BikeLife: Say Hello to the Brompton

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I now own a Brompton. I wanted this bike for over a decade but never had a chance to actually get my hands on one.
Well hello good lookin….

I now own a Brompton. I wanted this bike for over a decade but never had a chance to actually get my hands on one. Mid-COVID and I land at a Brompton dealer. I approach the sales person. “How hard is it to get one these days?” I asked. “A needle in a haystack,” she said. “But what exactly are you looking for?” she inquired. “A flame lacquer, six-speed, s-bar, black edition,” I said. “Well,” she said. “We did get a shipment this morning.” Seconds later she returns pushing a box. “I have that exact bike,” she said. “I’ll take it,” I said. “You don’t want to ride it? she asked. “Nope, done.”

There are many brands of folding bike but Brompton is unique and comes with a cult-like following. Due to the 16-inch wheels and ingenious design, the Brompton fold and experience is like no other. There are Brompton clubs scattered around the world and the exploits of Brompton owners are legendary. Even some of the professional bike channels, like GCN, are hitting the Brompton craze. There is no one right bike for all but if you are in need of a folder then this brand should be on your list.

Believe it or not, this fits in the overhead compartment on most airlines.

Think about that. Backpack, bike, fly. That is our plan for these bikes. Yes, my wife went crazy when I purchased mine. She came flying into the store and said “Hey, what about MEEEEEEEE?” Seconds later she had her Turkish Green, six-speed, H-bar, black edition. And yes, this was another bike they received just that morning.

I now own a Brompton. I wanted this bike for over a decade but never had a chance to actually get my hands on one.
I found it near the airport watching flights land. The red means it’s faster.

I’ve done some tweaking. Seat and pedals. A new rear shock. And I do need to get a piece of luggage for the front so I can actually carry enough to be on the road for a while. (Am secretly lusting after one of these but they are so pricy. My connection to this brand comes from a trip to Amsterdam with the founder of Blurb. I had some horrible backpack and she looked up and noticed a guy with a Freitag satchel and said “You should get one of those.”)This summer I plan on boarding Amtrak in Maine before venturing to New York, Boston and D.C. with nothing but my pack and this bike. The wheels are small but the bike pedals and rides incredibly well. In fact, this is one of the most entertaining bikes I’ve ever ridden. And no need to lock it up. Just fold it up and take it with you. Restaurants, trains, flights or even kung-fu studios if that is your thing. (I’ll roundhouse your ass!)

As you can see, this thing folds up TINY. And it does so in a matter of seconds. One of the easiest, slickest folds I’ve seen. Brompton has been around for over fifty years, so the build, the materials and options are well ironed out. This bike DOES have limits, however. You aren’t trail riding anytime soon. It’s a bit on the heavy side. The small wheels mean you feel every wrinkle in the pavement, and they are pricy although a base model isn’t bad at all considering what you get. And remember, it’s a blast to ride.

I now own a Brompton. I wanted this bike for over a decade but never had a chance to actually get my hands on one.
That is a 14L Tenba bag, so as you can see, this bike is slim when folded.

Comments 13

  1. Congrats Dan you’ll love it and it’s manufactured in Britain! I had a Landrover folding bike once – like an ironing board to try and assemble and disassemble …. I needn’t have worried it got stolen!

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  2. Nonsense! You’re in famous company – Hugh Jackman, Owen Wilson, Prince Charles et al! As an aside, I’m deeply hurt but I think you were probably right about the oil leak on my Landrover fold!

  3. check shirt and a manbun next. I remember people carrying those on the tube in London back in the day

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  4. I’m getting tempted. I love my other bikes but there’s something to be said for such a small set up. I’ve been looking at Terns.

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      Just did about a ten-mile jaunt through Colorado Springs yesterday while waiting for the van to be serviced. SO much fun. I’ve never seen my wife more excited to ride. All I can think about is getting on a plane or train with this thing and going exploring. My Salsa is getting new bars and stem later today, so it’s not going anywhere but the Brompton has opened up way more opps.

  5. I went full-nerd for an orange 6-speed P years back. Carradice with the floating laptop sleeve is also good for camera shoulder bag. Did you know that SFO has a dedicated bicycle _entrance?_

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      What? No, I did not. I’ve only flown there 10,000 times. I will try to combine biking, birding and the Rail Runner train here in New Mexico as my next voyage on the Brompton.

  6. Dan, is this bike ok on hills? Nothing too crazy…I want to get this for a work commute of about 2.5 miles with some moderate swells. Thoughts? With these smaller wheels, I imagine getting sick of pedaling after awhile!!

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      OH ya. That distance is totally doable. It won’t climb like a full size wheel but I’ve ridden it on plenty of hills. I wouldn’t take it on a tour of the mountains but for commuting it’s great.

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