Cyclescheme (aka Do I want a Brompton?)

AnythingButVanilla

Über Member
Location
London
So, exactly as the title says, my work is starting up the cyclescheme again during the month of October. I've always been a bit suspicious of it and thought it a bit of a rip-off and overly complicated but I've been considering a Brompton recently and wonder if it's a good idea. Normally I hate the silly clown bikes but they'd make my life so much easier for going back home on the train and not having to sort out bike reservations, being able to check it in on flights, jumping on the tube when I'm too lazy/drunk etc. I've already got a road bike for pootles, my hybrid for commuting and carrying shopping and the boyfriend has a hybrid that covers what he wants to do. Do I really need another bike in my life and is this Cyclescheme the best way to go about it?
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Maybe C2W not ideal (need to do the sums, but I presume discounts on Brommies hard to come by even with wads of cash), but a folder sounds a good idea if commuting into London. Not sure you should do L2B on it next Saturday though!
 
Go and stand on the concourse at Waterloo or Euston or Paddington at commuting time and just watch the numbers of Bromptons going through. If you cycle in London and commute by train they are the only option. People do try with other folders but they're not a patch. But rather than jump straight in you can rent them from Waterloo and you have time so rent one for a week and try it out to see if it works for you and if, as most people do, you fall in love with it or not. http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk/bromptonbikes.aspx
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
A Brompton is not a silly clown bike. It's a bike. If I could only own one of my current fleet it would be the Brommie I'd keep. They are great, albeit slightly flawed, bikes. The 2013 models will go some way to addressing the some of the minor flaws; better brake levers, better (stronger) chainset. I'd happily ride L2B on mine at the drop of a hat. In fact have, and further, several times.

Brixton Cycles will sort you out nicely. They'll talk you through the options to best suit you and spec. the bike you need over the model you think you want.

And if you hate it then at the end of the year you'll sell it for more than it cost you.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
Consider the lower geared option - standard gearing is relatively high.

Consider the longer seatpost - if you have Nicole Scherzinger's legs, the standard one may not go high enough.

Consider the rear carrier - the folded bike sits much better with one fitted.
 
OP
AnythingButVanilla

AnythingButVanilla

Über Member
Location
London
Bumpity bump!

I'm definitely doing this this month. What's the difference between the models and is there any reason that I should choose one over the other? All I know is that I need as much help as possible to get my fat backside up hills, impossible even on my road bike, and that a rack might be nice.Do these come as standard or extra?

Ta :smile:
 

mattobrien

Guru
Location
Sunny Suffolk
Bumpity bump!

I'm definitely doing this this month. What's the difference between the models and is there any reason that I should choose one over the other? All I know is that I need as much help as possible to get my fat backside up hills, impossible even on my road bike, and that a rack might be nice.Do these come as standard or extra?

Ta :smile:
Everything comes as an extra with a Brompton - they can be built exactly to your spec, but this will obviously take a little longer than buying one off the shelf.

You can specify your gears, as follows;
Single speed
Two speed (with derailleur)
Three speed (Sturmey Archer hub)
Six speed (derailleur & sturmey archer)

You can also spec higher of lower ratios on the gears, so you out to be able to find something that helps with the hills.

Beyond gears one of the other main differences are the handle bars, the S-type are straight and a little lower down, the M-Type are shaped a little like the top half of an 'H" and the H-Type are higher versions of the M-Type.

You can spec your own paint colour, or no paint at all and you can even go for parts in Titanium, if pockets allow.

If you are likely to be pulling it around folded the easy-wheels might be a good option. Also mudguards are recommended.

In an ideal world I would have specced mine very differently to what I bought, but I needed it quickly so had to buy off the shelf. If I had had the time, I would have bought a truly bespoke Brompton. That said, I do love mine and the freedom that it gives, mostly the ability to take it on the train for longer journeys and a little cycling at the other end. Also useful for trips to the pub :cheers:
 

srw

It's a bit more complicated than that...
I've had a rack on both my Bromptons, and never used them once. ON the other hand I have been behind a Brompton when something has fallen of its rack. The rack does make the folded package (slightly) more stable. I do use the front luggage (I have the "touring pannier") all the time.

For commuting, a hub dynamo (definitely not a bottle dynamo) is invaluable. The standard 3 speed is cheap, fine for London, and doable on hills (I took mine to Saarfend on the "almost totally flat" (except for the long hill on the runin and the steep ramp up from the cafe) FNRttC last year). You can always gear down by replacing the sprocket with something larger. If you want something with really low gears, Greg Collins of this parish has something from Brixton cycles (I believe) which is an 8-speed adaptation, including a wall-climbing twiddly low gear. I'm not entirely convinced by the derailleur concept - the whole point of a hub gear is that you've got a straight chain-line.

