Thanks in part to a generation of zip-off trouser-wearing dads, practicality has never been particularly sexy. By extension, neither has the Brompton bicycle. These London-born, still-London-made fold-aways are a godsend for suburban commuters who'd prefer some fresh air with the final leg of their schlep into the office, but when was the last time you saw a twenty-something Hoxtonite propping one up outside a record store?
In an effort to take a chomp out of the trendy cycling pie, Brompton has just opened its first standalone showroom on Long Acre in Covent Garden – fittingly enough on the same site that saw the invention of the hobby horse bicycle in 1819. Like Soho's Tokyo Fixed and Rapha CC, there are refreshments and all manner of branded merch on sale alongside its line of brightly coloured bikes. There's also a giant touch-screen table to help you custom assemble your very own steed.
Downstairs, there's a workshop (we're told maintenance classes are on the horizon), a small café bar selling coffees and Cornish teas (which you can sip from the dubious comfort of a row of free-standing bike saddles) and a pair of proudly displayed vintage Bromptons, which were among the very first to roll off the production line in 1975. The walls, meanwhile, look like they've jumped straight out of a PowerPoint presentation – all brand history timelines and black and white snaps of enthusiasts behind the handlebars.
As exercises in brand positioning go, it’s a strong one. But is it enough to make the foldy the new fixie? Only time will tell.