Brompton is a novel model in biking. On one hand it appeals to utility cyclists on essentially the most useful degree, on the opposite it boasts a novel city stylish that’s led to collaborations with cyclists like David Millar and upmarket manufacturers like Barbour. Brompton’s model new flagship titanium T-Line goes even additional on each fronts, because it might be essentially the most useful and trendy bike Brompton has ever made.
The proposition of the Brompton T-Line is a straightforward one. That is the lightest Brompton ever, and the costliest.
In its lightest single velocity kind, the bike weighs solely 7.45kg, whereas our City mannequin with 4 gears is available in at a mildly heftier 7.95kgs (full with mudguard, pedals and curler wheels). To place that in perspective, an entry-level Brompton B75 weighs 11.6kgs, and isn’t even the heaviest within the vary.
Examine the T-Line to the world of premium highway or gravel: the place the considered reducing 4kg off a body could be sufficient to have weight weenies brawling in unbiased bike outlets.
Traditionally, it’s not been uncommon to see the very lightest WorldTour bikes simply high the £10,000 mark, and with that in thoughts, the Brompton’s T-line’s £3,970 price ticket might not appear so galling. In any case, this can be a folding titanium bike that not solely slices 4kg from the standard metal bike however weighs lower than lots of its fully-sized titanium highway bike cousins.
However with such an enormous launch, and such a big price, the important thing query is whether or not the Brompton T-Line represents a light-weight gimmick or a real substantial step ahead in efficiency. After almost six months on the Brompton T-Line, and a whole lot of miles, I really feel pretty sure of the reply.
Design and aesthetics – handmade titanium
Titanium is an acquired style on the subject of bikes. The extreme light-sapping greyness of titanium doesn’t bounce out to the typical onlooker. In my years of testing the highest-end bikes, I’ve hardly ever had a praise on a titanium bike from anybody however essentially the most seasoned bike followers.
Take a look at its muted tones from a distance, and it might be straightforward to miss the underlying craft of a Grade 9 titanium body hand-built and assembled within the UK. Up shut, it is a rigorously crafted bike and a putting piece of producing, and I love the T-Line for that delicate aesthetic. Much more putting is that nearly each part of the bike has been constructed by Brompton, within the UK.
Regardless of what looks as if a completely managed design, Brompton has stepped into this primary run of the brand new bike class with warning. “We all know that we might promote extra bikes, however we’re launching a restricted variety of bikes,” mentioned Brompton’s head of product administration, Joel Natale, to Cyclingnews. “Making one in all something is a doddle, making 1,000 precisely the identical approach is when it will get onerous.”
But that first technology reticence appears so misplaced. Drawing on Brompton’s engineering and manufacturing expertise, the T-Line simply appears so full. This isn’t a V1, a V2 or perhaps a V10 of this class of motorcycle – as a substitute the maturity of its design displays technology after technology of incremental enhancements.
With a lot new on the T-Line, we might have anticipated some minor oversight, a niggle right here or there, however I struggled to search out any a part of the bike that wasn’t well-considered. From the titanium cable guides to the neatly welded tubes, the built-in entrance pannier mount to the exactly moulded aluminium hinge clamp plates, the T-Line appears so honed.
That spotlight to element is most evident with the fold itself, the place each part snaps into one other with seemingly hermetic accuracy. Stare lengthy sufficient at any particular person a part of the T-Line and a secondary folded goal will quickly grow to be evident – whether or not it’s a saddle with a hand grip beneath the nostril or a mudguard with a curler wheel mounted above it.
In fact, foldable practicality isn’t the place this bike excels in relation to different Brompton bikes – all of which boast the model’s distinctive fold. As an alternative, it’s each different aspect of the T-Line’s efficiency and practicality the place it stands out.
Except for titanium rendering the body a bit of onerous to wash and susceptible to marks, on a sensible degree, it outperforms metal in each sense on a Brompton. At the beginning, that’s due to the burden.
