7 Reasons the Brompton NYC Edition is superb
Brompton have a fantastic reputation for making very high quality folding bikes, albeit at staggering prices. Having recently changed jobs and finding myself with more opportunities to cycle while at work and enjoy the adrenaline buzz of being physically intimidated by bus drivers, I thought I’d get my first mother-flippin’ Brompton.
After renting a few for one-off rides, trying out some local second-hand models via kindly Gumtree sellers and generally researching the shit out of the various models and specifications online, I decided I wanted a two-speed model with flat bars and some sickkkk plastic mudguards. This specification is known in Brompton-language as an S2L model. [S refers to handlebar style, 2 refers to the number of gears and L refers to completely epic mudguards].
My thought process went something like this:
Two-speed = simple, easy maintenance, lightweight-ish, capable of hills, more likely to get me fitterer ‘cos pedalin and stuf.
Flat bars = sportier riding position, good visibility, clean looking.
Mudguards = mudguards.
I was about to pull the trigger on a second-hand model a guy was selling in London when my eye was drawn to this strange beast:
1. Dem Looks
Bromptons look odd. Especially odd when an adult human-bean is sitting on them. The undersized wheels, towering seat post and obtuse geometry of the frame make them appear visually offensive and comical. How do you ‘own’ this other-worldly look without inviting regular heckling or growing to loathe your steel steed?
In my opinion, going for a stealthy black paintjob with tastelessly acerbic components dotted around is one of the only ways to go. From some angles it’s subtle, from others reasonably gaudy and visually-arresting. It could have looked unintentionally odd, now it looks intentionally odd. Geek chic?
Things are further enhanced by the ‘bespoke’ reflective detailing all over the bike, components and luggage. 3M reflective tape has been used for all the branding and a variety of patterns resembling half-finished spiderwebs/child’s doodles that adorn the frame and bag. I like the 3M tape but don’t love the actual design of the doodles.
In dusky conditions however, and with the included LED-lights pulsing, this thing lights up like a fucking irradiated lollipop lady!
2. The F-ing Fold
The way Brompton’s fold is genuinely impressive. As someone who is generally only impressed by shamelessly shiny, electronic things, I was surprised by how enthralled and entertained I was by the folding mechanism on these bikes. It is deseptively simple but exquisitely exectued.
Three basic, hinged clamps hold the frame together. Slacken them off in order and the whole thing folds down with minimal effort into a highly portable, though reasonably weighty lump that will fit almost anywhere.
During the first few days of ownership I struggled to fold quickly, often forgetting to release the seatpost and stood baffled, panicking that I’d never master ‘the fold’ and may have to walk home. But after a dozen folds I got it down and can now fold or unfold in seconds.
The satisfaction you get when folding a Brompton for the first time in under 30 seconds is akin to that feeling when you pop the foil top on a jar of Nutella or instant coffee. It’s satisfying, gratifying, nurishing and novel — every. single. time!
A very common presumption is that because the Brompton is diminuative it must be slow. ‘Small wheels = less thingys = more slow’, right?’
WRONG! Let me blow your mind with science:
Small wheels give you much greater acceleration from a standing start when compared to a normal bike as there is less rubber to rotate in order to get moving. There are probably other perfectly sensible reasons this thing is quick, relating to it’s geometry and the laws of physics; I haven’t researched them and don’t need to, suffice to say this thing is quick! I ride it all the time and blow away cycle couriers and pros day in day out*.
*They overtake me after about 100m
The acceleration really is impressive and while the top speed is marginally limited by the gearing (this is a two-speed) I rarely ever spin out, instead finding the gear options perfect for safe and enjoyable urban riding, blasting away from the traffic lights without buses nipping at my heels.
4. Agility like an ampetamine-fuelled Ferret
The small wheels make the Brompton incredibly agile. Darting around pot-holes, vomit puddles, dog shit, shattered glass and decomposing remains of long squashed Deliveroo cycle couriers with grace and poise. There is no wobbling or jerking, it feels planted but nimble and perfectly suited to urban exploration.
The tyres I got are the standard Brompton Kevlar ones. They don’t have fancy water-dispersing patterns on them but seem to cope fine with wet surfaces, road markings, drain covers etc without going wobbly and putting you down. The only time I ever felt the back-end falter was accelerating over those metal studs at pedestrian crossings — they’re very destablising.
This bike is rocking the ‘firm’ suspension block from Brompton. You can specify a softer block but I really like the rigidity of this one and I think it adds to that sense of road-holding might and stability I’ve come to love about this bike, despite it’s size and relatively low weight.
5. Decent bundled accessories
With most Brompton’s you’ve got to spec any accessories additionally. This model comes with a bunch of kit bundled into the price, saving quite a few pennies.
First off you get a load of LED lights. Two rear lights, one on the rear fender, one under the saddle with a variety of display patterns that are sure to get you noticed. The saddle light in particular is a lovely CayEye model that pours molten red light into the eyes of approaching motorists, lessening the chances of an uncomfortable courting ritual with the tarmac. It’s also USB rechargeable, as is the front beacon, another CatEye model with a searing white LED cluster and range of display patterns.
The front bag is a nice touch. It’s well made and reasonably spacious given the size. The main reason I like it is that it adds weight to the front end of the bike, giving extra stability and extra confidence at high speed. It can easily accomodate a laptop and a bunch of books, a hoody and some other bits and bobs and comes with a waterproof cover.
This model also features the newly re-designed gear shifters (under my little cycle computer in the picture below) which offer a cleaner look to the handlebars and make it effortless to shift between 1 and 2! This new design also features a bell integrated into the right-hand brake mechanism which looks pretty sweet and sounds ok.
Most significant are the bar ends and grips. Not only do they look interesting, they’re really comfy and really useful. Made from some kind of solid rubber/plastic composite, they offer a rock-solid additional riding position, particularly handy when climbing hills. Initially i thought they were going to be spongy and a bit flaccid but they’re nice and robust and give those of us who enjoy the sportiness of the flat handlebar design a few more options.
While related to ‘The Fold’ this is a distinct advantage in it’s own right. The Brompton is one of the only bikes you can take take anywhere. Any size boot, any public transport, any shop, any office — anywhere. This is a big deal for me.
My car has a tiny boot so if I wanted to use my car and bike (driving to the outskirts of the city, dumping car, then cycling) I had to use a roof rack which took a little time to install and killed my fuel economy. With the Brompton I can sling it in the boot, drive off, park up and I’m pedalling to my next destination within 1 minute.
The other aspect of it I love is never having to lock it up. With other bikes I’ve had to carry around a fairly heavy duty cycle lock (On Guard D-lock), find somewhere solid and well trafficked to lock it up and take off any removable accessories to avoid them getting robbed. With the Brompton I can get to a destination, fold up and walk in either wheeling the B or carrying it. I’ve never had any grief, even at the Job Centre! It’s super convenient, requires no locks and is saaaafe. Win.
7. It’s an investment
Finally, Brompton’s are one of very few things in this world that do not suffer much depreciation and are one of very few bikes that hold their value exceptionally well. Second-hand values hover around the £800 mark for a decent model even after several years! This NYC model is a limited edition so I expect it will be worth something in the future if I can avoid mangling it.
Overall the Brompton S2L NYC Edition 2o17 is a really fun and unusual bike. Great to ride daily, interesting to look at, practical and reliable and not unreasonably priced given the specification, longevity and re-sale value. It’s perfect for my situation and a pleasure to blast about on. Check them out at your Local Bike Store! I bought this one from Cycle Centre in tha toon who are quality guys.