I agreed in the middle of last year that I would run a course at the end of January, and I have spent the last two months preparing for it, and then delivering it, which is why I had to increase the gap between issues of FSN from 2 to 3 weeks for a while. The course was given last week, and only finished late on Friday afternoon, and I now have a lot of other things to catch up on, so it is likely to be another couple of weeks before I can get back to normal. Please accept my apologies for the temporary increase in spacing of issues of FSN, and the fact that the web pages have also been rather neglected - those who have sent me email will also not have received replies as I simply had to stop reading the email at one stage. Anyway, it is all over now; naturally the students didn't think much of the final result (the Brompton, which sat in the lecture room throughout the week, seemed to enjoy it more), so it was all done for nothing. I'll stick to folders in the future!.
All this has meant that there has not been much time for cycling so far this year. 'Only' 3 of my folders have been out - the Micro (Project Y) and Birdy at the very beginning of the month, and the old Brompton T5 since then. The Micro and Birdy got cleaned at the end of the first week, but the poor Brompton has not been receiving the attention it deserves. In fact that was one of the reasons why it got so much use - it makes a good, no fuss, workhorse, and the luggage capacity has been particularly useful over the last 10 days, when I was carrying a lot of books and computer equipment. I am sure there are those who would disagree, but I always seem to find that a hub gear system requires much less attention during winter months, when it is frosty, wet, and there is salt on the roads, than a derailleur, and over the last three weeks I have needed a completely hassle-free bike.
In my report on first impressions on the new Birdy tyres I commented that they did not run any more freely than their predecessors. A to B's subsequent tests indicated that they have higher rolling resistance, and my own further use of the tyres earlier in January confirmed my view that the bike feels noticeably more lethargic than it used to.
In contrast, the new 16 inch Schwalbe Marathons on the Brompton T5 are a great success - a preliminary report on them appeared in issue 42 of FSN. The bike feels very free-running, especially after riding the Birdy with its new tyres. Although probably not as good as the Primos for rolling resistance, subjectively the Schwalbes do not feel much worse, and they have a reassuring amount of rubber and a substantial tread pattern - welcome when cycling at this time of year. The T5 came out for its first 2 rides specifically because of its tyres, and they continue to impress. Thanks again to Phoenix Cycles for letting me have them.
Staying with Brompton, but on a very sad note, I was very sorry to receive an email from Rob Cope yesterday via the Brompton Talk email list reporting the death of Julian Vereker, who has played a very important role in Brompton over the years. I only met Julian once, on a Brompton stand at an exhibition last year, but he made a very strong impression - a great enthusiast with a strong personality and very likeable: he will be greatly missed.
Coming soon: I have a number of articles from members which I hope to be including in the next few issues of FSN - many thanks to those of you who have written in, and my apologies that recent pressure of work has delayed use of the articles - please keep sending in material.
Format: If you receive this issue of FSN in a plain text form, please remember that a formatted version is available on our web pages at http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/foldsoc/fsn/fsn045.html, and you can receive the formatted version (suitable for reading with a web browser) just be emailing us to let us know you prefer this version.
As noted in the last issue of FSN, we now have a new and more memorable web site address - http://www.foldsoc.co.uk. At present this is only a link to the old site, but when time permits we will be moving everything to the new site, and we will let you know through FSN when this has been done. We also have an email address to match - email@example.com and you can use that now if you wish to get in touch, although all the old addresses continue to work.
John Bradshaw also informs me that CycleFest is soon to have a new web site with a more memorable address - we will let you know when it is on line.
Paul Evans directed my attention to an article in Coach and Bus Weekly, dated 23 December, and entitled "Making life simple on yer bike when parking becomes a pain". The article compares a Citybug scooter, Brompton L3, Daewoo and Tactic Panache 3-speed. The photographs in the article suggest that the tests were carried out with the saddle much too low on all the bikes! The testers were most impressed by the Tactic, and the article concludes with the information that the editor has bought one.
Here is a summary of the distance covered by the 7 highest distance bikes in my collection - the distances below are recorded in miles, as that was the system I was using in at that time.
Bike Friday Rocket
Moulton New Series
Bike Friday NWT
Total recorded distance covered on these and other bikes was 7289 km (4530.4 miles)
My third oldest bike (after the Moulton Stowaway and Mercian) actually covered the highest mileage (how do we say mileage in metric?) in the year. In terms of make, rather than individual bike, the Moultons were well ahead (especially with the APB added in), with the Brompton/SP second, and the Birdy rather surprisingly just exceeding the combined Bike Friday NWT and Pocket Rocket distance. The SP was new half way through the year, and the NS was a new acquisition 3/4 of the way through the year. If these facts are taken into account, the NS probably just covered the highest mileage in the time it was available, followed very closely by the SP, and then the others. The Micros do not figure, as the 19 year old Cross was obtained part of the way through the year, and is really just for the collection, and the Project Y was not started until December.
