Friday, January 02, 2004

Mole on a folder

Jonathan Freeman (AKA Mole) writes from London about his Brompton folding bike, 2 January 2004:

I treated myself to a Brompton in 1997 - a present to myself for having given up motoring! It’s the standard L3 model, with the now defunct three-speed Sturmey Archer gears but has the optional extras of folding pedal, front pannier, cover and saddle bag. I regularly commute almost 14 miles a day by bike in London but for this purpose I find my full-size Orbit more practical. The Brompton however comes into its own for two other main uses:

1. Going shopping locally in downtown Balham, the front carrier bag is invaluable. Because it’s so sturdy and mounted directly to the bike frame one can fill it with such a heavy load that would be impossible to carry conventionally. I’ve found that the two pockets on the bag that Brompton suggests might be useful for carrying maps and tools can in fact hold a bottle of wine apiece!

2. For travelling by train, again, the Brompton is ideal. Since privatisation of the railways, it’s been a nightmare trying to find out each train companies’ policy on travelling with bicycles. You can always take a Brompton on board (just as you can a large suitcase).

Only a couple of weaknesses - but nonetheless annoying. The brakes are pretty poor, particularly in the wet, and the rear mudguard has no mud flap – resulting in a muddy streak up the back of your jacket when it rains. But both of these have been rectified on the latest models, which have higher spec brakes and tyres, plus mudflap fitted as standard.
The popularity of Bromptons has soared over the past five years or so – I recently counted six between Blackfriars and Waterloo (scarcely a mile). And on trips to the Far East I’ve spotted them in Seoul, Tokyo and Kyoto!

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