Brompton for the First-Timer

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I just moved to NYC from Berkeley, California, where I’m used to having lots of storage space, wide roads, and no need to take public transit. Needless to say, while I was expecting adjustments, I had no idea what was about to hit me. When I decided that I needed a bike again, I immediately realized that a standard bike was out of the question: the precious little storage in my sublet is pretty much taken, so I need something that will fit in the nooks and crannies. On top of that, I wanted something that can be easily taken on the subway or the bus, if need be. So, without any prior experience, I first looked at the most popular name in folding bikes: Brompton.

Brompton- most popular folding bike

What jumped out at me right away is that Brompton is easy. That’s the reason it’s the most popular folding bike around. Folding and unfolding the brompton bike is intuitive, and I only needed to ask for help once (fold the seat post in last—it locks everything together). It’s a five-stage process, but with practice, you can do three of those in one smooth movement. And that’s great for me, because I don’t want to miss the bus because I’m struggling with my bike. The R-type has rollers built into the rear rack to make it even easier to move while folded up—you just wheel the bike like a suitcase instead of carrying it.

I took a test ride on a 6-speed Brompton with a rear rack and comfort handlebars. Coming in at just under 3 cubic feet folded volume, it is one of the most compact folding bikes out there; that means you can easily stash your bike in your coat closet, or even under a subway seat! When folded, the chain is tucked away between the different pieces, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally brushing up against it.

BROMPTON Folding bike is compact

The compactness is achieved through the use of 16” wheels. To me, being used to standard 26” wheels, the small ones felt wobbly the first time I got on, but a minute later I adjusted and was zipping away. The six gear ratios offer a surprisingly wide range of speeds—from easy hill-crawler to thigh-burning fast—and changing gears couldn’t be easier with the light thumb levers. Hopping on and off the bike is easy with the low frame, and walking the bike is a snap.

Lightweight folding bikes

There’s so much to love about Brompton bikes: they’re built for convenience, they’re definitely the best for first-time users because they work intuitively and are easy to use, they’re compact enough to put almost anywhere, with a six speed, they’re versatile enough to handle anything the road can throw at you, and at the mid-thousand-dollar price range, you’re getting a durable, quality machine at a great price. See the Brompton Bike for yourself!!!!

Gene’s Brompton Commute

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Thanks to Gene who wrote us this great email describing his commutes on the Brompton bike. I say email, but really it’s more of a beautifully written piece of prose packed with great information. Check it out below:

Gene's Brompton Bike Commute“G’day, Peter.

Thanks for the opportunity for being a sort for ambassador for NYCeWheels. I’m out there in the city everyday with the Brompton and I’ve given away plenty of NYCeWheels cards within the past few months of knowing you. I’m that happy a customer and I’d be proud to represent you.

It amazes me how well a folding bicycle has integrated into my particular NJ-NY commute. I’m a multi-modal commuter who makes the daily journey from suburbia to Port Authority to work and back again. The bus knocks out 26 miles from my day stress-free, but still leaves me 5 miles to manage by other means. I’ve traversed it initially with subway, later by walking, and eventually using my old mountain bike, but the best solution I’ve found was a Brompton introduced to and sold to me by NYCeWheels.

Now there’s no more need for pick-ups and drop-offs at the bus stop. No more throwing the bike in the underfloor compartment of the bus. No more stifling subways cars or congested sidewalks. No more daily contributions to the MTA.

Taking a Brompton on Public Transit

 

Infusing pleasure into travel

Brompton bikes storageWhat can be said about cycling everywhere is that it infuses pleasure into the travel. What I enjoy most out of all this is that the commute is now a highlight of my day. In contrast, walking or taking the subway was something I had to get over with. I used to be upset if I walked into work with sweat on my back. These days I’m rolling into work a little out of breath and sweating beads of pure satisfaction. I’ve gone beyond needing to cover those miles to wanting to cover those miles, and I admit I occasionally jump off the bus a few stops early so I have more miles to bike home.

A bicycle is liberating, but a folding bicycle grants me even more access than I thought possible. It’s been by my side in the supermarket, at the bank, at the convenience store, at the barber shop, in a packed subway car heading into Chinatown, and at my desk at work.

Accomplish more with a folding bike!

Commuter folding bikeOften discreet and always quick, it deserves the title of “sidekick”. I can accomplish more things in the day than if I were limited to public transportation and walking, and I can accomplish surprisingly more with my folding bicycle than I can with the limitations of a fixed bicycle.

I have yet to be denied my folding bicycle in an establishment. Sitting in a fully packed bus during rush hour with my brompton bike, my bag, and my helmet all on my lap makes me smile with a sense of satisfaction.

Thanks again.”

Brompton Takes on Acadia

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Brompton folding bikeIf you are a cyclist who also happens to love National Parks and thought you couldn’t combine the two, look no further than a Brompton.

My most recent adventure with my Brompton was to Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park. There is no better way to enjoy the scenery of a quaint New England town and National Park.

When asked if I would be willing to help drive three exchange students to their destinations, I had one stipulation. I would help but only if I could bring my Brompton folding bike and explore the area. My request was granted and the bike was packed. After folding the brompton bike I stashed it in the back of Toyota Rav4, surrounded by luggage and ready at a moments notice.

I normally take my Brompton touring bag, but opted to leave it behind for this trip. I must say, I missed that handy bag.

I arrived at the starting location with my bike neatly tucked inside the bag I use for transporting it and had it slung over my shoulder. The first question was, “I thought you were bringing your bike?” My answer, “I did, it is right here.”

Brompton BikePeople who have never seen a Brompton are always amazed at how compact it is and that you don’t need to disassemble anything when you take it somewhere. Curiosity always leads to unpacking, unfolding, and folding along with a brief history of Brompton folding bikes, where they are made, and the quality and craftsmanship in each bike. Inevitably I tell the story of what played into my decision to search for a folding bike and ultimately decide on a Brompton from the great staff at NYCeWheels.

Riding in the Bar Harbor area was amazing and soon I was off to explore Acadia with some friends. I have to say, I did look out of place next to the mountain bikes and road bikes. Cyclist are a great group of people, so out of place or not, everyone smiled and commented on my cool ride. You may think that a Brompton can’t handle the hills, I have the 6 speed and it does surprisingly well. I didn’t have to work too hard to climb and the downhills are a blast.

After having so much fun riding in Acadia, I have decided I need to add some of the other National Parks to my “must see with the Brompton” list. At this point, I have visited gardens, trails, farms, small towns, big cities, and even taken the Brompton on planes (see this great blog by the Path Less Pedaled). I have ridden my Brompton for long stretches and short trips. It is by far my favorite bike and I have owned many.

If you are considering a bike to take when you travel, there is no better choice. Brompton folding bikes are compact, easy to fold and unfold, and fun to ride.

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.

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