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  1. #1
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    New Brompon S2L in raw lacquer--first impressions

    In no particular order:

    1. I bought the all-steel version (from a dealer who had it in stock), partly because this was what I could afford at the moment, partly because a titanium S2 didn't seem to be in stock anywhere, and partly because past test rides had led me to think the titanium version too flexy. I now wish I had the titanium version, because I find the all-steel version a bit too rough of a ride. So, on the titanium-or-no-titanium question for potential Brompton buyers, I come down in favor of it, to my surprise, because of the flex.

    2. The EZ wheels seem to me to be useless. The bike won't roll at all. Perhaps this is because my rear fender arrived (via UPS) a bit misshapen. I had never ridden a Brompton with the EZ wheels before. My heels are banging against them a lot whenever I first mount the bike and begin pedaling, and then for some reason, without my consciously trying to avoid it, this stops happening as the ride continues.

    3. The raw lacquer color (or non-color) was apparently suspended because of "inconsistencies." My bike seems to have one, and as silly it may seem to care about this when the finish is supposed to look rather rough anyway, it bothers me. Basically, I have a "nick" on one side of the main tube. It's the color of the bike at the welded points, and the nicked area feels rather raised. There is also a kind of slick trail all along the tube, as if something scraped/rubbed against it? I'm not sure if the "nick" is a Brompton inconsistency, or a sign of the bike having been--nicked. While I'm not thrilled about this, I have seen much worse scratches on new, full-priced bikes on dealers' floors lately.

    4. It's too heavy to carry without walking in a ridiculous posture. I'm 6 feet tall, 165 pounds, in very good shape. I make all of my weekend trips wearing a 46 liter backpack which doesn't tax me at all. But I can't walk uncrookedly while carrying the Brompton.

    5. The stock saddle sucks. The dealer didn't have a Brooks on hand in the color I wanted. I think I'm going to go for the dark green... I forget the name of it. Sub-$200.

    6. The highest gear on a 2-speed Brompton is high enough, even if you're a serious gear pusher. I learned this, to my surprise, on a recent test ride. The Brompton simply loses momentum too quickly for you to have any opportunity to capitalize on that momentum by switching into a gear in the 80's/90's in terms of gear inches.

    7. As I said, my rear fender is way out of whack. It's in contact with the wheel and I can't personally see how to undo this. There are no Brompton dealers anywhere near me.

    In general, I'm feeling a bit of buyer's remorse. The LX/XT Birdy would have been lighter and, I now think, wouldn't have been that much larger, in its folded state, than the Brompton. Lugging this thing about today, I no longer feel like the Brompton is significantly smaller than its closest competitors. I could have had that Birdy for the same price, bought directly from Pacific Cycles... Hm.

  2. #2
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    I never cared for the rear rack. I'd lose it and go strictly with the front carrier.

    Regular roller blade wheels wildly outperformed EZ Wheels in my experience. Although if you're having heel strike issues they may not be for you.

  3. #3
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    I don't have a rear rack, just a rear fender.

    Also, I retract what I wrote about the higher gear of the 2-speed being high enough. After a bit more riding, I'm starved for something higher.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I got their previous optional non Brooks saddle a Fizik Vitesse
    It.s ok ,
    though the covering is synthetic, rain no problem, but don't let it get scuffed or cut.

    4 EZ wheels on rear rack will roll OK, you still have a bushing wheel on the mudguard.
    there is a sealed bearing in the EZ wheel it own it's own it rolls just fine..

    I kicked the standard plastic cone shaped standard wheel while I pedal.
    EZ wheel is thinner.

    Higher gear:, than 54x12 .. is 72", with a 15 0n the 3 speed hub on my bike high
    is a 77, , with a 13t the other cog on the 6 speed hub set, its 88", so
    perhaps retrofitting a BWR hub wheel for the 6 speed kit?

    Or,...Schlumpf High Speed drive planetary overdrive multiplies the chainring combo
    by 2.5x, the speed drive x 1.6.

