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The lovely Emily in our Science Night department has expressed her concern at my taking to powered transport at Wroughton last weekend. She saw me powering into the distance on my Brompton folding bicycle and naturally feared for my safety on anything with an engine!

I’ve been thinking of buying a folding bike for ages, but wondered what they were really like to ride. Then I discovered that South West Trains are offering very good value Brompton hire as part of their attempts to make public transport commuting a viable option. Last week I took up their excellent offer and tried one out. Wroughton’s windy runways were a great place to see what it could cope with!

David Rooney on a Brompton (credit: Peter Turvey)

I’ve been cycling for years but full-size bikes are banned on most of London’s public transport. Of course I could cycle all the way but, let’s be honest, many people (myself included) would balk at that and the result would be abandoning the bike altogether after a short time.

Ideals are all very well, but we live in the real world, and personal motivation and psychology must be taken into account. Folding bicycles offer flexibility, and that means choices, and we like having choice.

We’ve had a Brompton on show for the last ten years in Making the Modern World (looming over poor Sierra Susie):

Brompton bicycle at the Science Museum (credit: David Rooney)

I’ll tell you more about the Science Museum’s collection of historic folding bicycles at a later date. Some lovely stuff there!

3 comments on “On Your Bike

  1. Loving the pint size bike but it wasn’t the one I was referring to. Alexandra remembered (she has a computer for a brain) it was the Sinclair C5 – how did that go? Is it easy to ride?

  2. Oh, I see. Yes, the chap from the Museum of Computing in Swindon brought his Sinclair C5. I’ve always wanted a go ever since they first brought them out! It was great fun indeed, although I’d find driving one with a juggernaut on my tail pretty challenging…

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