Issue 62 - 15th October 2000


An email posted by Peter Evans to the Moulton mailing list earlier this morning brought the very sad news of the death of Amanda McDermott, who had been suffering from cancer. Our deepest sympathy goes to Graham at this time.

Cycle Theft

An article in The Evening Standard on cycle theft (Evening Standard, pages 10 and 11, October 12, 2000) by James Burleigh was particularly timely. Folders, and Bromptons in particular, have not been taken too often in the past, but there are some signs that they are now being seen as an attractive target. One Brompton stolen some while ago was recovered recently in a daring operation by one of members. At present it does not seem appropriate to go into details, but the full story of the recovery operation makes interesting, not to say exciting, reading. One of the most depressing aspects of the story, though, is that the place where the recovered Brompton was found had several other Bromptons; the fact that the missing Brompton was at this location was apparently reported to the police (the machine was in Brick Lane, Whitechapel police area), the same area as mentioned in the Evening Standard article, but they took absolutely no action. It seems an unfortunate fact that many police appear to regard crimes committed on cyclists and cycles of no importance or interest to them. The best advice to owners of folders is that you should fold and take the bike with you as the best way of avoiding theft, but otherwise do makes sure that it is securely locked. However, as the Evening Standard article makes clear, even the best locks will not deter the professional thieves.

We keep a record of any stolen folders on the web pages at

Expeditions by Folding Society members

In our last issue, we mentioned briefly Simon Baddeley's journey to Paris for the European Carfee Day. Since then, Simon has sent us a full report, and you can read this later in this issue of FSN.

Another article in this issue relates some of the exploits of  John Pinkerton, who has embarked on a journey most, or perhaps all, the way round the world, but without a bicycle!

My own (more modest) travels

The rotten weather we have been having here recently (exceptionally wet, for those of you outside the UK and not aware of our sufferings), have certainly curtailed my riding. Apart from necessary (train assisted) journeys to and from the university, I've only managed a couple of pleasure rides in the last few of weeks. After using the Newt (Bike Friday New World Tourist) for a week, I decided to give the Pocket Rocket some exercise, not least because I still hope to carry out a test of the Airnimal in the near future, and the Rocket is probably the nearest competitor. I hadn't had the Rocket out for a proper ride this year, but as usual it seemed fantastically free running and exhilarating to ride. As in the past, I find it difficult to explain why it feels so much more lively than the Newt. I know that some of our other members own (or have owned) both, and I wonder if they have found the same thing, and whether they have got an explanation. 

As I mentioned in the last issue, the Newt is much less portable than a Brompton, and as a result it has had to be chained up at work rather than taken into the office, which makes it vulnerable to theft. To minimise the risk, I chain it to a pillar right by the front door of the building where I work, in sight of the reception area; while this may reduce the risk of theft, I'm now waiting for a complaint from someone that they think it lowers the tone of the place.

Yesterday (Saturday 14th) was the date of our Origami ride at Meriden, and we were extraordinarily lucky with the weather - it was raining as usual as I went down to the local station, but had cleared at Meriden, and it was dry until about an hour after I got back home, when it started to rain heavily again.  Some of those at the ride suggested we were lucky because John Pinkerton was not with us - most unfair, as I'm sure I can remember one Origami ride when he was present and the weather was good! Despite the not very promising weather, and rather poor forecast, we had eleven riders and 10 cycles (one a tandem), with the usual mixture of Bromptons, Moultons and miscellaneous others (including one Birdy and one Bike Friday). In view of the poor weather prospects we kept the ride short (about 30Km), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. A couple of alternative Origamis have been suggested for future months, including a possible visit to the Black Country Museum, which would give an opportunity to include folding and train travel within the 'ride' itself if we wanted. If you plan to attend an Origami Ride (second Saturday of each month), do check with us beforehand in case we aren't starting from the usual Meriden location that month.

Portable Paraphernalia web pages

We've taken the opportunity provided by the bad weather to produce some long overdue updates to the web pages, both affecting the Portable Paraphernalia Pages (PPP). The page on tools has been updated to include reviews of a newish Park Tool and The Alien, and we've added a 'Conclusions' section. A new section within the PPP is a review of portable computers, concentrating on handhelds and in particular palm top devices. Quite a lot of members find such gadgets both interesting and useful, so we hope that this may provide some worthwhile reading for them, even if they don't agree with us on the relative merits of the different devices. You can find the PPP pages at, the tools review is at and the section on portable computers is at .

