Brompton First Ride

Nipped out to collect it at lunchtime and rode home from Evans Cycles (Waterloo Cut) as far as Great Suffolk Street before I realised I’d forgotten to start recording it on my Apple Watch – doh!

Brompton Nine Streets Edition H6L

Yes, I’ve gone and done it: I’ve bought one of those ridiculous-looking folding commuter bikes, but in my case a strictly limited-edition one with a rather nice paint finish.

When I say “ridiculous-looking” it’s not been one of those bikes that lends itself to too much in the way of ridicule unlike the MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) shots or at least that was until the BBC’s “W1A” satirical show featured them:

Anyway, I’d long thought about riding in to the office on my Carrera Kraken 09 20″ mountain bike but its lack of mudguards, our lack of a shower at the office and more particularly my lack of anywhere to keep a full-sized bicycle safe whilst I’m inside had put paid to that idea so instead I’ve been walking both ways, which is fine in itself other than arriving a tad sweaty in a suit and spending around 35 minutes each way walking the 3½km each way.

The downside of that is my getting through a pair of Nike shoes every year and it taking so long.

By chance a review of Brompton’s new electric bike appeared on my Twitter feed the other day and that got me to thinking about a Brompton as a sensible choice for the short journey, given I can fold it and bring it into my office each day… a la W1A.

So I had a look on their website and decided that they looked quite good, but what colour to specify? Easy: when i saw the Nine Streets limited edition, I was sold.

“Originally launched in 2017 to celebrate the opening of the Brompton Junction Amsterdam.  Nine Streets sports the never before seen, special fade finish. The effect is a special fade finish of Red and Blue lacquer which is created using a hand sprayed [sic]. The process leaves a unique finish on each Nine Streets bike, meaning no 2 bikes are the same.

“Nine Streets is produced in the Brompton factory in London. Each bike is handmade with the highest quality craftmanship to create the Nine Streets unique finish.

“Inspired by Amsterdam 9 Straatjesis well known for it’s stylish shops and creative influence, Nine Streets is a nod to the iconic canal-district area in the Netherlands.

“Only a small batch of Nine Streets Edition bikes have been produced…”

Brompton Nine Streets

The paint job is fantastic, starting with blue at the front and fading into red at the back:

Red at the back…

and blue at the front

Click on the first image to see it at larger scale.

I’ve gone for the higher-barred H-series handlebar version and a longer seat post for my 33″-34″ inside leg measurement. It comes with the 6-speed set of gears: 3 internal hub and 2 external rings.

H-type handlebars

Gearsets

It also comes with dynamo-driven front and rear lights powered from the dynamo mounted in the front wheel hub:

Front Wheel Hub

As it’s limited in numbers, I couldn’t order one direct from Brompton but found one at Evans Cycles near Waterloo; I pick it up tomorrow. This is the spec.:

  • Model: H6L
  • Edition: Nine Streets Edition
  • Handlebar Type: H
  • Gears: 6
  • Mudguards / Rack: Mudguards, no rack
  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Main Frame Colour: 2-tone fusion of Red and Blue lacquer
  • Extremities Colour: 2-tone fusion of Red and Blue lacquer
  • Gear Ratio: Standard
  • Seatpost: Extended
  • Lighting: Shimano Hub Dynamo
  • Saddle: Brompton Standard
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Racer
  • Front Luggage Mount: Yes
  • Luggage: No
  • Bike Cover: No
  • Toolkit: No
  • Additional info: Unique Serial Number plate

I’ve also ordered a cadence sensor from Garmin to grab a few more stats like on the Carrera onto Garmin Connect.

Photoshoot with Ali and the MX5

Finally, the weather was good enough and we weren’t too busy to do the promised photoshoot with Ali and her MX5 last weekend.

We went for a fashion theme, rather than lingerie or nudes and as our orders of latex dresses hadn’t arrived, we went for the little black dress with some killer Christian Louboutin heels and set the whole ensemble to a Black Widow/Merry Widow theme:

The Merry Widow

The Merry Widow

Intent

Intent

Ali and Her MX5

Ali and Her MX5

Ali and Her MX5

Ali and Her MX5

The full story is over here on my photography website.

