Brompton Upgrades

I am not particularly tall, but I have quite long legs for a person of my height. Because of this, for over a year I have ridden the Brompton with the saddle set too low. Initially this was because of the standard seatpost the bike came with, which is too short to be useful for a significant proportion of adult riders. This was quickly replaced with the extended seatpost, which offered almost all the height I needed to get decent leg extension, but which made the folded package a bit bigger. To remedy this, I tried clamping the saddle at a higher position on the seatpost, but it still wasn’t quite enough and it made the folded bike even larger. In the end I set the saddle at a position which was a trade-off between reasonable leg extension and put up with the less than ideal riding position.

Since moving to Chester, the Brompton has gone from something I use a few days a week to the bike I use most, almost every day. The ride home from work is slightly uphill, with a prevailing headwind. Suddenly the compromise seatpost didn’t cut it anymore, I was feeling tired and getting sore knees from my inability to efficiently put power down on the Brompton. Last weekend when passing through Manchester I popped into Harry Hall Cycles and took the plunge; I now own a telescopic seatpost.

The telescopic seatpost (left) means the folded package is a bit smaller than with the extended seatpost (right)

There are two versions of the telescopic seatpost, steel and aluminium. The titanium seatpost has now been discontinued. Considering the difference in price, I would recommend the steel seatpost (if the weight difference concerns you, consider eating a bit less for a week to make up the difference). The telescopic seatpost gives a significant boost in maximum height and could probably accommodate the tallest person in the world.

The lower part of the seatpost extends as normal, with the upper part adjusted via a separate quick-release. One of the advantages of this is that the upper part of the seatpost can be easily removed, so if you lock the bike up outside (for whatever reason) the saddle can easily be taken with you (or easily stolen if left on the bike).

The extra height provided by the telescopic seatpost makes a real difference to the ease and comfort with which I can cycle the uphill, windy rides from work to Wrexham train station. The price of the telescopic seatpost was well worth it to get rid of the knee strain from the previous riding position.

Extended seatpost

Telescopic seatpost

Another recent Brompton upgrade has been the substitution of the stock pedals for a pair of MKS FD-7 folding pedals. Whilst the stock pedals are quite elegant, the non-folding right pedal has required replacing twice in a little over a year and the folding left pedal has been replaced once already, with that replacement now on its way out too. I noticed that the 2012 version of the left folding pedal has been redesigned, although I have no experience of whether it is much of an improvement in real terms.

The MKS folding pedals make the folded bike a little wider, but generally seem to be more durable than the stock pedals. Being able to fold the right pedal too provides virtually no benefit. I’m not yet sure if I will keep them or switch back.

About 5cm extra width is added to the folded bike
Finally, after noticing the rear triangle wheels were broken when trying to pull the folded bike along behind me wheelie-suitcase style a few weeks back, I’ve decided to invest a whopping £2.50 in some replacement wheels.
Much better.

14 thoughts on “Brompton Upgrades

  1. Hello again… don’t wish to infect your fine blog with continual mutterings about tall blokes on Bromptons but the extending seat post makes a real difference for me and, as you say, allows me to achieve the most efficient pedalling position on this slightly unorthodox machine. Very interested in the pedals as I’m aware that the folk in Harry Hall’s where quick to criticise the Brompton stock platforms. I’m thinking of upgrading to the ‘Eazy Wheels’… any thoughts an whether this would be worthwhile?

    • I’ve considered the ‘Eazy Wheels’ but they’re a bit expensive for what they are. I’m not sure what difference they make when installed. As for the stock pedals, I’ve had one right pedal smash due to a road strike and the second fall apart through around 10 months of regular use, and the bearings fail in two left pedals. They might be a bit better now, but in my experience the pedals are a weak point on the Brompton.

      • I think I might fit SPDs in the end. Realise this kills the convenience factor a touch but it won’t have a huge impact on my riding. Yes, the ‘Eazy Wheels’ do seems rather pricey for what they are, but I’ve struggled to find a cheaper compatible alternative (in-line roller skate wheels, perhaps). Pushing the bike around on both and the standard and ‘upgrade’ wheels does make a difference… might be handy when I’m shopping at Euston.

        • I have ordered some MKS MM-Cube SPD-like double-sided (removable) cleat pedals. I can then easily swap from flats (with half-toe clips) to cleats as required, depending on whether I am riding around with the kids or commuting to work, or just catching the train into the city.

  2. On pedals, I actually really liked the plastic one that my second hand M3R came with. Can’t remember the make as it got killed when the crank snapped like… but it felt really easy to fold in comparison to the official Brompton one.

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  5. I use MKS detachable pedals the EZY system. Allows easy (geddit) swapping from cleats to flats and removal of LH pedal to drop into saddle bag.

  6. Rather a long time after your original post, but we’ve a very-lightly-used second-hand titanium telescopic Brompton seatpin to sell if you’d (still) be interested!

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