The total distance falls short of the 5000 miles I planned at the beginning of the year, but this is mainly down to a problem with my right foot in January and February, which severely reduced my riding, and a lesser problem (in terms of distance covered) with an eye in November. Anyway, it's not the distance that really matters, it's the pleasure gained, and that in no way fell short of expectations
It's been a good cycling year from a personal point of view, and, amongst other things, I rode 5 Brevet Populaires, had a very enjoyable ride from Blaenau Ffestiniog (in the company of John Pinkerton), enjoyed two weeks with a New Series Moulton near Loch Lomond, and the week at Portmeirion was also memorable, as was the weekend at Weymouth for unofficial FS meeting..
It's difficult to pick out one 'best' ride of the year, but if pressed I'd single out the ride from Nantwich to Llangollen and back on the SP (one of the Brevet Populaires).
In terms of new or improved folders that have appeared on the market during the year, I wouldn't rate any as earth shattering. The ones that interested me most (and of course this is just a question of personal preference) were the Bike Friday Air Llama and the Panasonic Traincle. Steve Parry's SP is Brompton based, so I haven't rated it as entirely new, but certainly deserves attention - it retains the usual Brompton virtues but with radically improved performance.
Although Brompton did not launch any new bikes (a new colour scheme though) or major modifications during 1999, it was very good to see them in a new and bigger factory, and to have the opportunity to attend the party celebrating its opening. I think we can expect some significant Brompton developments this year, but as I commented recently, I suspect these will be more in the way of improvements, which could probably be fitted to existing models, so if you are thinking of buying, I wouldn't delay the purchase, get one now and start enjoying it immediately!
Owning small wheeled bikes has in the past meant having a more limited choice of tyres than for the more normal 26 inch or 700c wheeled bikes. This year has seen some significant improvements in the situation, with the new 16 inch Schwalbe and a new Birdy tyre. Bike Friday have also listed another tyre carrying their own name in the less common 451 size used on their Pocket Rocket and Air Friday models. It is strongly rumoured that Brompton will be making another 16 inch tyre available this year, carrying their own name. The excellent choice of tyres in the 16 inch size must surely be tempting more Birdy owners to make the change, and might also tempt owners of 17inch wheeled Moultons (AMs) to investigate doing the same.
I hope to finally finish the article on tyres 'Real Soon Now' - for the next issue of FSN?
I seem to have acquired an alarming number of new folders during the year - no less than 3 Micros of various kinds, the Brompton SP and a New Series Moulton. The Brompton SP and New Series have given me a lot of pleasure: the SP retains just about all the virtues of the normal Brompton, but is substantially lighter, has far better brakes, a less flexible handlebar system, but with suspension, and a range of gears which makes it more versatile and enjoyable to use. The NS is superb - a real joy to ride, though I still wish there was more mudguard clearance and enough space to be able to fit another type of tyre if one wished. The 19 year old Cross Micro is really only for the (non-existent!) collection, but the other two Micros are for Project Y - described in previous issues. The one Micro has been partly converted, and, apart from the handlebar stem and bars (which I do not like), is working well at present, though there is more to be done. The second current Micro is still just a collection of bits. Expect to hear more about Project Y, and indeed all the bikes, later in the year.
Steve Parry contacted me during my heavy workload period with some more news - I'm not sure if I got all the details down correctly given the state I was in at the time (I mean work, not drink or anything else!), but basically he has produced yet another version of a modified Brompton, this time with hub brakes, and two gears, using a double chainring and a single sprocket at the back, plus all his usual improvements. As the weight is around that of a standard Brompton, I'm not entirely convinced about this configuration, despite the many improvements Steve incorporates, but it may be of interest to some readers. I still prefer, personally, his 7-speed derailleur version, which I find is superb.
Steve indicated that this is the last different version which is Brompton based that he plans at present, so I wonder what he will turn his attention to next? At Portmeirion he was talking of some drastic modification to the Panasonic Traincle, although as I have indicated before it seems to me that improving a Micro is a better bet as, for example, it already has the right sized wheels!
Steve can apparently also supply alloy seat posts for the Brompton. If you want to contact Steve, you can now reach him by email, and the address is, again if I remember correctly, firstname.lastname@example.org. I have been really delighted in my 7-speed SP, and I can certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a higher specification Brompton which runs even more sweetly than the original, and which retains the original Brompton virtues and improves on the few areas where it is less suited to the enthusiastic longer-distance rider - albeit at a price.
As many of you will know, I was Membership Secretary (amongst other things) of the Moulton Bicycle Club (MBC) for some years. I have had a number of telephone calls from Moultoneers recently enquiring about the status of their membership, as they have not received a membership card for 1999/2000, and no copies of The Moultoneer. If there are any other Moultoneers out there thinking of contacting me about this, can I remind you that I gave up that job over a year ago, and I'm not involved with the running of the MBC any longer. I have checked up on the situation, and it is basically that, as in the past, new membership cards are sent out with the next issue of The Moultoneer (the MBC magazine), which effects a considerable saving in postage costs. The problem lies in the fact that there has not been a new issue of The Moultoneer for some time (number 57, dated Summer 1999, if my memory serves me correctly). The MBC has a reinvigorated committee with several new members, but finding a new Editor is proving very difficult, and Nigel Sadler, who has done such an excellent job for many years, no longer has the time to continue with the work. We have twice offered to produce a short, but regular newsletter for them to fill the gap, but we have received absolutely no reply of any description to these offers. In a recent email on the Moulton mailing list, Nigel indicated that the next issue of the Moultoneer may appear around the end of February.
