Bikes > Cycle

Brompton now has 12-speed folding bikes

Combing a three-speed internal gear hub with four external gears

Britain's iconic folding bike has just gotten better. PHOTO FROM BROMPTON

One of the limitations of Brompton’s trifold design is a limited gear range. That’s why the release of its 12-speed models is big news to fans of the brand. So, how did the British bicycle maker achieve this?

Four gears on the outside, three on the inside. PHOTO FROM BROMPTON

The latest models still feature Brompton’s signature three-part fold and a pair of 16-inch wheels. Although the term “12-speed” is used, it doesn’t actually mean there are 12 individual gears that are selected sequentially.

Rather, a three-speed Sturmey-Archer internal gear hub (IGH) is combined with an external four-speed 11-18T cassette, and these are shifted separately. Multiply three by four, and you get a total of 12 possible combinations.

Overlap between gear combinations is minimal for the 12-speed drivetrain. SCREENSHOT FROM BROMPTON

You can think of the three-speed IGH as your drive selector for climbs, flats, or descents (something like Low, Medium, or High). Meanwhile, the four external sprockets allow the rider to fine-tune his or her cadence.

Brompton claims a gear range of a little more than 400%, which is said to be comparable to that of a road bike. What this means is that these bicycles are capable of handling inclines—without sacrificing top speed.

The P Line Explore is the most affordable 12-speed model. PHOTO FROM BROMPTON
The roller rack lets you push the bike like a trolley. PHOTO FROM BROMPTON
A Brompton can fit under a table when folded. PHOTO FROM BROMPTON

This isn’t exactly new as Brompton already has three-speed and four-speed variants, albeit not with the exact same components. The 12-speed drivetrain can be found on the higher-end models.

The P Line Explore features a steel frame and a titanium rear-triangle and fork, for a light weight of 10.5kg and a hefty cost of £2,580 (P185,000).

If money were no object, there’s the T Line Explore with a titanium frame and carbon-fiber components. The bike is as light as a feather at only 8.8kg, but the same can’t be said about its price of £4,745 (P340,000).

And if you must have a 250W motor on your 12-speed Brompton, there’s the Electric C Line Explore and the Electric P Line Explore at £3,150 (P225,500) and £4,005 (P287,000), respectively.

As for local availability, we’ll have to wait and see if Brompton Philippines will be bringing these in eventually.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.