15 Apr Brompton x CHPT3: ‘A folding bike that will appeal even to ex-pro racers’
Folding city bikes work for commuters – and champions. This fast and light Brompton could be the only performance bike you need
David Millar knows a thing or two about speed. He is (trivia enthusiasts take note) the only British rider to have worn all four Tour de France jerseys – yellow, green, white and polka dot. But, in 2004, it was “speed” of a different nature that dominated his life. He was caught using performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from the sport he loved. When I met him a few years ago, he told me: “My worst day was sitting with my sister on the steps outside the police station in Biarritz after I was arrested. I was world champion – and a doper. I sat there with everything – and I had nothing.”
Since then, David has rebuilt his life and become an outspoken anti-doping campaigner and mentor. Cycling fans lap up his wit and insight as a commentator for British TV. He’s also the co-creator of the design brand CHPT3 (named as it’s the third chapter of his life). Alongside Brooks, Castelli, Factor and POC, his brand’s most well-known collaboration is with Brompton. Everything about the new Brompton x CHPT3 has been designed to enhance the everyday experience of riding this game-changing folding bike. Will Butler-Adams, Brompton’s CEO, embarked on the project as he was keen to encourage those who climb hills and cover distance at the weekend to keep riding at that level during the week. He wanted this Brompton to be a performance bike that would also fit into our urban world. “It’s not a vanity project,” he said. “We wanted to create something that would appeal to all cyclists – even ex-pro racers!”
The collaboration began four years ago, when David told Will he rarely used a bike in the city. The conversation turned to what would be the best type of Brompton for a “die-hard roadie” – not a pastiche or a replica but a stripped-down, distilled Brompton that would be dynamic, usable and exciting to ride. Working with the CHPT3 team, the new limited-edition bike was designed with a textured matte black titanium rear frame and forks, which set off the bright red front frame. The bike is lighter than a standard model – tipping the scales at just 10.3kg. The design philosophy continues with all-black componentry, race-tuned suspension, Schwalbe One tan-wall tyres and Fabric scoop saddle and handlebars. The saddle has a special print inspired by patterns in the bark of the plane trees near CHPT3’s Girona home. They do get carried away, these designers…
The bike, like all Bromptons, is manufactured at the company’s factory in London, and sold in 47 countries around the world. The company is on target to produce 50,000 this year, which will edge the total close to 500,000 made since the first Brompton hit the road back in 1975. But what does David think of the bike he’s helped create? “It’s a joy. I dare you not to smile when you ride it. Of all my bikes it’s the one that receives the most compliments – and I’ve got some amazing racing machines, so that’s no mean feat.” He’s right. I rode it and it really is a joy.