Brompton CHPT3 V4
When we were young… I could easily say I have no idea where all the time has gone but that would be a lie. I’ve used almost every cent of it wisely playing and enjoying this beautiful world I live in. The last two years have been an absolute blur of excitement. They have also been the end of an era for me. Change is a good thing and that’s where I’m headed now. I’ve happily given up so much of what has made me tick over the last 35 years. When I decided to quit camping a friend mentioned that they felt sorry for me and my decision.
In 2021 I camped over 150 nights, more than most people have in their lifetime. I’ve passed into a new dimension and I’m taking my simple ways with me. Credit card touring over fully loaded bike touring. Eco travel and glamping over stealth camping, poaching, and rucksackin’ it. Day sailing over cruising and yes I bought the best day sailor on earth. It also happens to be a great condo on the water in paradise. All my bikes in the last 10 years have been built for going slowly. The V4 is my fast bike. As fast as a middle-aged ass can pedal at least. I’m designing it for up to 100-mile days with less than 7.5lbs of cargo not including food or water. I’m going places and the V4 is taking me there.
The first thing I noticed about the V4 is that it’s light – really light. Sadly it’s almost a full pound heavier than advertised by Brompton. It’s been my experience that it costs about $1000.00 a pound to lighten these bikes. I’ve weighed the bike every way under the sun and it comes out to 21.4lbs plus the 23 grams I added for my Spur cycles bell. The customizations will be slow and deliberate, you can’t rush these things. I’ve come a long way from my beautiful Radar Orange Brompton that started all this. The new bike is also 7 pounds lighter.
There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you show up. We’re saving and scheming for a semi-rad adventure. I just got back from my first ride. I honestly didn’t think the new bike could ride any better than the old. Boy was I wrong. The gearing is perfect for my intended purpose. It falls way short of the six-speed, both high and low, but I don’t care. It’s perfectly suited for where I live and how I ride. You feel the lightness. She rides like a twitchy racehorse. I’ll have to break her but that’s what time in the saddle is for.
I’ve already removed a whopping 136 grams. I’m well on my way to being a master gram weenie. Perhaps I’ll add a bit of weight this week by adding a water bottle and some tools. It came with the cutest frame bag ever. You’ll have to wait and see that another time as it’s so small I’ve already lost it. It’s been 7 years since my fancy French spaniel went to the field in the sky. Not a single day has passed that I haven’t missed her. She loved chasing my bike for hours on end. I say chasing but she was always the leader. On today’s ride she was what came to mind climbing that first hill. It hit me in that moment. This bike feels fancy and French so I’ve named her Chloe after the love of my life. I have 7 volumes of news to share, most of it old by now but I’ve got another ride in me. Cheers!
Bikepacking on a Brompton: Enter the Dragon
My pink Brompton in one of her many forms. I’ve nicknamed her “the Dragon” and she is a superior bike to all others I have owned. Everything I possess in this world is tiny and simple. My home, my boat, my ukulele, and yes my bike. There is time and space for everything in this world, and nothing. Sitting on the edge of these two worlds between shadow and darkness is where my life collides. The world feels ablur these days, but my life and its simple boundaries are a very true constant, my North Star.
It was made for the city and that’s why I chose it. When you live on a tiny island, going to the city is a big deal. However, my first experience on a Brompton was a very impromptu bikepacking trip. That journey changed me in many ways, all for the better. It could easily explain how, when I decided to get rid of all my bikes, this quirky little folder was the one I chose over all of them. It certainly isn’t a better bike than any of them were, not by a long shot. It was, however, and is a better fit for me and my current life and lifestyle.
The search for a much simpler way didn’t start with a bike. It started with long-term weather forecasts, long-term financial outlooks. I don’t get into politics online, so I’ll just say the schizzle is about to hit the nizzel. Actually, it already has. Our tiny new boat is part of that plan, It’s a plan B, too. Plan A: “real property with a tiny house and garden” that we currently don’t have. I learned the hard way how stupid a bug-out plan is so we are bugging in, in fashion. The boat was a 2-year anniversary gift to Kimmy and she is going wild with the possibilities and the realities. For me, it’s all about small simple spaces. Enter The Dragon.
My first half dozen bike tours on my Brompton were a beautiful disaster. Today my trusty pink Brompton sits at the foot of my bed. This bike is a massive upgrade to my first Orange Brompty. I still regret selling it but no use crying over spilled milk. I’m on the pre-order list for the new titanium Brompton, the T-line. I’m still not completely sold but extremely intrigued. I already know I’ll upgrade Kimmi but for me, well… I demand a lot out of my bikes
I started with the largest and heaviest parts removing them one by one down to the smaller and smallest detail. This can be said both about my bikes and life. Does it add value? Is the cost worthy of change? We live at the top of a hill. We moved here for the natural light, the view, quality of life. It’s downhill to everywhere but coming home has to be earned. We like it like that. It’s little more than a warm, dry place to sleep, but honestly what more does one man need? A flush toilet and hot running water is a luxury I’m still getting used to.
