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Old 06-16-10, 04:59 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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Brompton riding in NYC

Hi, all. I posted this inquiry in the Yahoo Brompton group, but wanted to get feedback from this group as well. All responses are greatly appreciated!

I work in New York City, and I want to start biking to/from work instead of
taking the subway. For a variety of reasons, I've decided to go with a folding
bike. I started looking at Dahon models and quickly realized that the
"affordable" ones compromised on things that I needed. Most Dahons under $600
don't stay folded easily, they don't roll when folded, the gears are on the
outside when folded which makes it tough to carry, among other things. So I
started looking at more expensive Dahons. I quickly realized that if I was going
to spend $800 on a Dahon, I should spend a little bit more and look into a

As a kid, I was practically glued to my bike. I haven't ridden a bike regularly
in more than ten years, so I'm nervous about spending such a large amount of
money on a bike for a commute that may be really hard until I get the hang of
it. On the other hand, I can't justify spending $400 on a cheap bike only to
upgrade to a fancier one in a few months. I guess my personality is jut all or

I've gone to a few bike shops in NYC to check out the Brompton in person. Wow!
What a beautiful machine. I know that there is a slight weight difference
between the 2 and 3 speed Brompton. I'm a short (5'1") woman (130 pounds) so the
weight of the bike is important to me. During my commute, I'll have to carry the
bike up 100 stairs. That one pound is important.

Sorry for the rambling message. On to my point: to those of you familiar with
riding in NYC, is a 2 speed bike enough? I've read reviews from some people who
say they love their 2 speeds. And I've read reviews from others who say that you
need at least 3 speeds in NYC. I've never ridden a Brompton very far, so I'm not
in a position to make this judgment. What do you think? Is the 2 speed
sufficient? Or should I forget about that extra pound and go for the 3 speed?

Many, many thanks in advance!
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Old 06-16-10, 07:44 PM   #2
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Yes it is sufficient, but that's not the question is it? There are a few shops selling Bromptons in NYC. So I think you should test ride (and fold and carry up stairs) until you know which you want.

David Lam at bfold should accommodate you and you might want to try the Carry-me while you're there since it can have a wider gear range than the 3 speed Brompton, be lighter than the two speed Brompton, and be cheaper than both. It also folds smaller. Disadvantage is it doesn't fit larger people (which isn't a problem for you) and it has smaller wheels which some people don't like.
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Old 06-17-10, 08:09 AM   #3
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You could also rent a brompton from NYCeWheels in Upper East Side. In this way you would know very well that the Brompton is a right investment or not? Although I already know the answer...
I think 3 speed is the right choice! And Brompton's resell value is high. You won't regret the amount of money you spend on this folder as the time goes longer and longer. This is how I feel. Just go to rent one for couple weeks and you will know how to make this decision.
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Old 06-17-10, 09:42 AM   #4
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Brompton NYC Commute

I do a daily NYC commute on my Brompton 3-speed (M3L). I'm guessing 2 speeds are enough but I would err on the side of more and go for the 3 speed, especially since you've been out of the groove for a while. I think the bigger issue will be carrying the bike up that many stairs - it will feel heavy. Renting would be a great idea to make sure you are up for it. That said, it will be a good upper-body workout - just remember to alternate arms.
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Old 06-17-10, 10:44 AM   #5
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I ride in NYC about five miles every work day, from Penn Station to my office and back again. I used to ride a Strida (one speed) but now I ride a Downtube Mini and I use all of its eight speeds (well, I probably don't always get up to 8th). I'm sure you can get away with fewer, depending how you ride, but the 8 speed hub is such a good suit to the way I ride that I've come to regard it as a necessity.

The important thing, if you have only a few gears, is that they're the right ones. I test rode a 2-speed Brompton once, and found it geared too high, which makes it feel heavy and sluggish. But again, it really depends on the way you ride.
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Old 06-17-10, 01:41 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I didn't know I could rent a Brompton at NYCeWheels. I'll have to check that out. I'm renting a (regular) bike on Monday and riding the path that I'd be taking for my commute to see what the hills feel like on wheels. It's a straight shot on the West Side greenway, so I hope I can hack it.
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Old 06-22-10, 08:21 AM   #7
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22 yrs riding of in NYC on a single speed. NYC is basically flat, unless you decide to cross a bridge, in which case a bridge is just a short 'hill'
Now, if you only have one gear you must pick the correct gear. I have a 44 x 16 on my 700 cc wheeled bike ( yes the wheel size will effect the gear ratio)
On my folder ( 451 wheels) I like a 15t in the back 55 t up front.
having no gear-changers, free-wheels or shifters shaves quite a bit of weight which is your reward when you carry the thing up 4 flights of stairs. ( a daily possibility in this town)

