Brompton for a Great Cause

by Jack on April 15, 2014

Brompton bike

What do Bromptons and great causes have in common? They both make you feel good. Giving back to the community is one of the most rewarding things you can do and there are so many options. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, use your skills to help build a home for someone who may not otherwise have one, or if you are ambitious, organize your own event. The list of ways to give back is endless. Speaking from first hand, on-the-road experience, giving back to the community, the Brompton folding bike is perfect transportation for those volunteer opportunities you find yourself participating in.

Visiting non-profits on the Brompton

I’ve been using my Brompton to travel to cancer centers all over the country. I travel to nonprofit organizations

that assist survivors of many of life’s challenges. My most recent stop found me at a local breast cancer coalition. The Brompton looked great sitting in front of the pink ribbon. It also made the trip much more enjoyable. There was the usual excitement from the staff when they saw a Brompton folding bike for the first time.

Every stop I make whether it is a large cancer center, a local cancer survivor support organization, a domestic violence organization, or any one of the other places I may go, there are always curious onlookers that have never seen a folding bike. Then the questions begin. Can you show me how that folding bike works? How do you ride something like that? Where did you get it? Why did you decide to ride a folding bike and not a regular bike?

Brompton speaks for itself!

The first thing I do is a demonstration. I unfold, I fold, I unfold and I fold again. There have been stops where I think I have gone through the demo a dozen or more times. I explain all the conveniences that come with commuting on a Brompton bike.

Brompton bikeWhen most bicycle commuters are strategically planning stops according to where they may be able to lock up the bike, I’m just heading to the next stop. I don’t need to worry about locking a folding bike, I fold it and take it with me. The places I stop usually have an office to tuck the Brompton into or in some cases an officer that is more than willing to make a compact folding bike part of his patrol duty.

I’ve given it to administrative assistants who have tucked it under a desk. It has been behind the receptionist’s desk as I talk to survivors. My Brompton has been in the back of a pick up truck when I got lost on the way to my host family’s home. This folding bike is so compact I’ve put the cover on it and tucked it in front of my feet on long distance train rides and no one even knew it was a bike.

My custom Brompton Bag turns a few heads

When I’m really in the mood to mess with people’s minds I have a clear garage storage bag that I found through a friend that is almost the exact size of my folded brompton. The bag has handles that are just long enough for me to able to put the Brompton bike in the bag and sling it over my shoulder. Try heading up an elevator in an upscale office building with the bike in a bag. It is quite the head turner. I was stopped by someone thinking I had a suspicious package. You can imagine my laughter and their embarrassment when they realized it was a folding bike.

No matter what your reason is for wanting a folding bike, I’m sure there are things you can do that you haven’t even thought of yet. The Brompton will always be part of my charitable efforts. What will you do with your Brompton folding bike? You are only limited by your imagination.

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Kick Scooters for kidsWhen I was a kid I had kick scooter with a big picture of Snoopy on it. This was circa 1987 – 1993, I’m not sure if kids even know who snoopy is any more, but I loved that scooter, went everywhere on it and I think my favorite part was being able to speed away from my parents and experience the sweet albeit ephemeral taste of freedom. Unwheeled, my parents had no way of keeping up with me and I was free to launch off decks, roll into bushes, or smash into our neighbors unsuspecting cat at my leisure.

Good grief! It must have driven my parents crazy and I lived in a tiny forest town where one car was considered traffic, and I was more likely to hit an animal than a pedestrian. In a busy city like New York the stakes are much higher.

Fortunately, these days parents can buy their own adult kick scooter to keep up with their kids. The sight of an entire family riding by on City Kicker kick scooters is becoming more and more familiar to us here in NYC. Still, with all the cars and people, New York can seem like a war zone and it’s important to pick your routes.

Best places to Kick Scooter in NYC

027Carl Schurz Park

For Manhattan locals who live on the upper east side, Carl Schurz park is a perfect place to ride a kick scooter with kids. The park is beautiful and relatively secluded, with nicely paved paths for the kick scooters, and plenty of groomed grass to stop and take a breath, or do a nice solid cart wheel before moving on. I like this park particularly because it’s one that tourists don’t often make it to, and has a much more local community feel to it.

Roosevelt Island

055Another great place for kids to ride is Roosevelt Island. From Manhattan all you need to do is fold up your kick scooter and jump on the sky cable car thingy that leaves from 2nd ave and 56th street. This is fun in itself, as you get to see the city drop away beneath your feet and for a brief moment rise above all the hustle and bustle.

In a few minutes you’ll arrive smack dab in the middle of Roosevelt island and can spend the day riding your kick scooter along the beautiful bike path that follows the entire circumference of the island, right on the water. Towards sunset, nowhere will you find a better view of the city skyline, I promise.

