Recall for 150,000 trendy Brompton folding bikes

English actor Hugh Bonneville was pictured filming a scene from the BBC comedy, W1A

Almost 150,000 folding bicycles sold by British firm Brompton were recalled last night over fears their axles could be dangerous.

The bikes, which have soared in popularity in recent years, have left riders unable to pedal and in one case a cyclist has even been injured.

Bosses at the London-based firm said about one in 5,000 bikes was affected and urged people to bring them in for repairs in a voluntary recall.

It is believed the fault could affect any bike bought from April 2014 to May 2017.

The problem lies with a bottom bracket supplied by German manufacturer FAG.

Will Butler-Adams, Brompton’s chief executive, who was given an OBE in 2014 for services to manufacturing, apologised to customers in a video posted online.

The 43-year-old said: ‘I’m sorry to say we will have to recall a number of our bottom brackets.

Bosses at the London-based firm said about one in 5,000 bikes was affected and urged people to bring them in for repairs (stock photograph) 

Bosses at the London-based firm said about one in 5,000 bikes was affected and urged people to bring them in for repairs (stock photograph) 

‘We have had an increased number of failures, not particularly high but sufficient that it has given us concern.

‘The part meets all international standards but notwithstanding we have seen this increase in failure. As a result, we have decided to do a recall.

‘This is a hassle, a pain and we are really sorry about that and potentially we’re going overboard – but it is critical to us to protect the experience of our customers.’

He added: ‘We are founded on quality, founded on good engineering, so if we have the slightest concern we have to act.’

Brompton, a darling of the British manufacturing industry, has seen in sales boom in recent years due to the growing popularity of cycling.

The folding bikes, which have been handmade in London since 1975, typically retail for anywhere between £800 to £1700. 

The fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit referendum is also thought to have benefited the firm, which makes about 80 per cent of its revenues abroad.

Made of titanium: Brompton factfile

  • Gardener Andrew Ritchie invented the folding bike and named it after the Brompton Oratory in South Kensington, London which he could see from his flat.
  • The first Brompton factory was opened under railway arches in Brentford, West London in 1988.
  • The bikes have curved frame, made of steel and titanium.
  • Wheels are 13.7 inches, carrying tyres with 16 inch tread.
  • There 1,200 pieces in each Brompton bike – most made by the company. 
  • It produces 500 purpose-built tools, moulds, jigs and assembly fixtures to make them.
  • When it is folded the bike measures 22.2in high, 21.5in wide and 9.8in across and weighs between 20 to 28 lb.
  • 45,000 bikes are made by Brompton per year, making it the UK’s largest bike manufacturer.
  • 80% of Brompton’s bikes sold overseas.

Its folding bikes have become a common sight on trains in London and Britain’s busy cities, with former Prime Minister David Cameron among well-known politicians to have visited its factory in Brentford.

Their popularity has also sparked good-natured ridicule, with Hugh Bonneville’s character in W1A, the mockumentary about the BBC, riding to work on a folding bicycle.

Waiting for him outside the corporation’s swish offices each morning is usually his intern, who insists on carrying the bike into the office for him.

Brompton last night said about 144,000 of its bikes were thought to be affected by the problem, including those with serial numbers between 1403284144 and 1705150001.

It stressed the axle met safety standards but had a ‘higher than expected’ rate of failure, adding: ‘This does not meet the standards which Brompton sets for its components.’

In response it urged owners to return their bikes to the company’s local dealers, where the brackets could be replaced free of charge.

The serial numbers on the bikes can be checked by looking at the curved plate or silver sticker on the underside of their frames.

It comes after Brompton unveiled its first electric folding bicycle, which it hopes will give its sales a lift after a 40 per cent drop in profits was revealed in its most recently published accounts.

No one at FAG could last night be reached for comment.