Issue 67 - 7 January 2001


Belated new year's greetings to all our members. First of all, I must offer my apologies to UK members - in the last issue I commented on the fact that although it has been very wet here, at least the weather has been quite mild. It was of course tempting providence, and the weather immediately turned much colder - frost, then snow, then back to rain, and now frost again!

Over the holiday period I have been fairly busy with work and producing the January issue of The Half Framer (now with the printers, but envelope stuffing, posting etc still to be done), so I'm afraid that a number of cycling related activities have suffered. In particular, the supplement for "It's in the Bag!" has fallen behind schedule (it should have been completed in December, but it's probably going to be later this month now), the Folding Society web pages have not been updated as much as I had hoped (especially some portable Paraphernalia items), and there has not been time to write as much for this issue of FSN as I had hoped.

Many readers will know or know of Richard Hutchins, who produced some years ago a booklet on Quiet Wind Assisted Cycle Rides, many starting and ending at railway stations, and Richard used folding bikes and Moultons extensively in surveying these rides, and for other journeys. We were sorry to hear that Richard's wife Isabel died just before Christmas, and we offer our sympathy to Richard at this time.

Three weeks and two wheels

The weather has discouraged me from doing any cycling for pleasure, and as it's been a holiday period, there has not been much need to go out on the bike for other reasons, so since the last issue of FSN I have only done about three trips to the university and a couple of shopping outings to the local Tesco. For one journey just before Christmas I had a longish train journey to make, with 2.5Km to the station at this end and a bit less at the other end. Being rather worried about crowding on the trains - media scare stories - I decided not to take a folding bike, but to use the folding micro scooter instead. An interesting experience! I had previously only used the scooter for short journeys to the post box, so this was considerably more of an undertaking, especially as I had to carry a notebook computer and a very large book amongst other things - they went into a small rucksack on my back. It was certainly hard work compared with cycling, though of course the rucksack made it considerably worse than it would have been without a load. I don't think it really saved much energy compared with walking either, though there was a useful saving of time, and if I were more used to scooting it might have been less tiring. For comparison, the approximate times to get from home to Tipton station are: 12 minutes by bike, 18 minutes by scooter and 25 minutes walking. The time by bike may seem very long, but the route necessitates dismounting and pushing the bike at two points (I generally do not cycle on footpaths, and the route uses some short cuts on footpaths to avoid longer, busier road routes). This was really rather an experiment to see how practical scooting is. The scooter was certainly very convenient on the train - easy to carry on, compact and light, and small enough to fit anywhere. With these rather limited micro scooters, such distances are rather too great though, and a folder makes much more sense. However, there are some rather nice Xootr folding scooters in the USA - terribly expensive, but with slightly larger wheels, longer wheelbase and proper brakes, but still very compact and light when folded, and they would seem a much better option - they aren't imported into the UK, though the company will ship direct from the USA - their web site is at if you are interested. Incidentally, the trains were relatively empty (less passengers than when I have made this journey at other times), and they also ran pretty much on time (5-10 minutes late on the way back).

As reported in previous issues of FSN, the Newt (Bike Friday New World Tourist) has been acting as hack bike for the winter, but needed a major replacement of the derailleur system recently. I'm happy to report that the new equipment is continuing to work well, and changing gear has become a joy rather than a misery. Naturally, once I had sorted out the problem, I immediately turned my attention to another bike! The only one that I have used so far in 2001 has been the old Moulton AM7 (actually now running as an 8-speed). This is just coming up to its 17th birthday - still a youngster compared with the 36 year old Moulton Stowaway! Components have gradually been upgraded as they have worn, one of the few unenforced changes being the replacement of the original CLB brakes with Shimano 105 dual pivots many years ago (what an improvement!!); the fitting of the 8-speed Shimano indexed gears, with the associated new hub and rear wheel, has been the other change which has really significantly improved performance. The bike is pretty much as original in other respects - tyres have been replaced of course, but even much of the paintwork is original, though rather tatty now. I did replace the crankset relatively recently, but this was only to alter the overall gearing, and I used up some components I happened to have in stock. I also fitted the chain keeper which became available recently, which seems to have finally cured the tendency for the chain to fall off, especially when changing up into top gear. The front suspension bush seized at about 7 years, but otherwise the suspension has not required any attention in the 17 years - a fine record compared with the attention which is recommended for current mountain bike front suspension. The AM has felt wonderfully comfortable and free running on the two rides this year, and as the weather was reasonable on both these outings to the university, I was tempted on the way back to cycle to Birmingham International the first day, and on to Marston Green the second. The AM was separated very frequently in the days when I had a car - I split it and took it out in the car to Highgate Common, about 7 miles from home, and rode from there, thus avoiding the busy and hilly roads out of Dudley. Now I hardly ever separate it - local trains don't require us to do so, and if I plan a journey where folding/separating is going to be necessary, I generally don't choose a Moulton! However, the separability remains a major asset, as it can be (and has been) useful in an emergency.

