Reader, I bought a Brompton.
After all my research – and a considerable amount of humming and haa-ing – I finally took Henry’s advice and went to my local bike shop to test-ride a couple of different eBike models. The cheaper one on offer there didn’t work out – easy enough to ride and a motor with plenty of power, but nothing like the compactness of the folded Brompton. In the end, I decided that was going to be the most critical factor since I need to take the bike on a train to get to work.
At just over £3,000 for the six-speed Electric C-line Explore model the Brompton was one on the most expensive options, but the cost is mitigated since I can buy the eBike through the Cycle-to-Work scheme. This allows me to pay in 12 instalments that are deducted from my monthly salary before tax. Since I am in the higher tax bracket, that knocks about a grand off the purchase price. Not bad – my thanks to the government.
I took delivery yesterday and did my first commute to work today. It was… good. I reckon it will get better the more I get used to the journey.
The motor has three settings which balance power and range. I reckon I will stick to No. 2 for most use but on the return home this evening, with its long, slow climb, I switched to No. 3. The motor kicks in as soon as you start pedalling and made the ride quick and easy. Quicker than the bus, and not too sweaty.
I had a little trouble with the bright sunlight which made seeing the road tricky at times. London may be a great city, but its roads are pitted and uneven. On the way up to Hyde Park Corner from Victoria, I narrowly avoided a pot-hole that would have swallowed the front wheel of the Brompton and sent me flying.
Otherwise, the main thing I need to work on is my folding technique. I missed trains by seconds going to work and going home because I haven’t yet mastered the twists and turns of the mechanism that reduces the bike to a neat little package. When I got off at Victoria Station this morning, I discovered that I’d somehow managed to catch the hook that locks the front wheel to the frame around the chain. All of the other passengers trooped past me as I struggled to unfold my contraption. I tried not to catch anyone’s eye.
Tomorrow, I go again.