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Old 09-13-12, 07:39 AM   #1
tourer78
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Brompton question from Bike Friday owner

Hi all, am at the mid point of a six week european trip on my BF and various other means of transport and have spent today walking the streets of Barcelona. Throughout the day I have seen a continuous stream of Bromptons, far more than I have ever seen elsewhere, I enjoy learning about different bikes, cycling history and stats and I was wondering if anyone knows the exact reason for their popularity in this part of the world. Happy travels
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Old 09-13-12, 08:06 AM   #2
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I'm sure somebody in Europe can comment better than I, but it's probably because:

1. Bromptons are built in the UK, so the EU market is an obvious destination. Sometimes geography just plays a huge role. Bike Fridays - and some others I believe - are built in the US, so there may be simply less exposure. Not sure how popular Dahons and Terns are in the EU, and there's probably some EU regional manufacturers that sell within the EU - different competing brands.
2. Bromptons do have the smallest folded geometry. There are always some tradeoffs - I sometimes wish my Brompton could take larger wheels (20") or just different 16" wheels that are more aggressive, wider, or even studded (winter). But for most of my needs, the Brompton's compactness is what makes the difference. It's not just the fact that it folds the smallest, but also that it stays folded in such a compact form factor. (That being said, I've ridden the Brompton for hours at a time, and apparently others even tour on them.)
3. Brompton's carrying block to attach various bags, etc. works really well - better than I would have thought. I have a full size Rivendell that is just a joy to ride, but for the quick off-to-work-I-need-to-get-things-done trip, it's just more convenient to load up the Brompton bag - click - and away I ride.
4. Bromptons are probably the most multifunctional. The configuration that allows you to keep the bag attached and then wheel the folded bike around like a cart or carrier is brilliant. It's not always practical - and the rolling EZ wheels are a bit on the cheap side - but it works most of the time.
5. Bromptons just look different. They're a bit quirky. You can order crazy colour combinations to express your inner self. We live in a mid-sized Canadian city and when my wife and I commute and she's riding along in her red Brompton, red helmet, with jacket flapping in the wind... she just looks so quintessentially - ah - British? It's cute. It's a cult thing.

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Last edited by Ozonation; 09-13-12 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 09-13-12, 08:53 AM   #3
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It's a cult thing.
Only the other day I was riding my Brompton and a taxi driver called me a cult.

That's what I thought he said anyhow.
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Old 09-13-12, 09:05 AM   #4
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Only the other day I was riding my Brompton and a taxi driver called me a cult... That's what I thought he said anyhow.
THAT was funny!
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Old 09-13-12, 10:09 AM   #5
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IDK about WA, maybe Perth has better public transportation,
USA destroyed theirs right after WW2, the oil,tire and auto & bus makers
made it happen..

benefit of multimodal integration, is folding bikes make sense.. there..
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Old 09-13-12, 09:30 PM   #6
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I don't know about Europe, but Bromptons in general seem to be chosen for their decades of design expertise that are engineered into the bikes, their superior compact fold, and durability. As the owner of other folding bikes, none of them seem to integrate so seemlessly into my daily life; others are too big when folded to carry inside a business I am visiting, need re-tuning more frequently, etc. Bromptons are something of a chick magnet, too.
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Old 09-14-12, 12:29 AM   #7
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I wonder if it's just perception bias. Last time i was in Barcelona, soon after my partner got his Hoptown, I noticed how many hoptown's were in Barcelona. I guess catalans just love foldies.

And their Bicing, which they won't share
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Old 09-14-12, 03:42 AM   #8
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seen elsewhere, I enjoy learning about different bikes, cycling history and stats and I was wondering if anyone knows the exact reason for their popularity in this part of the world. Happy travels
One contribution to this is that I think there's a rental service there that will bring you/pick up a bike for you, so that surely could skew what's being seen. I can't recall many Brompton rental services anywhere else, other than to demo a bike for purchase decision.
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Old 09-14-12, 04:31 AM   #9
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oh, and don't forget: Catalonia is rich. Bromptons are a sign of a high level of disposable income.
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Old 09-14-12, 04:34 AM   #10
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I wonder if it's just perception bias. Last time i was in Barcelona, soon after my partner got his Hoptown, I noticed how many hoptown's were in Barcelona. I guess catalans just love foldies.

