The Folding Society

An owner's view of the Micro

By Tony Hadland

This report was originally written as one of a series of articles in which Moulton enthusiasts wrote about their other bicycles.

Q: Who are you?
A: Tony Hadland

Q: What Moultons do you own?
A: At present a highly modified APB and a stripped-down former AM5.

Q: How long have you owned Moultons?
A: Since 1964 with a few breaks, the longest being in the early 1970s.

Q: When do you use your Moulton?
A: Mostly for touring and leisure.

Q: Why do you own another bike?
A: Actually I own several. Partly it’s my curiosity and interest in cycle technology. But it’s also "horses for courses". Hence my wife Rosemary and I have compact folders for short-range journeys involving public transport and big-wheeled Montague MTBs for car-assisted off-roading in the Cotswolds and Chilterns. The bike I’m talking about here is a compact and lightweight folder. We’ve taken it on trains and planes. I also take it with me to residential business conferences so that I can get a quick few miles in before breakfast.

Q: What is the other bike?
A: It’s a Micro. Officially it’s Rosemary’s but I ride it as much as she does. It’s a red Sprint, the version with the Sturmey-Archer Sprinter 5-speed. They also do a standard three-speed version and a single-speed, the Micro Lite.

Q: How long have you had this bike?
A: About a year. We got it last February and took it (and my Bickerton) as checked-in baggage when we flew to southern Spain for a week in March ’97.

Q: What do you think of this bike?
A: I’ve followed the Micro story ever since I first saw one, hanging in the window of Halfords in Basingstoke in the mid 1970s. It was designed by Peter Radnall, who also designed its big brother, the Fold-It. The story of the design is in the book "It’s in the Bag!"

The original Radnall Micro had an ultra-short wheelbase and could very easily be rolled backwards. I owned one of the early machines and so am able to make a reasonable comparison.

The current version is built by Richard Cresswell following a suggestion from John Pinkerton. It has been improved in many ways. For a start it is lighter: the Sprint is the heaviest variant yet weighs only 24 lb. Mercifully it has a substantially longer wheelbase, the rear triangle being about 4" longer. And unlike the original, it has folding handlebars, clips to hold the folded frame closed and a pair of easily folded pedals.

The Micro folds quite easily, though not as slickly as a Brompton. When folded it is not much bulkier than the Brompton but is about 10% lighter. You don’t need to bag it to carry it. However, the chain is exposed, so care is needed.

I am 6’ 2" tall, long in the leg and weigh about 14 stone (168 lb). The seat pillar could really do with being up to an inch longer to suit me but for town use it’s OK. There is no handlebar adjustment but again, for short-range use, this is not a big problem.

The bike handles much better than the original Micro. The handlebars are well forward and this results in the rider’s weight having a stabilising tiller effect. When riding in a straight line the machine feels surprisingly stable. It’s only when turning sharply that the short wheelbase makes itself known. The effect is rather like having two-speed steering – slow ahead and fast to the side. This is perhaps not a bad thing for town work.

Q: And the drawbacks of this other bike?
A: Because of the lack of riding position adjustment I certainly would not want to ride it a long way. And if I needed to fold the machine often, I think the frame clips would soon wear. They also tend to go soft in summer heat. However, as they are actually plumber’s pipe clips, replacements can be bought at B&Q for about a £1 a bag, so this is hardly a showstopper.

Q: Anything else?
A: In conclusion I’d say that anybody wanting a good little compact folder for occasional use would do well to consider the Micro. It is not as durable as the Brompton, nor does it ride as well. But it is usefully lighter, substantially cheaper and has a high grin factor.

Folding Society home page | Micro page

Copyright ©1998 Tony Hadland


Last updated: 18 June 1999