Brompton -- comfort orientated mods for all day riding

Bee

Active Member
Anyone else banging out long days on their Brompton? I wonder what comfort orientated modifications you have made?
My own setup is as follows:
  • 44T chainring -- yields a 29" bottom which is just about adequate for the terrain I ride... though I keep wondering about a Stronglight double and the greasy finger
  • Ergon GP3 grips (which don't interfere with the fold of my 2018 M6L/R) -- variable hand position and much more comfortable especially when honking.
  • Brooks Swift saddle mounted via a ridiculously priced H&H pentaclip replacement as the Brooks wouldn't go back quite far enough on the stock pentaclip.
  • SPD-SL pedals (and shoes of course :-) -- which did feel a bit incongruous on a Brompton at first, but the stiffer soles, bigger contact area and better fitting (for my narrow low-volume hoofs) than typical SPDs are great for riding all day -- bloody hopeless if you want to do any walking of course
  • Monkii clip and cage for stem mounted bidon
  • Reduced tyre pressure -- 45psi front, 60psi rear (Marathon Racer tyres) -- perhaps a bit slower on nice smooth tarmac, but there ain't a lot of that to be had in rural Angus and Perthshire. I did try running 120psi front and rear... just the once. To date 1 (urban) puncture in almost 10,000 (almost entirely rural) miles. (NB jockey weighs 62kg)
  • Zefal spin bar-end mirror -- easy to position and stays where you put it!
  • Carradice zip roll saddle bag
  • Ortlieb front bag -- half-price from Brompton!
I'm quite happy with this setup, but am always on the lookout for ways to improve comfort and so look forward to reading your tips...
 
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bikegang

Mod before ride, my bike my style...
Joseph Kuosac Ergonomic handlebar , the curve in to rider angle really makes the long ride much confortable (human natural grips angle)

Go all the way for a carbon ones if you like a little more flex on the front for comfort (plus the aluminum ones are quite hard to get now).
 

rafiki

Retired Brit living in Spain
Location
Seville
I see that sort of comment often when Rohloffs are discussed. I have two, one on my Thorn Sterling MTB and one on my Brompton. I wasn't inviting debate on the perceived value of the hub but responding to the OP's request for options to improve the comfort of his Brompton. A Rohoff improves the comfort of mine as does the JK mid-riser handlebar.
 
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OP
Bee

Bee

Active Member
Thanks everyone for the replies.
I have previously looked at the JK mid-riser bars, but in relation to modding an S-bar bike should I ever consider an N+1 Brompton. While I am quite convinced that these bars offer an intrinsic ergonomic improvement, if added to an M-bar bike they would be 5cm lower than stock... which for me would be counter productive.
The Rohloff hub is a thing of beauty,... but with a small fly in the ointment in the twist-shifter. I've no reason to doubt reports that the Rohloff shifter is a massive improvement on the grip-shift monstrosities that my prejudice rests on, but I've not had the opportunity to test this. I did bump into a chap at the start of lockdown sporting a new Rohloff equipped Thorn tourer, but social distancing protocols precluded my asking for a twiddle of his knob. And any way, swapping out the SA hub and chain pusher arrangement would deprive me of the opportunity to practice my hybrid binary/ternary arithmetic ^_^
 

chriscross1966

Über Member
Location
Swindon
The Alfine 11-speed conversions offer most of the practical utility of the Rohloff at a lower price point. You will need the Jtek shifter, the Shimano one is an abomination. Easy to set up a range from 24 to 100 inches and a disc brake. Team it up with a disc front dyno hub and some decent lights with a USB charger kit. I've done 50+ mile days with significant luggage on my Vostok-kitted H- bar bike... main thing I suggest is a saddle that supports you and undershorts with a comfortable chamois.
 
