Review: One week on a Brompton folding bike

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Review: One week on a Brompton folding bike

Oh the places I shall go. I've been riding around the last week on a Brompton folding bike and I have to say the most impressive thing about it is the fact that the whole concept works. You really can have a bicycle that folds down to about the size of a briefcase and is still comfortable to ride. In fact, the bicycle's a lot more than just comfortable. I keep looking for excuses to ride it around longer even after I get to where I'm going.

First off, for a commuter, the Brompton folding bike is a true dream. The company offers gearing options from one to six speeds and thanks to a snappy internal hub shifter, those 16" wheels really move. Those smaller wheels also help the bike fold down to one of the smallest packages around. Not only can you keep pace with most full sized bikes, but once you get to your office the Brompton will completely stow under your desk. I don't mean it "kinda" fits under your desk with a handlebar here or wheel poking out there. The entire bike will slip under your desk and virtually disappear until you're ready to head home... or get drawn in for another lunchtime ride.

The Brompton even comes with a built in handle for carrying ease. The company finishes the underside of the seat and even includes finger grooves to create the perfect handle. It's this kind of attention to detail that continually sets the Brompton apart from other folding bikes.

It may feel small, but it also feels solid and responsive on the road. I felt instantly at ease riding through the city. The 16" wheels accelerated quickly and the smart gearing gave me everything I needed to compete with taxi cabs. The Brompton offered just as much performance and fun on a trip around Central Park where it was able to easily compete with full sized bikes.

A Folding Bike not just for Commutes

The Brompton is a whole lot more than just a commuter bike, though. It's a go anywhere bike. I've been riding one around for a week and loving every moment of it. The real test came, however, when some friends called me at my office in Manhattan's Hells Kitchen and asked if I wanted to come out to Park Slope in Brooklyn for the evening. If I was stuck lugging around a larger bike (even a larger folder) I would have had to pass. I didn't miss a beat knowing I had the Brompton in tow. I was even excited about the prospect of riding it all the way until I realized I wouldn't have the time. Thanks to its convenient folding size and carrying ease I was able to pack it onto a crowded train without any trouble and then unfold it Brooklyn to ride the 10 or so blocks to my friend's apartment, a stretch I usually end up hoofing in the 90+ degree heat.

The daydream factor is yet another category where Brompton folding bikes are a real winner. Folding bikes in general open up a lot of travel possibilities, but the Brompton trumps most everything out there. You're quickly left to imagine all the places you can take it and where it can take you. Take it on the subway or bus without worrying about the bulk since it folds down to the size of a small piece of luggage. Hop a ferry to Staten Island or somewhere new and then ride to your heart's content. Then let your imagination shift into high gear by realizing how easy it would be to check your Brompton onto a flight and explore a whole new country, bouncing back and forth between pedal power and public transportation. The possibilities really do start to feel endless!

by Joshua Cook