Next Issue

I'm still hoping to get to test the Airnimal soon, but no definite date has been fixed yet - maybe in time for our next issue, which is due on 29th October?


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.


After rather extensive coverage of Moultons around the time of the BoA event, we have little news which we can include in this issue, but don't worry Moultoneers, we expect to return to the Moulton theme very soon!

A lot of the new Bridgestone tyres were sold at the BoA event, but as yet we haven't had a report on how they perform - if any Moulton owners can provide a report, then we'd be very pleased to publish it. As my own AM 7 is in semi retirement since the acquisition of the NS, I haven't bought any of these tyres myself, and so can't provide first hand experience. In fact the demand for the new tyres was so great that we understand that all of the first batch were sold; a second batch is also almost sold out as well, so Bridgestone should be pleased that they have taken on manufacture of a tyre in this size.


By John Pinkerton

Our roving reporter is now (as far as we know!) in the USA, and sent us this brief email describing his travels so far ...)

I didn't bring a bicycle on this trip; travel light has been the theme. All of my two months clothes etc has gone into AM (Alex Moulton) Bicycles rear bag. This means no checking in of baggage - straight off the plane and away from the airport.

New Cycles:World wide
Viewed Batavus Collection, now owned by Shimano. I had see this a couple of times before and although lots of interesting machines nothing new. Paul Farren's collection in Melbourne has been enlarged since I was last there in 1992. He has added Singer Compressible tricycle, Blood Patent. Not sure if we mentioned this in the 'Bag' Book.

Canberra Museum
Two identical ladies Humbers c 1896. As one had an Olympic rings transfer on the head OVER NEW PAINT they called it an Olympic. When I stood the two side by side they realised they were the same!

Very early Raleigh which had come from Canberra previously. I think they called this one a Humber as well. Photos should appear in the V-CC News & Views at a later date.

New Zealand
Rear end on Guest & Barrow British Star spring frame (see Bicycles & Tricycles of 1889 [Pinkerton Press]): the owner thought this was a folder because the compression spring was missing from between seat post and seat stay. He thought that the [seized] pivot in front of the b/b was for folding. Also very interesting open bottom bracket mid 1890s Gents Safety with Southards Twisted Cranks and Perry Hubs. It could be locally made. Also interesting add-on conversion of gents Safety to Social.

1950s pair of Middle-weights with Sociable conversion. Not exactly a folder, but will convert for transport. 

Photos of all will be available later.


By Simon Baddeley

Our trip to Paris to mark European Carfree Day was brilliant. After concerns that a rocket attack on the MI6 building near Waterloo Station might prevent our departure on Eurostar on September 21, we put our folded Bromptons on the train and arrived at Gare du Nord 3 hours later, took the Metro for 5 stops and checked into a hotel in Montmartre just after midnight.

Next morning we set out to see Paris. The weather was crisp and sunny much of the time with mild breezes to keep the air fresher. I became an unashamed tourist again via the 14 year olds with us - Amy, my daughter and Tom Richfield, son of John, cycling officer for Solihull Council. We looked out over Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the Sacré Coeur and the Eiffel Tower, visited La Villette and the Pompidou Centre, rode the canal towpath, travelled with our folding bikes on the Metro (struggling with the entry gates at times), strolled the Tuileries and picnicked in Jardin de Luxembourg and cycled along all the designated carfree streets, as well as on a few pavements, paid too much for an indifferent meal in Montparnasse and had a really nice one in a scruffy place in Montmartre and also ate, as advised, snacks of bread, saucisson sèche and cheese and fruit bought at market stalls - one of which had honey for sale and its own swarm of bees buzzing round a honeycomb.

