Some mornings at NYCeWheels, you are greeted by cheerful colleagues, everyone feeling well-rested and enthusiastic, and the air is crisp and sunny. Other mornings begin with a torrential downpour on your ride to work, and it seems like no amount of caffeine will wake you up. This morning was somewhere in between--overcast but warm, I was prepared for a sleepy morning nursing a coffee and replying to questions submitted to our social media pages. However, the sight that greeted me as I turned the corner onto York Avenue was enough to shock me awake like a triple shot of espresso: a five-foot tall wall of Brompton boxes stretching down the sidewalk for the full span of our storefront. A new load of Bromptons is always fun, if for no reason other than that it provides an opportunity to drool over the newest raw lacquer single speeds and titanium-forked beauties.
But today was extra-special.
Today's Brompton shipment contained ten ultra-limited edition bikes featuring artwork from famed designer David Torrents. Peter was just unpacking the first of these eye-catching vehicles as I arrived, and the flash of blue and orange that peeked out of the box compelled me to come closer and investigate.
Unfolding the bike, Peter revealed it to be based around the same ingeniously engineered frame as the rest of Brompton's line, albeit in a much more striking set of colors: high gloss, luxurious coats of electric blue and bright orange paint cover almost the entirety of the frame. An "S-bar" straight handlebar graces the cockpit, along with a pair of asymmetrical shifters controlling Brompton's classic six-speed setup. Every detail has been honed to fit David Torrents' fetching vision for the bike, including blue foam grips and an orange variant of the classic Brompton saddle. The fenders, too, have been painted orange to offset the smooth, cheery blue of the main frame.
Torrents, who has been riding a Brompton around his hometown of Barcelona for most of the last decade, endeavored to incorporate the vibrancy and uniqueness of his city into the design of the bike. To this end, he chose an energized color palette of blue and orange, and worked in a series geometric motifs designed to emulate the aesthetic of Barcelona's Exiample district, an area known for connecting the old city center to it outlying regions. In addition to his personal experiences as a Brompton rider, Torrents was an ideal choice for the project because of his background in city-based installation artwork and commercial design.
My appreciation for Torrents' work deepened as Peter explained that all of these special edition Bromptons come bundled with a matching custom S-bag, the company's most popular commuter bag. Designed to quickly mount and release from the bike's front luggage truss, these bags have plenty of room for a laptop, lunch, and a change of clothes, and even features rear-facing pockets so you can access items while riding. Because they mount to the front of the frame, not to the fork, the bags do not affect the handling of the Brompton at all. The Barcelona-themed S-bags perfectly compliment the rest of the bike's festive attitude, with a front-facing cover embroidered with Torrents' Exiample design in teal, red, orange, and aquamarine, and a neon yellow interior that makes items easy to find. A subtle decal on the main frame echos the Exiample pattern and a matching stamp demarcates the production number of each individual limited edition bike.
Equipment-wise, this bike is outfitted much like any other top-of-the-line Brompton S6R. A three-speed internal rear hub combines with a dual sprocket system to provide six gears that span an impressive range of gear inches--from 33" in the lowest gear to 100" in the highest. In more practical terms, this means the bike can tackle some serious hills and build some serious speed on the other side. The bike folds in traditional Brompton style, which is to say extremely quickly and to an extremely compact footprint. In its folded state, the small fender-mounted wheel allows the bike to be towed and moved about with ease.
While most Brompton handlebars extend upward to provide a cruiser or hybrid bike feeling, the flat S-bars engage your body more deeply into the bike, providing an athletic, aerodynamic experience. Coming from a background with more traditionally designed road and cyclocross bikes for which drop bars are the norm, I reveled in the feeling of being able to dig into a folding bike and fly. Of course, you could hypothetically get this riding experience from a standard Brompton S6L. But I promise you wouldn't look as good doing it.
For more information on the limited edition Barcelona Brompton S6L, visit nycewheels.com/brompton-folding-bike-s6l-barcelona.html
To read more about David Torrents and Brompton's collaborations with other artists, visit brompton.co.uk/pages/10154
About the Author
Miles Schneider is a folding and electric bike specialist at NYCeWheels in New York City, an electric violinist, and a dog lover.