As I have been sent a new type of bag to test by Carradice - it is designed specifically for use with their new seat post quick release, and is not Moulton specific - I've been using that instead of the normal Moulton luggage. The new Carradice QR system was launched last year, and I used it with an existing conventional saddle bag for my trip to Portmeirion, and you will find some comments on it in the report of that event. The evaluation bag I received just after Christmas came with the full QR fittings, and I notice that a small sleeve is now fitted on the bag-mounted section, which overcomes the lateral movement which I found a nuisance when using the original at Portmeirion. This mounting and the  new bag seem very good - as it's not yet in production, and this is a test sample, I won't report in full yet, but I think it is going to be very useful, as it has good capacity and a very effective QR system. It would be particularly convenient for folders which don't have such a system already - and would also be of potential interest to Brompton owners as a means of adding a QR system to the back. I have carbon fibre seat posts on both my Bromptons, so I'm not too keen to mount the QR on these, but I plan to get out one of the original posts and try the new system on that.

One thing I noticed using the AM after the recent bad weather is that both the bike and I have got very wet and muddy. Although the AM has the original (ribbed) front mudguard, the mudflap is long gone, and I guess this is the reason for the problem. What is interesting is that it's been more of a problem than on the Airnimal Chameleon with no front mudguard at all - readers may recall that I commented on the lack of spray etc when using the Airnimal under wet conditions at Portmeirion in November. In view of the fact that mudguards add weight, and can introduce dangers, particularly at the front, the ability to run without them is a considerable advantage. I'm looking forward with interest to trying the new Carradice bag on the Airnimal without a rear mudguard - the bag seems designed to double as a crud catcher. However, the unpleasant slippery conditions at present mean that the Airnimal, with its skinny tyres, is staying indoors for the present - the more substantial tyres of the AM (I have not tried the new Bridgestone tyres on the AM yet) seem more suitable for the conditions.

The cycling year 2000

This is going to be a quick review for the year, starting with my own cycling on folders and separables, and then going on to a personal perspective on some of the cycling related highlights of the year.

My own year on two wheels

Apart from the scooter, referred to above, this means bicycles, and although I did actually do nearly 70 Km on non-portable, large wheeled bikes, it also means folders and separables. The total distance covered was much lower than last year, at 5600 Km, due primarily to the weather. During the year the Birdy was sold, but happily to a member who gives us regular reports on its progress, and I often see it at the Origami Rides at Meriden. I nearly managed to get through the year without adding to the stable, but gave in in November and bought an Airnimal, so the numbers remain unchanged overall - I really do need to dispose of some machines, though the conventional machines are the ones which are most likely to go. The league table for the year, taking the top 7 machines only, is:

Moulton New Series: 1083 Km
Brompton T5: 1062 Km
Bike Friday New World Tourist: 979 Km
SP Brompton: 883 Km
Moulton APB: 716 Km
Airnimal Chameleon: 289 Km
Micro: 234 Km

The only other machine to exceed 100 Km during the year was the Birdy, which did 210 Km before it was sold.

The New Series is the most comfortable and refined high performance road bike I have, but although it separates, it is far from ideal for journeys in which I need to separate and bag it on the train. It's therefore rather odd that I chose it for Cyclefest, and bagged it for the train. However, for a week away, bagging and unbagging is just about acceptable, and I certainly found it well worth it for the pleasure it gave me on rides during the event. It was also, more predictably, the bike I chose to take to Bradford on Avon for the week of celebrations there, but for that journey I didn't bag it, paying the £3 fee to take it unseparated on the train. In view of the large amount of photographic and computing equipment I had to take with me, this was a more practical solution than bagging, or trying to carry any folded folder and all the luggage. The NS was repainted by the factory early in the year (this is a very early ex-demonstrator, and the paintwork was quite worn), and the new paint is certainly much better than the old, and still looks immaculate. Otherwise the only attention given to the bike, apart from routine cleaning and lubrication, was after the journey up to Lancaster, where vibration on the train and a ride on the first day caused the rear suspension pivot bolt to work loose, and almost part company with the bike. I have been very pleased with the performance of the Continental GP tyres, though I still wish the clearances didn't prevent fitting other types of tyres. I do also miss the ability to fit a front carrier when there is a large amount of luggage - the new Speed model is reportedly capable of taking a front carrier, though details haven't emerged yet. The price of the NS may be high, but it is a sophisticated design, hand built, fitted with the best components, and compared with other hand made specialist machines it isn't actually particularly unreasonable. In addition, it is likely to hold its value quite well if one could bring oneself to sell it, so it is not wholly an indulgence, but also an investment (I try to convince myself!). It makes a perfect machine for a long day ride, or weekend away, although the lack of front luggage capacity and lack of tyre choice make it less suitable for longer excursions - though I have used it very successfully for 10 days in Scotland, and the week at CycleFest and the week at Bradford on Avon. The separation and bagging operation takes about 8 minutes without rushing, including unloading luggage - acceptable at the start and end of a week, or several day, ride, but not suitable for situations where more frequent dismantling is required. For use with a car, where the machine just needs to be split into the two main parts, or for emergencies, the separation is quite acceptable.

