Luggage carrying has always been a particular strength of Moultons, not just in terms of capacity but also the fact that the design of the racks is an integral feature of the bicycle. On most of the early Moultons (1960's and 70's) the rear carrier was a part of the frame, which had the drawback that you had the weight of the carrier whether you needed to carry a load or not. The AMs and later models switched to a removable carrier and softer, lighter, bags, but initially the carrier, if fitted, was quite large, which again was a drawback for short outings. When the Day Bag and Day Bag Carrier were introduced, they provided a remarkably light, unobtrusive but capacious carrying system. I even managed to go to the launch of the New Series Moulton in London on a Friday, then go direct to Bradford on Avon for the launch to the Club, and return home on the Monday carrying everything in the day bag and a rather large bum-bag, and that included a jacket and tie, which are not normally part of my cycling apparel. That sort of weekend outing was really stretching the capacity of the Day Bag, but the large rack and bag are something of an overkill if you are using B&B and travel light for a weekend - some people opt for the large rear carrier fitted with the smaller front bag.
Now Moulton are introducing a Weekend Bag, which is very similar in design to the Day Bag and still fits on the Day Bag Carrier. It is about the same overall height as the Day Bag, but the top is much less rounded, and it is also marginally longer front to back, and the overall result is a small but useful increase in capacity. It is made of a more substantial material than the Day Bag, so there is much less risk of something sharp, like a screwdriver, damaging it. Access to the inside is via a long zip, similar to that on the Day Bag. The stitching is with a cord which is reflective, providing improved visibility at night - photographs in which flash is fired make the white stitching, which seems in daylight to be quite unobtrusive, stand out, even in bright sunlight. Another useful feature is that the bag is just big enough to take A4 papers unfolded with a slight curl on the top corners - a few millimetres more, and they would go in perfectly, and when I mentioned this to Shaun Moulton he indicated that they might increase the size fractionally to allow this.
I have had one of these bags on test for some weeks now, and it performs very well. You can see a picture of it, fitted on my AM7, on the web page at http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/foldsoc/bpdouble.html. As with the Day Bag, it does not hinder leg movement at all, and the Velcro fixings hold it firmly in place immediately behind the seat tube.
The Weekend Bag is a very useful accessory for an AM owner who on occasion needs something bigger than the Day Bag, without needing to go to the full rear carrier and bag, and it saves around one pound weight compared with the full rear luggage system. Some people may also prefer it over the Day Bag due to the more robust construction. As with the Day Bag, those who have very short legs may find that the top needs squashing down a bit to go under the saddle - it just fits in on my AM7. Although there is no official Day Bag Carrier for the APB, it is not too difficult to fit something similar, and the ubiquitous Steve Parry (01934 516158) has produced a nicely engineered equivalent. However, because the mounting is higher on an APB, there is more of a problem fitting both the Day Bag and Weekend Bag in under the saddle of an APB if you ride with the saddle low - a small carrier which actually hangs below the mounting might be an advantage for an APB, providing it does not interfere with the brake cabling.
Alex Moulton Bicycles are on 01225 865895.
Member Daniel Wood has sent us a report on a gathering of tandem manufacturers in Eugene Oregon which he attended recently. One machine which was on show was the Bike Friday Twin Air, which won the "B" group of the Biannual Burley Duet Tandem Stage Race on 5th July. This is a special Bike Friday tandem, based on the Air Friday design, rather than the more conventional Tandem Two'sday. It is not a production model, though it seems possible that a very small number of replicas might be made. You can find more information about the success of this tandem on the Bike Friday web site at http://www.bikefriday.com. Also on this site is a report on what is thought to be a record end to end ride completed recently by Brad and Aven Miter on a Tandem Two'sday. They took two months to cover the journey - mind you, they were pulling a loaded trailer weighing around 100lbs.
While at the gathering in Eugene, Daniel also spoke to representatives of Burley (who distribute the Birdy in the USA) and a dealer. The Burley representative told Daniel that 'RM did not plan to develop the Birdy further, instead preferring to turn their energies towards other bicycle-related projects'.
My previous longer day test rides on Brevet Populaires had been on the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket, Birdy Red, Moulton AM7, plus a recce on a conventional bike, so this time it was the turn of a Brompton, albeit a highly modified one in the form of an SP.
This ride started from Rease Heath, near Nantwich, on 2 August, and coincided with the CTC Birthday Rides there. Consequently, there was a larger turnout than at any of the previous BPs I had attended. I arrived in time to see a Moulton APB set out on the longer 200km event, but mine was the only unconventional bike on the shorter 120km ride. However, I rode the whole distance with another Brompton owner, who was mounted for this event on a conventional tourer.
The first control stop on the route from Nantwich to Llangollen coincided with heavy rain - we were able to take shelter, and have a snack in the restaurant of a garden centre until it cleared, and this was the only rain during the ride. The route was relatively flat until the last few miles into Llangollen, when we ascended to follow a Panorama route - the views made the climb well worth the effort. Having tested all the gears on my 7-speed SP on the way up, it was then time to test the V brakes on the descent into Llangollen, where we paused again for a snack. A different route was used for the return journey, and this avoided any serious hills.
