Issue 55 - 24 June 2000


This is a very short issue of FSN by recent standards - sorry, but working into the small hours and then getting up and starting again between 5.30 and 6.30 leaves little time, and even less energy, for anything else. Indeed, this issue would probably have been delayed for at least a week if it had not been for the two new derivatives of the Moulton APB which are being launched this weekend at the York Rally - see the Moulton section below for details. Information on these new models was embargoed until now, and though they are both non-separable, non-folding machines, we think readers will want to know about them - just over 20% of our members own Moultons of one kind or another.

Lack of time means that the articles on mirrors and further tests on popular folders have had to be delayed. In their place is a brief update on the topic of which bike we would choose if we could only have ONE.


The launch issue of a new Japanese magazine, Fuel contains an article about well-known folder specialist Phoenix Cycles ( in London, with photographs of the shop and of Bromptons in various states of fold. There is also a full page picture of a Brompton unfolded, but with the saddle at a height which seems only suited to a child of about 6 years of age! We also hear that the Brompton will feature in the new extension to the Science Museum in South Kensington, and appeared in a recent programme on the BBC digital TV channel.

Avon Valley Cyclery ( and have sent us some more information about the forthcoming special edition NS Moulton they are producing, the RG, which was mentioned in FSN a few issues ago. The price is expected to be well over 5500 - makes the standard 531-framed NS sound quite cheap at 3700! 

Next issue

The next issue of FSN is due on 9th July, and should include the delayed articles on mirrors and additional test results relating to some popular folders and separables. However, if the work load remains as high as at present, that plan may have to be modified, and as my diary shows the Origami Ride at Cheltenham on 8th and a 100Km BP on 9th, expect FSN 56 to be at least a few days late. 


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, 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.


No news to report in this direction (though see the Letters section), but a quick question. Does anyone know what happened to the recumbent conversion kit for the Brompton? I have seen the very occasional mention of it in the Brompton mailing list, but I can't locate any official information on availability.


Additions to the APB range launched at the York Rally

Those who have been to the Millennium Dome are probably aware that there is a Pashley APB fx8 there, finished in a silver colour instead of the usual blue. Pashley have now decided to produce a special Millennium Limited Edition fx8 based on this, and it is being launched at the York Rally this weekend. It has the same silver colour, and has a better saddle, and mudguards and some form of rack are reported to be standard. The price is about 50 more than the standard fx8. Only 100 of these special edition machines will be built, and will be specially numbered, with special certificates for the owners.

Pashley are also reported to be launching the fx4 - the model with the 4-speed automatic Shimano gears - at the York Rally.

Both these models have fixed frames, as the names suggest - so they don't separate or fold. However, this results in some saving in weight. We tested both the standard fx8 and fx4 (in prototype form) back in September, as mentioned in issue 36 of FSN, and the full test report of the fx8 and fx4 is available at We hope to have some more test results on the APB (an older model) and other separables and folders in the next issue of FSN - the APB acquitted itself rather well, with the result that ours has been in regular use again recently.


Well, lots of members do indeed have only one bike, but there are also many who, like myself, have several, as they find that different machines suit different conditions and moods; apart from this, if you rely on a bike for your everyday transport, it can be useful to have a second one available when doing servicing, or in case of breakdowns, and many of us just find bikes interesting. If you do have, and really need, more than one machine, it's still interesting to think which one you would choose if you could keep only one. 

As always, we must point out that in choosing a single bike, the decision of which is 'best' depends entirely on the owner - their size, weight, riding style, and how they will use it (commuting, touring, leisure, sport etc); no one bike is best at everything. What follows in this article represents what is best for my requirements - no car, and the bike is used in many different ways, though no racing, and not much off-road riding. Other riders will probably have other preferences in bikes - neither I nor they are 'wrong', we simply have different requirements.

Though I don't need to fold the bike every day, for my purposes an only bike would still have to be a folder to make it easy to take the bike on the train at any time. Since I often ride over 60Km, good riding characteristics and an adequate set of gears is a priority, and as I need to carry shopping, or luggage when touring, good load carrying capacity and ease of fitting carriers is important. Although I use the bike as my main means of transport, it is more to me than just a means of getting from A to B, and the fun factor, discussed in past issues of FSN, is very important: some bikes seem to provide more of this than others.

It's well over a year since I last made my (theoretical) choice of a single bicycle, and with a number of developments since then, a review was obviously due. The results of  some further testing, which I hope to report in the next issue of FSN, also made a re-evaluation appropriate. 

