Folding bikes in the train

When I visit suppliers and customers outside of Amsterdam I generally take the folding bike in the train. On the Amsterdam end its just a couple kilometers to Central Station. But some of my usual destinations (such as Nijland Products in Heeten) mean 10-15km rides through some lovely countryside. The combination of working in the train, a business meeting and relaxing bike rides through farmland makes for a great, varied day.

The travel time this way is somewhat longer than driving in perfect conditions but the traffic in the Netherlands is awful so my train/bike ride is, in practice, quite a bit faster. There are still plenty of cars on the roads here but apparently I’m not the only one who who prefers the bike/train combination. 

folding bikes in the train

I snapped the above picture in a “stoptrein” (local train) last week. There are six folding bikes visible in this little space, but also others I couldn’t get into the frame. Just for the record, I spot in this shot: Brompton, BuzzBike (Brompton rip-off), DaHon, Riese und Muller and a few generics.

My own folder is a very hot-rodded DaHon Helios – lower right in the photo. It doesn’t fold really compactly or roll along on its own wheels like a Brompton, but its really light and rides beautifully. If it were my daily rider and had to be frequently folded/carried I’d opt for a very light, trick Brompton… we don’t sell Bromptons but I love them anyway.

6 Responses to “Folding bikes in the train”

  1. Richard Wilson Says:

    It’s so nice to see so many folded bikes in one shot… Are you sure it’s not a shot from a folding society ride in Cambridge 😉

    More than one folding bike on a train here in the Portland is a rare occurrence. During peak hours cyclists with full size bikes have to aggressively jockey for the limited hangars and those who aren’t lucky must constantly shift about trying not to block the aisles and doors or bump into peoples’ trousers with grimy wet tires… Not a relaxing way to spend your commute!

    Whenever I take my Brompton on our local light rail train it elicits endless jokes, comments & questions:

    “Hey, your bike is broken! Ha ha ha!”
    “Can you actually ride that thing?”
    “That’s so cool!!!”
    “Where’s the circus?”
    “How much does one of those cost?”
    “Cute! Looks like a Swiss watch with a seat coming out of it.”
    “WTF dude???”
    “Where is that made?”

    Folding and unfolding provides great entertainment for fellow travelers and can be rather embarrassing when executed poorly – as usually happens on early hung-over pre-coffee mornings… Properly pulled off you get a warm-fuzzy James Bond feeling.

    My favorite Brompton feature is that it stands up by itself when folded so you can tuck it out of the way and read peacefully. It’s a brilliant little bike and, contrary to my expectations before buying it, zips along nicely with its full size counterparts once on the road.

  2. todd Says:

    of the dozen bikes i’ve kept over the last decade or so, i’ve ridden the bromptons more than any other. i admire them more and more over time. and of all the bikes we stock, i get the most personal gratification from selling bromptons. i like the sense of surprise that they always elicit, and the ever-unfolding enthusiasm of new owners, bakfietsen are a close second, depending on the brood size of the family being served, usually.

    this week an 18-year old visitor pronounced the brompton “retarded!” it took me a moment to realize he meant this as a high compliment. i feel so. old.

    brompton finally updated their website:

  3. John Power,Dublin,Ireland Says:

    Hello Todd .I looked up the Brompton Site thank you very much lots of Information. I have a Brompton since 2004 its a great little Bike Zips along the Road. It holds a lot of Stuff in the Special Bag that you put on a Clip on the front. I sometimes carried a lot of Groceries from the Supermarkets when my other Bikes had Punctures. It shares some Features with Henrys Bikes like the Gearing and the Schwalbe Marathon Tyres and the new Dynamo , the Front Hub Dynamo. Unfortunately I dont have the Schwalbe Marathon Tyres or the new Dynamo, I like the way the Rear light stays on for a few minutes after you stop. The best thing about it is if you forget to bring a lock and chain you can bring the Bike indoors out of Harms way.

  4. henry Says:

    Just an update: I’ve donated the hot-rod DaHon to the WorkCycles shop as an errand and delivery bike. More specifically to deliver cargo bikes and trikes; We toss the folding bike into the box, ride the bakfiets/cargobike/trike to its owner and ride home on the folding bike. It couldn’t be more convenient.

    As my personal bike (not my ONLY personal bike, of course) I’m now on a really sweet, green and orange Brompton nicknamed “Mr. Tree Frog” with 2 speeds and all the titanium goodies. Its totally over the top but it rides great and folds into an absurdly tight package. The trick Dahon, with its 20″ wheels, is slightly faster and definitely smoother riding over rough surfaces but everything else about the Brompton is simply better. You get whatcha pay for!

    Just to note, WorkCycles is not a dealer of Brompton or any other folding bikes so I got the bike from Clever Cycles in Portland, USA (that’s Todd in the comment above). We engineered a mutually handy trade. Clever Cycles is by the way.


  5. gunter Says:

    Folding bikes seem so practical that I can’t understand why any commuter would use a regular non-folding bike. Does anyone out there have any reasons why there aren’t more folding bikes?

  6. henry Says:

    Folding bikes are really handy but can’t do many things that a full-sized city or transport bike can. Most notably they don’t carry kids (a huge part of the city bike market), friends, spouses and groceries easily. They’re not built to stand outdoors for years and few people want to always carry their (possibly wet and dirty) bicycle inside, up the stairs to their house, inside the pub etc.

    A folding bike costs much more than a standard bike of comparable quality and requires more maintenance. As well as the best folders ride they still cannot match the relaxed perfection of a big-wheeled city bicycle.

    In places where the theft situation is so terrible that standard bikes cannot be left outdoors the folding bike is the ideal solution as primary bike.


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