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Bee

Bee

Active Member
The Alfine 11-speed conversions offer most of the practical utility of the Rohloff at a lower price point. You will need the Jtek shifter, the Shimano one is an abomination. Easy to set up a range from 24 to 100 inches and a disc brake. Team it up with a disc front dyno hub and some decent lights with a USB charger kit. I've done 50+ mile days with significant luggage on my Vostok-kitted H- bar bike... main thing I suggest is a saddle that supports you and undershorts with a comfortable chamois.
I had not considered this... well not for the Brompton. Though I did get close to buying a Moulton SST with Alfine 11, but as with the Rohloff, I have no experience of this hub/shifter and none of my local dealers have any Alfine 11 equipped bikes...
Is it good? What's so bad about the Shimano shifter? On paper it also raises a couple of questions:
  • I'm not very sure about the roller clutch design -- some reports suggest that this gives the drive a spongy quality.
  • There's a big jump from 1st to 2nd (29.2%) which rather renders the whole as a 10 speed plus bail-out gear -- this crucially reduces the effective range from a generous 408% (11th/1st) to a skinnier 316% (11th/2nd). ie similar to a 6-speed Brompton plus a baiil-out gear.
As for the saddle, I'm probably still wearing the Brooks in... or should that be the other way round? But am already quite happy with it so think it stays. The undershorts I'm using are admittedly cheap and cheerful... the cushioning is adequate but they do cause a bit of chaffing in the groin, 1 side more than the other whatever that says :blush: Do you have any particular recommendations?
 
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OP
Bee

Bee

Active Member
Is a titanium seat post/tube seen as a good comfort mod in its own right?
Good question! I decided not... that is I already have a cheap Ti seatpost fitted -- bought because the original was beginning to rust, and the Ti jobbie is 1cm longer -- and didn't really notice any difference comfort wise. That might though be because I'm too skinny to benefit from any extra give?
 
Good question! I decided not... that is I already have a cheap Ti seatpost fitted -- bought because the original was beginning to rust, and the Ti jobbie is 1cm longer -- and didn't really notice any difference comfort wise. That might though be because I'm too skinny to benefit from any extra give?
Hadn't thought of that. S'pose also the extended-length posts should flex more than the standard, so better for the longer-of-leg. Anyway it's nice that the Ti upgrade has two potential benefits there. (Currently pursuading myself to pony-up for one . . )
 

12boy

Veteran
Location
Casper WY USA
Bar ends are nice if not provided with that Ergon model. I like 2 way SPDs with a flat on one side so I can ride in my Crocs. I have gone greasy finger with dual chainrings. Don't use the small one often but its very nice when l need it.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
I had not considered this... well not for the Brompton. Though I did get close to buying a Moulton SST with Alfine 11, but as with the Rohloff, I have no experience of this hub/shifter and none of my local dealers have any Alfine 11 equipped bikes...
Is it good? What's so bad about the Shimano shifter? On paper it also raises a couple of questions:
  • I'm not very sure about the roller clutch design -- some reports suggest that this gives the drive a spongy quality.
  • There's a big jump from 1st to 2nd (29.2%) which rather renders the whole as a 10 speed plus bail-out gear -- this crucially reduces the effective range from a generous 408% (11th/1st) to a skinnier 316% (11th/2nd). ie similar to a 6-speed Brompton plus a baiil-out gear.
As for the saddle, I'm probably still wearing the Brooks in... or should that be the other way round? But am already quite happy with it so think it stays. The undershorts I'm using are admittedly cheap and cheerful... the cushioning is adequate but they do cause a bit of chaffing in the groin, 1 side more than the other whatever that says :blush: Do you have any particular recommendations?
I had an Alfine 11 and have a Rohloff, both on big wheel ebikes.

The early Alfine 11s were fragile, but I believe this has been cured by a redesign, so any new Alfine 11 currently on sale should be sturdy and reliable.

I didn't study the ratios, but the uneven jumps are agricultural in comparison to the Rohloff.

The twist shifter on the Rohloff can be a little clunky.

The routing of the twin cables can make a big difference.

Bear in mind there is no detente in the shifter, it is in the hub so any gear change feel has to be transmitted over the length of the cables.

In other words, if you disconnect the cables from the hub end, the shifter will turn freely.

