Of all the bikes in our fleet, our Bromptons garner the most notice. Why? Obviously because of the tiny fold. And because they’re matching. And lemon-yellow. And we’re both quite tall and we look a little ridiculous riding them. And so on… basically they are not bikes for the shy.
Quite honestly, at the time of purchase Anne doubted our families’ need for Bromptons: we don’t travel much, we don’t have a shortage of bike storage space at home, and we aren’t big bus riders.
Tim’s purchase pitch smelled like bike lust to her: more of a want than a need.
But his negotiating skills (with Anne not the seller) prevailed and he eventually convinced her. He even pulled out the habitual-bike-purchaser’s classic line: “At this price, if we don’t ride them, we can easily sell them for more than we bought them!”
Anyone heard that one from a spouse before?
And we’re both glad he won the negotiation because in the past year, we’ve discovered so many uses for our Bromptons.
Planes, Trains, and …
Air travel is the one place people *get* the concept of a Brompton. The obvious utility of the B is clear to even casual airport observers:
- they fit in the overhead bins! (when the airline is progressive enough to allow)
- Pack light and skip the hassle of schlepping luggage through the airport. Just attach the frame mounted front bag and roll your partially folded “cart” through the terminal (we haven’t had the guts to try riding, but maybe we’ll try some time late at night).
- Skip ground transportation headaches. Simply hop on and ride directly from the airport to your destination.
Extra Bonus Family Utility
Lately our Bromptons are shining from another use: easily transportable kid pick up.
If you know us, you know we’re big fans of the Xtracycle. For years we’ve been toting the kids around on the snapdeck as “cargo.” Even when they got bigger and started riding on their own, we could still carry them when needed (at night, impromptu appointment pick up, etc). But these days they are lots bigger and carrying them too far is a real chore. There’s also the anti-cool factor of riding on the Xtracycle for our oldest–unlike adults who think hitching a snapdeck ride is the height of hip, she does not want to be seen being carried by a parent.
Brompton to the rescue.
Here’s an example: our daughter recently had an orthodontist appointment in the middle of the school day. She normally walks to school so Anne had to figure out a way to transport mom and daughter to the appointment together without resorting to carrying her.
Because of our deep bicycle quiver, she had a bunch of options.
- Back of Xtracycle: Nope. See above.
- Tandem: Currently set up for our 8-year-old with a kidback crank adapter. Too small for her. Embarrassing. And babyish. Did we mention embarrasing?
- Drag her bike up the hill on the Xtracycle? Sure, that works, but it’s slow and makes the steep climb to school a bit more awkward. And then we have to deal with her bike after the appointment.
- Brompton on Xtracycle? Yes!
Now if we could only reverse her growing doubt that riding bikes instead of riding in cars is in fact, cool.
We’ve actually been using the Bromptons like this for a while. Tim started a Brompton shuttle for lacrosse camp this summer, and is doing it again for soccer practice pick up this fall. Heck, it even works if you have to transport a bike for a parent!
A lot of people doubt the value of the super small Brompton fold, saying the Bike Friday or even a Dahon is good enough. We could carry a larger bike on the Xtracycles, but it wouldn’t be as easy. And we’ve been on some full buses where people glare at the Brompton. A larger bike might just spark a riot! Tim thought he was in the “good enough” camp–his giant size would fit a Bike Friday better–but the functionality of the tiny fold has changed his mind.
Stereo and Trunk does not Utility Bike Make
Contrary to the results of Oregon Manifest, we think a Brompton (actually a Brompton+Xtracycle combo) is the height of flexible, car-free bicycle design. Once you factor in things like no-lock-required grocery shopping and the Brompton’s loaded touring capabilities, and I think you really have another challenger for the ultimate utility bike!
- Anne and Tim