I don’t talk enough about how grateful I am for my Brompton:
This bike is like a toilet plunger–sure, I’ll often go awhile without using it, but if I didn’t have it I’d be knee-deep in shit. It’s a rolling contingency plan, always there for me if I need to go multi-modal, or if I want to bail on a round-trip due to weather, and all too often I take it for granted. Also, while admitting this may undermine my smugness credentials irreparably, it’s an absolutely essential automotive accessory. This week, for example, I needed to bring The Car The Bank Owns Until I Finish Paying Them Back to the mechanic for an oil change and tire rotation. (Tire rotation is a rip-off if you ask me. Aren’t the tires rotating every time I drive the car?) Since the garage is too far to walk and not really transit accessible, it was the Brompton that ferried me to and fro, without having to fuss with racks and all the rest of it.
Perhaps the clearest sign that I take this bike for granted is the state of neglect to which I subject it. In fact I’m lucky I made it back from the garage, because it was raining and by the time I got home I realized I had maybe one or two stops left on my brake pads:
Fortunately, I had some spare brakes to cannibalize, and I was able to replace them for the pickup:
Another thing about the Brompton I take for granted is that, while I’m always gushing about my New-To-Me Titanium “Forever Bike,” the Brompton is also titanium–or at least the rear triangle is:
As is the fork:
As soon as we turn the water for the garden hose back on this spring I hereby promise to give this bike a proper cleaning.
Oh, I also got into a little discussion on Twitter this week about how stupid Presta valves are (I have them on most of my bikes, but let’s face it, they really are), and the Brompton has the best valve interface currently available, that being the threaded Schrader valve:
Elegant, robust, and functional–three things I’ll never be able to say about myself.
Speaking of unsung bikes, and cars, I was feeling especially lazy today, and so I figured I’d break in that new oil by driving my bicycle to Cunningham Park. Cunningham Park is in Queens, and it is an ideal place to ride a single-speed all-terrain bicycle:
Drew of Engin Cycles now works exclusively in titanium and makes bikes so exquisite that they’ll melt your face, but I was lucky enough to catch him back when he still worked in the humble medium of steel. Owing to my penchant for understated and monochromatic bicycles (as well as my penchant for never cleaning them) it’s difficult to see all the nifty details on this bike. Consider, for example, the milled headtube, as well as the intricate headbadge under a layer of grime:
Also, that’s a custom non-suspension-corrected fork, because I’m way too pretentious to use suspension:
The stem is also handmade (forgive the tarnished bolts), and it used to grip a custom titanium handlebar, though I recently swapped them for these because they’re a little bit wider:
I do think I may change them yet again for something with a little more sweep–not Jones bar sweep, just something to make things a little easier on my aging wrists.
The seatpost is also custom, because stock seatposts are not good enough for me:
And it enters the frame at this interestingly configured seat cluster:
As for what kind of tubing Drew used, I couldn’t tell you that because I don’t know. What I can tell you however is that the chainstays are extra stout to facilitate grappling with that one (1) gear:
If you look you’ll also see they’re crimped to accommodate the rear tire. This bicycle of course was built before the whole plus-sized tire thing, so the clearance is minuscule by today’s standards, but that’s fine because I don’t see why you’d want to use tires much fatter than this on a one-speed bicycle anyway.
The chunky chainstays are in contrast to the swoopy seatstays:
But of course the key to the whole bike is the rocker dropouts, which is arguably the best singlespeed chain-tensioning system ever devised:
So is this bike dated? Why of course; I mean who the hell rides singlespeed mountain bikes in 2020 anyway? However, it’s dated in a good way, because what with its 135mm rear spacing, quick release (!) axles, 1 1/8th inch headtube, and threaded bottom bracket, I’ll be able to dig the necessary crap out of my parts bin to keep this bike going until the end of time. Also, while it’s as impractical as the Brompton is useful, thanks to those old-timey quick release axles I can throw it on the roof on a whim instead of having to bust out the hitch rack:
I realize this photo of my car with a bicycle on it parked next to a protected bike lane will cost me roughly one billion smugness points, but I FELT LIKE RIDING MY BIKE AT CUNNINGHAM TODAY GODDAMN IT, and if it makes you feel any better I paid like $900 in bridge tolls for the privilege.
Oh, finally, I should also mention I used the Spurcycle hip pack:
In addition to my pump and sundries it also easily accommodated my vest when I no longer wanted to wear it, and it’s turning out to be the ideal accessory for be-jorted riding:
Look at that, I’m riding with a fanny pack, who’d-a thunk it?