City riding: folder Vs cheaper full size bike

mustang1

Guru
Location
London, UK
An advantage often touted about a folding bike is that you can take it into a restaurant with you or a movie theatre, shopping centre, out with your friends and so on. A brompton is the best for this kind of activity. You also don't have to rely on public transport but you can fold it of course if you like and hop on board.

Counter argument: all that looks nice and pretty in the brochures with happy smiling people merrily taking their brompton up and down the stairs, a restaurant with nicely spaced out tables and not at all full, a little brompton perched up beside a rather happy and smiling person talking with their friends while eating some tasty food.

The reality is a brompton weighs at least 10kg and often a lot more if you go for anything more than a single speed with fenders. Carrying such a thing is fine for a very short while, but can you imagine walking with your friends while carrying the bike, then to a restaurant or going out shopping while keeping an eye on your bike and carrying a bulky 10kg metal weight everywhere? That'll soon become a drag and you might even lose some friends (I'm not sure brompton riders actually have any but there you go - nerds).

The alternative: I would say its far better to have a full size bike and if your journeys are less than an hour, just use something like a Triban 540 or some such machine and a couple of good locks. Hang on some fenders and I reckon it's a better proposition than a folder.

Lock it up, out of the way, don't need to carry it. A couple of locks and there should be a reasonable expectation that it's still there when you get back. Maybe truck itnoit with tamper proof skewers and a cable lock thru the saddle rails and that should be fine.

What do you reckon?

(Talking of which, this particular nerd might want to get aforementioned cheap bike).
 

tribanjules

Über Member
Location
Birmingham
I have £160 of basic rockrider that does me nicely 10km into brum without a murmur. Better option for me than a folder as I could even pop on local train with it
 

kingrollo

Über Member
I have a tern folder, which I use to cycle that last 10 minutes of my journey to work - it works for me.
However transporting the thing any distance is a pain, the folded package is big and bulky and awkward to carry - now brompton is the rolls royce of folding things that small, however a work colleague has one and feels much the same as I do - the portability of the thing is overrated.

A full size bike is better -unless you absolutely have to have a folder - don't buy one.They work but not without compromises
 

MichaelW2

Veteran
Folding bikes are neat if you live in cramped accomodation. A pub bike is good to leave in high risk areas; Something not too expensive, clean and convenient, a bit like those dockless bike designs. You also need a snow bike, maybe an old school rigid mtb style with studded tyres and obviously an efficient commuter hack for longer commutes.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
I don't carry my Dawes (rebadged Dahon design) folder much. Most of the time, it gets wheeled like a trolly, folded. It's invaluable if you use trains or buses that don't allow unfolded bikes, or go to destinations which have no bike parking, or want to park and pedal in a small rackless car without rearranging the seats and lifting bikes at odd angles.
 
OP
mustang1

mustang1

Guru
Location
London, UK
Folding bikes are neat if you live in cramped accomodation. A pub bike is good to leave in high risk areas; Something not too expensive, clean and convenient, a bit like those dockless bike designs. You also need a snow bike, maybe an old school rigid mtb style with studded tyres and obviously an efficient commuter hack for longer commutes.
I used to ride my Allez in snow, commute, weekend, pub roller. I even ride it off road (light trails). I might get a replacement one of those....
 

Randy Butternubs

Über Member
I like Bromptons but find it hard to disagree with the OP. They sound great for a mixed train/cycle commute and for some others but for general use a normal bicycle seems more convenient and cheaper. I'd rather ride a good skip bike or something cheap-ish and insured. I find even carrying a pair of panniers into and out of shops a right pain, let alone a whole bicycle.

I don't have extensive experience of Bromptons but I've used them a little bit. I like the extremely nimble handling. The low top tube and short wheelbase make them very easy to hop on and off and push around. They are really slow for a given level of effort though and that's comparing to a low-end hybrid, not a racing bike. They also feel very flexy but that's probably due to my weight.
 

ianrauk

Tattooed Beat Messiah
They are really slow for a given level of effort though and that's comparing to a low-end hybrid, not a racing bike. They also feel very flexy but that's probably due to my weight.
Your first point I wholeheartedly agree with. I've been having a lot of trouble trying to get into a mindset that I am riding a Brompton and not my usual lightweight Ti bikes. I did at first find it very frustrating mentally. After 3 months I am now getting my head round to the fact that I simply wont be as fast as I was on my commute with my other bikes. However, that's not to say Bromptons are not quick, as they are and can be, but not over a sustained effort and/or distance.

