Issue 72 - 20 March 2001


Apologies for the late appearance of this issue of FSN - I have been, and continue to be, extremely busy at present. Not  only am I short of time, but I'm deeply engrossed in programming, and I find it difficult to concentrate properly on this while also producing web pages, manipulating digital images etc. 

The main news in this issue concerns a new Continental tyre for AM Moultons in the 17 inch - 369 - size. For details, see the Moulton section below.

Many thanks to the contributors who are keeping us well supplied with articles at the moment - keep up the good work.


Due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak, my own cycling over the last couple of weeks has been limited to rides to and from stations. In view of the limited distances, and the ease of storage, I've been using the Brompton T5 and Micro. The cycling has been pretty uneventful - probably a good thing, if you bear in mind that to "live in interesting times" is reputed to be a Chinese curse. While I was using the Micro again I took the opportunity of trying the new Carradice SQR luggage system, still with the trial large wedge bag. Fitting the mounting on the Micro was easy enough, and the bag clipped onto the mount very conveniently. However, I did find that the extra weight at the top of the seat tube and hanging well out to the back apparently had an adverse effect on the Micros handling. The Micro is always noticeably twitchy, although you get more used to it after a couple of days use, but the bag position seemed to accentuate this, so I have reverted to a small Topeak wedge for tools etc and a small bum bag for other odds and ends. Though the Micro has a number of disadvantages compared to the Brompton (notably the handling, less robust build, less suited for longer rides, and limited luggage capacity), it is easier to wheel around stations in its folded state, lighter to carry and is fun to ride - I seem to need less effort for the commuting rides, and one does get more used to the handling, apart from at a low speeds.

A tale of three computers

Shortly after our last issue appeared, we heard by email from John Prince that a replacement power supply for the Tiny had finally been received in the UK, but had not yet reached him on his desert island - we hope that when it gets there it will solve the problem he referred to in the Letters page.

I received a phone call from Graham McDermott earlier in the week, asking for help with a phone number - he was away from home for a few days, and when he turned on his iPAQ pocket computer to get his phone list, it had refused to respond. The wonders of modern technology! The very next day, I turned on my own iPAQ and was confronted with a screen broken up by flickering vertical bars, which then changed to a mirror imaged screed (mirrored left to right). The machine had been used quite a lot the previous day, and had only been carried upstairs and placed carefully on a table in the meantime - no drops, knocks etc then or earlier. Pressing the case would change the display between flickering vertical bars, normal, and mirrored display. Microwarehouse, from whom I purchased it, told me to contact Compaq, who quickly confirmed they would need it back, and arranged its collection: as I would be out the next day (Friday) and the following Monday, I asked that this should be on Tuesday. Much to my surprise I received a phone call a couple of hours later from DHL, asking if they could collect later that day, and a van arrived only an hour later. Even more remarkably, the van driver remarked on having called here before for a package for Japan - and that was back in September (photographs of the Bridgestone Moulton with Dr Moulton at The Hall). I hope to see the iPAQ back in about a week, but in the meantime I have switched back to the Handspring, which I am using with the excellent Targus portable keyboard to type this on a train on the way to Bradford on Avon. As I don't yet have an external keyboard for the iPAQ, I'm probably better off with the Handspring for this, though I do miss the audio player and the higher resolution, backlit colour display of the iPAQ.

Next issue

The planned date for the next issue is 1st April, though it might be put back a week (pressure of work, and I don't want the effort of trying to think of 'amusing' articles to write to suit the date). Many thanks to our contributors who have sent articles and letters to fill the gap.


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.


Apologies for the fact that the promised photographs by Graham McDermott of the Streetbikes APBs (which it has been pointed out to me are fx8 models, and therefore not separable) have still not been put on the web pages - this should be done Real Soon Now. The photographs from Colin Martin's ride to Australia have now been put there ( Both the Sales and Wants List and Events sections of the web pages have been updated to include what is in the excellent new edition of The Moultoneer.

New Continental 17 inch (369) tyres for the AM range

The AM series of Moultons was introduced in 1983, and from the start its use of the unique 17 inch wheel (369) has been a source of concern for owners. The AM Wolber tyre was the only tyre available in this size until late last year, and while many people, including myself, found it a perfectly reasonable tyre, it has come in for some criticism from some people. Although batches seemed to vary, much of the criticism seems to have been based on hearsay, and to be as relevant to tyres of other sizes and other makes of similar characteristics (high pressure, low rolling resistance road tyres). In 2000, Michelin, who had taken over Wolber, ceased manufacturing the AM Wolber tyre, but at the same time Bridgestone introduced a tyre of the same size, coinciding with the launch in Japan of their new Bridgestone Moulton - a bike which visually at least is quite similar to the 1960's Moultons, but using the 369 wheel format. So far there have not been many reports about the new Bridgestone tyre, though some early users have claimed it is a huge improvement, while others have detected little difference. At the time of the launch of the Bridgestone Moulton, I confidently predicted that the increased market for tyres of this size would result in other makes of tyres becoming available. Now I am proved right with the launch of a new Continental tyre in the 32-369 size - at last AM Moulton owners have a choice of tyre. Perhaps I should admit at this point that this was not entirely an inspired prediction, as I had been told in confidence that Continental were working on this tyre back in the middle of 2000.

While the moulding on the new Bridgestone tyre only carries Bridgestone's name, and the 'Moulton' name is only a transfer, the Continentals, at least the pre-production ones I have seen and been using carries the legend 'Exclusively for Alex Moulton Bradford on Avon' moulded onto the side wall. The side wall also carries the size information - 32-369, like the Bridgestone and the Wolber - and the maximum pressure rating - 120 psi, which is higher than that shown on either of the other tyres, although some owners reported running the Wolbers at this pressure on a regular basis without problems. More noticeable is the tyre tread pattern, which appears identical to that of the old Wolbers. Don't be fooled by this, though, the design of the tyre under the tread is completely new, and the rubber compound is almost certainly different too, so this really is a new tyre. The Bridgestone, like many other recent tyres, has a rather minimal tread, and personally I'm pleased to see that the Conti has the more substantial tread, as this is likely to give more grip under muddy conditions at least. The Conti is described as having a 60 threads per inch carcass, with double puncture resistant breaker.