This is also a strength because it means the hub indexing is internal so is always in perfect adjustment.

No tinkering with periodically lining up coloured dots which you have to do with Alfine 11.

The range of a Rohloff hub feels every bit as wide as the figures say it is, and all of those lovely evenly spaced gears are usable.

Both hubs have some resistance - neither feels as free running as a well-adjusted derailer system.

I reckon the Rohloff has marginally more resistance than the Alfine 11.

My six speed Brompton also never felt quite as free running as a big wheel bike derailer, so the difference on a Brompton between six speed, Rohloff, and Alfine may be marginal.

If money was literally no object, I would have a Rohloff on a Brompton.

If money was literally no object and then some, I would have a Rohloff with an electric shift.

But a nice new sturdy Alfine 11 is probably a more realistic option.
 

berlinonaut

Senior Member
I didn't study the ratios, but the uneven jumps are agricultural in comparison to the Rohloff.
The Rohloff has constant jumps of 14% whereas the Alfine 11 has 13-14% apart from the huge gap between first and second with 29%: https://ritzelrechner.de/?GR=RLSH&K...V=development&GR2=SA11&KB2=54&RZ2=20&UF2=1330

So I cannot see where there would be "uneven jumps" though I'd totally agree that the Rohloff is way nicer to ride than the Alfine, at least in my experience and opinion. The Rohloff feels like a proper gearbox whereas with the Alfine 11 I've always had the feeling that there's some rubber gum somewhere in the drivetrain - it feels less direct to me. Plus the unfortunate standard shifter of the Alfine with limited number of gears shifting range in one go is annoying.

I reckon the Rohloff has marginally more resistance than the Alfine 11.
I'd highly doubt that and am supported by the German magazine "Fahrradzukunft" (bike future) with that opinion. They did a series of resistance (or rather efficiency) tests with various hub gears and this is the outcome:
05.gross.png

(Picture grabbed from this article, other articles of the series are here, here and here)


If money was literally no object and then some, I would have a Rohloff with an electric shift.
The electric shift for the Rohloff is as to my knowledge currently only available in combination with a Bosch electric mid-drive. So not really an option on a Brompton.
But a nice new sturdy Alfine 11 is probably a more realistic option.
Depends. There's always the option to buy a Rohloff second hand and it is a good option as long as you can make sure that it has not been stolen. the Rohloff is on the market for more than 20 years now and barely one has broken down. There has been some iterative development on it over the years, but nothing major, so even a very old one is a good choice and no problem at all. My oldest Rohloff is in service for 20 years now w/o any issues. Here in Germany used legal Rohloff hubs start from 500€ on, for 650€ one shouldn't have problems finding one. It is however crucial to find the correct version for your needs as there is a myriad of options from axles over disc/no disc versions and externel/internal shifbox to different axle plates. Apart from the axle version everything is retrofittable/changeable, but it costs extra money. Plus one should be aware that Rohloff changed the cog mount a couple of years back and the 13t one needs on the Brompton is no longer available in the old version. Again retrofittable, but again extra money. However: If you. manage to find your way through the complexity a used Rohloff is not that much more expensive than an Alfine 11 plus you in opposite to that it won't loose value any more. So in my eyes a very good alternative.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
The Rohloff has constant jumps of 14% whereas the Alfine 11 has 13-14% apart from the huge gap between first and second with 29%:
Is it likely I could have felt the difference between the 13-14% on the Alfine?

Maybe not, but I certainly grasped what constant jumps meant immediately I tried a Rohloff.

Curiously, it was second gear on the Alfine that tended to go pop - it did on mine.

Fair dos to Madison/Shimano, they changed mine without question even though it was some way out of warranty, and I told them it had been fitted to a Rose ebike.

It may be the long and good relationship my local bike shop has with Madison smoothed the way.

I reckon claims submitted by that shop are dealt with more favourably than claims from some others.

On the topic of resistance, did the testing organisation test a derailer bike?

I reckon derailers are a quite a bit more free running than any of the hub gears I've tried.

Derailers certainly feel more direct to me.
 
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