In the meantime, Moultoneers looking for more written material on their bikes can find lots of lively discussion on their mailing list, and we will continue to include coverage of all types of Moultons in FSN and our web pages. I also hope to have an updated copy of the MBC Sales and Wants list on the Moulton section of the web pages soon - the Moulton web pages are currently at http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/moulton/moultmn.html
The date now seems to have been set for the annual MBC event at Bradford on Avon. Organiser Jim Stembridge is starting the planning early this year, and is already busy recruiting helpers, though I expect he would welcome more if anyone wishes to volunteer. Deciding a date presented some problems, as the company also plans to hold a special event for senior figures in engineering, and to make best use of resources the MBC event would need to be held over the weekend following that event. It is hoped that some of the exhibition that is being arranged for the AM Engineering Exhibition will still be available for those attending the MBC event. Jim already has lots of interesting things planned, perhaps the most notable change being that this year the evening event will be centred around The Hall, with a barbecue and ticket entry buffet - as a one time (twice actually) organiser myself, I think this is a good idea. On the Sunday the lunch stop will be nearer to Bradford on Avon than usual, to avoid a long after lunch ride, though there will be the option of an additional afternoon ride (again, as an organiser and participant I think this is a good idea). A lot of this is still at the planning stages, so confirmation and further details will appear later. It sounds as though this should be the best BoA weekend yet, so please make sure you put the dates in your diary as soon as possible.
I would hope it is unnecessary to add that this is an MBC event, and anyone interested in Moultons is welcome, but if you plan to come on come on a bicycle other than a Moulton, please be aware that it is considered a matter of the most basic courtesy that any non-Moultons should be left in the upper car park area, rather than brought into the main courtyard display area of Dr Moulton's home.
Owners of 16 inch wheeled Moultons were limited for some years in their choice of tyres, with only the Raleigh Record being available - a respectable utility tyre, but suffering from a rather high rolling resistance, even when inflated to higher pressures than those recommended. The appearance of the Primo changed that, and many owners of these older Moultons found the performance of their machines was dramatically improved by these excellent, light, high pressure, low rolling resistance tyres. Now there is another option, and one perhaps which is even more appropriate, if not quite as free running, in the form of the 16 inch Schwalbe Marathon. As reported elsewhere, this has rather more rubber and tread, and the plainer sidewalls (just a very effective reflective strip round it) look to my mind rather better on the bike. The tyre has a Kevlar strip, so puncture resistance should be good, and I would expect (though I can't yet confirm) a good life from the tyre. The rolling resistance may not be the equal of the Primo, but subjectively it feels good on my Brompton, so I'd be interested to hear from any Moultoneers who have tried them on an early Moultons.
At last - the full report on a non(?)-cycling holiday on a Moulton NS!
Regular readers with a good memory may recall that I took a photographic holiday at the end of September/beginning of October in Scotland. The first week was a photography course at the excellent Inversnaid Photography Centre, right by Loch Lomond, and I stayed on for most of the next week.
As usual it was difficult to decide which bike to take - this was primarily a photographic holiday at Inversnaid, only needing to get there and back by bike, with a large quantity of photographic gear (including a tripod), but with a few days extra in which I planned to ride round, or walk, a bit more. Right up to the week before I was due to leave I was still undecided just which bike to take, with the choice tending towards either the Moulton APB or AM7 over the Bike Friday New World Tourist. I was due to leave on a Monday, and on the Thursday before I was due to leave, the opportunity came up to buy a used New Series Moulton - in fact the very one that Chris Juden reported on in Cycle Touring and Campaigning, though the report had not appeared at the time.
Anyway, I decided to go for it, and I collected the bike and returned home with it on the Friday. It was still dirty and needed a bit of service, which I did on the Saturday, which disclosed the broken rear carrier which Chris mentioned in his report (incurred during its air journey, not in normal use). An attempt to repair it with Araldite was unsuccessful, and with the holiday journey due to start early on Monday, it looked for a while as though I wouldn't be able to use the NS after all. Happily my good friend John Pinkerton came to the rescue - I went over on the Sunday to see him, and he brazed it back together, with a bit of help form an old nail!
With only a rear carrier - the Flexitor front suspension does not permit mounting front rack (well, no one has found a solution yet) - everything had to go on the back, and that helped to reinforce the decision to take a 35mm camera outfit rather than a medium format system, and to downgrade to my lightest reasonably robust tripod - an elderly Harmony which was a retirement present to my father, which I guess makes it over 25 years old. Everything fitted reasonably comfortably into the large Moulton bag, with the tripod strapped on top, and a medium sized bum bag to carry odds and ends.
