Monday 23 September 2013

Are you a closet weight weenie?

A kilo! You may not think it is much. In Brompton terms the weight saving of almost 1 kg afforded by the purchase of a Titanium version may be a bridge too far for many in terms of cost. However, the weight saving of 1 kg is a big deal. In Brompton terms the saving of a few hundred grams is a big deal. I ask the question, are you a closet weight weenie?

A former work colleague who has now sadly emigrated to Canada used to commute to and from work on his single speed titanium black Brompton definitely fell in to this category. His set up before he emigrated was as follows as far as I can remember:

  • Single Speed Titanium S - type
  • Black frame
  • Kojak tyres
  • No mudguards
  • No front carrier block
  • Firm suspension
  • No Ezy Wheels - standard rollers
  • Lighter non Brompton chain set - black (not sure of make)
  • Lighter non Brompton cranks - black (not sure of make)
  • Brompfication seat post
  • Sella Italia saddle (which he said was just over 100g in weight - can this be true)?
  • Titanium bolts to replace just about every bolt on his bike
  • Lighter headset - black
  • Eggbeater titanium pedals - 175g the pair
  • Brompfication titanium clamps
  • Carbon handlebar (not sure which type)
  • Lighter wheels (which he had specially made from a specialist wheel builder in Japan)
  • Black bar tape as grips (because they were lighter)
  • Brake levers replaced with lighter black aluminium type (not sure of make)
  • Cables replaced with a slightly lighter version

He claimed that he had got his Brompton down to just under 8 kg. I have no reason to doubt this as when picking up his bike it felt dramatically lighter than my Original Orange Brompton. I write all this as at the time I thought he was crazy. At the time I remember thinking that I would not succumb to such trivialities. I remember him saying that it was the 'titanium factor.' Once you had sampled the delights of the reduction in weight, you would strive for more. I suspect all these extras would add up to the cost of  another Brompton - perhaps more?

My former colleague was uber fit but could not be convinced to enter the Brompton World Championships and would have done very well I suspect. His vice was the small Garmin 500 strapped to the main frame, upon which he would time his commute there and back, logging his fastest times in the hope of getting a personal best.

Well, as you know I have a Titanium Orange Brompton and have gone through the weight shedding process. My friend was right and the closet weight weenie in me came out with a vengeance and was even actively encouraged by some of my fellow Bromptonians!

I feel I have done almost as much as I want much as I can in this regard. Any weight savings from now I will try and obtain by not having that biscuit, chocolate bar or other calorie inducing morsel. It will probably be healthier and less expensive!

My friend in Canada took his Brompton with him and still commutes on it. He claims that he is going to do so through a Canadian winter on Kojaks as anything else would be too heavy. I thought he was crazy in London and I still think he is.

I would be interested to know whether you have tried to reduce the weight of your Brompton or bicycle and tell us why you did this in the comments section. Are you a closet weight weenie?

1 kg - are you a weight weenie?


  1. Hello dear I am Brompton weight weenie, from Toronto Canada, My bike is S6E-X and weight 8.9 Kg now ,It would be 8.6 kg in the future. I want to go to London and race in the BWC, another reason is nice to have a light bike when you take the subway every day. you can see the bike on Flickr Elieser74 with Canadian custom paint. Thanks for your blog. Elieser.

  2. Each to their own and that's an interesting spec to peruse. Slicking a bike down can become an end in itself. I prefer to keep all the road crap off me and so stick with mudguards etc but it's personal. As for finances, it would cost about 1500 quid to upgrade mine so it's out of the question anyway. Mine is currently about 12k but the other 'foldie' i used to use was an old skool 22k+.

    Most people could afford to lose a few kilos of personal weight and that's the cheap and healthy option for me:-).........

