So you’re the proud owner of a shiny new Brompton, and you’ll no doubt be wanted to keep your pride and joy running as smoothly - and as safely - as possible. Since our bicycle is popular with those new to the freedom that cycling brings, this guide will run through the fundamentals of bicycle maintenance.
To those more initiated: it is still worth giving this a read, as some areas will include some Brompton-specific advice. These are areas that are worth checking before every ride, and you should expect to perform some of the tasks on a weekly basis.
Something pretty fundamental to a good ride feel, not to mention the safe function, of a bicycle is the braking performance. The Brompton uses dual-pivot rim caliper brakes; powerful, and simple to adjust and maintain. For best performance - plus the best lifespan of both the rim and brake pads - it is important that the braking surface of the rim is kept clean. Road dirt, oil and general grime can build up around the brake pads and on the rim, particularly when riding in urban or industrial environments.
Use a strong degreaser, e.g. a disc brake cleaner, applied to a rag to clean the braking surface, and wipe away any build-up from the brake shoes.
It may come as a bit of a surprise, but inner tubes are not 100% airtight. Over the course of a few days your tyres will lose pressure, and will need to be topped up. Be warned - riding on under-inflated tyres can risk punctures, damage to the rim and tyre, but most importantly is much harder work than necessary! The smaller volume of a Brompton tyre does mean that any loss in pressure will have more of an effect than on a conventional bike.
The best tyre pressure will vary a bit dependent on personal preference, but the recommend range will be moulded into the tyre sidewall on your bike. Be sure to use a track pump to get up to pressure, hand pumps are emergency get-me-home solutions only.
Much like the braking components, your chain and sprockets can suffer from the accumulation of road dirt, mud, and other undesirables that clog up your machine. Left to its own devices, this will form a grinding paste and with every turn of the pedals, that paste is working away at your drivetrain parts at well above the usual rate of wear. Excessively dirty chains will also encourage this dirt to accumulate in hard to reach areas such as the chain tensioner - well worth avoiding!
If your chain is dry and clean, apply a few drops of chain lubricant to each roller and wipe away the excess. Do not apply new lube on top of old, dirty stuff! If your chain needs a clean, spray on a concentrated degreaser, e.g. disc brake cleaner, onto a rag and back-pedal the chain through. There are plenty of chain-cleaning devices on the market that can help with this job too, but keep on top of this and those brushes and deep-clean tanks won’t be necessary.
While you have the chain lube out, it’s also a good idea to apply a few drops to the main frame and handlebar hinges. For more information on this, see this article here.
These tips will help to keep your bicycle running as it should - bit if problems do occur, always remember that your local Brompton dealer is on hand to assess and advise.