Bad news, if there is any, seems to be limited to the price, which is about £21.95 - though to put this in perspective, you can easily pay this much or more for, admittedly larger, high quality tyres in 26 inch and 700C sizes. In view of the smaller production volumes for the Conti, and the fact that size is only going to affect material costs, which represent a fairly small part of the final cost of the tyre, this is not too unreasonable for a high quality tyre.

Though reports of the Bridgestones have been scarce, I was lucky enough to be given a set of the new Contis by Shaun Moulton just before Christmas to test. That is one of the reasons why most of my riding in 2001 has been on AM Moultons - to give the tyres a good test. Due to weather, and more recently the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, I have only managed about 400 km so far, when I would have expected otherwise to have done more than 600 km, but I'm very impressed with the results, which are summarised below.

1. Fitting

Small tyres are often difficult to fit and remove, as apart from anything else there is less tyre to stretch. The Contis went on relatively easily, without needing levers, but nevertheless felt tight enough not to worry about them blowing off. As I'll explain later, I moved them at one point from one AM to another, and they also came off the rims quite easily when required, with only light use of levers. They subsequently re-mounted on the second bike as easily as on the first. During inflation the tyres very quickly snapped into the rims, and required minimal fiddling to give true running. I'd rate them as superior to the Wolbers in all these respects. The Bridgestones, by comparison, seem to be a very tight fit on the rims, and at least one very experienced Moultoneer abandoned them and started stockpiling Wolbers as he was concerned about removing and fitting tyres if he had a puncture on the road in cold and wet weather, when tyre removal and fitting is more difficult.

2. Grip

I never try to induce skids - I'm getting too old to relish the prospect of a fall, but at all times the Contis have inspired confidence. On wet roads they certainly seem to have good grip, and there has been no sign of locking a wheel under braking (not a reflection on the brakes, as I find the dual pivot Shimano 105s excellent, unlike the CLBs originally fitted on my AM7). In slightly muddy conditions (country lanes in winter, before Foot and Mouth) the tyres also inspired confidence. I wouldn't say that I could rate them as better than the Wolbers in this respect, as I don't set out to break the grip, but they are certainly at least as good. Personally I would rate them as probably better than the Bridgestones in this respect - somehow these felt a bit more twitchy, a view which seems to be supported by Arthur Smith's comments in The Moultoneer (Arthur is the Moulton Bicycle Club's Technical Adviser). On frosty and icy roads almost any tyre on a cycle is going to have problems - the Contis are no worse than anything else under these conditions.

3. Rolling resistance

Immediately before fitting the Contis, I used the AM on Wolbers exclusively for a week, to make sure that I could make a reasonable comparison. After fitting the Contis, subjectively the bike did feel slightly more lively, though I would not describe this as a huge improvement. A subsequent period of riding on the Bridgestones for a while gave the impression that these were not quite as good as the Contis, and perhaps not any better than the Wolbers. These are subjective views, but I was also able to carry out some slightly more scientific tests in January, and these were reported in FSN issue 68 - at the time I was not able to name the Contis, but referred to them as 'Brand X'. As a reminder, these tests produced the following results:

Bike Friday NWT on Schwalbe City Marathons (406): Shortest distance
AM Moulton on Wolbers (369): +10 metres
New Series Moulton on Continental GP (406):  +22 metres
AM Moulton on Continentals (369) +42 metres.
Airnimal on Kendas (520): +45 metres

Clearly these tests show the Conti as performing better than the old Wolber, and not far behind the Kendas on the larger-wheeled Airnimal (520, 24 inch). Though the IRC Roadlite /451 (20 inch) wheeled Bike Friday Pocket Rocket was not tested at the same time, results of this against the Wolber-tyred AM suggest that this too would have the edge on the Contis, but none of the other tyres I have tested in various sizes, 349 to 520, are as good. Since I'm inclined to think that EVERYTHING ELSE BEING EQUAL, and with EQUAL QUALITY TYRES, a good big 'un will beat an equally good small 'un, these are very good results. Unfortunately I have not tried the Bridgestones on this particular test yet, so I only have the subjective assessment that they are not as good as the Contis in this respect.

4. Wear

It's far too early to judge on this, but after 400 km there is no sign whatsoever of wear. Actually with the Wolbers I found that tyre life was sometimes affected by deterioration of the rubber (crazing), though again it is too early to assess the Contis in this respect. Another important factor in life of tyres is susceptibility to cuts - I have had to scrap a number of tyres (eg Primo Comet 349 and Schwable City Jet 406) due to serious cuts in the tread, probably caused by glass. I've never had to do that with the old Wolbers, and so far there are no signs of cuts in the Contis either - I think the tread pattern helps in this respects, especially compared with the very light tread of the Primos, City Jets and other tyres of that type (the Bridgestones look as they may fall into this category).

5. Punctures

As I've said before, I regard punctures as having a lot to do with luck. In 15 years of riding Wolbers, I have never found them particularly puncture prone - certainly no worse than anything else I have used. So far I have not had a puncture with the Contis, though I would not read any great significance in this. I ran the Bridgestones briefly (about 10 days) and had one puncture - but again, I would not read much into this: in such a short test, it's probably just down to luck.

