It’s been pretty quiet around here, which doesn’t mean we haven’t been out extensively with our Brompton. Only for writing we lacked the time, because we have prepared our bicycle world trip. We start on April 30th 2022, but then not with the folding bikes. We will have considerably more luggage with us and therefore use the bicycles which we used already on a 2 year trip from 2009 – 2011. The advantages of the light and flexible folding bike would be gone. Therefore, they are now well packed off to the store. If you want to follow us on our bicycle world trip, you can do so via our streetpepper blog.
Winter is over, the Brompton was in the inspection but Corona is still holding us back from longer tours at the moment. From Berlin it’s about 2 hours by train and you’re in Dresden. So we had a plan for a day trip.
Exploring Dresden and its surroundings with the Brompton folding bike.
It is the end of April and we hope the winter season is almost over. The Brompton has suffered during the winter time. All the snow, slush, salt and gravel have left their mark on the bicycle. Now, for the Dresden Trip, it was the perfect reason to do some maintenance work on the bicycle. What you should have recently checked on your bicycle you find more informations within this article: How to take care of your bicycle!
Early in the Morning
Our train arrived at 8am at the train station in Dresden. Still, the city is sleeping. Of course, it is Sunday morning. Our first stopp: getting a coffee and some fantastic vegetarian bred in the coffeeshop Oswaldz. Most important: they have some real great coffee to start the tour 🙂
We planed the tour with Komoot. We are always impressed by this software, which lets us find new ways even within well known city, like Berlin. We planned the tour as pedestrians, not cyclists. So the software also guides us through small alleys and against the one-way streets. We discover a really exciting city with more than old stones and widely known sights. Of course we pass the „Frauenkirche“, the „Dresden Zwinger“, the „Semperoper“ , the Cathedral and the „Residenzschloss“. We saw the „Goldene Reiter“, the „Fürstenzug“, but we also easily reached the German Hygiene Museum, the Botanical Garden, the „Große Garten“ and the bridge „Blaue Wunder“, crossing the River Elbe.
We cycled a leisurely 43km that day with a lunch break at a small Chinese takeaway and by 5pm we were back on the train on the way back to Berlin.
For sure, you would not have done such a trip by foot, but there was something more special. We did not only explore the Highlights, we wandered through small streets, discovered the places where the people live who make up this city live. In contrast to the old core with all the highlights, you can feel life in here. Dresden is a living, changing city. A city where people have something to say. You can learn what that is, for example, through the language of the walls on the houses, through streetart.
A city worth to be visited
Dresden has blossomed and continues to grow into a lively, fresh city. Dresden promotes itself as a location for science and business. So take your folding bike, go to Dresden and discover the city. Dresden is green (when spring has finally arrived 🙂 ), Dresden is streetart, Dresden is innovation, Dresden is history.
Unfortunately, we are still rather stuck with the saying: Germans love their cars! They clean, polish and spend huge amounts of money and time on inspections and maintenance. This changes, but still, when the automotive industry says: now it is time to spend money on an inspection, they will. Being afraid about the loss of value.
Do we need to check a bicycle?
Of course! Here is no bicycle that doesn’t need regular checks and renewals as well. Wear and tear depends primarily on the conditions of use. Fixed maintenance intervals, e.g. once a year, make sense if you tend to ride less. Flexible maintenance intervals are due if you drive more than average and if the conditions of use are extreme. Does this sound familiar? If you are one of those who are still struggling with your car, then it will. I’m often asked how often you should do maintenance on a bicycle. And there you have the answer: more often than most people think. At least once a year.
Of course, you can do all this by yourself, especially the „Basic cleaning“ but for the technical check at least, once a year, you should prefer a specialist. He can make a checkup and let you know what he would suggest to be done.
How you can expect more riding pleasure!
When the gears work smoothly again, the chain no longer rattles, nothing squeaks or cracks and the seatpost no longer slips down when riding. Which, by the way, looks pretty silly. More safety when the brakes do their job, the tyres still have tread, the lights don’t go out every time you hit a cobblestone road. New grips are due from time to time. Yes, this is also a wearing part in most cases.
