Issue 57 - 29th July 2000


We don't seem to have been hearing much from members recently, so I guess that everyone must be out riding! Problems with the computer equipment, plus the need to get the Newsletter of The Half Frame Group produced, mean that this is a rather short issue.


CycleFest 2000 takes place during the next week, and I'm eagerly looking forward to it. I hope that many Folders will be present. We hope to have a small amount of Folding Society display material on show, and we're hoping that at some point all the folder enthusiasts can get together, whether on a ride or socially.

I still have to decide which bike to use for the event - I want a machine which is interesting, hassle-free, and which will be able to tackle any rides comfortable. At present the top candidates for the job are the New Series Moulton, Moulton APB, and the SP, with the Bike Fridays in with an outside chance. 

Next issue

The next issue of FSN is due out on 13th August, and will cover events at CycleFest, plus anything else which crops up between now and then. Please keep your articles coming in.


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.


The newsletter from Kinetics reports that Sturmey-Archer has been sold to a London company, Lenmark. You can get yourself on Kinetics emailing list by registering at their web site. In the same newsletter, Kinetics announce that their (electric) Zap-Brompton is being discontinued, as the Zap kits are no longer being imported into the UK.


The new issue of the CTC magazine, dated August/September, includes a special CTC edition of the Brompton on its 'Shop' pages. The special features seem limited to the colour, described as CTC yellow 'much brighter than the usual Brompton yellow). All 5 models of Brompton are listed, and the accessories are also said to be available; the prices quoted are the normal Brompton retail prices. Given the extreme conservatism of the CTC and its members, and its less than positive attitude to folders in the past, this seems a very radical move for them.


Congratulations to John Auckland, the new Lead Editor of The Moultoneer, on his first issue. I was one of many members (the majority in fact, I suppose) whose address label reminded me that I need to renew my membership. From what I can gather, no one actually got a renewal form, so if you are in that position and wondering what to do, I'm guessing that a renewal form will be sent out separately at some later date.

Responding to a recent email on the Moulton mailing list, Dan Farrell of Pashley reports that the new version of the APB S7 now uses the drum braked version of the S-A 7-speed rear hub. However, an extra bracing tube is added between the chainstay and seatstay to take the additional loads imposed by the torque reaction arm - anyone considering fitting the rear hub brake to an existing model should be warned that the chainstay may not be strong enough without this additional bracing.

I'm now well over half way through Peter Mann's book about his ride around the coast of Britain on an APB, a copy of which was sent to me by Phoenix Cycles. I've found it a very interesting read, although quite a lot of the time it does not sound as though Peter was really enjoying himself. Details of the book and how to get a copy were in the last issue of FSN.


By James Greig

This year's York Rally on the 23rd-25th June was also partly the National Cycling Festival, for which there was an entry fee. I expect many people were confused as to which was which, and what one was paying for. There was much grumbling about paying as well, but a fiver is not a lot to pay for a rally, with another fiver for three days' camping. However, the extra day was a bonus on the Friday. I used it by taking the train to Northallerton and doing part of Sustrans route 65 over the North York Moors down to Easingwold and Clarke's tea room and bakery, and then back to York. It was a lovely ride and towards the end I was swept up by some riders from the Edinburgh Road Club, which more than doubled my normal pace.

On the Saturday there was the usual variety of rides, including the one for folders and small wheeled bikes, which was organised by Bill Houlder, going south on the flattish land round Selby. I opted for a hillier ride to Thixendale with a group of 90 or so, with route cards to find the way, which fortunately spread out into small groups of similar paces scattered over the Yorkshire countryside.

Back at the rally site the trade tents were doing a roaring trade by the simple expedient of piling it high and selling it cheap, with firms such as Carradice, Polaris, Freestyle and many others there. The National Cycling Festival tickets were needed to get in to this all-important part of the rally. It was clear that money had been [well] spent on getting bigger and better tents. However the bungy jumps and some other attractions did not seem to be doing so well. It is always going to be difficult to attract the general public to the joys of cycling, and the millennium provided a reason for trying; well, who knows, it may have succeeded.

Among all this lot of trade and other stands were some surprises, which show that the folder has really come of age now. One sign of this change was the CTC branded Brompton (well, a yellow one with CTC stickers) in the CTC tent. Another was the Brompton stand, with David Henshaw and Nicola McGregor showing off Bromptons and the new brakes and tyres.

