Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Brompton T-Line Urban review

9 Mar 2022
Verdict:

The first fully titanium Brompton is light, fast and beautiful although it struggles to better your standard Brompton for the price

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Lighter than normal Bromptons • Much easier to carry
Against 
Weight savings come at a hefty price compared to alternatives

The Brompton T-Line Urban is the folding bike brand’s first fully titanium bike. Thanks to 150 reworked components, it weighs just 7.95kg, making it the lightest production bike Brompton has ever made apart from the 7.45kg single-speed T-Line One.

The Brompton T-Line Urban features the same refined folding arrangement and footprint found across Brompton’s range, but the introduction of 'material-for-life' titanium helps considerably with all your bike carrying needs.

However, at £3,970, the Brompton T-Line Urban comfortably takes the prize for the most expensive bike in the brand’s arsenal. With considerably cheaper alternatives in the range, the T-Line will seem a bit of an indulgence to many, but can it justify its price tag? Maybe it can.

Brompton T-Line weight

The headline with this bike is undoubtedly that the frame is made from titanium. Brompton says this has been part of a seven-year partnership with Sheffield-based C.W Fletcher.

This titanium fabrication specialist produces the orbital and tig-welded frame and headset, plus the T-Line's superlight rear end, and 3D-printed bottom bracket shell. The frameset is then shipped down to Brompton’s west London headquarters for building.

 

A material that is lusted after in the cycling world, the use of titanium not only gives Brompton’s T-Line Urban a luxurious aesthetic but it helps drop the bike’s overall weight by some margin.

Brompton claims a saving of 37% compared to its regular steel frame, in fact. However, it's not the solely use of titanium that saw the numbers plunge on the scales.

‘The only thing that has been carried over from our classic model is the brake system,’ Brompton’s chief design and engineering officer, Will Carleysmith explains. ‘Everything else has been finessed, pared back and upgraded. We have gone over the entire bike looking for every gram we can find to save on weight.’

In the design process for the T-Line, to achieve the lightest possible bike Brompton created its own carbon fibre fork, carbon fibre handlebar, carbon-encased, steel-core seatpost and carbon-railed saddle.

The brand then worked with FSA to develop a custom carbon crankset and even went to the extent of using Tubolito’s lightest-in-class 34g Tubo tubes, as well as redesigning the folding left pedal into a detachable pedal, to do away with the heavy bearing.

This attention to detail has saved 2kg over the Brompton P-Line – previously the brand's lightest lightest bike – and a mighty 4kg compared to the run-of-the-mill C-Line model.

In the bike world, weight savings of this magnitude are mammoth, bordering on the absurd. And where this makes the difference is not on the bike, but off it.

A 4kg saving makes a huge difference  when you're carrying a bike up and down train station steps. I no longer had to lug the bike, I could carry this Brompton as I would some shopping and that was a godsend when running to make the 6.22 from Denmark Hill every evening.

Brompton T-Line ride

Titanium and carbon, what difference does it make? To ride quality, not a lot, if we're honest.

Brompton’s have a distinctive ride feel. They are reactive bordering on wily at the front end, but stable thanks to the long wheelbase. The elongated seatpost brings comfort, and acceleration is rapid thanks to the 16in wheels. All these characteristics are in evidence in the T-Line.

The use of a carbon fork and titanium tubes seem to help absorb road shock a little better than than the steel equivalent. There's no denying the lighter weight makes riding uphill a bit more enjoyable too, but the differences are far from night and day, and certainly not as noticeable as those in steel and titanium road bikes.



What is good is that the T-Line Urban has four speeds by virtue of an 11-13-15-18 cassette which, when paired with the 50-tooth chainring and the bike’s lighter overall weight, opens up quite a lot of terrain where previous Bromptons, with more limited gear combinations, might not have thrived.

And the four speed Urban has mudguards. That doesn’t improve ride quality, but it keeps my backside free of mud splatter, which is lovely.

Brompton T-Line folding

What is nice is that this titanium Brompton folds in the same way as every other Brompton.

Brompton explained that in this pursuit of performance project, it experimented with fully carbon frames. However it was apparently incredibly difficult to create a frame that retained the qualities of carbon without compromising on Brompton’s distinctive folding pattern.

For them, this was non-negotiable – and probably always will be - and I am personally delighted Brompton is of this opinion. The Brompton approach to folding is simply better than the competition and any changes to that would have been a mistake.

Brompton T-Line price

Let’s finish with price. £3,970 is undoubtedly a lot of money, isn’t it? There is no way of sugar coating it. You can get carbon fibre road bikes with electronic groupsets for that money. Yet that for me is exactly where the argument that £3,970 is a reasonable price comes from.

Most of us no longer bat an eyelid at £4,000 road bikes and would happily pay that for a bike that realistically is going to be used a lot less than a Brompton. Once, maybe twice a weekend for most of us.

If you consider that the T-Line is a bike you could feasibly use Monday to Friday, and some weekends, twice a day for the next 20 years, then four grand seems a shrewd investment when you work out that it breaks down to 76p per day of use. That's less than a packet of crisps.

Add in to that this is a handmade titanium bike constructed fully in Great Britain and you start to see it all making sense. Maybe £3,970 is a steal?

However, you should also consider that Brompton offers an A-Line option for £850 and a C-Line electric model for £2,995. The latter bike has a motor which is fun and makes riding up that big hill from the station a doddle.

So, should you invest in Brompton’s T-Line or opt for one of its cheaper alternatives? That’s for you to decide but let me leave you with this: of all the bike’s I’ve ridden for Cyclist over the years, from £12,000 superbikes to double-decker handlebar gravel bikes, the Brompton T-Line was the first that had people stopping me in the street.

Brompton T-Line Urban specs

  • Price: £3,970
  • Frame: Grade 9 Titanium 
  • Fork: Carbon fork
  • Weight: 7.95kg
  • Gearing: 4-speed
  • Cranks: Superlight carbon w/50t chainring, integrated chainguard
  • Cassette: Brompton 4-speed 11-13-15-18
  • Shifters: Brompton 4-speed trigger shifter
  • Brakes: Dual pivot rim brake
  • Wheels: Brompton 16-inch alloy
  • Tyres: Schwalbe One16×1 1/3in
  • Seatpost: Superlight carbon seatpost with steel case
  • Saddle: Superlight with carbon rails
  • Pedals: Brompton disconnecting left-hand
Price: 
£3,970