    Lower geared range for my AW3 is what I needed, so I got a Mountain drive...
    excellent workmanship ... it's Swiss manufacturing after all.

    weight: Ti parts only knock off a Kg, adds a K$

    someone is trying to make an all Ti folder , to sell for 10K$

    I think all the colors are powder coat, now.

    only the clear coat is a Lacquer liquid paint.

    after market modifiers will probably prefer the clear as its easy to remove
    to add more braze ons , spread the rear triangle like for a non Sturmey IG hub

    Note the modified bikes with Sturmey's new 8 speed
    those need a smaller chainring set as the internal gear ratios are all overdrive.

    only #1 of 8 is direct drive,
    there is another way to get some more go fast gears.

    see the links to a Glasgow dealer who does a lot of hub swapping.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-12-10 at 04:44 PM.

  5. #5
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Sorry that your first impressions haven't been great. Some comments.

    - - If you fender is rubbing against the wheel, you have issues. What's difficult about figuring out why it's rubbing? You probably just have to straighten up the support rods by bending them. If you need help, take some pictures and post them here, I'm sure we can spot the problem.

    - Roller wheels - Heel strike happened to me when I first got my Brompton. But after the first few rides, it's never occured again. I think our feet unconsciously adjust. (I wear size 10 shoes.) The stock roller wheels are not optimal as they are thin and narrow, but your statement that "they don't roll" sounds abnormal. By the way, fenders are not involved in the rolling motion. The little wheel on top of the rear fender is for when you fold the rear wheel under the frame only. What InvisibleHand says about substituting roller blade wheels is true. It's an easy swap and you'll like it a lot more. I think heel strike won't be much of an issue in the long run.

    - Weight - I guess we're all different. I'm 6'0" tall also, but weigh 190 lbs. I carry my Brompton (M6L) around the supermarket with no problems. I do have a 6 year old son and compared to him, the bike weight is not an issue

    - Stock saddles always suck. Bike manufacturers assume you're going to swap it out for personal preference so they just stick a cheap saddle on there. Brooks is good.

  6. #6
    urban commuter
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    Sorry to hear you're not a fan. A Brompton isn't for everyone I suppose, though I do love mine

    I have an all steel S2L as well, and as a 5'3" woman, it's definitely not easy to cart around. I find that I can balance it on my thigh a bit while I walk and that helps. In general, I don't carry the bike inside with me places unless I feel it's unsafe to leave it locked outside. To me, the advantage of the small fold is having the option to fold if needed--if I get a flat I can toss it in the back of a cab or hop on a bus, if I forget my lock I can take it inside with me, if I have to work in my downtown office, I can sneak it into the building and fold it under my desk, etc. But grocery shopping with a fully folded ~26lb steel package in one hand and a basket in the other? Not so much.

    Swap out the saddle for sure. I recently upgraded to a Brooks and the difference is huge.

    As for gearing, I only use the high gear and ride it as a singlespeed.

    The good news is that if you really don't like the bike, the resale value for a brand new discontinued (and unique) color Brompton is going to be pretty high. If that's the decision you make, hopefully you won't lose much money on it.
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  7. #7
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phillyskyline View Post
    The good news is that if you really don't like the bike, the resale value for a brand new discontinued (and unique) color Brompton is going to be pretty high. If that's the decision you make, hopefully you won't lose much money on it.
    +1 - life is too short to ride a bike you don't love. Sell it and get a Birdy!

