Those who know me may be a bit confused: aren’t I the Co-Editor of the premiere online recumbent magazine, BentRider Online? And if so, then what am I doing with an upright? It’s a long story, but I’ll try to shorten it a bit for you. As Thoreau warned us, the paths we make in this world will eventually turn into ruts, and I like to explore all the possible avenues ahead of me, and keep my options open. You see, while I am not often seen with anything other than a recumbent bike or trike, I do have other bicycles. In fact, I still have the Schwinn Super Le Tour 12.2 I bought in 1976! Along with that classic, I have a Bike Friday Pocket Llama and a Dahon Boardwalk. Those of you who are familiar with those two bikes may see a pattern, one that might explain somewhat why I now have a Brompton P6R. Yes, I like things that fold! So now that you know one of my fetishes, let’s look at some more specifics about how I came to buy this latest addition to my stable.
Last year on a bicycling tour in the Florida Keys (with Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers), I was idly riding down by the docks, looking up in amazement at the sheer size of the cruise ships that were there. Dismounting to take a photograph (those who know me will tell you that I take *lots* of photographs!), I happened to notice a couple sitting nearby on a bench. And then,I saw these two bicycles sitting, in an odd way, close to them: yes, they were Bromptons, with their rear wheels tucked underneath, resting on their rear racks. I quickly forgot about the ships and went over to admire their bikes. They were very friendly and answered my many questions, and even allowed me a brief spin around the area. I was amazed at how nimble and comfortable it felt! I remember thinking, I like this bike, but I don’t really need another one – or do I?
Move the time-spinner ahead a few weeks, to the beginning of my Thanksgiving-to-Christmas Eve stint as Santa. Yes, I enjoy it – and when one of the children asked for something other than an iPhone or iPad or i-anything, but asked for a bicycle instead, that got me to thinking about that Brompton again. And, to consider that Santa deserves a present, too! So, if we want to blame anyone for my getting this bike, blame that kid.
I started doing some research, and found that the Brompton website is great for configuring all the various options. I wasn’t sure just what I needed or wanted, but after a few Google searches, and knowing that I wanted someting set up for touring, I choose the P6R model, with such things as a stiffer suspension block, the multi-hand-position P-style handlebar, a reduction in gearing for my hills, and so on. It was at that point that I thought: just how do I order one of these bikes? Directly from the factory in England? That’s when I noticed that, as luck would have it, there is a Brompton dealer (Jim’s Bicycle Shop) in nearby Cincinnati, Ohio. I like dealing with local shops, if for no other reasons than if there’s a problem, they will be happy to help me out. A question-filled visit later that week, and my order was made. It wasn’t until January that the bike was delivered, but that was OK, since I was pretty much tied down with reindeer, sleighs, etc. until after the holiday!
The weather in January wasn’t exactly perfect for riding, but there were a few decent days, I rode whenever I could, and when things improved, I rode even more! Loving things that fold may be a fetish, but it’s not a blind one. In the beginning, I had trouble remembering just what part got folded first, and second, and … But it didn’t take long before it became almost automatic. This bike folds into an unbelievably small package – and, as you can see in one of the phtographs, I did indeed put it into a plastic bag from Ikea! Granted, I did take the seat off, but had I not purchased the extended seat post, I might not have had to do that. I get lots of inquiries from other bicyclists when they see me lift the folded bike from the back of my car, and within seconds it morphs into an actual bicycle. I’ve often said you can’t be shy and ride a recumbent – and that goes for riding a Brompton, too!
I am sure I will have lots more miles on the bike in just a few months, but others have asked what my feelings are about it at this point. It’s relatively simple: I like it! The small wheels *may* not lead to riding as fast as with larger wheels – and I may use that exccuse for not keeping up with the roadies – but seriously, when I’m riding that P6R, it doesn’t feel tiny, nor at a disadvantage to other bikes. Granted, it’s not a recumbent, and as such cannot be the epitome of comfort as they are, but still, it’s not bad!
The handling can be described as nimble. I have no problems weaving in and out and around barriers and road debris. My gearing, as I mentioned earlier, has been deliberately lowered to make life easier on Kentucky’s hills, so I won’t be able to cruise on the flats as fast as I might like, but again, it’s not really that much slower than I would be going anyway. It really is nice to not have any external derailleurs to fuss with. I’ve got two shifting levers, one on the left and one on the right, giving me a choice of six gears, and so far I’m pleased with that. The internal hubs make for quicker shifts, and less things to get dirty.
The seat that came with the bike is comfortable enough, and I did have thoughts of just leaving it on, but I have come to really limke my Selle Anatomica seat, so it now resides on this new bike. I had given some thought to buying a Brooks saddle, and maybe when they have a sale or some other tempting offer, I may just get one of those, too. As you might be thinking, I do look for “bargains”, and I seldom eat out without having a coupon in hand. This may help to explain why I got the T-type bag for the front of the bike, since it really is overkill for almost anything other than loaded touring – but dollars-per-cubic-inch was much better for that bag than some of the others that are more more sensibly sized.
What else can I say about this bike? I am sure I will have much more to report, as I put even more miles on it. Some of my recumbent friends may be wondering if I’ve gone completely over to the “dark side”, but never fear. When it comes to long-distance touring, or road surfaces that threaten to jar your teeth loose, there’s no substitute for the sheer comfort of riding reclined – especially upon the likes of the ICE (Inspired Cycle Engineering) Sprint. Which, by the way, also happens to fold. On the other hand, don’t be surprised when you see me out on the road, riding my LVG Brompton P6R!