Up ahead sits a zesty, lime green number complete with mudguards. To our left, is a matt black model running the original Mid (historically M) handlebar. Folded and tucked neatly into a corner, a sleek titanium model awaits its next journey. One folding bike, many combinations.

Brompton can lay claim to the title of UK’s largest bicycle manufacturer and we’re here to see what goes on behind the scenes at their 175,000 sq. ft. site. Located in the sprawling West London suburb of Greenford, this factory-cum-head office has been the company’s home since a move from Kew Bridge in 2016.

Our guide for the day is Ross, a Brompton veteran with 8 years of experience. An ideal chaperon then as we navigate our way through the museum section, the brazing area, painting booths and the assembly line.

“The design is fundamentally the same today as it was back in 1976.” Ross points us in the direction of the prototype Brompton that founder Andrew Ritchie produced. He’s not wrong. With the curved main frame, and a pivoting rear triangle, the bike closely resembles the folding bike of today. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the famous brand.

“You’ve got to remember these were the pre-Citymapper days in London. Travel around the capital was very different from what it is today.” Ross alludes to the troubles Andrew Ritchie experienced when he was trying to sell his folding bike. Approaches to Raleigh for manufacturing support and banks for financial funding were quickly rebuffed and by the mid-1980s things were looking desperate for Ritchie. Salvation came in the form of friends and former customers along with a substantial bank loan to kickstart mass production in 1988. Fast-forward 30 years and the factory, through the doors to our left, is knocking out over 45,000 bikes every year!

The factory is a hubbub of action. Highly-skilled braziers buzz around complicated-looking jigs. Their brazing torch moves back and forth with a flourishing touch. Technicians cast a beady eye over gargantuan CNC machines. Racks upon racks of parts fly past on trollies. A painter carefully begins spraying a main frame. Assemblers on the production line snap, click and tighten a Brompton to life. Someone hand-wraps a pallet worth of bikes ready for dispatch. “What I like about the whole process is that it combines the best of human and computer skill,” enthuses Ross.

We begin the tour at the brazing section. 95% of a Brompton is hand brazed with the remaining parts auto-brazed due to the high heat that a hand process couldn’t replicate. It’s incredible to think that Brompton founder Ritchie would have had to design and manufacture the jigs before he even thought about starting to join tubes together.

Brazed Brompton tubes

Today, the braziers take it in turns to work on each jig which forms a different part of the frame. It’s an incredibly skilled task, one that takes 18 months of training to be able to complete. Ross tells us that a brazier adds his or her initials to the finished piece and the team is so close that they identify each other’s work just by glancing at a completed section.

We move on to the painting booths, a recent addition to the factory. As with the brazing, it’s a mixture of hand and machine that gets the job done. Hundreds of frame parts lie in rather lovely wooden crates ready for assembly. Each box is marked with an acronym to identify it correctly.

Brompton handlebars in crates

A short hop away sits the assembly line. It’s here that you get a real sense that Brompton are producing something from nothing. From a mere bunch of separate parts rises the unmistakable shape of a Brompton. Made in London. Yes, they are!

Brompton on the assembly line

Every three minutes a new bike leaves the production line and much like a car manufacturing plant each station, manned by a separate technician, adds an element to the finished bike. The bikes sit in manoeuvrable, highly adjustable bike stands and are wheeled by hand between each station. Meanwhile, a computer system, coded by Brompton themselves, monitors and analyses production. And boy do things need monitoring! 1200 individual parts come together to form the finished product.

Brompton mudguards

As with other bicycle manufacturers, Brompton does source separate parts from other companies, but over two-thirds of the parts are unique to them. The bracket that holds a light, the brake lever or the luggage block, are just some examples of parts that are specific to a Brompton. We see a finished bike roll away from the last station and sadly our tour is almost over.

We’re ushered up a back staircase and out onto a balcony overlooking the whole factory. From here you can appreciate the scale of production. Brompton might very well be one model but each bike is well and truly made for you.

Brompton factory and warehouse

Our thanks to Ross and the team at Brompton for hosting us. For further reading take a look at Brompton's updated nomenclature, a change in model name the brand made in 2022.

Brompton has also recently announced exciting plans to relocate its factory to Ashford in Kent. A circular building built on stilts in a newly restored wetland, the factory will have the capacity to build over 100,000 bikes a year. Join us in 2027 for a visit!

Find Brompton in every Velorution store and online.