    BTW - how much carrying of your folder do you have to do?
    safe riding - Vik
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  8. #8
    jur
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    I can't carry my Birdy for 20 paces before feeling like Quasimodo on a bad day. The Swift is actually the easiest of the lot - it doesn't stick way out when you carry it, it's more like a slim suitcase with most of the weight directly below the carry point (main tube).
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  9. #9
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    It's interesting to see some criticisms of a Brompton along the lines of the concerns I imagine I might have should I actually get round to trying one out. I usually ride a 20" wheel folder and opt for the fattest tyres possible, and over the last couple of weeks I've been riding a Dahon Curve also. The Curve is an OK ride, I'm kinda warming to it, and it's entirely dependent on the cushioning that the BA tyres provide. I would take the Brompton fold any day but I don't think I could live with the narrow tyres.
    On the subject of weight: the stock weight of a lot of Dahons is around 11.5 - 12kg. I find that uncomfortably heavy when it comes to lifting. . . obviously the issue with lifting is how quickly your muscles will tire, so a 9kg bike will really just buy a bit of extra carrying time. But in practical terms I seem to find I'm fairly comfortable with my Vitesse which must be around 10.5kg. I seem to deal with a couple of flights of stairs without, er, displeasure, at that sort of weight, whereas 12kg is just a PITA. But then if I were stronger that'd be different.

  10. #10
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    The real deciding factor for me (that's going to lead me to resell) is simply seeing it, in its folded state, out amongst everyday surroundings--getting a sense of scale that you don't have in a bike shop. I first saw a folded Brompton in a store which also had a Mezzo D9, a Birdy, a Tikit, Dahons.... The Brompton and the Mezzo seemed to be in a class by themselves in terms of compactness. I could imagine sneaking this into a restaurant or cafe occasionally.

    Now, seeing it in the real world, I cannot for the life of me imagine being such a goon as to haul this thing into even a Starbucks. It's huge, and it was my feeling that the Birdy was significantly bigger that tipped the scales in favor of the Brompton. Now that I know that no existing folder is really small enough, in my opinion, to be taken into places of business rather than locked outdoors, I would prefer to have the Birdy, which has loads of advantages for my purposes and would not really be at a disadvantage relative to the Brompton so far as travel on Amtrak or inter-regional buses is concerned.

    In bike stores, I've swung Bromptons around, lifted them over my head, and rattled on about their lightness. But actually carrying it in real life, for more than 10 straight seconds, is simply a different experience.

    I still think the world of the frame quality, the handling, and its speed. Raw lacquer is definitely the color to get if you're getting a Brompton--every other color looks a bit childish, somehow.

    I was never 100% comfortable on the Birdy models that I rode, but I think neither had the sport stem. With the Brompton, my impulse is always to wish I could push the handlebars out farther ahead of myself than where they're currently (and permanently) stationed. Maybe a Birdy with the sport stem will do the trick. I am also going to reconsider the Swift, if I decide that it could be transported in a collapsible bag rather than a hard case.
    Last edited by Alec E; 11-13-10 at 08:04 AM.

  11. #11
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alec E View Post

    Now, seeing it in the real world, I cannot for the life of me imagine being such a goon as to haul this thing into even a Starbucks. It's huge, and it was my feeling that the Birdy was significantly bigger that tipped the scales in favor of the Brompton. Now that I know that no existing folder is really small enough, in my opinion, to be taken into places of business rather than locked outdoors, I would prefer to have the Birdy, which has loads of advantages for my purposes and would not really be at a disadvantage relative to the Brompton so far as travel on Amtrak or inter-regional buses is concerned.


    I think you may have a perception issues that needs some re-thought. My folded Tikit is definitely bigger than a folded Brompton and I have taken it inside virtually every store, office, theatre, pub, restaurant, etc... I've ridden to in 3 yrs. I have probably locked it up 4 or 5 times in that period. I have had 1 complaint and they relented when I suggested they cancel my appt if my bike wasn't welcome. I don't find my folded bike is a problem for anyone. I park it in an unused corner or I roll it along with me depending what I am doing. Most of the time I get into conversations with shop folks about it. Often a security guard gets really keen on it so I suggest he look after it for me and he gets to play with it while I get excellent security. I do put the black cover on it occasionally if I think there might be an issues and that virtually removes it from people's attention.

    Not looking up my folder outside is one of the main benefits from riding these kinds of bikes. If I had to lock a bike outside I might as well ride a full size bike.





    Last edited by vik; 11-13-10 at 09:45 AM.
    safe riding - Vik
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  12. #12
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    The Tikit has an advantage in this area in its resemblance to a cart of some kind. The more block-like folders, although technically smaller, are arguably more awkward in domestic settings.

