Brompton Bicycle – First Impressions

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For quite a while I had been considering on investing in a folding bicycle. One of the main reasons I wanted to buy this type over a regular full-sized bicycle is the convenience to take your bicycle anywhere with very little hassle.  The thought of having a compact bicycle that is easy to transport, functional and sturdy were features very appealing as a commuter from Long Island to the city. I had researched into many different companies before deciding to choose Brompton.

Before choosing the type of bicycle you want, it is important to visit a bike shop to view and take the bicycle in question for a test spin. With the convenience of the internet these days, some people are lazy to go into a bike shop to get a closer and hands-on look of the bicycle they want to invest in. Yes, the reviews online of the bicycles may help you make a decision, but without testing the bicycle before purchasing, you are flying blind. When visiting the bike shop to investigate what bicycle is perfect for you, there is always staff around to answer your questions or help suggest a model that would perfectly fit your lifestyle and budget.

Brompton bikes in NYC

Brompton bike NYC

Last year I came across NYCeWheels during Summer Streets in Manhattan. My eyes were instantly caught by the Brompton. I was intrigued by the amazing construction and design of the bicycle. It is quite impressive how it takes only a couple of clips and hinges to bring the bicycle from folded to the riding position. The folded position of the Brompton bicycles is very striking in how compact the fold is in comparison to their competition. The bicycle can be easily carried or towed using the small rollers. The weight of the bicycle is significantly lighter than a full-sized bicycle, therefore making it easier to carry up and down flights of stairs.

My friends and I were able to take the Brompton bicycles for a spin down Lafayette Street for a few blocks. I was impressed with the speed that the bicycle provided without adding extra effort to pedal. The bicycle easily kept up or even passed by the regular full-sized bicycles. I also enjoyed the smooth transition in gear shift of the bicycle.

Traveling to London this past May I saw many bike commuters using Brompton bicycles as their means of transport. I was excited to return to New York to go for one of NYCeWheels’ free Brompton bike tours. The bike tour, led by Jack from NYCeWheels, was fun getting to ride next to the East River and going around Randall’s Island. My favorite part was going through the section of Hells Gate that has impressive arches and the perfect place for a photo op.

A Brompton of my own

This past September I picked up my very own custom Brompton bicycle from NYCeWheels after ordering it online using the helpful video based custom Brompton folding bike builder. In the videos Peter gives a very detailed explanation to each part and accessory you can select for the bicycle. At the shop Steve gave me a refresher on how to fold the bicycle and I was off.

It has been just about under two months since I had the Brompton bicycle, and I have been loving it ever since. My Brompton is a P3E with a claret main frame and cobalt blue extremities. I like that the P-type handlebars give you the option from an upright cruising position as well as a more aerodynamic position for those long straightaway stretches.  I also have a Brooks B-17S Ladies Saddle that I am currently breaking in. It is slowly softening and building character. Now that I have the Brompton, I have been biking more often than before. So far I have biked about 113 miles enjoying the waterfront views on both the east and west sides of Manhattan as well as bike paths in Long Island every week.

I am looking forward to taking my Brompton when I travel out of state or on bike tours. Next summer I am hoping that I will have a chance to return to Maine’s Acadia National Park to ride the Brompton on the carriage roads. I did not have a chance to finish since my group was half beginner bikers who felt fatigued about three-fourths of the way on the trail. I am also currently training myself to do the TD Five Boro as my first bike tour. Riding the Brompton bicycle is fun, great for the commute and for leisure rides. I would highly suggest it for the biker that is looking for a great quality folding bike.

-Tracy Dong

Click here to order your own Brompton folding bicycle!

Brompton Upgrades and Accessories, By Turbo Bob

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Love your Brompton? Soon there will be even more to love. I got a chance to see these new things at Interbike last month and I am quite excited. My contact at the Brompton factory couldn’t confirm if or when these will be on the new bikes, but from what I saw and heard, it won’t be long.
I was really impressed by my reception at Interbike by the Brompton reps in attendance. Although my time in their booth was short, it was fruitful, filled with great Brompton info. I got to touch and feel the new parts and I can tell you they are very nice. In no particular order, here’s what I saw.

The New Brompton Brake Levers


The great new Brompton brake handles

The great new Brompton brake handles

These new smaller and stronger levers look great on the Brompton, but it’s not the looks that make the difference. With all aluminum construction, they will ramp-up the power of the brakes. They changed the cam profile not only to increase the power transferred to the brake pads, but to allow them to come further from the rim surface when released. Taking up less room on the bars, looking cool and working better are three very good things.

 

I think having stronger feeling brakes will make many Brompton owners happy. Many people I have let ride the two Bromptons NYCeWheels has sent me have mentioned this need. They all agreed the brakes worked well and were plenty strong, but as you first apply them, you don’t get that initial impression. I am sure these will be available as up-grades for the Brompton you already own.