And their Bicing, which they won't share
Brompton export 70% of their production. I'm surprised people are surprised Brompton is popular outside of the UK. I would say that is based on their perception bias!

@ the op. Why Barcelona? is a good question. Like Jefmcg says the Catalans/Spanish probably love folding bikes, Barcelona is an affluent city, Brompton is a great fold and there are a lot of side streets in Barcelona suited to cycling. It may not be the #1 folder with everyone on the forum but the UK & certain international markets seem to confirm the Brompton is one of the definitive folding bikes that people go for if their budget isn't compromised.
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Old 09-14-12, 07:43 AM   #11
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I would imagine most people who ride them came to the same conclusion I did; if you can afford one, they are the best compromise between performance, fold, overall size, and coolness. I've never regretted my purchase for a minute. I had doubts about the other stuff I looked at for one reason or another. I'm not surprised there are a lot more of them in Britain and Europe than the USA or Canada.
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Old 09-14-12, 01:40 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by tourer78 View Post
Hi all, am at the mid point of a six week european trip on my BF and various other means of transport and have spent today walking the streets of Barcelona. Throughout the day I have seen a continuous stream of Bromptons, far more than I have ever seen elsewhere, I enjoy learning about different bikes, cycling history and stats and I was wondering if anyone knows the exact reason for their popularity in this part of the world. Happy travels
Even Heinz Stucke who used to tour with a Bike Friday himself switched a Brompton! http://www.brompton.co.uk/journeys/item/?p=8853
Russ Roca and Laura Crawford also toured with Bromptons too -- they used to tour with the Surlys.

Brompton's main appeal is really the size and fold which works really well using in conjunction with multi-modal transport. Very few bikes can do better than the Brompton. But you know, it's the prestige of owning a prestigious brand. A Ferrari does not necessary drive nicer than say a Toyota Camry or a Lexus, but the name says it all. Most people like to show off their possessions, making sure that the brand sticks out. Why do you think luxury brands like LV, Gucci, Prada and Nordstrom are doing fine in the recession. It projects an image to others that you're doing just fine financially in this rather poor economy, especially in Europe where banks and governments are being bailed out dime a dozen!

Lastly, folding bikes sales are greater in Europe and Asia. North American sales are much less in comparison; both USA and Canada combined. This has to do with our transportation infrastructure where we, North American, rely heavily on automobiles whereas it is a contrast in some European countries. A lot of North Americans live in suburbs where access to convenient public transport can be inconvenient. Plus even if you have access to public transport, bike paths are rather lacking in some North American cities with the exception of Portland, Oregon which is used as a great cycling model city especially with the Hawthorne bridge crossing. You'll find Bromptons easily in Oregon too and Clever Cycles well stocked number of Bromptons goes to show that there are people who are willing to plunk down $1500 for a bike.

Here in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I do see Bromptons, but they are not as many compared to the Dahons.
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Old 09-14-12, 01:58 PM   #13
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Why do you think luxury brands like LV, Gucci, Prada and Nordstrom are doing fine in the recession.
Haha, I kinda chuckled when you said Nordstrom since it's a store, not a brand name. Anyways, that's totally out of the thread's subject - I totally agree with the whole "prestige" thing. Performance aside, it's a big deal to have a Brompton (if you're into brands and all that jazz like I am).
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Old 09-14-12, 02:27 PM   #14
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Small apartments always have room for a couple's Bromptons.
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Old 09-17-12, 03:52 PM   #15
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Small apartments always have room for a couple's Bromptons.
One of the main reasons I bought mine was because it easily fit in my Pleasureway Traverse camping van. None of the other folders did.
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Old 09-18-12, 12:54 AM   #16
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There are 'bikes that fold' and 'folding bikes'. The Brompton is is a jack of all trades and a master of some! That's what makes it such a success in markets around the world and not just the UK. It is wrong to assume that it merely sells off the back of some 'Made in Britain' mystique. I love bikes and especially those that can fold but the Brompton is the one I'd never give up if forced to make such a choice.
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