To give context to this story you need to know two things about me:
1) I am a commuter. I live in Brighton and work in London which means that I have a one hour train journey at the start and end of each working day.
2) I like cycling. I have used a bicycle as my main mode of transport (where reasonable) since I was about 17. I love the freedom of getting around on a bicycle, especially in a city like London. There is no denying the dangers but whizzing about on a bicycle is a feeling I love.
I have worked in London on and off since about 1999 and have been doing this train commute for so long that, when I started, they still had guards vans where you were allowed to stack your bikes. Ah, the good old days, when the trains were a little draftier but the train never had to be ‘rebooted’ in order to get the doors to open; handles we used to call them – crazily effective.
My current commute means a 12 minute walk (personal best) to the station, approximately one hour on the train, and then approximately 20 – 25 minute walk to my desk.
Or it did.
I have been eyeing up these Bromptons for years – silly looking things with their tiny wheels – “that isn’t a proper bicycle” I kept telling myself, “not like my road bike. Pah!” I have stared at, and talked about, pretty much every kind of folding bike there is. A few of my geekier bike friends have ‘dissed’ the Brompton, people have suggested having a cheap bike one end, cheap bike the other …
And then Dom let me borrow his Brompton.
Bromptons are fucking amazing.
The gearing is brilliant so you can get up some decent speed, the bike might be all small and low to the ground but you feel upright and visible, you can fold them in seconds, and they fold up small. Brilliant. They are made by a UK company who have kept all production in the UK so, while that is most certainly reflected in the price, you do get a bit of ‘warm and fuzzy’ for supporting local industry.
They are a little heavier than I am entirely comfortable with (number 3 I forgot to mention is that I have a rather dodgy back) and I did need to be shown how to go through the fold/un-fold routine which took a few goes to get down to professional commuter speeds.
I do not need to check out the competition, I love it!
I have reduced my commute by about 40 minutes a day and, instead of frantically trying to walk stupidly fast, I get to race through the streets of London, yelling at the occasional pedestrian, smiling smugly at the people stuck in traffic and I just love the downhill bit from the station on my way home. By the time I walk through my door I might look a bit windswept but any remnants of the days’ annoyances have been dispatched! Folded up it fits on the train, in the office, a taxi, the pub – wherever I go, it does.
Mine arrives in 4 weeks!
Bright orange – I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to give a little nod to my favourite open source operating system – and I went for the 6-speed, titanium option. Well, Brighton is rather hilly and I do have to look after my back you know!
*Note: Obviously it didn’t literally save my life and it wasn’t last night but the tune stuck in my head so I used it.