Brotherhood of the Brompton
A guest blog by Joshua Cook
A Brompton folding bike is something you have to experience to appreciate. At first glance, few would immediately imagine how much joy they would get from riding it every day. And even though the Brompton’s ultra-compact frame, 16” wheels (small even for many folding bikes) and unique English design get a lot of attention from passers by, it doesn’t exactly exude a sense of cool or high performance gear. It may even stand out as more of an oddity… that is, until you give it a test ride.
Ride one block on a Brompton and all those preconceived notions go right out the window. Those wheels may be small, but they’re fast and agile. The folding bike may look cramped and crowded, but you’re actually sitting in the exact same position you would on a larger bike. And while you will get a lot of odd looks from pedestrians, you’re more likely to hear praise for the little folder than anything else.
I’ve spent the past several months testing out all manner of folding bikes around New York City and without question, more strangers have come up to me with compliments and curiosity about the Brompton than any other bike out there. I’ve heard countless “I love your bike” comments as I speed up and down along the Hudson River. It grabs people’s attention and imagination unlike any other folder I’ve ridden. And instead of being put off or encouraged to dismiss the Brompton, they’re drawn to it. But even then, you face a challenge. You can’t explain what it’s like to ride a Brompton. They have to experience it for themselves.
Because of the ineffable nature of this little English folding bike, there exists something of a brotherhood among Brompton riders. Unlike those riding any other bike through the park, along the river or streets of Manhattan, Brompton riders feel a kind of kinship because they realize that their fellow riders know what they know. They feel what they feel. It’s rather common to exchange friendly, knowing nods with other Brompton owners. No words need be shared.
Fellow riders know what it’s like to ride through a crowd with a center of gravity so low to the ground that you can manage any maneuver at a moment’s notice. They appreciate the feeling of reaching speeds on a bike that may look half the size of other folders, but can often outpace many full sized bicycles. And then, when the ride’s over, they know the same sense of pride and fascination of being able to fold up their transportation to something near the size of a briefcase.
Try as Brompton riders might, though, it’s still difficult for them to explain to friends and coworkers just how amazing a ride this bike offers. But they also know that if they can get said friends and coworkers onto the bike for just a block or two, they’ve just made a new believer… a convert to a life that only the Brompton folding bike can offer.
(Note to our readers! If you have a great folding bike or electric bike story and want to write a guest blog just leave a comment and I’ll contact you)