6. Cost

Not to be confused with price - the Contis are certainly more expensive than the Wolbers or Bridgestones, but life (including susceptibility to cuts etc) comes into the equation as well, and on an expensive, high quality bicycle there is no point in spoiling the ship for a ha'pworth of tar (or rubber). The price is not unreasonable for a good quality tyre of this kind, and if the life is acceptable (and with no measurable wear so far there is no sign that this will not be the case) then many owners may not consider this a problem.

Overall I rate the new Continental tyre very highly, and it will be my tyre of choice for the AM. My initial tests were carried out on my old AM7, but part of the way through them an AM Jubilee L became available, fitted with Bridgestones. When I had a puncture on the Bridgestones after 10 days, I took the opportunity to move the Contis to the Jubilee L in place of the Bridgestones - an indication of my rating of the Contis.

Although I was quite happy with the Wolbers, the Contis are a definite improvement so far, and it is really reassuring for AM owners to now have a choice of tyres in the 369 size. How ironic, though, that after 15 years users of AMs, with their unusual 369 sized wheels, should have a tyre choice, while owners of the New Series Moulton, with its standard 406 sized wheels, only have one tyre available at present, due to the limited clearances.


By Jeff Cain

Many areas in the US are blessed with a peculiar thorn known colloquially as a "goat head thorn". These little buggers produce a very long (~1/4 inch or 0.5 cm) thin, and sharp thorn. They grow curbside, and are invisible to the rider, hence impossible to avoid picking up. The following is the synthesis of my fifteen years of attempting to battle the thorn, drawn from my riding (approximately 1500-2500 miles/year) and our local bicycle shops.

Kevlar tires have proven pointless (pun intended), as the thorn easily works its way through the weave. Thicker "thorn resistant" tubes are not. Thorn resistant that is, though they are certainly thicker and hence heavier. Local riders that wish the lightest, most freely running tires simply put up with frequent flat repairs. Most racers and triathletes fall into this category, and I admit to having gone "bare" on some long distance rides when my bike of choice was a large wheel, delicate, "cumbersome".

Those willing to sacrifice a little rolling resistance for protection have two choices, tire liners and tube fillers. Tire liners come in two types, each varying in weight and expense. The standard brand of tire liner is known as "Mr. Tuffy Strips" and consists of a plastic strip that one inserts between the tire and tube. Mr. Tuffy quite effectively blocks punctures of all types (glass, nails, and thorns) but is heavy enough to notice an increase in rolling resistance to the rider. Last year brought another product called "Slime Strips" that is slightly thinner and lighter. In over ten years of rough riding on a mountain bike with Mr. Tuffy, I have had only two flats (one of these being a sidewall puncture). This includes a lot of off road riding over cactus and thorns in the desert and city riding without paying any attention to road trash. When installing Mr. Tuffy, be sure to trim the overlapping edges and consider a plastic tape to avoid punctures that result from the strip wearing on the tube. I have not tried Mr. Tuffy on a small diameter wheel but have installed Slime Strips on my Brompton. Personally, I would recommend them on a bike destined for rough use that requires maximum protection from any kind of road hazard.

Another tire liner option is the newer, lighter, and more expensive "Spinskins". These liners are made of Spectra fiber, and are light enough to allow protection that will not appreciatively change rolling resistance. They are not cheap, and as I recall cost over $50 US for a road bike. Again, they must be installed carefully, or they may cause punctures, though I have had no problems in three years on a large wheel folder (Montague Urban), with only one sidewall flat. Unfortunately, the company discouraged their use on a small wheeled folder, because of the nature of the Spectra fibers. The fibers are long and potentially sharp, not easily conforming to the sharper curve of a small diameter wheel and may in fact cause flats as the liner wears. This is a good compromise for those wanting maximum performance with decent protection from the thorns, but not their pocket book.

The last option for fighting the dreaded thorn is a protective "goo" that is applied through the valve stem. Sold locally as "Slime" or "True Goo", these thick liquids flow along the inside of the tube and seal small diameter punctures as they occur. The thorn will happily continue to live in the punctured/sealed tube and tire without pressure loss. Advertisements imply that slime protects from other larger diameter punctures, but not from complete cuts. These products are a little messy to apply and also add weight to the outer diameter of the wheel. Cost is low (one bottle costs around $6-8 US and treats both tires) and it is easy to apply. Locally, my bicycle shop recommends this product for recreational riders and commuters. My wife's bike lasted about a year of recreational riding without a flat.

Riding with or without the thorn is not a choice. How one chooses to experience them is. This is also a lesson in life. Personally, as I am fortunate to be the owner of a couple bikes, each has its own solution according to its use. My cumbersome mountain bike (on and off road riding, some commuting in poor weather) has Mr. Tuffy strips. The Montague (fast recreational riding and traveling with some touring) has Spin Skins. Because I often use my Brompton (mostly traveling) without backup tools and in more remote locations (I claimed experience, not intelligence), I actually use both the thinnest Slime liner and their tube goo inside a Primo tire. The result is a tire that remains relatively fun to ride, yet (so far) has remained bulletproof.


By John Prince

Mike mentions the weather in the last FSN; perhaps he would have fancied our selection over the past couple of weeks. Every ten years on average - for reasons not fully understood - the currents in the Pacific reverse and the weather pattern changes dramatically. This year was our "drama" year and the usual sunshine mixed with occasional showers changed into continual downpours. The temperature is not really affected, it stays around 27C (with bright sunshine this would be more like 33C) but the wind gets up, and instead of a gentle cooling trade wind we get a hurricane.

The progress of these monsters is monitored via satellite and the radio alerts us to the various stages of readiness. If a hurricane is due to hit, after taking normal precautions (roping down the roof of your house, stowing any flat objects likes sheets etc., turning off water and electricity) the local population meets at a storm proof refuge to wait out the storm.

