Shop Talk Workshops

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Shop Talk is an informal monthly series hosted by Cosmic Bikes at our NW Side Chicago location, during which we’ll go into a selected topic at some depth in a relaxed, social atmosphere. It’s a great way to hang out with other people who share your interests, or want to learn about certain aspects of biking, in a laid-back setting, where the aim is to share information and not sell you stuff.

Below is a preliminary schedule of Shop Talk topics for the year, although many details are yet to be ironed out. Shop Talk will usually take place on the first or second Friday of the month, except May, when we’re pulling out all the stops. May is our aniversary month (we’ll be 3 this year!!), and we will do a Shop Talk EVERY WEEK.

Shop Talks will be held on Fridays from 6pm to 8:30pm. Light noshes and beverages will be on hand, but please feel free to BYOB.

So, here’s what we have planned:

  • March 8: WOMEN’S CYCLING WORKSHOP., in which a panel of women cyclists will lead a discussion on a variety of issues such as bike fit, safety, motivation, training and more. Details and FREE registration here.

  • April 5: CRAFT BUILDS: SETTING UP A BIKE FROM THE FRAME UP, in which we’ll explore the intricacies of a personalized bike build.

  • May SHOP TALK BONANZA

    • May 3: BICYCLE FIT & SELECTION

    • May 10: GETTING STARTED WITH URBAN BIKE COMMUTING

    • May 17: TOOLS—SETTING UP YOUR HOME REPAIR STAND OR TOOL BAG

    • May 24: LIVE LARGE PACK SMALL—ALL ABOUT BROMPTONS AND COMPACT ADVENTURES

    • May 31: BIKE TOURING ESSENTIALS

  • June 7: LOCAL BIKING ADVENTURES

  • July 5: OUTDOOR COOKING & EQUIPMENT (outdoor cookout included!!)

  • August 9: LAZY SUMMER MOVIE & BEER

  • September 13: BIKE SECURITY

  • October 10: TRANSITIONING TO AN INDOOR TRAINER

  • November 8: WINTER BIKING

  • December 13: SPECIAL GUEST TBA

We’re looking forward to these evening, and hope you will come out and join us. And if you have ideas about topics, or questions you’d like to see answered, please let us know.

Essential Brompton Buying Guide

A Brompton folding bike is one of the most amazing personal transportation tools ever invented. It’s equally useful in your daily multi-modal commute in Chicago, or any large city, international air travel, and even self-supported, pedal-powered globetrotting.

Although the folding mechanism of each Brompton is identical, the bikes are fully customizable and highly adaptable to a variety of applications, and are designed to integrate seamlessly with diverse lifestyles. You can personalize everything on a Brompton from handlebars, gearing, cargo carrying, lighting, tires, to colors, accessories and extras. Best of all, these options —like the bikes themselves— are well and thoughtfully designed to complement your Brompton experience.

However, it can be a little overwhelming to make sense of all the choices. Our staff at Cosmic Bikes have many years’ experience helping customers build and modify their Brompton bikes, and we’ve put together what we think is a pretty comprehensive guide to help you make the right selection. Above all, we encourage you to stop in and test-ride one of our demo models for first-hand experience. We think you’ll be hooked!

Cosmic Bikes Essential Brompton Buying Guide

NEED A REASON?

NEED A REASON?

SADDLES, TIRES & LIGHTING

SADDLES, TIRES & LIGHTING

HANDLEBARS

HANDLEBARS

COLORS & LUGGAGE

COLORS & LUGGAGE

GEARING OPTIONS

GEARING OPTIONS

COMING SOON!

COMING SOON!

FENDERS & RACK

FENDERS & RACK

COMING SOON!

COMING SOON!

Making the Brompton Your Own: Colors, Luggage & Extras

You’ve chosen your Brompton essentials for optimum functioning and fit. Now comes the fun part.

Colors

For many people, color selection is the most delightful (and frustrating!) aspect of building a custom Brompton. So many choices!

2019_Brompton_Purple_Metallic
2019_Brompton_Hot_Pink
2019_Brompton_Papyrus_White
2019_Brompton_Flame_Lacquer

Each year, Brompton offers a few premium finishes. The ever-popular trademark Raw Lacquer is a clear-coat over the metal frame, which shows off the the quality and craftsmanship of the hand-built frame. Each bike made with the Raw Lacquer finish has a unique appearance due to variations in the surface coloration of the metalwork and brazing. It doesn’t aim to look “flawless”, aiming instead for a more industrial finish. The Lacquer finish uses the same powder coating process as the other frame color options (with the plastic powder having no pigment), and it gives identical durability and protection from corrosion. The steel frame parts on all Brompton bicycles will age and a patina will form over time; the purpose of the raw lacquer finish is to allow the natural aging and altering of the bicycles appearance to be visible, and this will happen differently for every example. The phosphate treatment the Brompton steel undergoes prevents any cosmetic corrosion from becoming structural. For 2019, Brompton has added two gorgeous premium color options: Flame Lacquer, which is a clear-coat with a vivid, glossy copper tone, and Purple Metallic with a three-dimensional effect which seems to shift between purple, blue and even greenish hues depending on the light.