In the past, my decision on which would be my preferred only bicycle has gone in favour of the Bike Friday New World Tourist ('Newt') - not the most portable machine, but very versatile; the Bike Fridays also probably perform more like a convention bike on the road than any other small wheeled folders. The Newt still rates very highly with me, but I have come to the conclusion that for my purposes there is now something even more suitable as an only bike - the SP Brompton. The SP is much more portable than the Newt (and indeed most folders), and although it has a much more limited gear range, it is adequate for most of my needs. The V-brakes of the SP are actually better than those of the Newt, and although the handling is slightly 'quicker' on the SP, it is not twitchy, and feels very stable in fast descents. Although the suspension on the SP is not up to Birdy or Moulton standards, it is still quite effective in eliminating jarring, and it is certainly better than the Newt in this respect. In addition, the appearance of the Schwalbe Marathon and Brompton tyres to supplement the excellent Primos means that we have some really excellent tyres available in the 349 (16 inch) size. With a full set of panniers, the Newt has greater luggage capacity, but the SP Brompton with front and rear bags is quite well equipped, especially with the new Brompton bag, and ease of fitting and removal of these bags is a real asset. My SP is the earlier 7-speed, single-chainwheel model, and I'm inclined to prefer this to the current 12-speed with a double chainwheel, even though the latter offers rather wider gearing. A standard Brompton remains an attractive option as well, but I don't like the gearing - not so much the overall range (the 5-speed reduced gearing meets most of my needs), but because of the spacing; I find the gap between 3 and 4 on the 5-speed is unacceptable, and unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about it with the hub gear.

If my choice were extended to allow two bikes, then the SP would still be one of my choices, but to that I would add a New Series (NS)  Moulton for the pure joy of cycling, and it would retain some portability. Were I a younger and faster rider, the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket might get the vote over the NS, but for my purposes the extra comfort of the NS is more important, and the SP would be available whenever real portability was needed.

Mentioning the NS does of course highlight the fact that the choice has not involved the price of the bike - the price of the SP is over 1000 (as was the Newt which was the preferred choice previously), while the 'cheap' version of the NS is nearly 4000. Any of these machines will last almost forever - certainly longer than I will - and overall ownership costs over a prolonged period mean that they aren't really expensive, especially compared with other living expenses. However, if the choice were to have a cost limit imposed on it which ruled out the SP, then I think the standard L5 Brompton would be what I would go for, upgrading components as and when circumstances permitted.

So, my choice at this time as an only bike would be the SP, but I must reiterate that this is governed by how I use the bike, and what is best for you depends entirely on how you will be using it, and we are all entitled to our own preferences.


Barry Williamson would like more information about tyres:
"First, a belated response to your request for feedback on FSN. It is fine the way it is. Informal, and a genuine up-to-date forum for folding bicycle users. Your dedication and contribution to the cause is priceless.

Second, how much feedback have you received from members on their ongoing experiences with the new range of 16" tyres? I changed the Record tyres to Primo on our Bromptons last year with obvious improvement to the ride and feel of the bikes. Excellent on the road, and perceptibly smoother on a typical Sustrans surfaced trail; slippery surfaces are not recommended however. Now with maybe 1000 kilometres wear, I've had two punctures in quick succession on a rear wheel while riding in the (heavy) rain. Not only this, but a piece of glass sliced through the sidewall carcase, leaving the inner tube bulging to view. A jot further to the side and the tyre and tube would have been a write-off. Brighton roads seem very prone to broken glass (especially on a Sunday morning). Is it time to re-shod the bikes with Schwalbe Marathons?

Nobody ever discusses the merits of inner tubes. When I changed to using Primo tyres the helpful people at AVC suggested using Presta valved Michelin tubes (and a clever little gizmo inserted in the rim to prevent valve failure through abrasion). These are better tubes anyway, and the Presta valves more suited to handling higher pressures. The problem is getting hold of a similar Presta valved tube in an emergency (yes, I know I should carry some spares - I do, but only with Schraeder valves). Is it worth persevering with Presta valves? What are members experiences of different tube makes? Brompton still continue to supply and recommend Schraeder valved tubes for their new high-pressure tyres; have they changed the make of inner tube?"

Thanks for the kind comments Barry. Primos do get cut rather easily by glass, though usually without any seriously detrimental effects. I've always found the occurrence of punctures is fairly random - sometimes several close together, and then weeks or months without one. It's tempting providence to mention this, but so far this year I have done very well with only one puncture that I can recall! In the past, I've had a Primo fail in the side wall after about 1500 Km, and strangely it was the front one, which showed no real signs of tread wear. I replaced both front and back at that time. One advantage of the Schwalbe, which I now use on the T5, is that it is (or at least looks) much more robust, and it has a Kevlar belt for some protection against punctures. I have a set of the new Brompton Kevlar tyres, but haven't tried them yet.  I'd expect you to get rather more than 1000Km out of the Primos (perhaps 1500 - 2000Km, depending on load and riding conditions), but if the tube is visible through the sidewall, I would consider replacing them, and personally I would suggest trying the Schwalbe - reports so far are good in terms of strength, life and also rolling resistance. Other members who have been in contact seem to have had similar experience with both the Primo and Schwalbe, but as yet we haven't heard from anyone who has used the Brompton tyres over any significant distance.

I certainly prefer Presta-valved tubes, as it is easier to inflate them to high pressures, easier to avoid air leaking out as you remove the pump, and they seem to retain high pressures better. The only answer to availability is to keep a couple of spares to hand - though of course there is nothing to stop you using a Schraeder-valved tube in an emergency assuming the rims will take them (make sure your pump can handle both though!).

