It was another pastor, Richard Wong, who evangelized me about the Brompton bicycle. I picked up cycling about seven years ago and it began as my means to get away quickly to the Chinese, Japanese and Jurong Lake parks for prayer and meditation. But I have never heard about the Brompton until Ps Richard Wong began to seed my fertile ground with Brompton seeds. Soon I began to search the internet and talk about it. My grown-up children noticed this and generously decided to buy me a Brompton for my 60th birthday. What a great gift it proved to be: it would give me a feeling of freedom and pleasure. I exercise without strain, and I keep stumbling into small adventures and new friendships.
With the explosion of interest in cycling during this pandemic, the waiting time in Singapore for a Brompton purchase is about a year. You are put on a waiting list. Unless you are willing to buy a second hand preloved one, or an imitation of the Brompton, that is a rather long wait.
Let me share with you the seven reasons why I am so into this bike.
THE BEST FOLD
This is one of the main reasons why the Brompton is the best foldable bike. It folds uniquely, securely, and compactly. Once you have mastered the order of the fold and the unfold, it can be done rather quickly under three minutes. It takes up little storage space in the home or office.
Related to the tight fold is the portability. The basic model is about 9 kg and can be easily carried onto the bus or car boot. In the MRT station, it can be folded and wheeled through the turnstiles and onto the train with ease. You can bring it into shopping malls or leave it near you at restaurants. It takes up less space than a child’s pram or a wheel chair. You wouldn’t want to leave it parked (even with lock) outside or people will be tempted to steal it. You can put it under your desk in the office. Many have even loaded it onto a plane in a suitable luggage, and vacationed with it in a foreign country.
THE UNIQUE DESIGN
Every now and then, the Brompton I ride has turned heads because of its unique design, the way it sits when stationary, or is pushed along in shopping malls. On occasion, a brave or curious stranger would approach me and ask about the bicycle. Sometimes you suspect strangers pointing fingers at your Brompton are telling their companion about how this bicycle was the brand involved in the corruption case of a National Parks executive. This infamy has strangely cemented its reputation as a highly desirable recreational vehicle.
THE SMOOTH RIDE
The Brompton rides well. It is not a road bike, and with its smaller 16 inches tyres, it is tough to catch up with bigger wheeled road bikes. It is also not pleasant to ride on rough terrain, for which a gravel or mountain bike is better suited. It is built for commuting not racing, for leisure riding in the park connectors and pedestrian paths, not for thrilling rides in jungle paths. I have found that the six-speed system of gears sufficient for my rides along park connectors. Slopes of gradient up to 50 degrees are doable but I do not have the fitness for steeper slopes.
Anybody who rides bicycles for some time would have heard of the Brompton. Their immediate reaction would be that it is expensive. Then they will gradually see that it is stylishly unique. They will realise that it is a lifestyle item worth the amount you paid. It is the Mercedes Benz of folding bikes. It is branded. It oozes class. It rides superbly. It is durable.
Unlike other famous brands, the Brompton brand is effectively made viral more by its loyal customers than by the company’s marketing department. These Brompton lovers are highly tribal, voluble and active on social media.
In most countries, the Brompton owners will spontaneously form virtual communities using social media like Facebook. They will organise trips, buy and sell Brompton stuff, get tips and advice, tell their stories and share their pictures. It gives them a sense of community and identity and this gives a nice feeling of belonging. They also get to meet new acquaintances and develop friendships.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Some think its expensive. I think it is good value for money. I got mine at $2,300 during a Christmas sales on 15 October 2015 ($2,780 before discount). It will give you good rides for at least ten years. When maintained well, this piece of solid British engineering can last twenty years and beyond. Do the sums and you will see that over 10 years, it breaks down to $20 a month.
See it as an investment in health. So rather then end up paying more than $3,000 for all kinds of medical treatments or hospitalisation due to poor health, pay an advance and enjoy the ride to better health.
By the way, should you want to give up cycling for some reason, you can still sell your pre-loved Brompton for a decent price. It holds its value well, as I have seen in past years, and particularly during this pandemic. Take a look at Carousell and you will see what I mean.
I have seen bikes bought cheaply and the ride became squeaky after a year, and the chains rusted, and the PVC seat showed signs of tear. Such cheaper bikes will break down and add to the many problems you already have in life.
For Brompton, you get excellent design and solid build for the price you pay. You really do get what you paid for.
Here is an old blogpost about pastors who went on a ride with their Bromptons.