PalmsConditions can change with lightening speed. Unable to sleep due to the airless night, I was just checking that all the bedroom windows were open when, announced by violent flashing of lightening the storm struck. Instant reverse of actions ... all windows closed...what's left outside? The bike! Race downstairs and rush out side to see the Flevo rocking dangerously ... get rope and rope to coconut palm tree. Motorcycle into garage and close everything up, but not entirely to allow for pressure equalisation. This squall was gone in a trice but the hurricane before it was three days coming closer ... then one whole never-to-be-forgotten-day when it passed by with the centre about 30 miles away. Wind speeds of 100 mph, waves 40 foot high and lashing heavy rain. (see picture).
Photograph Copyright Patricia Larkham

WavesThe next day was back to beautifully fine weather, but the roads were full of debris, half my garden had been washed away by the sea and an expensive trimaran (£100,000 worth) was washed onto the reef as it ran for cover.
Photograph Copyright Patricia Larkham

About this time I noticed the gear change of the Flevo had got worse. I must explain that nearly every cycle I own is fitted with a hub gear of some sort and that these units are bullet proof in everyday use. Not the Sachs 7 speed derailleur fitted to the Flevo. It refuses to change into the lowest gear, sort of jumps two gears at a time changing up and sometimes I have to resort to "tricks" like changing up two and down one to get the gear I need. OK, I know its my fault and an hour's fiddling would probably pay dividends, but my experience is any improvement does not last. After the hurricane and repeated washings in heavy rain I started to feel sorry for the poor thing, and after reading that Mike had replaced a whole cable to get things going again, decided the time had come to act. So I did the Prince Mark one treatment - cover the rear wheel with newspaper and spray the whole of the mech with WD40. A few minutes later, the surplus wiped off a road test showed a marked improvement, but I wanted better. Time to consult the manual.

"zet versnellingshendel in stand 7. Schakel de handel naar stand 6, draai de pedalen in fietsrichting.....

Zo nee, draai de stelschroef uit ...

Um ... I see ... reading between the lines and translating the Dutch in and out of German I get the drift and fiddle with the screw shown. I decide to go the whole hog, and turn the cycle upside down and - what do you know - the gear change cable runs totally unprotected along the frame and is routed so that it rubs against one of the chain tube supports and runs dangerously close to several other parts. I change this by re routing. Of course every length of outer cable has another point or two where water may enter and also dirt. The cable going to the mech is cunningly put through the standard tight bend with water/dirt pick up point facing forward and the inner is the usual frayed mess after the clamp -remember no replacements available here. The bike is showing quite a lot of rust, not surprising given the climate, the usage and the storage outside, so I start taking this seriously. The chain runs are bent (they run through protective plastic tubes - but due to the heat and the usage of a prop stand, the chain has always sagged one way and the tubes have taken on a permanent "set".

I finally got the whole thing working without changing any parts - impossible here -, but fail to understand why we cyclists accept such technical solutions. Any modern car - often with cable gear change operation in view of front wheel drive, front rubber mounted engine - will run all it's life say 100,000 miles/10 years plus - with no attention to the mechanism. It is properly designed and tested, protected and lubricated and functions as intended. Our cycles however seem to last for a few hundred miles, before extensive fiddling and even expensive replacements are called for. Why do we put up with such a situation?

On the note of reliability, it has been said that the only thing that can stop a modern well serviced vehicle these days is ... a puncture. Although, in the car and motorcycle fields the tubeless tyre was introduced many years ago so that the sudden flat became a thing of the past and things like nails and screws just resulted in pressure loss which could be corrected by adding air and  home was always reachable. The downside was that do it yourself repairs became a thing of the past and certain types of puncture could not be repaired.

Now in my garage I have a bottle of gunge ... very special gunge. I read in a newspaper that the War Office had conducted tests on vehicles with pneumatic tyres by firing machine guns at them as they drove by! This gunge was inside the tyre -both tubeless and tubed - and successfully sealed 6mm bullet holes. I saw a cycle usage here and the Agents co-operated by sending samples and they confirmed that this stuff has been tested in cycle tyres and the bonus is, it washes off in water when you finally get puncture 32 which exhausts the fluid. I intend conducting tests when I return to the UK in July and if all goes well, all of my tyres will be filled with this stuff.

Punctures for me are a serious matter; I have an ear implant which results in my having constant but variable noises in my head. Some of these sound like air escaping (no jokes please!) and mean that the traditional water test is required to find a puncture. That this is not always possible lead me - in a considerable state of cycling ignorance - to fit my Pedersen replica with solid tyres for my India trip in 1992. These tyres had just come out, were made of a foam plastic material and according to the makers gave a soft ride similar to pneumatic tyres. Having read of the fierce tribes I was going to met on the way, I did not fancy trying to fix a puncture under those conditions ... so I fitted these solid tyres (I still have them hanging up in the garage) and they got me there but at a price ... Mike Burrows told me to change them and I did and have not looked back.

On this subject, which is one close to my heart, I see the last A to B had a legal question and answer about thorn strewn highways which said that in Scotland the Planning Department is responsible for maintaining the public's right of way is kept open and free from obstruction. I wonder if the same thing applied to England? My cycling life is turned to hell every year when the local farmer trims his hedges. I just have to stop cycling for about a week to allow the authorities time to clean up. However, cars, lorries, motorcycles and cycles all suffer punctures and pets get thorns in paws. This normally happens in October, by which time the thorns are well developed and reach lengths of 25mm plus (yes, the hawthorn tree produces the sloes I use to produce sloe gin, but also these magnificent puncture makers). Nothing I have done to date has had any lasting effect - the Police ..., the Highways Dept ..., The Planning Dept... - but this has dramatically changed as - fed up with enduring a worsening situation with puncture producing rubbish in the roads and floods caused by badly maintained drainage ditches ... those farmers again - I wrote to the Prime Minister, the DPM, my local MP and the Parish Council enlisting the aid of a Parish Councillor. Suddenly, faced with on the spot pronouncements at the height of the flooding by the PM and DPM, they found themselves having to DO something! The whole thing has only reached stage one, but his has never happened before and I would encourage any cyclist or other road user who is suffering from punctures caused by farm rubbish - thorns & hedge clippings - being left in the public roadway to do something about it and write to the appropriate authorities. There is new Government money being allocated to upgrading the roads - £2 billions I believe - and this is your chance to grab part of the cake.

