I have a new bike. It’s a Brompton S3L-X and so far I am chuffed to bits with it.
I’ve had bikes for as long as I can remember. I remember my first proper bike. A Raleigh Budgie with stabilisers. After that a Raleigh Striker. Then BMX’s before my Dad decided to take the family on a madcap european cycle ride and equipped me with a hand built tourer from Cresswell Cycles in Coventry. I loved that bike and did a fair few miles on it.
My first folding bike was the Sinclair A-Bike which is fun, but not at all practical. Not if you want to do anything other than look at it. I bought it because I couldn’t really afford the £1180 I needed to buy the Brompton that really caught my eye.
Just as Will Self says in his article, I’d always seen Brompton’s around, just not really noticed them. I remember suddenly wanting the British built Brompton after seeing a guy jump off the train and leap on the freshly unfolded jumble of spokes and steel a few years back.
Then recently I got to ride one courtesy of @IAmBrianJones who takes his Brompton everywhere. I was amazed at how nippy, easy to ride and well built it was. A beautiful piece of engineering. Quietly, I wanted one even more. One night we then rode across london, nipping down towpaths and dark alleyways. I soon realised how much of the city I had missed while commuting underground.
So, earlier this week I decided to bight the bullet and started to trawl the interwebs finding the best price, the nicest looking dealer, the right bike.
My search finally stopped with Websters Cycles in Leicester. Great service and a top guy. He really made the whole transaction very pleasant indeed and I’m now the proud and very happy owner of a British racing green Brompton S3L-X. It’s not like any bike I have had before.
My first ride on it was an 8 mile late night trip to a Pub in Northampton to attend the Northampton Geek Meet. Then I took it to London and didn’t need to take the tube once. I now take it wherever I can and am planning trips around having the bike with me.
It’s amazing how liberating it is not having to worry about parking or locking up your vehicle outside. I could get used to this.. And what with the spring on our doorstep… I may have to.
There will no doubt be more stories, photos and video popping up in my feeds over the next few months as I peddle, roll, fold and unfold my way around the British Isles and maybe even Europe. The side affect of which is that I may even get fit in the process.
Lots of reasons for you to join me cycling in the sun (when it gets here). And if you are wondering where the tech is going to go. Well there are plans.. But that’s a whole other blog post.
Notice the rushed photo taken in a dark street I have just done on self timer. 🙂 I nearly lost my little finger running back and forth trying to get the right exposure while having to unfold the bike from parked in less than 10 seconds every time. I now have a plaster keeping my torn finger on. (I had had whiskey).
Those with sharp eyes will also see that I have the telescopic titanium post (which came with the bike) I don’t need this and would be happy to swap for the standard titanium seat post.
The bike is at the moment.. Un-pimped apart from a few @Documentally stickers. I am having a think about what to do to make it unique.
Congrats on the bike! I got a foldie myself (not a Brompton though) when I was in London. A bike makes a lot more sense than any other form of transportation. Much faster than the bus, less hassle than the tube at rush hour, and I got to see the city a lot more.
As for making it unique… mine has a lot of scratches from packing it into a suitcase for air travel several times. Good enough for me 😉
Farouq Taj says
I like the idea of using a bike but don’t feel safe in the cycle lanes given the way many Londoner’s drive.
Hi Farouq. I tend to stay off the main roads and use the back streets. I am a village dweller and find London scary at the best of times. I find if i drive aggressively it feels safer than defensively. 🙂
It thought it must have been a self-timer shot! Was asking myself.. who on earth did he get to take that pic late at night, in a dark street… It doesn’t look like you were rushed, though! Looks like you’ve been sitting there for half an hour. Acting skills ftw.;) Nice bike, too! Bit Paul Clark-ish..
“although I would rather call it HPT (Human Powered Transport). Sounds much geekier”
Ahaa-haha. brilliant! rofl 😀
I used to have (still have, but not in usage) an old foldable GDR bike of the brand MIFA. It looks like this: http://kleinanzeigen.ebay.de/anzeigen/s-anzeige/mifa-minifahrrad-klapprad-blau-original-ddr/897118
Hi Traumcave, Nice.. not too different. Do you still ride then..? just not a folder?
Neil Ford says
I’ve always lusted after a Brompton. Two of my clients use them to go everywhere around London.
I have to admit to being supremely jealous of your Racing Green beauty.
I’m going to lie down in a dark room for a while 😉
Did you guys see this ..
Colt Seavers says
Lovely stuff mate. You’ve got me dreaming of journeys and nipping around on one!
