emily’s bike stuff
About Archive RSS

New Bike Day! Brompton C Line Explore

I won a Brompton C Line Explore from a raffle by CicLAvia. I’ve been to the Heart of LA event several times and highly recommend it. LA is an incredible city but has an enormous car problem. CicLAvia blocks cars from streets in different neighborhoods and runs events frequently! I was in LA on a credit card touring trip just after a complicated break-up and stumbled upon CicLAvia for the first time and had an amazing time. Anyway, that’s my plug for CicLAvia. Bikes! No cars! In LA!

Brompton sent me the silver variant in Black Lacquer — a semi-transparent finish that lets you see the brazed construction. Look at this lil cutie.

A Brompton C Line Explore in Black Lacquer standing on green grass surrounded by maple leafs.

I’m sick right now so I haven’t gotten to take it out on a long ride yet. But I got it out for a few kilometers and am very, very charmed. I’m kind of the queen of riding a bike or new component for a couple hundred kilometers and thinking it’s incredible until I eventually have problems with it. So who knows. Of course I won’t shut up about my developing impressions of it on this blog.

It handles so differently from any bike I’m used to. Its nimbleness and light steering are a wild change from my usual bikes that all feature slack front-ends. I like riding slow, stable bikes that give me confidence but the Brompton is a super fun change of pace. And it feels more stable than the road-oriented bikes I’ve ridden.1

Anywho, I was pretty impressed with how it came out of the box from the distributor. I’ve assembled many complete bikes from a box and they all have numerous problems. My beloved egret had so many things to address out of the box. So far the only few I’ve found on the Brompton are: the seatpost is slipping; the front fender is misaligned a smidge; the barrel adjusters were unintentionally turned out some (presumably just shook loose in shipping, not much to do about that).

I have no idea if this bike will work for me, living in San Francisco. I’m not a strong rider and this bike comes out of the box with 33 gear inches as its easiest gear. Wild. Which leads me to the (only?) two things I plan on changing from stock right away: swapping the grips and swapping the 50T chainring to a 38T. This will take the range from 33 – 100 to 25 – 76 gear inches. That 25" easiest gear is a whole lot harder than my Hardtack’s 15.6" gear. I’m sure the Brompton will push me a bit but I’m also really excited to see if the Brompton will add more multi-modal trips to my life. You can’t bring bikes on the Muni light rail vehicles but you could totally bring a folded-up Brompton.

I have found that climbing hills isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be though. But I haven’t even touched the top third of my gear range yet. (Also! Only 8 kilometers ridden so far!) Get a load of that massive 50T ring. The 50T ring with the 16-inch wheels has a very “51t pie plate cassette on 26-inch wheel” effect. But we love goofy!

A close-up of the Brompton drivetrain with a very large chainring

Now that we’re looking at photos, check out this brazing. Also oops I did wax the chain already.

The brazing showing through the transparent lacquered finish on the Brompton's seat tube bottom.
The brazing showing through the transparent lacquered finish over the bottom bracket shell.

Some other cool things I learned: it’s got a 74mm OLD2 front hub3 and the bumper where the hinged rear triangle meets up with the seat tube acts as suspension. Which you can really feel! I went over an unfinished road surface yesterday and the front of the bike felt horrible (it was visibly vibrating) but you could barely tell at the rear of the bike.

The front hub of a Brompton 16 inch wheel in its fork.
The rubber bumper between the rear triangle hinge and seat tube.

I’m surprised that the handlebars were tolerable on my wrists. I’m pretty sensitive to bar sweep and these bars look pretty straight. But something about my position on the bike or how narrow the bars are makes it okay so far! In fact, the bike is wildly comfortable so far.

The high handlebars of a Brompton, looking from where the rider would be sitting.

The fork is so smol.

A close-up of the mainframe hinge and fork crown.

Kat said it was the only bike that looks cute with fenders.

A close-up of the rear triangle of a Brompton from above.

All the little braze-ons make great places to shove a stick to keep the bike upright for photos. Also the pump it came with is so great! Clamp-on pump pegs!! You can’t not put them on!!

A stick wedged between the ground and a braze-on of the rear triangle of a Brompton.

I’m excited to see if Kat can ride this, too. It’d be the only bike we can share if so, normally our bike sizes are too far apart. Which reminds me, it’s wild to me that I’m 5’8" and max out the stock seatpost height (with the Pentaclip at its lowest, mind you).

A Brompton on a wooded path with its rear triangle folded up in 'parking' position.

Also, it’s so fun to fold and unfold!! Especially in the ‘parked’ position — the most flick-y part of the fold. The left pedal folds out of the way for the complete fold. I should probably get the SimWorks Bubbly Ezy pedals for it so that I can match Ben’s Romanceur.

A close-up of the mainframe and drivetrain of a Brompton.

Aside: this article on the difference wheel size makes by Starling Cycles blew my mind.

Gus approves of the goofy bike.

A buff tabby cat behind the 16 inch Brompton wheel sniffing the tire valve.

  1. As an aside, the Brompton has me turning the handlebars way more to steer (presumably lower trail) and it’s kind of jarring to suppress the instincts my body has to lean to steer. I bring this up because the other day I tried and utterly failed to ride a trike. I kept trying to lean from side-to-side instead of actually turning the bars. ↩︎

  2. Over Locknut Distance: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_n-o.html#old ↩︎

  3. Check out these wacky SON dynamo 74mm OLD hubs. ↩︎