16 speed Bromptons: Part 5 – ready for action

Our 16 speed Bromptons are now just that. We built our own wheels earlier in the year and I then went through the process of getting everything to work together. I had already spread my rear forks a couple of years ago and did the same on Damae’s Brompton. A few tweaks were needed on her bike to get sufficient clearance between the spokes where they come out of the Nexus 8 hub and the fork and the rear derailleurs had to be shaved with a ‘Drehmel’ to provide enough clearance for the Nexus 8 gearchanger.

We’ve managed to put around a hundred kilometres on the bikes and they will be used for our summer tour. This will be a sedate affair because of Damae’s condition, taking in part of the NSCR in Germany and Danish cycle route 5 between Fredericia and Grenå. A travelogue will eventually get written as will a full report of the conversion.

From our point of view the conversion has been well worth the effort and money. The gearchange (with the single twistgrip) is fantastic compared to the 2×3 SRAM Brompton setup we previously had. The high range on the 50t chainwheel is good for general cycling, with a bigger range than the old SRAM 6 speed, and the low range on the 34t cog allows climbing up steep hills fully laden. Only time will tell if the setup is reliable.

For the time being, here are three pictures of my bike set up for touring. We’re using my “Brompt-o-lieb” adaptor frame to mount two front panniers on the back of the Brompton bag. We’ve used these a couple of times for short trips and the bikes are very stable even when loaded with weights of around twenty kilograms. At the moment the front bags and contents weigh around sixteen kilograms which is a lot less than we normally take when touring with ‘proper’ touring bikes.

My main worries for the trip are:
a) the Brompton derailleur breaking
b) our home made wheels failing
c) being unable to get the Schwalbe Marathon tyres off the Sun CR18 rims. Getting the tyres on is trivial with the Simson Tyre Mate (recommended purchase) but I managed to break the Var Tyre tool the first time I used it to remove a tyre.

Finger’s crossed, wish us luck (although “Hals- und Beinbruch” might be more appropriate). Here are the pictures:

16speed Brompton conversion

Rear view of my Brompton. Both bikes have two bar bag mounts and we will be using both of them. I fitted a rear rack to my bike, for two reasons:
1) it acts as a damper reducing high frequency buzzing from the rear wheel
2) The bike, when folded rolls better with a rack than without it

Front of Stan's Brompton showing the Brompt-o-lieb frame

The outer edge of the Brompt-o-lieb is just visible in the picture. Loaded with 16kg the bike is much more stable than with 10kg in a Brompton bag alone. The bags can be removed as a single unit with a little extra care and carried around without removing the Ortlieb bags.

The cockpit of Stan's 16 speed Brompton

View of the ‘cockpit’. There is plenty of knee room when cycling. Starting off takes a bit more care with positioning the pedals for the first down stroke. The handlebars are adjustable with a long allen key the lower sections can rotate upwards. In this position the bike still folds. I modified the handlebar stem using a rigid seat post rather than a sprung one as is more usual.

13 thoughts on “16 speed Bromptons: Part 5 – ready for action

  1. Ingenious, Stan – how is the handlebar stem fixed at the bottom though? Tricky to tell from the pic but it’s set a few hares running here as I set up another Brompton for P to use for a week’s tour in early August…

  2. Hi,
    Just noticed your interesting site I am interested in the set up of the German touring bikes, then noticed the touring set up of the Brompton.
    There is a good description of using dowling ( a bit of wood) through the seat rails to attach the straps of a rucksack in “A path less peddled” – i think… I have a rucksack (40ltr) with strap loops to loop round the rack roller wheels, then dowling through the seat rails, rucksack shoulder straps over the dowling, then tighten the shoulder straps to tighten. The set up works well, and means you can have the folded bike in one hand, the rucksack on your back and the front bag in your other hand.
    Squid G

  3. Jerry the handlebar stem is fitted with a seat clamp with an aluminium spacer between the stem and Brompton stem. The top part of the Brompton stem has been chopped off at the point that it widens out to the full diameter. One day I will post some pictures.

  4. Hi Squid G, I met a guy in Holland many years ago who used a 65l rucksack in the way you described. I have seen a few people since who do the same so I am sure it works well.

    The disadvantage of such a system for me is that it puts a lot of extra weight on the back wheel. I had a fair few broken spokes in my first three years of Brompton ownership, all of them on the back wheel.

    I also wanted to be able to use Ortlieb waterproof panniers with my Brompton. Most rucksacks are only water resistant which means you have to use drybags to store clothes and sleeping gear. The Brompton touring bag is the ‘wet bag’ while the Ortlieb panniers keep all our other things nice and dry.

  5. Hi Julia, the Ortliebs are fixed to a frame which piggy-backs onto the Brompton bag frame. I am considering doing away with the Brompton bag and frame entirely and making new frames that will carry two Front Roller Ortliebs where the Brompton bag sits but retaining the Front Packer bags in their current position. That would save the weight of one frame.

  6. Would it be possible for you to post some pictures of how your have the bonus frame etc… mounted please.



  7. Hi Julia, yes it would be possible to post some pictures. We’re just back from our tour, if you are lucky then I will have a chance to post some more detailed pictures tomorrow.

  8. Hi Stan,

    Unless I overlooked that info, you didn’t say which non-turn washers (anti-rotation washers) you used to keep the axle from spinning: Did you use the flat, originals from Sturmey-Archer, or did you somehow use those from Shimano (blue/green, black/grey, etc.)?


    If the latter, did you doctor the frame so that the washers’ tabs fit? In addition, Brompton’s chain tensioner has to have its “resting hole” enlarged to 20mm so that the washer doesn’t prevent the tensioner from lying against the frame just right.

    Currently, the pulley arm of the cassette joint on my Nexus 8-mounted Brompton is pointing forward like the usual, but this means the fork hook is pushing down on the cable when folding — which is how how Juliane “Junik” Neuß* does it, incidently —, but, even if I always remember (not guaranteed) to shift down to first gear to loosen the cable tension as much as possible, I’m concerned the anchor bolt will move outward enough to mess the indexing (at best), or slide down and fall off (at worst). So I would rather the arm pointed backward like you did.

    Thank you.

    * https://junik-hpv.de/arbeitsbereiche/brompton/

  9. HI Vincent,

    I will l write a fuller reply in a post with some pictures to this and other of your questions. It is taking longer to do this than I had hoped.
    Green anti turn washers, the protrusion pointing down so it sits in the drop out below the axle. I had to widen the dropouts to fit the wider Nexus 8 axle and when this is done the Shimano anti turn washer fits perfectly.
    I didn’t bother trying to re-use the SRAM Brompton anti turn washers as there wasn’t really enough metal on them to start filing and I always found them a bit too fiddly when I had to remove and replace the SRAM 6 speed wheel..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.