Now a correction ... several years ago I wrote in the then Folder magazine that in the Cook Islands on the main island of Rarotonga each Saturday a leisurely round the island ride starts at 15.30; distance 21 miles. This is totally wrong and I am sorry! Truth is that on most Saturdays a bunch of fitness freaks set off on a training run around this island and the first man home often completes the 21 miles in around 45 minutes at an average speed of approaching 30 mph. Considering the roads are not closed for this event, that normally a head wind is met somewhere around the island and that road works and hills are all taken in their stride, I think says a lot for the spirit of those taking part.

Today they have a triathlon ... starting at Fruits of Raraotonga. Unfortunately I was given an incorrect starting time, so arriving near the finish I decided to try again next week! It's not often here that something starts EARLIER than expected...there's a lot of "Island Time" allowance for lateness and after a time it becomes second nature to allow for it.

Anyway, my TV supplier Kevin Henderson (a Kiwi) won and has promised to give me the correct information to enable me to include it in my next report.


By Michelle Whitworth

We can only holiday together in the winter because of Derek’s business. There’s no shortage of possibilities but they mostly involve long haul and can be expensive.

CyprusThis year, all flights were booked to our chosen destination (Sri Lanka) on our selected dates (because of the business, it's also hard for us to plan far ahead). So, we took an offer of a package to Cyprus, instead, as one of the few Mediterranean destinations you can still get to at this time of year, added to its accessibility from Newcastle.(20 minutes to the airport on the metro with a folding bike.) With some trepidation, I might add, when some people said disparagingly – "you know, it could be quite cold and wet".

Not knowing anything about Cyprus, (although I skimmed the Lonely Planet) we took it at face value when told that Limassol was an excellent base. We soon discovered this meant that it was very central for drivers as the presumption nowadays is that the tourist’s first act is to hire a car. As for the locals, they wouldn’t dream of walking more than three yards: yellow lines, pavements – they’re all there to aid parking. One ex-pat told us that Cypriots would park in the supermarket if they could, because of the weather – "it's so hot in the summer, you see." She conveniently overlooked the fact that this conversation took place in temperatures we’d die for - a gentle balmy 70° F. Moreover, diesel at 40p a litre, plus the prevalence of dirt roads, means that the vehicle of choice for most Cypriots is a gas guzzling 4x4 (Range Rover or 4 seater pickup).

We took Bike Fridays in hard cases. In Gran Canaria a couple of years ago, having engaged a cheap room in Las Palmas, we took a local bus out of town each morning, (two Bike Fs just fitted in the hold), spending the rest of the day cycling back. It would have taken us hours to cycle uphill, and choked our lungs in the city traffic, whereas about £1.30 each took us to a different point of the island, from which we enjoyed a largely downhill run home. Moreover, the bikes fitted neatly into a taxi boot which was just as well as the only road north or south from the airport is a motorway.

Cyprus was a different proposition. We had anticipated using public transport but wasted a day discovering that cheap motoring and tourism seemed to have killed this off. There were a few buses between towns but the routes back were along motorways or busy roads and rather too far for winter riding. In any case, the buses are slow and unreliable and we couldn’t get any sense out of anyone about whether they would take our bikes in the hold (it was difficult enough tracking down where the buses went from let alone at what times). It got dark around 5, although light by 6.30 am, and the roads were such that night riding was perilous -negotiating the town with its pot holes and sunken drain covers was bad enough. The Lonely Planet had said there was transport to the Troodos mountains but this turned out to apply to the summer only – a winter day trip was impossible.

So, we undertook a few days exploring the area, sallying forth to the plentiful various archaeological sites. We were rather horrified by the traffic at first as we had a 3 mile cycle along a 2 lane high way to town and then another few miles to clear it on the eastern side. Surprisingly, (since we saw virtually no other cyclists) Cyprus too has the phenomenon of the not very useful cycle lane which appears suddenly and then after a few hundred yards of parked cars and service vehicles dumps you just where you really it need it back on the unlit road by the traffic lights (though no broken glass!). After a few days, however, we had settled down and begun to find our way around, so that we had some pleasant trips. Everyone told us that the Cypriots are crazy drivers and in some ways they are. At red traffic lights, it is an almost universal practice for cars to edge slowly as far as they can over the lights (so that they are right round the corner on a left turn) before accelerating away fast as the lights change. Speeds are relatively high, we saw several bumps and collisions and no evidence of traffic enforcement. On the other hand, I felt that the Cypriots gave us more room, perhaps because they found us so unusual or because we were obviously foreign, but we only had one slight unpleasantness when Derek was, shall we say, "assertive" with an overtaking car which squeezed in.

One day, we took a service taxi (a 6-7 seater car, not much more expensive than a bus) to Paphos, which we discovered would have been a much better base for cycle touring. As we couldn’t find out how the taxi driver would react, we didn’t take our bikes which was just as well as they filled the boot with all sorts of packages from various businesses. By the time we had walked from Paphos town centre to the archaeological sites on the seafront and back again, we wasted a lot of time. Cycling would have been quicker and would have enabled us to visit the Tombs of the Kings as well.

