replace original Brompton brake lever with the latest (2013) brake lever

If you’re as puzzled as I was about upgrading to the latest (2013) Brompton brake levers, this post aims to unconfuse. My cost, using Brompton clone parts was £17 plus £10 for two inner replacement cables. Compare that with the cost of a pair of the new levers, in black or silver, at £50 plus £26 for complete brake cables (2022 prices). Below I detail how to upgrade old brake levers to the current, post-2013 Brompton brake lever – but I’ve a few points to make first:

My 1999 Mk II Brompton is fitted with a metal and plastic brake lever known as a 10 degree lever (BRLEV). This has been discontinued, maybe even condemned as I failed to find a replacement cable with the necessary long nipple. In any case I wanted the current brake lever (post 2013 or QBRLEVAL-SET) because it gave me handlebar space to add a gear lever.

Incidentally there was a later brake design called the 30 degree lever used on M type bars. These ‘closed clevis’ levers use the current brake cable nipple so you can find replacement brake cables for these.

I wasn’t thanking Brompton for their messy catalogue of brake cables, none of which seemed labelled for the older shorter wheelbase model called a T5. While I prefer to buy the best stuff, because Brompton confused me, for spite I bought a good generic brake cable and cut it to length.

more Brompton bike hacks: convert Brompton with a Swytch kit also rear rack bags that fit the Brompton

what I ordered to upgrade the brake levers

  • 3SIXTY pair aluminum bicycle brake levers V Brake for Brompton – black Item no 3016050071676696 £17.12 (incl tax and post)
  • two x Shimano MTB stainless steel inner brake cable 1.6mm diameter x 2050mm length £4.49 each = £8.98 (incl tax)
  • if you want to buy outer MTB brake cables they can be cut to match your existing – a kit with 1.5m front outer and 2m back cable will be enough.
  • for the tiny Brompton bell on the new lever order QBELL[2] for £5
  • if you want new handlebar grips these work for me: prunus bicycle handlebar grips – ergonomic non-slip rubber mountain bike grips 90mm + 90mm length and 22mm internal diameter. These are shorter than regular bikes which use 130mm long grips instead of Brompton’s 90mm grips.
  • wire cutter, hex or allen keys, dumbell spanner

how to fit

remove the handlebar end grips. Removing the original friction fit grips can be done without damage. A hair dryer softens the plastic and that allows you to turn it off. Otherwise push a thin blunt screwdriver in to create a channel, dribble soapy water down the gap in one or two places and wiggle it slowly off.

line up your new brake levers for a dry fitting – the indentation with two holes for the bell is on top. Fit the MTB cable to one lever, check the length before going further.

do one brake at a time: squeeze one of your old brake levers – loosen a hex screw deep behind the brake cable. At the brake end of the cable loosen the cable grip screw/nut and snip the end and you’ll be able to pull the cable out from the lever end. Feed the new cable through the outer – and help it emerge at the brake caliper end where it may be needed. Snug up the cable, fit the new lever and adjust the brake cable to suit. Test the brake, fold the bike and see that the cables are correctly routed (to the left of the handlebar stem as seen from the rider’s position).

Yes you can fit two Bromptons in an estate car.

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