Talking of tyres, I have been ordering them from "Hard to Find" (Francis Thurmer, Unit 20 Kemps Farm, Chapel Road, Ford, Aylesbury, Bucks HP17 8XG), who was also at the rally, because he can get anything by Vredestein or Schwalbe, and offers a discount for quantities, and orders at the rally were post-free. I have managed to split a 20" Vredestein on the Fold-It, although they have otherwise proved reliable. The Schwalbe catalogue from Hard to Find states recommended loads for the various tyres, providing a clue as to why small tyres can be troublesome - the recommended load decreases significantly with smaller wheel size and tyre diameter, so a chunky 50x559 Marathon mountain bike tyre is rated at 140 kg. The 20" version (47x406) is only rated at 85 kg (I am trying one out now), while the Brompton one (37x349) only carries 75 kg. I have not yet weighed the back wheel of the Fold-It with me (85kg) on it, and with full camping gear, but it seems that a heavy cyclist with a load can easily be more weight than a small tyre can take for long, especially on rough stuff.

Despite all the evidence that folders are now mainstream at the rally itself, there was little sign at York station that a rally with 50,000 cyclists was in progress, with few cyclists coming or going that way. The CTC offered to try and charter a train (for cumbersomes), but apparently the response was too low.

Whatever people may say about Virgin, I think the Virgin Value tickets are now cheaper than the old Apex ones, and far easier to arrange with online purchase via the Trainline than it ever was at the ticket office.

Now the CTC have apparently realised that folders can be "proper bikes", they will now have to be persuaded not to just put them in the car.

Roll on Cyclefest.


Saturday 15th July

Spend almost the entire day from 6.30am to 8.30pm working on Folding Society News and other FS business. Short break to cut the grass. Remainder of the evening occupied with a meal and reading a few chapters of Peter Mann's book.

Sunday 16th

Check email and reply where necessary. Write long overdue replies to two letters. Forecast good, so decide on a short ride. The APB is by the door, dirty and ready to go, so it is the obvious choice. 

Start off on my usual favourite route, intending to do a short version of it. The bike seems to need no pedalling, but flies along by itself, though there's no obvious tail wind; it's going so well that I decide to extend the ride to the full loop, and even think briefly of going further, into Shifnal. The return section is more up hill, but no sign of any wind. I get back after 70Km feeling quite relaxed and only slightly tired. I check the average speed and find it's 23.1 Kph - the highest of any bike since I've been recording it for this route. [More information on average speeds for this route in our delayed, but still forthcoming, further test report].

Watch the Austrian GP, relax, read a bit more and spend a couple of hours on software development and testing.

Monday 17th

A good forecast, so I decide to use the SP - I need to check the new software release at the university, but I hope to get away in time to get a decent ride. One of the Bromptons is the obvious choice for going to the university - not only is it easier on the train, but I can keep it safely in the office. With a good forecast and the hope of a longer ride, the SP is ideal. 

On the train I notice a mark on the rear tyre, and investigation shows a bad cut, with the tube showing. The cut is just where tread meets side wall, and the rubber is incredibly thin just here. Despite this, I get off one station early (I had originally planned to get off even earlier) and complete the journey safely, and there is no sign of the cut extending. I finish testing and extending the software by lunch time. As the weather is still excellent, I decide to risk the tyre, and have a beautiful ride to Marston Green, where I catch the train. On the way home I divert to Tesco to get a few things, which I carry home in a small rucksack on my back - the rucksack had been rolled up in the small bag on the front of the bike earlier. I don't like carrying a load on my back, but it's tolerable for under 2 miles.

At home I have to decide what to replace the Primo with. Lots of Raleigh Records and Primos available, but none of my favourites, the Schwalbe Marathons. I could take the Schwalbes off the T5 and use those, but that means changing 4 tyres, so I fit .the Kevlar-lined Bromptons instead - I had meant to test them on the T5. Unfortunately I then find there is insufficient clearance at the back, so have to refit the front Primo and put a part-used Primo on the back (previously on the T5).

