Saturday, March 26, 2011

Folding bike intuition and speed

This is Werner,
a folding bike owner with ample riding experience.
But as everybody knows, owning a Brompton is different.
I was glad to have him take my bike for a ride and let him test and taste the difference to his own bike, which is not a Brompton.
I wondered what he would say, a sophisticated man, sportive and 1.90 m tall.  He rode my Brompton down into the Rhine valley to Godesberg to his hotel, and then back uphill again to my place - by bus, thus enjoying the genuine comfort of a folding bike.

He Trusts His Intuition

Why did his experience count to me? Simply for two reasons:
As an experienced folding bike rider he thinks he knows how
to fold a bike.  And he is a  very confident person who trusts his intuition when it comes to performing  an easy to understand mechanical maneuvre, such as folding a bike.

Now the question is:  Does it suffice to fold a Brompton based on intuition only or do you need the expertise of some training?

Listen to the Instructions When Taking Possession of the Bike
Another  question is based on the knowledge that Werner likes sports cars and appreciates the need for speed - within limits and with prudence, of course.  So I asked:  Will the Brompton be fast enough on the road?

When Werner came back from his ride, I had my answers. As for intuition alone, it certainly does not work.  He had the same problem as I when I first tried to fold it.  It seems that any experienced folding bike owner, let alone any person with an innate engineering talent, does not want to listen to the instructions he/she is given when in the process of taking possession of his Brompton. 

Just as to anybody else who disobeys the instructions, it happened to Werner as well:  He could not put the saddle bar into the frame`s pipe, once the back wheel was positioned into its folding place under the frame.

My advice:  be wise, you simply have to start inserting the saddle bar into the pipe.  Your intuition as a self appointed bicycle mechanic - or even engineer - is just not enough.  You need to listen to the instructions and follow the prescribed procedure step by step.

Riding Fast Downhill at 50 km/h

When it comes to the speed of riding, the Brompton shows a
surprisingly good performance.  Werner followed the main road down through the Ennert mountain into the valley, a road which is rather steep and has some sharp curves where the speed limit is at 30 km/h. Werner said that no car had to pass him by because he was riding fast, at a speed of approximately 50 km per hour.  He was wary, though, of the road and looked out well for bumps and wholes left from last winter.

He Got Curious Looks
Once in the valley, he noticed that on his route he was receiving curious looks  because of  the unusual image of a rather tall man on such a miniature bike like a Brompton.  Even a bus driver, who happened to be carrying no passengers at the moment, started to drive slowly turning his neck so that he would get a good view of our handsome cyclist.

Werner`s judgement 
Back at home, Werner`s judgement was clear:  1. When folding the bike you had better know what you are doing.  2. Riding the Brompton is fun and it lets you indulge in the need for speed without any problem.

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