The Chainlink

My commute has a few weird sections of awkward that need a bike (and I can't ride my cx bike because of the bike ban hours on the Metro (D.C.) soooo, I took the plunge and ordered a Brompton. Any advice? Any must-have accessories? 

They didn't have what I wanted in the U.S. (I must be SUPER picky) so I have to wait 8 weeks for my bike to built custom in the U.K. and shipped here. Same price but it will be exactly what I want (Turkish Green, need gears for D.C. hills). Also, how many miles can you do comfortably? Thinking of getting off the Metro in Bethesda when it's warmer and taking the path back home to get more miles in.

Here's the color (not the build, but you get the idea):

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If it's not too late, consider getting the generator hub in front, with the light set.  It adds some weight, but the lights are super bright, and you'll never have to fuss with or worry about batteries again.

I also recommend the telescoping seat post, even if you're not tall.  The ability to just pop out the seat comes in handy for travel sometimes.  Probably not as useful on a daily commute, but when packing it for flights, it makes the package smaller and more convenient.  You can also use the large seatpost tube for storing a compact pump.  By the way, when packing for flights you definitely want to take off the hinge clamps.  Most people also take off the seat and put a tennis ball over the post.  Problem with that is that you then have to reattach the seat, and mess with trying to get your angle right again.  With the telescoping seatpost, you can pull it out and tuck it in a gap of the folded bike.  If you're interested in more travel advice, there are many more tips out there.

+1 on Ergon grips and with bar ends.  GP2 model works well.  You need to cut off part of the ends near the brake handles for proper fit, but if done right they won't affect the fold.

I haven't tried removable pedals, because the stock pedals work fine for my feet, and I can't imagine anything quicker or easier than just flipping the one pedal up and down.

The T-bag is wonderful, but it's big.  For daily commuting you might find the S-bag to be better.  It also looks more like a typical messenger bag, if that matters.

Helicopter tape for the chainstay where the front wheel hooks in is a great idea.  I've been putting the bike in checked luggage for travel, so I ended up putting helicopter tape in a lot of places, to protect the paint.  I hadn't heard of it prior to getting my Brompton, so maybe this is old news, but with good tape, properly applied, it's basically invisible and really keeps the paint in good shape.

Rather than a carrying bag, I use a simple lightweight cover around town.  I'm intrigued by the Minimods elastic cover, but am not willing to shell out $40 for it.  I sewed up a 40D ripstop nylon cover, and a tiny bag for it to fit in the frame triangle.  Surprisingly, nobody sells a frame bag to fit in there.  Granted, it's a tiny space, but it's usable.   I'm still experimenting with trying to adapt one of those spandex covers for luggage as a Brompton cover (check ebay - can be had for as little as $7 from China).  So far, I'm having a bit of a Goldilocks problem - first one slightly too small, another one too big, and too thick.  If I find the right one, I'll report back.  I like the idea that a spandex cover can be quickly slipped on and will stay in place.

You might not need a cover at all, because the chain and greasy bits are mostly in the middle of the fold, but you might find that the bike is more welcome on trains, in restaurants, and stores, when it's got a cover on it.   Also on the topic of grease, some of us use paraffin for chain lube, but that's a whole other thread.  I only mention it because it's particularly interesting for a folding bike that you'll be carrying around.  Brompton does a great job of minimizing chain contact with clothes, but there's still the opportunity for some contact, with your own clothes or someone else's on a crowded train.

