Today I took the plunge and ordered myself a new Brompton. Nearly 4 years ago my “Desert Sand “ 3-speed folding bike was stolen. This bike reawakened my love of cycling by dint of making it so easy to integrate journeys of this type into everyday life. Whereas cycling before I arrived in London had involved the use of a city bike (A 1980’s Raleigh Superbe 3-speed) and my normal clothes plus or minus a layer to account for the elements; Cycling in London on modern bikes involves a change of clothes and a selection of specialist equipment.
The day I purchased “Emma” (as she became known) I had intended to get on the train from work and go up to London bridge. I intended to ride from there to Liverpool Street and then catch a train home from there. I got on the bike to ride and immediately decided to ride to the next station to get a feel for her first. As the station approached I decided to go on to go on to the next one. This continued until I found that I’d forgotten how to fold the thing and so I thought I’d head up the route I had used, once or twice, into town and try and find a deserted spot to practice. It never happened. Every deserted spot had a gang of kids or picnicking mums. I rode nearly 15 miles on a new bike with an unbroken in brooks with no discomfort and for the first time experienced the slight sadness as one turns into the final road of the journey.
The thing about Bromptons is that they’re expensive. Or is it that you can choose from a variety of options, or just pick one up in the shop. I don’t know, but I have spent the last few months revisiting ideas of what exactly would make the ideal tiny wheeled bike.
I have considered all the other brands. Some are too flimsy. Some don’t fold enough, some fold too much. Some are plain weird. 4 years on and the Brompton seems the best all round choice.
So what did I get?
• Clear Lacquer
• 3 speed (+8% on normal gearing)
• Mudguards and pump (no rack)
• Brooks B-17
• Hard Suspension
• Integrated battery lights
• Easy wheels
• Front luggage block
Now normally I’d have to wait 4-6 weeks for this to be ready, but I’m assured that they can adapt a stock model. I was a little nervous. Would it be a floor model with the parts swapped? No. The assistant opened a fresh box with a Clear Lacquer S-Type with 6 gears and said he was going to convert this one with fresh parts held in stock. I’ve checked the website and they are carrying all the stock. I shall have to inspect it thoroughly but this is Compton’s after all. I choose to have my other bike services here.
So next week I’ll have it.I hope the Honky Tonk isn’t going to be jealous. I imagine she’ll be relieved to be just going out for fun rides no that the weather has turned…
*This photo comes from the custom bike builder page on Brompton's own website