Explore Central Park on a Kick Scooter

Adult Kick ScooterMy last suggestion is a classic, and one that has likely been made to you before: Central Park. Spanning 2.5 miles, this is the largest stretch of park Manhattan has to offer, and while bikes must stay on the main drag, there are miles and miles of beautiful sidewalks that criss cross through the park, just waiting to be explored.

My favorite sections are near the north. Just below the lake at the very top of the park, the paths wind amidst gorgeous trees and fountains, manicured french lawns, and statues that look like they are straight out of ancient Greece. And again, not so crowded as the lower sections of the park.

That’s all for now! The sun is finally making an appearance, spring is on the rise, and it’s a perfect time to get some quality family time on some kick scooters in New York City!

Jack

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Being new to the world of folding bikes, there has been a lot to learn about the brands, parts, and technologies that are completely alien to someone who has been riding a full sized bicycle since elementary school. So, it’s safe to say I’m intimidated by them. My first time on a Brompton M6R (I LOVE their naming convention)I was immediately converted to the Brompton fold – in the space of the first five minutes I went from “am I going to break this?” to “I can’t believe I’m riding something smaller than my BMX” to “I want one and I want it NOW!”

After my little joyride around New York City’s Upper East Side, the time came to return to the shop and put it away.  The first time you fold up the Brompton bike it can be a bit tricky, so my coworker Jack was nice enough to give me a step by step demonstration.

The Fold:

Folding the Brompton Bike

Place the Brompton bike in front of you with the handlebars to your left. Beneath the suspension located at the base of the seat post you’ll find a small latch pointing down.

Folding the Brompton Bike

Press this latch into the brompton, lift, and the rear wheel will swing underneath the frame of the bike.

How to fold the Brompton BikeRemember to offset the front and rear wheel slightly or they will bump into eachother and scratch the fender over time.

How to fold the Brompton BikeNext, unscrew the clamp which secures the hinge in the center of the frame.

How to fold the Brompton BikeGrip the handlebars, move the handlebars to the right, keeping the wheel facing forward.

 

How to fold the Brompton Bike On the left side of the front wheel, you’ll see a little black hook. Continue bringing the wheel around, and set that little hook onto the rear triangle so that the front wheel fits flush against the frame as shown below:

How to fold the Brompton BikeNext, loosen the bolt at the base of the handlebars.

How to fold the Brompton Bike

That’s the hinge there.

How to fold the Brompton BikeAnd allow the handle bars to fall towards the frame where they will clip into the wheel with a satisfying ding.

How to fold the Brompton BikeLastly, you release the clasp at the base of the seat-post, and lower the post into the frame.

How to fold the Brompton BikeOnce the seat post is down, the bike will be locked together in folded position allowing you to easily carry it where ever you might be heading!

Thanks to Jack for showing me how to fold the Brompton bike! After the first time it was easy to get the hang of and now I fold like a pro.

Till next time!

Dylan

 

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Tern for the Better? The Node D8 (Part II: The Fold)

(click here for part 1)

What a folding bike does is fold. I’m not so much interested in the ‘how’ as I am about the ‘why.’ The easiest box to check off if you are a folding bike manufacturer is ‘the bike will take up less space’ but some of the ones I’ve seen don’t even bother to check that one, and others have folding mechanisms so cheap-looking I’m compelled to check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website before mounting up.

As I’ve already established, the Tern Node D8 seems pleasantly overbuilt and I was already convinced the folding mechanism wasn’t phoned in when I sat on the bike for the first time. So it is time to actually fold it.Tern Node D8 Folded

As a matter of personal preference I do not favor folding bikes that require a degree in mechanical engineering in order to fold. But having dealt with bikes with similar styles, I decided to go ahead and fold the bike under ‘guy-on-Christmas-morning’ conditions without looking at the instructions.

First: the pedals. To fold them you have to loop your fingers on the inside, pull away from the bike and fold in either direction. It’s nicer than pedals that make you grip the sides to fold but you’d probably have to remove your gloves in order to do so – not a problem but it is a heads up given the Hoth-like weather in a good chunk of the country.

Great hinges on the node d8!The central hinge just above the crank features a metal tab that one has to move forward before pulling back on the lever that actually opens the hinge, so I have to give Tern credit: they seemed to figure out the perfect balance to making a folding bike that was easy enough to open with one hand but not so easy it would could become unfolded accidentally while riding (the lever is so large it would be almost impossible to even set off without noticing it wasn’t closed properly).

The handlebars fold down with the same sort of mechanism and it is a simple task to push the bike closed and match the metal tab on the front fork with the magnet on the seat stay which holds the bike shut.  A small but tough-looking rubber strap under the down tube holds the handlebars against the front wheel.

