Steve Parry's modified Brompton

Do not attempt any job on your cycle yourself unless you have the knowledge and experience to do so - inappropriate modifications, or incorrectly executed modifications could endanger your and other people's safety.

The Mud Dock meting on 3 April provided the venue for the second showing of Steve Parry's modified Brompton. The modifications have been extremely well carried out and Steve is prepared to modify other Bromptons for owners, or where appropriate supply the necessary parts, to bring their bikes to this specification, or parts of it - more about this later. The modifications are shown and described via the pictures below, but first some comments based on a very short test ride.

The most striking changes are in the gearing and brakes, and these are very evident on even a short ride. The V-brakes are very smooth and powerful, inspiring complete confidence, and are a big improvement over the standard Brompton brakes. The 7-speed Nexus gears are beautifully smooth, with a very sweet gear change. The 7-speed hub has rather closer ratios than the Sturmey-Archer and Sachs 7-speeds, and considerably closer than than the Sturmey-Archer 3 and 5 speeds normally fitted to Bromptons. I found this much more satisfactory; the gaps on most hubs are far too wide for me - one moment you are pedalling like a maniac, then you change up and the knees creak. I'm convinced the wide gaps on other hubs damage my elderly knees. Although the ratios are closer than some competitors, the total gear spread is still good, and wider than that of the 5-speeds. The Steve has incorporated a barrel connector to make it easy to separate the gear cable when removing the rear wheel, which overcomes one of the principal drawbacks of this hub gear. Steve has also modified the chain tensioner, with better idler wheels, and this certainly contributes to the smooth running of the bike.

The modifications in pictures

{Nexus 7} The 7-speed Nexus hub probably just rates as the most significant change. The hub is compact, and with the normal drum brake removed it fits into the dropouts without modification to the rear triangle. Steve stripped and rebuilt his Nexus, and reports that it now runs much more freely than in its original form. Other detail changes are the fitting of a Moulton type barrel connector in the gear cable which makes rear wheel removal much simpler than is normal with this hub, and the fitting of better idlers in the chain tensioner, which consequently runs much more smoothly.

{Gear change} The neat handlebar mounted gear change. A push on one lever changes 1 gear up, while pushing the other lever changes down 1 gear.

{V brake rear} The second major change is the fitting of V-brakes front and rear, as shown in this and the next two pictures. These dramatically improve the stopping abilities of the bike. In this first picture you can also see the neater mudguards (Moulton) and more robust stays which Steve has fitted.

{Front V brake} Front V brake, mounted behind the forks.

{Front V brake}

{Details}Some detail changes: The original idlers are pressed into service in place of the original Brompton jockey wheels, which avoids the common problem of banging ones ankles on the jockey wheels while pedalling. This arrangement means that the bike can't be pulled along on these jockey wheels any longer, but most people don't use them - I don't think I have used them for this purpose once in the 9 years I have had a Brompton, but I've certainly banged my ankles painfully on them many times. Also visible in the picture are the improved (Moulton) mudguards and more robust mudguard stays. Also visible is the stainless steel jubilee clip around the rear 'suspension' rubber which stiffens it, and also allows adjustment of the stiffness of the rear suspension. Attached to the end of the rubber is an ingenious, concealed, catch which prevents the back of the bike swinging down when the bike is lifted. Simply bending the rubber block allows this catch to release when folding the bike. A carbon fibre seatpost is used, but Steve has fitted this with an aluminium inner to reduce flexing when ridden by taller and heavier riders.

Steve is also going to fit a suspension seatpost into the stem for mounting the handlebars, thus giving a degree of front suspension. At the time of this report he was still waiting for delivery of the post, so this modification was not on show.

Although a number of the changes decrease the weight of the bike, these are more than cancelled by the extra weight of other improvements, such as the Nexus hub, more substantial mudguards and stays, and for the fully equipped bike Steve was quoting a weight of 27lbs. Although it is a pity that the weight has to increase, it is inevitable, and I would judge that from my point of view and my type of riding the improvements are well worth this fairly modest increase in weight


Overall I was highly impressed by the bike. The modifications have been beautifully executed, and both the major and more minor changes have been well thought out by someone who appreciates what is and isn't needed, and what is practical. Steve is prepared to carry out similar modifications for other owners, or, where appropriate, supply parts. He classifies the modifications broadly into 4 stages:

  1. 7-speed Nexus gear system
  2. V-brakes
  3. Detail changes - eg suspension clip and rear triangle retention latch and stem clip strengthener
  4. Stem suspension system - Steve is awaiting parts for this, so it was not fitted on the test bike.

If you want to discuss modifications with Steve, and prices, you can contact him on 01934 516158. Don't forget that Steve has also produced some very useful improvements for Birdys (see report on the November Mud Dock ride and the report on his front carrier bracket for Birdys and Bromptons), so you may want to contact him about these too.

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Last updated: 4 April 1999