Issue 78 - 3 July 2001


There is not a lot of news to report on the folder front at present, but as we do have three significant warnings which are relevant to readers, we have brought issue 78 of FSN forward a few days.

Warning 1: An interesting (Chinese curse!) non-cycling journey

On Monday 2 July I went to London to dispose of a fair sized medium format camera outfit, in exchange for a much 'simpler' 35mm rangefinder system. The medium format outfit was bulky, and after some thought I decided it would actually be easier NOT to take a folder with me! The Chiltern Railways line to London (Birmingham Snow Hill to Marylebone) may take a bit longer than the Virgin one (New Street to Euston), but it was about half the price, so I thought this saving made it worth going that way. We were a bit delayed on approach to Marylebone though, and were 20 minutes late arriving - a nuisance, but not intolerable (in a car I would certainly not be able to predict time of arrival that accurately). Jacobs in New Oxford Street gave me a good deal on the camera, and I found the staff very knowledgeable and pleasant - I can thoroughly recommend them. I got back to Marylebone with some time to spare, and the platform for my train was not being displayed, so I went into W H Smith to look at magazines, and to buy a packet of crisps, a KitKat and a drink, but I could not see a copy of Professional Photographer to read on the train (the relevance of this will become apparent shortly!). The Club train back to Snow Hill kept perfect time, and provided a most enjoyable journey - studying the new camera manual kept me occupied, even without a magazine. While on the way to London, and in London itself, I saw a couple of Bromptons, and a large number of cycle couriers in London ignoring traffic lights (in fact I'm not sure I saw one take any notice of one - pedestrians were certainly expected to get out of their way).

I decided to walk from Snow Hill to New Street and catch the train to Tipton from there - allowing myself a brief stop at Jessops and the Birmingham branch of Jacobs to see if I could get some filters (not successful I'm afraid, as 39mm is an unusual size). When I reached New Street I had just missed the 15:10 local train to Wolverhampton, so I went into W H Smith to look at magazines, and found Professional Photographer. I fumed mildly when paying for it, as the man in front (only 1) made a bit of a meal of paying and putting his purchases away, and then stowing his wallet, while the young lady assistant was clearly only interested in chatting to a colleague who wanted some cigarettes in silver and blue packaging. She gave me the 5p change from 3 1 coins (no receipt or carrier), and I left to recheck the departures board, and to go to the top of the steps to the platform (5B). As the sign over the platform itself didn't yet show my train, I waited there (don't go down the stairs until it is fairly definite, otherwise they may change platforms, and you have to come up again, and if you are used to carrying a bike, you don't do this, even when you don't have a bike with you). I took a quick look at the magazine while waiting. As 15:30 approached, and still no display of the train above the platform, I went back to look at the main display board, which still showed 5B as the platform. As I walked back past ANOTHER entrance to W H Smith, I decided to take a quick look at their book section (which is by this entrance, not be the magazine area entrance). A quick walk round revealed nothing of interest, and when I got back to the top of platform 5, my train was now being shown on the video display, so I went down to the platform. At this point I was accosted by a security man, who basically accused me of having failed to pay for the magazine. I told him I had been in the shop about 15 minutes earlier (it was now about 15:35), and paid then, but as I had not been given a receipt or carrier, couldn't prove it, so I insisted on going back so that we could look at their video. This process took about 20 minutes, but whenever they rewound, it was only as far as  15:21, and I reckon that I paid before that. The assistant was found., but did not remember me (hardly surprising given her lack of interest, but she remembered the incident of giving the cigarettes to the colleague, as I had described). They in fact could not even find anything that showed me in the store at ANY time. I KNOW I paid, I know who the assistant was, I know who she was talking to, I know the description of the person in front of me (naturally the video didn't go back to him either), I know that if they had rewound to the appropriate point it would have shown me paying, and I know that if they could have located on the video when I was in the store the second time, it would show I had the mag when I entered, and that I was only in the book section that time. If a video of the concourse had been (or is) available, it would have shown me reading the magazine above platform 5 before I went back into the shop the second time. In the end all I got was a grudging "we can't prove it, you can go, and you can keep the magazine"; nothing remotely resembling an apology (I had wasted a lot of time and missed a train, not to mention potential damage to my reputation as a result of anyone witnessing the incident). I'm not sure that the question "How much money have you got on you" which was asked at one point did not add insult to injury - the answer was a guess of 50-100 (for the record, a later check showed about 70) plus a brand new camera and boxes and receipts for a sum which I daren't mention here in view of the extravagance involved (although it was virtually all covered by the part exchange).