    Laurie -

  3. when I specked my bike I originally went for all the options to maximise versatility with no concessions to weight reduction. So, P6R with Marathons, Brooks saddle, Easy wheels, SON lighting, T-bag and I had a large wedge pack containing tools and the bike cover. Since then I've made a few changes to reduce the weight of the bike for carrying - so Kojaks have replaced the Marathons (I'm sure I will regret that next time I'm mending a puncture at the side of the road on a wet night somewhere), I've replaced the Brooks for a much lighter saddle, I've bought (but not yet fitted) an Alu headset to replace the now notched/indexed steel original and I've taken to carrying the wedgepack and pump in the T-bag unless I need the bag space, when they can be quickly replaced on the bike. The latter changes doesn't reduce the overall weight of course, but does even up the weight of the bike and bag when I'm hefting them up a staircase or two. Incidentally, the much quoted 1kg saving for the superlight options is a very generous overestimate, and Brompton's own (rather nifty) online 'Bike Builder' shows that it gives a 740g saving on the basic configuration, less if you include any of the dynamo hubs, and it is a bit of a cheat as it includes the weight of the missing pump (I'm not aware that superlight models are any less susceptible to punctures, and on Kojaks will in fact be more susceptible!). I think it makes sense to make some reductions in weight, especially if you are carrying the bike a lot, but spending lots of money on marginal weight reductions is a mug's game as far as I am concerned. I agree with you that losing a few grams (or kilograms) around the middle is a better bet (and I certainly could do with doing that).

  4. It depends what the goal is. When I first got my brompton i was disappointed that it was so heavy to carry around and thought it would be neat to have an ultra light version that could be picked up with a finger. Realistically though if the bike was 8kg i'd only be able to carry it a little further before having to put it down and since getting the EZ wheels, I only carry it up the occasional staircase which is easy enough.
    Obsessively shaving a dairy milk bar worth of weight off reminds me of people who over clock their PCs aiming for the highest Megehertz rating from their CPU but never seeming to do anything useful with their computers.

    1. Nothing to do with weight , many like the titanium version as the ride is different to that of the steel version. The titanium has better shock absorbing qualities. Having two Brompton bikes I can say that there is a difference. Being flippant, I even like the colour of the titanium parts.

  5. I'm riding two almost identical Bromptons at the moment. S6Rs with 39T chainrings. Both are less than six months old with standard tyres.

    One is an X (titanium) and the other all steel.

    The ride on both feel identical.

    1. Apart from picking them up I find the biggest difference noted when riding up hills and going flat out on the straights.

  6. I have got a full steel S3L in Black with Marathons and Brompton Saddle and A Orange and Ti M6L with Brooks B17 Secial Saddle Brompton tyres can hardly feel the difference in weight But when you ride them the Ti one is a smother Ride and feels stiffer may be in my Head but I Bought the Ti one just Because I could

  7. Having two steels and two ti on my own, and another 6 ti among family family my experience is that difference in ride between alternative configurations of ti is greater than between ti and steel.
    Major differences in ride comes from hard or soft suspension block, amount of rear offset of saddle, not to speak different forward angulation of M or P handlebars. Now there is a difference for you.
    I dont mind carrying my 12.7 kg steel Broomie on and off a train, or roll it on its eazy wheels a bit, but actually wish that my 2sp ti commuter with a 69T chainwheel could be considerably lighter than its 10kg, that one I carry around a lot more.
    I would however not ever compromize away a comfy 250g saddle, a dry ride with mudguards and flap, nor being able to climb hills combined with a 40+ kmh top speed.

  8. Hi!
    My two cents.
    I never took myself for a weight weenie. When I bought my M6L I knew what I was getting into. But I honestly feel the 2 speed wouldn't had been enough for me since I'm not that strong a cyclist and for all the slopes in my hometown I knew I needed all the help I could get. Later I even changed to a 44T plate.

    I must confess as of late, I've been considering swapping a few parts for lighter ones. I'm a petite woman and carrying the B while folded proves more taxing for me than a taller rider. Just picking it up from the floor presents a problem since I'm not able to lift it that much to begin with. Add a flight of stairs and I end up sweating more than in all of my day of pure cycling. That Sturmy-Archer hub is one heavy bugger. So I try to roll it as much as I can. I have also bought accessories that are not necessarily lighter than the originals, in fact they're the very opposite but I consider them ESSENTIAL for my comfort, like Ergon grips and a Brooks saddle. I recently traded my B17 for a Cambium C17 and I'm very happy, saved a few grams there and the color black matches my orange bike better. I also have an orange Brompton :D. I've been trying new ways to save, even a few grams. I've traded the hinge clamps for a pair from Brompfication and while not significant the do look sleek and I can brainwash myself into thinking I'm carrying less weight. That Brompfication seatpost looks nice... yeah I think I'll deal with the seatpost next.


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