CARFREE TOKYO

- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Brompton- new bike

I've had my Brompton now for about four months. I can safely say it is a fantastic bike. Unlike other folding bikes it is a joy to fold and unfold, and the folding sections feel rock solid when riding. You do not notice you are riding a folding bike. I've had two Dahon's and while they were both nice, and competitively priced, I rarely folded them. The Brompton I fold and keep under my desk. It is also fantastic for taking my five yr old son places. He simply stands on the back rack and hugs me as we trundle along the sidewalk slowly. Fortunately, I don't have a big waist line, so he can peer around and see where we are going. It's a lot of fun.
Alone, it can hold its own on the street, and with the beautiful SON hub dynamo, and B&M lights front and back, it's a joy to ride at night without having to worry about batteries or even thinking about switching the lights on, as they come on automatically when you ride at night.

The bike attracts a great deal of attention, and I try to make a point of talking about it to anyone who asks. These Bromptons really are top of the folding heap. Even my bike racing friends are surprised at how smoothly this bike rides.

A few points:
1. Its three gears are very well spaced and I have never felt the need for the six gear model.
2. I reccomend the model with a rack, for three reasons. (1) you can attach a rear light (in fact it comes with one); (2) it has wheels that make rolling the bike easier (which make it as easy to push around as a small suitcase trunk); (3) you can carry stuff...(including another Brompton bike, they are that small...)
3. For those of you who care, I have found it difficult to pull a trailer. My Burley trailer attachment did not work, because of the way the chainstays on the Brompton are bent. The alternative hitch does not work either. I did devise my own attachment, but trailers work better on hardtail bikes anyhow, so I've stopped using the trailer with the Brompton (which has polymer suspension).

http://www.bromptonbicycle.co.uk/
http://www.loro.co.jp/

10 comments:

Charles said...

Are you still using the brompton?

I moved to Japan recently and I've been looking for a bike. My apartment is small and doesn't have bike parking so a folder seemed desirable and I was considering a brompton even though it's a bit expensive. Has anything new come out since then you'd recommend instead? Brompton still seems to win on folded size making it easy to bring on the train.

StompinRhino said...

Hi Charles (I just happened to be at computer right now) Yes I certainly do still have the Brompton. It isn't the fastest thing, but is fantastic for commuting trips that involve a train or bus, and little runs about town.

There is a wonderful shop in Nihonbashi called Loro Slowspot that always has lots of them. It's a little difficult to find, but well worth the trip. Bromptons are a touch expensive, and if it seems like a bit much, it probably is - you can get by just fine with something cheaper. But if you can afford one without much pain, they are quite handy... hope that helps.

Don't forget also that you can still always take a racing road bike on a train as long as you take the wheels off and put it in a bag (rinko bukuro). Rush hour trains are to be avoided, but otherwise it isn't a hassle at all.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Burley trailer: I had exactly the same problem with the hitches provided by Burley. I am now using a Weber hitch on my Brompton and my Burley Cub. This hitch is more or less the "gold standard" for bike hitches in Germany: https://www.weber-products.de . Especially the Weber B hitch is very suitable for a Brompton since it comes with a stand (which has to be shortened). It fits without any problems on the bike and is very robust. I did the Five Boro Bike tour (42 miles) and the Long Island harbor Ride (26 miles) with this setup and it worked great. I can only recommend it.

StompinRhino said...

Thanks for the comment. I have found that the Chariot trailer hitch works quite well on this type of bike also.

StompinRhino said...

Incidentally, I've been using the Brompton again a lot lately with my 6yr old. He stands on the bar in front of me. It is very safe, as he is always between my arms and cannot fall, yet his centre of gravity is very low. He is also not strapped in like in other systems for kids. This allows us to simply hop off if the bicycle goes over, instead of being propelled into the ground by a seat belt. I have learned the hard way that seat belts on two wheel vehicles are extremely dangerous. On a trailer they are great of course.

Anonymous said...

StompinRhino said...

Thanks for the comment. I have found that the Chariot trailer hitch works quite well on this type of bike also.


Hi StompinRhino,

How does one fit a Chariot trailer to a Brompton? I was googling this question and found your blog. Does one just remove the left nut, slot the hitch onto the axle and tighten the left nut back on?

Many thanks in advance.

Dermot

StompinRhino said...

Hi Dermot - Yes you can do that. The only problem is the clearance is a little low and the front of the trailer scuffs the ground sometimes. I tried other ways to attach the hitch somewhere higher on the bike, but they weren't great.

Incidentally, it is also possible to change out and use the chariot hitch on a burley trailer. That is the combination I have now for my Burley Solo and it works fine.

Anonymous said...

I posted a comment to say thanks, but I don't see it, so just to be polite ...

Thanks! I appreciate you taking the time to help.

Dermot

Freelance writer said...

Hello! I'm in Tokyo with a Dahon folding bike. I'm interested in looking for a folding/collapsible trailer to pull a backpack and camping gear. Any suggestions on shops in Tokyo that might sell such a thing?

Cheers,

Rich

StompinRhino said...

I am actually very pleased to note that Chariot now has a distributor in Japan. http://www.pleasant-bf.com/PLEASANT/CTS-01.html

These are designed for carrying children though, and probably more expensive than you need for luggage.

I've seen various luggage carrying trailers online (http://item.rakuten.co.jp/tohokogyo/c-60-45-35-ar/) especially since Ecohai and Kuroneko started using trailers for delivery. But I haven't seen a shop selling the kind of compact touring versions that seem popular overseas yet.