We braved the traffic on several occasions along Rue St Denis and Rue St Honoré and other traffic filled roads and found them no better nor worse than Birmingham or London. Our folding bicycles provided an opportunity for enjoyable chats but even when on foot we had plenty of agreeable serendipitous exchanges. As for "Carfree" I was pleased that the  Mairie de Paris were doing something for "In town without my car" but we had learned that the jams on the outskirts last year had made it politically tricky to repeat the fuller "Carfree Day" of last year, so there was the Rue de Rivoli and Avenue Foch  and various back streets in Montmartre and the main streets of the suburb of Montreuil, and others, declared as "areas of restraint."  This did not make the areas feel as safe as I would have liked though it was a great improvement on normal conditions and we had been well warned from the Mairie, by email, that these would not be ideal. The trouble about this was that the police were allowing traders' and  residents' cars in and out as well as taxis and electric or propane gas cars but, worst of all, motorbikes - which with many motor scooters, drove very fast much of the time making a tremendous row and spoiling any sense that the streets were secure for walkers and bicycles, though they were undoubtedly a lot clearer and a few were entirely reserved for walkers,  cyclists, roller bladers and scooters.

We had the impression that the Parisian cyclist organisations were sceptical  about the exercise but saw the operation as at least a political marker and  continuity for the future. A cartoon in a local newspaper said words to the  effect "No cars on Friday, no votes on Sunday". Politicians are forced to be  cautious by the neediness of people for their cars. But it was a joy to see hosts of lithe stylish people of all ages (oldies and toddlers as well as 30 somethings and 20 somethings) on bicycles and roller blades and the new mini-scooters that are the craze taking over whole streets as well as individuals - men and women - dicing gracefully, as they must for the rest of the year, with the fossil fuelled Parisian traffic on streets no-one had dared to designate even car "restrained". I don't recommend it with young people (though Amy and Tom clearly yearned to head out into the stream of cars speeding round L'Etoile and resented our insistence on using a subway) but these glimpses of physicality made me think that one-day being in a car in a great city like Paris will be slightly vulgar. I was delighted to see so many classy bikes around, beautifully engineered and finished with road tyres, panniers and mudguards and not the cliché mountain bike nor the road racers (though all are welcome, compared to cars, in my vision). We saw such stylishly dressed people on good utility bicycles taking their space on the city roads.

 The best bit of the whole stay in Paris for us was the fast promenade along the banks of the Seine where every Sunday the Mairie has now made the roads there for several central kilometres "internal combustion engine free". We merged with a milling crowd of 1000s ranging from small ones on cycles with support wheels walked by parents, swooping roller bladers, grey haired, young and middle aged walkers and cyclists - all eddying and swirling along on either side of roads that normally see only fast cars and motorbikes.

I took 25 minutes of video to record our visit including filming press coverage of the day by running the lens over the text, photos and cartoons in Le Figaro and other papers. We also got a good story in The Birmingham Evening Mail with a colour photo under the headline "Dump the Pumps II".

The trip had a serious intent. I am reviewing Joel Crawford's beautiful published and readable book "Carfree Cities" (ISBN 9057270374) published earlier in the year which has sprung from the lively web paper he edits ( and the global discussion group at The visit, which was John Richfield's idea, had been planned with advice from Richard Evans of the Environmental Transport Association, a lead campaigner for the European Car Free Day campaign, who believes that if people are given the chance to see their town free of cars for a day, they might like it. Richard can be contacted for anyone planning next year's day - which falls on a Saturday - at or by visiting under the aegis of Eric Britton who is seeking reports to so he can record learning from similar projects around the world. 


By Ken Pepper

I bought a Brompton L5 ( 2000 series ) 2 months ago after some in depth research of your website and A & B magazine .

I've previously had road bikes and mountain bikes and (after a fall from the mountain bike that broke my collar bone) more recently owned a hybrid ...... the best of both worlds or neither one thing or the other (readers choice)?

The reason that I fancied a folder is that I once got chatting to an older chap who I saw setting up a high quality bike from a bag. He told be that he'd taken it to Spain and spent a month there cycling on it. He also used it to do one way cycle trips, then catch the train back with it folded into its bag. My second consideration was carrying bikes in /on our car as I have two children and we were going on holiday to Wales. My bike carrier only takes 3 bikes and we wanted to take 4. I managed to sell my hybrid for £200 and after a lot of palaver sourcing the model I wanted from stock ( 6 week wait from the factory ) travelled to Webster's in Leicester where I bought the racing green L5. I was immediately struck with the comfort of the riding position and the saddle. I've never been a fan of dropped handle bars or the high seatpost/short frame configuration of a mountain bike, after about 20 miles my undercarriage plumbing would be in a constant state of pins and needles. I've found with the Brompton however , that this does not happen and for all its disadvantages can cover similar distances more comfortably and at the same overall journey time.

