years to come. But right now I have my Brompton where I want it. And that’s good!

Bromptons and Fall Color at Tualatin Community Park, 15 Oct 2021

1 I did have an older Cygolite headlight, but it was too cumbersome to work with the Brompton. And I discovered that my last battery powered rear light had disintegrated from battery acid!

2 What’s my vintage dynamo hub of choice? A Sturmey-Archer DynoHub, of course!

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7 thoughts on “Personalizing the Brompton

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  1. Good to hear you’ve been over to Clever Cycles. Todd Fahrner was an old classmate of mine at St. John’s College. If you know him and see him, tell him I say “hello.”

    The Bromptons look great. Occasionally I think of getting one, but I have sooo many bikes. Maybe not a lot in the opinion of other bike people, but they do take up room.

    1. I haven’t seen Todd in years. I’m not exactly sure how involved he is with Clever anymore, or even if he is.

      I hear you about the amount of bikes. But for me, you have to think about the particular niche Brompton fits. If I didn’t travel as much as I do, I wouldn’t feel the need for one.

  2. Hi! Can you tell me how the Walnut Studiolo handle is working on your Brompton? Wondering if it is just as comfortable, useful as some of the other handles that are cloth & rubber. Thank you!

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