The S-type bars are not only quite low if you're tall, they also restrict the luggage you can use. I've never seen anyone use the lower half of the H-type bars - so you might as well stick with the basic (cheapest) M-type.
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
Rhubarb was bought as a singlespeed S-type from Brixton Cycles. The 8 speed upgrade was from Kinetics in glasgow, but Tiller Cycles do much the same kit. I think the 6-speed is almost as badly engineered as the 8-speed conversion and I feel the 6-speed is utterly counter-intuitive in operation. The kinetics 8 speed kit, as shipped, leaves the bike a bit under-geared if you are a regular bike rider, though the lovely Helen finds the gearing fine, and Rhubarb is due to get a new chain and bigger chainring.

S type bars mean you can't fit the C Bag, T Bag and Folding Basket. I've never felt the loss to be honest and the O bag does the job for me, sometimes supplemented by a Crumpler message bag.
 
OP
AnythingButVanilla

AnythingButVanilla

Über Member
Location
London
Thanks for the replies as they've given me a lot to think about and I'm hoping to test a couple of bikes tomorrow and order during the week.

I went in to On Your Bike last night as I was passing and had a nice long chat with the man in there about the different models. I'll probably go for the one with the rack just because I like to have the option of having it and the bags are so expensive and I'm not sure how much I'd use them especially as I'm more likely to stick a pint of milk and a loaf in my handbag. We talked about the 6 speed option and he recommended that I upgrade to the lower gears and started getting all technical about stuff that I don't understand. Given that I had Adam and Titus literally pushing me up a hill on the way to Southend last year is this something that I'd need? I live at the top of a big hill just now which is putting me off taking the hybrid out as I can ride it to the bottom but not back up :shy:
 

srw

It's a bit more complicated than that...
Changing gearing is a matter of changing a sprocket and (possibly) changing a chain - it'll cost not much more than a tenner if you can do it yourself (or find a tame techie to do it for you). It's not the end of the world if you don't get it right straight away.

In late June last year on the way to Southend I was as fit and as light as I've ever been, with LonJoG only a week behind me. I found that hill a real struggle on the 3-speed Brompton with the basic gearing. I don't think it was my slightly inappropriate getup slowing me down...
 
Do you really want a Brompton? You've talked about problems getting up hills. A low geared Brompton won't be as easy to ride up steep hills as a low geared normal bike. If ypu're still wanting a folder because you need a bike to commute on the train, as you'd said last year, then ok get a Brompton. However, if you're just after something to get up hills more easily, then don't get pressurised into a Brompton.

To be brutally honest, as I've stated elsewhere, the only way to climb hills easily is to practice, and to keep practicing. You have to push yourself to build up your strength.
 
As a Brompton owner, I really don't think this is the answer for you; unless you are looking for a bike to travel/fly with (to flattish places!). You will not find a Brompton useful for getting you to/from your home on a hill. You can of course get a taxi up that hill every night, in which you can throw a Brompton in the boot much more easily than the Dolce.
 

Bromptonaut

Rohan Man
Location
Bugbrooke UK
If you need a bike to go with you on the train, to stow easily at work or home or to go in the car then the Brompton is unbeatable. Ditto if you need to link car to train to transport in London. If you struggle on hills then, provided you're not grossly unfit or have a disability then I'd suggest your problems can be remedied by practice and better technique.

I'd think the six speed would be a necessity - the three has quite a narrow range. As supplied first is pretty low and you can lower it further with smaller chainwheel or larger sprockets. On bars the S type was originally designed to give a more sporty ride. This version has also found a market amongst women some of whom who find it suits their build better than the old standard type now known as M. Trouble with the S is it's low to the headstock and precludes use of the standard front pannier - it needs it's own cut down version. H bars re like M but taller and P are the butterfly or yoke type. Mine's an M and I slightly regret not having P for avoiding numb hand trouble on longer rides.

The pannier is costly but is, after folding a second USP. Your handbag and everything go inside it along with laptop, lunch, paper, waterproof etc. The side pockets cater for tools, lamps/batteries etc. Battery LED lights are now so good and easy on battery that I'd struggle to justify a dynamo.

A rack adds weight and although I rarely use mine it does improve parked stability. It also facilitates easy wheels which allow the bike to be towed like a wheeled suitcase. Very useful on those bits of the railway with barmy rules about folding bikes at the ticket barrier.
 
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