Handlebars (1988-1999 bikes) 
Safety Upgrade Notice

What You Should Do . Common Questions

Background
Many modern bicycles, including the Brompton, have aluminium handlebars. These can eventually break, especially if subject to hard riding. As this could result in a nasty fall or serious injury, please read this notice carefully, and act on it as soon as practical.
Since launching the Brompton in 1988, we have made numerous small changes, including fitting better handlebars. The third, most recent improvement to these was made in September 1999: these bars are heavier and significantly stronger. We have now also developed a crossbar for the Brompton handlebar: this is a new safety option, recommended for those who give their bikes exceptionally heavy use. If your handlebars are of the new type, we apologise for troubling you, but for safety, please consider fitting the optional crossbar if your bike gets hard use.
Meanwhile, bikes with the earlier handlebars continue to be used, some now many years old, and the further a bike is ridden, the greater the possibility of breakage. We therefore wish to upgrade all earlier Bromptons by fitting a crossbar to the handlebars free of charge.


What You Should Do
If you bought your Brompton before September 1999, the handlebars will (unless you have already had them upgraded since then) be of the old type. Otherwise, please check: the illustrations below show how the current, heavier handlebars differ in appearance.
If you do have old-style handlebars, then it is important for your SAFETY (especially if your Brompton is well used or is regularly ridden) that you have the crossbar upgrade NOW. If in doubt, take your bike to your dealer.
For Brompton owners in the UK, see UK Dealers (or if you wish to make the upgrade yourself, print out the Request Form, fill it in and send or fax it to Brompton).
If you are outside the UK, contact your local distributor. See Overseas Distributors
If you ride your bike in the meantime, please be aware that repeated upwards pressure on the bar can in due course lead to failure: avoid jumping up onto kerbs or pulling up hard on the handlebars when starting off or riding uphill. However, we urge you to upgrade as soon as possible.
Old Handlebars

L
15/16" OR 23.5MM

Action: UPGRADE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

Old Handlebars

S
7/8" or 22.2mm

Action: UPGRADE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

New Handlebars

7/8" or 22mm

Action: NONE REQUIRED

However, If you ride hard, you are advised for long-term safety to fit a crossbar (UK retail £8.75).


Pre-2000 Handlebars
Do I need to worry about the strength of Brompton handlebars?
Brompton handlebars have always exceeded the requirements of Standards, including the exacting DIN Standards. However, there have been fatigue failures - the majority on well-used bikes.
As we came to learn of these failures, we realised that we needed to fit a handlebar stronger than required in the Standards. In 1999 we found a supplier who was able to make the shape we required using heavier tube, and that Autumn we started fitting this new type of bar. It has a much improved fatigue life, and we do not anticipate problems with the new handlebar: but it is still too early to be certain about this. So if a bike is to be ridden hard, we still recommend that the handlebar be replaced at regular intervals. A more satisfactory solution is to fit the crossbar, as this provides the best long-term security.

Why take action now?
There were failures on 0.4% of these in 2000 - a particularly high figure, reflecting the fact that some bikes had by then been in use for many years. We decided, if this rate of failure were to continue, to arrange upgrades.
In fact, during 2001 the rate has dropped. Nonetheless, there are still some instances of handlebar failure on earlier bikes: so for the safety of our users, we have arranged for these earlier Bromptons to receive a crossbar upgrade free of charge.

Why fit a brace, rather than a stronger handlebar?
We have decided to fit a crossbar for three reasons:

  • The crossbar greatly reduces the bending stresses at the centre of the bar. This extends the fatigue life many times.
  • If the handlebar does eventually fail when a rider is pulling on it, the failure is unlikely to be sudden because of the connection to the other side of the bar.
  • We believe that this approach will bring the maximum benefit: not only does the crossbar itself give the best security, but fitting a crossbar is easier than replacing the handlebar and the upgrade is therefore more likely to be carried out.
What if I prefer to fit the new handlebars?
If you prefer to fit a new handlebar, that can be supplied free of charge on earlier bikes, but fitting can involve quite a lot of work. Your dealer may wish to charge you for the labour involved.