The folding capability of the Brompton is an amazing feat of engineering and the reason I chose it above any other. I had expected some rattle or vibration from the fixing bolts and folding joints but so far this hasn't happened, however the little jockey wheels and brake cables do vibrate against the frame when riding rough ground which I find a little irritating. I tried taking the little wheels off but then the bike wouldn't 'park' - it kept falling over. The main disadvantage that I've found is when riding over loose scree or cobbles or cattle grids .... it nearly shakes the fillings out of my teeth! Also, I don't feel confident in the handling of the bike on these surfaces. But then again I do keep the tyres at their maximum psi of 100 and you can't expect 16 inch wheels to ride like 26 inch mountain bike wheels with knobbly tyres.

The big advantage of a folder is its portability, and this more than anything has endeared me to it. There is a difference between my expectations and the reality of using it here though. I had planned to make trips of between 25 and 40 miles from home and return by bus .In fact I've only done one such trip, although very enjoyable, leaving my home town of Leek in Staffordshire and cycling via the Manifold and Tissington trails to Ashbourne in Derbyshire. I've done this before on conventional bikes but found the return leg of the journey exhausting as I would return on the main A53 which involves a steep and extremely protracted climb out of Ashbourne. But not now! The pushchair rack of the bus was the perfect receptacle for 'Billy Brompton' and we both enjoyed a relaxing trip home. What I' ve found, though, is that because of its small size it tends to stay in the boot of the car and if we are out as a family, I can often use it when it doesn't interfere with what everyone else is doing. For example, if we've been out for the day I can stop the car 10 miles from home, which my wife then drives for the rest of the journey and I follow on the bike. Or, for instance when we were on holiday, and the family were safely ensconced on Aberdovey beach I would take the bike from the boot and have a lovely sunshiny ride along the coast road to Towyn. You couldn't do that off the cuff with a conventionally sized bike. If you did, your missus would be bound to ask why you were taking your bike ...... on a family day out !!

Hope you see yourselves in this somewhere ... if you do let me know .


Derek Gould writes with some advice for owners of Bike Friday Pocket Rockets:
"Two modifications have proved very worthwhile on my Record equipped Pocket Rocket.  Firstly, having had problems of significant friction at the angulated connection of the rear brake cable to the brake caliper, I introduced an old Shimano XT 'V' brake curved noodle between the cable and the caliper.  Careful placing of one or two cable ties around the brake and gear cables in the area of the bottom bracket achieved correct, final positioning of the 'noodle'.  The result has been greatly reduced friction and no problems when folding. Secondly, compared to 700c wheels there is increased rear road shock due to the stiffer 20" wheels of the standard Rocket.  This has been greatly improved by fitting a USE RX shockpost. 

Despite a rather high 35" lowest gear, the bike was superb during a week's touring in the Ardeche with 'Bike Events' this year, culminating in an ascent of Mont Ventoux, a truly thrilling ride. Thanks for an excellent newsletter."

Tim McNamara writes from the USA to comment on the apparent demise of Sturmey-Archer:
"Congratulations on FSN No. 60! It is a landmark that has passed by all but unheralded, but does deserve mention. FSN and the Folding Society Website are 'ground central' for folder news on the Internet, just as A to B Magazine serves the same role in print. Without these two resources, advancements in folding bicycles would go largely unnoticed (especially here in the States).

The closing of Sturmey-Archer and Brooks at the hands (apparently) of the Lenark group has created something of a buying panic for Brooks saddles here in the US, with incredibly inflated prices (US $200 for a Swift, for example). S-A hubs and hub gears in general are largely nostalgia pieces in the US, where the bicycle market is dominated completely by derailleur geared bikes. S-A gears are associated with what we called 'English 3 speeds', generally moderate to low quality bikes sold under the Hercules and, occasionally, Robin Hood brands.

I do, however, see a fairly good supply of black Raleigh roadsters equipped with AW hubs in my local area (St. Paul, Minnesota), but generally hub geared bikes seem to be considered 'down-market' goods. It's a shame, because in a generally flat urban area such as this the AW hub is almost the ideal bit of equipment, and the roadster bike design is all but perfect for the kinds of riding most Americans do. Sadly, most bike shops offer either mountain bikes, racing bikes or strangely uncomfortable 'hybrids' that seem to combine the worst features of the two and are no more practical for utility cycling.