There isn't a lot more I can say about Bromptons, or my T5 in particular. My bike now runs in an L5 configuration, the original rear rack and dynamo system having been discarded a few years ago, with an appreciable saving in weight. Schwable Marathon tyres were fitted just before the start of 2000, and have given excellent service so far, and show no signs of wear. The Brompton has nearly equalled the NS in distance this year, and although only in second place in distance covered, it has been used more often than any of my other bikes, by virtue of the fact that it has done most commuting journeys. It has had almost no attention during the year, apart from routine cleaning and lubrication. The gear cables (plural, as this is an old 5-speed hub with twin cable operation) will soon need replacing for the second time (the bike is now 10 years old), as they have become rather kinked as a result of frequent folding and unfolding. The replacement rear mudguard fitted a year or two ago when the rack was removed is looking very tatty, and the stays are badly corroded, and may get replaced during the next year. The standard Brompton is really still unbeatable for general commuting and shorter trips, and is more than capable of undertaking longer journeys if necessary, though I find the gaps between the gears uncomfortable, and more of a limitation than the overall gear range. 

The Newt did not get much use early in the year, so most of the distance has been recorded in the last month or so, when it was designated winter hack bike. Apart from the problems with the derailleur part of the gearing, now solved, it has not required any attention other than replacement of the tyres - the Schwalbe City Jets had picked up some bad cuts, though relatively unworn, and were replaced with City Marathons. It has good luggage capacity, good brakes (since the original, abysmal, Big Dogs callipers were replaced with V-brakes) and a good range of well spaced gears. Folding is something I avoid if possible - I certainly would not want to do it on a daily basis, but is acceptable on a longer outing, and certainly faster than separating and bagging a Moulton. I'd class this as a 'jack of all trades' bike - with of course the 'master of none' problem. Perhaps for that reason I can't get very excited about it, and have been a little disappointed in it overall, although it was for a long time the bike I would choose if I could not have more than one. The Pocket Rocket is much more fun to ride - the Newt seems quite lethargic in comparison - more on this in our next issue, which will include some performance measurements. 

The SP took over from the Newt the nomination during the year as the bike I would have if I could only have one. It would certainly have covered more distance if I did not have so many others to choose from, and if I didn't regard it as too good to use for some of the routine commuting etc, for which the T5 is adequate. All the virtues of a Brompton, but with much better gear spacing and range, very powerful (actually, possibly too powerful) braking, and a more rigid, but suspended, handlebar stem - what more could you want? I count myself lucky to have the 7-speed version, as I think this is much more appropriate than the twin chain ring and 6-speed derailleur Steve (Parry) now favours - less complex, lighter, simpler gear changing etc. Nor would I want the modified frame version, which does not fold in the centre, but instead produces a longer, narrow package for stowing in the overhead luggage space on a train - if you can lift it, and the space is not already occupied.  The Primo tyres originally fitted became badly cut during the year, and had to be replaced, despite having plenty of rubber left. I planned not to use Primos again, but the limited clearances on this bike meant that I found problems with the Schwalbes which I prefer, and pending further investigation I fitted another set of Primos. After another front puncture, the front tyre was replaced with one of the new Brompton tyres, but the back tyre is still a Primo until I have solved the clearance problem. I have not yet travelled far enough with the Brompton tyre to comment on it, and would really prefer to delay passing judgement until I can run the bike with these tyres at both ends.

The Moulton APB is another 'jack of all trades' bike, but with the drawback - for some situations - of being less portable than the Newt. The separability may only provide limited portability, but I regard it as a real asset, and the new fx8 models from Pashley do not appeal as a result - though their special edition fx80 wins my award for most beautiful bike of the year. As with the Newt, the bike feels a bit cumbersome on the road, though in some tests during the year (to be reported in detail in our next issue) the APB out performed all the other bikes tested, including the New Series! Mine is a very early model, originally an APB12, but little of the original remains apart from the frame. It runs with 3 x 7 gears, like the Newt; these give a good range of well spaced gears, but I am increasingly wondering to what extend the sluggish performance of both these machines is a result of the transmission. Converting either bike back to pure derailleurs would be a fairly large and costly undertaking, but I'd love the opportunity to try either of these models in such a configuration to see how much difference it makes. The APB has had a tyre change during the year, like the Newt going from City Jets to City Marathons. Initial impressions have been that these tyres are better overall for my purposes, though recent performance tests, which will be reported in full in our next issue, were not very encouraging. The APB has been trouble free during the year, and wins my award of most hassle free bike, as usual. I also seem to have achieved the most comfortable overall riding position on this bike. Overall riding performance of the bike is good, and its ability to cope with large loads, is excellent, but portability is a weakness - suitable for a car boot, or bagging at the end of an extended tour or in emergency, but not on a daily basis.