You may say this is my own fault for not insisting on an receipt, but just think: if I had bought the magazine in London, and had discarded the receipt and carrier (if given them) on the train (as I probably would have done), the scenario would have been the same. In fact, if I had bought the magazine in the morning, or taken it with me to London having bought it DAYS earlier, the same could have happened. In fact if you walk into W H Smith with a pen in your pocket, when you walk out again, you might end up being accused of stealing it. Do W H Smith (or ALL other shops) ALWAYS give you a carrier and receipt (or do you absolutely ALWAYS insist on having one, and how long do you keep it)? In general terms, I'm all in favour of video surveillance, and I certainly have never felt I have anything to fear from it. However, selectively used by what we might kindly call 'over zealous' security people to show someone exiting a shop without paying for something which they MIGHT have picked up there (but didn't), it is pretty alarming, especially when the rest of the video to prove that the item was not stolen is not made available. "Caveat Emptor" begins to take on a new meaning!

For those of you who feel the appearance and demeanour of the person involved my be relevant, those who know me must judge for themselves. For the rest of you, I would merely say that I am middle aged, verging on (or perhaps really) elderly, balding (very) with a tidy beard, glasses, small, rather studious in appearance, and I had a back pack and two smart, small camera bags. I wasn't wearing a suit and tie, but my Rohan Bags and shirt look, I hope, reasonably smart, if casual (as I hadn't taken a bike, I wasn't wearing any cycling gear), and I was wearing polished (yesterday!) black shoes - appearances don't prove anything, but I wouldn't have thought this looked particularly suspicious. I recently telephoned a mail order company to ask them to send me a Skylight and a Circular Polarising filter for a camera, and they said, "x pounds each"; I pointed out that this seemed cheap for a polariser, and they then checked and said, "Whoops, sorry, x for the Skylight and 2x for the polariser" - so I'm very scrupulous about making sure that I pay the full amount for what I buy.

You may feel this has nothing to do with cycling, but it could just have easily been a cycling magazine, and I might easily have a folder with me, so be warned!

I reckon that over the years I have spent thousands of pounds (no exaggeration) on magazines, books, videos, tapes, and CDs at W H Smith. One thing you can be sure of is that I will NEVER shop there again. Interestingly, in the evening after this event I recounted the experience to a friend, and he described an almost identical experience with another branch of W H Smith, though in his case the security man followed him onto the platform, but did not accost him (my friend is a good deal bigger than I am!). Considering the way that this company allows people to stand around their stores reading magazines without buying them, they seem to have a strange attitude to paying (previous) customers.

On my bike

Although I had not chosen to use a bike for the epic adventure described above, I have managed a few outings in the last couple of weeks. Initially the Airnimal remained in service to handle the commuting rides to the University. Still fitted with the rear carrier, it did this admirably, and indeed one day I was tempted to cycle back from the University as far as Lea Hall station - the first time ever. The ride from Marston Green (previously as far as I have ridden back) to Lea Hall was not particularly enjoyable, so I doubt if I shall repeat this. No folding was needed, but the ability to do this if the need arises is always reassuring.

Once the Airnimal had been cleaned after its trip to Inversnaid and the commuting, the Moulton Jubilee L took over as duty bike. The large, suspended rear platform was a factor in choosing it for my first commute, as I needed to take a notebook computer with me, and I do worry about the affect of vibration on these devices - the Moulton minimises any such worry. While using the Jubilee L, I noticed the front tyre seemed to be running out a bit - a problem I have not been able to eliminate despite several attempts - see the notes in the Moulton section below. Although a bit disconcerting to see, it didn't seem to have any adverse effect on handling.

