Rare Old Beast: a Very Early Brompton
Brompton folding bikes have remained virtually unchanged since they entered into production in the late 1980s. But before that happened, there was a small pilot run and the machines from this early batch were just a tad different. Only several hundred of these were made. Two of those recently ended up passing through Harris Cyclery on their way to the Brompton museum. And one of those I had the opportunity to photograph and ride. Pictured here is the 358th Brompton ever produced. Red and black 3-speed with upright handlebars, dynamo lighting, rear rack and fenders.
Here is a close-up. I take it this means the early handlebars were steel.
Likewise, the rear carrier is welded to the rear triangle.
Fitted onto a set-forward seatpost.
The dynamo lighting functions via a bottle generator on the rear wheel. The rear fender has a special cut-out to accommodate it.
The cable routing is interesting.
If I understand this correctly, it appears that several cables are gathered into the same housing and secured to the frame and stem at various points to facilitate the fold?
Here it is passing over the bottom bracket.
Only the pedal fold is different.
Finally, it looks to me as if the frame construction itself is different in places - the way the tubes are joined. The other differences are mainly in the components. The retro lights. The fender stay attachment. There is no front block system, and instead some of the early models were fitted with front racks. Brompton experts will no doubt notice a myriad of other differences that I haven't picked up on. As far as weight, the bicycle felt a bit heavier to pick up than current production models built up with equivalent specs, but not by much.