The History Of Brompton Folding Bicycles

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Brompton folding bikes were recently described by one enthusiast as ‘the standard by which other folders are judged,’ however; their ascent to icon status in the cycling world was a long time in the making.


The founder and chief designer of this long established folding bicycle company is Andrew Ritchie, not surprisingly an engineer by trade, who chose the entrepreneurial life not long after completing his degree. In 1976 when Mr. Ritchie was introduced to a ‘Bickerton’ Folding Bike backer something clicked and his quest to make a better folder began. Working away from the cramped, tiny bedroom he could see the ‘Brompton Oratory’ hence the inspiration for the name and possibly the urgency for such a compact, convenient bike.


Five years later with the support of 30 friends willing to buy his folding bike ‘Brompton Cycles’ was born however in 1982 production froze as requests for capital injection met an icy response. In 1986 Andrew was assisted again by friends and customers however this time fate arranged for one of them to be a wealthy and savvy businessman by the name of Julian Vereker; fortunately he not only guaranteed a bank loan but also provided the company with sound financial advice. In1988 production resumed and by the time the company won the Queen’s Award for Exports in 1995 they were well on their way to becoming the famous UK brand we know today.

Classic yet Customized

While the Brompton folder has undergone a couple of comprehensive facelifts during its development, on the whole the bike still has the same core design with some major and minor modifications/refinements. The good people in Brompton’s marketing department inform us that ‘nothing is standard’ and provide us with a menu approach to specifications allowing us to mix and match on the internet for the combination that suits our needs. It may be said that Brompton for all the choices it offers customers really only makes one product (its design consists of a classic main tube with a hinged rear triangle) that has evolved in small, incremental steps into the folding institution that we see today.

4 Wheel Analogy

Now that it has risen to prominence in the cycling community if one were to compare the Brompton with a car it would have to be a Volvo; reliable and long-lived with low depreciation, more custom choices than ever before and the most appealing body style to date with the same unique, patented technology. Purchasers are likely to spend a little extra for any exceptional product, may have investigated the actual proper bike for their wants, and also are not prone to neglected at any time quickly. At Brompton, a premium is placed on quality control and customization is also an appealing feature; 3 handlebar styles (M, S and P models), the choice of single, 2, 3 and 6 speeds plus the option of lightweight titanium parts being some of the more important options available. Like Volvo’s new offerings Brompton’s latest fare has received praised by critics and riders alike for its good looks, responsive ride and sturdiness and its trademarked, specialized technology; Brompton’s fast and compact 4 stage fold, delivered in 10 to 20 seconds, provides a key competitive advantage in the marketplace.

The Future

Retailed at 500 to 1200 pounds sterling this is the most expensive this premiere folding has ever been yet it’s selling well, has a full order book and has inspired numerous imitators. The company recently hired 30 new employees; however, they are worried about expanding too quickly. Andrew Ritchie claims that the organization he or she created will not chase quick sales progress on the cost of the top quality and trustworthiness of his / her major brand.

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