Graeme Raeburn in his studio in London Graeme Raeburn with his Brompton folding bike

Graeme Raeburn

'I just think everyone needs a Brompton in their life, whatever they’re doing because I absolutely love mine’

Designer, maker and textile shaman Graeme Raeburn talks about 15 years with his autographed Brompton, why responsible design is about making useful things and £4,000 driving fines.

A fact card of stats of Graeme Raeburn's Brompton

15 years with your Brompton? 

"Yeah, and you know, I absolutely loved it straight away. I was working as a bike mechanic at the time and ordered it direct. I would ride past the Brompton Factory, knowing it was being built in there.

I don't want to get too bike nerdy, but I like understanding how things work. I studied the fold and I thought it set the bar in terms of innovation and engineering. There is something very clever about it, that's kind of still never been matched."

Graeme Raeburn in his studio in London

have you modified your Brompton much? 

"A little bit here and there, but it was never a big vision. Oh, actually, it's signed on the top tube by Bradley Wiggins. He'd just got back from the 2008 Olympics with two gold medals, and I really admired him for that. I put a clear lacquer over the autograph, so it's still there.  

Funnily enough, I was doing a clothing repair workshop recently, and somebody turned up on the most modded Brompton I have seen in my life. It was mind-blowing the amount of love that had gone into that bike. It's like a whole culture." 


tell us about your clothing repair workshops 

"I work at Albion (cycling clothing brand) and Christopher Raebeurn (innovative fashion brand). We're really trying to embed long-term value into our garments. We offer free repairs on our products for life, and fix other brand cycle wear, too.  

Companies talk about using roll-ends of fabrics, patchwork and figuring out end-of-life for products, but it's pointless banging that drum if your products aren't going to be used loads because the fit isn't spot on, they can't be repaired, or they are designed to become redundant. We want to reassure customers that the most responsible thing we can do is make stuff that will last as long as possible and be utilised. People want newness and things move forward, but I think we need to slow down and buy less.  

Change needs to mean something, provoke something on a bigger scale. In some ways we are living in an amazing time, with the sort of decarbonifcation of our lives, of our cities, but it’s not happening fast enough."  

Graeme Raeburn in his studio in London

how do you think Brompton bikes have changed? 

"I see loads around, and the newer ones do look different. They are more refined. The really early ones look very mechanical, like the start of something. 

I recently picked up a T Line. The weight saving is incredible. It's amazing how the bike has progressed. Even though the frame is different, it's still recognisably a Brompton. And that silky silver raw finish is beautiful. It's a real evolution. For me, the value of a Brompton remains unchanged because you get so much out of them."   

Graeme Raeburn on his Brompton folding bike

do you still use yours in the same way?

"Yeah I do. I mix it up with my cargo bike as I often carry lots of stuff back and forth between my home and studio. When I have meetings in town, I take my Brompton. It's the security thing of carrying it indoors and the fact I might end up getting a lift somewhere. Or if I am done in at the end of the day, I can get a train. In my mind, this is where it comes into its own.  

I saw something the other day about this builder who was grumbling about getting four grands worth of fines for going through LTN (low traffic neighbourhood) cameras. He was nipping to do quotes and buy bits. And I thought, you could just get an electric Brompton, put it in your van then whip it out when you need to dart off somewhere. Problem solved. Perhaps I just think everyone needs a Brompton in their life, whatever they're doing, because I absolutely love mine."  

Graeme Raeburn on his Brompton bike
An image of the One Millionth Brompton bike folded and unfolded An image of the One Millionth Brompton bike folded and unfolded

Graeme’s Brompton was hand built in the second Brompton Factory in Kew Bridge, London

Records show the frame was completed and numbered on the 9 June 2008. 

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