This is my Brompton, pictured at Limehouse Basin, on a bike ride from central London to Barking, from where I caught the train home. This is the kind of mini-adventure a folding bike enables, and it’s this picture alone that qualifies this post to be in the ‘Adventures’ category.
This is a very brief review (of sorts) of my Brompton. It’s an M3L, which at the time was the standard 3-speed model, though things have moved on since then.
The number one selling point of the Brompton for me is that it is the easiest bike to fold and carry on public transport. Folding bikes are often the only bikes you can take on a train in the UK without booking, and this flexibility of being able to combine bike and train makes a folding bike invaluable. The Brompton is ideal for such activities, as it’s quick to fold, the folded package is so easy to carry, and it doesn’t get in people’s way too much.
I’m very fortunate to own a Brompton, as they aren’t the cheapest of bikes. I bought my Brompton second hand quite a long time ago – probably a decade or more. Buying a secondhand Brompton is a slightly hazardous activity, as there are quite a few stolen ones out there, but at the time I was happy that the sellers were legitimate and had items associated with the bike that they wouldn’t have had if they had stolen it.
I find I mostly use my Brompton in the following ways:
- When I’m travelling on the train to see family. It is the easiest bike for such a journey as it fits in the bike racks on board the trains from London Paddington to Wales.
- If we are going away somewhere and there isn’t much room in the car owing to excessive quantities of luggage and generally bad packing, the Brompton is a good bike to take as it doesn’t use up too much space.
- If I’m taking the car to be serviced or mended the Brompton is a great bike to quickly shove in the boot.
- Likewise if I’m hiring a car and going to pick up or return the vehicle. My usual car hire place is a couple of miles away, and the Brompton always fits in a car boot.
That said, the Brompton isn’t the folding bike I ride the most, as for pure riding enjoyment I prefer riding some of my other bikes. But, as I say, I’m fortunate to have one, and it does get used very regularly.
As I suggest in Which folding bike should I buy? the Brompton is a great choice of folding bike for many people. There are much cheaper bikes, it’s true, but you get what you pay for, and to my mind a bike that you will actually use because it is functional is well worth paying for. The Brompton is exactly that.
My one bit of advice for new Brompton owners: don’t leave it locked up outside in anything but the very safest of situations. The great thing about a Brompton is that in general you won’t need to because you can take it with you. But if you’re going somewhere you can’t take the bike (a theatre, perhaps) don’t take the Brompton.
Here are some photos of my Brompton in action.
Above Brompton on the train from Paddington. It fits in the luggage rack, which most of my other folding bikes don’t do, or at least not always. Should I lock it to the luggage rack? Possibly not, but I sometimes do for peace of mind.
Above: Brompton with rear pack. I combine this with a rucksack. Yes, that’s a terrible way to carry things, and I really should get a bag for the front, but they are expensive, so I haven’t yet done so. If anyone wants to send me one to review – feel free!