I only bought the Airnimal in November, which is why the distance covered is not higher. As I've reported on it recently, I won't go into detail again here. It's a high performance road bike which can be folded, much like a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket. Great fun for riding fast, but also capable of carrying loads if necessary or for touring - I used it for the 5 days at Portmeirion in November. With rear suspension and carbon fibre forks, it gives a reasonably comfortable ride - not by any stretch of the imagination in the Moulton league, but much more acceptable than the Newt or Pocket Rocket. It's definitely fun to ride, and particularly well suited to fast day rides. Folding is straightforward, although it's quite bulky unless you go much further than the simple first fold stage.

The Micro joined the stable just before the start of 2000, and has been the basis of a project to produce a very light, but reasonably performing, and cheap folder, capable of doing moderate distances. A number of modifications were made to reduce weight and improve the ride, notably modifications to the stem to provide a more acceptable (to me) riding position with less flexing of the stem. However, this is a 5-speed model, rather than the current 3 or single speed, which increases the weight again, but makes riding less of a chore. There is no way this will compete with a Brompton in terms of compactness and versatility, load carrying capability or ability to tackle long rides, but it is cheap and light, rides reasonably well, (a bit twitchy) and is fun. Although not very suitable for larger riders, I think the Micro is one of the most under-rated designs around, and a few minor modifications could make it even better. I haven't used it all that much during the year due to the combination of limited luggage capacity and a tendency to take the old T5 if the weather is bad, rather than take out a 'new and clean' machine, but apart from one puncture (Primo tyres) it has not required any attention. I still intend at some time to get around to assembling the second version, which will be an ultra-light single speed commuting version.

Of the other bikes, some explanations seem in order for the lack of distance covered in 2000 by the AM7 and the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket. The AM7 simply didn't get used because I now have the New Series - though, as explained earlier, the AM has come out of hibernation in the last couple of weeks. I'm really not sure why I haven't used the Rocket more - it is the most exhilarating bike to ride, or was until the Airnimal arrived - I guess it is just that the New Series, with its greater comfort, got preference on those occasions when the Rocket might have otherwise been used.

New folders and separables of 2000
This year has seen a substantial upgrade of the Brompton, and a new lower cost version. The new models are generally referred to as Mark 3s, though the changes have been mainly in components. Still, these have been very worthwhile improvements, and it is reassuring to see that the product continues to be developed, and is not being allowed to stagnate. Other designs which have come into the market in 2000 include the Airnimal Chameleon, Giant Halfway, Moulton New Series Speed ('Pylon') and the Bridgestone Moulton (which is not yet available outside Japan, but which we hope to see in the UK before the middle of this year).

Organised events in 2000
For me, the two outstanding events of the year have been CycleFest and the celebrations at Bradford on Avon for Alex Moulton's 80th birthday, leading up to the annual Moulton Bicycle Club weekend. I think I'd have to say that CF was the more enjoyable for me, as I was working throughout the time at Bradford on Avon, and this was quite stressful at times, but having the opportunity to photograph the superb Moulton exhibition, and the new Bridgestone Moulton before it was launched was a great privilege.

Most enjoyable ride of 2000
I had many very enjoyable rides during the year, but if I must pick out one, it would the the Meriden Brevet Populaire which I rode on the New Series Moulton.

Bad cycling news in 2000
Amongst the less happy cycling developments of 2000 have been the demise of Sturmey-Archer (although it now seems that some of their products will be re-introduced during 2001 by Taiwanese firm Sun Race), and the disappearance of several cycling magazines and related publications, particularly those from Open Road. The wet weather in the UK seems to have reduced the distances ridden even by enthusiasts, and the well publicised problems on the railways, caused by the weather, the aftermath of the Hatfield accident, and media sensationalism, have made travel in general more uncertain. Some blame the weather and floods partly on global warming, so it's bizarre to see that there have also been substantial protests over the price of petrol and diesel - another case of the majority of humans only being interested in their own present needs, and not caring about issues affecting the environment and the longer term future of others.

Folder/separable of the year
Folder of the year for me has to be, once again, the Brompton. It may not be entirely new, but the detail improvements made at the beginning of the year really do make it significantly better, and it still sets the standard by which almost all other folders are judged. As a compact folder for commuting, it's difficult to beat, especially when its luggage system and remarkably good ride are taken into account. While it may not be an ideal choice for longer rides, personally I'd never worry about the bike if I had to tackle 100 Km unexpectedly on it, which is more than can be said for some folders. It is not ideal for all purposes of course, but although other machines are better for longer rides and only occasional folding, the Brompton has to be the outstanding folder once again for me.

Looking forward to 2001

Making predictions is difficult, but presumably we should have some news from Brompton as a result of the closure of Sturmey-Archer, since they will presumably have to make some changes to accommodate other rear hubs, unless they can wait for the proposed Taiwanese version to become available. We don't yet know if the changes will be as limited as just fitting a Sachs/SRAM 3-speed, or whether something more ambitious might be undertaken while the changes are being made.

