We hear it a lot at the shop, and just last night, while rolling the Brompton through my local Whole Foods, a woman asked me "Is that one of those collapsible bikes?" I explained that yes it was, and that it was really fun and convenient, and she seemed to think it was pretty cool too.
But "collapsible"? Well, sure, strictly speaking the word is correct... but it conjures up images in my mind of my bike abruptly reducing itself to a tangled, messy heap beneath me as I ride. That's why I prefer "folding bike" or "folder", or perhaps even "foldable bike" as a term to describe it.
Whatever you call it the folding bikes are a very handy thing, and they keep improving every year it seems, with new designs and refinements of old designs. The Brompton is pretty well evolved now, having been around for around 30 years, so changes are minor from year to year it seems, but most welcome. Mine has the new BWR (Brompton Wide Range) hub from Sturmey Archer, which combined with a very simple two sprocket derailleur system, gives me a very wide and comfortable gearing range.
And folders are a growing part of the market it seems too. I see more and more of them on the roads and trails here, and more and more stories in publications and on the web keep cropping up. I suppose one sign that folding bikes have "arrived" is that the latest Bicycling magazine has a full article about one man's adventures with folders. It's a quirky sort of story, but it's a sign of their growing popularity that they gained such recognition in a major cycling magazine in the US.
Me? I own two folders now, my Dahon Hon Solo single speed (a limited edition model I just couldn't resist), and my Brompton P6R that you see here, ready for riding, and folded. And in October I'm off to England to ride in the Brompton World Championship... 600 well dressed lunatics racing around the grounds of Blenheim Palace on Brompton folding bikes! Should be fun! Watch this space, as well as the bikes@vienna blog, and our Facebook page, for updates on my prepations. Oh, and I've started "tweeting" about it too. Stay tuned!