Brompton goes to the beach

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Brompton Folding Bike

Brompton Folding Bike

You may be asking yourself: now that I have my Brompton bike, where I should I ride? I am here to tell you that a Brompton folding bike will go anywhere you can think to take it. Most recently I took my 6 speed Brompton Bike to California and back across country to the east coast.

Cross country with the Brompton

While I was in California I couldn’t resist a trip to scenic highway 101. I had heard so much about this coastal highway and the many cyclists who ride it. I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. The challenge was to see whether I could ride this highway just like any other cyclist even though I was on a folding bike. Of course, the Brompton Bike is not just any folding bike

I had always imagined California as having rolling hills, boy was I wrong. The hills in California would put my Brompton and my legs to the test. I started my day with my usual visit to the local cancer center to visit with other survivors and get the grand tour. I gave the Brompton to the security guard while I visited. He was happy to oblige and put it behind the desk. He had a tough time believing that it was a bike that I had just handed him. I would show him later how it all worked.

When I left the campus and headed out on the bike I was stopped by several people asking what kind of bike I was riding and how did it work. I have grown accustomed to that since owning the Brompton and explained that it is a folding bicycle and gave a demo.

Taking my Brompton Bike on route 101

Once I found my way out of town and onto the 101 things got interesting. There were bicycles everywhere, none quite like mine. I was getting stares from some of those riders that I like to call “bike riders” rather than cyclists. You know the ones I am talking about, they are sporting all the spandex, have that steely look in their eyes, and never take the time to stop and smell the roses. They have one goal in mind, get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. I am not one of those riders, I’m not trying to win any races, sometimes I don’t even have a destination in mind. I had no destination in mind this day either, just ride the 101 on the Brompton for as long as my legs and the daylight would hold out.

I must tell you, in all honesty, the legs gave out before the daylight, however, not before passing through several wonderful towns and stopping on several beaches. I have a 6 speed Brompton but the way it handled those hills you would have thought I had more gears. The bike was amazing. If there is any doubt in your mind about where you can travel with a Brompton folding bike, I am here to say, you are only limited by your imagination and maybe your legs. The Brompton will go anywhere and go with ease. I am putting it to the test and I will update you with all the new adventures and places I go with my amazing Brompton folding bike.

Brompton Folding Bike on NJ Transit at Rush Hour

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One of the many advantages of owning a Brompton folding bicycle is being able to bring the bike with you on NJ Transit trains with relative ease. Traditional bicycles are sometimes not allowed on some trains, and sometimes can be forbidden during rush hour and certain holidays.

My folding bike in the NJ Transit hub

My folding bike in the NJ Transit hub

In my case, I was taking a NJ Transit train from a busy Penn Station in New York City to Hackettstown, NJ. There is nothing quite like rush hour in the big city, and it’s more chaotic on a friday night. My adventure with a folding bicycle was about to get interesting!

I looked up the bicycle policy for NJ Transit, and it states, “Collapsible bicycles are accommodated on all NJ TRANSIT trains at all times,” but also says, “If the bicycle or Segway is considered by an NJ TRANSIT employee to pose a hazard to the safety of other passengers due to overcrowded trains or other operating conditions, the employee may prohibit the bicycle or Segway from entering the train car.” This got me thinking that maybe they’d keep me from boarding the train with my folding bicycle.

Thankfully I had the Brompton cover bag stowed under my seat. In only a minute I had covered my folding bike, giving the appearance that I was just carrying a mid-size suitcase. I could still roll the bike through Penn Station, and I was able to pick up the bike with ease when walking down stairs and when boarding the train. I felt very ninja-like as I got on the train. Yes, I knew I was able to bring my Brompton on, but I still feared that a NJ Transit employee could kick me off the train.

Once I got my folding bicycle onto the train I had to be sure I didn’t take up too much room. I kept the bike at my feet, but sat near the aisle so the NJ Transit ticket collector wouldn’t see me taking up the foot space of two seats. Of course my fears were overblown, as they simply took stamped my ticket and hurried onto the next passenger.

NJ Transit train, no problem for a folding biker

NJ Transit train, no problem for a folding biker

Transferring trains with a folding bicycle can be as challenging as folding bike bus travel. You can roll your Brompton on the train platform, but it still takes up some space, and you don’t want to get in the way of commuters during rush hour. I’ve found that scooting to the side, out of peoples way, is the best bet. Sometimes signage isn’t so clear, and you don’t want to be “that person” that gets in the way of everyone.

Once you arrive at your destination, say “thank you” and nod to your train conductor and carry your folding bike off the train. As you see other passengers scurry to their cars, take your time, take a few breaths and unfold your Brompton. I like taking my time with this, decompressing from a long train ride and feeling the anxiety of hundreds of commuters on a packed NJ Transit train. Put on your helmet and gloves, exhale and go about the rest of your evening proud – you’ve just taken you folding bicycle on a NJ Transit train during rush hour!

by Seth Werkheiser