The folders did come into their own on one occasion. I had seen a notice advertising an annual event to celebrate the winter solstice on a famous archaeological site at 6.30 am 21st December. Bleary eyed, we pushed our bikes up a rough track (covered in diesel fumes – all the Cypriots drove their 4WDs) to watch 3 maidens wafting white draperies to music as the sun rose over the sea. Afterwards, a pleasant English couple offered to drop us and our bikes off somewhere so we could cycle back (fortunately we were able to cram the bikes into the tiny boot of their hired car) As I did not think the route back would be very enjoyable, we allowed them instead to drive the bikes back to our hotel and then accepted their second offer of accompanying them on a day trip to Nicosia.

After about a week of pleasant day rides, we felt we were beginning to exhaust local routes. Public transport having failed us, we bit the bullet and hired a car. With winter prices of £42 for four days and low petrol prices, it was hard to resist, because it came out cheaper and more time-efficient than service taxi, as well as enabling us to reach parts of the island we would never have seen.

One day, we went into the Troodos where we walked the Persephone trail which, at 5000 feet, was above the snowline. We then took off to the west for a couple of days. We cycled along the sea west from Paphos to a well known gorge, at the foot of which were large numbers of 4WDs full of tourists who’d paid lots of dosh for off-road thrills. We did the gorge for a fraction of the price as well as managing to get further than mechanised vehicles, though we eventually had to abandon the bikes as it became very narrow and rocky. We then cycled along the peninsula on a trail which I would say we travelled as fast as the 4WDs. That night, we stopped at the eastern end of the island in a cheap hotel in which is growing in popularity as a destination for more eco holiday makers but is only half open at this time of the year (the campsites and some of the smaller accommodations don’t open till Easter) Next day, we sampled one of the excellent day walks in the area. This is the area to come for touring as the roads are smaller and quieter and it would be easier to ascend the eastern flanks of the Troodos. On our fourth hire day, we went to Larnaca, finding, as often in the older towns with their narrow streets, that a bike is the only comfortable way to take in all the sights. One of my the highlights of that day was seeing and photographing flamingos wintering on the salt lake at the edge of town.

We only had a couple of days of dodgy weather. The first time, we were lucky enough to have made it to an archaeological site so we took shelter under the canopies that protect the mosaics. When we did finally decide to break for home, we hadn’t got out of the car park before we discovered a puncture. This proved fortunate in one respect because it started to pour again five minutes later, so we mended it at leisure in a workmen’s hut on site. The other bad day, we had gone up a valley to the north of Limassol. Cyprus, like Greece, is full of half built houses so, keeping a watchful eye on the weather, I had earmarked one under which we took refuge just as the rain started. We sat comfortably having our picnic lunch (our staple of local bread, cheese, tomatoes and olives) and reading, taking advantage of a beaten up old table and some chairs thoughtfully left by the workmen. Mind you, we got some odd looks when the neighbours returned from their weekend supermarket shop!

In Cyprus, it never rains but it pours. After half an hour, the dirt road outside was liquid mud and torrents were gushing down it. We returned to our apartment but ventured out in the afternoon and got caught in another deluge. There were lakes at the side of the road and huge amounts of water running down the gutters so it was quite treacherous.

I could imagine Cyprus would be reasonable for touring later in the year (in spring before it got too hot and when all the flowers were out) especially in the west. The Troodos are pretty steep from what we saw. It is not a pretty island but there are lots of interesting historical sites. I enjoy Mediterranean food and always feel much healthier when in places like this with all the cheap fruit and veg. Bikes are good because you can so easily get round the narrow lanes of the old towns and we tended to use the local markets more than other tourists. We were also able to find some of the cheaper eating out deals in town used by locals because you tend to stumble across them on a bike whereas the car tourist misses them.

The other point to note is that we have started to pay for the bikes on the plane. I know with a folding bike one should avoid charges. However, the problem with Bike Fs in the case is that this takes up the whole of the 20kg luggage allowance and there is a limit to what you can wear and stuff in your pockets. It was on one package where the allowance was even less (15kg) that Derek thought to ask what the bikes would cost separately. As it was only £30 return each (far less than the excess baggage would be), we decided it was best to book them on like that and we have now done this a couple of times since. Although I am sure this is not what the airline envisaged – including the weight of the Samsonite case – it hasn’t proved a problem yet. We avoid problems with coach transfers and the like where they can be a little funny about taking an ordinary bike, and keep the bikes protected (we saw what Indian luggage handlers had done to another traveller’s derailleur hanger).

A couple of notes:

We have been glad of folding bikes on two occasions in the last 6 months. In the Lake District one weekend, a tyre blew out and we folded the bike (a Bike Friday) with the intention of sending one of us back to Ambleside to buy another tyre. Being fortunate enough to flag down a Range Rover within ten minutes, however, we were able to get both of us and the bikes into it and were back in Ambleside within half an hour of the incident where we replaced the tyre.

Last Sunday, we experienced our second Brompton rim blow-out whilst on a ride with the Tyneside Veterans group. Having just emerged from the pedestrian/cycle tunnel under the Tyne, we simply pushed the folded Brompton on the back of the other to the nearest Metro station which, fortunately, is only ten minutes walk away. Less fortunately, the recent demise of Sturmey Archer meant that Derek could not excuse to replace his old 5 speed (2 cables) with a newer version – he had to opt for a 3 speed instead.

Finally, I know Mike keeps saying that the Newt doesn’t seem very free running and he wonders whether it’s the 3x7. I’ve had the same feeling though people have told me that it’s my imagination and its very difficult to test subjective feelings. I do think that hubs may have some bearing on it (if you’ll forgive the pun). My replacement NWT (for one that was stolen) does seem more free running, even allowing for the fact that it has narrower Primos rather than the previous more stodgy tyres, and I’m sure it has something to do with better quality hubs.