Folding bikes are in even more short supply here. I know of my own Birdy 3 x 7 and that's just about it, in a metropolitan area of some 3 million people (although I hear rumor of a Birdy 7 speed having been sighted in the area, and two friends of mine own Bike Fridays; however, there is not a Brompton to be seen). I think part of this is the dearth of effective public transportation; the only mass transit available is buses, the street trolleys and train systems having been dug up decades ago as the result of a cartel of automobile, tire and gasoline makers. Americans drive (an annual per-capita average of over 12,000 miles per year) because there are nearly no alternatives! There are growing signs of alternative transport culture, however, with Web sites such as '' and the "One Less Car" campaign. A book called 'Divorce Your Car' is attracting some attention in the US as Americans grapple with trying to simplify their lives.

A couple of weekends ago I was invited to an 'English bike' event organized by a friend of mine, Jon Sharrat. Jon has an eclectic collection of bikes from mid-1880s Ordinaries (upon which he has ridden 100 miles at a crack) to modern racing bikes. He has a fondness for English bikes and organized a get-together of local English bike enthusiasts. I hastily re-assembled my 1979 Raleigh Super Course, strapped on my Carradice, and rode to the park where the meet was to be held. Much to my delight, turnout was excellent and featured several old Raleigh roadsters (Raleigh being far and away the best-represented British bike brand in the US) along with old club racers, a Condor... and to my everlasting wonder there were FOUR 'F' frame Moultons, an AM-7 and a Raleigh Twenty!

It was a delight to be able to (finally) ride several Moultons, having the opportunity to take short trips on two Series Ones and a Mk III. They were quite delightful, despite being set up for riders far shorter than my 6'4". In many ways the ride was similar to my Birdy, but firmer and less prone to "pogoing." I found them to impart more confidence than the Birdy, and they were far less noisy!

Ah well, I have a good supply of Brooks saddles, and perhaps I can find an S-A AW wheel for my Super Course in honor of Messrs. Sturmey and Archer's near centenium of hub design. The closure is a bitter blow, in my opinion, but perhaps something will rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes.

In the meantime, keep flying the flag of practical, self-powered and fun transportation!"

From Roger Hainsworth:

"We recently had 6 weeks in Victoria, Australia touring on our Bromptons in February/March 2000.We have standard T5s with the maximum reduced gearing option bought Oct 1999.Experience has honed down our luggage requirements to minimalist levels of approx. 30 litres, especially as we do not camp, relying on hostels, cabins and motels. We naturally seek out warm weather venues for our winter tours which assists greatly with minimising luggage.

We covered about 600 miles in the 6 weeks which included 1 weeks car hire and over a week in Melbourne, a very cycle friendly city.Our route comprised the Great Ocean Road, Port Phillip and Phillip Island and the South Gippsland area including Wilson's Promontory.Daily mileage varied from 20 to 55 and we used the train to advantage on two occasions. It was a splendid tour and though we didn't buy the Bromptons for this type of usage they coped admirably.The Bromptons drew admiration from several Aussies, shouting out 'Great little boykes!!' or similar. BMX riders were enormously interested thinking that we were riding some superior type of BMX !!

Being interested in touring with the Brompton, any method of increasing luggage capacity is worth considering so in this light I wonder if any contributor has experience with Bikebuddy's stainless steel bottle cages, especially the Mk.3, which is easily detachable from the bike and would not, therefore, appear to interfere with the Brompton fold? The B's frame tubing is so much greater in dia. than conventional bikes, so perhaps Bikebuddy will not fit and there seems to be a requirement for bottle cage boss braze-ons?

At the Sept. York Motorcaravan Show I visited The Electric Bike Co. stand and enquired about plans for any electrically assisted Brompton via the front hub. The response from the technical engineer was that the current Haussmann (?) motor was too large in diameter for 16" wheels but a new 'mini-Haussmann' motor due out next year may be viable."


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 4th November - Mud Dock?
There is no longer an 'official' gathering on the first Saturday of the month at Mud Dock in Bristol, as there is no organiser, but we understand that folder enthusiasts are still meeting at the usual place and time (from about 10.30am onwards).

Saturday 11th November - Origami Ride
The October Origami Ride will be 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

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.

Return to FSN index | Folding Society home page

Copyright (C)2000 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 15 October 2000