Understanding what you’re looking at in the Brompton range can sometimes get a little complicated. I mean, they all look the same, right? (If you’ve just nodded your head, you may also find our previous blog Everything you need to know about Brompton model codes helpful.)
So let’s delve into decoding the terminology we use when talking about the Brompton bike range.
These are your ‘off the shelf’, garden variety Brommies that everyone knows and loves, and are made throughout the year. Bikes in this category are the core range of Bromptons produced, which is why they will sometimes also be referred to as “Core Bromptons”. Standard Bromptons are fitted with silver/chrome componentry – think handlebars, seat post, wheels, cranks & pedals etc. There’s usually a choice of about 6 satin finish colours to chose from in the standard range.
Hang on, wait – what’s a “satin” finish?
The best way to describe a satin finish without getting too technical is one that reflects more light than matte, and less than gloss.
This year (2021) your satin finish colour choices are:
- House Red
- Signal Orange
- Cloud Blue
- Tempest Blue
- Racing Green
This list changes every couple of years. Some colours receive a refresh – for example ‘Red’ has changed hue three times in the last 6 years. Some colours make a reappearance (Hot Pink had a two year splash’n’dash recently), and some are retired for a spell from the entire Brompton range (eg Yellow, White) or just the core range (eg Turkish Green, Flame Lacquer).
But wait! There’s more!
Why stop at one when you can have a frame in two colours! “Bicolour” frames are a feature of the Brompton range, where the main frame is one colour, and the extremities (handlebar stem, front fork and rear triangle) are a second colour. We regularly have a selection of bicolour Bromptons available in store, but if you have a burning desire for a particular combination, you may also custom-order a standard Brompton. This means you can choose any model configuration with up to two satin-finish colours, and fitted with standard (silver) components. That’s a LOT of options!
In addition to the satin finish options, the standard range includes a premium finish Brompton; currently it’s the Black Lacquer.
Every Brompton is a work of art, but what makes a lacquered Brompton so special is that the translucent coating allows you to SEE the sheer perfection of the brazing beneath. Brazing is a skill that takes years to master. When a frame’s brazing is a display of perfection, the last thing you want to do is hide it beneath an opaque coating where nobody can see and appreciate it! Instead, these frames are treated with a high gloss, translucent powder coat finish to both protect the frame and show off all the details of the Brompton’s hand-crafted creation.
What about Superlight Bromptons?
The titanium frame parts (front forks and rear triangle) on a standard Superlight Brompton do not receive a power coat finish. This makes them easy to identify in the standard range.
Most Bromptons that don’t fit the above descriptions are likely to be a “Special Edition”. These are made in smaller batches, often at irregular intervals, and feature components that are not available on a standard Brompton in the core range. Special Editions are not able to be custom ordered from the factory like standard Bromptons, however if there are stock components you would like with your Special Edition (eg lights, a longer seatpost etc), please let us know! These Bromptons may also come with components &/or accessories that are not available to purchase separately.
Here are some examples of Special Edition Bromptons that you may be familiar with:
1. Black Edition
Black Edition Bromptons are so named as they feature Black components as opposed to the silver components found on standard bikes.
Originally created to celebrate the city at night, this hugely popular Special Edition has been a feature in the Brompton range since 2015 and is currently produced twice year.
Black Editions are:
- Available in all handlebar height options (Short, Medium and High)
- Only available in either 2 or 6 gear models
- Available in a choice of three gloss colours and one premium finish
- Except for Black, colours in the Black Edition range are not available in the standard bike/core range.
- On all-steel frame models, only the main frame (middle section) has a coloured powder coat; the rest is gloss back.
- On a superlight (Steel-Titanium frame) model, the handlebar stem also has a coloured powder coat.
Being black on black, you’ve got to look a little closer to tell the two apart. Here are three easy to spot visual clues:
1. Front wheel
On a regular steel Brompton the front wheel has a solid axle, secured with a couple of 15mm nuts. A Superlight front wheel has a through axle which is secured with a 4mm allen key and a round nut on the opposite end.
2. Front forks
Where the legs/blades of the fork attach to the crown (the horizontal bit connecting the two sides) the steel finishes in a downward pointing triangle. The titanium part is circular at the top of the blade.
3. Rear triangle
Steel frames have a bracket to hold an emergency pump. Titanium frames do not.
2. Explore Edition
Despite being #MadeForCities, Brompton owners have been travelling and exploring the world with their bikes for decades, pushing the envelope on where they can take us and what we can achieve on our brilliant small-wheeled companions.
One of those owners is Alastair Humphreys; an British adventurer who features in Suilven: Escape The City And Explore – the official video for the Explore Edition, and well-worth a view if you haven’t seen it before.
The Explore Edition hit our shores in the summer of 2018-19 and was an instant hit. The Explore was only available in the one colourway (inspired by the palate of the highlands around Suilven) and a limited selection of models. In addition to the Brompton, owners received a Borough Roll Top Bag in Olive Green, an Olive Saddle Pouch, Brompton Toolkit, and various spare parts to keep them rolling.
3. CHPT3 X Brompton
With arguably the most passionate subgroup of Brompton owners, some just can’t get enough of this particular Special Edition.
As you’d expect from a collaboration with ex-professional British cyclist David Millar’s brand “CHPT3”, this Brompton has been stripped back of everything except the core components to achieve the truest expression of a fast and agile bike that you can also take anywhere with you.
Available only as an S6E-X (although V1 was also available as an S2E-X) the CHPT3 also features components not available on Bromptons in the standard range – machined hinge clamp levers, Schwalbe ONE tanwall tyres, alternative grips and saddles. All three versions have been strikingly coloured; the flame red front frame section being the signature styling that sets many hearts aflutter.
A very small number of Bromptons produced are “Limited Editions”. These are usually produced to celebrate a specific event and will be numbered (eg 1 of 2000) on their lazer-etched serial plates. Needless to say, these are also incredibly popular; once they’re gone, they’re gone! (And they don’t hang around for long.)
In 2019 Brompton released the Gold Edition Brompton, celebrating 20 years trading in Asia. The factory pulled out all the stops to produce a golden lacquered frame which contrasted marvellously against black extremities and components. Completed with a Black Brooks B17 saddle and paired with an exclusive golden Toolkit, which was only available with the purchase of this Gold Edition Brompton.
This year Brompton are again official sponsors of “Team GB” for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The British athletes (and their support team) can be seen riding around the Olympic Village on their Bromptons. A limited number of customers will have the opportunity to purchase one of these strikingly coloured Red, White and Blue Bromptons too. Completing the patriotic theme is a Messenger Bag with custom Team BG Jacquard fabric, and a Brooks Cambium C17 saddle also featuring the Team GB Lion graphic design.
So there you have it! Whether you choose a standard Brompton, or something a little flashier, you’re still going to ride the best quality folding bike on the market.
(Brompton Electric explainer – coming soon!)