This Primo had done about 1600Km, and still had plenty of tread left. The Primo which failed in the side wall (on the front wheel) did about the same distance, and like this one still had plenty of tread left. On the previous occasion, I also changed the rear, which didn't have much tread left, unlike the one I replaced today. The overall distance I get from these tyres is just about acceptable, but I don't like having to replace them when there is so much tread left, and the failures have been of the kind which could be immobilizing. When the choice was between the Primo and the Record, it was no contest. however, now we have more choice. The Primos are a bit too fragile for my use, and I find the Schwalbe much more suitable for me. I seem to be limited to Primos for the rear of the SP due to clearance, but on the T5, and the front of the SP, in future I shall use the Schwalbes, or maybe the Brompton, depending how I get on with the ones I have still to test.

Tuesday 18th

Superb weather, but a package is due to be delivered some time. I rush to the local sub Post 0ffice to send some stuff for SpokeFest, but there is an enormous queue, so I return home without posting it. It turns out to be lucky that I don't wait, as the parcel delivery van is outside the house. I sign for the package, and find it is only a single CD from Microsoft. I rush into town to leave the T shirt artwork with the print shop, and as it's only just after 10.00, I decide to go for a ride. The APB again gets chosen, as folding isn't going to be an issue, and it is ready by the front door and is dirty.

About 10Km into the ride, approaching Swindon, something flies into my helmet. This is not unusual, but unfortunately this time its not a fly but a wasp, and as it can't get out, it demonstrates its displeasure in the way you would expect. I stop as quickly as possible, exclaiming - quite mildly in the circumstances, I think - 'Hells Bells', and hurling the helmet into the hedge, much to the amazement of a pedestrian I had just passed. I think I have been stung twice on the top of my (bald) head, but there is no way of inspecting the damage. Its already uncomfortable, and I'm not sure if it will get worse, so I decide to shorten the ride. I continue to Claverley and Ludstone, but then turn back along the main road towards Wolverhampton for a short way, before turning off to Seisdon. The head is still uncomfortable, but no worse, so as I approach Wolverhampton I decide to divert along the canal towpath. The Schwalbe City Jets on the APB are not an ideal off-road tyre, as they have very little tread, and the rather triangular cross section makes them very skittish on pebbly surfaces, but the weather has been dry and this towpath is quite well surfaced. I think the City Jets are performing well, and at the canal junction where I need to turn right, back to Wolverhampton, I see a barge with two Bickertons strapped on the back, which I stop to photograph. 100 metres further on I realise that all is not well, and on stopping I find the rear tyre is very soft. It seems to be going down quite slowly, so I pump it up and ride another kilometre before stopping to check it again. It is still holding some air, but I decide that I need to fix it, so I stop and investigate. I can't see anything in the tyre itself, and removing releasing the tube, I can't hear or feel where the air is getting out, so I have to take the back wheel out, remove the tube, and dip it in the canal. As soon as I put it in the canal, bubbles start rising - I have luckily found exactly the spot where the puncture is located. Out of the canal, it's still difficult to locate the hole, but I patch it and then replace the wheel - careful inspection shows no sign of anything in the tyre itself which may have caused the problem. Removing and refitting the tyre was exceptionally easy, barely needing a tyre lever - perhaps the hot weather makes the job easier.

I had considered taking the train in Wolverhampton, but I decide instead to ride all the way back to Tipton, though the Wolverhampton to Tipton stretch is not such a good surface, with glass (especially around Coseley) and not very attractive surroundings. Coseley Tunnel is also not a particularly pleasant experience, and is too dark and rough to be ridden. On the final stretch of road from Tipton back to Dudley, the chain comes off - well, they do say that things happened in threes!

Wednesday 19th

Another visit to the University, again not expected to be long, so I hope to make up for previous disappointments by taking a longer ride on the way home. Partly for this reason, and feeling a bit disenchanted with the Primos on the SP, I decide to use the APB. There are no restrictions on bikes on the local trains, but there are often so many bikes that a folder is a real advantage. As it happens, mine is the only bike in the storage area this morning - highly unusual. I get off at Berkswell and cycle to the University from there. I take the APB into the office, as I am not expecting the guy whose office I use to be in today. Unfortunately he comes in after all, but does not object to the APB staying - it just fits into a space under the window, which is as well as this is a very small office. I have finished the upgrades on testing on the network by late morning, and set off for a long ride back, via Kenilworth and Baddesley Clinton to Marston Green. The ride is uneventful - just very enjoyable. When the train arrives, mine is again the only bike.