At least being limited in the amount I could get on the carrier meant that the bike was still not too difficult to lift, so getting it onto the train should not present too much of a problem.. In this expectation I was slightly optimistic. When the train pulled in to Wolverhampton the luggage van appeared to be at the front (the station staff denied any knowledge of where it might be when I asked while waiting for it) so I hurried there, only to find this van locked. As I hurried back in the expectation of finding an unlocked one at the other end, I was berated by the train and station staff for going the wrong way. When I pointed out that the van at the front was locked, they eventually found a key and unlocked it. All this was delaying the train, so as soon as I was in, I said I would make my way through the train, and they closed and locked the outer door. Once I had secured the bike, I went to leave the luggage area, only to find the door to the corridor locked, so that I was trapped in the luggage area. Eventually, about 20 minutes later, the conductor came back and released me, but this was not a very auspicious start!
The NS had felt very stable on the way to the station, despite the quite large load, all on the back, but of course I had scarcely ridden the bike unloaded since buying it, although I had ridden various NS's before - in fact, as this ex-demonstrator has a frame number indicating it was made before the launch date, I may even have ridden this one before at the launch event!
Happily there were no more dramas on the way to Glasgow, and I unloaded the bike from the train and set out to find the cycleway to Loch Lomond. I didn't have too much trouble doing this, but only because I had been once before 2 years previously. This time I only lost the way once - there is a great shortage of signs, and they are far from clear. The early stages of the cycle path are marred by substantial amounts of broken glass, and whenever I spotted these in time, and if they looked bad, I dismounted and pushed or lifted my bike over the worst. The NS, with its narrow high pressure Continental Grand Prix tyres, is not all that well equipped to deal with this type of debris, though I must say I would have felt just as nervous with the tyres on any of my other bikes under these conditions.
After a while the glass diminished, and conditions got better, until I missed an unsignposted detour around a quagmire. It was soon obvious that I was not going to get through this stretch of thick slurry without getting off and wading, up to top of my boots, through the mess. The weight of the loaded bike made it impossible to carry it all the way, so I had to force my way through as best I could, pushing. The tyres and small mudguard clearances again make the NS particularly unsuited for these sort of conditions, but the only one my bikes which just might have got through would have been the mudguardless Marin mountain bike. At the end of this stretch the wheels were jammed with slurry under the mudguards - again, though the NS is particularly vulnerable, only the mudguardless Marin, or a Bike Friday with its large, well spaced floppy mudguards would not have suffered a similar fate. Not only did I need to clear the mess to be able to ride, but this was evil smelling substance, and I spent some time clearing things and using up all my water bottle trying to remove the worst of the mess from the area of the brakes, and from my boots. I also used a good deal of very colourful language!
After dealing with this and recovering my equanimity, I resumed my ride - although we had had some poor weather recently, on this day there was no rain, and the weather conditions were quite pleasant. My new jacket - a Polaris - proved a good choice, light and able to keep out wind and rain, but not too hot on a day like this.
The cyclepath continues its rather erratic way to the southern end of Loch Lomond - there are a number of excursions through the outskirts of towns, and you need to keep very alert to avoid missing signs. Once at Loch Lomond I decided just to follow my OS map along the main roads towards Aberfoyle.
Despite the load, the NS had given a smooth and very comfortable ride along the varying conditions of the cycle path, and apart from the problems with the quagmire, there had been no difficulties. Taking to the roads now served to emphasise the excellent riding characteristics, and the gearing was just about ideal, using the standard current rear block (this early demonstrator had received all the upgrades which have been introduced in subsequent production models, including the improved spacing of the gear cluster). The brakes were very smooth and progressive too, and the Mosquito bars seemed exceptionally comfortable.
After about 35 miles I started to become aware that the Leppar saddle was rather hard - up to then it had felt very comfortable, and although the riding position using these bars remained comfortable, I really did wish that I could change the riding position a bit, juts for a change - unfortunately I couldn't find any alternative with these bars, short of stopping and adjusting the position with a spanner.
By the time I reached Aberfoyle, about 40 miles, with another 10 to go, I was beginning to feel a little (actually, very) weary, as it had been quite a long day, even if I had not covered all that many miles, and I had quite a load on the bike. The country between Aberfoyle and Inversnaid is beautiful, but I'm afraid I wasn't really feeling in the mood to enjoy it fully, and I was concerned that if I stopped I would find it even harder going when I restarted. It was also beginning to get a bit dark, and the course was to begin at about 6.00pm, so I did not want to linger. Anyway, I got there safely in the end and without any problems.
After a short break to get back my energies, I borrowed a bucket and some water to wash off the mess created by the slurry, before it dried and became really difficult to shift. I also had to wash off my boots - this was the only footwear I had, and the state they were in, I was going to be very unpopular if I didn't get the smelly mess off before the course started!