On Saturday 30th I cycled down to near Himley (DOWN is the operative word) to see a friend, and with the weather looking uncertain for the return, and an uphill return journey, I had the offer of a lift back in her car. This meant it was back to a Brompton - the old T5. The front bag also proved useful for carrying a few odds and ends. The short journey there was accomplished without problems (though I seem very out of condition at present, even on what is predominantly a downhill ride), but I must admit I was glad to take advantage of the lift in the car back to Dudley later, even though the weather was good. The portability of the Brompton was a real asset in this case - I would not have liked to go through the palaver of folding and stowing one of the less portable machines in this case.

Since then, when folding has not been a crucial issue, the Moulton Jubilee L has proved a reliable and enjoyable ride, and though it may not fold, the ability to separate if there is a real need to do so, is reassuring to have in reserve.

Next issue

The next issue of Folding Society News is scheduled for 15th or 22nd July.


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 by emailing us to let us know you prefer this version.


A to B has changed its web address again - the new one is Thank goodness that when I went through the FS web pages last time altering them I used a local link within our own site, so that this time I only have one link to change!


Warning 2

We hear that there was a manufacturing fault on the first batch of the new Continental 369 (17 inch) tyres for the AM range, and as a result they are being recalled. If you have bought any of these tyres, please contact your dealer. The problem should be solved with the next batch of tyres, which should be available soon, but until then the Bridgestone tyre is available instead. My own pre-production set of Continentals still seems fine, though I did notice that the front tyre seems not to be seating quite right, and runs out at one point, and repeated efforts to seat it better have failed to eliminate the problem. It has not effect on the handling, but it is a bit disconcerting if I look down at the wheel.


By Simon Baddeley

On Tuesday I was talking on the phone while on a suburban train. At my station I got off the train, continuing to talk, while using my other hand to carry my folding bicycle as well separate bags containing notebook computer and other stuff to the platform. Phone conversation continued as I paced the empty platform. Suddenly I realised my bicycle which had been standing beside in the parked position

had disappeared. Ended phone call - to a BBC reporter about an election result - and began silently berating human depravity. A moment later, about 5 yards down the platform, I found the small saddle bag that on Bromptons carries the case and sometimes a waterproof. So he didn't want that then and ripped it off, I thought. A few yards further on I saw a battery and my front light housing on the platform. Hm, so he didn't want that either? Perhaps the swine didn't know how to unfold a Brompton and was getting panicky.

I headed up the steps to the open bridge over the platforms planning to go to a police station to report a crime. Peering over the bridge to see if I could see a distant miscreant who might yet be pursued, I saw my bicycle about 75 yards up the same platform on its side and, at a distant glance, looking odd. This was less than 2 minutes from the time I'd noticed it had gone.

I went down to it. The remains of the machine lay on the platform about 6 feet from the edge, crushed as if a giant hammer had descended on it. The chain set was bent nearly double; the handlebars twisted; wheels broken and embedded in the tyres; the frame snapped near the main folding bolt. My leather saddle was merely scuffed. All else was crushed and broken. The would-be thief must have given up trying to assemble it and vented their rage on their lost prize. How could this have happened without me noticing a thing?

I can only imagine that a passing train had sucked it into its skirting, picked it up a shaken it a few times and this mangled wreck was the result.

I ran this version of events in front of my insurer a few minutes later and was told I could go and get myself a new bike. A claim form was in the post. I recovered some spares in the form of folding bolts and my saddle and brakes. I thanked every force for which all should have at least a vestige of superstitious respect including the deity representing "Fortuna" that I was in sound health and no other person had been hurt or caused inconvenience. At the suggestion of the insurance company I purchased a throw-away camera and took pictures of the wreck that had once been my folding bicycle.

Within 4 hours I was riding a new Brompton - bought from Bikefix at Lambs Conduit Street - and am still wondering what this astonishing event that occurred a few feet from me but all unknown must have looked like had it been picked up on video. The station had none. I think I have been lucky but perhaps foolish too.

Editor's footnote: Warning 3

I tend to rest a restraining hand on my bike when a train goes past, but I can't say that I have always done this in the past. I certainly will in future! It's more of a problem with a conventional bike or unfolded folder, and if this can happen to a Brompton, it guess it could happen to any piece of luggage on the platform. So the moral is, when travelling by train, make sure that your Brompton does not get away from you.


