Two minute review
Anyone craving a Brompton will love the lighter, slimmer P-Line, which at just 9.65kg is relatively easy to carry when needed. Unfolded, the bike delivers an unsurprising ride, a bit compromised by small wheels and tires, plus a saddle that’s not made to sit for hours on end.
There are four gears controlled by a handlebar switch and decent brake calipers. When folded, the Brompton P-Line can be safely stored in a variety of places, from train luggage compartments to car trunks or even a cupboard under the stairs. Brompton bikes are expensive though and if you’re not worried about a bit more weight you might as well go for the standard models in the Brompton range.
The Brompton P-Line is a lighter version of its classic folding bike, which the British manufacturer has adapted and refined over its approximately 45 years in production. You get the usual quirky design lines and an expensive price tag, but with the bonus of being able to drive on the road with slightly less weight to lug around.
In fact, nearly two pounds have been shaved off the overall weight compared to a standard Brompton C-Line model, thanks to lighter components and some technical tweaks. All in all, the Brompton P-Line weighs 9.65kg, which gives it a good start.
Price and release date
The Brompton P-Line Urban is available now and costs from £2,264 in the UK (about $2793 in the US). However, there’s also the Brompton P-Line Urban with roll frame, which starts at £2,344 (about $2,892 in the US), but adds larger trolley-style wheels to make it easier to roll the bike when needed.
Brompton also has a fine line in a range of bicycle accessories, made especially for the range, all of which can be specified at an additional cost.
Brompton is quick to underline the appeal of the newer P-Line model (as in P for Performance), mainly due to its weight loss, which is 1.85kg less than the regular edition of this folding classic. That doesn’t sound like much, but you do notice it when you carry the bike at any distance. Some 700g of weight alone has been shed by replacing the steel-framed original with a titanium rear frame and forks, along with a plethora of slimming tweaks to other components.
But to look at, this is classic Brompton and the folding mechanism is like other bikes in the range. Now it looks like you either have a knack for unfolding and folding a Brompton bike or not. I’ve always found them clunky, especially when compared to other folding bikes like the Axon Pro Lite or the sturdier but really good GoCycle G4 we looked at recently, for example. There’s no denying that Brompton has created a very clever design, but I’m still not sure it’s as intuitive as they make out. Maybe it’s me.
The Brompton P-Line proved no different, with a good degree of faff to lift it. Two people, a YouTube video and an oily chain that came off were all part of the procedure. The saddle also proved problematic to get on. Perhaps it didn’t help that this was a ‘refreshed’ bike that had been reviewed elsewhere. Perhaps this was the same reason why no toolkit was present, or much more. But after about 30 minutes, the Brompton P-Line came together and looked really good in the metallic black too.
The beauty of the design is the way it integrates a four-speed derailleur gear set, which is even more useful because you can pivot the forearm up and retrieve a chain easily enough. The switch mechanism on the left side of the handlebars is fine and functional. There are also the two small wheels on the back of the bike that allow you to move it half-folded when and if you need to. A suspension block in the frame design offers some relief if you are caught by an unexpected rut in the road.
In addition, there is a bracket on the front of the bicycle for attaching a carrying bag, an example of which was included in the box with our model. Traditional 16-inch wheels with Schwalbe tires and stock calipers/rim brakes round out the old-school bike style. We also appreciated the full fenders, which quickly become an essential part of the pack if you’re traveling to work in the rain and want to minimize dirt and mud marks on your suit.
This bike came standard with reflectors, but without lights. We’d also like to see a kickstand, even if it’s just a flimsy plastic effort for convenience. You should include the lights in your budget, especially if you’re buying for commuting after dark.
When you hit the road with the Brompton P-Line, the experience feels just like its cheaper counterparts in the product portfolio. If you’re lucky enough to have access to smooth, purpose-built bike paths, the bike is great on the flat, even with those tiny little wheels. There’s, of course, that slightly odd feeling of holding onto the handlebars that you know you’ve folded before, but the reassurance that the solid bracket won’t let you down. Hit less than great British roads though and it all feels a bit more uncertain.
That has nothing to do with the Brompton P-Line, because it copes surprisingly well with less slippery surfaces. You’ll want to lift your butt off the saddle over dreaded potholes or ride down low sidewalks, but that’s part of any UK cycling experience.
Meanwhile, testing the Brompton P-Line in hilly areas requires deft use of the gears, because despite its lighter weight, this is a bike that isn’t great for too many steep climbs. Coming down on the other side is great fun though, and those brakes work well enough but lack the more refined muscle power of discs and rotors.
We also tried the Brompton P-Line on a variety of surfaces, including gravel trails, where it performed well enough. The narrow tires can catch you if you’re not careful, but this is a bike designed with city streets in mind after all. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that the Brompton can help you with any cross-country shortcuts if you’re very late for a meeting at the office.
How many P-Line models will end up being used as true commuter bikes remains to be seen, given the trend for home and hybrid work. As good as it is, this is an expensive bike to buy for casual use.
Buy it if:
- You are still commuting. The Brompton P-Line is tailor-made for the task, but comes with a hefty price tag.
- Space is scarce. This bike is quick and easy to store and fits almost anywhere, especially compared to standard bikes.
- You’ve always dreamed of owning a Brompton. The design is iconic and once you get the hang of the foldable charms you’ll love the thing.
Don’t buy it if:
- Small wheels are a turn off. There are compromises to be made with the P-Line, so it is less suitable for longer journeys.
- You have given up your commute. Even hybrid work, with maybe 3 days a week in the office, will make this Brompton hard to justify.
- You want a cheaper alternative. Buy the standard Brompton instead, especially if your budget is limited.
First assessment: May 2022