    Nevertheless, there is nothing in those photos which makes me want to retract the word "goon," though the goons (I kid) in those pictures do seem delighted with themselves. It looks to me however as if they've basically blocked a walkway in the first photograph, and all of the photographs, but especially the remaining three, are taken from peculiar, stylized angles which make a cold-blooded judgment difficult. I've noticed a photograph of yours on the Bike Friday site in the past, I think. It's not hard to see why they appreciate them.

    I in turn appreciate your suggestion that I have perception issues; but I would not be the first person, I think, to suggest that the cycling world has taste issues. I am not interested in virtually wearing a sandwich board everywhere I go which announces that I am a cyclist, that my bicycle must be welcome wherever I'm welcome, etc. I think it is simply simpler to leave the bike outside, barring biblically awful weather or a high crime neighborhood. Also, I dislike walking as if I have a major spinal condition.

  13. #13
    I... Don't care. nekohime's Avatar
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    I hate carrying the brommie around too. I love my M6L to bits, but it is just way too heavy. What I did (as others suggested) was put scooter wheels that I took from my brother's broken Razor scooter instead of the EZwheels. It does roll so much better, and if you have the handlebars up, you can roll it around quite easily in the folded position.

    I've taken that thing everywhere, even the opera...the staff at Dorothy Chandler know me now because of my cute little bike.
    Wanna join my charity folding bike ride? Sign-up here!
    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way :p

  14. #14
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alec E View Post
    Nevertheless, there is nothing in those photos which makes me want to retract the word "goon," though the goons (I kid) in those pictures do seem delighted with themselves.
    Well, since I take my Brompton routinely onto buses, Starbucks/Peets, grocery stores, banks, etc. I am a living, walking manifestation of your definition of a goon.

    Whenever I carry or roll my folders around, I always get approached by curious people and enjoy my conversations with them about folders. You, on the other hand, view that as an imposition and a curse.

    It sounds like you may not be the best person to own a folding bike, anyway. You kind of have your mind made up about things. So just sell your Brompton and be done with it. Heck, maybe some of the folks here would love to help you out of your predicament of being stuck with a POS lacquer Brompton....

  15. #15
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Alec E View Post
    Nevertheless, there is nothing in those photos which makes me want to retract the word "goon,"

    So NOT a goon....
    Last edited by SesameCrunch; 11-13-10 at 11:43 AM.

  16. #16
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alec E View Post
    Now, seeing it in the real world, I cannot for the life of me imagine being such a goon as to haul this thing into even a Starbucks. It's huge, and it was my feeling that the Birdy was significantly bigger that tipped the scales in favor of the Brompton. Now that I know that no existing folder is really small enough, in my opinion, to be taken into places of business rather than locked outdoors, I would prefer to have the Birdy, which has loads of advantages for my purposes and would not really be at a disadvantage relative to the Brompton so far as travel on Amtrak or inter-regional buses is concerned.
    Hmmmm, I think people bring stuff bigger than folding bikes in to restaurants all the time. Anyway, do what makes you comfortable.

  17. #17
    jur
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    I used to bring my Birdy inside the blood donation centre; one day the lady asked me to take it outside, citing OH&S rubbish "people could trip over it". There is no provision for locking bikes up outside. There are plenty of chairs to trip over inside.

    I no longer donate blood plasma. They have rung me a couple times and I have suggested to them they reconsider their bike policy.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    I used to bring my Birdy inside the blood donation centre; one day the lady asked me to take it outside, citing OH&S rubbish "people could trip over it". There is no provision for locking bikes up outside. There are plenty of chairs to trip over inside.

    I no longer donate blood plasma. They have rung me a couple times and I have suggested to them they reconsider their bike policy.
    Back to the cover all excuss for a situation some staff don't know how to handle. Oh, it can be a health and saftey issue, great. "Excuse me sir you can't........................................................................