From the Monday evening to the Saturday evening I was attending the course, and as the weather turned very wet, we spent a large proportion of the time in the darkroom, and the NS stayed in a shed and did not turn a wheel.
When I had checked the bike out on the Saturday before leaving, I discovered that I did not have the special syringe and lubricant required for the Goldtec rear hub, so I sent a first class letter to Shaun Moulton on the Sunday asking him to post these to me at Inversnaid. In keeping with their excellent reputation for dealing with the problems of owners in the field, a package reached me on Tuesday at Inversnaid, so I was able to go out and give the bike a little attention during the week.
Come the end of the week, and I had to reload the bike, but this time only for a relatively short ride back to Aberfoyle, where I was staying for a few days extra. The extended stay was to some degree enforced, as I had discovered that there were no trains from Glasgow for the first few days of the week, due to major bridge works. The alternative bus service was unappealing - I would not have fancied it even with a more portable bike in view of the amount of luggage, and anyway I have a great dislike of bus travel - I' m not a good traveller at the best of times, and buses in particular often make me feel very queasy. Anyway, I was only too glad to have a good reason to extend my stay - it's a beautiful area, and having spent the time and money getting up there, it seems more sensible to spend as much time as possible there.
Of course, it was also an opportunity to put in some more miles on the NS, but without having to carry all the load with me, as I was staying in B and B and would be going out by the day. I was very lucky in that, after the very bad weather during the week at Inversnaid, conditions improved enormously on the day I left there, and for the rest of stay. I had thought that I might walk on some days, and ride others, but I was enjoying the NS so much that I went out on it each of the remaining days.
Most of the rides were on reasonable road surfaces, where the bike performed as well as you would expect, but one day when I reached the end of Loch Lubnaig I decided to follow an off-road cycle way (not surfaced) part of the way back. On some very coarse gravel and raised stones the narrow tyres felt a bit skittish, but otherwise the NS handled these conditions without any difficulties, and the narrow mudguard clearances caused no real problems, though occasionally rubbing sounds were heard for a short while when sandy material caught between the rear mudguard and tyre.
At the end of the holiday, I rode back to Glasgow along the roads to the Southern end of Loch Lomond, and then along the cyclepath (avoiding the quagmire this time), arriving in plenty of time to catch my train. After an uneventful train journey, there was only a short ride home from the station.
As this is FSN, the first thing to be said is that the NS is not a folder, and although it separates, I did not split it at all during this outing. With a considerable load to carry, I considered it well worth the modest fee to pay for the bike to travel in the luggage van, in view of the fact that I would be spending 10 days riding around between the train journeys. If I had been using a Brompton, I might have considered folding the bike for the rail journeys, but not with any of the other bikes I have. However, it is very reassuring to know that the bike can be made more portable if the need should arise - mechanical breakdown, rider breakdown, or substitution of buses for the normal rail service.
As always, the most striking thing about an NS is how smooth it is - not just a question of the suspension, but everything about the bike. The suspension may not have such long movement as that of a good full suspension mountain bike, but it is more than adequate to remove all jarring, and it lighter and requires less maintenance than most mountain bike systems. On road it is superb, and even on rough off-road situations it remains more than adequate. The new Flexitor front suspension reduces the bobbing you could get when working hard up up hill stretches with an AM, and its anti-dive characteristics under braking are most impressive.
The bike is very light, and not only does this help to make it feel exceptionally responsive and quick, but it makes it much easier to lift it over obstacles should the need arise. The bike really does feel fast, at least when it is not loaded, it definitely has the fun factor I discussed in the last issue of FSN. The Mosquito bars are generally very comfortable, although it is a great pity that, although they can be adjusted with a spanner to almost any position, you cannot adjust your riding position on the move, and on longer rides this is a disadvantage compared with normal drops or straight bars with forward extensions. For me, though, they do seem also to encourage a more aggressive approach to cornering as well. The Leppar saddle was very comfortable up to 30 miles or so, but seemed very hard after that. Easily fixed of course - I now have a Flite Titanium fitted, and this is more comfortable for me and lighter. One of my Brooks B17s would be even more comfortable, but much heavier.
The brakes are impressively smooth and powerful at all times. The brake levers are quite nicely positioned, and the ability to twist them to act as a handbrake is potentially useful, though it is difficult to set the clearances so that you have a handbrake without rubbing during riding. It is also possible to trap yourself, particularly when using gloves, in the levers after applying the brakes - thisdoesn't happen when riding, but is a problem when pushing the bike.
The spacing of the gears is now excellent - early NSs, like AMs, had a large gap in the middle of the range, but this has now been solved. I was lucky that my used NS came with exactly the chainwheel I would have chosen (47 teeth), and gave an ideal range for me - those buying new can of course specify almost any sized chainwheel they want to suit their requirements. The change was generally good, though adjustment is quite sensitive, and I did find it difficult to get it set so that every gear corresponded exactly with the click position on the Shimano lever. The position of this lever on the bars is good for the top 7 gears, but the lowest 2 gears can require some moving of the hand, and the Shimano lever would be more comfortable is it was a little bit more rounded.
