Brompton has recently announced its widest range gear setup yet, the BWR – Brompton Wide Ratio.
Produced in collaboration with Sturmey Archer, it combines a specially made, wide-range three speed rear hub with a two speed derailleur to give an impressive 302% gear range over six evenly spaced gears. The previous maximum Brompton offered was 213% in the form of its SRAM adapted six speed arrangement - rather disappointing for six gears, reinforcing a traditional criticism that the Brompton lacks gear range.
The new 302% range puts it in the league of Shimano’s well received Nexus 8 speed, but with only three hub gears there should be none of the drag associated with more complex multi-speed hubs like the Nexus.
Brompton’s fabled quick folding ability means narrow rear dropouts have been a constant feature of the bike, even though incremental redesigns over recent years have seen the introduction of a wide range of titanium parts and a longer wheelbase for greater riding stability. This narrowness means wide range hub gears such as the Nexus are just too wide, hence Brompton’s new bespoke option.
2008 saw upgrades to Brompton tyres (extra sticky shoulders for better cornering), brakes (lower friction caliper brakes) and suspension block (a range of hardness / softness options now available). 2009 also promises a new saddle design and a new superlight, high quality front wheel option.
The hub will be available from January 2009 but Brompton are taking orders before this. It’s expected to add around £40 to the current standard gear options.
For a video overview of folding bikes, including Brompton, see BikeRadar's Cycle Show 08 video coverage.