Seven Reasons To Get A Brompton Bicycle

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.


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.


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 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.


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 was a 60th birthday gift from my three adult children. This bike 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.

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Cycling Rowers Bay Park and Hampstead Wetlands Park

I first heard about Rowers Bay from Dr Jimmy Tan, a lecturer in Trinity Theological College. I saw lovely photos on a chat group and I decided I must plan a cycling jaunt there. So I enlisted two other pastors in transition to join me Pastor Eng Hwa, formerly of Praise Evangelical Free Church, and Pastor Richard Wong, formerly of Singapore Christian Canaan Church.


We met at Rowers Bay. I parked there and unfolded my Brompton. Eng Hwa rode from his home for 30 minutes to get there. Richard rode his Brompton to a MRT station on the North-south line and stopped at Khatib MRT, unfolded his Brompton and rode to the destination. On the way back, I gave Richard a lift, and two Brompton bicycles could fit into the boot of a Toyota Allion. One of the beautiful things about the Brompton bicycle is its simple, compact, elegant fold that can be transported on the bus, train, car or even a plane.

I was stunned by the blue of the Lower Seletar Reservoir, the cool breeze and gentle morning light. It felt like I stumbled into a hidden lake. I felt I could idle on a bench and bathe in that charming atmosphere the whole morning. But that had to be left to later. My friends arrived and we left for the Hampstead Wetlands Park via the park connector.


The Wetlands Park was a small lake carpeted with water lilies, and surrounded by lush mature trees. Here I felt like an intruder. There were many birders with their mammoth cameras on tripods waiting patiently and quietly for that timely bird shot. We were a bit too noisy for them I think. They probably resented us. We were ruffling their feathers with our posing and selfies and wefies. It felt a wee uncomfortable and I was relieved (and so were they) when we left for nearby Brompton Road.

I didn’t want to go there there again but it was nearby and pastor Richard wanted to take a lovers’ picture there of his titanium Brompton with the Brompton Road street sign. It seems to be a ritual that distinguishes the genuine Brompton lovers from mere admirers or owners. I didn’t buy that myth but I am easy on such non-essentials, and went along for fun.


Interestingly, we had tea at a vintage attap kopitiam called BOH GEH (Hokkien dialect meaning “toothless”). It serves economical food for the employees of aeronautical companies in the Seletar area. We sat outside with coffee and “tua pau” (big pork buns) and talked about our transitions, sharing life honestly. Five years earlier, I had been there with pastor Richard and I was certain, though he was doubtful. Deja vu. I went to my blog and searched out this blogpost HERE. I saw a picture of a round marble table with chairs and a yellow metal three seater and I showed it to him as final proof that this coffeeshop was the same one we went years ago.


We rode further to visit a bicycle themed cafe called Soek Seng 1954 at the side of a warehouse or factory. I was surprised at the attention that went into the gorgeous interior design of the cafe and took many pictures of the cafe. The coffee and the food there was above average too. Our conversation was dominated by talk about the fall of Ravi Zacharias. Our discussions surfaced the organisational, theological and spiritual issues arising from the sad and shocking moral failures of the world-renown apologist. God willing, I will write something about this. I am still reluctant to read the detailed investigation reports. I don’t have the stomach for reading such sordid stuff. And if I write my opinion without reading the investigation report, wouldn’t I be dismissive of the gravity of the sins?

By the time lunch fellowship ended the sun overhead was bearing down on us intensely and we rushed back to Rowers Bay and from there went our separate ways.

Lord, thank you for a beautiful morning, refreshing friendships, charming parks and wonderful rides. Amen.

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Cycling with friends in Punggol Waterway Park

I am blessed to have God-given friends. I met Lance Ng, a spiritual director working with Kingsmead Center, on the recommendation of Jacintha Teo (see blogroll links). A modest man who gave up a promising career to serve God in giving spiritual direction. I met him regularly for about a year in Kingsmead, and during that period went with him to a retreat in Chau Son, and a camino in Spain. He is graced by God to listen and give sharp insights that help me grow in self-understanding, knowing God and what he is doing in my soul. Recently, he guided me through a retreat for my transition and I was blessed. You can read about this retreat HERE.

Another lovely friend, my wife and I got acquainted with is Kae, a social worker with a social service agency. We got to know her during the Chau Son retreat and the camino and connected with her easily.

They have both picked up cycling during the Covid-19 and find in it a great joy and re-creation. There is a theology of play as you know and we are not to devalue play, as it is a way to pre-dispose ourselves to God. We can even find the God who dances in play. Thankfully, it took confinement and covid-19 to prod them into cycling. So when they invited me to a riding jaunt in the north east – the Punggol Waterway, I was happy to do so, as it would be my first time cycling with them. So after a camino meeting where we planned retreats (see image below) that Lance would be leading in the first and second quarter, we had two Bromptons in the car boot and headed to a free car park near Punggol Seafood restaurant and started our bike ride from there.

The last time I rode here was with Pastor Richard Wong in March 2016. The Punggol Waterway Park was new then. I wrote, “I agree with him that this is a beautiful park. Give it another five years for the young trees to grow bigger and shadier and it will be perfect”. To read the full story click HERE.

