Brompton Maintenance


welcome to my channel entirely dedicated
to traveling with a Brompton bike and in this video I
would like to talk a little about maintenance I will not show you how to fix the bike
there are plenty of videos on YouTube that you’ll be able to find that go into
quite some details on how you fix the different parts of the bike and what I
want to do here is just share some experience and give you some tips that
might help you to complete your tour on a Brompton I will cover four many topics. I
will talk of the type of failures that are likely to happen on a tour, the
three steps I follow in order to limit them spare parts I carry on a tour and
what is in my toolbox. I think of maintenance as a way to number one
prevent critical failures and number two limit and if possible repair non critical
ones. Let’s first see what type of failures we might encounter. They can be divided into two main groups. We have critical
failures and these are the kind of thing that will stop you from touring or
make it very hard for you to continue. On the other hand we have non critical
failures and these are most of the things and repairs that can be done while you are
on the road and very often you will be able to do them at other times you might
need help from other people or from a bike shop but anyway these are
kind of things that will not completely prevent you from cycling on and
continuing for example to the next town in order to get some help. Let me
introduce you to Bronte. This is my trusted bike that I bought in 2013 and
it’s been an exceptional bike. I was able to cycle on four continents with it
probably well over 15,000 kilometers by now and I never had any issues where
I’ve started a tour and I was stuck with maintenance issues. So what I
want to do now is just look at the bike to kind of highlight what are those
parts, the critical failure and non-critical failure that you might
experience on a tour. So if you start with these most severe critical failures
and as I said before these are the things that prevent you from continuing
your ride, the first thing you can see is obviously the frame. I haven’t heard
particularly about Brompton frames cracking or failing but this is
something to be aware because any bike can experience that sometime. On a Brompton folding bike of
course we have to bear in mind that there is a folding system so in some
ways the frame is stressed even further.
Another critical failure that could happen is a handlebar cracks. This is
an aluminum part on the Brompton and on the M type like mine you can see it
looks kind of fragile. It is much more resistant actually than it looks like
but what I would say is that it’s very important to keep a
good eye on it. I have heard one report of someone who was touring with
a Brompton bike and had one of these handlebar crack. I wasn’t able to
ask and find out exactly how that happened. In some way I feel
that there was some negligence from the person that was using it and this
could have been either in overlooking the maintenance part of it
but I think even more the way that he handled the Brompton handlebar. Bear
in mind that you’re not riding a mountain bike or a dedicated touring bike. The handlebar will not take extreme abuse that would happen for example if you’re
going uphill while standing on your pedals and just rocking
the handlebar to go up the hill. This is not something that I recommend doing on a Brompton. Other critical failures that could happen of course are the
wheels and if you have a cracked rim for example or a wheel which is severely
buckled a lot of spokes for example snapped that as well is something that
would stop you from riding Similarly we have in the
transmission part like the crankset. The pedal is an
aluminum part so if the pedal ever was to crack, again you would be probably
stuck and similarly the bottom bracket of course is also something
that will prevent you from continuing. There are other things on a Brompton
which are actually critical although they don’t look like. Sometime
they are very very small parts that are very easy to carry. What comes to mind
immediately are the clamps. Again these are made of aluminum and there are two of them, one is just holding the handlebar stem closed and one of course
is holding the frame locked here. If you are going on a tour and you don’t
have a spare one and one of those were to snap, this would be a
critical failure in the same way that you wouldn’t be able to continue with a broken frame. You wouldn’t be able to continue for something that simple. Another important part specific to the Brompton which you shouldn’t overlook is the front clamp. I think if you have seen any
of my videos in the channel there are several videos where I explain exactly
how I carry the luggage and you know a lot of the luggage is at the back in my
rucksack but I find the T-bag at the front sitting on this clamp particularly
useful. It’s a very very large bag and the capacity is great and it’s just a great
bag to carry when you’re touring. If you if you have one of these failing on the
tour you might argue that it’s not critical in the sense that I might be
able to put all the things that I carry in the T-bag somewhere else
or strap the T-bag at the back and so on but I think you’d have quite an
impact you know on my ride. So that’s just another thing that I want to
highlight for the moment. Another video that I have recently uploaded talks about the rack. This is also something which can sometimes give you some problems. Usually this is not critical but if you haven’t seen the video I’ll put the
link up here. Have a look at it because I feel it is something quite important to
bear in mind if you’re touring with this bike. So having talked of the critical
parts that can fail, the non-critical ones are the one that you
will most likely encounter during the tour and these are just the usual repairs that we do on all kind of bikes. So you
might have a puncture you have to repair. On the Brompton you might have to
change tires more often than you do on regular bikes because of the small
wheels. They do wear out quicker so this is a repair that you might have to do.
you might have sometimes to adjust the gears, you might have a spoke
failing, snapping and that’s something that you might have also to