Personally, I plan once again to try to spend more time riding and taking photographs, and less on writing on these subjects. The winter months and long dark evenings make a good time for planning future rides and photographic outings. I intend to end 2001 with less cycles than I start it, though I doubt whether I shall be able to resist a Bridgestone Moulton when they become available in the UK (April?). Unfortunately 2001 isn't a CycleFest year, but that means we will appreciate it all the more in 2002!

Next issue

The next issue will include some more performance test results for 'high performance' folders and separables, and some more rolling resistance test results. The planned date for the next issue is 21st January.


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.


By John Hanson

Just as an update to my earlier piece on the Micro, my little marvel now has a "frère jumeau" or twin brother on the streets of Frances' capital now. A colleague saw my machine, was interested in buying one, so on a recent visit to the UK, I ordered & purchased one for him from Messrs Pratt of Kingston-Upon-Hull (five star service).

Obviously since I purchased mine, Pashley have taken over from Cresswell, and there are a few subtle changes in the two varieties. His is the three-speed version, as is mine. The most obvious change is that the old-fashioned Sturmey trigger has been changed for a twist-grip control - advantage is that it frees space up on the already cramped handlebars for a light as well as as a computer (I had to shoehorn a Cateye Mity 2 on mine). Disadvantage is purely personal - I'm not too keen on twisting my hands round on the 'bars). The chainset, a Thun on mine, has been replaced by a Stronglight, made in Saint-Etienne which is more "profiled" and looks nicer in terms of form and finish. The saddle is marginally softer on the Pashley version, and the seatpost is fractionally longer for taller riders. Mine is about 2cm too short, really.

A not-too obvious change is that Pashley appear to have added a stiffening piece around the base of the handlebar stem; whilst not adding to the weight of the machine, it has reduced the amount of flex in the handlebars, unsettling when pedalling hard. They've added a prop stand, which would be of use once you'd erected the thing and were struggling to get your rucksack on your back before setting off. Other than that, it's easy to forget it when you fold the bike up. The mudguard bolt heads have Allen key fittings... looks prettier at least !

My colleague's disappointment was in that Pashley have changed the design of the badge on the headset... he was quite taken by the "Britishness" aspect of having Cresswell's "Union Jack" logo on the steerer tube!

Voilà, for the moment he's a happy customer, time will tell if he remains satisfied with his purchase. Me, I'm still happy, I've no plans to change it for a Brompton - for what I need it suits me perfectly, I've no dreams of crossing the Alps on a folder (bit pointless really).

So, let's hear it for the Micro, vastly underrated in my opinion, when compared to the hype over the Brompton ... five hundred quid is a lot of dosh after all...

[I certainly agree with John that the Micro is sadly underrated by many. I think the Brompton is better in most respects, but the Micro is certainly much cheaper, and it is also a good deal lighter, which can be an advantage in some situations. I find it really scores when it comes to carrying it, and it is so small that I often carry it into buildings without folding it and without attracting adverse comment. It's actually quite quick and easy to fold as well, though not as compact as a Brompton when folded, and the handling and luggage carrying capacity of the Brompton are also substantially superior. My own Micro has had a few modifications made, as described in previous issues of FSN, to give a riding position which suits me better, and to reduce the flexing of the handlebar stem. MFH]


Another issue of The Moultoneer is reportedly in preparation. I hope that once this is published I shall be able to update the rather elderly version of the Sales & Wants list on the Moulton Bicycle Club web pages - the update is being held back until those members without internet access have had a chance to see the latest entries in print in The Moultoneer.


By John Prince

Our annual 6 months plus in the South Pacific had several new features this year; a first was a direct connection from LA to Rarotonga (translates to "Down South"), thus saving a couple of hours waiting at either Hawaii or Tahitii. The baggage hold of the 767 held our two cycles, for the writer a Flevo OKJA ex Peter King and for my partner Trisha a new custom built SatRDay packed away in its suitcase doubling as a trailer. Mine had had the tyre pressures dropped to comply with strange out-of-date airline requirements when baggage holds were apparently not pressurised, not the case these days, and in fact ‘plane crashes have been caused when the baggage hold has suddenly depressurised, causing the passenger floor to collapse and with it the flying surface control systems ... however all this is news to those Gods and Goddesses who sit behind the check in desks at the airport and have the power to ruin the start of a good holiday by declaring the baggage to be overweight. They CAN charge a kilo rate of 1% of the FIRST CLASS FARE, so be warned!

The Flevo caused such a stir at London Heathrow, that it got through easily after a quick check for concealed drugs. Tip: I fitted a top box and filled this with luggage which went free! The check in clerk was the best ever encountered and all our suitcases were accepted without comment; we even put our hand baggage containing computers through the fragile items channel together with the SatRDay and crossed fingers just in case.

