November 10, 2009

Folding Bicycles: Great commuter tool!!!

I am a big time bicycle fan and as such I have always been enamored by different types of bikes. I first came across the folding bicycle in an English film where a London office goer gets off the train, unfolds the bike and starts riding it to work. I was pretty impressed back then and I read up more about this amazing phenomenon of bicycles. Here in Dallas bicycles are mainly used for pleasure riding in the park or around residential communities where traffic is sparse and speeds low. But in London the scene is quite different. It is common to see multitudes of suited and booted executives getting off the train and riding their fold-up bicycles to work.

If one were to take a cursory look at the bicycle it doesn't appear impressive. But only the mechanically oriented individual knows what a engineering challenge it is to make a folding bicycle. The vehicle not only has to be easily collapsible and light weight but it has to retain its alignment and fine movements. This was one of the thoughts of Andrew Ritchie when he set out to create a bicycle which would be so small that it would fit into your pocket. At that point Ritchie was still one of the several Undiscovered Business Entrepreneurs in London. In 1976 he registered his own company Brompton which designed bicycles. Despite his great designs manufacturers didn't show much interest in his project. But determined as he was Ritchie went into production on his own. Initially Ritchie and his sole employee would build about 300 bikes a year. As time passed the product was such a great hit that his company has grown leaps and bounds from then. Today Brompton has an annual sales turnover of over £10million with a year on year growth of 25%. These fold up bicycles have become extremely popular in big biking nations of Netherlands, Germany, USA and Japan. With new eco-consciousness setting in more and more people are beginning to bicycle. This number has doubled since 2000.


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