Dear German Brompton riders, love your Brompton at least as much as your car, wash it, take care of it and bring it to inspections. You will get so much more pleasure out of it. The Germans love their car! In the future it would be nice to say about us: Germans love their bicycles!
Of course, it is still a used bicycle, not a brand new one. But I also love it for all its little flaws and quirks.
Last but not least!
Please, check the tyre pressure regularly. On a Brompton it is so much more fun, so much easier to cycle when you have the right air pressure in the tyres. Mostly, it rolls best at 6.5 or 7 bar. But ask your Brompton Dealer, it depends on the kind of tyre.
We did a day city tour through Dresden and I was glad to have looked through my Brompton completely before. No rattling, no shaking, the brakes perfect, the gears very smooth. What a nice day Ride: City Tour Dresden!
Aren’t we all a little bit in love with our little folding bikes? Some collect them, some use them to go to work, others make small or big trips with them and others dare to go on big trips with you: the Brompton folding bikes.
I have forgotten one group. Those who incessantly take photos of their Bromptons. I am one of them. And YES, we also like to show ourselves with them: Selfie with a Brompton.
Why there has so much hype arisen around them, I don’t understand, but I also belong to those who are crazy about their Brompton. And because I’m a photographer, the 2nd passion in my life, I asked a friend if we should not make a photo shoot with a Brompton. Curious: she does not even ride any bicycle. Quickly I realized that it is not the best idea, to do a photoshoot with somebody being not familiar with bicycles. Even how to touch such a bike was difficult for her. Crazy.
As a real bike junky I just had not thought about it, that there could be people who do not like or do not ride a bicycle. Can you imagine? After all, after the shooting she has seriously considered buying a Brompton.
We have met at the government district and so tried out a few things. The 2 Brompton has lent me Daniel from Kultrad in Berlin. We transported both in the original box with a Cargo Bike to the Spree. If I wouldn’t have already a Brompton, I would have kept one of them. The two were black and white and somehow really graceful in appearance. And they reminded me of liquorice, my 3rd passion in life 🙂
I felt in love with them. Actually only the diamonds were missing, don’t you think so 🙂
Just in case you are curious now, which Brompton I might be riding…. not a diamond, but my „beloved“ Brompton the Blue one: Turkish Green with Lagoon Blue!
I remember when Klaus bought his Brompton. He thought it was chic. I didn’t see the use of it, not yet. Then, a year later, the time had come. We had plans to travel with the Bromptons. To escape the winter months in Berlin. And that’s what we did. 4 months in Cambodia were followed by 4 months in Sumatra and then 4 months in Cairo, Sinai and Israel. But you can read about that in other articles in this blog. By the way, my recommendation: 2 coloured bromptons are real eye-catchers and are so much more fun.
We tested the Brompton Electric in and around Berlin. Now you might expect a detailed test report. Something with asterisks and checkmarks, comparisons regarding ride comfort, battery charging capacity, max. payload, max. speed and so on. We didn’t test like that. We were more interested in how it feels to be on the road with an electric folding bike. And this is what came out!
Yes, the Brompton Electric is heavier. The motor and the battery weigh a few kilos. But if you take off the battery, you can still lift and carry the Brompton Electric quite well. Around 14 kg, depending on the gear version. We rode a bike with high handlebars and 6 gears and one with medium handlebars and 2 gears. Day 1: We conquer the city. Day 2: We head out to the countryside.
Cycling in the City
In fact, I don’t feel like I’m really faster than other cyclists. Even if the Brompton incredibly darts off, at the next traffic light, however, other cyclists have caught up with me again. Also climbing our hills here in Berlin, of course I’m faster in the beginning, but soon others caught up again. At 25 km/h the engine locks. More is not allowed. Then you have to pedal yourself. By the way, the engine brakes very little, so there is almost no difference using a Brompton without electric and cycling an electric one without using the battery. So if you want to be somehow extremely fast in the city, which I find degenerates into stress, then you should go for a 6 speed. For me the 2 gear version is quite sufficient in the city.
On the country Side
We had 100 km ahead of us. 1st question for us was, would the battery hold. 2nd question, how does the Brompton Electric do on bumpy and dirt roads.
