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Brompton Vs Tern

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You’re probably here because you’re tern, sorry, torn….between a Tern or Brompton folding bike – right?

Brompton, the iconic British manufacturer, has garnered a loyal following with its meticulous craftsmanship and timeless design.

On the other hand, Tern, the rising star, offers a blend of innovative engineering and fresh aesthetics.

In this intense face-off, we dissect the strengths and weaknesses of Brompton and Tern, helping you to make the right choice.

Ready? Let’s hit the road and find your ultimate folding bike!

Tern Folding Bikes: History And Range

Tern was founded in 2011 by Florence Shen and Joshua Hon as a breakaway company from Dahon, but it was immediately plunged into the controversy of litigation.

Dahon’s founder, David Hon, estranged husband of Florence and father of Joshua, sued the latter two for wrongfully seizing control of Dahon’s Taiwan subsidiary and related intellectual property. Only in 2013 was the matter resolved.

Read more: Tern vs Dahon

Tern’s initial range featured models like the Eclipse and Link, which quickly attracted attention for their sleek looks, ride quality, and practical folding mechanisms.

One significant milestone for Tern came in 2013 when they created the Tern Verge X10: a speedy commuter bike weighing in at only 21.3 lbs.

Over the years, Tern has continued to innovate and expand their product offerings. Tern also places a strong emphasis on sustainability, developing bikes with environmentally friendly materials and actively supporting cycling advocacy programs.

Today, Tern has a reputation as a maker of high-end bikes loaded with patented tech. A Tern is a modern looking bike that you can buy in many a bike shop as well as online.

Tern Folding Bike Range

Tern Verge

Including models like Verge X11, Verge D9, Verge P10, and Verge S8i, the Verge series focuses on performance and speed with lightweight frames and advanced components.

The Verge S8i notably includes a Gates belt drive for quiet and clean operation. And the Verge X11 is the only bike you might lust after if you’re a fast rider of regular bikes.

Video: Tern Verge P10 Performance Bike

Tern Node

The Node series features versatile folding bikes suitable for urban commuting and multi-modal transportation.

Models like Node D7i and Node C8 are known for their ride quality and practicality. Large 24″ wheels contribute to their comfort, as does a compliant steel fork.

Tern Eclipse

The Eclipse series includes full-size 26″ wheels (a common wheel size on mountain bikes). This enables a fast, more comfortable ride at the cost of a larger folded size. Models include the X22, P20, and D16.

Despite the larger wheels of the Tern Eclipse, you still get a folding bike you can fit into a car trunk without putting the seats down.

Tern Vektron

The Vektron series comprises electric folding bikes designed for efficient and eco-friendly commuting. Models like Vektron S10, Vektron P9, and Vektron Q9 offer varying levels of power and range. The Q9 is in our fastest folding bike list.

The Vektron S10 offers a wider gear range than other models as well as more torque and pedal assist (300%) from the motor.

Tern Link

The Link series offers great bikes with a balance of performance and affordability. Bike models like the Link B7, Link C7, and Tern Link D8 are popular choices for urban riders.

Cheaper Link models typically have lower-tier Shimano components. The Tern Link D8 has slightly wider tires than other Link models (2″ vs 1.5″) for extra comfort.

Tern BYB

The BYB (Bring Your Bike) series features ultra-compact folding bikes designed for easy storage and transportation. The BYB P8, BYB P10, and BYB S11 are notable models.

The BYB P10 is Tern’s smallest folding bike with a folded size of 13.0″ x 31.5″ x 19.7″. While this is narrower than many folding bikes, Bromptons are only two-thirds of the folded cubic size.

Brompton Folding Bikes: History And Range

Brompton bicycles have a rich and storied history that began in the early 1970s. The brainchild of Andrew Ritchie, a Cambridge University engineering graduate, Brompton was born out of a passion for cycling and a desire to create a practical folding bike for urban commuters.

