Monday 13 July 2020

Brompton tyre options

When you buy a Brompton new there are a few tyre choices to be made that depend upon the type of ride you are and the terrain you will be riding over. Mention tyres and lots of those Brompton pedants come out of the woodwork who moan, groan and quite frankly bore you to death about rolling resistance and how this has been proven scientifically. My response would be one word that comes to mind my late father reserved for things he felt were a load of unnecessary rubbish. That word was spherical and in the plural! Needless to say I won't be dwelling on that issues a great deal.

In no particular order here goes.


There are a few versions of this tyre, some of which have no wired beading and are in black. There is also a newer version which has the rather good looking tanned sidewalls. The version I have are the wire bead type.

These are your racing tyre and weigh in at 176g a piece. I regard then as summer tyres that look wonderful and even better with the mudguards off. They are also quick and the narrow diameter lowers your gearing by 2.5%. I used them at the Brompton World Championships and Nocturne races and loved them. Do they actually make you faster on paper? Possibly not. Did I feel I was able too ride faster with them fitted? Definitely...especially when pumped up to the maximum 115 psi!!

If there is a downside it is that they do tend to be more puncture prone due to the thinner construction. I know a few people who use Kojaks exclusively all year round. One is a Londoner with the tanned sidewall version on his Chpt3. The other is a Canadian who uses his on his all back S2L Superlight cycling in Calgary.

Marathon Racer

This is the tyre that comes as standard on all new Brompton bikes unless you pay a little more for something else.

These have a good tread and weigh in at 255g a piece. I have to say that I really like the Racer. It is a great tyre that offers a fair amount of puncture protection. For me they are a great summer tyre and I would tend too use them over the Kojak for that extra puncture resistance.

Marathon Plus

Many of my Brompton friends swear by the Marathon Plus when riding in and around London. They offer the best puncture resistance of any of the Brompton tyres (there is one other option I'll mention later). So if you do not want to be bothered as much by the puncture fairy, they might be for you too. They weigh in at 480g a piece but can be pumped to 110 psi.

With earlier versions I seemed to have a recurring issue where the tyre came away at the beading. The newer versions don't seem to have that issue. If there is a negative it is that they can be hard to fit back on if you have a puncture but that extra peace of mind is worth it for many a Brompton rider.


The Marathon sits in-between the Racer and the Plus in terms of puncture resistance and is one of the upgrade options when buying a new Brompton.

Weighing in at 420g they can be pumped up to 110 psi and offer a very good amount of puncture resistance.

As far as rolling resistance (here we go) for me they feel faster and less sluggish than the Plus. Many of those boring tyres I mentioned would get a spreadsheet out and argue differently.

Other options

There is a tyre by Tannus that has no inner tube at all but I am told that they are not a pleasant experience to ride.

Tyre giants Continental have a tyre for the Brompton call the Contact Urban. Probably similar to the Racer I have yet to give them a go but hope to do so soon.

Stay safe out there people!!


  1. A conti-shod Brommie won UHC folding bike category last year (they look way faster than the Marathon Racers that apparently have worse rolling resistance than a standard Marathon). Another with Joseph Kuosac Strozzapreti Race Pro tyres (and carbon rims) did pretty well, considering his hangover, although they're not a particularly long-lasting tyre apparently.

    Still, unless riding on a super smooth surface, I'm definitely going for lower pressures, but with more regular pumping up to get the sweet-spot for rolling resistant with either standard Marathons or Kojaks. With 100+psi, on some rougher road surfaces in Surrey, I was finding myself slowing down on descents unless I was making an effort. Was beginning to wonder whether I was actually going downhill.

  2. in real world testing at useful, least puncture-prone and actually fastest (its true!) pressure of 4 bars 60 psi the marathon racers roll surpricingly close to the speed of any club ride bigwheeled racer peleton. the ordinary marathon is not in that leage. besides it is a very heavy tire.

    if pressure is too high vibrations from the tarmac is not compensated for by the supple tire walls, and friction is increased, not decreased. read jan heine's publications for further info.

  3. Great summary on the tyre options. I've been using beaded Kojaks as my 'go-to'summer tyre as they do 'roll' easier, and they're agile and grippy. I also use them as my choice of racing tyre on various races such as the London Nocturne, BWC and UHC which in fact I was the fastest folder at last year's UHC at Swains Lane.

    During the winter months I use the Marathon Plus which are now years old but still have life in them. Yes they are heavy and roll like riding over 'treacle' but are certainly bombproof which during winter or bad weather you need the insurance.

    1. True, you were fastest! Forgot that bit! I did like the look of David's Conti's though.

  4. I started with the marathon racers that came with my brompton electric. Got 2 punctures within the first 200km. Protection was way to low for my city area. Now i upgraded to marathon plus. I hope that they will last :)

    1. Yes you should be okay with the Plus. I still like the standard Marathon tyre better and the newer Continental ones even more.


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