The very kind folk at Brompton responded to my request for a review bike…with a bike. But it was delivered on a Friday afternoon, with no (secure) space in my office to keep it there over the weekend. So I took it with me to Antwerp. Isn’t that what these bikes are made for? Jaunts around the city? Well, yes…but the effort of getting it there almost outweighed the pleasure I took in riding it.
My train was due to depart from St Pancras at 6.30pm. I was still sitting at my desk at 5.30, late, so I just grabbed it from the box (with it’s instructions) and ran, or rather lugged it up to Monument tube and got on the D&C line to St.P.
After what felt like 10 miles of platform and corridor I made it to my base with a slightly longer arm and a very sore shoulder. These are not meant to be carried for any length of time then? No, they are not. But to be fair, I don’t think I would have taken it with me if I’d picked it up before I was ready to go. I see people bringing them on the Eurostar all the time though so I imagined it would be easy.
My first ride on the Brompton
But all of that pain was replaced by the fun of riding it around the next day. What a sweet little bike! It arrived with tyres pumped to the max and, like all good cyclists, once I’d found out how to unfold it, I set off without pump or puncture repair kit for a day’s outing. I daren’t let any air out of the tyres in case I let too much out and then they were under-inflated. So, the Belgian pave didn’t go down too well and, being used to a Brooks saddle, it was kind of uncomfortable, but that aside, it was such a fun ride that I could almost forgive it anything. Brompton gave me the geared version of the ‘M’ series and the 3 gears were more than enough for this type of riding. There aren’t any hills as such in Antwerp but there are a couple of gentle slopes and the Brompton did rather well. I tried peddaling out of the saddle and it felt a little awkward, but no more than that. I really enjoyed riding it, it was comfortable, apart from on the cobbles, but then what bike is, and it was just perfect for city riding. And apparently there is a community of Brompton owners who acknowledge each other whilst out riding… who knew?
On my return journey on Monday morning, I cycled from St Pancras to my office instead of taking it on the tube. I put my handbag over the handlebars and my travel bag straps over the seat and me sitting on them to make sure it didn’t fall off. My travel bag was kind of resting on the rear mudguard but it was perfectly still and I made it fine. So, a potential workhorse as well and the extra weight didn’t make me feel at all unstable. And I worked out that if I pulled up the saddle, I could push it around on it’s integral wheels rather than carrying it so the return leg wasn’t as bad as getting there.
More testing to come!
The real reason I wanted to try one out though was because I wanted to see how it would manage my hilly commute. I’m getting so fed up of not being able to dock the Boris bike outside my office that I thought I’d see if I could bring a bike all the way with me, from home, on the train, to the office and back again. So my commuting test will start in earnest this week. I’ll let you know how I go on. But, so far, so good. On it’s performance so far, I’d buy one.
Finally, my apologies for lack of posts over the last few weeks. Work, life and all that have somehow got in the way. Next week I’ll be following up on all of your comments about the bike fit post, continuing with the Brompton test and seeing if the people at Rapha deem us London Cyclist readers worthy of some free kit from their new collection to test. At the moment, it would seem not, but I’ll try again.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.