 

Larger wheels but a small folding size!

Mike Norris with his Tern Node D8When the seatpost is lowered just enough so the crank doesn’t hit the ground, the Node D8 ends up as a relatively tidy-looking package that is about 30″ high, which means it might fit under a high desk. Tern’s website gave the folded dimensions as 15.4″ X 33.9″ X 33.1 inches, so I imagine I could have/should have pushed the seatpost in even more.

Tern’s own website also suggests the fold time is 10 seconds. I have little to say on that other than ‘myth confirmed.’

At nearly 30 pounds, the bike isn’t too difficult to lift and the folded size is just small enough and just light enough to carry – at least briefly – in front of you through a narrow door and hallway (like a city bus). It’s too big to be considered a piece of carry-on luggage for Amtrak (their policy is 28″ X 24″ X 14″) but Metro North conductors probably wouldn’t even glance at it. So for a bike with 24″ wheels, the Tern Node D8 is a pretty impressive when it comes to being a folder. Now I’ll see what – if any – compromises are made when it comes to riding it.

Next: The Ride

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Dahon IOS S9 Review

by Jack on March 18, 2014

Folded Dahon IOS S9 folding bikeWhile I’ll admit that to an outsider, any concept of a bike that folds is fairly novel, every now and again even I stumble across a bike that I find so impressively unique as to defy genre. Such is the case with the Dahon IOS S9 folding bike. With its handsome charcoal and orange frame and sleekly curving lines, the IOS is at the very least a head-turning bike. While conventional bikers will admire these superficial qualities, folding bike aficionados are sure to take note of details like the oversized (for a folding bike) 24″ wheels and the adjustable headset. But how does it perform? I took this bike through its paces in Carl Schurz Park to see what it could do.

A folding bike with larger wheels

The first element to take into account was the 24″ wheels. Most “standard” folding bikes use 20″ wheels, though some, like the Brompton, use even smaller 16″ wheels. On the other end of the spectrum is standard full sized road bikes, which use 26″ or 700c diameters. This means the IOS S9′s wheels land squarely in the middle ground between most folding bikes and most full-sized bikes–and man does it work out well! The wheels are big enough to nullify any problems that might otherwise be encountered with bumpy or rough roads, but small enough to keep the bike to a convenient, practical size when folded. I am used to 24″ wheels being used on folding bikes where comfort is a factor–on Tern’s excellent Eclipse S11i high-end commuter , or on the Tern Castro D8 folding cruiser. However, the IOS is all about performance, and the 24″ wheels do wonderfully in that regard. I particularly liked the use of 1.5″ wide Schwalbe Kojak tires, which are durable and incredibly fast, but have enough width to provide serious traction.

How fast is the IOS S9?

Dahon iOS S9 in New YorkOnce I got to some of the park’s straightaways I was able to really let this Dahon fly. Though it relies on a relatively simple 9 speed drive train, a slick set of components and wide-ranging cassette ensure that the IOS is able to climb most hills and pick up speed on the other side. The bike’s highest gear was about the max I was able to pedal on my test ride, which is a good sign–I sometimes find myself spinning out on lower-end folding bikes, and wishing for a little more speed. However, the S9 more than satisfied me in this regard.

The IOS S9 shares a lot of design concepts with its cousin, the Formula S18, which is a personal favorite of mine. Both are high performance bikes with road slick tires, but both also feature a pair of mechanical disc brakes that provide insane stopping power. As with the Formula, I loved having the responsive feel of a racing bike counterbalanced with the mountain bike-like heavy duty disc brakes. Needless to stay, stopping on a dime even at full tilt was no issue.

A comfortable folding bike

Dahon IOS S9 in the streets of New YorkI also found myself quite impressed with the IOS S9′s frame. Crafted out of aluminum using hydroforming technology, the ride was perfectly stiff and responsive without being uncomfortable–I found myself thinking I could probably spend hours in this saddle if I wanted to (and I did!). Despite having a sturdy build, this frame was quite light and manageable. As with several other of high level performance bikes, the IOS also has a slightly non-standard folding mechanism as compared to most of Dahon’s offerings. The handlebar stem folds to the outside instead of the inside, much like Tern’s folding mechanism, and is held in place with a small metal catch. I liked this system a lot, and found it slightly quicker to fold than some other Dahons I have ridden.

I could see the IOS being put to good use in a lot of different environments. Switching to slightly knobbier tires would make an excellent multi-terrain adventure bike. With the stock Kojak tires, I can hardly think of a better folding bike for both aggressive work out ride, or long weekend sojourns. If you are looking for a mid-sized speed demon of a folding bike that rides like a conventional bike, collapses to a manageable size, and feels great to ride for hours, look no further than the Dahon IOS S9–order yours today!

Miles

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