I completely agree on the cycling in London. I did it for 20 years – first on a Raleigh Dynatech and later on my Cannondale Bad Boy. Always, always cycle aggresively…..but just the same always presume that any vehicle hasn’t seen you. You’ll be fine. My route used to take me through rush hour madness and as long as I rode well, I remained untroubled. Only accident I had was someone tapping into me at the lights – but it caught me off guard and I still had me feet in the cleats. Slo mo accidents ftw – they don’t hurt apart from pride 😛
Here is a link to my posterous blog on Documental.ly
Cheers for the comments guys. Just reading the link Amanda. 🙂
Neil Ford says
I meant to ask: What app are you using to track your rides?
I am using Cyclemeter. So far so good. 🙂
Neil Ford says
Thanks for that. Duly bought and downloaded.
Tom Goskar says
A lovely looking Brompton!
I got mine back in November and haven’t looked back. A worthy investment.
I ended up buying a “C” bag to clip to the front, which also has the added bonus of turning the Brompton into a trolley, which is rather handy when you go into shops. You can just pull your folded bike behind you.
Enjoy it 🙂
So…you paid the extra £500 for the titanium option to save a kilogram, then fitted a 540g saddle 😉
I think the black mudguards are specially made for Brompton by SKS, so you’d have to paint them. There are special plastic primers available which allow painting of car bumpers without cracking and flaking afterwards, and these would probably do the trick. Sun make 349 size rims, possibly in black, but you may have to import them from the USA.
There are three upgrades I’d strongly recommend for a B that is to be ridden long and hard (I’ve done 80 mile overnight rides on mine, and taken it over some of the highest road passes in England):
– Small bar ends for the S-type. Titec Pluton magnesium ones are good;
– Use the hard rear suspension bung or put two jubilee clips (stainless please!) around the normal one and wind them up tight;
– Fit SPDs.
If you don’t have to climb long steep 1 in 6 hills, here’s a medium-ratio conversion:
I bought the titanium because i wanted to add bits. And don’t worry.. I didn’t pay anywhere near what you think i did.
Thanks for the tips. Not sure about SPDs I like my current footwear.. plus i like to ride without thinking. The bike is more of a tool and I don’t like to plan to ride.
I like the idea of the bar ends and thanks for the other tips.
Sorry, but you’re wrong, wrong, wrong!
Any bike that’s only good/of any use when rendered un-rideable, isn’t a very good bike. That’s straight forward and doesn’t really require an explanation, just plain fact really. So, I actually quite approve of your HPT description!
But whilst I’m here, I shall add:
They ride horridly, flex like nothing else in the universe, are totally in-efficient and will never get you fit, try as you may (due to the ridiculously cramped riding position). Oh, and just wait till you get a rear puncture in the pouring rain in february and have to try and whip the wheel out of that mental mechanism, THEN somehow get that stupidly small tyre off that stupidly small rim to change the stupidly small tube, which will then pinch as you try and wrestle it all back on with your numb fingers and snapped tyre levers, so you’ll have to do it again, then remember through your blind rage and oncoming hypothermia how the **** the wheel goes back into that mental mechanism again. And thats IF you remembered to pack your adjustable wrench into your backpack instead of your standard multi-tool (which serves no purpose on a Brompton).
AND if you ever venture outside of a major city with one, and something breaks, your stuffed thanks to the lovely people at Brompton, with their Classic British Design, not including a single standard bicycle part on the entire thing. Great.
Sorry, I hate to slag things off like this, but I felt compelled. Really, really don’t get the Brompton love.
Please sell it whilst it’s still new and shiny and use all that crazy money to buy a proper bike, you won’t regret it!
Spoken like I guy who has never ridden a Brompton. Not mine anyway.
Listen. If i get a puncture in the pouring icy rain i will stick my thumb out and hitch home. I hitch with the Brompton all the time. when i’m not riding it of course.
Failing that I can take it in a cab. I guess you may struggle to do that on your ‘Proper bike’. My proper bike (Cannondale) has had little use since i got this one.
It’s horses for courses. When i want to climb mountains i use a Trek, when i want to do distance, i use a tourer. When i want to have fun and take my bike places the anal bike nazis can’t *ahem* I use a Brompton.
I’ve no idea where that rant came from, I’ve had my Brompton 4 years now, total of 2 punctures. Yes, it’s a bugger to get the wheels off, designer an engineering genius & complete bastard.
Got myself a road bike a few months ago so abandoned the Brompton a bit. Have just been riding it all this week to work, forgot what a wonderful machine it is.
It’s orange (mine is) it’s British & it’s a work of art.
about the SPDs – I also don’t like to have to wear funny shoes just to ride my bike – but you can get the best of both worlds with Power Grips – simple and cheap, stop your feet slipping off the pedals in the wet, allow you to pull as well as push on the pedals (just like SPDs) but you can do this while wearing normal shoes.
Just ordered my Brompton – a P6R – also from Websters in Leicester. Now the 6-week wait . . .