Jack here, writing you from NYCeWheels, that little folding bike shop in NYC, land of giant apples, bulls and bears, where the streets are paved with gold, and the bikes are fit with un-flatable tires. Actually, the streets are barely paved at all and produce is expensive and no larger than you’d expect. There are the bulls and bears, but they’re all the way downtown and to get to them from NYCeWheels you’d have to bike through 10 miles of potholes, razor sharp construction plates, and taxi drivers, half mad with sleep deprivation.
Who am I kidding, I absolutely love biking in the city, but you do need to pick your routes, and every once in awhile you should be prepared to deal with a flat. Here’s my latest misadventure:
At the shop part of my job involves promoting Brompton on the streets. Twice a week I load up the cart (stage right) with three bromptons, haul them out onto 86th street using the shop’s A2B electric bike, and show them off to passing crowds of New Yorkers: ”This is the Brompton, see that black lever underneath the seat? Just push that and WHAM your bike folds in half. Unscrew this clasp and, what’s that? Your bike is now the size of a suitcase? DEAL with it.”
Last week I was heading back to the shop along 86th, and suddenly heard a loud POP and a grating sound of metal on metal. This is what happened:
I’m not entirely sure what happened actually. I’m guessing that the cart went over a metal grate which was slightly protruding from the pavement, popping the back left wheel, and leaving the rim bared to the ravages of cement pavement. With the weight of three Brompton bikes in that cart, there was enough downward force to really bend the #$%* out of that rim:
Stranded at 2nd ave and 86th, 2 avenues away from the shop, I had no choice but to roll the Brompton cart the rest of the way on the sidewalk. Every time the busted rim made a full revolution the cart would lurch, making a horrible metallic crunching sound which made me wince. I tried fitting the tire back on the rim, to keep it more insulated from the unforgiving sidewalk, but it kept rolling off, and I, stooge like, had to keep chasing it down the street to the laughter of nearby construction workers who had watched the whole thing.
Finally I got back to the shop, and showed the rim to Bert, shop owner, giving him a look halfway between “what’s a guy to do?” and “only in New York right!?” hoping to smooth things over.
Silence. Eyebrows raise. “How much air was in the tire?”
Damn, I hadn’t refilled the tires in weeks. ”Air in the tires? What do you mean AIR!? Of course there was AIR in the tires.” Sometimes I like to picture myself as James Bond.
Our mechanic, Izzy, was able to magic up a new wheel, and before long I was back out on the streets, once again showing off what I truly believe to be the best folding bike in the world. If James Bond rode a bike, you gotta think he would go with the Brompton.