I’ve ridden a few Bromptons since working in the cycling industry, but only last year really began to regularly use one and appreciate its application in city life. It’s surprising how quickly you develop a distaste for having to use the bus or the tube when it’s not the right occasion to bring your bike.
But while the pleasure of a Brompton is largely derived from its practicality and its convenience, it’s not often I’d describe my C Line as seriously fun to ride. The Brompton x CHPT3 Version 4, promised to be different, “founded on fun, practicality, and high performance”, the press literature explains.
Superficially, the fourth iteration of this collaboration between this icon of folding bikes and ex-professional rider David Millar’s apparel brand CHPT3 is undoubtedly a true desire bike. It looks great, it looks slick, and makes a real statement thanks to its custom additions. After all, it is a Brompton designed for the “die-hard roadie”, so I wouldn’t expect any less.
The first thing to say about riding the V4 is that, well, it’s fast. I’ve slogged away on a Brompton 3kg heavier and with thicker, slower tyres for long enough to feel the difference. All Bromptons have a kick off the mark thanks to their 16-inch wheels, but this holds speed so well I was keeping up with and dropping some of those riders on standard road bikes.
Largely this benefit in speed comes from the lighter frame – a steel main frame paired with a titanium fork and rear triangle, like the P Line. This not only has its desired effect on speed, but makes the bike much easier to carry around (weighing around 9.5kg). The other origin of added speed is from the 35mm Schwalbe One tyres (in tan wall, yes please), which absolutely fly along. I’m eager to get a pair to put on my C Line to see just how much difference they actually make.
It’s equipped with Brompton’s four-speed Urban gear setup, which, having used its six-speed Explore gearing, is a much friendlier arrangement and works well when paired with the lighter weight. It features a 50t chainring paired with 11-13-15-18 tooth cogs, wide enough I never really felt like I needed more gears and I appreciated the simplicity of moving one lever up and down rather than two. It didn’t respond perfectly to some time ridden in the rain, which required a reindex to get rid of some noise, but other than that has performed ably.
The V4 is by default setup with the S type bar. It adds a more responsive and agile feel to the ride, but it's worth keeping in mind that this is a lower and sportier ride if you're used to riding an alternative bar.
Picking a saddle for a Brompton can be tricky. You’re more often than not going to be riding in day-to-day clothes, and I’ve found that poses problems with a saddle that’s too aggressive or made for long-distance road riding. Of course, in this arena it has to look good, and Millar has opted this time to equip the bike with the Fizik Terra Argo X3, a short-nosed saddle designed for gravel riding. I found it comfortable enough and actually preferred it to the C Line saddle I have. It’s not the best for carrying around the V4 when it's folded, but remember this isn’t a bike built with practicality at the top of the priority list.
Fashion or function?
Which brings me on to my only hesitation about the V4. For all its beauty and brilliance, it didn’t stop me missing some of the practical elements of a Brompton that have been stripped away. Of course, the patented fold is here, but no mudguards means the range of use is limited to sunny and dry days (unless you want to get a wet backside and feet). There’s also no bag carrier block either if you wanted to use it for commuting, though there is a small frame bag in the main frame triangle. This can carry a tube, or perhaps some small tools, though you would need to either carry a pump or attach one to the frame if you plan to make on the go puncture repairs, rendering the bag slightly pointless if you need to carry an extra bag with you anyway.
That being said, none of this detracts from the experience of riding it. It’s undoubtedly the most enjoyable ride around a city I’ve had. It’s nimble, quick and responsive enough to make any ride, no matter where, enjoyable. And while I’m a stickler for a stylish bike, I understand my desire for utility from my Brompton certainly means I’m not the target audience for this particular edition.
If I had an extra £2,595 ($3,200) going spare I would without doubt run this bike alongside my workhorse C Line, like a summer bike and a winter bike. For those looking for Brompton to do it all however, it may be worth looking to the P Line or if you can afford it, the all-titanium T Line.
That price represents the limited availability of the Brompton x CHPT3 V4, so for your money you’d be getting an exclusive Brompton you won’t see around too often. Moreover, if having a fast and fun method of getting around and exploring new corners of the city trumps utility for you, then you will definitely not be disappointed by the latest Brompton x CHPT3, which is all about style and speed.
The Brompton x CHPT3 V4 is a limited release and is available to buy now from global Brompton Junction shops and via www.brompton.com. The V4 is priced at £2,595 / €3,150 (Europe excluding France) / €3,249 (France only) / $3200.