This silly one-man tent in this photo never didn’t leak. An 8-dollar tarp fixed my woes and I spent many of the best nights of my life snuggled between my Brompton and my ukulele. By the end of that trip, I had downsized to a tarp, my 3/4 length pad, and the clothes on my back. Nothing else mattered. My life condensed to the contents of a small daypack I picked up at the dump. It could carry about 2 days worth of food and a pouch of tobacco. I was smitten with this setup and never felt like I was lacking in anything.
That journey never really ended, it just morphed into others of a similar nature. All of that stuff has left behind a huge void. My new rule is only to collect things that gather no dust. The vast empty space is now being filled with experiences and knowledge. Anyways, I think it’s time for an afternoon nap before my evening ride. Cheers to everything and nothing and knowing the difference.
The concept of boats and bikes has never been lost on me. Naturally powered, yes, but neither has ever been light on the front-end budget (I’ll talk about front-end budgets another time). There is more to a folding bike than just being small. You want to ride it and will have to carry it as well. If you are fortunate enough to have lived aboard a tiny sailboat, the carrying part gets a little more complex. I’ve been carrying my bike up and down ladders of some sort for 14 years now. My tiny Brompton didn’t join my life till 2015. Smaller yes, lighter no. My torn shoulder tells me price be damned, we want a lighter bike.
I’ve been building my Berry Crush slowly over the last few years. at 22.5 lbs it’s very light. Not 17.5 Titanium Brompton light but better than the standard 26.5. Ok, carrying it is a necessary evil but I bought it to ride. My standard ride is slow and only a few miles. When I was at Cape George working on Sookie it was about 17 miles round trip to the shower. After a long day of grinding fiberglass, a shower is a very necessary treat. Now I’m about 18 miles round trip from town and food with no other form of transport. It’s a very pleasant ride but the days are short and my little boat needs time as well. There are only so many hours in any given day. Of course I have to remind myself that I’m prone to spontaneous journeys of over a thousand miles. Its never as easy as just wanting a new bike.
My current bike is sort of perfect except I built it with the touring height M bar, not so sporty for long fast rides to town. I just got put on the list for the new CHPT3 coming out next month but it’s heavier than what I have. The T-line light as it is doesn’t really have the gearing for touring or big rides. The problem with trying to live simply is that it’s so easy to make life very complex. I’m down to two bikes, by spring it will be one. All I know at this point is that it will be a Brompton. I have a feeling that 2023 will be a shocker for everybody. Personally, I like options. The option to stay put is always good. So is sailing off into the sunset or simply riding down that long winding road.
One day here and it’s as if I never left. There is a new boat, a new house, and even a new little laptop to share the journey. I’ve been sitting on top of 18 months of video archives that never made it to YouTube. I have a feeling they never will. None of it matters, anyways. New stories happen every day, as old ones are soon forgotten. I haven’t made my way down to Ooku yet but I can see her right out the window. It’s quiet here…
I won’t be living aboard anytime soon. 12 years of winters afloat in the PNW is enough. Having said that, I fully expect to be aboard almost every day as the weather settles into spring. Boat stuff is starting to accumulate and more orders should be arriving daily. I’m putting together a large order for the Port Townsend Foundry. She doesn’t need anything but it’s all good bilge jewelry for that some day when she does. It’s only a matter of time until we can’t get the amazing bronze parts we have always counted on. One thing is for sure, everything on this boat is different and more difficult to access and maintain, as it should be.
Our main is new but the cover, not so much. We’ve got a pile of extra canvas and a new sewing machine so that may be a good starting point. The main sail takes up half the forepeak. I’m afraid to open the engine room and face my new diesel but life changes and this new complexity is certainly in order. Damn, I miss my trusty little outboard. So much good happened so fast that I kinda got freaked out and went into hiding. I hadn’t planned on moving to the islands. The boat was going to be the escape from the big city (for now at least). Then a nuclear explosion of awesomeness happened and here we are. Ooku needs a vane and that’s pretty much it. She is freaking amazing.
Now that we have finally arrived, I hope to slowly share every inch of this little boat, some here and some on YouTube, but it will all get revealed eventually. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing more about the real reason for this blog and the YT channel: tiny houses, simple living, and Bromptons. But that will all happen according to island time.
Brompton on a sailboat
Not many things from my old blog were worth saving. To me, this one was. I was asked once to talk about why I love my Brompton and why it’s such a great fit for sailing life. Six years later, it all still rings true.
How would you describe cycling from your boat?
It’s a game-changer for the sailor. My boat is my home. I explore far and wide, but before I had my Brompton my exploration was limited to the coastal regions of the dozens of islands I have visited. With my bike in tow, a quick 5 or 50 miles opens my world to being fully immersed in the places I visit. I also find it slows my pace and I often stay in each place I visit longer, getting to know the locals better and making deeper connections as I work my way in larger and larger concentric rings with my Brompton. But that’s just a very small benefit of my bike.
8 years ago, I decided to try and go carless for one year. Honestly, I didn’t think I would survive the first week. I not only survived, I thrived. I sold my car for almost exactly what I paid for my boat. Now I live debt free, work a tenth as much, and always have time to explore by both land and sea. It was the boat that brought me to the Brompton after riding three other folders into the ground and ruining countless other full-sized bikes by leaving them on the boat, tied outside in the constant rain.