In 1975, Ritchie made the first prototype of the Brompton folding bike. It featured a unique folding mechanism, allowing the bike to fold into a compact and portable size. Over the next few years, Ritchie refined the design, focusing on improving functionality and comfort.

It wasn’t until 1981 that the first Brompton bicycles were put up for sale. A total of 500 machines were made and sold that year, but the company floundered when its hinge supplier went bankrupt.

Andrew Ritchie persevered and, in 1987, secured financial backing from Julian Vereker, the now late founder of Naim Audio and a keen Brompton bike rider.

The Brompton company grew and grew, producing bikes for many years from a factory underneath railway arches in Brentford, West London. For the first few years, only a few thousand bikes were made annually by few employees (16 in 1995).

In 2015, Brompton moved production from its historic Brentford venue to larger premises in Greenford, still in West London.

Today, Brompton employs over 785 people and makes over 90,000 bicycles per year. Bromptons are also commonly available from either a bike shop or online store.

Brompton Folding Bike Range

Brompton A Line

The Brompton A Line is the most affordable bike in the range. It’s a bare-bones bike that comes without fenders or a rack, but you do get 3 hub gears.

Available in gloss white only, the A Line still offers Brompton’s famous compact fold and weighs in at a very respectable 25 lbs (11.5 kg).

Brompton C Line

If you want the classic Brompton, the C Line is a modern-day version of the original. You can have it with 2, 3, or 6 gears and it comes with fenders as standard.

A popular model among Brompton folding bikes is is the C Line Explore. Its wide-ranging 300% gears make it easier to tackle rolling terrain and longer distances.

Other C Line models include the Utility and Urban, which have fewer gears and are aimed at city riding rather than long distances.

Video: Overview Of The Brompton C-Line

Brompton P Line

The cost of a Brompton bikes rises sharply if you buy the P Line model. That’s largely because of its titanium rear frame and forks, which reduce the bike’s weight to a mere 21.8 lbs.

The P Line has other lightweight components, too, while still coming equipped with a roller rack and fenders.

The P Line Urban got the number one spot in our best lightweight foldable bike list.

Brompton T Line

Topping the Brompton bike range is the remarkably lightweight T Line, which weighs from only 16 lbs (7.45 kg).

This is one of the lightest foldable bikes in the world, which it achieves through its titanium frame, carbon cranks, and a complement of other lightweight parts.

Electric Bikes

Brompton also offers electric C Line and P Line models, unusually using a front hub motor. This counterbalances the weight of the rider at the rear and delivers a great ride.

Brompton Vs. Tern Comparison

Which Is More Compact?

Brompton bikes are famously compact, and they’re not often beaten for their small folded size even by one-off rivals. Part of the reason for this is Brompton’s universal use of 16″ wheels, as opposed to the 20″ wheels that are common among other brands.

Tern also make compact foldable bicycles that are more than small enough for purposes like multimodal commutes, but they’re not as small as Bromptons.

Winner: Brompton

Which Is The Most Lightweight?

This category is more difficult for an obvious reason. Not all models from either brand weigh the same, and Tern in particular offers a very diverse range of bicycles.

So, what if we pick the most obvious Brompton rivals from the Tern range (e.g., Tern Link D8) and estimate an average weight? It’s the best we can do.

By picking a selection of five non-electric Tern folding bikes, including the lightweight Verge X11, we came up with a total weight of 128.18 lbs. A total of five Bromptons, including the 4-speed T Line, came to 117.54 lbs.

Winner: Brompton

Which Is Best On A Low Budget?

Neither Brompton nor Tern are budget folding bike brands, so you’re looking at the wrong article if you’re after a cheap folding bike. Check out Zizzo instead.

However, Bromptons typically cost over a thousand dollars, euros, or pounds, whereas a Tern can sometimes be had for a few hundred.

The Link B7 or Link D8 are cheaper than any Brompton offering, for instance, especially if you shop around.

