The History of Brompton's Folding Bike

Published 3rd December 2015

Andrew Ritchie, inventor, Brompton Bikes talks to the Guardian about how the Brompton Bike came about ‘I set out to make a magic carpet you can keep in your pocket. It’s been a perilous journey’.

The initial idea was born whilst at Cambridge and patented in 1976 and eventually, Andrew got into production on a small scale, after doing a proto-Kickstarter kind of thing and pre-selling 30 bikes, until his hinge supplier went out of business.   

In 1986, however, a man called Julian Vereker came on board who had bought a lot of the early bikes and had business kudos. Things began to snowball: backers came forward and soon they had enough to get their own factory going.  A number of design flaws caused Andrew to re-think certain elements and by 1987, it was nearly there. Points were reinforced where it was weak: three spots on the frame that were susceptible to snapping.  

30 years later 80% of their bikes are exported as far afield as the South Pole.  In Japan, they are now a lifestyle product. Being British in that Burberry, Paul Smith kind of way. They customise their bikes to outdo their mates, replacing mudguard flaps, say, with ones made of fine leather or bits of plastic with machined titanium. They’ve turned our utilitarian product into a thing of luxury. But that’s part of the fun.

Read the full story here.


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