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6.6.4 Testing

Ritchie cycles regularly, so still tests ideas and changes. During summer 2000 Ritchie was assessing low rolling resistance tyres.

Gearing was always a problem. To most manufacturers the folding bike is a bottom-of-the-range product. We wanted proper gearing using a bigger-than-average chainwheel, so at various times we became involved in making gears, for example a 13 tooth rear gear. And we had problems with broken teeth. Things are better now. We use the 3 and 5 speed Sturmey Archer hub for gears.

We have resisted the complication of Derailleur gears. All that extra complication is against the philosophy of the design. Perhaps we could sell another thousand bicycles. It's what the market wants. It's a luxury, but we do not respond.

Ritchie (1999)

You can buy a Brompton bicycle, named after The Brompton Oratory, for about £500. Andrew Ritchie won a Queen's award for export achievement in 1995. Not at all bad for a company that, literally, started under the railway arches.