fix if you can. So these are just regular basic kind of repairs that you
should be able to do anyway before your tour. How do we minimize the failures
that we’ve just discussed. I think it is a good idea to follow three steps steps.
Number one is Routine replacements. Step number two is Bike service and step
number three is Repairs. Very often when we think about maintenance we only focus
on repairs but as we have seen, most of the critical issues that could stop your tour
if you think about it, can only be prevented by the first two steps
that I mentioned. Also there is a good chance that you will not be able to replace
proprietary parts when you are away so do not wait until those parts are damaged while you are traveling. Follow Brompton recommendations
and replace parts when they need changing and remember it might sound like you
will be wasting money spending money on things which are
currently working but remember that if you replace a part very often
you are able to take the old part as a spare with you so that will give you
extra peace of mind while you’re traveling. In the information below I
will put a link to a digital copy a PDF copy of the Brompton manual and in there
you will be able to see that they do recommend certain mileage for certain
parts to be replaced. So for example aluminium components, you know things we talked about like the handlebar the clamps, the crankset for these parts they say they can work up to
eight thousand kilometers. Of course you know these kind of ranges vary according
to the use but in order to give you an idea you know I think it’s really really
useful to know how far a part as gone and when you should replace it.
For a components like brakes and gear cables they can last up to five
thousand kilometers. If you’re talking about transmission you know that
the chain for example, if it’s never changed it will eventually stretch and
and what will happen if you don’t change it is that the rear sprocket
will be worn out on the bike so you know you will end up having to change the
front as well as the back too because of that. So another recommendation that Brompton makes is that a chain is changed
within 4000 kilometers. Obviously other things that are worth looking as far as
wear and tear, we have the tires and other obvious things like brake pads the chain tensioner, you know it is a plastic part so if it gets a hit it is
quite vulnerable and the front block as we have already talked before you know
which is quite a key part of the Brompton when you are traveling with luggage. The
second step that I always take before touring is as mentioned taking the bike for
service and when we talked of those serious failures that can happen to the
bike it is very likely that if anybody is able to spot them it will be your Brompton retailer or someone that is used to repair the bikes. As
part of the service it will involve checking the rear hinge of the bike
for example which is a part which can be vulnerable and need changing, the folding
of the bike, transmission the brakes gears and so on. So I think it’s really
really a key point to never skip Again you will spend a little bit
of money but it will give you peace of mind and you’ll be able to set off
with much more confidence. If you follow the first two steps chances are that
the only things you will have to deal with are just minor fixes that you can
learn to do yourself Remember one thing. You do not need to
know everything. If you’re a bike mechanic that works on Bromptons
that’s great, you will be able to do much more than I can do or most
people can do but remember what is key here is to grow your confidence. So learn
new skills, learn to repair new things but also remember that it’s very
important to carry some spare parts whenever you can. If you have spare parts
for the bike and as we’ve talked about Brompton sometime use proprietary parts
and if you have the parts available with you, you might not be able to fix it
yourself but if you do take the part to a bike shop even if it’s not a Brompton
retailer and you just tell them listen I have the gear cable and my gear cable
just snapped do you think you’ll be able to fix it, I have no doubts that
they will be able to use their skills on other bikes on a Brompton bike so do not only think of the things you can do to
fix the bike but also remember that provided you bring the parts a
lot of other things will be fixed by others and people that can help you. For
this reason let me just show you some of the spare parts that I bring. So this for
example is the front clamp. I have put the new one on the bike so this is the old one I had which is still functioning so in case that breaks I have a spare with me.
I usually bring more than one but this is just a clamp, one of the clamps that you see here always extremely useful very
important that you take it with you and here you can see I bring a couple of
brake pads. if I need to change them If they are worn or if I have gone through some gravel or mud and I feel that they’re
damaging the rim of the of the wheel It’s probably good idea to change
them on the road. I always take these with me. These are just some nuts and bolts
which I carry they are small and I am not sure if I will use them but I suppose
you know it’s easy to take them with me. Other things I carry. I have changed
tensioner as I mentioned earlier. It is really strong and I never had
any trouble with it but still it is made of a rigid plastic and he’s got
some spring system inside so you know it is possible that one of these will fail.
So I like to have just a spare one. It is extremely light and he
won’t take much space in your luggage Gear and brake cables it is always good
to carry some with you. You can use normal cables that are used on regular bikes on
the Brompton by adjusting the length but one thing that sometimes is different is a kind of cap which just sits at
the top of the gear for example and this is just a specific Brompton part so if
you use a normal cable from other bikes sometimes in the bike shop
they would have to use some tools to shape this stopper here otherwise
it wouldn’t fit. Again you know something really really light and easy to carry so
why not just bring a couple of Brompton specific cables with you. A tyre I
