The sun had set and the daylight was fading quickly. I clipped the Brompton bag on the front of my bike and pedaled over to the grocery store about a mile away. As I rode down the hill the bag collapsed against itself—it was empty except for the light weight cable lock. The glow from the tail light and bright trapezoid shaped spot a few yards ahead told me the lights were working.
This would be my second attempt to use the bike and bag as a shopping cart. A few minutes later I rolled into the parking lot, a little nervous about rolling the bike around inside the store.
I unscrewed the frame lock, bent over and reached my hand between the front stem and the back of the bag. Tight fit. I heard my reading glasses hit the concrete walk. I tried to swing the front wheel around to latch it to the rear frame but my forearm got stuck between the front stem and the bag. Twisting my arm I forced the front wheel around and latched it on the frame. I’m thinking it hard to fold the bike with this front bag in place. Reaching over the bike I pick up my glasses and return them to my shirt pocket. I step in front of the bike, grab the hand-grips and push the bike around and toward the doors to the store.
Whoa! The front wheel lifts and swings away from the frame. How embarrassing. Here I am, old guy with a little folding bike that looks like I stole it from a circus clown–and the bike seems to be coming apart. I try to lift the front wheel back to latch the rear frame, but the bag is still in the way. So, I reach down and grab the front wheel and lift it back to the rear frame. This is not how they fold the bikes in the YouTube videos.
Now I thinking, why did the front wheel swing away and unfold itself? Oh yes … I need unlock the seat stem and lower the stem to lock the front wheel in place. I lower the seat stem, re-lock the handle and push the bike forward. The bike stays folded and rolls forward. Into the store we go.
The bike rolls easily on the smooth tile floor with the front EZ wheels and the small wheel mounted on the rear fender. I lift the handlebars slightly and the bike rolls on the EZ wheels only. I push my shopping cart-bike to the back of the store and grab a gallon of milk that laying it nicely in the bottom of the bike bag. I look at the plastic gallon of milk laying on it’s side in my $300 bike bag. Hmmm … maybe I’ll trade this gallon of milk with one that doesn’t leak.
I pass a black display with bananas and grab a foursome. Then pick up a loaf of French bread packaged inside an open paper bag and roll to the express checkout with my three items.
As I placed my gallon of milk, bread and bananas on the shelf the clerk scanned each one and called out the total. I rolled my folded bike to the other side of the checkout stand and handed her $6. She handed me the change and asked if I wanted a bag for the milk. No thanks I said as I grabbed by groceries and placed them back in the Brompton bag, suddenly remembering the other gallon of milk that was dripping milk from the lid.
During the whole transaction, I could detect no reaction in the clerk’s face. She acted as though all her customers rolled their crunched up bikes through the store with groceries inside bike bags. That’s good, I guess.
Outside the store I shifted the bananas a little so they would ride home safely. I raised the seat again, unlocking the front wheel and reach down to grab the front stem. With the bag containing a gallon of milk, bread and bananas there was little room to get my hand and arm between the bag and the stem. Forcing my arm into the space and grabbing the front stem I tried to swing the front wheel out and toward the front of the bike. The weight of the bag threw the whole movement out of kilter and I began to lose control of my expanding bike. After a short struggle I got the wheel in place and locked. Again I was a little embarrassed considering what the whole process must have looked like.
Regardless, I put my feet on the pedals and pushed off. As I was riding off, I did not notice of any weight in the front bag. The bike steered as though the bag were empty or missing. The ride home was uneventful, except for the smile on my face because I had ridden my bike to the store, purchased groceries and was riding home.
Next time, I plan to remove the bag when folding and unfolding the bike, regardless of whether the bag is full or not. And make sure I slide the seat post down to lock the whole bike together. I don’t want to embarrass myself of Brompton again. As part of the crusade to persuade everyone to ride bikes it’s important that grocery shopping appear simple and flawless.