The big news at bikes@vienna is that we received our first shipment of Bromptons the other day. What's a Brompton, you ask? Well, if you look at the pictures, you'll see that it's a folding bike, one of the things we specialize in. We've carried several brands of folder before, most notably Dahon, Bike Friday, and Birdy, but this is the first time we've had Bromptons. There's the whole shipment parked to the left there.
What makes the Brompton so special? Well, the speed and ease with which it folds down into a really compact package, that's what! Take a look at this video:
Sure, this is someone who has practiced it a bit. But having now folded one a couple of times myself, it's really, really easy and quick. And the end result is a very small object you can easily carry in one hand. And as a bonus, they have small rollers that allow you to roll the bike around when folded, if you don't want to carry it. Granted, they are small rollers, so you need a smooth surface, but it's a really handy feature. In addition, the first step of folding is tucking the rear end under the rest of the bike, which allows the bike to stand by itself without any other support, like in the picture below and to the left.
John ordered an assortment of Bromptons, with each of the three major styles offered, in several different colors. The main distinction between models is the handlebars: the M - upswept, like the green one here, P - the sort of "bow tie" look in grey you see in the group picture, designed to offer multiple hand positions, and S - a flat bar design for a "sportier" feel. John figured it made the most sense to get the six speed version for all but the official demo, which is a three speed, and I think that's a wise choice. We Americans do love having more gears, so the one, two, or three speed options didn't seem the best choice. It's pretty ingenious how they get the six speeds... a three speed internally geared hub, from SRAM, with two cogs mounted on it, and a widget that is both chain tensioner and simple two position derailleur. It makes for what seems like a simple and solid drivetrain, and the tensioner prevents dropping the chain when you fold the bike.
Of course, the next question is, how do they ride? Well, all of us who were working in the shop the day they arrived took each of the different variants for a ride, and without exception, we all really enjoyed them. Granted, we only took quick, short rides, since it was a work day, but I have to say, the ride quality of the Brompton is excellent. Would I do a loaded tour across the US on one? Probably not. Would I use it in a daily commute that included public transit? You bet... I think it's perfect for that. What about everything in between? Well, it's too early to tell, but I have to say I think I could have a lot of fun riding one of these bikes for many uses... shopping, commuting, casual recreational rides, maybe even some touring if I needed to easily transport a bike to the start point. And I think it's a great choice for air travel, given the tiny size it folds to.
All of which leads me to the parenthetical comment in the title... I WANT ONE! Okay, those of you who know me, know that I have a "bike problem"... I love bikes and own a LOT of them. And you're right... I don't NEED another one. That doesn't mean I don't want one! I do! We'll have to see what happens financially in the immediate future, but I can easily see myself parting with one of my Dahons and buying one of these Bromptons.
Make mine a P6 in green, please! :-)