Last edited by kraftwerk; 06-22-10 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 06-22-10, 09:09 AM   #8
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after you rent the regular bike and find that it's ok, you should rent a brompton right after and try that also and if you can rent it with the same gearing setup of the one that you are intending to buy else if it's a 6 speed only use the 2-3 gears that matches the one you where looking at and see if it's doable. The weight of the brompton will weigh you down at 100 steps but the size lets you carry it easily and at least you can put it down on the steps to rest. Eventually with enought daily cycling your legs will turn into lean machines from the cycling as well as hoisting a 25lb weight up a 100 steps . I ride a strida and at 22lbs it's very light to bring it over everything but the one speed might not be doable since my city Toronto is relatively flat so i'm ok with it and I've only walked around NYC manhatten area never biked around the city yet.
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Old 06-22-10, 09:23 AM   #9
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People always say that NYC is flat, I guess they never ride in the Central Park Loop
or go up on bridge crossings . If you're just starting out I recommend to get a bike
with the most gears.
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Old 06-22-10, 09:25 AM   #10
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sounds like you live on the top floor of a walk-up. I know there's 26 steps for one floor in my old building. will the super let you store it in the basement? (get a good lock) sure I can carry 25lbs easily when I was 20 but I'm double that now.
How heavy is the lowest priced brompton?
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Old 06-22-10, 09:48 AM   #11
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11,5 Kg = 25.35 lbs.

" Most Dahons under $600 don't stay folded easily, they don't roll when folded, the gears are on the outside when folded which makes it tough to carry, among other things"

Alas, Sir, you appear to be the a victim of a prank.

However, have a look at the skinny Downtube Nova. It's skinny.

Last edited by snafu21; 06-22-10 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 06-26-10, 08:10 PM   #12
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3 gears is worth the extra 1lb difference. That said, I'd take another serious look at the Dahon line, i.e. Curve SL. Right out of the box you get better brakes, more gears. Lower resale value and not as nice a fold, it's true.
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Old 07-09-10, 01:18 PM   #13
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I use to own the 2-speed titanium Brompton and now I own a 3 speed regular one. The weight difference is huge when you are carrying them even for a short amount of time. I am 5'3'' and weigh 140 lbs. Here are some differences that I have found.

The two gear Brompton has a sufficient range and mostly found myself only using the lower gear. The same is true for the 3 speed Brompton. I usually stay in the same gear. If your commuting, you are probably not trying to win races, so one gear would really be enough. The biggest difference is when you get a flat on the back tire. It takes more time to change it since you have more steps to take in order to get the back tire off with the 3 speed hub. The 2 speed Brompton is easier to change. But with the right tools and training, you can become efficient.

Weight is going to be a big issue. So the lighter you can go, the better you will be in the long run. The titanium was well worth it and I regret getting rid f it. So, I am in the process of lightening my current Brompton with the titanium seatpost to save some weight.

You will also need to change the rolling wheels because the ones that come with the bike won't work well.

Good luck! You won't be disappointed with a Brompton!
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Old 07-09-10, 05:16 PM   #14
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I have the cheapest Brompton made.An S- type, no fenders no nothing,single speed. I added a brooks B-17 and Ergon 2 grips and a stem extender and water bottle cage. On my scale it weights 22.5 lbs.with these installed. And i have weighed it at LBS and was same although i cant guarantee exact accuracy. From what i understand the titanium one which definately is not the cheapest will weigh about a pound less give or take,however soon as you add gears it goes up lots.

Last edited by ddez; 07-09-10 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 07-09-10, 05:21 PM   #15
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Brought my brommie from the Uk to new York a couple of times..Did the 5 Bor0 ride on 1st May..
and also the Tour de Bronx(highly recommend for photos of New york cops!) one October(canc last year) plus a lot of DIy cycling in the city..The grid system is great..You could tell i wasnt a local..Didnt run the red lights..Cycled the right way and not against the one way system.Didnt hold on to any cars. I.Must have been a foreiger! Theres a new yoprk cycle map yopu can download..maybe from transportation alternatives website..You can cycle all the bridges but you need to address them properly to avoid a stiff climb.The new york cycle map shows you how best to approach each bridge.Great place to cycle,,even Time Square had a bike lane.New York by bike is recommended.aint so sure about the ride from the airport cos my brompron just sat on my knee on the bus

Last edited by John Cook; 07-10-10 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 07-09-10, 06:24 PM   #16
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At the risk of being the target of a lynch mob, how about a BF Tikit?
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Old 07-09-10, 07:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by intheways View Post
At the risk of being the target of a lynch mob, how about a BF Tikit?
+1. check bike friday tikit - especially the hyperfold.
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