Friday, 15 July 2011

My first bike was a Bickerton

I was recently cycling through New Cross when I saw these bikes chained up outside a second hand furniture shop. Of course I jumped off to look closer because one of them was a Bickerton folding bike, the precursor to the Brompton.

My first bike was a Bickerton and I learned to cycle on it. I previously had a kids bike with stabilisers and I really believed that I could just get on any bike so I was surprised to discover when I got the Bickerton that I couldn’t cycle at all. I was too embarrassed to get training and I just taught myself by getting on and falling off lots of times. My Bickerton had a large blue canvas bag that acted as a pannier on the front of the bike and a storage bag for the bike when it was folded. Bickertons were very light and I was able to carry my bike. However I rarely did this as I had learned to cycle and I was happy to cycle from South London into the West End and back again. I didn’t like cycling over large bridges so I went over Lambeth bridge. But strangely I was comfortable cycling up Park Lane and around Marble Arch, something I wouldn’t do now unless I really had to.

Just seeing this bike took me back to that first experience of being a cyclist.

Unfortunately I could get better photos of this Bickerton. It was parked right by the main road and I would have had to step into the bus lane to get a better shot.

I wonder who owned this bike. I eventually got fed up with the punctures I had on my Bickerton and I moved on to a sturdy Raleigh Cameo bike. I am not sure if I sold it or left it in someone’s basement and didn’t go back. It was because of the Bickerton that I felt comfortable getting a Brompton so I am grateful for that experience.

The only time I had a serious fall from a bike was on the Bickerton when I braked and went over the handlebars and cut my left knee. I still have the scar.

I have just found the original 1980s advert for the Bickerton where you can see the it in all it’s glory and the similarities to the Brompton.


Chandra said...

Very cool post about the Bickerton! I didn't know about them until I read your post just now.

The video is very cool and I see what you mean by similarities to a Brompton!

Peace :)

I am James. said...

Excellent add, oh how the times have changed, I never had a bikerton, everytime I saw one they looked very wobbly!? whereas the brompton is very stable and well balanced, I loved my brompton which was sadly stolen from outside the gym last week, which really cheesed me off, fortunately my insurance will pay out, so I will get a new one soon and I think a couple of the sturdyest locks I can find! Happy cycling, great blog.

Cycling in Heels said...

You are right J, they were not as stable the Brompton. The lever locks had to be regularly tightened as they became loose through riding and when they were tight it took all your strength to push it around.

Really sorry to hear about the theft of your Brompton. I hope to learn to love your new one just as much.

Mr Bickerton said...

Hi Grace,
This is a lovely blog....great to see the original Bickerton Portable Bicycle remembered so fondly..

We built a total of about 600,000 in the 20 years from 1971-91, and there are still lots out there being used to this day.

I see you spotted the old TV ad on Youtube. It is amazing how many people still remember it. It was in 1983 and as far as I remember it was a fight between Freddie Laker and Bickerton as to who got the most airtime!

You might be interested to know that we have recently re-launched the Bickerton brand and although not yet available in the UK, the first wave of distributors are in Europe, Russia and Japan.

Have a look at our website and our facebook page

Grace Black said...

Thank you for your comment and I am so pleased to hear that the Bickerton is still around. If it wasn't for the Bickerton I wouldn't be so comfortable riding a folding bike so many years later.