Several powder-coat colors are included as standard options without an additional charge. For 2019, these are Papyrus White, Hot Pink, Red, Racing Green, Lime Green, Lagoon Blue, Tempest Blue and Black. To make choosing even more fun, the standard colors can be combined for a two-tone effect. You can select one standard color for the main frame of the bike, and a contrasting or complementary color for the extremities (rear triangle, fork and steering column). If you are purchasing a Superlight Brompton, you will choose a single color for the main frame and steering column, with titanium extremities.

Luggage

Brompton Carrier Block with trigger release

Brompton Carrier Block with trigger release

On a Brompton, the preferred way to carry luggage is up front. All of the bikes we stock come with the optional front carrier block attached to the head tube. This carrier block can be added to any Brompton. It will allow you to carry any of the Brompton bags, and to switch easily between them, literally with a push of a button. You can choose from a wide selection of bags depending on your needs:

  • Smaller bags: waterproof Mini O-Bag, Tote Bag, Shoulder Bag, and adjustable Roll-Top Bag. These are excellent options for carrying light-weight essentials.

  • Office bags: waterproof O-Bag, S-bag with replaceable front flap, and C-Bag (not suitable for S-type handlebar). These briefcase-style bags have laptop sleeves and interior organizers, and are large enough to accommodate files, spare clothing, lunch, etc. They also come with exterior pockets that face the rider for easy access to a water bottle and other essential items.

  • The T-Bag stands alone as the largest bag that can be used for touring or carrying bigger loads. It has an adjustable roll-top closure, and those same rear-facing exterior pockets (not suitable for S-type handlebar).

  • Brompton basket is an open-top cordura bag designed for grocery shopping.

Note that the bags are mounted to the frame of the bike rather than the steering column, therefore the don’t affect the steering or balance of the bike on turns. Many of the non-waterproof bags include a high-visibility rain cover tucked into a concealed pocket.

All the bags are attractive and well-designed, and function equally well on and off the bike as lifestyle bags. With the exception of the Ortlieb-made O-bags, the Brompton bags include a removable aluminum frame, which allows each bag to attach to the mounting block and gives the bag rigidity. Although removing the frame with each use may not be practical, it is a nice option if you ever plan to use the bag off the bike for an extended period, and prefer a soft-sided shoulder bag. The bag frames come in a few sizes, and may be purchased separately. We find that some customers use that option to create their own luggage by incorporating the frame into duffels, crates or even pet carriers.

Fine-Tuning Your Custom Brompton: Saddle, Tires & Lighting

After you’ve chosen you preferred handlebar, gearing and rack/fender options, there are more decisions to be made:

  • Select your saddle and seat post height and saddle for best fit and comfort

  • Choose tires and lighting for the desired performance and functionality

SADDLE

Few things are as personal as the choice of saddle on a bicycle. Brompton offers a choice of two widths on their standard saddle: 147mm and 167mm. The wider option will work well for both men and women with the H-hadlebar option, where most of the rider’s weight is distributed to the sit-bones. Women in general may find a more favorable fit with the wider saddle, although many men do as well. With the S-handlebar, most men would likely find the narrower saddle more appropriate.

Fortunately, Brompton offers an upgrade to the Brooks B17 Special saddle, which is a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship in Antique Brown leather with copper finished rails and rivets. The same saddle is offered in men’s and women’s version, and it will conform to your unique contours with use over time, just like a pair of leather boots. It is a worthwhile and highly recommended upgrade.

A Brompton will also easily accept any other saddle you may have in mind.

Seatpost height

  1. Standard seat post will suit riders with an inseam up to 32-33”.

  2. Extended seat post is two inches longer and will accommodate inseams from 33-35”. However, the the folded configuration, this seat post will protrude two inches beyond the frame. This is fine for daily commuting and storing the bike, but it does not work well for packing the Brompton in a travel case. If you require that functionality, and have a long inseam, choose the next option.

  3. Telescopic seat post will also accommodate inseams up to 35”, but this $60 upgrade gives you the ability to completely collapse the telescoping seat post extension into the main tube of the seat post, making the bike as packable as the standard one.

Tires

Our preferred choice, and the one we order for all of our stock bikes, is the $35 Schwalbe Marathon upgrade for its time-tested durability and puncture resistance. Schwalbe Kojaks are a lightweight option that some Brompton owners prefer who are accustomed to more of a road-bike feel. The Kojaks are lighter and work well on superlight bikes if you want to save additional weight.

The standard used by Brompton in the Schwalbe Marathon Racer, which is a fine compromise, and does not add extra cost.

Although Brompton does not offer this option, we do stock Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires at Cosmic Bikes for customers who intend to use the bike in all conditions throughout Chicago winter.

Lighting

You can purchase a Brompton with just a reflector set, and use lights you already own or purchase a set you like. Any light set will mount on a Brompton as on any other bike. However, you may find that you have to remove the lights or move them out of the way when the bike is being folded.

If you prefer more streamlined lights, Brompton offers two options:

  • A USB rechargeable battery set, consisting of a Cateye 400 lumen front LED headlight and a rear blinker. These differ from after-market lights in that they come with mounting brackets custom-made for the Brompton, and do not interfere with the folding functionality of the bike. They can easily be removed when not needed, and can be conveniently charged wherever you happen to be.

  • Integrated front and rear lights powered by Shutter Precision Dynamo Hub. This is a fantastic option for commuters, which eliminates the problem of forgetting your lights at home or running out of charge. The LED lamps go on when you start pedaling, and feature a small capacitor that allows the lights to stay on when you pull up to a red light, so that you are always visible on your Brompton.