I love my Brompton bicycle

By Alison Hill

Alison is Chair of Cyclox

I own a Brompton bike. It is a remarkable piece of engineering. Perfecting the design took years of tireless dedication. Not only is it the most compact of fold-up bikes but it also has good gearing. This makes it easy to ride, which is why it deserves its iconic status amongst cycle riders, and why you see them all over Oxford.

Owning a Brompton gives me so much freedom. It allows me to make trips that would be difficult, and sometimes impossible, with a big bike.

Making the commute more fun

Journeys by train are much easier and less stressful. Taking regular bikes on trains is difficult. Train operating companies don’t like to give up valuable passenger space to cycle storage, so all the long-distance trains through Oxford have vertical storage racks. I don’t have the physical strength to lift a bike up onto the hook. The other problem with regular bikes on trains is that the train companies require you to book your bike space in advance, so you lose any flexibility in your journey, and can’t make last-minute changes.

A Brompton solves these difficulties.

For three years I commuted by train from Oxford to Waterloo for work. Using my Brompton, I could rely on the journey being 2 hours from home to office. My morning and evening cycle rides included a trip along the canal – a peaceful byway into and out of the city. Taking the Brompton on the train was straightforward. It fitted easily into the luggage space, often alongside another Brompton.

Just as owning a dog gives you a ready-made community of dog walkers, owning a Brompton connects you to other Brompton owners. Dog owners share their ideas about what makes life better for dog and owner, and Brompton owners share their ideas about what makes their bikes and rides better. And during those commuting years I got over an hour of exercise daily – I don’t think I was ever fitter.

Ease of travel

Folded Brompton bike

This week I made an impromptu trip to Bristol to see my granddaughter. I wasn’t sure how long my visit would take, so I booked an off-peak day-return ticket. I cycled in beautiful sunshine into town for a meeting in the morning, before going to the station. In Bristol it is an easy 15-minute ride to my daughter’s house on quiet back streets, which would have taken 30 to 45 minutes by other transport means. The visit over, I returned on a later train than the one I actually booked on.

A Brompton is compact when folded, but it is still a solid robust bike, so not light. I wouldn’t want to carry it for any distance when folded, but the designers have thought of everything and include caster wheels. I can pull the folded bike along with ease. This means I can take it into shops rather than leaving it locked up outside. Bromptons are desirable and easy to steal.

Whether you are doing a daily commute, a shopping trip or a longer journey involving a stay away, there are a variety of different click-on bags available. My household has, over time, acquired a variety of bags:

  • a capacious one that can be filled with shopping or stuff for going away
  • a sleek leather briefcase
  • a generous-sized commuter bag that is reliably waterproof so good for carrying a laptop. I used this one for my commute, as it also fitted all my waterproofs and lights.

Because they are so well made Bromptons are pricy. But they don’t lose their value, and they pay their way by opening up journey opportunities. I wouldn’t be without mine.  

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