Ken Baldwin writes:
"I have recently posted a web page on my modified Brompton T5 which might interest some of your readers:"

Marten Gerritsen responds to John Prince's remarks in the last issue regarding rolling resistance and number of wheels ('... as far as rolling resistance is concerned, the number of wheels/tyres fitted to a  machine is immaterial? It is the all up weight of the  machine that determines rolling resistance, and whether unicycle or three or four wheeled, the rolling resistance STAYS THE SAME!'): 
"While this is correct in principle, it might be pointed out that with tracked vehicles it will be difficult to achieve perfect alignment. Such vehicles will scrub their tyres, which increases rolling resistance. The air resistance (on a bicycle the rear wheel drafts the front will be increased as well. PS: I enjoy reading FSN, thank you for your efforts."

There must be other losses introduced by more wheels as well, in bearings etc, and possibly more complex transmission systems.

Chas Smith responds to Dennis Duggan's comments on riding on towpaths:
"Dennis Duggan makes some interesting statements about canal towpaths, and also invites more readers to contribute, so here goes:

May I dare suggest that responsible cyclists should NOT be inhibited in using canal towpaths, except where there is a notice specifically prohibiting cycling. The fact that 'the hooligan element' rides along towpaths using mountain bikes or any other vehicle is irrelevant. If we did not ride where mountain bikers go, we would not go anywhere. On my little Brompton I recently explored some canal-side ways in the Paddington area of London, and found that cycling appears to be permitted (or at least not specifically prohibited) in certain places. Where it is not permitted, it seems to me that there is a serious loss not only of major tourist potential, but also possible alternative commuting corridors, which London can hardly afford to do without. If I should technically have had a permit, then I am sorry, and I'll try to obtain one, but insistence on a bit of paper seems a little daft to me, since the hooligan element won't get one anyway.

Anything which enables cyclists (or 'organ donors' as they are known to London motorists) off the city streets should be actively encouraged, rather than discouraged with petty paperwork."

David Hansen also responds on the same topic:  
"A greater proportion of motorists break the law. I don't notice this has given them all a bad name. Indeed the police go out of their way to accommodate these criminals. Therefore I think there are other factors at work in giving cyclists a bad name. ... Regarding the damage caused by tyres to the path, people have cycled along towpaths for at least 100 years. The name Lock Wheeler was used to describe someone who cycled ahead of the boat to set locks. The damage to the path was minimal, about as much as caused by feet and much less than caused by a horse. Excessive use, especially with knobbly tyres, will cause more damage. In particular "stunt" riding involving skids and the like. Waterways interests claim that cyclists expect to use these paths for free, paid for by boaters. However, reality is rather different. BWB had largely abandoned tow paths, they certainly aren't suitable for towing in places, some are missing altogether. Improvements to these paths are being funded outwith BWB, by people like utility companies, councils and Sustrans. In fact if anything it's boaters who are not paying for these paths, their fees go to maintaining navigation. 

Advance notice: Sometime in late spring/early summer I will be trying to arrange the third and final leg of the folder ride along the Settle and Carlisle line. The first two stages were a couple of years ago. Since then the line has often been closed at the weekends in the winter and I have had other things to organise. This final stage will be from Dent to Settle and Skipton. After a dramatic downhill and equally dramatic uphill the run is generally downhill all the way."

Paul Evans offers the following observations on the subject:
"Re towpaths, I have similar views to yourself. I do not have a licence, but expect to cycle anywhere on the canal system. My K&A anecdote is that whilst cycling the towpath at, I think, Aldermaston, there was a BWB gang repairing a lock gate, which meant the towpath was blocked. The foreman, did two things:
1. Jokingly (very) suggested that I show him my licence, otherwise I'd be arrested
and 2. Ran forward to help me over the obstruction.
I have never had any less than helpful and courteous responses from BWB workers 'on the ground'.

I too think its 'how' we cycle : I give way to walkers, anglers (although some can be grumpy s*ds), etc and thank them if they stop for me. However, I have been knocked over when walking the Staffs and Worcs by a couple of kids on bikes who didn't slow down for a bridge hole, and, more importantly, been intimidated by a pack of about a dozen cyclists in Lycra, heads down, 2 or 3 across, doing 20 - 25 mph along the towpath near Little Venice. These are the people who will get bikes really banned from the towpaths."

RSWsRichard DeLombard writes:
"While I realize that the Raleigh folders seem to be in the minority within the Folding Society, your banner does say ALL folders. You've asked for folder pictures for your archives, so I offer some pictures which were taken on the Tour Of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) ride in May 2000. This tour generally gets between 4000 and 7000 riders for a two-day 210 mile tour in Ohio, USA. These two pictures of Raleigh RSWs (and one Twenty) were taken while travelling about 20 mph with a handheld Kodak camera while on a bike (there were four of us riding together). I am the third in the row of RSW-16's."

I'm always glad to have material for FSN and the web pages, and it's good to see venerable machines like these still getting serious use and giving pleasure.

Dennis Duggan writes regarding punctures, and other matters:

"On the subject of punctures, I have not suffered one for over two years (touch wood) though no doubt something nasty will now pierce a tyre next time I go out!!

There was an item in The Moultoneer a few issues ago by a member (Alan Kennedy?). He invented a system whereby the tyre continually rubbed against an arm, the idea being that a nail or thorn or whatever would get knocked away before it had a chance to go through the rubber. His theory was that the object might need a couple of revolutions of the wheel before it was able to puncture the tube, so if it could be removed in time it would avoid a puncture. I never heard any more about it, but it certainly sounds reasonable to me.

As you say, it is all down to luck. My last puncture was caused by a sharp piece of grit, of all things!

Does anyone agree with my theory that a tube pumped up really hard is more puncture-resistant than one at a lower pressure? Or is that a figment of my imagination?

