What’s so special?
Only with a Brompton!
Some years back, four of us flew to Los Angeles with Bromptons to attend a presentation at Shimano, the Microsoft of bike components. We boarded our flight carrying our Brommies like briefcases and stuffed each in the overhead bin. When we arrived in LA, we unfolded the bikes and rode the 15 miles to Shimano USA in Irvine. We folded the bikes, carried them into the foyer and stashed them under the stairwell. This created quite a stir because we were the only journalists to pedal to the event. But, it was the Shimano engineers who were most impressed with the ingenious Bromptons. They studied them for quite some time. I’m still not sure if they realized that there wasn’t a single Shimano part on any of the bikes. Strange but true.
About my Brompton
I haven't modified my Brompton much. I like the idea of keeping it original and using it as designed by Andrew Ritchie, not to be confused with the other famous Andrew Ritchie, a bicycle historian and author.
I think it’s wonderful that you can purchase a highly engineered bicycle like this and have virtually no problems with it. I maintain it carefully, don’t abuse it, and mostly take short trips around town. But, I’m quite happy to report that I haven’t had so much as a warped wheel or a loose cable. And the folding and assembling hasn’t affected the bike a bit. You might expect the hinges to loosen or the cables to get crimped, but they don’t.
I did change the stock vinyl seat to a Brooks B66. I think a leather seat, particularly a made-in-England Brooks, is far classier. Naturally it’s more comfortable, too. It adds about a pound, though. But, that’s not much of a worry to me.
I mainly use the bicycle for getting around town where I don’t have to carry it very far very often. If I have to walk aways, I’ll partially fold the bike and pull it on its casters, which works great.
I know people who are fanatical about their Bromptons — to the point that at great expense, they’ve had parts reproduced in titanium to get the bike weight down to less than 20 pounds (my bike weighs about 29 pounds)! They also install lighter wheels and tires and strip weight everywhere possible. This makes the bike faster riding, too. But I’m rarely speeding around on my Brompton because I’m in street clothes enjoying the ride. What’s the hurry?
You need one!
The thing that makes Bromptons so special is that once you have one, you find yourself bicycling a lot more. Instead of internal combusting to the post office, for example, I now pedal because it’s faster, more fun and much less of a hassle. Of course, I can take shortcuts and avoid traffic. But I also save time by not worrying about parking because I can fold the bike and carry it into the post office with me. And, the integral bag and rack make it easy to carry even fairly large packages.
Likewise, I love movies, but I can’t bike there on my regular bicycles because I worry throughout the show that some thief has spotted my bike and is attempting to break my lock (he may guess that I’m in the movie and realize he has lots of time). With the Brompton, I simply take it into the theater with me.
Another great advantage of a Brompton is that you can tuck it into the smallest car, drive to within a few miles of your destination, park, and pedal the rest of the way. In this fashion, you always find good and safe parking spaces and avoid traffic jams into and out of the city. For example, to see a professional sports game means sitting in traffic for hours entering and exiting the stadium and more time parking and walking to the gate. With a Brommy, you park a few miles away and pedal right up to the gate. And, you’ll be the first person back to your car and heading home, too.
I also appreciate having everything needed built into the bike. Forget what time it is? No worries. Just engage the generator light and ride home safely. Raining again? Who cares? You’ve got fenders! Don’t want to get wet? Just fold your bike and take a taxi or bus! You’re always prepared when you’re on a Brompton.