Brompton S-Type Cockpit Mods

Stock bars and grips : cramped and uncomfortable

The Problem
The Brompton S-Type folding bike comes outfitted with a low, narrow, mountain-type flat bar for better aerodynamics and lighter weight than their other models. It’s a popular configuration, but people frequently complain about the minimalist, 105mm-wide, factory-supplied handgrips. After riding my Brompton for a couple of months, I too have found the stock grips to be uncomfortably narrow and lacking in support. Normally I’d just replace the stock grips with a pair of my favorite 130mm-wide Ergon GP-1 grips, but on the S-Type there’s not enough room on the narrow bar for a full-width handgrip, shift lever, and brake lever.

The Solution
One possible solution was to keep the stock bar and cut down a pair of standard 130mm grips to the Brompton 105mm width. I tried this with a pair of size-L Ergon GP-1s, but found it to be an unsatisfactory solution. The Ergons did provide more lateral support, but my hands were still cramped and confined along the width of the bar.

Stock bars, modified Ergon grips : more comfortable, but still cramped

Ultimately, resolving the issue required replacing the stock handlebar with a Race Face Air Alloy mountain bike flat bar (any standard 25.4mm mountain bike flat bar would work equally well). Installation was simply a matter of replacing the bar and trimming with a tubing cutter to the minimum width required to accommodate the full-width Ergon grips, brake levers, and shifter; this ended up being approximately 515mm (35mm wider than the stock Brompton bar).

Wider bars, full-width Ergon grips : roomy and comfortable

The new bar/grip combo is a dramatic improvement over the minimalist stock set-up. The full-width Ergon grips provide substantially more shock absorption and support, and the brake lever and shifter are in a more ergonomically correct position in relation to the grips. The overall width is only slightly wider than stock and doesn’t affect the fold at all. Brompton would be doing their customers a big favor by supplying a wider bar and better grips as standard equipment in the future.

10 Responses to “Brompton S-Type Cockpit Mods”

  • Gordon Inkeles says:

    The component spacing may be less cluttered, however, since straight bars force the wrist into an awkward position, the overall setup is decidedly unergonomic. When relaxed, the wrists fall to a side-up position with the palms nearly facing each other. An ergonomic handlebar, like the Albatross offered by Rivendell, allows the wrists to work in a natural position.

  • Alan says:

    If it would fit at all (unlikely), an Albatross-type bar would nearly double the folded width of the Brompton – not an option for a bike designed with a compact fold as the top priority (for carrying on trains, buses, etc.). It seems bike design is an endless series of trade-offs, ever more so when folding is in the mix.

    Alan

  • Pete Riehl says:

    I noticed you have a Selle An Atomica saddle. What is your opinion of it and would it be more comfortable than my B 17 Special? Thanks

  • Alan says:

    I noticed you have a Selle An Atomica saddle. What is your opinion of it and would it be more comfortable than my B 17 Special?

    Hi Pete,

    It seems saddle preference is very much a personal thing, but speaking for myself, I find the SA more comfortable than my B-17. I think a well broken-in B-17 may be as comfortable for many people, though the break-in period can be quite long (depending somewhat upon the particular piece of leather), as you may have experienced. The SA was comfortable for me right out of the box, and after a couple of months it feels even better. It stretched quite a bit at first, but it’s settled in now and I still have around 50% of the adjustment range available. I’ve seen a few complaints on the internet about SAs stretching beyond the range of adjustment, but these were from hardcore rando riders that are putting in big miles.

    Alan

  • Beezodog says:

    Noticed that you are using IXON (?) lighting. Have you had any issues with their water resistance? On other forums people are complaining that during rain-soaked brevets these are filling up with water (condensation?) and shorting out.

  • dave koslow says:

    Alan,

    I had a very similar situation with my Downtube folder, an excellent bike w/ “eehhh” components. I’ve upgraded bits as I find them, or they fail.

    I wound up with a mtn bar cut about 2″ longer than stock and Bell grips (from Walmart $6) These grips seem to be a “knock-off” of yours. Very comfortable, nonetheless. I also added small bull horns at the end for different grip positions and climbing. I also dumped the stock riser and put on a Ritchey and an alum tube steerer. Seat is one of my old trusty B-17s….except fot the ‘bent, I’m a Brooks man forever.

    I love the whole “folder” thing. Its my best bike for bike path,in my area more deadly than roads what with dumb walkers, dogs and kids learning to ride…and I use it on vacations. Best story was in SF, first time I used it. I stood in front of my wife and son, got dressed in bike gear, put the Downtube into the carry bag, zipped it up and hoisted it onto my shoulder.
    As I left, she asked me “what’s in the bag?”. I had no more worries about going thru a fancy hotel lobby after that! Did about 125 mi over the week we were there, loved every minute of it. it goes everywhere with us now.

    dave koslow

  • Alan says:

    Noticed that you are using IXON (?) lighting. Have you had any issues with their water resistance? On other forums people are complaining that during rain-soaked brevets these are filling up with water (condensation?) and shorting out.

    The IXON has been flawless, but my commute is only 12 miles and it doesn’t rain around here much. I’d say if you’re using it only for occasional rain riding and shorter times of exposure, you’re unlikely to have any problems. The long exposure experienced on a rainy brevet may be an entirely different story though..

  • Alan says:

    @Dave

    Folders are fun. I enjoy the freedom they provide. Throw it in the trunk, hop on a bus, stow it under the desk at work, park it in the corner at the coffee shop. Good stuff..

  • kanishka says:

    ixon i love, used it for a year now. yes, i’ve had it short on me, after 2 hours of riding in heavy rain. otherwise its handled all other rain encounters

  • Peter says:

    So it seems like your saying you can go even longer on the bar? 520mm would be okay?
    Thanks for this post, very helpful. Have you done any other upgrades since then?

 
© 2011 EcoVelo™