Thursday 20th

A day in which I don't get on a bike at all!

Friday 21st

Glorious weather again - obviously a day for cycling. I initially think of using the New Series, but then I decide to avoid the main road out of Dudley as it is a weekday, and follow the Pensnett Railway path instead. This path is pretty dreadful - poor surface, lots of rubbish and glass, some of it through rather unsalubrious surroundings, and I know that in some stretches they have recently dumped a thick layer of very coarse gravel, which is barely rideable on the APB. When it is wet, it is also very muddy, though that won't be a problem today. The NS and its Continental GP tyres is not the bike for this, at least the gravelly parts, so once again the APB is chosen.

The forecast is for lots of sunshine and some quite high temperatures, but on the bike it is very pleasant, and I keep extending the ride. First I decide to continue as far as Shifnal, then on to Sheriffhales, and then I continue on towards Gnosall before beginning to turn back. I haven't taken a map, as I don't plan to go this far, and as usual I get completely lost in the lanes - very enjoyable, as I have plenty of time, and the lanes are deserted, quite flat, and in magnificent countryside. Eventually I get back on more familiar ground and start my return ride. By now it is early afternoon, and it is definitely getting hot, and I am tiring slightly, so in Beckbury I don't take the additional loop, and don't even visit Badger. As the legs are tiring, I decide after Seisdon to follow the flat towpath again, rather than the hilly route back into Dudley, and to catch the train in Wolverhampton rather than ride the towpath through Coseley. I arrive at Wolverhampton thinking I have just missed the 15.52, but five minutes later the 15.22 (delayed!) arrives, and whisks me back to Tipton. Total distance for the day is 118Km - one of my longest rides of the year.

The APB worked well on this ride, and though not as good on the road as the NS would have been, the two off-road sections, especially the first, meant that it was a more suitable choice than the NS would have been, or any of the other bikes. During the ride, though, it did occur to me that by using something that is not a real folder, I had limited my options - there are bike restrictions on the trains running through Shifnal and Cosford, and had I wanted to cut the ride short at one of those station, I might have had a problem. I would generally hope that a separated APB would be accepted, but I wouldn't want to have to rely on this, and perhaps spoil the day with an argument with the train staff.

Saturday 22nd

I did not sleep very well last night - perhaps too much exercise and too much sun. The weather is overcast, so I change my plan made yesterday evening, which had been to take the Newt (Bike Friday New World Tourist) on the train to Shifnal, and explore the lanes around Gnosall and Norbury more fully. However, having got the Newt ready, I decide not to disappoint it and therefore use it. The ride is a version of my standard loop to Himley, Swindon, Bobbington, Claverley, Stableford, Badger, Beckbury, Pattingham, and Seisdon. Not relishing the climb back into Dudley, I decide yet again to use the canal towpath after Seisdon. The Newt feels if anything less responsive than the APB, which is not what I expect, but on the other hand the unsuspended ride, though harsher than the APB, is not as much more painful as I had expected after several days of using the APB: at least not until the towpath! On some cobbled parts of the towpath I walk, where on the APB I was able to ride, though painfully. As I approach the junction where I bear off towards Birmingham, things do not feel as they should be, and investigation shows yet another puncture. That's 3 punctures and one cut tyre in 2 weeks. This time the tyre (Schwalbe City Jets again) is slightly more difficult to remove, and I note that the rim tape is a rather stiff plastic - which may confirm Chris Dent's observation that rim tape can make a difference to how easy it is to remove and fit tyres. The puncture is easily located this time without having to remove the wheel and immerse the tube in the canal. Inspection of the tyre identifies a small shard of glass as the culprit. The tyre goes back on quite easily, without levers, and I resume my journey to Wolverhampton, where I catch a train to Tipton - 70Km for the day.

Sunday 23rd

Rather a grey day, with just a trace of fine drizzle in the air, so I decide to catch up on some Folding Society business and some work.

Monday 24th

I need to go in to the university for a few hours to do some work on the software. The weather is miserable, and with little prospect of a longer ride the Brompton is easily the best choice. After the APB, the ride of the standard Brompton T5 feels rather harsh, though no worse than the Newt, and after the 3x7 geared bikes, the gaps between the gears are unpleasantly wide.

