by JACK on SEPTEMBER 20, 2012
I have wanted to add biking to my commuting equation for quite some time now, but I never really made a commitment to do it – not even try it. I happen to work with some, how shall I put this, “alternative transportation enthusiasts” and my roommate has been in the bicycling industry for like 13 years. Needless to say, there have been several discussions and many attempts to peer-pressure me into biking to and from work. It wasn’t until recently, however, when I accepted a long-standing offer to take my colleague’sBrompton Bike home from work that I actually did it.
Getting to know the Brompton Bike
First, the steps to fold and unfold the Brompton were explained and demonstrated to me; it looked so easy and simple, but it still took me a few tries to get it right. It is actually very easy, takes little effort and is a simple 1-2-3 process after you get the hang of it. For me the trickiest part was just remembering what to do first. Please note that the closest I get to working with mechanical tools are mechanical pencils.
Looking puzzled at the folding bike I then asked, “Where’s the kickstand?” I was then shown one of the coolest features of the Brompton: you fold the rear wheel underneath the bike (step one in the folding process) and the bike stands by itself! It even has small wheels on the frame so that you can roll it when its folded– pretty brilliant.
Gearing on the Brompton
I was then given an overview of the 6 speed Brompton bike’s gearing system. I found the gearing mechanisms to be very user-friendly. The left lever was for a high or low setting, the right lever was gear 1, 2 or 3. Switching and shuffling through them was smooth. I really liked NOT feeling anything or hearing anything for that matter. For me, clanking and jolting when switching gears is really annoying. After some inquiry, I learned that the bikes use an “internal hub” which makes the extra smooth shifting possible.
My first commute on the Brompton Bike!
So after only a short-period of time I suppose I was ready to ride some 40 odd blocks downtown to the Port Authority on 42nd street. At which point, I would fold the bike at the “side entrance” (as I say), carry the bike down some steps and walk a short distance to board a bus that would take me through the Lincoln Tunnel to Jersey City, NJ.
The ride to 42nd street would have been a breeze if weren’t for a couple long-sections of inclined road. I was definitely feeling the burn in my legs half-way up the first incline. Thankfully, the high/low setting of the 6-speed helped me to get up the hill without having to stop. Thank you “easy pedaling gear” you spared me the embarrassment of getting off and walking.
Upon reaching the “side entrance” at Port Authority it was time to fold up theBrompton bike. Took me a few tries, but I got the bike folded up no problem and proceeded to the bus. I had always had this idea in my head that I would have to pay for an extra seat on the bus, 1 for me, 1 for bike, so I ended up doing just that. I sat all the way in the back right corner and put the Brompton in the seat next to me. I later found out on my way into work that I could leave the bike upfront by the bus driver.
After riding, folding, walking, getting on a hot bus, I was sweating pretty profusely but I didn’t care, I felt really good! I suppose it was mostly the natural endorphins from vigorous exercise, but a part of it was me being proud of myself for actually doing it.
I ended up borrowing my colleague’s bike for two weeks. I rode it to work and I rode it locally, running errands (haircut, light shopping, etc.). By the end of the two weeks I was convinced. It’s clearly a good investment. I most certainly see myself getting one of my own Brompton Folding Bikes in the near future.