Here at Smarter Travel Ltd, we were fortunate enough to be able to use Brompton Bike Hire for an event we were attending, we really wanted to use the bicycle as a prop on our exhibition stand we were having, to attract the attention of visitors – which it certainly did!
Brompton Bicycle Hire was established in 2011 and is the sister company of the famous folding bike brand – Brompton. The scheme is continuously expanding and is ‘committed to providing an efficient, flexible, healthy and environmentally friendly solution to travel for the future,’ according to the website.
These locations include; London, Birmingham, Bristol, Jersey, Manchester, Portsmouth and where we picked our bike up from – Norwich! You can find a full list of current docking stations on the Brompton Hire website.
Located within the grounds of Norwich Bus Station, I set off to collect our bike for the next 24 hours. The Brompton Bikes are stored within a vending machine style locker (as seen in the image). Easily located within the busy bus station, I entered my code to unlock bay number three which contained ‘Billy’ the Brompton! (That’s what I named the bike but his official name is ‘Johnny Gavin’).
To begin with, I was surprised at how heavy the bicycle was, however, I do understand that the idea is to cycle and only carry it for short distances like on and off the train or the bus. Brompton Bikes do produce a Superlight Brompton model though, so that’s maybe something to consider if you’re looking for a more permanent folding bicycle. Find our previous post about e-bikes here.
Now before I set off, I did plenty of research and watched videos on how to put the bike together. It was remarkably easy! I did take ‘Billy’ round the corner to somewhere a little quieter before I jumped on and rode away. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to unfold.
Brompton states that the bike is perfect for the city, it folds down to a portable and practical size and in addition to this, the small wheels mean fast acceleration from red lights and increased maneuverability through busy streets. Key features of the Brompton M3L model are; steel frame with puncture resistant tyres, dynamo lights, three gears, telescopic seat post, carrier block for Brompton front luggage, mudguards and a bell!
I cycled the Brompton down to Norwich Train Station and it felt remarkably sturdy and safe. Once at the station, several people stopped me to ask about the bike, they were surprised to hear that they could be hired so locally. When it came to folding the bicycle back up, it was a little more difficult and took some practice! Fortunately, on the side of the bike, there are step-by-step instructions on how to fold and unfold. These are colour coded and the matching parts have the same colour (for example the seat post has a purple handle and the back wheel has a blue lever). There are also step-by-step instructions on the Brompton Hire website.
Firstly the ‘frequent’ user; with an annual charge of £25, and then each 24 hour hire period costs an additional £3.50. Alternatively, there is the option for ‘leisure’ users, with an annual subscription fee of £5, with each 24 hour hire period costing an additional £6.50. Therefore, if you’re planning on using the bike more than four times a year, probably best to go for the ‘frequent’ option. To set up an account you initially need to register through the Brompton Bike Hire website. You can then reserve a bike online (either through the website or app) or by text message. Bikes can be picked up at any point during the day and are hired in 24-hour increments.
‘Billy’ took pride of place on our exhibition stand at the Norfolk B2B event where he gathered a lot of interest. Hopefully, we will see a few more riding around Norwich city centre now! Once it was time to return the bike, the system was very straightforward again. Using an access code, the door on the locker popped open, ready for the bike to be slotted in and I waved goodbye to ‘Billy’! Thank you, Brompton Bike Hire for letting us borrow a bike for the event, we will definitely be using one again soon!