Two years ago, I wrote about the Bobbin Birdie when they were first introduced in the US. These brightly coloured, reasonably priced classic loop frame bikes have since become quite popular. The London-based Bobbin now brings another model to the North American market - the step-through Bramble. As they put it, the Bramble is inspired by "the Coventry-made Triumphs beloved by Land Girls and English district nurses in the interwar years up until the 1950s." No doubt fans of Call the Midwife will rejoice.
The Bramble differs from the Birdie in several ways. Its step-through frame features straight parallel tubes.
Its construction is lugless, except for the fork crown. The frame is a mix of hi-ten and cro-moly steel, made in Taiwan. The complete bike weighs around 12kg and is available in 17”,19” and 21” frame sizes.
Instead of the Birdie's internally geared hub, the Bramble features 6-speed derailleur gearing.
And hand-activated caliper brakes, front in rear, rather than a coaster brake.
And handlebars that are less swept back, for a slightly sportier position. These aspects of the bike make the Bobbin Bramble more suitable for longer and hillier rides than the Birdie, while its commuter-oriented features make it just as transportation-ready.
Included with the bike are an integrated colour-matched rear rack,
colour-matched fenders, kickstand, bell,
and a chainguard providing plenty of coverage.
The synthetic sprung padded saddle is wide, for an upright sitting position, its caramel-brown colour matching the grips.
The 26" wheels with 1 3/8" city tires are the same as the Birdie's, and do well on battered surfaces.
They also allow for plenty of toe clearance when turning.
But the most noticeable thing about this Bramble is the colour. Bobbin calls this shade "golden-green," and it is the most successful recreation of that magical vintage English 3-speed shade of green I have yet come across. This nuanced green gives off a warm deep glow in the sunlight, with hints of yellow, orange and even crimson detectable in its flame-like shimmer. Needless to say, I am crazy about this colour - but for those less enamoured, the Bramble is also available in plum.
I test rode the Bobbin Bramble at the Bicycle Belle in Boston, along a typical local commuter's route. Much like the Birdie, this is a straightforward, no fuss, "hop on and go" type of bike that did not call attention to itself as I cycled around the neighbourhood. The sitting position can range from bolt-upright to jauntily leaned-forward, and my own preference is for the bars and saddle to be level. However, most of those who buy these bikes seem to prefer the bars set higher, and the handling remains stable with this arrangement.
For whatever reason, I found the ride quality of the Bramble a little cushier than that of the Birdie. On the other hand, I found the handlebars uncomfortable: There is something about this particular bend that twists my wrists at an awkward angle. This could be a matter of personal taste of course.
The Bramble does not come equipped with lighting, so adding it will be an extra expense. However, everything else needed for a comfortable commute is there. Priced at around $530 in the USA, the Bramble is another welcome option from Bobbin - this time for hillier, longer commutes. And the stunning colour does not hurt either.