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Brompton Bikes Factory Visit.

Huez*/ Brompton partnership

Becoming Britain's biggest bike manufacturer has not been an easy ride. We went for a look around Brompton's factory before they move into a brand new building. 

The Brompton factory is nestled between a London Overground line and the motorway in south west London. On first appearances the building doesn't appear to have the capacity for such a high-volume international operation, however, it soon became apparent that it was a labyrinth of highly-skilled braziers and designers. 

I was shown through the informal 'museum' that occupied the wall space in the stairwell. It displays numerous letters of rejection for loans from banks, and ironically Britian's previous largest manufacturer Raleigh. In addition, old models of Brompton hung from the walls, a reminder that little has changed from the original design that was released in the seventies. I was told that despite the bikes looking very similar, from the signature bent tube to the folding mechanisms, that almost everything has been refined to be as ergonomically comfortable as possible. However, if needed the original sketches for the components and jigs are simply scattered across the boardroom table. 

Away from development and design, the workshop floor told a different story.

Each member of staff at Brompton is taught to build the bikes as a part of their training. Everyone must spend time not only assembling the bikes, but learning how to braze, which is an integral part of the 'feel' of the Brompton. The task of tutoring new braziers is taken on by one man, the same person who has taught everybody in the workshop how to stitch the steel tubes together with brass since the start of the company. To become a brazier is no mean feat, it takes months to master each component. Once fully fledged, everyone has their own maker's mark which allows components to be traced back to them. One in twenty of these components are tested by a laser quality control unit, meaning that huge pride is taken over every piece, and perfection is demanded. 

After the frame parts are built and have returned from the paint shop they hit the assembly line. Taking colour into account there are sixteen million possible combinations of bike, each individually spec'd bicycle is then built up in seven, thirteen minute rotations. After testing the bikes are shipped to over forty countries around the world. 

Once I had seen the effort and pride that is put into each bike I got to have my first ride on one. 

The Brompton was unlike any other bike I had ridden. Despite the tiny wheels, it felt incredibly stable due to the low centre of gravity. It responded quickly and pushing on the pedals sent you forward as if you were riding a road bike. It is no wonder then why owners describe the Brompton 'smugness', the bike is simply fun to ride. When you know how much workmanship and effort was put into it, the quality becomes obviously apparent in the ride. 

We are also pleased to announce that Brompton owners who register their bikes will receive 15% off our range of clothing. For more information and to register click here. 

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