Good Friday; Good Drive

On Good Friday, we finally got a chance to take the MX-5 for a proper drive, having collected it on a rainy Sunday before heading off on holiday.

I had arranged a studio photoshoot with Zara Watson up at Milton Keynes and Ali was going to be joining in for part of the shoot.

A to Z

A to Z

This meant that we had to keep the roof up on our drive up to MK, sadly, so as not to potentially leave her hair in a mess. This did show that even at speed on a motorway with the roof up, the car was actually fairly quiet inside.

Our journey back home – via Thurrock Lakeside for shopping – was another story though: having worked out that you can’t lower the roof is the boot is not closed whilst loading my camera kit and Ali’s modelling gear, we dropped the top, turned on the super-efficient heated seats and hurtled off.

I can report that the MX-5 handles superbly on the MK race circuit – er, I mean roundabouts and roads – and that again at speed with the roof and windows down it’s still very acceptable in terms of noise and a lack of turbulence.

After shopping and dinner and despite it getting dark, we dropped the top to drive back up to London. As Ali had been forced to drink wine, she still didn’t get a chance to drive her car either. Result!

I Wanna Be Collected

Whilst the weather last week was lovely and Spring-like, we couldn’t go and collect it on a nice, dry and bright Saturday as I was moving house. No, we went to pick up the MX-5 on the Sunday, my birthday, as it happens.

But it was a little soggy when we woke up and grabbed a bus, the London Overground and a train to get to Eden Park and walk down to the dealers, Masters.

As we walked into the showroom, there it was – it’s a ‘she’ apparently… – sitting there in the showroom looking lovely.

Ali in the MX-5 at Masters Ali 4 MX-5

We did the paperwork, handed over some more cash and off I drove into the traffic: Ali isn’t used to London driving yet, so I got to drive the new MX-5 home. Sadly, it wasn’t dry enough to put the hood down: instead, we got to try out the exceptional 5-point heated leather seats which were very efficient indeed!

I plugged the house address into the built-in satnav and off we drove. A lovely car it is to drive too! Once home, we put the hood down and set to work pairing our iPhones with it: the MX-5 has a feature where it stores multiple user profiles so my phonebook and phone are set for one user and Ali’s for another.

But rain stopped play with our intended photoshoot which will have to wait until we’re back from our holiday.

It’s the Final Countdown

I was just saying to Ali that the dealer – Masters Mazda – had been a bit quiet about a delivery update for the MX-5.

But on Friday, the telephone call from out of the blue was that it had physically arrived at their compound! Yay!

On Saturday after shooting a music video, we popped in to drop off the signed Certificate of Entitlement for the personal plate on our way down to Somerset so we’re good to go for next weekend, hopefully :)

So Then, This New Mazda…

When Ali Brooks moves in with me, she’ll need a car to go back and forth to Somerset to see family. She was going to bring hers up to London, but her ex needs transport too, he’s going to keep the car and so Ali will need to get herself sorted.

My RX-8 R3 is hideously expensive to run, so it makes sense on longer trips for me to use less fuel for the same speed/distance as well.

Having already spent a day thrashing an MX-5 around Brands Hatch a couple of years ago, I already had a soft spot for the model.

So that’s what we used as an excuse this weekend when we rode out to Masters Mazda at Beckenham to test drive an MX-5.  It turned out that they had the precise model we were after – a Deep Crystal Blue 2.0 litre MX-5 Sport Venture  in the Roadster model (a retractable hard-top) – ready for us. Ali wasn’t keen on driving an unfamiliar car in front of someone else, so the sales guy drove her for a spin which she loved. I declined the offer of a test drive (knowing what it was like anyway) and as Ali loved the car, we went inside and did a deal for one. After I’d paid the deposit to secure a new one, we were allowed to take the car out ourselves: me first and then Ali brought it back in.

We both loved the immediate response from the 2.0 litre engine as well as how quiet the car is with the roof and windows down, so we were chuffed with our choice.

It’s coming in April and will have a personal ‘plate on it: AL1 4 MXS :)

Demo Sport Venture