It may not be the lightest folding bike on the market, but the Brompton M3L has a long-standing reputation for quality and stability. At 25.3 pounds, the Brompton M3L is a few pounds heavier than some competitors, but reviewers say it offers a stable and comfortable ride that other folding bikes can't match. The Brompton folding bike also gets high marks for an incredibly compact fold; the folded size measures 22.2 inches by 21.5 inches by 10.6 inches, which is significantly smaller than comparable folding bikes. Although some folding bikes can be unwieldy to carry, multiple reviewers say the Brompton folding bike is very portable because of its size and lockable fold. It has 16-inch wheels and comes with fenders and reflectors. The biggest downside? With only three gears, the Brompton M3L will struggle up steep hills, but reviewers say it can easily cope with gradual climbs. The Brompton is also expensive, but reviewers say Brompton folding bikes simply outclass the competition. If your budget is tight, reviews point to the Dahon Speed D7 (MSRP: $490). It weighs more than the Brompton, and it's not nearly as compact, but it offers quality components at a great price.
The Brompton M3L has been around for a few years, so there are a number of comparative reviews available. The most recent reviews come from Men's Journal, The Wall Street Journal and Britain's Daily Mail, all of which include the Brompton folding bike in a group test. Older reviews are also available. Since the bike hasn't changed substantially over the years, these reviews are still applicable.
1. Men's Journal
The Brompton M3L earns the Best in Class award from Men's Journal where six folding bikes are reviewed. Testers love the compact fold and stable ride, and editors give it a high overall rating of 9 out of 10.
Review: Break-Down Bikes, Sarah Rose, Apr. 5, 2010
2. The Wall Street Journal
In a group test of six folding bikes, The Wall Street Journal says the Brompton M3L is the most comfortable. High points include an incredibly compact fold, comfortable ride and plush rear suspension.
Review: The Folding Bike Goes Cool, Michael Hsu, Oct. 6, 2010
3. Daily Mail (United Kingdom)
The Daily Mail tests the Brompton M3L-X, a more expensive configuration with a lightweight titanium frame. Editors give it a perfect 5-star rating, saying the bike simply outclasses the competition when it comes to folding ease and handling.
Review: Carry on Commuting: Our Man Gets Carried Away Testing Six of the Best Fold-up Bikes, Simon Munk, Aug. 28, 2010
Zest magazine recommends the Brompton M3L in its cycling guide. "This stylish, eye-catching bike is really easy to stow, thanks to its simple folding mechanism, and is surprisingly fast," the editors say.
Review: Buy Your Perfect Bike, Editors of Zest magazine, Apr. 2011
5. The Gadget Show
Jon Bentley enlists the help of Rebecca Romero, an Olympic gold medalist in cycling, to test the Brompton M3L along with two other folding bikes. Of the three, both testers prefer the Brompton M3L, which gets the show's highest rating.
Review: Jon Test -- Folding Bikes, Jon Bentley, Dec. 2008
6. Choice magazine
In a test of 10 folding bikes, the Brompton M3L is the most compact when folded. It also scores highly on ride quality, but the testers are disappointed that it only has three gears.
Review: Test: Folding Bikes, Editors of Choice, Dec. 2007
7. Good Housekeeping
The Brompton M3L is the runner-up in this test of six folding bikes conducted by the British version of Good Housekeeping. Testers say it is compact, easy to carry and a comfortable to ride.
Review: Folding Bicycles, Editors of Good Housekeeping (U.K.), June 2007