I recorded 78 miles for the BP itself, and by the time I got home my total distance for the day was 86 miles. Although this made it the longest of the rides so far, I felt if anything less tired than on some previous events. The Brompton SP performed really well, and although it might not be my preferred choice for such a long ride, it was more than adequate for the job. The overall gear range, and more importantly the spacing, of this derailleur geared Brompton certainly suited it better to this type of event than a standard Brompton; the bottom gear was plenty low enough for the hills we encountered, and the top gear, although a bit on the low side, was never an embarrassment. The gear changing was smooth and trouble free at all times. The V-brakes inspired confidence, and I was glad of them on the descent into Llangollen. The shock absorbing properties of the handlebar stem were very effective, and the only discomfort came from a combination of a Flite Titanium Saddle (my usual choice, but a shade narrow for this rather upright riding position) and some new cycling shorts. I also made a mistake in choosing to use a bum bag rather than a bar bag mounted on the front luggage block - it was lighter overall, but awkward and uncomfortable over this distance. A very slow puncture 6 miles from the finish point caused a couple of brief stops to add some air to the front tyre, but did not detract from the enjoyment of the day. The puncture, caused by a small piece of glass, was fairly easily located on arrival at the finish, and was simple to repair.
You can read a more complete report on the ride and the performance of the SP on the web pages at http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/foldsoc/jub120.html, and you can read the previous tests via http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/foldsoc/bptest.html
I plan one more of these Brevet Populaires, on 12th August. Originally I had thought of using a standard 5-speed Brompton for one of these events, but the ride on the 12th at Denham is with a group which I know from previous experience go quite fast, and looking at the route there are a number of hills. Therefore, although I expect I could get round on the standard Brompton, I feel it would be rather hard work, and as I'm supposed to be doing this for pleasure I will opt for another folder. In view of the train journey, I will probably use the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket rather than the AM7, but I admit that as I've done one of these rides on that bike already, if the weather is unfavourable I may not go at all. A report should appear on the web pages soon after the event, and it will then be followed by some conclusions on the experience of riding these Brevet Populaires on the various folders and separables.
Issue 95 (August 1999) of Cycling Plus contains a report on the suitability of 3 folders/separables for touring. The bikes covered are the Brompton, Moulton APB T21 and a Thorn Nomad fitted with S&S couplings. It's good to see the usefulness of folders for this sort of travel being recognised in the mainstream cycling press, and the review was very positive. Steve Parry's Brompton modifications also got a mention, and a number of other folders (Birdy, Bike Friday, Bernds, New Series Moulton and Strutt Meteor) were also mentioned very briefly.
Some of you may be wondering what the Strutt Meteor, mentioned above, is. Well, Phoenix Cycles had a prototype at the end of last year, but as far as I know the production version has not yet been released. I saw the prototype in December and took some photographs, but I haven't got permission to publish them. Cycling Plus only mentions that it has 20 inch (406) wheels, as had the prototype, folds to 107 x 76 x 28cm in 30 seconds and takes standard panniers. More news as and when we get it. You can contact Phoenix Cycles on 0171 738 2766, or email email@example.com
Richard Mathews, who has his Brompton in a prominent position in the group on the cover of the latest issue of the CTC magazine, Cycle Touring and Campaigning, is one of those actually undertaking a tour on his Brompton - a C2C. Richard, on his Brompton, and son James on his Trice recumbent, are due to start on August 9th. I hope they have some decent weather - it is raining heavily in the English Midlands today, 8th August. A pre-ride report can be found on our web pages at http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/foldsoc/rmc2cpre.html. This includes some details of modifications to his Brompton, including a double chainwheel, and comments on the luggage system he is using - as the "Holiday Lakeland" organised ride includes transport of luggage, only the things needed for each day have to be carried on the bike.
Other Brompton tourists include Simon Baddeley and daughter Amy, and John Richfield and his son Tom (see FSN 029 for the pre-ride announcement). I hear that their ride by Sustrans route 7 from Glasgow to Inverness, 220 miles, went well. The Bromptons performed superlatively, and the Primo tyres worked as well on all the surfaces (including gravel, grass and rutted footpaths) as the standard Raleigh Record tyres, and none of them suffered any punctures. We hope for a more detailed report later.
By John Pinkerton
Why not keep it in the wardrobe?
That must have been the answer that Monsieur Marcelin's wife gave when he asked "Where shall I put it?". He had just emerged from his workshop in the Paris suburb after finishing his latest invention Le Petit Bi, which of course you all know translates to "The Little Bicycle".
Although it did not fold, the handlebars did, and the saddle disappeared up or down its own seat-tube. As with so many things, the Austrian painter prevented mass production from 1938, and, despite a British Patent being applied for in March 1939, it wasn't seen in this country until 1942 when Cycling road tested it.