Chris Newport writes regarding Bromptons on the London Eye:
"Please tell David Smith that I took my Brompton on the London Eye a couple of months ago, so it's not a first I'm afraid. The security guy in the queue seemed a bit alarmed at first (I didn't have it covered up at all) but let us through without comment. For the 'flight' I put it under the bench seat in the middle of the pod so it didn't get in people's way. Actually, no-one said anything about it (though they do quite often in other situations). Bromptons are becoming quite common in London now - I see several every day usually."

Steve Flowers offers this possible explanation for the retaining hook which Robert Biegler mentioned in the last issue:
This is really obvious, but is it possible that the coil spring that wraps around the steerer tube and front suspension catch had gone missing before Robert Biegler's bought his Birdy?


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. Please note that events may be affected by the current outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease in the UK, so check with event organisers before attending.

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 July - 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 July - 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 - but not for the July ride. The July ride (on 14th) will be at Cheltenham - meet at the station from about 10.30 for an 11.00 start; there is a cafe on the station for those who require food before the ride. At 40 - 48Km (25 - 30 miles) this will be a shorter ride than last year's corresponding ride. It will start along the cycle path from the station which follows the old railway line and head in the direction of Bishop's Cleeve and Winchcombe. For information on future events, contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685, email, or look at his web site at

14th July 2001 - Moulton to Bickerton and back. (Mid Cheshire)
For those of you who enjoyed this ride a few years ago, a chance to enjoy once again the tumbling scenery of West Cheshire, and for those of you that missed it, a chance to come and enjoy the legendary views, food and beer at The Pheasant. Anyone completing the trip on a Bickerton will have their drink bought for them at lunchtime!  Around 35 miles. 10:00am meet in car park, opposite Moulton Post Office, for 10:30 departure. Anticipated return 3:30 - 4:00. All Moultons and any make of folder welcome.  Contact: Jem Kime, 8 Norman Road,  Stockport  SK4 4HJ.  Tel: 0161 432 8132. email:

Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th July, Amsterdam area
European Bike Friday gathering - other folders welcome. More details later, or contact Enno Roosink at . Tee, Hay Ting, who is acting as Enno's Man Friday on this (Enno is very busy at present), tells us that more details can be found on the Bike Friday Yak pages (#820) 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, there  is the Cycling Odyssey, described as a unique cycle camping event. Note that there have been some alterations to the details published previously, as the second weekend has had to be cancelled. The event will therefore be held on the weekend 18th & 19th August 2001 based on the usual campsite on the Lune estuary at Snatchems End near Lancaster. 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. For further information contact Ken Davison telephone 0191 296 2918 mobile 07720 916 046 or email or 

8th - 9th September - Welsh Trains Ride
See editorial for more information.

29th - 30th September - Moulton Bradford on Avon Weekend
The date for the annual Moulton weekend at Bradford on Avon weekend has now been fixed, although no details are yet available of what will be taking place.

A to B Magazine

A to B Magazine remains the ultimate source of authoritative information on folding cycles. In the unlikely event that you aren't aware of A to B and/or don't  read this magazine, then we would urge you to take out a subscription without delay. A to B can be found on the web pages at, or you can email them at, or they can be reached by telephone or fax on 01963 351649, address 19 West Park, Castle Cary, Somerset BA7 7DB, England. A subscription to A to B is only £10 per year in the UK, or $24, and the magazine is published ever two months and is packed with news, reviews and other interesting information on effective integrated transport systems in general, and folding cycles in particular.

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

Back Numbers

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

Contributing material for FSN

We would very much welcome articles, photographs or any other material for inclusion in future issues of FSN, or on our web pages. Please send any material to The Folding Society at the address given below. However, if you are planning to send pictures by email, please send them at an appropriate resolution to avoid high telephone bills - a JPEG picture of 50K or less is ample for use in FSN or on the web pages.

The Folding Society
If you have any news or other information of interest to other members of the Folding Society, please email us at the above address.

If for some reason you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please send a message to this effect to the same email address.

All information given here is provided in good faith, but no responsibility can be taken for errors or for any consequences arising from the publication of this information.

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Copyright (C)2001 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 3 July 2001