I first realized there was something special about the Brompton P-Line fold-up bike when I removed it from the box. I thought, oh shoot. Which parts did they forget to send? What do I need to assemble? When will the other boxes arrive? Covered in plastic wrap and cardboard flaps, the innards seemed suspicious to me. This was going to be a problem.
Part of my issue is that I just don’t have the time. I’m constantly on the go, running to meetings as part of my job and testing products right and left. I know when a product arrives “incomplete” after 21 years as a product reviewer, it becomes a huge hassle.
My first impressions quickly faded.
Turns out, the bike is just that light. While the actual weight depends on your configuration, the P-Line generally weighs about 21 pounds. To put that in perspective, that’s about the same as a sledge hammer for pounding a post or maybe your overhead suitcase when you travel. I’ve tested many fold-up bikes including a Gocycle recently, but the P-Line is special. I say “lighter than air” because it just doesn’t seem heavy enough to worry about. It’s inconsequential.
The bike has a titanium rear frame and forks, which is the Brompton way of saying “we got this, the thing is light” and I can confirm it’s true. I’m not even sure what titanium is (it took a Google search to see it’s 40% lighter than steel but just as durable).
Unfolding the bike is a snap, quite literally. I didn’t need a manual, and it’s possible no one else ever will. Fold up the handlebars, snap. Click the tires into place with a fold, done. I was out in the street in front of my house riding in about 10 minutes after receiving the box and lifting out the bike. That easy transport feature is what sold me on the bike. It fits easily in a seat in your car, no trunk needed. The bike is also fun to ride, but more on that in a moment.
I just like the engineering. The bike has a single lever for changing gears up or down. The gears are smooth, and everything about it is easy to adjust and understand. On one trip, I noticed the seat was a tad low and with a quick adjustment I was back riding again. (This is more beneficial than you might realize; seat adjustments on some bikes takes more time.)
I always like to mention the price with these bike reviews. I’ll admit, $3,100 is not an impulse buy. That price is a sign of two very basic features, though. One is the light weight, and the other is the easy transport. The bike can go anywhere. I didn’t test this, but I can only assume it would fit nicely in the luggage rack on an airplane. It’s that small. The Gocycle electric-fold-up fits in my car, but I can’t imagine bringing one on an airplane even if that’s technically possible.
And, about the ride. Wow, it’s breezy and agile. You glide, thanks to the suspension block that is essentially helping you transfer power from the pedals to the gears and move you along on the bike path quickly and efficiently. While the P-Line is primarily meant for urban riding, and I tested it on many streets and paths in my area, I also like using it just around my neighborhood for a quick trip up to the store to get bananas. The reason? It’s so fast, so agile, and so fun. You just grab it and start rising, almost like the big cousin of a skateboard. (I’m too big for a skateboard anyway.)
Would I buy this bike? Yes, for sure. I liked every minute testing and riding it, and the portability and lightness justify the price. It’s meant for people who do not own a large enough vehicle to transport a bike or who keep the fold-up in an office. I hope to bring one to visit family in Europe someday. It’s a smart, elegant, and super light fold-up for serious riders.