Brompton’s Front Chain Ring


The stronger, better designed front chain ring

The stronger, better designed front chain ring

The new cranks use a regular 130 BCD 5 bolt attachment for the front chain ring. This way if you want to under gear or over gear your Brompton bike it will be easier and less expensive. It also allows the option of specialty or fancy looking chain rings to be used. The cranks are stiffer and should be well received by the Brompton rank and file. Here’s why I really like this improvement.
For me, the standard gearing is just too high. The only reason I ever used third gear was just to know it was there. An easy under gearing change would allow my riding style to fit the Brompton way so much better. I have friends who have already changed their Bromptons to this style of crank, but having it come this way from the factory is a great idea.

Rims and Hubs on the 2013 Brompton Bike


A double-wall rim will replace the single-wall units previously installed. Not only will this increase the strength of the rims, but it has a great side affect too. If you have ever gotten a flat on a folding bike and changed it yourself, then you will see the benefit here. The new rim has a deeper well inside that makes getting the tire on and off much easier. Sound good?
On the rear hub they made some minor changes to the angle of the spoke holes. This will allow less stress on the spokes for a stronger and more durable wheel. With small wheels this can be a problem and the change here seems to address it well.

Miscellaneous Brompton Upgrades


Although I have been happy with the handgrips, I have heard from and read about many people who aren’t. The newly designed ones should quell those thoughts and make for more smiles. It seems that some changes in the supplied tire might be on the list too.

New Brompton Accessories


Brompton water bottle

Brompton water bottle

The long awaited tool kit should be available very soon. I got a full demo on all the pieces included. Very nicely done and finished, it should be a big seller. Each item in the kit has a specific purpose and fits the bike’s fasteners well. It comes with tire patches too, so any little problem on the road can be taken care of with little fuss. Fitting right into the frame tube, it will be invisible when the bike is in operation. I do wonder about its security when your bike is folded though.
The new water bottle is designed just for the Brompton. The clamp is fairly sleek and the bottle is retained with a very strong magnet. This is just what the doctor ordered. I don’t think it will be long before this item (with the Brompton logo stamped on) is on your dealer’s shelf.
I am still waiting to get the word on when these new parts will be on all the factory bikes. There might even be more up-grades too. I know when I visited the Brompton factory last year they had a team working on new ways to make their bike better and stronger. This is what any good bike company does, and Brompton is on top of it. Let NYCeWheels know if you want these pieces and when they are on the market, you will be first in line.
Love your Brompton Bike? Of course you do, Turbo Bob.
“Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.”—Lord Charles Beresford.

Read more Blogs by TurboBob

 

Brompton Folding Bicycle, social magnet!

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Daily life is full of surprises when you own a Brompton folding bicycle. If you are like me, a bit of a wall flower, there is no better way to make new friends then to own a Brompton. Every time I take the Brompton out for a spin or better yet, travel with it I make new friends. All the curious onlookers want to know what it is and how it works. Who would have guessed that owning a folding bicycle could possibly be a way to find new friends.

Traveling with your Brompton

I recently took my first airline flight with my Brompton. I simply covered it, put a couple of luggage straps around it and gate checked it on my Southwest flight to California. I had the honor and privilege of crewing for someone who was riding in the RAAM race. The deal I made was simple, I would be happy to crew as long as I could bring the Brompton and get some riding in as we raced across the country from California to Maryland.

Taking the Brompton through TSA security

The first challenge would be to see if the Brompton would fit through the TSA security machine, success, it fit perfectly. Of course, that was after a nice conversation with the officer about the compactness of folding bikes and how cool they are. The second challenge would be to see if Southwest would allow me to gate check it so it would be waiting for me when we landed in San Diego, once again success. Yes, more socialization, first the boarding attendant and then the nice guy who personally loaded it onto the plane. I reached San Diego and that is when I realized, the crew who unloaded it had no idea what it was because it was sitting upside down, resting on the seat. It arrived with no damage and I was able to put it in cart mode and wheel it out with my backpack in tow.

Taking the Brompton bike on highway 101

My goal in California was to carry on with my work and visit the local cancer center and my fellow survivors. I then wanted to take the Brompton on scenic highway 101. I had heard so much about it and knew it may be a challenge, but I needed to go for it. The visit to the cancer center went well. Yes, more social interaction, my tour guide, the security guard that watched the folding bike while I toured the facility, and multiple survivors as I was unfolding the bike to ride out. Fold, unfold, converse.

On to the 101. It took a bit for me to navigate my way out to the scenic highway but once I got there I was a bit concerned about the steep hills. This was the first time I would challenge the 6 speeds on the M6L Brompton and it certainly didn’t let me down. I took the Brompton, up and over, stopped at several beaches, and even found a few side bike paths off route that it handled very well. It would seem there was nothing this day that the Brompton couldn’t handle.

The Brompton brings people together

The adventure and social magnetism didn’t end there. As I arrived at my last spot on the beach, before calling it a day, I noticed another rider with a flat tire on his road bike. I stopped to see if he needed any assistance and the conversation began. He loved the folding bike and my adventures, we exchanged stories and found each other on Facebook. Another new friend. The story doesn’t end there but you will have to come back for the rest. It seems the Brompton folding bicycle is synonymous with friendship. What are you waiting for, are you single and looking to make new friends? Get out there and get riding on the Brompton folding bicycle.