On this holiday I was riding with quite a large amount of luggage at the start and end, and the handling of the bike was good when loaded. However, the absence of a front carrier is a significant disadvantage, both in terms of total load carrying capacity and load distribution. The rear carrier and bag are very capacious, but it would definitely be nice to be able to carry more, or spread the load.
My used ex-demonstrator - the 531 model finished in white, rather than a stainless model - showed plenty of signs of purely superficial wear in terms of scratches, abrasion and chips. This was a good thing in some respects - I don't worry about it getting further marks, and though it cost a lot more than the Jubilee L I had at one time, as a consequence I don't pamper it as much! However, after using it for a few months, I would have to say that the finish, in terms of resistance to scratches etc, is rather disappointing for a bike of this price - it shows much more signs of wear for the amount of use that it has had than do some of my other bikes. That said, there are no signs of wear in anything other than cosmetic respects, and as an engineer, I'm less concerned about this than some other owners might be.
That brings us to the area which I have expressed concern about in the past - the fact that although it udes the standard 406 format wheel/tyre (20 inch), for which there is an enormous choice of good tyres, the tight clearances mean that only the Continental GP tyre can be used; with a bit of modification, Schwalbe City Jets can be squeezed in, but this reduces clearance still more, and the tyre is being discontinued. Firstly, the good points: the Conti GPs proved superb on the road, as you would expect, but they were also quite acceptable for modest off road excursions as well - a little skittish on stones and gravel, and no doubt lacking in traction in mud, but much better than I had feared. They seem to get tatty quickly - more the side walls and threads appearing hanging loose than tread wear - but this did not seem to affect performance. I did not have any punctures, despite some fairly rough conditions. On the negative side, I felt compelled to carry a spare tyre, and by the time I got back the (already used) rear tyre did not look good - still plenty of tread, but a lot of loose threads, and it did not look to be seating well on the rim, so that I replaced it. These tyres are not readily available at most cycle shops, so you need to keep some to hand. The very tight mudguard clearances only caused jamming at one point, and this under conditions so severe that almost anything would have jammed up. However, rubbing noises caused by debris and sand becoming caught under the mudguards were not uncommon. The tight clearance is the result of designing the bike around short drop brakes, which leave little room for mudguards, as on any bike. Once that has been done, there is nothing the owner can do, apart from drastic surgery. The front mudguard (after design changes from the earliest models) now has acceptable, if close clearance, and it is the back mudguard which is the real problem. Things are made much worse by the fixing bolt, the head of which projects inside the mudguard and is very close to the tyre, and also acts as an obstacle on which debris can get caught. My proposed partial solution, yet to be tried, is to look at some alternative mounting and/or bolt fixing to eliminate the bolt head, and to cut the rear mudguard back at the front and arrange a mounting so that the mudguard does not pass under the brake; a plate could easily be fixed to the rear triangle to provide protection to the rider from water, dirt etc carried on beyond this by the wheel, although it would leave the brake mechanism rather exposed.
The Goldtec hubs are not greased, but instead are designed to require a small amount of oil to be injected every few weeks using a special syringe. As an engineer I actually prefer this principle to sealed for life greased bearings - where 'life' just means until they fail after a year or so. However, it has to be admitted that it is a distinct nuisance for a longer tour, especially in adverse conditions under which lubrication may be necessary more often.
Overall the NS is a superb bike, and it offers a degree of portability as it separates, although this is more suitable for occasional use, and use with a car, rather than regular use on public transport. This bike is very smooth to ride - in all senses - and it is also definitely fun - very enjoyable.
And is it worth the high price? Well, if you can't afford one, or would create severe financial embarrassment by buying one, then the answer is no, but if you can raise the money without creating a financial crisis, I don't think you will regret it, and of course it is an investment - you will be able to recover a large proportion of the purchase cost by selling it if you could ever bear to do so. I wouldn't willing part with mine, unless I was getting another, or Dr M's next creation, whatever that may be, to replace it
By Lindsay Perks
|When I go down to the town each day
My Brompton helps me on my way.
No need to stand
With coins in hand
For buses - on which I have to pay.
But its great to be able to fold my bike
And take a rest whenever I like
To sit in the seat
Of a bus is a treat
And better by far than having to hike.
So its nice to know - if its cold or wet
That a bus or a train will help me get
To where I would be
And back for my tea -
Dry as a bone and without any sweat.
And as for fun, I have had my share,
Observing other people stare
And wonder what
It is that I've got
That folds and unfolds just anywhere.
By gum, they say, that must be grand
How does it ride?
How does it stand?
How far can you go?
Is it safe, you know,
To cycle about this congested land?
I tell them its fine - but it can be a pain
To have to share the odd bus lane
In the evening rush hour -
Or during a shower
And wonder if I'll see my home again.
|But it keeps me fit and I get my fresh air
And I can go almost anywhere,
Be it not too steep
Or the snow too deep -
And the bike does not have to pay a fare!
