Saturday, March 30, 2013

One Month and Counting...

I've ordered a Brompton. It's a folding bicycle, and it's going to change my life. And yes, I am a wee bit obsessed.  But I hear that's what happens to people once they stumble onto these things, realize what they are, and what they can do, and how they can make everything so much easier.

For the uninitiated, Bromptons are full-sized bikes made in the UK that can fold up in about 10-15 seconds to a package a little less than 2 feet by 2 feet by 10 inches. This puts them neatly into the "carry on luggage" category, and as such they are allowed on the Metro during rush hour. I can't tell you how many times I've planned to ride to work in the morning, but when I wake up I'm too tired, so I just Metro in instead. And because my current bike is full-sized, I can't take it onto the Metro with me until after 10 a.m., which is too late. So I'm left for the day without a bike, and thus unable to bike BACK home, and so I have gone the whole day without a nice long bike ride, which is bad for my waistline and my attitude. I need that ride -- it centers me.

After reading a ton about them online, I went to go see them in person at Bicycle Space. I took a few test rides around the block with various models, and found my favorite -- an "H6R," meaning it's a six-speed high handlebar model with a rear rack.

Here, I tried to capture my excitement.

The store let me borrow a demo model and use it for a couple days. It was pretty awesome! I was able to:

Bike to the Silver Spring metro station in 3 minutes -- shaving 7 minutes off my normal walk -- and keep it next to me during rush hour!

Bring it inside and put it under my table at Starbucks!

Ride 13 miles home on the Capital Crescent Trail!

About the only thing I didn't like about it was the stock saddle, which is fine for a couple miles in the city, but frankly is pretty uncomfortable after a 13 mile ride. It was so bad that even with all the Brompton's merits, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go through with it. That is, until I went back to the store and tried one with a different saddle, the Brooks B17. Here's my final test ride:

The B17 rocked. It's a pricy upgrade but it's worth it.

So, I placed my order for the H6R with a Brooks saddle, using the extended seatpost (for taller chaps), and I also picked up a C-Bag which will sit on the front luggage block. Here's a mock-up of my new bike, complete with some Go Blue Cheer!

It's a custom bike, so they have to make it from scratch, and it's scheduled to get here in ONE MONTH. I cannot wait, and every day I notice times when having my Brompton would be so convenient. For instance, I had biked to rehearsal on my full-sized bike, and I was pretty tired and wanted to just metro home. But because it was 5 pm, aka "Peak of the Peak," there was no way a Metro worker would let me take my bike on the train. For that I'd have to wait until 7 pm. So I ended up, in my exhausted state, biking uphill 7 miles to get home. Yeah, it was my exercise for the day, but I'd really rather have had the option to Metro. With my folding bike I'll be able to!