This blog post is not meant to be a thorough discussion about which bike to buy.
Transportation is a huge part of expenses, and you should do whatever you can to eliminate it. The best way to do it is buy a bike. Although you can get away with a $80 bike, consider buying a Brompton, especially if you live in a city. I bought a Brompton bike about 2 years ago. It’s the most expensive thing I own and a big part of my life.
Brompton is a folding bike brand based in london. It’s famous for a stylish, durable, compact folding bike. It folds into a small package, so small that you can carry it everywhere. I take it to coffee shops, restaurants, offices, grocery stores, hospitals, beauty salons, and trains. You don’t have to search for a parking or worry about theft. It saves you so much time and hustles.
Before I bought a Brompton, I only had a vague picture of geography of Tokyo. When I go somewhere for the first time, I type a destination on my subway navigation app, and it shows which line to take. I blindly follow the navigation and reach the destination. I feel like a super mario, entering an underground through a warp pipe. I have no idea which way I’m going. I just know that there will be another warp pipe that leads to the destination.
When I got the Brompton I was living in Azabu, a district in a central Tokyo. In my opinion it is the best place to take advantage of Brompton in Japan. It takes less than 30 minutes to go from Azabu to every major city in Tokyo, including Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Ginza, and Akihabara. Roppongi, Hiroo, and Akasaka are only 10 minutes away. As I went to more and more places with my bike, Tokyo became smaller and smaller. I discovered many great parks and often went there to chill out.
Soon I realized something: in Tokyo, a bike is almost always faster than the subway, and sometimes even faster than a car. One day my company hosted a meetup in Shibuya. 7 employees, including me, were assigned to attend it. My boss wanted to use Uber. But since 7 people are too many for 1 car, I volunteered to go to the meetup place by bike. I left the office at the same time as the car. It turned out that I arrived there a few minutes earlier!
I rode the bike even when it rained or was extremely cold, because it was still far better than the subway. Who wants to pay to be in a noisy, crowded, depressing place when you can move faster for free?
There is an additional benefit of Brompton. Most people have never seen a Brompton and are amazed to see how portable it is. Whenever I meet people, they ask me questions like how heavy it is, how long it takes to fold/unfold it, and how much it is. It’s a great conversation opener and sometimes I feel like a Brompton sales person. I often demonstrate how easy it is to fold and unfold it, and they love it! I even convinced several people to buy one.
As you can see, the Brompton enriched my Tokyo lifestyle. It’s also a great long-term investment. The price of my 2016 model is $1,600 and I estimate I already saved more than half of it on transportation. As I move to a suburb next month, I will not be riding around Tokyo as often as now. Nevertheless, the Brompton will continue to play a major role in my life.