Cycling to work has boomed in the last decade, and cyclists now make up a quarter of commuter traffic in London alone. With folding bikes popular among business leaders – particularly those commuting by train – IoD members put two to the test
Rose Gledhill, female-talent developer and executive coach, Face HR
What Bickerton Junction 1909 Country, £899
I had preconceptions about folding bikes. I thought they would be heavy, awkward to fold, uncomfortable to ride, and I’d be arriving at meetings flushed and sweaty.
The Bickerton came in a huge box – not folded, surprisingly – and had a beautiful leather saddle and posh-looking handlebar grips, but I needed instructions and an Allen key to straighten out the handlebars and a screwdriver to fit the reflectors.
I envisaged cycling to the station, folding it for the Tube, then riding to meetings. But the bike was too heavy for me to carry comfortably and, although folding was ingeniously simple, the clips that needed tightening to keep it that way were too stiff to close easily. I imagine they would loosen up, but I was worried about spending ages outside Tube stations, folding and unfolding.
Performance was excellent. The gears and gear changer worked like a dream. The Bickerton was surprisingly comfy and great for short journeys, but not my commute as it’s just too heavy for me. If you can manage the weight, it should be fine.
Rose Gledhill is a member of IoD Central London
Adam Gordon, managing director, Social Media Search
What Brompton S2L, from £770
I had thought folding bikes were just for librarians getting from work to the chess club. I imagined it being slow and impractical. I currently use a hybrid bike and had thought it the best way to get around town for short journeys. But when I received the Brompton I unpacked the box excitedly and it was beautiful. I was chuffed to give it a go.
My work is split between Glasgow and London. Folding bikes are uncommon in Glasgow and I did wonder about my reception cycling to work through the Gorbals. It was light enough to hold, though not as light as it looks and with no obvious ‘handle’.
There were no instructions and it’s not as intuitive as it might be. Even by the fourth time I had difficulty remembering how to put it up and down. Once I got the knack, it was simple, but by then I’d become a little irritated with the experience.
Cycling was very stable, though the tiny wheels make steering super sensitive and I felt every stone. But the two-speed gear system was a dream, and I couldn’t believe how fast those small wheels go. I am thinking of buying one for London.
Adam Gordon is a member of IoD Scotland
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