Bromptons, Bobbins, Brooks

April 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Cycling, George, Timmy | Leave a comment
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Cycling has rather fallen off the FFS agenda of late, but fear not! It is once again the season for serious cycling and another summer touring holiday is in the offing for August. There has actually been a rather sad reason for my cycle-less winter which I won’t bore you with here but in short it involves a small flat, a grumpy neighbour and a large bike that took up too much space in the communal hallway. The Bobbin is now rather like Timmy the Dog during his Alf the Fisherboy period. It is currently residing with a kindly friend/relative (who rather generously does not want all of my pocket money in return). Like George with Timmy, I plan to retrieve the Bobbin for short stretches of time, in the hope that I will discover a hoard of gold ingots that will enable me to move to a larger flat (so enabling me to give the Bobbin a permanent home).

In the interim, I am discovering the joys of a folding Brompton bike. If you want a bicycle, have a job, and your place of work is part of the scheme, I would strongly recommend exploring the Cycle Scheme initiative. This enables you to buy a bike at approximately 60% of its real cost and pay for it (including lights and other accessories) in installments over a one year period. You don’t pay any interest and it comes out of your salary/pocket money before tax so it is relatively painless.

While the Brompton is not really a vintage ride, it is now a bit of design classic. It is also properly British being one of only two frame manufacturers still based in the UK. The Brompton philosophy is one of independence and freedom and their website declares that: ‘The Brompton owner is free and independent – she chooses where to go and when and how’. You could say this about any bicycle really, but it’s a nice sentiment nevertheless and as we know, bicycles do indeed give the Famous Five lots of independence and freedom.

It did take me some time to master the Brompton fold (just like a girl, eh Julian?). I had to keep referring to the Brompton online demo and on a couple of occasions kindly strangers offered to fold it up for me as I stood scratching my head in the street. I’ve just learned how to embed clips so here is this enlightening short film. He makes it look so simple…

At the time of writing this clip has had 83,269 views. A good number of those were me when I was desperately trying to work out how to fold the thing. But I’ve got it now and am really enjoying the bike – despite its small wheels it is not at all difficult to ride. The regulation seat is not a thing of comfort or beauty, however, so I would like to purchase a nice Brooks leather saddle for it soon (according to the upstanding members of the Tweed Cycling Club these are only uncomfortable for the first ten thousand miles). Brooks was established in 1866 so the bottoms of the Kirrin cousins may well have moulded a quartet of these bike saddles.

‘Matthew’s Cycling Blog’ has alerted me to this Brooks ‘soundslide’ (I think this means a series of still images presented alongside sounds) which is made up of fascinating images from the Brooks factory – thank you Matthew. It’s part of a 2009 project by photographer and graphic designer Nick Hand, who cycled clockwise from Bristol around the coastline of Britain, recording the work of artisans and craftspeople along the way. Nick has a very nice website recording his route and presenting the soundslides he made along the way. I was pleased to see that he visited both the village of Cley and Old Town in the town Holt (see previous posts) while touring the fine county of Norfolk, and such cycling prowess is inspiration for this summer…


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