Monday, May 12, 2014

Matt-ers of Interest - A Little Post for Matt

I was recently asked a few questions by Matt, who is considering buying a Brompton for commuting around Atlanta. This post is created for the specific purpose of answering Matt's questions.

Q: How far is your typical commute and would you have considered commuting via Brompton if it were further?
I commute to the Perimeter from Roswell.
My commute is multi-modal; cycle about 3 miles to bus; bus ride to North Springs; and then, a short train ride to Medical Center, after which I ride about a mile to work. I repeat the same on the way back, although I tend to ride a bit more on the way back. Since the bus is not very dependable, as it is greatly affected by traffic, on somedays I get a ride to the bus from home.

Q: Per your experience with riding in Atlanta via Brompton, is there a threshold to driving versus riding?
About 3-5 miles per trip is what I would estimate my bicycle commute tolerance to be. There are two primary reasons why this is the case. 1) the hills of ATL are no joke, 2) there aren't any good roads to get to some of the shopping centers. Trips to Publix (grocery) and coffee shops, in Roswell, are an exception.

Q: Do you find riding a bike in Atlanta dangerous?
Perhaps a lot more crazy than Dallas, TX (my former hometown), but one has to take the necessary precautions. I consider driving in Atlanta equally dangerous. One may argue that given a cyclist is not inside of a metal cage, he/she is more prone to danger. I recommend taking all the necessary precautions. In some cases, you can walk; safely and faster. If that's the case, that's what I choose to do. I ride lawfully. No sidewalk riding or riding against traffic. I stop at all STOP signs and follow all rules of the road. This makes my life a bit easier, shall we say? I can't control what others are likely to do, but I can at least minimize craziness caused by me :)

Q: Did you purchase your Brompton here in Atlanta?
No, I bought it online, from There were no local dealers in Dallas, where I lived, when I was looking to buy my Brompton; and, after researching my choices, I chose to buy from Foldabikes. There are two Brompton dealers in ATL. Of the two, my preference would be to go with Houndstooth Road in Decatur. I know the owner and I think they are a great outlet for European bikes in ATL. I called and spoke with the people at the other shop and I was terribly dissatisfied with their lack of promptness and lack of care for someone's time. Disclaimer: I do not profit from recommending any bike dealer.

Q: Besides the brakes above, has the Brompton name held true; where little to no maintenance is needed?
The Brompton is a phenomenal bicycle. The parts I have replaced are ones that are prone to wear and tear; such as cogs and chain. The replacement of the brake pads is normal wear and tear and it does not reflect on the quality of the Brompton, which is a exceptionally well-made machine and its utility far exceeds its price-tag. I have made a mistake or two in choosing the right chain for my Brompton, which you can read about here and here. Repairing a bike in the dark is something I don't recommend. You can drop a small spring in the dirt and never find it. You can read more about this sort of mistake here :)

Few things to note:
  1. Here is how my Brompton came about
  2. It takes a few miles to get used to the quick-responding Brompton handlebar
  3. I have my Brompton geared to scale a wall. I recommend getting the 3-speed BWR and the 2 speed derailleur, minimally; especially, for Atlanta; particularly, for those who are not mountain goats :)
  4. I suggest getting the dynamo hub and the lights to go with it, especially if you are considering riding in the dark
  5. I do not recommend parking your Honda Element or CRV or any vehicle that sits taller, at any MARTA parking facility. On March 21, 2014, my Catalytic converter was sawed off, during the middle of the day, from the North Springs MARTA parking facility, while I was away at the GA Adopt-a-Stream conference. Apparently, it is a common theft in ATL. I saw tons of CRVs and Elements at the Honda Dealer's repair shop!
  6. If you decide to go the Brompton route, take your time and get comfortable with folding the bike. This is an essential skill, which you will need to perform many times, especially if your commute is multi-modal. I like to practice where I am not pressured to perform :)
  7. My objective is to make time for commuting by bicycle, whenever possible. I do not try to race or  rush, for it is simply not my cup of tea
Matt- I hope this post helps. If you have any other questions, please just let me know via a comment and I will do my best to answer your questions.

I wish you the very best in your search for your bespoke Brompton bicycle.

Peace :)

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