Thursday, 4 September 2014

Riding my Brompton to work

Today, Thursday 4 September, is Cycle to Work Day in the UK. Here in Poland, Monday 22 September will be Leave Your Car at Home Day. So today, along with 73,000 Brits, I'll get to work on two man-powered wheels. The choice of bike? My Brompton, which I picked up from the bike shop (AirBike in Ursynów) 11 months after dropping it off for a major overhaul.

The work has still not been done. No one could find the right chainset; so I'm left with a chainwheel with the wrong number of teeth, which leads to the chain skipping when I'm pedalling hard, and - worse - the chain tensioner snapping in half when the bike's being folded too quickly. Neither AirBike, nor Brompton's Polish agent, nor Brompton could suggest a fix after months of e-mailing. Secondly, I wanted to replace the rusting, heavy, useless rear carrier with a rear mudguard with jockey wheel that allows folding, keeps my back dry and doesn't add an extra half-kilo of useless weight. Again, no can do (after 11 months).

So - my Brompton - bought directly from the factory over 20 years ago, when I used to write for Bicycle magazine, is still not 100% as it should be. But it's had a lot of work done on it - new tyres, new chain, new brake blocks and cables, new front mudguard, new chain tensioner; 920 złotys worth of work.

Anyway - here it is (below) ready to go for a shake-down ride to work. This will be the first time I ride to my office on ul. Marszałkowska, where we moved last November.

Below: close up of the clever bits. Note the non-standard, 46-tooth Raleigh chainwheel - the best the bike shop could do. A 44-tooth chainwheel is needed here. I must source one myself. As well as a rear mudguard to fit this 1991-model Brompton. Second-hand, maybe.

Below: I cycled all the way in, a total of 15km. Up ul. Puławska (still largely bereft of a decent cycle path - the only exceptions are the new bits around the S79 interchange, and the old bits by the race-track and from Domaniewska to Dolna. The city roads authority, ZDM, is building a new stretch along ul. Waryńskiego, from Rondo Jazdy Polskiej to Pl. Konstytucji. Only a short stretch, but welcome. Below: on the last lap, along ul. Marszałkowska, north of Pl. Konstytucji.

Below: at my office, proudly folded up showing the amazing compactness and brilliance of the design - now over a quarter of a century old and never bested by any other folding bike. In terms of size, speed of folding and quality of ride, the Brompton remains unbeatable. Folded up, it sat safely all day long in the corner of my office, out of harm's way.

On the way home, after a few ales with the Błękitna Trójka Warsaw Chapter. I wheeled the bike to the station, and folded in the rear triangle, posed it for a photo while waiting for a train bound for Jeziorki.

Postscript, Friday 5 September: My colleague Ewa calls me at the end of the working day. Someone has stolen her bike, which she parked outside our office, on ul Marszałkowska. Cutting through the chain on Warsaw's busiest thoroughfare, in full view of security cameras. Her bike is a red and grey Gary Fisher Tassajara, with non-standard brass-coloured stem.

Postscript: By October 2014, the Brompton was restored to full functioning, thanks to the direct intervention of Brompton. Thanks guys!

This time three years ago:
Bike ride to Powsin as summer fades gloriously

This time four years ago:
Compositions in yellow, blue and white

This time five years ago:
When the Z-9 used to run, temporarily, to Jeziorki

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thats what I call a nice piece of kit