A blog by Vicky Lynn

My Wife, My Brompton

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Getting a bicycle when you live in a small apartment is often a matter of compromise. That’s especially true when you’re married. “Where are you going to store it? Do you seriously think there’s any way I’m going to let you hang a bike from the ceiling? You realize we live in a walk up, right?” Those are just a few of the immediate questions… or let’s say roadblocks that arise. But for every quandary, there’s an answer. Enter the Brompton folding bike.

Will a Brompton bike really fit in your closet? 

I’ve had folding bikes before, lured in by the promise of easy bicycle storage and domestic tranquility. Many even claim they’ll fit comfortably inside your closet. Let’s just say they’ve never seen my closets. My first folder was still so large when folded that it ended up taking up about as much room in the corner of my apartment as a full sized bike would have. Needless to say, my wife who’d been convinced to get the bike based on the promise of not having to actually see it around the apartment was not happy. All this changed when I upgraded to my new Brompton bicycle.

My M6L Brompton bicycle solves all those storage problems previous folding bikes had failed to address. The Brompton folding mechanism is superb in its simplicity. It manages to fold down to the smallest little suitcase size block without sacrificing things like style and a fun, comfortable ride. While the M6L model gives me the gearing range to keep up with other casual riders and instead of searching around for a proper hitching post at our final destination I can simply fold the bike up and carry it inside with me. Then when I get home after a long day of riding around town, it still manages to fit comfortably beneath my desk. I don’t mean that in an “I constantly stump my toe while catching up with friends on Facebook” kind of way either. It legitimately DISAPPEARS under my desk until I get anxious for the next ride.

It’s hard not to like the Brompton Bike

Having a bicycle around the apartment is no longer an eyesore for my wife, either. She doesn’t even know it’s there and she’s starting to come around to the idea of biking. She enjoys it when I ride my bike several miles to meet her after a class for coffee. Then we simply fold the Brompton up and slip it into the trunk of her car as we continue our evening. I’ve even caught her telling some of her girlfriends how much she likes my new Brompton bicycle.

For all the problems and challenges my Brompton bike has solved, maybe you see one new challenge looming. My wife has gone from hating seeing bicycles around the apartment to wanting a Brompton all her own. I even find her browsing the Brompton color tool at NYCEwheels far too often. Then again, that isn’t really a problem at all. One thing we both absolutely love is travel and the opportunities for Brompton bike travel anywhere in the world have our imaginations running at full speed. And while we’re online checking out European bike trails and the like, it’s great knowing my Brompton bike is right there below the desk… out of sight, but never out of mind.

So if you’re thinking about getting a bike but don’t have much space, take a long look at the Brompton folding Bike, hopefully it will be as perfect for you as it has been for me.

 

The Brompton and RAAM

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When speaking of the RAAM (Race Across America) you don’t usually hear the word Brompton. As the happy owner of a Brompton, I am about to make it something you do hear.

I am crewing for someone riding solo in this years RAAM and taking the Brompton with me. This will be a test to see, first if having the most compact folding bike available means I can gate check it and not have to pack it. I am going to give it a shot. I have been told by a few fellow Brompton owners that some of the airlines are very friendly and will easily transport a Brompton with the strollers and car seats. This will also be a test to see how much fun I can have riding it in California in the few days I have before the work begins.

I will let everyone know if gate checking works for me and which airline it was when the trip is over. I am excited, I have experienced first hand the attention this compact bike gets. Let’s see what kind of attention it gets at the airport.

Brompton Bike in the Bok Tower Gardens

Not long ago I took it to Bok Tower Gardens in Florida. The adventure began when I rolled up in a line of vehicle traffic to a ticket booth. The employee took one look at me and the Brompton and did a double take. I asked if he gets many visitors on bikes, he told me “none.” He then asked if I realized that the driveway to the visitors center, where the tour of the gardens begins, was just over a mile back in the property. I laughed, smiled, and assured him that both me and the Brompton could handle the ride. It was a beautiful ride through orange trees in bloom.

You really can take the Brompton anywhere

I went to the visitors center, folded the bike with the handle bars extended and pushed it through the front door and straight to the check-in counter. I asked if the gardens were accessible with a stroller, when I was told yes, I knew I could take the Brompton Bike with me.

I headed in to watch an introductory video of the gardens and then headed into the grounds. I heard one of the staff behind comment on the bike and the answer she got was, “She told me if it is accessible by stroller, she will be fine.” I just smiled and kept walking. I knew they had no idea what this miracle little folding bike was capable of. At every turn someone stopped me to ask about the bike. I folded, unfolded, parked and pushed the Brompton through a beautiful property. I handed out cards for NYCeWheels so any curious onlookers would know where to look if they wanted their very own light weight folding bike.

Be aware, your Brompton’s going to turn a few heads…

I truly think that the Brompton got as much attention as some of the beautiful flowers and the Bok Tower.

Everywhere I have taken the Brompton there are so many questions and curious people. What is it, how does it fold, how does it unfold, how do you park it, how does it ride? I usually give demonstrations on the things I can and I let them know it rides just as comfortably as a full size bike. If you are considering a folding bike, the compact little Brompton can’t be beat.

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