My New Commuter – Brompton Bike Review

Commuting With My Pink 2015 Brompton – I Love This Bike

 

Brompton Folding Bike
2015 Brompton

Nearly every day I use my bicycle to get to and from places. I gave up my car back in January of this year, and though that has only been about 9 months ago as of this writing it has been a fantastic decision.

 

Missing The Car

I still get moments when I wish that I still owned a car. Then I think it through and realize quite quickly it’s the same underlying uneasiness that many of us have which we try to satisfy by owning something. I don’t want to be that stereotypical person that has a motorcycle, a couple of bicycles, tons of tools, multiple cooking pots/pans, a car, maybe a boat, different size luggage pieces, a couple of tennis rackets, a snowboard and a pullout sofa for just in case guests come to visit.

unfolded brompton pink 2015

 

When You REALLY Need A Car

I chose to live in Portland because there is Car2Go service here. Public transport also is fantastic and I can fold the Brompton up and just set it next to my foot… it doesn’t have a much larger profile than my largest backpack. Since I’ve moved here Uber and Lyft have also arrived and I’ve taken my folding bike on Uber once with ease.

Getting rid of my car has saved me several hundred dollars per month, improved my health, helped me become less dependent on mainstream consumer goods, greener and overall more carefree. I also think going to a folding bike was a great option for me, especially since I don’t live in a very spacious apartments.

 

Purchasing The Brompton

I bought this Brompton folding bicycle from West End Bikes with the help of a salesperson who was quite knowledgeable. The process was wonderfully smooth and took probably 45 minutes total which included a 15 minute test ride of one of their demo bikes. I paid $1,711 without tax (Oregon) and the bike was ready for pickup in less than 3 weeks.

Folded Brompton.
Folded Brompton.
Dahon Vybe folding bike. $450.
Compare the Brompton to my Dahon Vybe.

 

My Experience With The Bike

I am 6’ tall, 175 lbs, so I selected the extended seat post, I don’t need the bike to be terribly compact so that was an easy choice. The regular metal frame was sufficient for me, no need for a lighter frame. I don’t like harming animals so I went with the vegan butt arrangement instead of the leather seat. I paid $50 for the pink color… because I’m manly like that and it helps with visibility.

Since the bike is a daily commuter I wanted to always have lights on it. No batteries since the front and rear lights are powered by the front wheel hub. This is a very green option in my opinion. The lights have capacitors as well which keep the lights on for a few minutes after you stop pedaling .

I chose middle of the line tires, Brompton Kevlar, to help decrease chance of punctures. And the 3-speed since I live in Portland and though I commute to Vancouver I can always improve my cycling abilities instead of fiddling with more gears. I skipped the rear luggage carrier, I don’t carry all that much with me and since you park the bike by flipping the tail under anything on the rear luggage rack would get in the way. The bike doesn’t have a kickstand, remember that. As for the suspension, I went with the standard one which is the softer of the 2. I didn’t test the hard one but my bum doesn’t have much cushion so this has been a very comfortable option so far.

 

Overall Impression

It’s a very solid bike. The spokes are not cheap flimsy pieces. The grip feels nice and there are no bells and whistles on this bike. Everything appears to have been engineered to function for the purpose of riding and getting around. I flip the tail under a lot more times than I thought to park it while I’m getting something, to lock it up against a post and of course to store it in my apartment. The folding action is unbelievably smooth and solid, if you have owned a folding bike such as Dahon or Tern before it is far more smooth by multiple degrees. The seat is comfortable and the bike is light enough to be carried easily. The chain is covered when the bike is folded which is very convenient to prevent smearing of chain oil everywhere.

 

The Bike In Action – Riding It

Riding is super easy and fun. From a parked position you just flip the tail up which locks and you get on the pedal and go. The steering is very responsible and when riding with no hands (yes, I know… bad Dr. Mo) it doesn’t wobble or feel flimsy. However, since the tire is so small it’s not a great idea to ride without hands on the handlebar on these smaller bikes. The tires grip really well and since they can be inflated to 100 psi they really help with the rolling resistance. Right out of the box my ankle to knee positioning was perfect, I didn’t have to make any seat adjustments which is wonderful. Coming to stop at the light is really easy because you don’t have the crotch bar, you just hop down.

Shifting is amazing, I have never owned a fully contained hub… brilliant. On my 3-speed starting out in the hardest gear is tough unless I stand up on the pedal, then it’s not too bad. Around town I’m usually in the middle gear which is very close to my hardest gear on my 7-speed Dahon. It’s fun because going downhill I can actually pedal and pick up speed. The easiest gear on the bike is great when I want to just bike around in a strolling-mode. It’s not so easy that it’s useless.

I’m not super dooper athletic so I think most people in halfway decent shape should do pretty well with the 3-speed model in a city like Portland. However, even in San Diego I could get away with the 3-speed. In SD I would commute from Downtown to Mission Valley… there are a good number of hills there.

This bike is also sturdy when it comes to ‘obstacles’ on the road. I can hop off a curb and don’t have to worry about anything breaking. I carry a fairly heavy backpack or front luggage bag depending on my commute and the bike feels the same, nice and sturdy, regardless.

 

The Price

For $1,700 it has been a great investment. I sold my Dahon for $200 so I guess it cost me only $1,500 to upgrade to this. I know I can always sell it for over $1,000 anytime which means it’s an asset. I expect it to last a long time and it is quite easy to service.

 

Changing The Tire

As for the concern of the front or rear wheel being hard to take off… it’s like anything, if you do it once you will have it down pat. I haven’t had to do it yet but I also am not intimidated rebuilding a car engine. Thousands of people commute with a Brompton daily and fix their own flats, I figure I’ll be ok. Check out the youtube videos online uploaded by Brompton, there is great step-by-step instructions you can follow. 

 

Have you thought about getting a folding bike?

Have your thought about getting rid of your car and replace it with a bike?

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