When reduced in overall height and put into its bag, the package could be stood up on end on the four rubber buffers fitted to the rear of the rack for that purpose, hence the good lady's suggestion. A folding version was subsequently made.
Last Saturday I mechanically overhauled the Petit Bi which I collected in France on my return from Italy with a child's 14" wheel folder in a suitcase. The latter was to foil the Railway staff with their reputed restrictions and charges for cycles on trains.
Sunday morning, late as ever, I finished making the machine roadworthy with the help of a Mk III Moulton rear wheel. My particular model was fitted with 400 A wheels - I have a few tyres in stock if anyone needs them - the rear of which was unserviceable, hence the Mk III addition. But unlike any other Petit Bi, this one has a sprung seat pillar - nothing's new! This was initially a problem, because it let the saddle twist sideways very slightly, and was very disconcerting on the first outing. However I soon became accustomed to this, and it didn't bother me whilst riding. Because I ride a wide range of cycles from wooden-wheeled Boneshakers to modern lightweight touring machines, I have become very adaptable, or perhaps I am not very sensitive.
The brakes were not very good, despite fitting new soft blocks during the mechanical overhaul. This is undoubtedly due to the original wheels having Westwood rims for use with roller-lever rod brakes which operate on the surface either side of the spoke line of the rim. The French, being mostly sportive with cycles, preferred side-pull cable brakes. The slightly corroded rim edges soon made a groove in the new blocks and probably improved the braking. Like the machine itself I am used to traffic free routes and used to waiting for the brakes to take their time. V Brakes are all very well if you are jamming with traffic in the city, but for the countryside there is usually a little more time.
The overall ride was comfortable; handlebars did flex slightly and despite the large chain ring and Moulton size sprocket the gears were a bit on the low side. Steering was accurate and I had no fears in descending; climbing was easy using the S-A hub. All in all a nice Little Bicycle!
There is more information on Le Petite Bi with good illustrations of both models in "It's in the Bag! A History in outline of portable cycles in the UK", available from Dorothy Pinkerton (522 Holly Lane, Erdington, Birmingham B24 9LY) at £9.45 for spiral bound, or £13.95 for special hardbound edition inc p&p.
The total mileage on this first outing was 12 miles, with no regrets.
Please note that there will be no Mud Dock meeting in September as the date coincides with the Moulton Bicycle Club annual weekend at Bradford on Avon.
Saturday 14th August - Origami Ride
Meet as usual at the Tearooms in Meriden from 10.30 for an 11.00am start. Watch the web page for details of any special arrangements for future events - they are at http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/origami, or contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685.
Sunday 15 August - Chichester Harbour Ride
25 miles approx Meet Chichester Railway Station 10am for 10.30 start. Further details from Eric Jones, Tel 01903 782631. [Information provided by Moulton Bicycle Club]
Saturday 21 August - Mini Moulton Ride
Moulton Bicycle Club member Malcolm Lyon is arranging a ride to attend the 40th Birthday Party of the Mini (the car!) at Silverstone on 21 August. The entry fee for Silverstone that day is £5. The ride commences at 10.00am from the Inland Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne, about 8 miles from Silverstone and a similar distance from Northampton Station. Moultons of course have a strong connection with Minis, as Alex Moulton was responsible for the suspension of the Mini. For further details contact Malcolm Lyon, 2 The Mill, Turvey, Beds MK43 8ET, Tel: 01234 888909, email firstname.lastname@example.org. [Moulton Bicycle Club ride]
Bike Friday Homecoming, 20-22nd August
Euegene, Oregon. More information from email@example.com.
Moulton Bicycle Club Bradford on Avon Weekend, 4-5th September
The annual Moulton event at the home of Dr Alex Moulton, The Hall, Bradford on Avon. More details were provided in issue 17 (dated July 1999) of The Moulton Flyer. This is of course strictly a Moulton only event.
No Mud Dock meeting in September - see note above.
Calais France: La Journee "En ville, sans ma voiture?"
Wednesday 22 September 1999, 7am to 9pm
Details were given in FSN 031, or contact Sam Webb: firstname.lastname@example.org
29 November - 3 December - Portmeirion
The very popular autumn Folding Society gathering at Portmeirion will be taking place as usual - this will the fourth year. If you have been before, then you will know what to expect, and I'm sure you will be planning to come again this year. If you haven't been before, please give it a try, it's an ideal spot for an autumn/winter break with lots of good company, and we have had excellent weather every time so far, despite it being quite late in the year. This is a fairly informal event, and the booking of houses at Portmeirion is done by individuals. As explained in a previous issue of FSN, A to B have agreed to act as a clearing house in helping those who have booked houses find people to share them, or those who want to share to find people with space, so contact them if you need help in this respect. It's important that enough people book houses in time, and the place can fill quite quickly, so don't delay in making arrangements. You can contact A to B at email@example.com. I believe that some further information will appear in A to B issue 13, due out soon.
We would very much welcome articles, photographs or any other material for inclusion in future issues of FSN, or on our web pages. Please send any material to The Folding Society at the address given below.
The Folding Society
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Last updated: 15 August 1999