New Year Gear

One of the things I seem to do each year is replace my tyres (tires? always confused about the spelling there…) on the Brompton for another year of cycling around the city (often in combination with public transport).new_shoes_for_brompton_2 The beginning of the academic year seems to be about when I do it, which feels right somehow. It reminds me of my youth, when the night before the school academic year started there’d be frantic sewing of new school uniforms, or adjustment of old ones, to be worn the next day. I remember that always being a last minute thing, although I could be wrong, but I am sure that there was at least one occasion when one of us had gone in on the first day with safety pins holding in place an unfinished hem…

new_shoes_for_brompton_1Anyway, usually I order such things online (from Folding Bikes West on Seattle) since your garden variety bike store does not usually have kerlar lined tires for 16 inch wheels and LA is too far behind the curve in the bike world to have much else. However, things have changed! There in now a store in the greater Los Angeles area that sells Bromptons. Electric Bikes LA is in El Segundo, a hair’s breadth away from LAX and right on Main Street. Just like Eric Sundin up in the Seattle store, they (Andrea Busch and her brother) are enthusiastic and friendly. Moreover, they saved me from doing something crazy – opening a Brompton store myself. They also sell electric bikes (as does the Seattle store) and Andrea says that there is growing popularity for those too…

electric_bikes_la brompton_line

(Now that was a weird coincidence. I am writing some of this on the bus and the bus driver, seeing mine, just engaged me in a conversation about her interest in getting a folding bike. I will write down for her the websites of both stores and hand it to her, I think.) On Saturday I went down to visit them and say Hi and pick up my tires, inneer tubes, and a few other things. It is good to have new “shoes” on again. Makes for a stiffer more secure line, and a sweeter ride. Will I stop using the Seattle store? Probably not. I like the friendliness and openness that Eric’s store offered over the many years and will continue to use them for some purchases too. I’ll try to support both stores. By the way, here’s a video I found on the Seattle store’s site, which is a news report on using bikes of my type in LA. I hope a lot of people saw it and got ideas. Send it around it you like. Along with the video I mentioned here.

So it is full steam ahead on the new year at USC and of the commuting and exploration of LA on the Brompton. One thing that is worth mentioning is that along with the steady increase in bike use I still see all over the city, there is more folding bike use too (along with a pleasant variety of other forms such as fixed gear bikes, etc). I think there are now several in use on the USC campus, which is excellent, and I see all sorts all over the city on occasion. It is not nearly as you might expect for a city as international and a huge as this one, but compared to four or five years ago, seeing more than two or three in one day is a bumper crop…


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6 Responses to New Year Gear

  1. cmj+ says:

    Well thanks for explaining ‘new shoes’!! My local BBC radio station spoke of these earlier this week. And I am seeing more and more Bromptons on the road! One day one for me perhaps ………….

  2. Pope Maledict XVI says:

    The only thing I don’t like about Bromptons is that they usually come with very few gears. Is it possible to specify them with, say, 30 gears? Having tons of gears to play with is a major part of the fun of cycling. That’s one reason why I can’t understand the appeal of fixed gear bikes [the other being the fact that people on those things are asking for bad knee problems].

  3. Hello Cliff,

    In your post, you mention an “electric bike”. What is that? Also, this is the first time I have heard of a folding bike, but it seems like an awesome idea. It reminds me of a Rubix cube, in a “why didn’t I think of that” way.

    Anyway, awesome post, awesome bike. Good luck with the new school year.

  4. Clifford says:


    Well, it is what it sounds like. It is an electrically powered bike. You plug it in. See the sites I pointed to and get a tour! A lot of people like them.

    Folding bikes are almost as old as non-folding bikes, on the other hand. They are extremely versatile. I wish people would use them more since they can fill a niche of transport use that a lot of people are looking for. Sadly, people are often put off by not wanting to “look weird” as compared to the arbitrarily defined standard of the “regular bikes”, and often think that (for ones with small wheels) that there is some sort of problem with having small wheels (forgetting that the gear was invented a long time ago). Some fold more easily than others. Badly designed folders also contribute to the perception problem. There are some wonderful ones out there.




  5. Clifford says:

    PMXVI:- Different bikes for different tasks. 30 gears to get around the city for commuting is largely pointless in my opinion. Even when I had a ten speed for many years ago in other cities, I hardly even used more than three or four gears. The Brompton has as many as six. I use all of them and can cover a wider range of grades, terrains, and situations. If I want to race or climb mountains, I’ll get a racer or a mountain bike.

    It’s a little bit analogous to having a large SUV or pickup truck in Los Angeles. What exactly are you using it to go to work or the grocery store for that pint of milk for? Just how often are you going off-road, in snow, or hauling lumber?

    Etc., etc…



  6. Pope Maledict XVI says:

    Oh, I wasn’t suggesting that lots of gears are *necessary* — though exploring a big city will often suddenly present you with steep slopes [delivery ramps and the like]. I was just saying that they are *fun*. And as for comparing a bike with an SUV….a low blow, sir, a low blow! Anyway I *can* imagine a use for an SUV: to transport a bike or two or three!

    A pity you didn’t set up that Brompton shop. What stopped you?

    However, folding bicycles are so passe. What you need is a folding TRIcycle: