A few years ago I rode a number of 100Km Brevet Populaires (BPs), and used the opportunity to test and report on a number of different folders - you can find the reports here. One of the problems I had in doing these rides was getting to and from the location by public transport, as many of the rides were some distance from where I live, were on a Sunday, or had no nearby railway station. When I got a car again about a year ago, it occurred to me it would make it much easier to take part in some more of these events, and so I started doing some planning. The original idea was that I would just concentrate on doing them using a single bike, and that the New Series Moulton which I had would be ideal - comfortable, light , easy to stow in the back of the Smart, etc. In fact, based on that decision, I decided to rationalise my stable of folders, in particular parting with the other folders most suited to this sort of ride. Then, just after the last of the other machines of this type had been sold, the NS was stolen, and as it was not insured it was quite beyond my finances to consider getting another one.
As my original plan of just using the NS for the rides had to be revised, I decided that I would also alter the plan and use use a number of different folders, as I had back in 1999, and use the opportunity to report on how well they perform on these longer rides. Of course, here I must add that I know that many readers won't regard a 100Km ride as particularly long, even with a time constraint on it, and to put it in perspective, Dave Minter did the Paris-Brest-Paris last year on a 2-speed Moulton Stowaway from 1965 (that's 1200Km in 4 days!).
With a time constraint, 100Km is plenty long enough for me, so in looking through the 2004 Audax UK Handbook for suitable rides I ignored anything longer than this, and I was generally looking for locations not more than 80Km from home (Dudley), as I didn't particularly relish a long drive to and from the event - indeed, the ability to use the train instead would be a big advantage. Although having the car made the choice of events much easier than it had been back in 1999, various factors, including clashes with Origami Rides or other cycling events, still left me with quite a limited choice, but no real problem in finding 5 or 6 suitable rides between April and September 2004. Of course, on top of this I would hope to do some other rides just for pleasure of similar length during the year, but without constraints on time and the route to be followed.
Quite a number of the shorter (100Km and less) BPs are very hilly - fortunately the Audak UK handbook shows which these are, and, as I don't especially enjoy riding up steep hills (I find it discouraging, as well as physically tiring), I avoided these. The first ride available though was Long Mynd '1200m', where the 1200m refers to the height to be climbed. It is quite possible to cycle around the Long Mynd area without too much serious climbing, but there are also some very steep climbs, and the implications seemed that the ride would include some of these, so my first entry was for this 59Km ride - there was also a 102Km version, with 2000m climbing, but I decided that would be too much. Otherwise, the rides chosen were all of about 100Km.
As already explained, the NS Moulton was no longer available, and the other folders/separables which I owned which I'd class as fast day ride bikes had also been disposed of, so a decision was needed on what to use for these rides. As yet, this is not completely finalised, but I expect to use at least 5 different machines. After much studying of specifications (very enjoyable) and the state of finances (not so enjoyable), I decided that a separable Moulton fx8 would probably be the most suitable overall. Other serious contenders were the Dahon Jetstream XP (luggage capacity is no doubt adequate for this sort of ride, but perhaps a bit limited for other types of riding?) and a Bike Friday (prices in the UK are VERY high though - $1=£1 - and small wheels without full suspension can be painful on UK roads). The fx8 is reasonably priced and very versatile, and is readily customised to individual taste, though it is is a bit on the heavy side, and certainly not as refined as the New Series. All being well, I hope to use the fx8 for 1 - 3 or the rides, a Dahon Zero G for one ride (26 inch wheels, but it folds), a Dahon Jetstream XP (I hope to have one on loan for a week), and I may also use an SP and a Bike Friday New World Tourist. At this stage, the choice for each ride has not been made, nor does it need to be beforehand, so if the chance arises to try anything else, it may we4ll be added to the range.
The reports on the rides and the bikes will be added here as they are completed, so watch this space!
3 April 2004 - Long Mynd '1200m' - Moulton
9 May 2004 - Elgar's Wheeltracks from Hartlebury - Moulton fx8
Wombourn 50 miles in 4 hours (strictly not part of this series) - Moulton AM7
Heart of England Challenge Ride 100Km from Meriden - Bike Friday New World Tourist
Catherine de Barnes 111Km ride, 4 July 2004 - Airnimal Chameleon
Blowingstone 100Km ride, 11 July 2004 - Dahon Jetstream XP
There are no doubt many of you who would not regard 100km at around 15kph as a long ride at all, but on the other hand there are others for whom that represents more than they would consider doing on a folding bicycle. Whether you belong to one of these groups, or, like me, you are somewhere between, I hope that you will find something of interest in this comparison of some folding and separable cycles.
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Last updated: 14 July 2004