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Efficiency – Chopping weight, gaining consolation
Our Brompton T-Line is available in at 7.95kgs, however that features each mudguards, curler wheels and pedals. Take away the 300g mudguards and you might get it all the way down to 7.6kgs with pedals – a weight that few titanium highway bikes might rival.
Using with an additional 3kg of mass is noticeable to many, however carrying a 12kg folding bike up stairs is one thing no flat-dwelling commuter simply forgets. By bringing the burden all the way down to 7.95kgs – Brompton has actually reworked the convenience of dealing with the T-Line on a sensible degree. That’s an enormous acquire when dashing right into a crowded prepare or squeezing right into a busy pub after work. Whereas Brompton’s e-bike providing might make pedalling simpler, this makes all the things in addition to far much less strenuous, and that shouldn’t be missed.
Whereas practicality stands out when off the bike, the impression on the journey high quality from the low weight and titanium tubing is what has made its greatest impression on me.
Given titanium’s popularity in bike constructing, we would count on the Brompton T-Line to be softer and extra versatile at a decrease weight, however that wasn’t my expertise.
Product supervisor Joel Natale defined that by way of stiffness, the bike maintains what the metal does in efficiency phrases, “It maintains the stiffness from bike to bike, it nearly sneaks into extra compliance, however has comparable precise stiffness.”
To keep up stiffness, Brompton has opted for wider tube shapes, which has led to wider results on journey high quality.
“From the handlebar to the cranks, you may discover a bit of bit extra stiffness – and from the cranks by way of drive,” Natale defined. “However the lengthy titanium stem goes to have some flex in it, prefer it’s sort of within the nature of the design within the supplies.”
To me, there’s a actually noticeable responsiveness on the rear finish – the place a large platform and lighter total weight result in a extra environment friendly switch of energy. Aided by its small diameter wheels and model new light-weight and supple Schwalbe One Brompton tyres, the T-Line simply takes off.
Whereas that is definitely no highway bike in velocity phrases, the T-Line was simply faster than my pannier-laden commuter, and I discovered myself fortunately cruising by metropolis streets above 30km/h.
On the identical time, the T-Line manages to eke out extra consolation and – extra importantly – management on account of the titanium. In comparison with a traditional metal Brompton, the titanium body bounces much less over bumps, and usually gives the rider extra management.
Past that, the T-Line enjoys that mild rumble that’s so distinct to titanium dream bikes like a Passoni or Moots – feeding the contours of the highway by the pedals and handlebar with out permitting them to disturb the rider.
That’s one cause why I used to be very happy to journey the T-Line for lengthy stretches, and clocked a number of 30-40km rides on the T-Line.
The model new carbon-steel seatpost, accompanied by a brand new however extra broadly used elastomer, performs an enormous half in that smoother journey high quality too.
“That is the literal reverse of what we see in early carbon highway bikes, which utilized carbon exterior layers to a seatpost,” mentioned Natale, of the brand new T-Line Superlight seatpost. “You’ve gotten a carbon tube on the within and you’ve got 0.3mm of metal sitting on the surface of it, simply to guard in opposition to scoring of the carbon, due to the repeated motion of the publish.”
Certain sufficient, regardless of lifting and reducing the seatpost on each journey for months, there is not a mark on it.
This brings us to the broader image of the T-Line, and the complement of updates that transcend the titanium body.
The broader image
You would be forgiven for overlooking that the T-Line is Brompton’s first foray into carbon forks, and an A-headset instead of the standard quill stem. Past that, we see a brand new tyre – the aforementioned Schwalbe One – a brand new carbon handlebar, a model new carbon seatpost and an nearly utterly re-conceived bike.
Amongst its host of latest options, the T-Line showcases model new pedals for Brompton. Whereas the folding pedals are actually a part of the Brompton aesthetic, these CNC aluminium pedals supply a much more inflexible and lighter interface.
