I saw a guy with a Brompton folding bicycle in Adelaide a few years ago. It was green and shiny and a fellow was wheeling it past the convention centre. I hadn’t seen a Brompton before but I was fascinated by it. As an architect I was impressed with the engineering and not only how she folded, but the aesthetics that were unified, curved and quirky.
Then on a recent trip to Brussels in June 2016 I caught up my friend Adrian, who is also an architect, who I’d worked with in London 25 years ago. He had a second-hand ‘Brommie’ he used to commute to the city via a train. He showed me the ‘fold’…..gave me a ride up and down his local footpath in Warve and I fell in love again with riding and the design of this bike.
I rode lots of bikes as a child in the western ‘burbs’ of Brisbane with the usual number of crashes, skids and gravel rashes. I seemed to spend my youth with a ‘scab’ on at least one limb!
In London I would commute between West Kensington and Chiswick in the early 1990s with a wonderful ride along the Thames past Hammersmith.
The ride was a mixture of back streets and promenades along the river bank. I rode for a full year enjoying balmy summers and even some snow in winter. I had bought from the landlord for £20 an old dutch bike with the basket on the front which was fantastic for shopping at the Northend Road Markets on Saturday mornings. I remember those youthful days in London of early marriage fondly and bike riding around London was so easy.
Shortly after seeing my Brompton-owning mate in Brussels in June, he came with us for an office reunion in London. We met at an old pub, the ‘Bell and Crown’, and I did a sentimental walk with my wife Mary along my old bike route to work beside the Thames. Later, on a walk through central London I stumbled upon a bike shop full of Bromptons. The pressure in my own mind was building! I wanted one! But how?
On return in early July to Australia I did more research on the Brompton website and became obsessed with the ‘Build your Brompton’ page and then saw a local Brisbane dealer Epic Cycles who gave me a test spin. I rode around the Stafford Primary School on the footpath.
After two more weeks of self-inflicted agony (can’t really afford it at present) I went in and ordered one that I took delivery of within a week. I went nuts and got a helmet, the S Bag (glad I did) and some lights and picked some colours that matched my ‘Fulton Trotter Architects‘ livery with a black frame and lime green extremities. The helmet and S bag also had the lime green so it was a nice looking package.
So why a Brompton?
I fell in love with the look of them and their beautiful curves and colours. The portable nature provided so many commute options that I had never considered possible. The fact that they were designed and continue to be built in London was just fantastic and I knew the quality would be there. (It would be a big mistake to build them elsewhere.) The whole Brompton Story is just fantastic and counter the trend to build cheaper, nastier and crappier products somewhere else. As an Architect I admire good design and quality and want to be part of that narrative. For me I am always prepared to pay a premium for something well made and all the third party reviews confirmed this was the case.
I think my emotional connection to London and riding in that great city had something to do with it?
I also own a pocket yacht / trailer sailer and the bike can also come along for a ride on our expeditions. She will fit neatly in the cabin and can be used on shopping expeditions when you turn up to a new mooring and the shops are a long walk away.
The Brooks seat was also hard to resist and the up-selling of all the accessories worked a treat on me. The price? Expensive but……you get what you pay for!
So don’t get distracted Brompton….stay British, stay the course! I may even persuade my wife to get one but that is a big hill to climb.