The descent from 37000 feet was routine after 10 hours of cruising at 520 mph and with the runway just 50 feet below the Captain decided the heavy thunderstorm was bad enough to go round again. We circled for 20 minutes and landed uneventfully.

It takes a little time to clear Customs, reclaim baggage etc and Raro is unique in providing Jake, an islander of typically mixed descent  - English - Irish - Mauri - to entertain by singing island songs accompanied on a ukulele. I approached a young Customs Official with the news that I had a cycle on board, brought from England.

"Did it need disinfecting?" I asked. So many nasty plants, insects etc have been introduced here via imported goods. Never again! He threatened to impound the cycle. Worried, I waited for the luggage to arrive; I pulled the cases off one by one and noticed the SatRDay case was bulging ominously ...

Taking a route through Customs not manned by my "threat-to-confiscate" official, I explained about the cycle and looking behind me noticed it had arrived in the hall dripping wet from being pushed from the ‘plane through the thunder storm - advantage ...  it looked brand new after the wash! The Officials were so impressed by the usual recumbent that, after a few questions I was allowed to pass. Grounds for concern were that the wheels were not turning easily, there was evidence of damage and ALL, I mean all, of the people milling about wanted to talk to me about the cycle. After 30 hours travelling, with another 5 cycle miles waiting in the dark through the rain, I just wanted to get going. The wheel problem was simply sorted; the Flevo has no lock stops and when it falls over the front forks and wheel are free to rotate, winding up the brake cables nicely and applying the brakes. This was untangled with no damage. The dynamo had been hit and the cable broken; this was twisted to effect a running repair. The tyres were inflated using a small hand pump; having replaced the rear tyre with a larger section one in the hope of flattening Raro’s rippled road surfaces, I had two different valves to deal with, and both wheels are fitted with swish looking disc covers, which have to be prised off; I used a teaspoon pinched from Air New Zealand for this!

I do not normally cycle in the wet, I don’t enjoy it. Nor in the dark. Certainly not in a tropical thunderstorm. But I had to get home to "Te Rua Toka". With the LED flashing five impressively bright red lights at the rear, the front dyno was slipping on the wet tyre and the spread and intensity of the light left lots to be desired on the pitch black roads. It was impossible to see potholes in time, but nature in the form of dramatic flashes of lightening came to my aid.

After catching up with sleep, acclimatising to the heat and humidity and allowing the body to get used to a different internal time clock, I checked the cycle over and other than a few scratches from falling over and a dynamo not correctly aligned with the driving track on the tyre wall, all was in order.

I fitted a new cycle computer ... easily said but difficult to do in my experience with recumbents. However, those ever helpful, knowledgeable people, St John St Cycles came up with a novel (to me) solution. There is a special kit available which is designed to be fitted to a standard cycle where one sensor is driven from the back wheel, a second sensor (for cadence) is fitted to a chain stay and the whole affair fitted which much longer wires to the handlebar mounted display unit. Fitting this was nearly a doddle, the only slight bodge; I fitted the cadence magnet to the inner chain wheel instead of the crank arm to achieve the required clearance of about 1 mm.

So now I have proof of further serious weaknesses; one press takes me from indicated speed to cadence, accurate to one decimal place ... how’s 50.2 strike you? I promise to get my rev rate up as my fitness improves!

It is absolutely amazing riding this Flevo around here; FAQs ... did you make it yourself? What did it cost? Where’s the engine? But strangely, everyone immediately jumps to the conclusion that it must be more comfortable, and of course it is and that’s the main reason for riding it here ... bear in mind the hot, sweaty nature of riding here with just one very thin layer of clothing ...

Now a major event is the arrival per email of FSNs, my A to B is posted on as well. I wonder what the Sturmey Archer surprise will be ... in time for Christmas?

One little thing ... there’s reference to "mono blade forks" but I feel that forks really refers to a two sided construction, so any suggestions for a more correct term? In motorcycle parlance, expressions used are "single sided swinging arm" or similar.

Dick Hanson mentions tyre pressures; whilst idling away a few minutes waiting for my partner in a book shop, I casually picked up a copy of the Highway Code; as an ex Driving Instructor I used to know it cover to cover. Did you know that according to this document, you are required to inflate cycle tyres to the pressure shown on the tyre wall? I remember reading somewhere that this pressure could be doubled in safety, but one must watch for tolerances…i.e. a large tyre on a small rim could be trouble and blow off. You are recommended to check in a tank of water to avoid danger.

Talking about the Birdy, at time of order the "comfort" stem, i.e. more upright and higher, is available for a small extra price, I believe about DM 20=£7, but I have heard moans before of the cost as a spare.