    I had the same issue in York (ticket sales) station for the first time with my mezzo half folded. I said that once the bike was folded it counted as luggage,but when did they accept that the bike was folded 3/4, 7/8,?

    As for feeling akwards going into cafes etc you get used to it. As long as you can bluff some confidence as if its a perfectely normal thing to start with. After a while it becomes your norm. ie "Hi wheres the bike." Remember without your bike you may have not got to the cafe in many cases to be their customer!
    Dual drive Mezzo (GOLD), Dual Drive Mezzo with bullbars (black), White Brompton thingy with Dahon Androes stem and bull bars. Birdie (old sytle) 7 speed. Downtube NS8. Birdie red.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    Whenever I carry or roll my folders around, I always get approached by curious people and enjoy my conversations with them about folders. You, on the other hand, view that as an imposition and a curse.
    Sigh (in thunder)... I wrote not one word about people's reactions, verbal or otherwise, to my having a folding bike. My comment was about my own taste, my own personal aesthetic. It is a matter of opinion. "I would feel like a goon," I wrote.

    Whether I not I choose to buy another folding bike is nothing for you to worry about.

  20. #20
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    The OP made a mistake in buying the Brompton without the rear rack. With the skateboard wheels and the rack, the bike rolls very well and is probably the best rolling folder on the market. There are Vids on YouTube that illustrate the Brompton rolling very well on the rear rack.

    I happen to think the OP could be better off with no folder at all! Locking up an expensive brand new Birdy, Bike Friday or Swift folder to a bike rack is not a good idea at all. I suspect many people share his opinion because I have yet to see anyone bring their folder inside a resturant or movie house. Yet, I see so many folders on the street but none are ever taken indoors because they have to be carried.

    I suggest the OP buy a used 10 speed bicycle from the 80's that's scratched up and use that as a commuter. Give the bike a tuneup, new tires, cables and brake pads and he has a solid bike with limited value. He does not have to carry his folder everywhere or even roll it and should the bike get stolen, his loss is not significant.

    Most people with folders only ride them but do not want them to become a part of their lives.
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 11-14-10 at 08:49 AM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member bhkyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    The OP made a mistake in buying the Brompton without the rear rack. With the skateboard wheels and the rack, the bike rolls very well and is probably the best rolling folder on the market. There are Vids on YouTube that illustrate the Brompton rolling very well on the rear rack.

    I happen to think the OP will not be better off with any folder at all! Locking up an expensive brand new Birdy, Bike Friday or Swift folder to a bike rack is not a good idea at all. I suspect many people share his opinion because I have yet to see anyone bring their folder inside a resturant or movie house. Yet, I see so many folders on the street but none are ever taken indoors because they have to be carried.

    I suggest the OP buy a used 10 speed bicycle from the 80's that's scratched up and use that as a commuter. Give the bike a tuneup, new tires, cables and brake pads and he has a solid bike with with limited value. He does not have to carry his folder everywhere or even roll it and should the bike get stolen, his loss is not significant.

    Most people with folders only ride them but do not want them to become a part of their lives.
    Or simply that not every likes Bromptons, despite the high praise. I made a mistake buying one.

    But also you may be correct that maybe a folder is not what he wants/needs.
    Dual drive Mezzo (GOLD), Dual Drive Mezzo with bullbars (black), White Brompton thingy with Dahon Androes stem and bull bars. Birdie (old sytle) 7 speed. Downtube NS8. Birdie red.

  22. #22
    urban commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    Locking up an expensive brand new Birdy, Bike Friday or Swift folder to a bike rack is not a good idea at all. I suspect many people share his opinion because I have yet to see anyone bring their folder inside a resturant or movie house. Yet, I see so many folders on the street but none are ever taken indoors because they have to be carried.
    Actually, I feel safer leaving my Brompton locked up outside than I do some other bikes--most people think it's "broken." I've had kids ask me what's wrong with my bike when the wheel is flipped under. One person asked why I would want a bike like that because it looks like "an exercise bike" and "ugly." Most people around here have no idea what kind of bike it is and wouldn't have the slightest idea how to make it ride-able when it's in a semi-folded state. It would also be pretty difficult for a thief to re-sell something that unique on craigslist or to a used bike shop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    Most people with folders only ride them but do not want them to become a part of their lives.
    So because I don't always carry my bike into restaurants or grocery stores, it's not "a part of my life?" That's silly. People buy folding bikes for lots of different reasons. Some want easy storage, some like the novelty, some want a multi-modal commute, etc. I don't feel the need to take it everywhere I go, but that doesn't mean I don't utilize its ability to fold up into a small package.