The weather was cloudy and cool on this afternoon ride on Friday, 22 January 2021. It was a lovely ride and I enjoyed the shady experience provided by trees that have grown lush with branches and leaves that lends its evergreen tint upon the whole scene. We rode around and was on the iconic Halus Bridge. Mid-afternoon showers arrived, and we reached our coffee destination in time to avoid the rain, and had coffee and cake at an area by the river, which had many cafes and restaurants which did not exist five years ago. Quite happening. I imagine this must place must be packed during weekends.

It was a satisfying relaxed afternoon of riding with friends who I realised were much younger and fitter than me, as I often found myself 50 metres behind them straining to catch up. I felt gratified, grateful and glad. Life with God is never boring even after retirement.

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Getting back my fitness and health

I did not know how unfit I was until I tried to to summit Bukit Timah Hill via Dairy Farm. I would park near Hillview MRT and take the Wallace Trail and veer off a side path that leads to the Dairy Farm Loop, and thence to Jungle Fall Path, and down Rengas Path and back to the Wallace Trail. A good workout that takes about 45 minutes or more, depending on your fitness.

I did this once with my wife and daughter after the Circuit Breaker and found it too challenging. In the past, with regular weekly training, this route would have been fairly easy and routine. I realised how unfit I was and decided that I need to devote more time to getting fit and healthy again. In addition, I noticed that I have been gaining weight the past year. So I have decided on a program to get healthy and fit again.


This has now become a weekly affair. It has been about a month or more of hiking the route, and I could feel that I am better able to tackle the Dairy Farm and Jungle Fall staircases with greater ease. I hope to reach my previous level of conditioning and fitness when it comes to hiking.


This is a more accessible activity and exercise. It is so convenient for me. When I hike I have to drive a good 15 minutes to get to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. When I cycle, within ten minutes of cycling, I would be in the Jurong Lakeside park connector, or the Ulu Pandan park connector. This makes cycling something I can do on the spur of the moment. Even when the cloud looks grey and heavy, I could take a risk and ride, for within minutes, I can take shelter and return once the rain stopped.

Cycling gives me a sense of freedom, of being mobile. I can explore different places and even take the foldable bike on the train to another park connector close to a MRT station. Besides the sense of freedom and adventure, I feel the pleasure of being faster and more relaxed than the joggers I pass by. Jogging is strenuous and requires tremendous effort. I need motivation to merely put on my shoes. Most times I give up before I leave the house. But with cycling I feel different: I look forward to it, the breeze and the coolness, the scenery I can immerse myself in, the people I can observe and look at. It is so much fun. And such a good exercise.

I have many pastor friends who cycle as well, and that makes it more fun when we cycle together and stop by places for a meal or a snack and catch up on what has been happening in our lives, what the Lord has been teaching us. Recently, I did one such jaunt with pastor Eng Hwa. We did a ride from Jurong East where I live, to Jurong Lake Gardens, Bukit Gombak’s Little Guilin, and Bukit Batok Park before we stopped for lunch and fellowship. Fun, exercise and edification – wonderful trinitarian combination.


Now for the second week I have begun to swim laps. I find this so good for the upper body and heart fitness. My arms felt weak and limp, and I was out of breath after ten minutes of non-stop swimming. I need to do this more often, especially since the swimming pool is literally in front of my block. No excuses – just do it. I hope I will be able to sustain this. I need to learn to enjoy the swim and not think of it as an exercise I “have to” do.

Besides these I try to do my planking; and work on stretching and strengthening exercises which can be done at home.

I feel that I have neglected my physical health while in pastoral ministry. I often cannot join my hiking friends who hike on Saturday mornings because of ministry commitments. Then on Monday, I feel emotionally drained and what I needed most was a restful and quiet day to remember, rest and relish, not to forget the chores and errands to run. Inevitably, my fitness and health suffers.

I really admire people with iron discipline and great time management and self-control. These people can squeeze time in the schedule and hit the gym and workout or run or exercise like a machine. They don’t need to enjoy what they do. Just do it. Get it over with. It’s necessary so just do it. Enjoyment, pleasure is not in the sights: its purely to oil the human machinery. Like taking bitter medicine: its good for you so down it. I am not like this. Too bad. I need to find something I enjoy so that it is sustainable for the long run.

This is all part of the spirituality of ageing well.

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Cycling the Marina Barrage

The view from across the barrage.
The view from across the barrage.

Eric and me at the Marina barrage
Eric and me at the Marina barrage

Central business district in the background.
Central business district in the background.

On a bridge with the Merlion behind
On a bridge with the Merlion behind

It was 7.45 am. We folded the two bikes, one a Tern Link, the other a Cronus Earl 3.0 onto the Daihatsu. The back seat had to be folded to put the two foldies in. My neighbour drove to Marina Barrage. From there we rode off all around the Marina Barrage and the reservoir in front of the city skyline. It was a stunning, beautiful and pleasant ride. It was a sunny day but a light breeze made it pleasant and I got so caught up with the panoramic views and ease of biking around that I forgot about the sun. At the end of it all we ate roti prata at the hawker center near the barrage. It had been a good three hours and a half. What a stimulating day! For this reason, I bought foldable bicycles.

View of CDB
View of CDB

Met other Christians and tried out a Brompton owned by one of them
Met other Christians and tried out a Brompton owned by one of them

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