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Here at Cycle Sprog we're used to reviewing kids bikes. This review is a first however, as we're taking a closer look at an adult bike - the Bobbin Brownie. The reason? It's the perfect accessory for the Bobbin kids bikes range, which comes in a range of sizes from balance bike through to 24" kids step through city bike.
Your reviewer is Jen, mum of two young daughters, who lives in Cheshire and regularly cycles to work as well as for pleasure.
I tested this bike at the same time that my daughter was testing the matching child’s bike (the Gingersnap 12"), so if any parts of this review appear out of context they may link to that review. You can do the same, here.
Starting at the absolute beginning, DHL mucked up the delivery so I offered to collect my bike from their depot, rather than arrange a redelivery. My tip: don’t do the same. These bike boxes are big! It was part-assembled and I struggled (well, to be more accurate, the nice man from DHL struggled) to fit it into my estate car, with the back seats down. The box was starting to rip and crinkle up at the side and I was thinking, “please don’t scratch the bike. I’ve got to give that back…” When we got it out of the car at home, I had a wry smile at the name of the company which packaged the bike up - Moore Large and Co. You’re telling me!!
This is a bike to turn heads. She’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Everyone who has visited my house since I’ve had her has admired her; most have had a little stroke.
She lives in the house; not in the shed with the other bikes. That is partly due to her size – the handle bars are high and wide which (spoiler alert!) makes for a great ride but she does take up room we don’t have in the shed. Plus as she was on loan, I didn’t want to scratch her.
Setting up the Brownie was generally straight-forward and didn’t take long. The only trouble we had was that we put the handlebars on back to front and had to have some live telephone instructions from Cycle Sprog's technical editor Chris. The problem was easily resolved once we knew what we were doing! However, you could also order and pick the bike up from your local stockist (Evans Cycles stock the Bobbin range, as do other local bike shops) and get them to set it up for you if you weren't confident in your skills as a bicycle mechanic.
She’s lovely to ride! I’ve ridden city bikes in Belgium and this is the same type of design. The riding position is very upright, which is great for my back (which has had to undergo two pregnancies and carrying two babies/toddlers in recent years).
The seat is well-cushioned, which is crucial here, because this isn’t a padded cycling shorts type of bike. I’m not joking when I say I had to work out what to wear when heading out on her. Large shades and elegant summer dress seem just the ticket. Except I was testing her in Autumn and Winter.
The Brownie has 7 gears which have proved sufficient for the pootling-round the country lanes rides I've been on.
I wasn’t sure how she’d deal with hills and those that have read the review of the child’s Bobbin bike I wrote know that I live in a flat area, so I found a bridge over the river Dee and cycled up and down that a few times. It is quite a gradient, but it was actually much easier than I expected to get up the hill.
Recently Bobbin have brought out the Brownie Luxe. With a triple chain ring hidden behind the chaincase, it gives you 21 gears so that you could still enjoy the style or comfort of this bike if you live in a hilly area.
Surprisingly light. No more to say!
There is no basket supplied with the Brownie, but instead, at the back is a parcel rack with a spring loaded 'rat trap' clamp which worked well with my side panniers. However, if you wish to go for the wicker look, there is an array of wicker baskets to purchase.
It’s also got a kickstand. I don’t think I have had one of those since I was about 12 and it put such a smile on my face. This isn’t a bike to be laid on the floor. Oh no!
The chain guard means your clothing is protected from unsightly grease and oil stains, which can ruin your day. Even using the bell cheers me up - this really is a bike to make you happy!
The only thing I didn't like about the Brownie is that when cycling at night the front light reflects off the brake wires which I found a little distracting.
This is definitely a cycling around a town or city type of bike. It is well-suited to stopping and starting at road junctions and traffic lights as it brakes smoothly and is easy to start pedalling again. The step through loop frame means it's easy to get on and off in what ever you're wearing, so no need for specific cycle clothing.
However, it just doesn’t feel right and proper to be going too fast on her. My ride to work is 10 miles and I wouldn’t take this bike on a commuter ride more than about 3 miles, because I would just prefer to get my head down and get there as soon as possible. Another Mum of two, Annabelle, who has had a Bobbin Brownie since 2012 sums it up perfectly:
"I'm 5'3 so finding a frame that fitted me and could fit kids bike seats meant I had limited options. The Brownie is definitely not for heavy commuter use. It looked pretty until I tried to use mine on a daily commute using Yepp child seats and it was too much for the bike. I'd class it as a weekend tow path bike or gentle ride bike, that needs to be stored under cover."
One of the attractions of the Brownie is that it comes in a wide range of sizes, which makes it suitable for shorter and taller riders alike.
The smallest size is the 24" wheel bike (33cm frame) which is suitable for riders of about 4' 3" (note this version doesn't come with the carrier rack). There are then 35cm, 40cm and 46cm frames which come with 26" wheels. The largest offering is the 52cm frame which comes with 700c wheels and is sized for cyclists up to 6' tall.
The Brownie is absolutely perfect for popping to the shops, for going on leisurely rides out with the family or travelling a couple of miles back from a friend’s house after a g&t in the garden. Said friend, who is thinking of buying her first bike for a few years, took the bike for a test ride (before the g&t) and came back beaming. “It’s taken 20 years off me.” (Fortunately, that didn’t take her below the legal drinking age.) “How much are they..?”
Bobbin Bikes are sold online through Evans Cycles, Wiggle and Tredz. Evans Cycles will deliver to your local store if you require held assembling the bike, and the Bobbin range is also stocked by a number of independent bike shops.
The Bobbin Brownie has an RRP of £300 for the 33cm frame and £395 for the other frames. They're available in a range of striking colours incuding blosson pink, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry. The one we reviewed is St Ives Green. A limited edition Wildflower pattern is also available for £500.
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Disclosures: Jen was lent the Bobbin Brownie by Today's Cyclist for the duration of the review.
This article contains some affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using these links Cycle Sprog gets a very small commission. This helps us keep Cycle Sprog running each year - thanks for your support.
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