sábado, 2 de enero de 2010


Biking on a Brompton II: Shopping

Pamela Morinière

Shopping with my folding bike — which doubles as a cart.
I bought my first Brompton a few months ago and as I wrote here in October, the bike gave me immediate joy.

The bike rides well (yes, even in all that snow we’ve had in Brussels this winter) and is so well-designed that it can be folded up into a neat rectangle and stowed safely in the office and my apartment, away from thieves.

I see my bike as one of the most convenient and environmentally sound purchases I’ve ever made.

But the bike came without a rack or saddle packs, and soon I was hankering for a more efficient way of transporting groceries from markets in Brussels. After all, there are only so many zucchini, eggplants and tomatoes you can stick in your backpack — or hang in plastic bags from your handlebars — without making ratatouille.

So I asked my bike dealer, Tanguy Gaspard, who runs the store Veloxygene in Brussels, what I should buy. He told me that any of the Brompton-branded bags on display would fit a special block already mounted above the front wheel. I chose the largest bag he had on offer — the Brompton touring pannier.

But Tanguy said there was one more thing I might want to consider if I was doing large amounts of shopping and traveling. If Tanguy saw my face light up with enthusiasm at those words, that’s because I have a kind of stubborn pride in doing most everything I can by two wheels.

The Brompton can be converted into a shopping cart. What can your folding bicycle do?
Tanguy showed me how the addition of a few accessories consisting of a metal rack with four in-line skate-sized wheels mounted on top of my rear mudguard converted the bike and its bag into a kind of trolley for pushing through a market or even a train station or airport.

I have found it necessary to remove the bag before I fold the bike into trolley mode, or before readying the bike to be used again for cycling. I have also discovered that when using the Brompton as a cart, I have to arrange items in a certain way for optimal balance, as too much cargo can cause tipping.

(Brompton recommends carrying no more than 10 kilograms.)

Of course, the Brompton is hardly the only folding bicycle. Many of you stood up for your own favorite models the last time I visited this topic — including the Swift Folder, Citizen Bike, Giant Halfway, Dahon, Strida, Bike Friday, Birdy, Mobiky and Montague, among others.

One question is, are you able to use these models as a shopping cart? And what other uses have you found for your folding bicycle? Tell us about it