In fact, I believe, that having a 'folder'
Helps me more as I get older
To get about,
But without a doubt,
It's better when its warm, than when its colder.
Although I can go wherever I please
It can be chilly on the knees;
And my face gets raw
And other parts sore.
But my inside glows as my fingers freeze,
As I tell my friends that where I have been
The transport is cheap as well as green
There's no fuel tax,
And cycle tracks
Have no speed limits that I have seen.
So - finally, I would not swap my steed
For it will do almost all that I need.
Except that I must keep my car
For my wife prefers to travel far
In comfort, and safety - at speed.
And unless you think that I decry
Her attitude to transport I
Have to confess
That - more or less -
For long journeys - so do I!
My article about whether cycling was really fun prompted
Lindsay Perks not only to pen the ode above, but also to write on the subject:
You ask whether cycling on a folder, in my case a Brompton L5 - which some folk may regard as rather staid - can really be regarded as fun. Well, I think it can. Riding a Brompton may not have quite the same thrill as thrashing along on a racing bike at high speed or coasting along on your tourer over an Alpine pass, but I still get a kick out of riding it. I find it exhilarating to bowl along in 4th or 5th gear along the paved cycle way by the Tyne or along a bridleway along the North Sea coast. And I often catch myself smiling as I ride along and have many a chuckle as I change my mode from pedalling to walking. My sheer delight comes from the reaction of other road users, and especially pedestrians, when they observe me swiftly collapse my bike and stow it away or carry it off somewhere. Its fun to see the surprise on the faces of others when I turn up on two wheels at the most unlikely places. Its fun too to be able to go to places that would be inconvenient, costly or time consuming by any other means. It may be popping down to the shops or the pub when you have just missed the bus; or taking your Brompton with you on a bus or train ride and not having a long walk at the other end. Its great when the weather takes a turn for the worse and you can just jump on the Metro to transport you home in comfort at speed. Long live folders, I say.
A number of other members have written in with comments on the 'fun' element - for example, Michi Mathias also wrote praising the Brompton, but with the proviso that this only applied after changing to straight bars; I certainly think this is a major reason why I find the SP more fun than the standard T5.
David Henshaw of A to B writes:
We've had an enquiry from a fellow in Austria who's heard of a 'Spacey' folding bike, which is claimed to be the best of its kind in the world. Unfortunately, I could give no further clues. Can you or any Folding Society members help?
I haven't hear of it either - can any other members shed any light on this?
Steve Schermerhorn writes from the USA:
I was wondering if you or any of your members have experience with the Peregrine Bike Company (also called PBW), of Georgia, USA. http://www.PBWBikes.com They make a folding bike which is, in a way, a cross between Bike Friday design values, and Moulton-esque suspension comfort (though not as artfully done). I'm considering buying a PBW, but I am looking for more input.
I've heard mention of it, but I've no first-hand experience, nor do I recall any members listing it as amongst their folders when responding to our questionnaire, and I haven't read a detailed report from any members either. If anyone can fill in on the subject, let us know - we'd be pleased to have a report on it in FSN and on the web site.
Providing potential answers, rather than questions,
Geof Brown gives this useful reminder for those who are uncertain of the age of
Do you own a Brompton or a Moulton, or for that matter any other bike with a Sturmey-Archer hub gear? If you have ever wondered how old your bike is, there is a really easy way to find out. Just look at the Sturmey-Archer hub, it should have the year clearly marked, sometimes it has the month too. Of course this gives the age of the hub and not the bike, but if it's the original hub then it will be pretty close. Some early Moultons have the date near the top of the seat tube too
Regarding the date on Moultons, earlier '60s versions (prior to the Raleigh takeover) had at the top of the seat tube on one side a letter B (for Bradford on Avon) or K (Kirkby - much more common) indicating where it was made, followed by the year of manufacture (eg K64); on the other side was a longer number, the first two digits indicating the week number in that year, and the rest being the number within the week. AMs, generally have a serial number on the bottom of the bottom bracket, indicating the model, year of manufacture, week number and number within the week. APBs are just numbered sequentially - my own is number 32, which I used to think made it one of the earliest - well, it is, but I frequently see number 25, and if my memory serves me correctly, Mark West has (or at least had) number 13.
The S&W list is still quite active - if you have a folder, separable, or accessories to dispose of, or you want to buy, you can use the Sales and Wants page (http://www.foldsoc.co.uk/sandw.html). If you want to have something put on the list, just email us the details (email@example.com) - there is no charge, but please let us know when it is sold so that we can take it off the list.
5th February - Mud Dock
The first Mud Dock of the year, as there was no event in January. As usual, meet from about 10.30 at the Mud Dock Cafe in Bristol. Contact Gary Lovell, Tel: 0117 932 4633.