The Brompton tool kit is an elegant solution for carrying tools, but I'm also not willing to shell out that much dough for a tool kit.  I've experimented with a few options and am getting around to a full post on it, but I'll give the short version for now.  The Turbo Mini 20-function tool set ($8.50 on ebay) fits in the front part of the top tube and has every size wrench and hex bit you'll need, and the wrenches also function as tire levers. The other set I found and like is the Spex (Taiwan) 12 in 1 kit.  $20 through  As-is, it won't fit in the frame, but if you drill out the holes from the back side (1/4" drill), to allow the bits to fit deeper in the holder, it fits nicely in the frame.  It's more versatile, I think, because the bit+ratchet driver combo can fit in tighter spaces, and it's expandable to fit sockets of other sizes that you might want to bring (e.g. 8mm, rather than using the included wrench).  The included wrench is really clever - it hooks up to the socket driver and gives plenty of leverage for taking off the wheel bolts, if necessary.  That 15mm wrench size is hard to find in a compact tool kit.  The kit also has two tire levers built in.  BTW, this SPEX set looks very similar to the Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite and the Radial Verso 14, but neither of those have the flat wrench, and they're more expensive.

After putting the tools in the front part of the top tube, I made a plug for the hole using Sugru with three strong magnets embedded in it.  Saran wrap covered the hole, I packed the Sugrue in, with the magnets attached to the inside of the hole at three points, and let it set overnight.  I also embedded a small keychain ring, as a handle.  The next day, I trimmed some Sugru off at a couple of points, and now the tools won't fall out when folding/unfolding.  It was easy-peasy.  I can post a picture later if that would help.

On the topic of tools and repairs, you can take a spare tube, pair of disposable gloves, and a patch kit, wrap them in a length of window screen material, and slide them into the long top tube as a bundle.  The window screen helps them slide in and out of the tube, and keeps things together if done right.  You can sew up one end of it, and use Velcro or tape at a couple of points along the way.  If you position the stem of the tube at one end, it can work as a handle for pulling the bundle out when needed.  Or, you can loop some fishing line or string through the mesh of the window screen, and use that as a handle to pull it out.  For a commute like yours, maybe you wouldn't do roadside repairs, but if you take the bike on a longer ride it's nice knowing that you already have everything you need on board.

Speaking of long rides, the most I've done in a day was about 55 miles, and with no problems.  Or at least none due to the bike.  :-)  And that was 55 days each day for three in a row, with everything I needed in the T-bag.  The riding position with M-bars is different from my typical bike, and if you're used to a road bike you'll find that you might be using different muscles on your Brompton.  It could take some getting used to.  If you got the S handlebar, it's more similar.  Also, if you're going to do any long riding or touring, it helps to watch the video of how to remove the rear wheel and put it back on again.  I'd watch it three or four times, memorize it, and practice at least once.  If you get the kind of flat that can't just be patched, you'll be glad you know how to get the wheel back on and set the gears properly.

Trigo makes a phone mount for the Brompton handlebar, that some people say doesn't interfere with the fold.  It can also double as a flashlight mount or GoPro mount, on the under side, opposite the phone.  I just got mine and haven't had a chance to use it yet, but you can find some youtube videos.

Some people have used a sharp object, like a pinpoint punch, to put a few small dimples in the seatpost when it's set a the perfect height, and filled in the dimples with black paint.  That way you can quickly get to your perfect setting every time.  Like the Divvy bike seatpost, I guess, only with your own custom marking.  Others have rigged up wires in one way or another, so the seat simply can't be pulled any higher past its perfect height.  I've read that Brompton also sells some plastic bit that goes inside the seatpost, but I haven't tried it yet.

There's an extensive Brompton bible at this link, which includes some of these ideas and more:

I'm sure you're going to love your Brompton!

The large size spandex luggage cover is a good fit.   There are holes for the wheels and handle, so if you sew them up, it works nicely.   This one is about $7.

Thanks so much for all of the great advice, tips, product recommendations. I'm so excited (6 more weeks to go!) for when it arrives.

Hello, our daughter bought the same bicycle while she worked in Melbourne Australia. she taught herself to ride while there! So when she brought it home a year ago I took her out for 2 rides each of 20 and 25 miles and she had little complaints for someone with very few miles on her legs. She kept up fine at our average pace of 12 MPH. She even rode it in Manhattan on a recent assignment of several months there! As I do our bike maintenace I think it is was well made but just a bit pricy. she doesen't need a portable commuter as much now that she has settled down in Minneapolis but she said she will never sell "lil blue".

Good luck , MB



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