Actually, why a folding bike at all? Because I wanted to be able to go anywhere with a bike I could hide in the trunk of a small car or take on a train or a bus without inconveniencing others or requiring a bike rack, and one I didn’t have to worry about locking up when I was inside buildings.
I looked at Terns first. The D8 is a terrific folding bike, and a joy to ride. At around 600 USD, it’s also reasonably-priced for a serious cyclist. The fold is compact, and the hinges are easy to use.
I almost bought a Tern. The D8 is a fantastic bicycle, and hugely popular. But I’m an older rider, and concerned about aging issues. How much longer will I be able to cycle? I’ve grown healthier and more fit over the past year (no accident, that), but I’m approaching those years when I can’t necessarily count on my body continuing to cooperate with whatever plans I have for it.
Instead of an adequate bike, maybe I needed a bicycle that was exactly right. The Tern, though quite compact, has 20-inch wheels, making it larger than I preferred, and the sporty handlebars were not right for my hands.
Maybe I needed a lightweight folder that could be used for long rides of forty or more miles, but one that also folded as compactly as possible. The perfect bicycle would let me grocery shop, run errands, take the train to new locations, pop into my subcompact’s trunk so that I could get to distant trails with ease, and let me ride for forty or more miles in comfort.
Bromptons have tiny 16-inch wheels, and an extremely compact fold. People commute on Bromptons, riding only a few miles a day, they’re taken on subways for “last mile” travel, and used for casual recreation, but people also tour on Bromptons, riding for hundreds of miles.
Brompton met all my qualifications, but Bromptons are quite pricey. They are manufactured and hand-assembled in the West End of London, not in China; if you buy one, you’re paying for skilled labor.
The argument against a Brompton was cost. The argument “for” was everything else. My concern about cost was tempered by the realization that it’s very difficult to find a used Brompton for sale; mine was likely to hold its value if it didn’t work out. It seemed likely that I could recoup much of the cost, if my Brompton and I turned out to be incompatible.
Even so, I didn’t want to commit to the whole process unless I was fairly certain that a Brompton was right for me. I was concerned about handling, and about how it might fit my body: I’m a considerably lighter-than-average woman, on the short side, with no length in my legs. Vast amounts of reading on the Internet suggested that people of all sizes and shapes find a good fit on a Brompton, but would I? And how would I find out before putting down a small fortune to own one?
The answer turned out to be easy. Stay tuned. To find out more about Bromptons, see the website: Brompton Bicycle.