Thursday, 29 July 2010


The first time I tried cycling to work I lived North of Rochdale. Meaning it was a pretty serious bit of riding each way to make it the 14 miles or so into work. It would take around 1 hour in the morning and maybe 1 hr 20 to get home because the area I lived was at a higher elevation than the city centre. I did this journey for a short while, but mostly carried on getting the train because the distance and time it took was a bit overwhelming for a daily commute.

My previous experiences of commuting by train from Hyde were fine, but getting the train from Rochdale was soul destroying. It was constantly late, constantly cancelled, always dangerously overcrowded and bloody expensive. As soon as I stopped getting the train I stopped catching colds....go figure.

Luckily Woman changed jobs and began working in Manchester. Meaning we could commute together and get rid of one of our two cars*. This presented a new problem, we could park for free at her new workplace, but I would still need to travel the last 3.5 miles myself to get to the city centre. So at first I was driving the last few miles in and parking up in one of the cheapo car parks further out of town. But that was no fun, and all those £2 a days etc add up to alot.

So I started looking at folding bikes. The idea being the car would be parked up for free, then I would cycle in the last few miles. After a bit of umming and arring I stuck to my principle of 'buy cheap, buy twice' and went for the best folder there is - The Brompton. Second hand off ebay, it was a red basic M3L version, with 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub & mudguards. I worked out that if I rode it in everyday for around a year it would pay for itself courtesy of the savings on parking & petrol. But frankly, I would have paid that money just to be free of the train.

Of course none of that takes into account that the train used to cost £80 a month, or £960 a yr. hmmm... maybe I should have got two Bromptons....

Over that period the B recieved a few upgrades, some because I felt like it, some because they were required. It got a pair of the ever dependable Schwalbe Marathons, some ergo grips, new front brake cable, a lefthand folding pedal and recently a new cheapo right hand pedal.

The most important addition was my Dad's 30+ yr old Brookes saddle to replace the terrible spongy thing that Brompton's used to come with.

I'd definately recommend a Brompton to anyone. It might not beat other folders in a spec war and it might not look quite as racey as some, but its far far better than any of its competition.

*getting rid of a car is like giving yourself a payrise, nothing has changed but now you are richer.

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