Is the Brompton X Barbour the perfect commuter?

The Bike

Brompton X Barbour. Price £1,350

The heritage green colour was an inspired choice and lends itself to the elegance of the Barbour brand well. A fair few people struck up conversations with me when they saw the bike, being both impressed by the aesthetic and curious about the functionality. Of course, the modern condition is so often predisposed towards bright colours and snazzy paint schemes, but there’s a true-blue British feel to this collaboration frame that stirs up a sense of tradition and timelessness that everyone can appreciate.

Brompton Barbour
Brompton Barbour – Image Supplied by Brompton

The test and plan

Every year we see the same ‘New Year, new you’ direct advertising that encourages us to take out fitness goals into our own hands by subscribing to unusual diet plans, expensive gym memberships and faddy equipment. This year, I decided to take a different tack.
Sometimes, a small change to your routine can have a big impact on your health, not to mention your self-esteem and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I usually drive to work each morning, with the 25 minutes shooting by quickly, but also robotically. I wanted to change things up significantly, so I decided to cycle instead. Being on a bicycle would mean that I could enjoy a more direct or even scenic route via smaller and less traffic-heavy roads. The really great thing is that in reality, it translated into a commuting time that was barely any longer than my usual drive.

Commuting with a Brompton
Commuting with a Brompton – Image Supplied by Brompton

So how did it go? Well, the first few days were hell and my legs ached. A LOT. My body was not used to this kind of exercise, but I soon adapted. I even found that the morning ride would help me to wake up and get into a productive mindset for when I arrived at the office. The most surprising side-effect of my riding, however, was that I was perpetually less stressed. I’d get to the office ready to work (without a caffeine fix) and I’d arrive home, ready to relax. My mind had never been so clear and my sleep so undisturbed. As an extra bonus, I lost a few kilos of weight too.

The Ride

The burning question for anyone that has yet to ride a folding bike is “what does it feel like when you’re on it?”. The short answer is bizarre, until you get used to it. What with the bicycle itself feeling quite ‘dinky’ and petite and the handlebars being situated high up, you can feel a little like you’re learning how to ride all over again, only this time it won’t take even half as long!

Unlike regular bikes, the Brompton accounts for the height of different riders purely with an adjustable seatpost. The frame itself won’t change, but how high you need your saddle will differ for every rider. Though you can easily adjust the height yourself, if you are a little unsure or unconfident, any bike shop will be happy to size you up and tighten your seatpost where it needs to be.
The type of saddle that you choose will have a HUGE bearing on how comfortable you find the Brompton. While hardcore riders might opt for something a little harder to break in, such as a Brooks Cambium, if you are just beginning your cycling journey, don’t feel embarrassed about selecting something gel-filled and squishy. If it gets you riding, that’s all that matters and you can upgrade later.

So it folds?

Yes, it does. I advise watching a few YouTube videos of people assembling and folding their Bromptons, as it’s always easier to learn by observing and THEN doing. It’s not always obvious how the bike actually functions, especially if you’re a first-time Brompton convert, like me, so equip yourself with as much information as possible.

How to unfold

How to fold

Who is it for

The Brompton would most likely not be the perfect choice as a first bike, but for anyone that has enjoyed a few rides and wants to get fit while completing a necessary journey, it could definitely be for you. Students and professionals alike will really enjoy the look of the bike, not to mention how convenient the folded size is, which helps you to guarantee some extra security. Small enough to accompany you on a commuter train, bus or even in the boot of a hatchback, the Brompton can even be taken into offices and classrooms.

Image supplied by Brompton

Why buy a Brompton

When you can hop on a bicycle, get fit and avoid getting held in up city rush hour traffic, the real question should be why WOULDN’T you take a chance on a Brompton? You’ll be saving fuel, reducing your monthly outgoings, taking your fitness into your own hands and doing the environment a favour as well. If these aren’t good enough reasons for you, then you are probably a little bit too much of a certified petrolhead to ever become a cyclist!


  • Small and easy to store or travel with
  • Good value for money
  • Made by a respected British brand with undeniable cycling heritage
  • Built to last
  • A lot of fun to ride
  • Very eye-catching and good for starting a conversation
  • There is a lightweight version available
  • Offered through most cycle to work schemes


  • Not really suitable for carrying over long distances, as it weighs almost 12kg
  • Hills are VERY hard work
  • Other bicycles will offer better suspension

Interested in getting in shape in a convenient way without the need for a gym? Then check out our review of Men’s Health Primal 9.