Vanessa standing outside her flat with her Brompton Vanessa standing outside her flat with her Brompton


‘I was only allowed two pieces of luggage on the plane to the UK, so I moved with my Brompton in a cardboard box full of gear and duffel bag full of clothes.’

Vanessa talks about being brought into the fold on a test ride in Canada, repurposing roller blades, and being a person with a bike, not a cyclist.
An image of Vanessa with stats about her and her Brompton folding bike

how did you first come across Brompton? 

It was through a shop window! It was on my first trip to the UK just before the 2012 London Olympics. Across from the place I was staying was a bike shop, with a window display full of Bromptons in beautiful colours.  

I had never seen one of these elegant folding bikes before and was super curious. Then that thing happened, where you see something once, and you start to see it everywhere.

Vanessa riding her Brompton folding bike

and after your trip? 

I went back to Calgary, and they started appearing there too! One of our local bike shops and cycling community builders, BikeBike, stocked them, and some of my peers in the cycling advocacy scene were riding them.

This community formed, around utility and urban cycling, and a mini club was set up to make the Calgary Brompton League. I was intrigued by them, but I already owned two bikes that met my utility and adventure needs and wasn’t in the position to buy any more.  

Vanessa riding her Brompton folding bike

what changed? 

I made a decision to move abroad. A Brompton seemed like it would be a practical solution for getting around, and connecting with trains/buses/planes. I had already done a test run with a friend generously lending me their Brompton on a trip to Vancouver Island. I flew there, travelled by shuttle bus, and ferry.

I remember the small shuttle bus driver was excited that it folded up so small and fit with the other luggage in the back. In Vancouver, I tested the 6-gears on some famously steep hills including a 18% incline. I found I could climb well and still ride fast with good handling, and I thought, yeah, I really like this.

As luck would have it, a month out from moving, Sean of BikeBike, was selling one of his personal Bromptons to the right buyer. I couldn’t believe it; it was this beautiful low bar red Explore, ready to adventure. The gorgeous red, my favourite colour was a perfect fit. I was only allowed two pieces of luggage on the plane to the UK, so I moved with my Brompton in a cardboard box full of gear and duffel bag full of clothes. 

A folded red Brompton with Vanessa in a rock climbing gym

how has it been in the UK? 

Well, The Little Red Rocket and I have been together a year now, and we’re very happy. My living space is pretty small, but with my Brompton, it’s easy; I fold it up and tuck it away at the end of the bed, made easier by the special wheels I have on the rack. Special because before I left Canada, my Dad was out on a walk, and saw a pair of rollerblades in a bin being thrown away.

He’s a great inventor and re-purposer, so he dug them out and fitted the wheels to the rack for easy wheeling folded. They would have gone to a landfill, and now they are here, living this new life in the UK with me, and a nice reminder of home. 

a close up of Vanessa's red Brompton folding bike

have you and your wheels explored much in the UK yet? 
A good amount yes, one of the big things that attracted me to the UK was the great cycling communities. A bunch of folks I now call friends I met through Instagram, and from there we have shared and planned adventures. A few of us went bikepacking loaded up on our Bromptons in the Lake District. We rode our bikes on gravel trails and road routes, and up and down undulating Lakes terrain.

Because the wheels are these small, spoke dense, sturdy things, they can take the weight of you and your bikepacking luggage no problem – not to mention no need for bike booking on the trains which is very satisfying.  

I have explored Glasgow, London, and took the Eurostar to ride my Brompton around Paris on my birthday. Riding up to and taking a photo with my Brompton and the Eiffel tower was awesome - two design icons.  

Vanessa's folded red Brompton at the climbing gym

you really love to ride? 

Yeah, as a kid, my family would incorporate cycling into our holidays and ride our City’s river pathway in the evenings after school in the warmer months. Calgary has an amazing 1,200 km pathway network and is an incredible way for people to travel throughout the City. With those pathways and adulthood cycling moved beyond recreation and leisure for me, and towards seeing bikes as utilitarian tools for everyday self-propulsion, and stuff hauling.

I have always thought of myself as a cyclist, but I think the Brompton challenges the notion of what cycling can be. With a Brompton, you’re a person with a bike, not necessarily a cyclist, and I think that is a helpful shift in perspective.

Vanessa on her Brompton bike
An image of the One Millionth Brompton bike folded and unfolded An image of the One Millionth Brompton bike folded and unfolded

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