The Brompton Toolkit is a pretty neat little package. It's sleek design and techy look make it an instant visual favorite in my eyes. But how does it actually feel in your hand? Do the tools work (and work well)? How about when you're not using it, does it rattle?
These were the big questions on my mind back in the summer of 2012 when I saw the first pictures of the Brompton Toolkit from a Taiwanese trade show. Needless to say I was excited at the idea of a bike tool for the Brompton but I needed more details. There was only one mash up picture available and it was oddly squished looking (see picture at right). "Why did they scale it like that?" I wondered.
Now that I have the real thing in my hand all those moments of questioning have come to a head and I must say I am nothing if not impressed.
The Brompton Toolkit is an icon of design. It's functional, looks great, and is well thought out. The designers at Brompton must have spent many a day and night dreaming this one up. So let's get down to brass tacks as they say and start answering the three big questions on my mind since I first squinted at the skewed little picture from a Taiwanese trade show.
Well, when you first take it out the whole Brompton Tool kit is contained within a shiny black aluminum cylinder. The Brompton Bicycle logo is etched into this black finish in fine detail, already hinting at the precision of the manufacturing. It's just about 4.5 inches long and has the metal casing has a pleasantly cool feeling.
When you first pull the Brompton Toolkit out of your bike, you're already holding the first tool - the 15 mm box wrench for axle nuts. Without even removing the black metal casing, you're ready to loosen your wheel from the frame, easily gaining access to the tube in case of a flat tire.
Hold the case and pull on the 15 mm wrench and you reveal the insides of this amazing tool kit. The metal casing pops off of the rubberized inner support that holds it in place and you can either pop it back into your frame or set it aside. The rest of the tools are now revealed - Ratchet handle for hex and screw drivers, tire levers, patch kit, 8 and 10 mm box wrenches - each held in their own special place, just waiting for you to pop them off and use them.
This brings us to the next question...
This one is huge - obviously - because if you have a fancy tool that can't get the job done what's the point, right? If the tools work well, this is definitely the coolest Brompton accessory I've seen. I tested out each of the Brompton tools to see what they're all about:
15 mm wrench - works great, casing for tool kit makes a great handle for comfort, plenty of leverage to take off or secure and axle nut Ratchet handle - the head is magnetic so drivers snap into place, reversible switch for tighten or loosen, has a rubber insert to prevent it from rattling Tire levers - the set of two sticks together magnetically which is nice because when you pop them off the inner body of the Brompton Toolkit they don't go flying in different directions. Despite being quite thin in places the metal core keeps them rigid while the plastic casing prevents damage to your rim while prying loose a tire (or tyre as the Brits say). Box wrenches - on the reverse side of each tire lever you have some box wrenches, two 8s and a 10 mm. These are pretty straight forward and I can report they do in fact provide good leverage and work well. Patch kit - as much as I love patching flat tires, I resisted my urge to use this feature. I'm sure it works great...
Now for the last test.
You'd think any time you shoved a tool into the frame of a bicycle it would make a little bit of clicking or clinking or rattling noise. Turns out this is just not so. The tool kit slots firmly in place. The front of the kit is contoured to fit the inside of the frame and has a magnet behind a rubber bumper. This makes the front of the kit stick up against the inside of your frame with a rubber bumper to dampen the small vibrations and silence any movement back and forth.
The front of the tool kit is a big rubber block which compresses inside the hinge and holds the Toolkit in place. As you might expect, rubber doesn't make much of any noise when you bump up against it. Especially not when it's stuck between two cast iron faces. So yes, it turns out the Brompton Toolkit is entirely silent when stored in your frame.
Now I know the answered to all these questions, I can't say I'm very surprised. I mean come on - the Brompton Bicycle is such a feat of engineering how is it possible they wouldn't get the toolkit right?
I know I'll be the first person I know to own a Brompton Toolkit. Will you?