|The Brompton World Championships|
No London cyclist starts out on a Brompton. Having a folding bike if you live anywhere in Zones 1-3 seems pointless. Why would you settle for teeny-tiny wheels when you can have full sized, speedy ones? However, the hip young things living in Hackney that begin on a hybrid, graduate to racers and have a brief affair with a single speed can't hold onto their youth forever. A Big Job, commitment and children all force the inevitable migration to London's outer reaches, the green and pleasant lands of Virginia Water, Chorleywood or...somewhere in Kent. And so the daily bike commute becomes train-based, and a Brompton is purchased. From that day forth, said rider must leave behind their past life of devotion to real size wheels and extol the benefits of a folder.
Brompton riders are typically suited- those little wheels don't allow enough speed to make sweat a problem, and Lycra for aerodynamics would be laughable. They strap a shiny briefcase to the front and adopt a curious hunched over riding style to match their furrowed brows. Clearly men (and the occasional women) used to stress and competition, the frustration of not being able to compete with their sleeker, speedier fellow road users comes off them in waves. The hierarchy of the road is an inverse model of what they are used to in Lincoln's Inn or KPMG. No respect if shown for job title, but these daily humiliations are in general taken with good grace. Age and experience have been mellowing, for some.
However, the loss of dignity that is inevitable with a folding bike is richly compensated for in convenience. No endless debates on how to avoid your bike being stolen, no wet-trousers-syndrome from a saddle left out in the rain and the freedom to take your wheels anywhere. So us grown-up size bike riders may sneer, but perhaps, as they patiently fold and unfold in a ritual as soothing as the rosary, the Brompton bosses get the last laugh.
Image by dullhunk
Image by dullhunk