I finish just after lunch time, but in view of the weather, I use the closest station. From Tipton I divert to Tesco for the weekly shop, and only just manage to pack everything into the Brompton front bag and the small rucksack - not helped by the fact that I am bringing four text books back from the university.

Some software testing in the evening makes me resolve to go to the university again tomorrow.

Tuesday 25th

Another gloomy day - I think last week must have been both the beginning and end of summer. The Brompton makes the uneventful journey to and from the university. As I'm not feeling very energetic, and the weather is not particularly exciting, I use the nearest stations again.

Wednesday 26th

Spend the whole day working on The Half Framer magazine - not due out until September, but with CycleFest next week, I am going to be quite busy in the next few weeks, as after CF itself I shall have work to catch up on, another issue of FSN, and preparations for a project at the beginning of September.

Thursday 27th

After recounting my tales of woe with the cut in the Primo, I receive by post from my good friend John Pinkerton a length of very sturdy plastic material which I can carry with me to effect emergency tyre repairs if the need arises. This will certainly go into my emergency tool kit, though I hope that once I carry it on a regular basis I shall never again need it! Most of the day is spent on The Half Framer again, so a second successive day without any cycling.

Friday 28th

I need a new digital camera for the project in September - my old (under 2 years) Coolpix 900 is far too slow for this work. Studies suggest the new Coolpix 990 is most suitable, and when I investigate prices, I find the best available is from Warners, who are in Wolverhampton, and so quite local. I hop on the Brompton and cycle over there, returning with a large box. Initial tests prove how much faster the camera is, but understanding the full range of features is very complicated. I spend some time studying the manual before cutting the grass and resolving to resume further reading of the manual tomorrow.

Saturday 29th

Yet more time on The Half Framer. Try to load the Nikon software onto the computer, but it requires the previous version to be uninstalled. This is worrying, as the two cameras have different interfaces, and it seems likely that I will not be able to use the old one. I resolve to go ahead and load the new software. I needn't have bothered though - the new software tells me the uninstallation failed, and I will need to reload the old software and try again. I do this about 5 times, experimenting with every option I can think of, but the new software will not install because it keeps thinking the old software has not uninstalled properly. Investigation of system files, files containing the name Nikon etc all fail to solve the problem. As it's Saturday, it is no use trying to contact Nikon (their web site does not offer any clues); I now have a super new camera, but no means to get the images out and into the computer. Now I am in quandary not only as to which bike to take to CycleFest, but also which camera(s). Such is life. Back to work on FSN - which is what I'm doing now ....


Birdy Red, 1999, Serial No. D 8105 781. Stolen from central Hull at lunchtime on 13th July. If you spot it please call Eric Instone on 01609 772653 or email 


Malcolm Clarke writes on the subject of travelling by air with a Brompton, prompted by Dick Hanson's article in the last issue of FSN:
Since the start of the year I have taken my L5 by air in a (standard) Samsonite suit case bought at the local John Lewis store. All I have to is to fold and take the s/pin out and place in the case. The case also has room for my helmet, shoes, tools and cycling clothes. It weighs just over the 20kg allowed by most airlines but none are likely to be difficult about a slight excess.

The hard case is a real advantage. I sat in an aircraft at LHR in June watching the unloading which included throwing hard cases on top of an uncovered bicycle. Moreover, I also have a soft Planet X case (for a larger machine). It is more vulnerable than the Samsonite - not least because some carousels are so large that large bike bags like that are (not treated as oversize like skis but) thrown in with heavier hard luggage.

True I cannot ride off from the airport with the case on the back. However, if I am not staying in a local hotel, where it can be left, many airports have left luggage facilities. So far the L5 in case have been to Boston (Mass), Belgium and France and returned unscathed.

David Edge has some experience with the new Brompton tyres:

One unexpected advantage of the Brompton 7-bar tyre is that because it is smooth, when you fill your rear mudguard with mud, it doesn't take much running on the road to run freely - with Records you had to dig it out.


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.

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 now available at the new location 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)

Saturday 12th August - Origami Ride
The August Origami Ride will be back at its usual location, starting from the Tearooms at Meriden: arrive from 10.30 for an 11.00 start. For more information, contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685, email, or look at his web site at Note that there will be NO ORIGAMI RIDE IN SEPTEMBER, as the date clashes with the Moulton Weekend at Bradford on Avon.

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.

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: 29 July 2000