After nearly two years of owning my Brompton folding bike, I am finally about to replace one of its parts due to wear and tear. To be fair, the components have all held up well so far, in all-weather conditions in New England and Ireland. But I am saddened to report that the foam grips have failed to stand up to the rigours of rural life. The cause of the damage? A horse. Of course.
Propping my bike against a farm fence a couple of days ago, I walked away a short distance to take some photos of the landscape. When I noticed the chubby creature making its way across the field toward it, I thought it was cute at first. She seemed so curious, making a beeline for the bike on her dimunitive legs with a brisk shuffle and an air of determination. And I thought it was cuter still when she got up close and personal and began sniffing the handlebars. At least that's what I thought she was doing. Alas, when I reached the bike I saw the situation was quite otherwise: A good chunk of the right grip had been chewn off.
Taken aback by such brazen impertinence, all I could do at first was rebuke her. "Pony, how could you?!"
In response to this, she glanced up at me with an expression of feigned innocence, all the while continuing to gnaw industriously. By the time I gained the presence of mind to yank my bike away, the grip was but a mangled mess of foam. Pedaling away, I shook my finger at the treacherous Shetland and wondered whether Brompton sold replacement spares.
Here I will backtrack to explain that I never imagined I'd be keeping the flimsy-seeming foam grips that originally came with my Brompton. In fact, I thought they'd be the first thing to go as I'd inevitably proceed to customise the bike. I considered ergo grips with extensions to allow for more hand positions. I considered leather grips in a caramel-brown colour to match my saddle. I considered colourful hard-rubber grips to add some firmness and zing to the so-called cockpit. But in the end I never bothered altering this bicycle in any way at all, and, like everything else on it, the original grips remained - proving perfectly comfortable just as they were. It just so happened they were the ideal size for my hands. And the foam itself was of a good consistency - cushy enough to absorb road shock, but not so cushy as to be too soft. I wasn't a fan of the drab gray colour, but this alone was not enough to make me forsake their comfort. And so the grips stayed and I grew to love them all the more - now wanting nothing but an identical replacement to the pony-ravaged one.
When I turned to Brompton for guidance, they informed me that they now sell replacement foam grips in their online shop. Not only that, but these grips now come in a selection of nice colours. Well then! In my excitement, I almost bought the overpriced little gems in red. But then my boring neutrals-loving side took over, and ultimately I went with the white - as an homage to the vintage 3-speed folders of yore.
Impressively, the grips arrived to my remote Northern Ireland abode in 2 days. And soon I was fondling their milky-white foaminess in anticipation of mounting them upon the handlebars.
But as I held them up to my old grips, I noticed something alarming: They were not quite the same. The consistency of the foam feels similar enough to the touch, but the replacement grips lack the curvature of the originals - namely, they're missing that middle bump around which the palm of my hand wraps so comfortably. Would holding these new grips feel the same, and dare I risk finding out?
As I contemplate this important question, I continue to cycle with my old grips for now, my right hand feeling the shredded texture through my glove. As I pedal past the shameless equine responsible for the deed, I shoot her what I hope comes across as a meaningful glance. But indifferent to my troubles, she merely shakes her head and makes a noise which is almost certainly a giggle.