Saturday 12th February - Origami Ride
The February Origami Ride will be at its usual location, the Tearooms at Meriden; arrive from 10.30 for an 11.00 start. For more information please see the web pages at http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/origami, or contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685, email firstname.lastname@example.org . I hope to be able to move the Origami web page to John's site soon, but the existing site will provide a link to there - we'll keep you posted on developments, which are currently delayed by pressure of work.
10 - 12 March 2000 - Australian Bike Friday Club (ABFC),
For more information on this event, contact Margaret Day, email email@example.com
June, 2000 - Vondelpark Amsterdam
Enno Roosink, firstname.lastname@example.org, tells us that the party is going to be like a fair with lots of activities and exhibitors of special bicycles, recumbents, folders and the like. Please have a look at www.velomondial2000.nl for details. All participants of our annual Bike Friday Meeting will be attending the Bicycle Party/Fair; the general idea is to ride mixed with the Moultons and the Bike Fridays. The BF meeting will be stretched over the weekends 17-18 June and 24 - 25 June.
CycleFest 2000 - Lancaster,
The bi-annual cycling feast will soon be coming around again, and it'll all be up and running from Wednesday 2nd to Tuesday 8th August at St Martins College, Lancaster, UK. Quite a bit has been planned already of course, and as usual there's a theme for the sessions - this year it's "Transmissions", and we already have some great speakers booked for this (Tony Hadland, Florian Schlumfp, Izzi Ureili et al) and some interesting new activities planned (50m sprints, midnight torchlight parade and BBQ etc). However, further ideas are always welcome. There will be announcements in Folding Society News, The Moultoneer and other publications in due course. The Cyclefest web pages are currently available at http://www.whooper.demon.co.uk/cyclefest/index.html, but will move to a new and more memorable address soon, and will be regularly updated as the event approaches. We hope there will be a major folder/separable presence at Cyclefest 2000 - the very provisional program already includes one event specifically for folders. We also understand that Alex Moulton will have a stand there this year. If you have any queries concerning CycleFest, contact: John Bradshaw, Tel/Fax: 01524 384474 (day) or Tel: 01524 66658 (eve)
9-10 September - Moulton Bicycle Club Bradford-on-Avon
See comments under Moulton above.
Michael Kater, who organises Moulton activities in Australia, and produces a newsletter for Mouloneers Down Under, has sent information about some events in Australia which may be of interest to readers. I reproduce this unedited below (so please, John, don't attack me for the description on of high bicycles or ordinaries!).
February 11 12 13 BALLARAT MOULTON
For the weekend. Stay overnight Friday and Saturday, or join in at any time on the weekend. Plenty of room for tents or inhouse for a couple of days. Try out a Moulton or bring your own. Enjoy culinary delights and some pleasant cycling on quiet country roads. Maybe bring your togs for a ride to the local swimming hole. Ph Michael 03 53448296 email email@example.com or RSD B183 Cardigan 3352
March 10-12 AUSTRALIAN BIKE FRIDAY CLUB,
The fourth annual get-together of small-wheel lovers from all states and USA. Spy and try a Friday in beautiful Ovens Valley in perfect weather. Children and big wheels welcome. Contact ABFC (08) 8271 5824 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (please note RSVP required) Please Contact Michael Kater if you are going to attend this event 03 5344 8296 email@example.com or RSD B183 Cardigan 3352 Perhaps to organise a car pool for the drive up. March 18 Eaglehawk Victoria.
MOULTON OWNERS REQUIRED Moulton Owners are invited to attend the Penny Farthing races under the title "Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk Championships" to be held at Eaglehawk after the Dahlia and Arts Festival Parade. The organiser is interested in organising a Moulton race if we could get some entered. The events are to be held directly after the parade which attracts 15000 spectators. If you are interested in attending or racing contact Tim Stirling on 03 5439 3297. Initial enquiries by Feb 14 please.
A to B Magazine remains the ultimate source of authoritative information on folding cycles. In the unlikely event that you aren't aware of A to B and/or don't read this magazine, then we would urge you to take out a subscription without delay. A to B can be found on the web pages at http://www.a2bmagazine.demon.co.uk, or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or they can be reached by telephone or fax on 01963 351649, address 19 West Park, Castle Cary, Somerset BA7 7DB, England. A subscription to A to B is only £10 per year in the UK, or $24, and the magazine is published ever two months and is packed with news, reviews and other interesting information on effective integrated transport systems in general, and folding cycles in particular.
Back numbers of all issues of Folding Society News are available on our web site - go to http://www.foldsoc.co.uk/fsn/fsn.html for the full list.
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. However, if you are planning to send pictures by email, please send them at an appropriate resolution to avoid high telephone bills - a picture of 50K or less is ample for use in FSN or on the web pages.
The Folding Society
If you have any news or other information of interest to other members of the Folding Society, please email us at the above address.
If for some reason you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please send a message to this effect to the same email address.
All information given here is provided in good faith, but no responsibility can be taken for errors or for any consequences arising from the publication of this information.
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Last updated: 30 January 2000