Behind every great brand or product, there’s usually a great story to be told – and the best stories are usually those that unfold slowly with trials and tribulations along the way. Brompton is definitely a golden example. Since the first Brompton was designed in 1975, a fascinating journey has unfolded.
This post doesn’t recount the story as it unfolded. If that’s what you want you can read about the company’s milestones told by Brompton themselves here.
Here, we’re posting 7 of our favourite facts about Brompton, as told by the team themselves – not scraped from Wikipedia! We’ll be unveiling them day-by-day.
Fact #1 – The fate of Brompton prototype number 1
With such a big community of Brompton fans, the early bikes and prototypes are now collectors items – sought after from all over the world and worth a lot of money. If you are lucky enough to visit the factory, you can see prototypes 2 and 3, but number 1 is missing. That’s because Andrew Ritchie was so unhappy with it, that he decided to throw it away! So, somewhere out there, at the bottom of a very old scrap heap, is a Brompton treasure trove of gold (safety warning: we strongly advise against scrap yard hunting – it is highly dangerous!).
Fact #2 – There are 16,000,000 Brompton combinations
Brompton makes one thing – and they do it very well. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t personalise your bike, and make it your own. Quite the opposite. With choices of different handlebar, paint, saddle, brakes, material, mudguard and gear options – there are a total of 16 million possible combinations available to choose from. If you lined up all the possible combinations, they would stretch from London to Perth, and back again.
Fact #3 – Baby Oil is put on the frame to give it its lustre
Ever wondered how your Titanium Brompton gets that lovely lustre? Is it polished with the chamois of an expensive pair of bibshorts, coated with the sweat and tears of an experienced London commuter or dipped in a vat of caffeine infused energy gel? Well, it’s actually none of these but, rather, gently finished with a fine application of baby oil. It is this treatment that gives the Titanium its lovely sheen. So, the next time you stop to fold your Brompton and notice admiring glances from a passing new mum, you’ll understand why.
Fact #4 – Quickest Folding – Unfolding – Unfolding then folding again
There is an art and skill in mastering the technique of folding and unfolding a Brompton, but it’s definitely something new Brompton owners seem to grasp quite quickly and, let’s face it, it’s what a Brompton is all about. However, to be able to do it in these sort of speeds…well, that’s potential finger loss territory for most of us. The times above are the current records, as recorded on Record Setter, so you can check out their technique, get out your stopwatch and have a go yourself…just watch those fingers!
Fact #5 – 42 Bromptons fit in a car park space
Have you ever thought to yourself, while you’re commuting in the morning, ‘how many Bromptons could I fit in a car parking space?’, no, neither had we. However, it turns out that you can actually fit 42 folded Bromptons in there . The dimensions of a Brompton, when folded, are 565mm long x 270mm wide, which is pretty small. Imagine if we all rode Bromptons, how much land we’d free-up! So, the next time you’re competing in your local pub quiz and the compere asks that question…you know who to thank!
Fact #6 – Tolerance of a hinge is half the thickness of a human hair
Attention to detail…it’s something that we all think we have, and we take pride in applying it to our own work, whatever we do. It’s impressively reassuring though, that the team at Brompton take this to the next level and beyond! The craftsmanship and engineering skills show through with each and every handmade custom build that comes out of their London factory, and is appreciated with every fold and unfold but, come on…half a human hair…that’s amazing!
Fact #7 – A Brompton made it to the South Pole
With 80% of Bromptons being exported around the world, your average Brompton spends most of its life being ridden around car-heavy cities or being folded and unfolded onto public transport, into the back of a car or so it can be stored in the corner of the office next to the plant that needs watering. So, you can imagine how happy the lucky Brompton was when he received his posting to the South Pole and his research scientist owner. A whopping 9732 miles later, when his tyres were first ridden on the -50° Celsius ice, although a testament to the durability of a Brompton, we’re sure he longed to be cuddled up warm, next to the wilting peace lily.