What folding bike should I get?
January 16, 2006 2:54 AM   Subscribe

Which folding bike should I get? Are Bromptons worth it?

The compensation's come through, and I'm now living in London. So I'm thinking of splashing out on a nice new folding bike. I'm fairly impressed with the Brompton reputation - but are they worth it? And are the higher models worth the extra? And is it worth shelling out for (say) Brompton brand lights and other accessories?
posted by handee to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
They're ok. Not particularly my cup of tea, though.

Anyway, it's not a direct answer to your question, but if you want some decent hands-on advice for buying a bike in London, get thee to Cycle Surgery in Holborn. The staff are friendly, and they'll take their time with you.

Cheap lights will do you fine. A pair (white/red) of LED lights with a flashing mode should cost about £10.

Also, self-sealing tubes will save you a metric tonne of trouble. There's lots of things to puncture tyres on London roads, and changing a tube in the rain is ++unfunny. I don't know if you can get them prefabbed for foldy wheels, but if not, get some goo and do it yourself.
posted by veedubya at 3:14 AM on January 16, 2006

Don't expect ta Brompton to be any good when you first get on it. It rides like a cheap bike; feells like a cheap bike. You are paying the money for the fact it folds. Think a lot about if you really need a bike that folds. If you really want a brompton why not have a day out in Bath (1hr20 frm Paddington) and arrange a test ride with this Bike shop located under the station. They have all the various folders that you could want to see and nice people selling them.
posted by priorpark17 at 3:32 AM on January 16, 2006

I'd also check the Folding Bike thread on Bike Forums.net
posted by jalexei at 4:25 AM on January 16, 2006

Yes; everything about the Bromptons is wonderful. I don't get the rides like a cheap bike bit; I used to smoke roadies on mine. First ride on a Brompton is a bit nervous, but you get used to 'em soon.

Since fitting the Brompton kevlar-banded tyres, I haven't had a puncture. They roll fast, too.

You do kind of need the real Brompton accessories, as anything else might affect the folding. Even the wrong type of brake blocks can stop it folding.
posted by scruss at 4:43 AM on January 16, 2006

My best friend has this bike and he absolutely loves it. It's too big for me to ride comfortably, so I can't comment on that, but I did have him show me how it folds up and it was really easy.
posted by cilantro at 4:47 AM on January 16, 2006

I saw this Puma bike in a magazine just the other day, and thought it looked cool. Never seen one in real life though.
posted by spilon at 6:30 AM on January 16, 2006

Best answer: Older askmefi thread, for reference.
posted by tew at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2006

Best answer: The Bromptons don't feel like a cheap bike to me, and I'd recommend them with one proviso: they weigh a bloody ton, especially when one lives at the top of five flights of stairs.

Which is why I'm getting rid of mine and looking for something lighter - I'm sort of tempted by the Strida 3, despite/because it's so bonkers-looking.
posted by jack_mo at 9:02 AM on January 16, 2006

Best answer: In the area of folding bikes, there are two serious candidates that have stood the test of time: the Brompton and the Bike Friday. The rest are pretenders.

The Brompton is the most practical, well-thought out and durable urban folding bike. I have one, I sold a kidney in order to buy it for almost GBP 600 (at "On your bike!" next to the London Bridge tube station), and I haven't regretted it since. It is the bike you want for riding around in city clothes, grocery shopping, taking on the train, tube or bus, etc. It has the essential chainguard and fenders to allow you to ride while dressed like a civilized person. It has an ingenius half-stowed position which saves space and allows the bike to stand upright without the need for a kickstand. Putting it into this position takes literally a split second. The compromise you make with a Brompton is in handling and performance -- the steering is a bit twitchy and the frame flexes slightly when pedalling hard. Don't expect to win any races against bike couriers on this thing.

The Bike Friday, on the other hand, is a great riding bike that happens to fold/dismantle (but not so conveniently). It uses standard Shimano/Campagnolo road components, and can be set up for the same riding geometry as any road bike. It handles well and the frame is super-rigid even when sprinting out of the saddle. I would recommend this bike for people who travel a lot and want their bike with them all the time, and want something that rides like a regular road bike, but don't anticipate having to fold it much when at home or at their destination.

Since you're a Londoner, the choice is crystal clear. Get the Brompton.
posted by randomstriker at 9:18 AM on January 16, 2006

A brompton would be great on vacation.

That Strida looks like it would crush your parts at the first sudden stop.
posted by craniac at 9:52 AM on January 16, 2006

I've been riding a Strida for a few years, and I like it pretty well. I've stopped suddenly several times (and even run into a couple things) and my parts are still intact, so don't let that worry you.

I like that it folds up quickly and easily, takes up very little space, and can be rolled along like a handtruck. It uses a kevlar belt, so no greasy trousers.

The compromise it makes is the single gear and the seating arrangement. Basically, it's great for trips of about 3 km on at most gentle hills. Speed-wise, 20 km/h or so seems to be about the practical maximum.

Of course, for all that, it's substantially cheaper than the Brompton. Strida offers a try it, if you don't like it send it back service, so you might give it a whirl.
posted by jedicus at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2006

Response by poster: I think I saw someone on a strida last night. I was wondering WTF it was:)

From the previous thread and this one, it looks to me like I'll have to arrange a test ride on a Brompton. Cheers.
posted by handee at 1:52 AM on January 17, 2006

Whatever you do, don't buy a used old-model Strida. The Strida Mk1 had all the handling of a wet noodle.
posted by scruss at 9:26 AM on January 28, 2006

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