mentioned is extremely important Depending on how long you will
be going for your tour I find that a tyre can last me up to maybe 2000
kilometers and then I start seeing some wear on the thread. I use by the
way some Marathon tyres. These are ‘The original’ I have used the ‘Plus’ as well
and that always served me very well. They are very good tyres. I’m not sure if
you’re able to see but these are just a few links, you know this length of
links from another chain that I had and and I have some master links as well.
I am not sure if I mentioned it before but the chain for example is something which
if it breaks is a critical failure You will not be able to cycle on and you will
have to push your bike so I think what I would recommend is when the time
comes to swap your chain for a new one ask your bike shop to give you back the
old one and just simply practice. That is the way I’ve learned. Practice on an old
chain and see how you can replace the links and you know
disassemble and break a chain and put it together again.
You will find that with practice it is nothing really too difficult to do and
if you just bring a few spares like I do here even if that was to happen I would
probably be able to reach the next place where I can have, possibly a
new chain put on the bike. Next this is the part that I use under the saddle.
That’s where the luggage you know the rucksack is held but what I use it for
is as you can see I’ve got spokes in here. So I’ve got a series of spokes and
nipples both for the front and the rear wheels. They have slightly different
lengths so bear that in mind. You cannot use the rear spokes on the front wheel so
try to have, you know I always carry three or four from the back and
a few for the front wheel in case I should need them. I must say that I never had a spoke failing and I’m not really confident truing a wheel.
It is kind of an art doing it it’s not something easy that you can quickly learn
but this falls into one of the things that I said before. If I have the
part and if I go to a bike shop and I tell them a spoke has snapped not and the wheel is a bit of a mess, can you fix it? What they would
probably tell you is that you know yes I could but I don’t have proper
spoke for your bike. So that’s when you can say oh well I carry them I’ve got
two or three… here you go and they will be able to fix the wheel for you.
So that’s something to bear in mind. This is not a part at all but it is here
so I’ll show you Zip ties, you know plastic ones
of different sizes and lengths that’s something very very useful to carry when
you’re touring. They can be used for all kind of situations.
If you are traveling with a Brompton bike you should always remember about the bike you are rinding They are very strong bikes are very reliable I can certainly say this you know from my experience but you should ride them
a little bit more gently than you normally would ride for example a
mountain bike or a sturdier bike. So this is something that if you pay
attention to this you are more unlikely to run into issues with the bike when you are touring. As far as
tools I’m caring while I’m touring with the Brompton as you can see you do not
need too many things in order to carry out basic maintenance while on the road.
You will definitely need a 15 millimeter spanner and this one is something that
you use for example for the rear wheel removal. Next we have a 10 millimeter
spanner and this has got a lot of uses but one of the most frequent use I find
is when adjusting the brakes for example and when you do so you actually need two
of these because one will hold the nuts at the back and the front one you can
use to adjust the front. So always carry two of these I think it is quite
important. Another thing it is quite
useful to have is a screwdriver. You wouldn’t use it many times but for
example if you ever needed to remove the cassette from the rear wheel to fix
a spoke there is a kind of ring which hold it in place and a screwdriver is
something quite helpful to help you remove that. Something I like to carry is
also one of these spanners which are adjustable by spinning this wheel so
you’re able to adjust the width and should I ever be in the position where I
have to fix something and for some reason I find that my spanner keys
are not the right size, I can always use this one. So I think it’s quite a useful
thing to carry. Always carry one of these multi keys. I think they’re quite useful.
These are just different sizes of allen keys with a Brompton I mostly
need two sizes. You need a 2.5 millimeter which is what you would use
for example to replace a brake pad and then you need a 5 millimeter allen key
which is used to adjust the saddle and the Pentaclip. Other things I have in here…Of course
everything that you need to fix a puncture.
So the levers of course I would carry patches and the glue and I also
always carry a couple of spare inner tubes which make it easier.
Sometimes rather than repair it on the road I just replace it and then fix
the tube later in the evening for example. And then
here what I have is the chain removal tool. As I said if a chain
snapsyou’re not able to continue with the bike. So I think it’s
quite a good skill to learn to break and fix the chain so this is
the tool you use and of course in order for this to be useful you need to have
some extra links of the chain. So this is what I would use you know to fix the
chain. Finally the last thing that I carry here is a key that you use
to adjust the spokes on the wheel when you’re truing the wheel you
would use this key. Again it is not something that I’m really able to do
I’ve never actually even had to do it but should I be in a position
where a wheel is really badly buckled at least I can give it a try having the
key. Remember like we said before sometimes even if you’re not able to do
something you might find someone where you are that is able to give you a hand.
They might not have the right tool for it so again very very good if you carry
this one you know you’ll be able to give it to them and they might be able to
help. I hope you have found some of these tips useful. If you have do not
forget to subscribe to the channel and get inspired to travel with your own Brompton. Thank you