They are also flexy, mainly due to the soft suspension bung a Brompton is supplied with. I changed mine to a hard block and it was immeasurably better. I'm now also thinking of upgrading the hard bung to something even stiffer.
 
Being tall and heavy, I have never much gotten along with folders, except the Raleigh Twenty, which are hard to find in the States. Just not built to accommodate, I find the skip bike solution much better, as all our local busses have bicycle carriers on front.
 

Salar

Über Member
Location
Somewhere
I ride a folder occasionally, shortish rides mostly on the flat.

The one problem I have with them, even when low geared (unless it's just top heavy me) is that it's almost impossible to honk up hills.

Out of choice I'd use an old "rough" looking steel MTB from the 80's.
 

Randy Butternubs

Über Member
Your first point I wholeheartedly agree with. I've been having a lot of trouble trying to get into a mindset that I am riding a Brompton and not my usual lightweight Ti bikes. I did at first find it very frustrating mentally. After 3 months I am now getting my head round to the fact that I simply wont be as fast as I was on my commute with my other bikes. However, that's not to say Bromptons are not quick, as they are and can be, but not over a sustained effort and/or distance.

They are also flexy, mainly due to the soft suspension bung a Brompton is supplied with. I changed mine to a hard block and it was immeasurably better. I'm now also thinking of upgrading the hard bung to something even stiffer.
To be fair I have only ridden the 6-speed Bromptons. The combination of IGH and derailleur might be a bit draggy.

You are right that the suspension bung was almost certainly too soft. It seems that there are both OEM and aftermarket solutions to cater to different needs. Some people replace it with something rigid to eliminate the suspension.

I also felt quite a lot of flex in the tall (H?) handlebars and a massive amount of flex in the butterfly bars. Some people choose the flat bar option (S) which gives you a tall, er, headtube then put normal riser bars on it to get a reasonable height. I think this gives better stiffness.

The experience of riding one, and my dad's Moulton, made me think that a minivelo with fat tyres and a single, large bag up front is probably the ideal city bike - short wheelbase, stepthrough, generous carrying capacity in one large bag, and nimble handling.
 

ianrauk

Tattooed Beat Messiah
To be fair I have only ridden the 6-speed Bromptons. The combination of IGH and derailleur might be a bit draggy.

You are right that the suspension bung was almost certainly too soft. It seems that there are both OEM and aftermarket solutions to cater to different needs. Some people replace it with something rigid to eliminate the suspension.

I also felt quite a lot of flex in the tall (H?) handlebars and a massive amount of flex in the butterfly bars. Some people choose the flat bar option (S) which gives you a tall, er, headtube then put normal riser bars on it to get a reasonable height. I think this gives better stiffness.

The experience of riding one, and my dad's Moulton, made me think that a minivelo with fat tyres and a single, large bag up front is probably the ideal city bike - short wheelbase, stepthrough, generous carrying capacity in one large bag, and nimble handling.
My Brompton is 6 gear with S type handlebars. I bought this one as I wanted to try get aero as possible. The other handlebars are way to tall for my liking.
 

SkipdiverJohn

Über Member
Location
London
A pub bike is good to leave in high risk areas; Something not too expensive, clean and convenient, a bit like those dockless bike designs. You also need a snow bike, maybe an old school rigid mtb style with studded tyres and obviously an efficient commuter hack for longer commutes.
I would find a Brompton a pain, to be honest. I know two people with them, and both rate them, but because they are high value and very steal-able, both also spend a lot of time keeping an eye on theirs whenever they take them into a pub etc. When I'm out and about, I want to be able to do whatever I went out to do. I don't want to spend half the time lugging a folded bike around or constantly watching it so it doesn't get taken from inside a building. For this reason a freebie full-size skip bike or other very low value (I mean £25 or less!) used machine is much preferable. An old rigid frame MTB or sturdy hybrid repainted a plain dark colour with no makers decals on show.
A snow bike, for those mad enough to go out in that sort of weather, could be another complete hack bike, or a simply a spare pair of wheels left permanently fitted with studded tyres ready to swap on to your hack whenever needed.
For longer utility or even pleasure rides, where the idea of pedalling an old MTB on knobbly tyres doesn't appeal, I can't think of anything better than a 1990's era Raleigh Pioneer fitted with quality p*ncture-resistant Schwalbe tyres. Sturdy, stable, comfortable, and not that slow.
 
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