On another subject, I have never found a rear-view bicycle mirror actually suitable for a bicycle.  All the ones I have come across have a ridiculously short stem, which means an excellent view of the sky but a distinct lack of rearward vision unless I lower my head to handlebar level - plainly not a practical proposition.

Can I finish on a philosophical note and return to cycling on towpaths.  Mike replied to my letter with some pertinent comments on the subject, one of which was the fairly valid one that if the rider behaved considerately there should be no objection.  That is the way I understood it, anyway.

This gives the cyclist a moral dilemma, especially if we expand the idea to riding on pavements etc.  Rightly or wrongly, certain everyday actions (cycling or otherwise) have been deemed to be against the law.  These rules and regulations are in place to prevent people having an adverse effect on their fellow citizens.

But if we start modifying these laws to suit ourselves then surely that is the road to anarchy. For example, a cyclist may not consider it safe to ride on a busy urban dual carriageway. He observes an adjacent wide, empty pavement and decides it would be better for him and the traffic if he used it instead of the road. He is probably doing no harm, but at the end of the day he is breaking the law. Where does it end?"

I don't think the tyre protector wires mentioned were actually Alan's invention, though I know he and others use them. I've never been very keen, as I worry about something getting caught on them. I believe the idea is that they do not actually touch the tyre, but clearance is miniscule (otherwise they would not do the job for which they were intended). Those who use them certainly claim a reduction in punctures. I think it is a well established fact that punctures are less of a problem with well inflated tyres. I've had sharp pieces of grit cause punctures as well. An article on mirrors is planned - indeed, it has been part-written for months now, and I keep copying the text out of the current issue into the next one, ready for completion! I'd rather avoid philosophical discussion getting into FSN - perhaps the FCOT's Fellowship News would be a more suitable place for such debate? I would say, though, that I agree with the difficulty of deciding when it is legitimate to ignore the law because it is personally inconvenient, unfortunately the motorists who break speed limits, park on yellow lines and on the pavement, and who increasingly seem to go through traffic lights after they have turned red, do not seem bothered, and certainly present a more serious problem generally than cyclists - but I guess philosophically there is something of the same attitude behind it, even if the potential consequences are on a different scale.

For those looking for some additional reading, Seamus King reports:
"Issue 4 of Byke Kultuur Never is out now at . There's a brief account of Bike Right 6.5, held in Northumberland in February, with several photos, as well as the usual sort of guff."


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 immediately 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 7th April - 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.

Saturday 14th April - Origami Ride
Origami Rides are usually held on the second Saturday of each month, and the normal meeting point is at the Tearooms at Meriden. During the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, arrangements may be changed, so please check with the organiser before attending. For information on future/alternative events, contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685, email, or look at his web site at

Friday 11th - Sunday 13th May 2001 - Informal Folder/Separable gathering in Weymouth
Early notification of the dates of our annual informal gathering in Weymouth - no so much a Forum, more a way of life! Nothing organised, just take things as they come. Typically meet up at the Pavilion between 10:00 and 10.30 am for activities during the day, and 7:00 pm in the evening. More details (if there are any - it is informal) nearer the time.

Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th July,  Amsterdam area
European Bike Friday gathering - other folders welcome. More details later, or contact Enno Roosink at

17 - 19th August - Bike Friday Homecoming Rally 2001, Eugene, Oregon. Contact Jennifer Hill, for further details

2001 A Cycling Odyssey
There is of course no CycleFest at Lancaster this year, but for those whose year is not complete without a visit to Lancaster, here is a notice sent to us by Seamus King of a rather different and very informal gathering at Lancaster in August:
"Now on its third name this unique cycle camping event is back. So, even though you probably haven't bought them yet put a note in your 2001 diary, or in your 2000 diary to remind you to put it in your new diary when you buy it. For the first time, the event will be held on two separate weekends at two different venues which should give more cyclists the opportunity to attend. The first weekend will be 18th & 19th August 2001 based on the usual campsite on the Lune estuary at Snatchems End near Lancaster. The following week, 25th & 26th August , a second event will be held at Kirk Newton near Wooler in Northumberland not far from the Scottish Border. There will be the usual Socialising, Rides and Light entertainment. The event will have the same casual atmosphere that has forged it a well deserved place in cycling history. If you came to Not Cyclefest or Bike-Right-Lancaster Cycling Weekend then please rest assured, it's only the name that's changed to protect the innocent. Go on Give it a whirl! Further info from Steve Andrews - please phone 01524 824594 or email The website is at ."

August 24 - 26: Tynebikes Rising Sun cycle festival
A weekend at the Rising Sun Park, Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne. Facilities: Campsite, toilets, car parking, local shops, Y.H.A approx 3.5 (easy) miles away, Posh Hotel 10 mins ride away. Displays: Tynebikes, Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, Sustrans, Pashley Cycles, Veteran Cycle Club and loads of other displays nearer the time. Rides: There will be a marshalled ride on Saturday and Sunday or you can explore on your own. For further information contact Ken Davison telephone 0191 296 2918 mobile 07720 916 046 or e:mail or 

At the recent Dudley Cycling Forum which I attended, mention was made of an event being organised by Dudley Canal Trust which might be of interest to some members. On 9th September there is the Two Tunnels Cycle Trip: "A unique way to see the local canal network. Guided towpath cycling and boat transport through the Netherton and Dudley Tunnels. £7.00 for adults and £5.00 for children." For details and booking, contact the Dudley Canal Trust  on 01384 236275.

Another event of interest to folder owners is being considered for September, but dates and details aren't available yet.

Moulton Bradford on Avon Weekend (not?): Reports on the Moulton emailing list suggest that there is not going to be a formal, organised Bradford on Avon weekend this year, but that there will be a totally informal gathering over the weekend of 15-16 September, with no organised activities. If/when we have any confirmation (or otherwise) of this, we will give details in FSN. 

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: 20 March 2001