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8 thoughts on “Brompton Maintenance”

  1. Ciro Di Rosa says:

    Thank you greatly for this video. And many you have posted of your travels.

    I have only started to commute seriously with mine to work and I'm trying my best to keep it clean and lubricated.

    How do you clean and lube your moving parts? Particularly, if you're traveling?

  2. Peter Taranscorsese says:

    Very helpful video – thanks. I’m new to the Brompton, I bought mine about 2 months ago. You say you use Marathon tyres, is that the standard Marathon or Marathon Plus? – I’ve heard the Plus tyre is best for avoiding punctures, but does it affect the Fold and ease of rolling on the rear rack? – Thanks – Peter.

  3. Rezo Greywords says:

    I think most tools are covered by the official tool set which can be stored in the main tube. Is there a good reason to not recommend that tool set in the video?

  4. Tarasch1 says:

    It should be remembered that the T-bag may be relatively large in volume, but Brompton had designed the front plastic block to carry a max. load of 10 Kg.
    Another thing is that Brompton comment about replacing a part after certain distance – this mode of failure is called "fatigue" and essentially it is caused due to propagation of cracks. Usually when a crack is large enough to spot visually then the part is almost certainly will fail pretty soon. But smaller cracks (0.1 of mm) can also be spotted if observed carefully. I was taking mainly about the metal parts. Plastic parts can be very brittle.
    I would definitely
    Cracks are almost always initiate from a surface, so in many cases it is possible to notice them before they reach a critical length.
    Regarding the chain – this is a typical bicycle component. A chain usually just lengthen too much. There are several tools that allow to measure the proper distance between the chain links. If your chain is at a correct length even after 4000 km then I wouldn't worry about it.

  5. Chuck Williams says:

    I always enjoy your videos, I know you put a lot of effort into making them. Unfortunately, the audio on this one is really bad, I could barely understand you, the echoing made it hard to hear even with my headphones. Thank for the link to the maintenance manual.

  6. Celso Sakamoto says:

    Very useful information. I don't have a Brompton yet but in the near future I will buy one for long trips. Regarding gears is it the 6 speed -12% ? Could you list your Brompton configuration and also tell what would you change in your current configuration ?

  7. Ravi Reddy Tumu says:

    Sound quality is very bad. Sorry about that.

  8. says:

    Hello, great video, Thanks. I see that you do not use a fixed light on the bike. Is that on purpose? Do you use battery lights? would you buy it again this way or would you prefer a fixed light? Thanks

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