You will have seen in the last issue of FSN that a gathering of folder enthusiast is taking place in Weymouth from 14-16th May. Despite the fact that this will be a strictly informal affair - no trade exhibition, no formal dinner and no organised rides - we have already heard that many people are planning to be there, and have booked their accommodation. If you haven't yet put the dates in your diary, please do so now. Information is being made available on our web site.
Fortunately reports of folders being stolen are quite rare, partly due to the fact that folders can normally be stored in relatively safe places, and partly because not all that many thieves realise how valuable they are. However, a recent email reminds us that as with all possessions, they can go missing. We are now maintaining a page on the web site with details of any stolen machines - please take a look at this site from time to time, particularly if you are planning to buy second hand from an unfamiliar source. If you are unfortunate enough to lose your folder, let us know and it will be put on the web site; if you come across one of the stolen bikes, please contact the person named on the web pages; if you are lucky enough to recover your machine and it is listed on our web pages, let us know so that it can be removed. For the moment, keep an eye open for black Brompton T5 number 150 906, which went missing in London - more details on the web page.
No, not a new model from r & m, but the upgrade to my machine is now complete. Unfortunately I have been having problems with my right foot, and walking and cycling have been not only painful, but have tended to make the problem worse, so my cycling has been very limited for about four weeks. However, the Birdy has managed a few short commutes since modification, and seems to be running nicely. The 9-speed is a Shimano LX, with 11-34 block and retaining the original chainwheel. The new system seems to run more sweetly than the original 7-speed Alivio, and changes are also smoother, The chain rubs slightly on the inner plastic chain guide of the chainwheel in the lowest two gears, but it did this with the original system as well. The new ratios give more low gears, while not altering the top end, which suits my riding, although as yet I haven't used these new low ratios in anger. In the lowest gear, and with the original large chainwheel, the chain runs rather close to the frame, but shows no sign of actually making contact. The original twist-grip changer had to go, as a 9-speed version is not available at the moment. I've never liked twist-grips in the past anyway, though the one fitted to the Birdy performed very well, and was particularly useful in cold conditions when my hands freeze up and gear changing can become very difficult. The new 9-speed Rapidfire unit has a very light and positive action, and retains some indication of the gear selected.
Other changes to the Birdy have been to fit a handlebar mounted bottle cage (a very old unit I found in my odds and ends box!) and a new rear tyre. The latter was fitted because when the rear wheel was replaced I had a lot of problems getting the old tyre to seat properly. In fact the new tyre proved equally troublesome, so I probably need not have replaced the tyre. This standard high-pressure Birdy tyre had done just over 1100 miles, which by most reports is quite good going for one of these tyres, but it still looked to have a few hundred miles life left; the front tyre shows very little sign of wear.
Since the hub and cluster needed replacing, I chose to buy a complete new rear wheel, and this turned out to be fortunate. Shortly before the job was done the rear brakes had been rather noisy, which I put down to some grit having got on the shoes, which has happened in the past. When I came to investigate I found that the shoes had worn down to the metal, and had scored the original rims. I've never worn out a set of brake shoes before, and I've certainly never had to consider replacing them at 1000 miles; I haven't ridden the Birdy any differently than any other bike. The design of the shoes is such that the metal inner is not visible until you release the brake mechanism, so there was nothing to show that the relatively modest visible wear had reached the point where metal to metal contact is made. I would recommend that if you have a Birdy (or other bike) with these Dia Compe cantilevers you inspect the shoes carefully, and actually release the caliper so that you can see the whole surface. As I was replacing the rear wheel anyway - and also changing to Shimano callipers - the effect of this damage was not as serious as it would have been otherwise.
The next modification, long overdue, will be fit the Brompton front bag block so that I can make use of Steve Parry's ingenious bracket which allows a conventional bar bag to be mounted via one of these blocks (see a previous issue of FSN and the web pages for details).
The second issue of this paper newsletter should go out to those who have joined the Bike Friday group in the UK within the next 10 days or so. If you have any news or information for it, including sales and wants, please let me know as soon as possible.
See you at Weymouth in May.
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Copyright (C)1999 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 20 February1999