My friend Pauline commutes to work on a great little bicycle called a Brompton. It has to be the worlds best folding bicycle. The engineering and design are second to none and of all the folding bicycles I've ever seen it folds up to the smallest size.
It's bright yellow in colour and she looks very dynamic when riding it, and you can tell she's having a lot of fun. She's often suggested I get one, but I've always maintained that I would look ridiculous on it due to my height. Pauline is just a little over five feet tall whereas I reach six foot one.
We journeyed north this past weekend to give one of our talks at the Findhorn Foundation, just outside of Forres, which is a short distance from Inverness. Once the talk was over at around 9.30pm we drove an hour south toward Aviemore, with the intention of finding a camping spot for the night. By 11pm we were parked up in Boat of Garten and unpacking the bikes that would take us along a track out of the village.
You guessed it, two Brompton bikes. In the pitch dark, with just weak head torches to show the way, we pedalled along for half an hour on a little dirt track. Both of us found it funny that despite all my protests over the years, here I now was experiencing a Brompton for the first time . . . in the pitch dark . . . off road!
I can report that the experience was . . . great fun! My first impression was, because of the unusual handlebar shape, that it reminded me of my days as a kid when I owned a Raleigh Chopper. The following day we happily cycled around little back roads in the area enjoying the sunshine and beautiful Speyside countryside. You have to be careful to some degree when riding a Brompton. It has tiny thin wheels which don't like rough roads, potholes or bumps and because of the nature of the folding mechanism you can't jump off the edge of a pavement for example. It has many other advantages though over a regular bike, one of which is that you can take it with you easily on a train without having to book the rarely available bike spaces. I can also see a use for getting along dirt tracks to reach the base of a mountain quicker and cut out the boring long walks in.
I'm sold on this little miracle machine, and I don't care what I look like.