I met Dick Hanson when he lead an Origami ride from Cheltenham to the Boat Inn at Ashleworth. Despite being a Gloucestrian this hidden pub was unknown to me; it is well worth visiting. He story has overtones for us, because in England we live in a house that was originally a water mill with a building on the site since 1210. The waters of the River Severn actually wash up the walls of the house, and at times of high tide a difference between low and high tide of 10.3 meters (say 35 feet) can be experienced. Windows may be half covered at high tide for a couple of hours (they are special reinforced glass) but more to the point the access lane may be flooded to a depth of 3 feet. So I know all about riding through floods which brings me to SPDs which I tried for the first time a year ago when someone wanted to sell theirs together with matching sandals which I always wear no matter what the weather, with no socks of course. The ones I have are double sided; one side is a normal pedal, the other incorporates the SPD mech. So you have a choice, and when in SPD mode the pedal obligingly falls the right way up. I bought mine in Halfords for about £25 if my memory is accurate. Better than risking drowning, and now fitted to the Flevo out here, but not used as yet ... coward!

The talk of Wainlode Hill brings back memories; I cycled there when I was about 15 with a friend John Harris; I can’t remember how, because my parents forbade me to have a cycle (too dangerous!), so I must have borrowed one. It has very dear memories for me as I took my Partner there on our first evening out… a nice spot when the weather co-operates! We called it Wainlodes Hill, just like the other local steep bits, Horsepools where I nearly killed myself at 18 on a motorcycle, Crickley where Dad always made a hash of the change from 3rd to 2nd in the family Hillman Minx, and Birdlip, too steep to contemplate and now cut off from normal traffic by a bypass.

Why is it that no matter what the sport or interest, there are those who seek to divide and look down on certain branches? I remember when Pedersen’s ashes were brought to rest in England at Dursley, Gloucestershire, I was made aware that as the owner of a mere "copy or replica" Pedersen I was hardly fit to be in the company of those exalted beings who owned genuine Pedersens!

I would be interested to have details of how one conducts a controlled roll test to establish tyre efficiency; if we could all use the same system, meaningful comparisons could be made.

On lighting, I saw the very useful tip from a reader of a magazine. He suggested getting a small motorcycle headlight from a scrap yard and powering it with a small lead acid battery carried in a pannier. The power and spread is clearly good as you would expect from something designed with 50-60 mph in mind, and ofcourse the system has a dipped beam, legally required I believe if the wattage exceeds 7 watts. The arrangement should cost around £20-£30 max and combines cheapness with efficiency, assuming of course that a suitable charger is to hand.

Having ridden with Pat Strachan I can assure you she is considerate in every way; to the extent that she, with a well practised hand movement arrests the rotation of a small windmill on the top of a mast attached to her cycle if she spots a horse coming. "Don’t want to spook the horse" . Now THAT’S considerate!

David Edge has got me worried about the life expectancy of the dynamo fitted to the Flevo ... literally 50 meters from the beach in 32 C plus heat and 80% plus humidity, salt everywhere ... what shall we say ... a month? I’ll let you know.

I see that this German expression "Standlicht", meaning parking light, is creeping into English in various mutations. If we import a word, can we not use it correctly, so not StandLIGHT; also Abseil meaning literally "down rope" but we have adopted a totally wrong pronunciation. So we have "Franglais" and what might we call this half German derived English ? Germlish ... Deutschlish ... Englishgerm ... that’s got my spell checker in a twist!


The subject of lighting continues to be of interest to members. Mark Lang writes:
"I have a set of front lights made by SMART with a 6 watt and 10 watt halogen bulb; the battery is rechargeable lead acid and straps to the frame. I found it very good with 10 watts on, and adequate with just the  6 watt bulb. I suppose I get an hour on full wattage and 2 hours with the six watt bulb.  The advantage is that you can top up the battery with the charger for an hour or so without having to recharge from flat.

I have had a battery for 2 years now and no problems yet.  I've been so impressed that I have brought a second battery to act a spare.

The whole lot cost £40 from a cycle shop in Malmesbury Wilts, although I have seen them for more elsewhere.  They actually make cycling at night a pleasure and cars definitely notice you.  For the rear I just use 2 cheap red LEDs from Halfords."

Peter Amey adds to the discussion with some observations on dynamos and slipping:
"You had an enquiry about alternative dynamos on the Brompton T models.  As well as the original, I have used a Nordlicht and a B&M S6. The Nordlicht was a bit prone to slipping. It could, with care, be run on the rim rather than tyre sidewall, which allowed the use of the, trackless, Primo tyres. On the rim, it slipped in the wet, but could be brought back on line with a gentle squeeze of the brakes. Main problem with the Nordlicht was weight - it eventually broke the mounting bracket (steel) and I lost it (fortunately it didn't fall into the wheel!).

The B&M is brilliant (literally). It doesn't slip at all (on Marathon tyres) and gives useable light at walking pace. Again it is heavier than the original, and I have taken the precaution of triangulating the mounting bracket back up to the rear rack with an extra strip of metal; this should reduce the bending loads on the mounting bracket.

I have no experience of the LightSpin: I negotiated for loan of one to review for A to B, but delivery kept getting postponed because of "production difficulties". I don't know how widely available they really are.

