I’ve ridden a lot of bikes this year. There have been light ones, expensive ones, fast ones, single speeds, CX bikes, ones with suspension, disc brakes, electric shifting, carbon, Ti, steel, and more! But which one was the most fun? I can’t believe this… but it might just be this Brompton.
Words - James Raison Images - Lana Adams
Treadly Bike Shop in Adelaide have just invested in a bike hire fleet of decked out Bromptons. They asked me if I wanted to take one for a few days and test one out. I said yes. Hell. Yes. I’ve never ridden a bike like this, not even close. All they wanted was for me to live with it. Just see what it’s like. So that’s exactly what I did.
The sick whip I borrowed was specced with absolutely everything you need. Around the legendary steel folding frame is a 3 speed Sturmey Archer internal rear hub, mudguards, and lights that run off a dynamo. There’s a clip-on bag that lives on the front too and a frame pump tucked into the tiny seat stays. Treadly drop a map, spare tube, and combination lock to get you around the city.
Brompton’s are completely hilarious to ride. Their steering is incredibly twitchy with steep angles and tiny wheels give every movement a sense of drama. You’re also sitting bolt upright. I kept trying to lean forward as if I was on my roadie, leading to some awesome T-Rex arms.
Ride quality is astonishingly good for something with such tiny wheels. I was expecting a skeleton-shattering bumpiness but it’s smooth. An elastomer suspension at the rear dampens bumps and vibrations incredibly well. Even the front of the bike is comfortable, easily rolling over Adelaide’s streets that have been creased and moulded by buses constantly rolling over them.
The 3 gears will cater well for most riders with a big, but logical jump between them. I spent most of the time in the middle and top gear because I spun out the first almost instantly. Shifting is very fast with just a flick of the thumb needed to go up or down.
THE BROMPTON LIFESTYLE
The Brompton is not the typical bike that I get to review, and cannot be reviewed on performance merits. This is a lifestyle bike. One that serves a utility purpose that extends off the road and into your home or workplace. On arrival at work, I didn’t bother taking it into the bike cage, I folded it and slid it under my desk. When I got home I folded it and stored it in the corner. It makes total sense for people with short travel distances and little space at their destination. There’s no faffing with this bike either, because it has everything you need already attached to it. Lights and spares are already there.
It makes great sense as transport for people on business trips or holidays. You can hire the bike, ride it between your hotel and where you’re working or sightseeing. Adelaide is a flat city without expansive distances between things so you can easily explore the CBD and inner suburbs on a brompton. It won’t eat your work pants, you can ride in the rain without the wheels jettisoning road water onto your butt, and the lights area always attached and always on.
TRYING NOT TO BE SUCH A ROADIE
The two most fun bikes I’ve ridden this year are the Brompton and the Cannondale Slate. Why? Well I think it’s because they drastically change the riding experience from what I’m used to as a roadie. There are no delusions of speed on a Brompton, so it suddenly becomes about fun.
I mostly rode it like an over-caffeinated child. I chased every wheel I could on the morning commute, sent it into corners full gas, carved through the morning bus scrum, and had a dopey grin on my face the whole time. It was all a big game.
If you don’t ride it like an idiot, it’s very civilised. The ride is smooth, the position is upright, the brakes are powerful, and the shifting is easy. Some people commented that the bike looked like a toy. It’s actually the opposite. This is a tool and a lifestyle accessory. It’s far more relevant than a carbon fibre race bike to your average person. That's why Brompton bikes are awesome.
Want to hire a Brompton in Adelaide? Head on over to the Treadly Bike Hire website.
Disclosure statement: The Brompton was lent to us by Treadly Bike shop so they could get some feedback. It is not a paid article and we receive no proceeds from the Treadly Bike Hire program.