The short launch pedal bayonet is the crowning gadget right here, although, which means you possibly can squeeze the fast launch on the crank to launch the pedal, then pop it right into a magnetic holder behind the fork – neatly designed in a approach that folding out with the pedal in place led to no downtube scratches – and it was at all times secure from knocks or jolts.
When it comes to shifting, the City’s four-speed groupset sports activities a 50T chainring and 11, 13, 15 and 18-tooth cassette sprockets. I’m positively an advocate of together with this shifting system at the price of 500g, because it vastly widened the flexibility of the T-Line.
The vary is pretty properly suited to city driving, and I definitely needed to face just a few drags of a number of kilometres at 5% when driving it. Whereas I didn’t battle by way of vary, in nasty climate the gears can skip when loaded below excessive strain. Nevertheless, I think about this a light-weight micro-groupset quite than a performance-shifting system, and in that sense, it does the job greater than adequately.
I might focus on the broader part selection at size – from the Tubolito latex internal tubes to the carbon bar and foam grips – however the total takeaway was that after six months of driving, every of those provided its personal distinctive allure and can supply glorious trickle down upgrades to Brompton’s metal fashions in seasons to return.
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Forward of the competitors
The Brompton T-Line is just not the one ultra-light, or ultra-luxury, folding bike in the marketplace. I might argue, nevertheless, that it’s the finest.
Hummingbird’s folding bike, as an example, hits an excellent lighter weight level than the T-Line at 6.9kgs and prices £3,495. There’s a trade-off, although, in that there aren’t any frills by way of mudguards or pannier mounts. From private expertise of driving it, the small carbon body can be markedly stiffer, however on the expense of dealing with and journey high quality. This isn’t a motorcycle that sweeps over the highway just like the T-Line.
The carbon body additionally doesn’t fold itself, which means the completed folded kind is pretty massive. That mentioned, nothing folds fairly like a Brompton.
Examine the T-Line, as an example, to the GoCycle G4 – a wise compact electrical commuter. Whereas the GoCycle isn’t marketed for its foldability, it is putting how far more area it takes up whereas folded.
We’d marvel why Brompton didn’t go for carbon fibre, as each the GoCycle and Hummingbird bikes have. Whereas carbon might have saved weight, given the aggressive folding motion of a Brompton, and its tight tube junctions, Brompton’s designers felt titanium was a far safer possibility – and that appears to ring true.
After carrying it and driving it over many months, and even falling off it, I used to be left with the sense that this bike was as strong as they arrive.
The Brompton T-Line is the polar reverse to an reasonably priced commuter bike, and so onlookers are welcome to gawp on the huge price ticket. But if Brompton wished to purely create an costly range-topper, they may have charged much more and tried far much less. For £3,970, this can be a lot of motorcycle – albeit in a really small package deal.
The hand-built titanium body might take centre-stage, however the T-Line is definitely a group of improvements and new releases for Brompton, all of which have confirmed the take a look at of time throughout our long-term take a look at.
That is such a finely honed machine that I’m splitting hairs to even think about methods it might realistically be improved. Solely the shifting system leaves something to be desired, and even there I would not sacrifice the low weight for higher shifting.
I by no means imagined needing or wanting a Brompton, but as our take a look at ends I’m struggling to think about my life with out the convenience of an ultra-lightweight bike that may match beneath my desk and behind my couch.
There’s completely no thriller as to why the T-Line has boasted a prolonged ready checklist from the second it was launched – that is merely an exquisite piece of motorcycle design.
|Design and aesthetics||Iconic, and the gold customary for folding bikes. Let down by restricted color vary.||10/10|
|Parts||Except for shifting, the elements are distinctive throughout||9/10|
|Efficiency, dealing with and geometry||For commuting, utilizing public transport and diving down cycle paths it is unmatched||10/10|
|Worth for cash||Costly, sure, however a number of worth for what’s on supply||9/10|