By the way,  there seem to be dozens of different rack stays available from Brompton, and ordering one is a bit of a lottery. When I lost the Nordlicht, I had to order 3 or 4 before I got one with all the bends and holes in the right place.

I am hoping that the BromSON will be the ultimate lighting solution but until then the S6 is at least good enough.

More on dynamos and problems of slipping from Rod Shinkfield:
"A bottle dynamo is always attached to my Brompton T5. So I have no fear in dawdling and staying out late, riding home in the dark (something that's occasionally happened to me even in high summer). A five diode LED is also always fastened beneath my saddle to give additional rear lighting for extra safety.

As snow and ice will cause slippage, stopping a bottle dynamo from working,  I also carry battery lamps during the darker season as a back up. My front battery lamp is fastened on the handlebars so it can be easily switched on and off in the hope that a driver can better see and avoid me at junctions, etc. It is switched off again once past the danger point to save the batteries.

While a dynamo's wide beam lights the road better on dark lanes rather than a battery lamp's rather narrow beam, carrying an additional battery lamp is useful for checking a map, or to fix a puncture in the dark.

So I believe it better not to rely sole on a dynamo or a battery lamp system (LEDs are, I believe, a supplement rather than a serious lighting system contender), but to combine both systems depending on the season. And don't forget to carry spare bulbs ..."

Dennis J Duggan responds to comment on his previous correspondence, and sympathises with Dick Hanson's experience with floods:
"Thanks for printing the item about bells and their use/non-use. Seems I owe you an apology, because I jumped on my high horse before properly digesting your own remarks on the subject.  Having read your response to my original note I now realise you do not go about bellowing at the top of your voice, scattering pedestrians in your wake. Also, thanks to Pat Strachan for clarifying her behaviour on shared cycle/pedestrian paths.  Again, I perhaps misunderstood the original item.  Anyway, I am relieved to see that both of you show consideration to those on foot, as I do myself.  Cyclists like us can go some way to repair the damage caused by the many inconsiderate and loutish riders one so often comes across. I think one of the problems with my copy of FSN is that I read it on-screen and do not print it out.  Being an oldie (53) I suppose I am used to words being written on paper, and perhaps do not fully comprehend the finer points of an item when it is scrolling.  In future I will pay more attention.

Some good items in the latest issue.  I laughed out loud at the item by Dick Hanson and his description of pedalling through a flood.  Those SPD pedals sound lethal, and I shall not be purchasing any.  You could not remove your feet from them and fell against the garage door, and Dick fell off at a road junction. Joking apart, surely this could have been very nasty, not to say dangerous.

Last week I was riding my Coventry Eagle 10 speed racer through the local Riverside Park and came to the bit that always floods after heavy rain, forming a large lake.  It looked bad, but I knew from experience it was actually only about four or five inches deep, so rode confidently into the water in a middle gear.  The patch of water was maybe fifty feet across. I started off well, but after a few feet I inexplicably lost my mental picture of where the tarmac path was situated (it was not visible through the muddy water) and before I knew it had veered onto the submerged grass.  Caught in too-high a gear I rapidly lost momentum, and my only hope was to pedal with all my might. With a sigh of relief I felt the wheels regain the tarmac, but disaster struck again when unbelievably I steered back on the grass again.  This time I ground to a halt, and after some undignified attempts to stay upright had no choice but to put my right shoe and sock in the water.

Yuck!!  The two good things were that nobody witnessed this embarrassing fiasco, and it was only a five minute ride home to a dry sock."

[I think riding with wet feet is one of the most unpleasant aspects of cycling - unfortunately whenever I have got my shoes and socks wet - either in the rain or in flood on one occasion, it has been a long way from home, and I've had to put up with the discomfort. Shoes and socks seem to take an eternity to dry. MFH]

Derek Baker reports that the Mud Dock Folder meetings in Bristol on the first Saturday of each month are still going strong:
"I always like to let you know about our Bristol Mud Dock meetings. We met again as usual today [Saturday 6th], it being the fist Saturday of the month. Attendance was again good, with most of the regulars present , including, amongst others, Peter Henshaw,  Peter King, Chris Dent, Ray Racy, Steve Parry, Phillipa Wheeler and Mike Roberts. All in all we had a nice meeting, with lots of chat, a short ride and an excellent mid-day meal at Ashton Court Country Park. For those who have not been before, we meet at around 11 a.m. at the Mud Dock building, where we have coffee and snacks before moving on for a short ride, either to the Bristol 'downs' at Clifton or Ashton Court for lunch; the meeting returns to Mud Dock about 3 p.m. We welcome all Folding Society  members and all other owners and riders of portable cycles. For further details, call me any evening on 01202 692732."


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 13th January - Origami Ride
The next 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

Saturday 3rd February - Mud Dock
Although there is no official organiser, the gatherings on the first Saturday of the month at Mud Dock in Bristol are still taking place and receiving good support. Meet at Mud Dock from about 10.30am onwards.

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.

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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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Copyright (C)2001 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 7 January 2001