Fellow Brompton enthusiast and rider Simon bought a Brompton B75 a few months ago and asked whether I would be interested in him writing a guest blog post. Simon previously did the same when he reviewed the Brompton Electric CLICK HERE, so naturally I said yes. Below are Simon's words and photos. Many thanks to Simon for doing this. It is a great review.
For over 40 years, Brompton has made the same type of bicycle and kept the customers returning through a combination of incremental improvements and limited editions. Improvements to the brakes and gears are all welcome, but with these there has been a steady increase in weight and cost.
So what is the new B75?
It is the latest special edition made by Brompton and it has been made to a price to make the bicycle more accessible. It also comes with a finance package to spread the cost out further. To keep the cost down, it uses older parts, comes in one colour, and has no default options like mudguards. There is no front carrier block so you will have to buy one to allow you to fit Brompton's excellent luggage system.
In summary, it puts back the clock in terms of price and functionality
So what does it look like?
Let's talk about the colour. I love it and it was one of the reasons why I bought the bike. I would say that you have to see it in the flesh as it is a subtle combination of blue and green. It is a really hard colour to photograph, even Brompton’s own publicity photographs and videos show different shades.
It is currently a contemporary colour and if you look around you will see lots of graphics and adverts in that shade. The colour alone could be a reason to buy. It was for me!
So how about the bike?
It works, it cycles! It is still a Brompton, folds the same, rides the same, and whilst it just does not feel quite so good, it still gets you from a to b. It can still act as your faithful companion, opening up new opportunities for travel. To me this is the key part of Brompton ownership, what new places can you go? Getting to your destination is easier and faster, all powered by yourself with no additional costs!
The things that they have changed are a non folding pedal, no mudguards, and old style brakes, gear shifter and handlebars. The saddle has also been cost reduced but is still, well a bike saddle, and of equal comfort to the standard one.
Depending on how you use the bike, you might not miss those features, but do you really need them?
The folding pedal is essential if you commute. When the pedal is folded it does not stick out, and makes the bike easier to carry, takes up less space on the train, and if you put the bike in your car boot, makes it lie flat.
A folding left hand pedal and the matching right hand pair cost £45, or you can get something from MKS for slightly less.
On the subject of commuting, there are no mudguards. Whilst fine for summer, commuting on a mudguard-less Brompton during winter is not fun. Even if it is dry, muck from the road gets kicked up covering you and your bike. It was interesting to note that in Brompton’s own publicity video they say “get an Uber when it rains”, but in the long run buying some mudguards are cheaper, even at £65.
So the price of the bike is creeping up to £860 but now you have a bike that can be used all year round.
The final essential suggestion for upgrading are the brake levers. If you commute on the flat, the standard ones are fine, however by changing them to the more modern metal levers you dramatically improve the feel and efficiency. Stopping and responsiveness are just better. These cost £40. The pads and callipers are fine, it is just that squeezing metal rather than plastic gives a better response
So we are now at £900. Yes the price has crept up, but the bike is now usable year round, is smaller to fold, can be taken more places and is nicer to ride. Despite spending more on top of the basic price, it is still cheaper than buying a regular Brompton which costs £1025!
There is more you can do, for example change the handlebars for a lower sportier position or replace the back wheel and make it a six speed. Swapping the seat-post to titanium and getting a lighter saddle is a good way of saving some weight as well. But now we are talking about one of the key aspects of Brompton ownership. It is up to you to decide what you want to do. Every Brompton is different, customised by their owners to their particular needs.
For example, my B75 has a lightweight BWR wheelset, Kojaks, folding pedals, front luggage block, low straight bars, carbon bar ends, white grips, Ti seat post, Fizik racing saddle. Still a B75, just….. ;)
The true genius of Andrew Ritchie's original design and Brompton Bicycles subsequent refinements and marketing are that one design can meet many needs - from commuting to touring. By creating a basic bare bike as a low cost entry point, not only has Brompton widened the accessibility of its product but also created a great starting point for customising the bike to your specific needs. It gets a definite buy from me either as a first Brompton to get you started or as a second bike to adapt to your needs. Did I say I love the colour!