The best bicycle I've ever had08 Jan 2016
Let me tell you a bit about my favourite bicycle. It’s not particularly fast, nor is it made of carbon fibre, and I definitely haven’t seen anyone riding along Catalonian rooftops or completing stages of the Tour de France on it. However, I think it’s the best bicycle I’ve ever had. It’s the humble Brompton.
Before purchasing piqued my interest, I very much perceived the bike as the chosen tool of the sleepy London commuter. In my mind, it was something for dorky-looking people in suits to use to avoid getting on the Underground once they emerge from their Southern Rail train at London Victoria. However, my impression has been thoroughly changed. It’s nothing like that at all.
What the Brompton represents is freedom. Those of you who own non-folding bikes know how much of a pain storage is, both at home and also when you’re out in town. Having to carry a lock around is a hinderance, and if your bike is even slightly desirable then you have to worry about someone getting busy with the bolt cutters while you’re buying some milk. The Brompton solves this issue. I store the bike at home under my stairs. I store it at work next to my desk. I carry it into shops with me. It’s always safe, secure and not exposed to the elements.
The luggage system is magnificent. The front bag latch allows me to heft a lot of weight (I’ve carried multiple tins of paint at times) without carrying it on my back. It’s perfect for my laptop and work stuff. I never have to compromise on what I’m packing in there.
It’s the first bike that I’ve had since childhood that makes me want to go exploring. It’s ideal for weaving through towns and cities, and it fits in the luggage rack of a train or in the boot of a car. It’s great for days out or picnics. It’s extremely comfortable to ride. The Sturmey-Archer hub means that there are no external moving parts in the rear gearing. Very little goes wrong with it, especially when you use Schwalbe Marathon tyres.
Curiously, it makes me feel like a kid again. I used to spend most of my early teenage years cycling around my neighbourhood on a BMX. I used to pop into friends’ houses, go into the newsagents and storm through Nonsuch Park (rather recklessly in retrospect; I’m sorry!). The Brompton ignites that passion for exploration. Even though I’m not as carefree as I was, for the moments that I’m dashing around on my little folding bike, the world is just ever-so-slightly better.