My boat is small – 22′ – but the Brompton fits perfectly under the small steps into my cabin. My bike has paid for itself 10 fold, not only financially but it keeps me fit and healthy. I’ve logged about 2500 miles on my Brompton in the year I’ve owned her, including an accidental Hawaii bike tour and riding from the Canadian border in the San Juan Islands down to Newport, Oregon, for a free glass of wine. That’s right, 512 miles for a free glass of wine.
While I never intended to use the bike for touring, she is perfect but that’s not why I have her. She is my grocery-getter, island transport, and all-around beach cruiser. More importantly, the last piece of the puzzle in my transformation to living a simple minimalist life. One of my favorite things is that, while my boat travels free with a lift from nature, the Brompton makes me earn every trip. I can honestly say that I’m in the best shape of my life, both mentally and physically, all because I love riding my bike from each new place I visit in my moveable home. Every day is a small adventure and they all add of to a very reasonable life.
How do you use your Brompton?
I’m a bit of an odd duck, but I honestly get almost as much joy tinkering with my bike as I do riding it. I’m up at dawn most days with my camera, riding down quiet country roads searching for beautiful island settings to photograph. The funny thing is that my Brompton often becomes the subject, draped in the quiet island life I love so much. When I’m not playing with my camera, I’m out just meditating from the cockpit while the miles slowly drift by. Last summer a helicopter landed at the resort I live at, and I rode up to ask if I could photograph my bike in front of it. He fell in love with my Brompton and it even fit in the small compartment on the side. An hour later, we took off together and he flew me to Roche Harbor – bike and all.
I guess where I’m going with this is my bike is great for making new friends, striking up conversations, and getting a free lift from one adventure to the next. I have used it as a cross transport many times from ferry to bus to train to plane, etc. In the end, it’s all just for fun and that’s what my Brompton is: pure fun.
How did you become a cyclist?
I think we all learned to ride a bike the same way, being pushed by our mothers or fathers down the driveway. You can only do something for the first time once. For me, it’s still one of my fondest memories and I would compare it to what the Wright brothers must have experienced when they had their first successful flight, although mine was a very small step. I remember the cool fall mountain air of Squaw Valley, the smell of hardwood burning off in our small cabin, and the precise moment my father let go of the bike as I pedaled off down the hill. I slowly lost momentum and got the wobbles before drifting into a tree and crashing in the soft pine duff. I was hooked for life from that moment on.
What advice would you give someone considering sailing with a bike?
Do it and you will never look back. Resupply towns are half a mile and often more from the safest anchorages. Carting fresh veggies and cold beer is a chore on foot and strains the body in many ways. On the Brompton, it’s an adventure. I aways fold my bike and put it in the cart getting smiles and stares and lots of funny questions from the locals I meet. The bike makes the trip for supplies a treat, but it also saves a ton on cab rides and I’ll never have to try and cram all my fragile grocery bags on a city bus again, or sit waiting for hours as all my food sits melting in the hot sun.
One of the biggest bonuses of having the bike on board is that it’s so small and easy to fold that it’s never an issue. I see people trying to do the same with their full-sized bikes as I used to do. It’s so difficult to get them on and off the boat that they never get used and are always in the way, not to mention getting ruined by the harsh salt spray. I’ve literally met dozens of boaters with Bromptons on board, and we all share the same stories as told by the smiles we wear on our faces as we walk the bike down the dock to continue the adventure.
What are your favorite places to visit by bike?
Because I live in such a quiet and remote area, I love to visit cities. Seattle, Bellingham, Portland, Eugene to name a few. I love zooming in and out of traffic, finding the perfect little coffee shop, and exploring all of the amazing things each new city has to offer. I’ve always dreamed of living in a big city just because there is so much to explore. I love beer and wine sampling and always find the best wineries, microbreweries, and tasting rooms. In short, I love city life and those short trips I make a few times a month during the winter are often some of my favorite things. Each time I fold my Brompton and climb aboard a train or plane I get so excited as I immerse myself in the journey which began the second I pedaled away from my little sailboat. I never have to wait till I get there as it’s all equally fun from beginning to end.
If you could go on any one cycling adventure, where would you go and why?
Unfair, I can only choose one? Boo, I want to do them all, from riding through the Pyrenees to puddle jumping the Caribbean. If I can only choose one for now it would be to do a self-supported minimalist tour through the Mediterranean coast living off wine, fresh veggies, and of course the wonderful cheese and bread the region is so well known for producing. I love all the Old World sailing boats there. And who doesn’t love warm crystal clear water endless sunny days and balmy breezes?
When I’m riding and exploring, I often forget I’m on a folding bike but as soon as I find a train station my mouth starts watering for the easy miles that are just a thirty-second fold away. While I’m sure I violated every warranty and use that this wonderful little bike was created for within the first month of ownership, at the end of the day I adopted her for the main reason that she is easily folded and transported and that is why she fits my life so well. I don’t love my Brompton because I own it, I own It because I love it and the simple freedom it affords me.