The Takeaway: Bromptons are the ultimate, purpose-built tool for commuting in an urban environment. But you don’t need to live in the city to enjoy the benefits of these little bikes.

  • Urban commuters can seamlessly transition between various modes of transportation—including trains, buses, taxis, and airplanes—to solve first- and last-mile transit problems.
  • Folds down in seconds and can fit under your desk.
  • 70 percent of the parts are proprietary, but the serviceable parts can be bought at most bike shops.

    Price: $1,559
    Buy Now

    Brompton by the Numbers

    6: Seconds it takes the fastest folders to collapse a Brompton
    Record time, in seconds, for folding and unfolding a Brompton
    Number of Bromptons you can fit into a standard parking spot
    Number of parts on a Brompton, 70 percent of which are proprietary

    This tiny-wheel, unconventional-looking bike has one of the most enthusiastic, cult-like followings in cycling—in large part because it is one of the best purpose-built bikes you can buy.

    Almost everything on it was designed just for this bike, from major parts like the frame tubes and folding mechanisms, to less noticeable ones like the small roller wheels you use to push the bike along when it’s folded. However, the parts that require regular maintenance, like tires, tubes, chain, and cables, are all standard and can be purchased at most bike shops.

    Brompton 6 Speed Details

    Weight: 26.6 lb.
    Style: Folding
    Wheel size: 16 in.
    Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Racer, 16 in.
    Hubs: Brompton alloy (front), Sturmey Archer 3-speed (rear)
    Rear derailleur: Brompton 2-speed
    Chainring: Brompton 50t
    Brompton alloy, 170mm

    To the average cyclist, the Brompton might seem small and weird. And if it was designed to like most traditional commuter bikes, it would be. But the Brompton is something different. It is designed to mesh with other modes of transportation. It’s a first- and last-mile solution to living in a crowded metropolis with small living spaces and public-transit infrastructure.

    With practice, it folds and unfolds in a few seconds and can be carried onto taxis, buses, and trains. It doesn’t take up a ton of space in an elevator. You can fit it under some desks. It’s light and compact, which makes it easier to carry up stairs than most bikes. It tucks into the corner of a studio apartment. There are pictures all over social media of Brompton riders stowing their folded bikes in the overhead bins on commercial planes. (We did not get to that in our testing.)

    Bromptons fold small enough to fit into the trunk of a car, under a desk, and in the overhead bin of most commercial airplanes.
    Trevor Raab

    Stable and Agile

    Riding a Brompton isn’t like riding a road bike or full-size commuter bike. When you shove off on your first ride, it feels funny, mostly because of the bike’s small wheels and short wheelbase. You’ll quickly be shocked at how stable and agile it is. It’s smooth and springy, but the little wheels are more affected by holes and bumps than larger ones, so you have to choose your lines carefully.

    It’s quick, which is better than fast when you’re rolling around tight city spaces. Pedaling out of the saddle can feel squirrelly until you’re practiced at it. After testing several versions, we recommend the Brompton with the 6-speed transmission over the cheaper and lighter options that have fewer gears. The custom transmission provides effective range and crisp shifts, and the chain somewhat magically stays put even as you fold and unfold the bike.

    So. Many. Options

    Gears aren’t the only option you have when ordering your Brompton. The company says that when you consider the frame materials, component options, paint colors, and Brompton accessories, you get 16,982,784 ways to configure a Brompton to suit your needs. It’s a fun fact for a funny little bike. And the Brompton has something a lot of bikes strive for: It’s designed perfectly for its intended use.

    5 Things We Love About Brompton

    6 Speed

    • Folds in seconds
    • Can be carried onto busses, taxis, trains, and planes.
    • Fits under your desk.

    • Small wheels take some getting used to