First of all, we had so much fun. We drove most of the time with the first level of support, only on hills or headwinds, tim to switch to the second or even third level. On dirt roads, you no longer have that steady pedaling that the sensors need to determine how much assist is needed. So we set the support there to 0. But as I said, the bike rides great without assistance. So we actually managed to ride about 80km with assistance, 20km without. And in the evening, back home, we could have gone for another 100km 🙂 This is one of the difference to a Brompton without support, there I would have been in the evening certainly not still so relaxed.
Super was also the idea that we could at any time jump into a train or a bus, if it would then but annoying and perhaps too far for such a leisurely Sunday trip. Simply fold again, which by the way works just like a Brompton without a motor, and get on. Nice idea.
Back in the city with full support
I wanted to test again driven exclusively with level 3. Full support. But then, after 35km my supported trip ended, the battery is empty. Cycling with this 3 level support is of course also nonsensical. You have to brake constantly, because of far too much support and thus wastes the energy. But that also means that even with the 3rd stage you can probably get to at least 40km on straight stretches. But, we did not try.
A Brompton Electric is huge fun. For us, however, it will probably take a few more years. The Accu (extra weight and caring for charging) means an abandonment of lightness compared to a Brompton without Electric.
If you feel like doing longer trips and you do not want to give up the Accu support, there are several stations to recharge and maybe it is a good time for a break anyway. We use this Bike.app.
First of all: as a Digital Nomad, you don’t earn money with a blog.
We are on our 3rd and for now last 4 months winter trip with the Bromptons: on the way from Cairo to Sinai. We have already reported about Cairo as well as Israel and Tel Aviv. But I did not go into more details about Klaus, who continues to work during these 4 months. I would like to make up for that now here again.
If one sees the quantity of people in the net, which work from anywhere in the world, then one believes that this is completely simple. Of course it is not for us. The difference to most of the travelers is that they stay in fixed places for a long time. So actually they’ve just moved their office to another location. We travel on, from station to station. Then stay again a few days and then it goes on again. Klaus is a programmer and as long as he has his computer and internet access he is able to work.
This is not possible 5 days a week, but as a self-employed person he has the possibility to reduce his working days. We stay overnight in very cheap, simple accommodations. We eat mostly at stalls on the street and also we avoid spending much money. Sightseeing, museums, guided tours, these would all be extra costs that we do not want to afford. I am a city guide, of course by bicycle 🙂 , in Berlin and photographer. For me, there is hardly anything to do in Berlin in the winter time. My main working time is between April and October.
So we have decided to explore the world during the winter.
Usually we have only a small idea of the route. We know we have 4 months, but we also know that it wouldn’t be bad if we don’t reach the planned end point. We have every time the possibility to get on a bus in between and not to do certain stages by bike. Planned is always only the outward flight. Even the return flight we leave open. We wanted to visit friends on the Sinai, which we met 11 years ago on our bicycle (world) trip. So we started in Cairo and were surprised. The 8 lane highway had an extra bike lane. I am going crazy. What a luxury.
We have to cross the Suez Canal and of course we can’t do that by bike. A group of soldiers is interested in us and organizes a driver who will take us through. That doesn’t work at first, because they have some equipment that is not allowed. Then the 2nd driver…. no matter, sometime we are there. But anyway, having this small foldable bicycles helped a lot.
„Make plans and it comes differently!“
That’s what we’ve learned on all our trips.
Back to Klaus and his work.
We always discuss for the coming week on which days he has to work. Then we have to make sure he has internet access. Everything else is put around that. Sounds simple? It is, once you get used to it and Digital nomads need a fair amount of self-discipline.
So what can actually stop us from traveling this way?
Corona! We thought about a lot of things, but nothing like this came into our mind. Not the mosquitoes, not the heat, not the dust or the rain, not the dirt, not the effort, nothing could stop us.
The winter 2020/2021 is different now and we stayed in Berlin. And honestly… I am not happy about it. Not the warm and clean bed, the shower, the clean running water from the pipes, nothing can make up for the experiences on such trips.
And besides, working at home is definitely not more fun. If you want to know more about Digital Nomads you can read on WorknSurf a lot about it.
Even if it is in german, you can get a lot more pictures and informations about us traveling with the Bromptons in the „Brompton Fernweh Magazin“.