Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Story of the folding bike

A couple of my colleagues regularly cycle to the University and they have been tempting me to give it a go. Besides saving me loads of money on fuel, I should be able to get a regular workout as well. The only problem is the distance to the University from my house - a distance of 5.2 miles. Anyway, I am seriously considering it and I might try it out this summer.

Of course, the choice of the cycle is very important as well. On my frequent trips to London, I often see people carrying little folded cycles, getting off the tube and then riding off after unfolding them.

Andrew Ritchie

I was quite amazed at the engineering and ingenuity that goes behind the bike. Later found out that it was called the Brompton cycle. Andrew Ritchie, who was trained as an engineer, came up with the idea in the mid-70s while working as a landscape gardener. He wanted to design a bike so small “it could fit in your pocket”. He formed the Brompton Bicycle company in 1976, named after the Brompton Oratory church opposite his home.

The unique"Brompton fold" allowing you to fold the bicycle both vertically and lengthwise while keeping all of the parts attached together.

Like many Undiscovered Business Entrepreneurs, his idea was ignored by other bicycle manufacturers, many of which have disappeared today and he had to go into production for himself.

Starting off with just 50 bicycles in the beginning, the company now has a turnover of £10million and is growing about 25% a year. Though the bikes are still manufactured in London (the only bicycle company in fact to do so), it has a worldwide following with about 70% of the bikes being sold abroad. An amazing British manufacturing success story.


D said...

Brilliant! Very inspiring indeed!

Adam Dilip Mutum said...

Definitely. I love stories of entrepreneurs and I guess that the reason why I really like Dragon's Den on TV.


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