    A folding bike is not for everyone, I can agree with you there.
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    I bought a folder so that I could take it on Amtrak (not all routes even allow checked baggage, much less un-boxed bikes), inter-regional buses, and trains such as Chicago's Metra (which doesn't allow non-folders during some parts of the day). So no, I don't think I'm barking up the wrong tree by looking into folders. I am not considering bikes whose disassembly means having to transport them in a hardcase, because my aim is to avoid having anything with me that I can't wear/ride.

    (About the EZ wheels: I don't have them. Whoops. Thought I did, since I've seen some Brompton pictures, I could swear, in which there's no wheel atop the rear fender. I think now that I just have the little cone-things instead. I'll change that part of the first post later.)

    As I said, I chose the Brompton because I thought that, unlike all other folders I've seen except the Mezzo and maybe the Tikit (both of which had various issues that ruled them out for me), it had the advantage of not only being a good travel bike, but of being portable enough to be taken into many places of business, sparing me the trouble of locking it. That tipped the scale in its favor. As I've said, having seen it in the real world as opposed to bike shops, I've changed my mind about that. I now think one or two certain larger folders that I'd considered would have been more appropriate for me, as I'd kill, at the moment, for higher gearing and an adjustable handlebar. Nevertheless, I do enjoy and admire the Brompton.

    I can't comment much on how tacky it is or isn't to drag/tote/wheel 30 pounds of steel, the size of a large suitcase, into restaurants or shops after oneself; because I have only once seen anyone bring a folder indoors. This was an Apple Store employee, and he was taking the bike through the store to some back area, I assume, where it would be stored while he worked. If you've ever been in an Apple Store, you know how crowded they can be, and how there is virtually nowhere that a customer could place a folding bike without causing problems. On the other hand, I frequently see Bromptons and other folders locked on the street in the Chicago area and in Madison, WI.

    About the "perceptions" issue--there are restaurants now which don't allow people to have laptop computers out at certain hours--there are even cafes which prohibit them at times. There is also the complained-about modern phenomena of the "Momzilla," hogging sidewalks and walkways with enormous prams and whatnot. These are partly issues of practicality, partly matters of ambience/taste. Regardless, there are plenty of areas in which one can imagine a folding bike being understandly unwelcome indoors. Of course, if you have an activist or exhibitionist bent, you may welcome those opportunities for agitating. I'd simply rather leave the thing outside.

  24. #24
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    I'm quite sympathetic to the thrust of Alec E's view; getting the best out of my folding bike has at times been extraordinarily frustrating, and I was initially quite disappointed having had an overly-romantic view as to what a folder would provide. Though I bought mine whilst living in a house where there was space for a full-size bike but I've since moved into a 2nd floor flat, which now makes the folder very useful.

    As for thieves not recognizing folding bikes as valuable, I don't think that's the case in London judging by the number of dodgy Bromptons and Dahons that pop up on Gumtree daily. Despite my bike being fairly low-end I'd still not risk leaving it locked anywhere, and I agree that it's less than ideal to be wheeling it around indoors in cafes etc.. So it's less than ideal in every sense, but still provides a lot of utility.

    I think I need a folding beater bike for times that I need to be able to lock something outside.

  25. #25
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    putting it, folded, in the shopping trolley, on the bottom shelf certainly giver one way to move it around while shopping.
    putting the folding basket on the check out conveyor to put your purchases into, by the clerk,
    will limit the quantity you buy to what the bike can carry easily,
    and may get you a no bag consumed credit.

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