Tim Pestridge, who will be known to many as the A to B illustrator, writes:
"I want to inform all Brompton owners of a definite weak point on a Brompton if altered at all by the owner. In your 'getting comfortable' page, you mention (but don't condone) that owners can reverse the saddle fitting bracket as supplied to give more reach from the handlebars. Well, I did just that, as I, like yourself find the upright position of my L3 to be less than ideal for daily commuting by train in hilly Devon. On this particular day I took an ill thought out shortcut to work, which necessitated lot of extra pedalling to regain some of the 25 minutes it added to my journey. As I folded the bike at the office, the seatpost ground to an early stop halfway down it's usual travel, and left me somewhat bemused.

On closer inspection, it seems that the extra rearward force of placing the saddle further back is too much for the standard seatpost, and even with my fairly average 12 stone, managed to bend the post in the middle. I wonder whether it has anything to do with my 'humorous' illustration of the Vicar breaking his seatpost in A to B...?!

So, I have a request; does anyone know of another way of improving the riding position by fitting replacement set of bars that don't affect folding but give a lower, more forward canted position?"

Brompton do not recommend reversing the bracket - it obviously places extra bending force on the seat post. A light rider might get away with it, but it is certainly unwise, at the very least, for a heavier rider to do this. I ordered a set of standard downhill MTB handlebars a few weeks ago, and they arrived last week. I haven't yet fitted them to the T5, but they will lower the bar height by several centimetres, and it may even be possible with these to set them at a permanent forward angle to increase reach. They have a very pronounced centre uplift, though of course much less than normal Brompton bars. Apart from giving a riding position that suits me better, I anticipate that they will reduce flex in the bars and stem when pulling on the bars during hill climbing etc - the down side of that is that they will probably not absorb vibration as effectively. Several other Brompton owners have gone down this route, and reports suggest that this is a solution, or at least a partial one, for those seeking a lower and longer riding position. The suspension-post based stem used by Steve Parry on the SP (specs and information on the SP modifications are on the web pages at, lowers the bars a little, but if anything shortens the reach; it is very comfortable due to the suspension post, and though the position is not my ideal, I find it very comfortable. Kinetics ( offer something similar. 


If you have a folder, separable, or accessories to dispose of, or you want to buy, you can use the Sales and Wants page ( If you want to have something put on the list, just email us the details ( - there is no charge, but please let us know when it is sold so that we can take it off the list. As I strongly suspect that I am not being told when items are sold, I intend to introduce some changes to the Sales and Wants section. In future all entries will be dated, and will be deleted after 3 months unless a request is received to retain the entry on the list. However, please do still tell us as soon as anything is sold, so that we can remove it and avoid creating annoyance to those using the list. Take all normal precautions when buying and selling goods - the Folding Society and its officers are not responsible for the descriptions and products and services contained in the Sales & Wants list.


The events listed below are a combination of those organised by Folding Society members or of potential interest to members.

Remember that cycling can be dangerous (so is travelling by car, bus, train, air or water, breathing and living!); anyone participating in any way in any event does so at their own risk.

Saturday 1st July - Mud Dock
As usual, meet from about 10.30 at the Mud Dock Cafe in Bristol. Contact Gary Lovell, Tel: 0117 932 2026.

Saturday 8th July - Origami Ride at Cheltenham
The July Origami Ride will be in Cheltenham, NOT at its usual location. The starting point will be the railway station, arriving from 10.30 for an 11.00 start. The August ride is expected to start from the Tearooms at Meriden as usual. For more information, contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685, email, or look at his web site at Please note that the July ride is likely to be at a different location - more news on this later.

July 28 - 31 2000, Spokesfest 2000, Leicester. Spokesfest will have a large display area in The Shires shopping centre from Saturday 22nd July to Sunday July  30th. and has the use of Humberstone Gate event arena for both the Saturday and Sunday of Spokesfest (29th and 30th July). The Spokefest web site is at .

CycleFest 2000 - Lancaster, 2nd – 8th August 2000
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 some great speakers  are already 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, 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 Weekend
The annual Moulton Bicycle Club weekend is scheduled for 9-10th September this year, and preliminary information suggests that it should be better than ever this year.

21/22 September - Car free day in Paris
"We are taking our Bromptons to Paris on Sept 21 to be at the car free day on Friday 22 September 2000. We are wondering if others would go, possibly by Eurostar (approx.. 65 return for an Apex fare). Contacts are John Richfield or Simon Baddeley 0121 554 9794 / 07775 655842."

A to B Magazine

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,  or you can email them at, 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.

Note: The views expressed by contributors and correspondents are those of the writers, and are not necessarily those of The Folding Society or its organisers.

Back Numbers

Back numbers of all issues of Folding Society News are available on our web site - go to for the full list.

Contributing material for FSN

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 JPEG 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: 24 June 2000