A change of job is going to see me in London more and more. Such a lifestyle change will be all the more bearable if I have a bicycle to hand and that bicycle will be the quirky Brompton.
I used to commute daily from Essex and the dreary journey via ‘overland’ and the Central and Victoria lines suddenly became enjoyable when I swapped the Tube for a bike.
The multimodal nature of the trip required a folder. However, my height and (then) weight ruled out the superior option – the British-made Brompton. I remember vividly wobbling around the car park of AVC in Bath and quickly rejecting the Brommie… the dynamics seemed all wrong.
I ended up buying a Bike Friday and, although not offering the greatest fold, it was still good enough for my daily train ride from Chelmsford.
Now my requirements have changed. Although I’ll regularly commute from sunny Essex again, I’ll also have to ferry the bike by Virgin Train from not-so sunny Manchester. Add to that my short and crowded commuter trip here in the North West and the ‘Friday is no longer an option.
A Brompton could be, though.
Two subtle but significant tweaks have been made to design since my unfortunate encounter in Bath. First, the mainframe hinge was redesigned in the 2003 increasing the wheelbase a little.
Second, and perhaps more significant, the London company has introduced the H-type stem which increases the handlebar height to a shade over 107cm, making much more sense for this six-foot-sixer.
It was high time to test ride a Brompton again and the best place to check these folders out in Manchester it Harry Hall Cycles. The shop stocks a wide range of Bromptons for you to try, and the guys know plenty about them… not least Andy who commutes on one daily.
I took a standard M-type for a spin with a telescopic seat post. Bad memories of previous Brompton experiences were soon erased. The Brompton, once you get it going, is an absolute blast to ride. The handling is nimble and quick, my preference for commuting as I don’t want to be caught dozing. Even with the standard bars, I found the bike offered acceptable comfort. With the extra 5-6cms of bar height, longer rides will also be an option.
Now I’ve found a model that suits I am going to have to wait that little bit longer, though. I’m in the build cue and my Brommie will start to take shape on 14 May… I hope.