Why I Chose a Brompton Folding Bike

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Why did I choose a Brompton folding bicycle? Back in July of 2010 I ditched all my stuff and hit the road with my bicycle and laptop. After riding across all of New Jersey and most of Pennsylvania, I started taking my bike on the bus to different cities. This was fine for awhile, until I found myself removing the wheels and pedals every few days. It doesn’t sound like much of a hassle, but after an 11 hour, overnight bus ride and you’re in a new city at 5am, putting your bike back together isn’t all that fun.

My Brompton bike at the side of the road

My Brompton bike at the side of the road

In October of 2010 I started looking at folding bikes. I knew I wanted something that was small yet sturdy for serious riding. I didn’t want to settle for a bike that folded small but rode like a wet noodle on the street. I did a lot of online research, reading various bike blogs and forums, and talking to anyone else who owned a folding bike. Finally I was able to visit a bike shop and tested a Brompton folding bicycle.

 

First rides on my Brompton bike in NYC

The streets of Manhattan are the perfect testing grounds for any bike. I was doubtful that the Brompton bike’s 16” wheels could handle the New York City streets. However, with the relaxed geometry and the rear suspension block, the bike handled amazingly. I was surprised that such small wheels could handle the mean streets of the big city but the Brompton folding bike performed great.

Also surprising was the stiffness of the bike. I was able to stand up and really stomp on the pedals at intersections or at the top of steep climbs. The Brompton felt strong and stiff.

Since I was planning on riding long distances I needed a range of gears. The 6-speed version of the Brompton folding bicycle has served me well for 30+ mile adventures around New York City and for 30+ mile rides on the winding roads of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The low gears get you up the long grinding hills, and the higher gears let the Brompton fly down the other side!

Taking my Brompton folding bike inside

The size of the bike when folded is amazing. I’m able to take my Brompton folding bike into coffee shops, diners and grocery stores with no problems. Getting the folding bicycle onto commuter buses and trains is a breeze, too!  It rolls nicely when folded, and if I need to carry the bicycle up or down stairs it’s light enough to not leave my arms too tired afterwards.

Learning to fold the Brompton was easy, too. After a few test runs I was able to fold and unfold the bike in seconds. The only thing to slow the process was demonstrating the folding process for strangers on the street who would approach me and ask about the bicycle! For whatever reason more people approach me now that I ride a Brompton folding bicycle then in all my 20+ years of biking.

If you’re planning on some long distance riding, some urban adventures and occasionally hopping onto a bus or a train with your bike, check out the Brompton folding bike. It’s a sturdy built bike, rides great on a variety of terrains and is compact enough to take with you anywhere you go.

Brompton Bus Travel is Great Way to Explore

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How many times have you traveled by bus to a new city and wished you had your bike? With some simple planning, Brompton bus travel just might be the best way to ride!

Before starting your Brompton and bus travel, be sure to look up the luggage policies for the bus line you are taking. Most bus lines do not charge extra for bicycles, even full size bikes, but they usually require that you bike at least be in a sturdy bag. The lightweight Brompton Cover and bag is perfect for bus travel. Once there, fold up your Brompton bike, cover your bike and head to the ticket counter!

My Brompton folding bike at the bus station

My Brompton folding bike at the bus station

When buying your bus ticket it’s best to mention that you have a bicycle with you. Some bus lines require you to tag your luggage and others don’t. Ask if your luggage needs a tag. Also, as you do more bus travel, you might encounter ticket agents that may try to charge you extra for the bike. Simply remind them nicely of the policies on their website. Speak to a manager if they insist they need to charge you extra.

While waiting to board the bus, locate a bus employee and ask if your luggage needs a tag. This is to make double-sure that you can take your Brompton folding bike on the bus. The last thing you want to encounter when handing your ticket to the bus driver is being told you have to go back to the ticket counter for a luggage tag.

As your boarding the bus, roll your Brompton folding bicycle to the baggage handler. I usually make eye contact with this person, offer a pleasant greeting, and then tell them, “this is a bicycle.” I then hand the bicycle to them, and watch them put it on the bus. I’ve done this for many miles of bus travel and I’ve never seen a baggage handler throw or mistreat my bike. Always say “thank you” when dealing with anyone who is handling your folding bike.

Once you arrive at your destination, you’re ready to begin the second half of your Brompton bus travel adventure! Make your way to the side of the bus to retrieve your bike. If you won’t get in the way, point out your luggage to the baggage handler and mention it’s a bike. Again, this just might save your Brompton from a ding or two! Some bus lines don’t have baggage handlers, so you’re free to get your bike yourself. Watch your head, though; I’ve bumped my noggin a few times on the low ceiling in the luggage compartment.

As the passengers get off the bus, bus line employees scurry about and family and friends reunite with their loved ones, find a quiet place to unfold your Brompton. Maybe a curb around the corner, or a few steps away from the main entrance. Do your best to just get out of the way and not bump into anyone with you bike.

Now you can remove the Brompton Cover, unfold your bike, place the cover back in its bag, and get ready to ride. Be very aware of everything around you, though. Stay clear of any bus lanes, and watch out for cars speeding into and out of the parking lot.  The bus station can be a dangerous place for a bicycle, so use caution.

Congratulations! You just rode to a transit hub, hopped on a bus and arrived in a new town with your folding bike. I’ve been doing full sized bike and bus travel for awhile now, but Brompton bus travel is by far the best way to get around.

Seth has is own blog: TheBikeNerd.com