Winner: Tern

Which Is Most Durable?

There’s nothing wrong with the durability of Tern, especially given that foldable bikes aren’t often ridden far. However, most Tern bicycles are made of aluminum, which has a fatigue limit, meaning they theoretically wear out.

Because Bromptons usually have a steel frame, their lifespan is indefinite. You could go on riding one ad infinitum provided you didn’t abuse it or exceed its maximum weight capacity. It could potentially give you a whole lifetime of service.

Since aluminum inherently has a lifespan and continually degrades, any contest for durability has to go to Brompton.

Winner: Brompton

Which Holds Its Value Best?

Without question, a used Brompton holds its value better than any other foldable brand on the market, including Tern, Dahon, Bike Friday, Zizzo, all others.

Recently, one of the original 1981 Bromptons went up for auction at £25,000, potentially making it the world’s most expensive folding bike.

Aside from their iconic name and historic attachment to British bike-building industry, Bromptons are made of steel. That means you can buy a 40-year-old machine on sight and be fairly confident in its structural integrity.

Winner: Brompton

Which Is The Most Innovative?

This is almost a non-question, as Tern was hatched from another innovative bike brand with the idea of becoming even more advanced. You can buy bikes from Tern that are unrivalled.

For instance, speedsters that are accustomed to regular bikes or fast road bikes will be disappointed in the lack of pedaling power in some foldable bicycles. Then they find the Tern Verge X11 and discover a bike with racy gear ratios and high-end parts.

Some of the advanced technologies used by Tern include the Physis 3D Handlepost, the FBL 2 Frame Joint, TriFold Technology, N-Fold Technology, DoubleTruss Technology, the OCL+ joint, the Andros adjustable stem, and hydro-formed aluminum frames.

Brompton bikes have evolved over the years, but part of the Brompton appeal is its adherence to a winning formula and a slightly quirky Britishness. It’s not meant to change too much.

Winner: Tern

Video: Using the Andros Adjustable Stem

Which Is The Most Adjustable?

It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a Brompton that suits your size, height and position. So, there isn’t a huge issue there about adjustability.

However, consider the fact that Brompton handlebars are not height adjustable. You have to choose the right handlebar at the point of sale, whether it’s low, medium, or high.

Tern bicycles do have adjustable handlebars. That means you can fine-tune comfort or even fine-tune your riding style. If you want a sportier ride, lower the bar a bit. Or if you have a bad back, you can raise the bar. This flexibility doesn’t quite exist in a Brompton.

Winner: Tern

Which Is Most Comfortable?

Many people go touring on Bromptons, so they’re not grotesquely uncomfortable. And they have suspension blocks at the rear, which you can swap around to suit your needs.

Bromptons are made from steel or titanium, which are renowned materials for delivering a compliant ride.

Even so, there’s no denying that Tern bikes have larger wheels, and much larger wheels in some cases. They’re not quite up to road bike size, but they do run to 24″ and 26″. This boosts speed and comfort, which also makes longer distances easier.

Although aluminum bikes are probably not, on average, as comfortable as steel, Tern uses hydro-formed frames, which helps to inject comfort. They also frequently have steel forks, which soaks up road vibration. Overall, bike comfort has to go to Tern.

Winner: Tern

Brompton Or Dahon: What Is Best?

It’s hard to say which brand is best, but you can arrive at conclusions based on your needs. If you want a foldable commuting bicycle you can rely on for 20-30+ years, it’d be a Brompton.

For comfort, speed, and innovation, you’d do well to look among the diverse Tern range.

We hope you found this article interesting. Please feel free to leave a comment or share it with family or friends.

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Glenn Harper
Glenn Harper
I'm Glenn. When I’m not contributing articles to Bike Push, I can often be found cycling on the rural roads around me. If I can help you benefit from bicycling in some small way, I’ll consider it a win.

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