The Folding Society

Issue 7 - 8 November 1998

The work situation is not much improved since last week, so I'm afraid my input to this copy of the newsletter is rather limited. Fortunately 'The Ferret' is providing a report of the Mud Dock event on Saturday, at which there was a large turn out, and some interesting bikes to look at. I managed to get to that event myself, although I didn't really have the time to spare. You can see pictures of some of the bikes at the event on the web site at

Brompton progress report

My lightened Brompton is performing very well, and saved me getting lynched when travelling through Birmingham International during the Motor Show - the trains were packed some days, and a cumbersome or larger folding bicycle would not have been popular! The new mud flap, kindly sent by Malcolm Lyon, has solved the problem caused by spray.

I was also able to carry out an interesting coasting test during the Mud Dock ride, when descending a hill with Chris Dent on his Birdy. At Ventnor we had ridden together, Chris on the Birdy and myself on my Moulton AM7. Then we concluded there was not a great deal to choose between the rolling performance of the two bikes, and differences in our weights were more significant. However, on the Brompton I was coasting down hill faster than Chris, despite the fact that I am the lighter, and this seems to confirm that the rolling properties of the Primo tyres on the Brompton are as good as they are claimed to be.

One down side to my Bromptoning is that my knees feel distinctly less comfortable than they have for some time, which must be due to the gaps between the gears with the S-A hub.

Birdy web page updates

The web pages have had a few updates, notably covering the interesting modifications that Steve Parry has made to his Birdy Red. There are also a number of other additions to the Birdy section of the web site. The main FS page is at and the Birdy pages are at but you can also get to them via the main FS page.

Mud Dock, 7th November

By The Ferret
Today's Mud Dock meeting produced a particularly good turn out of folding bike enthusiasts. Those present included Damien Fellowes, Vince Mackenzie from Valley Cycles (UK distributors of the Bike Friday), Gary Lovell and David, Jane and Peter Henshaw. Local regulars at the event included Chris Dent, Steve Parry and Ray Racy, and Rob Cope had made the trip from London. David Edge and Mike Hessey had made the journey from farther north, despite the extended travelling distance and time resulting from engineering work on the railways. Amongst those present were those well known characters Mr Portly, Alf Scroat, and, from the animal kingdom, The Mole, badger and The Ferret.

David Edge was unusually mounted on a Moulton Stowaway, the only parts of his regular Brompton present being the offending items from the S-A hub which are keeping the bike off the road at present. David Henshaw had also forsaken his Brompton on this occasion for the Micro Bike (not to be confused with the Cresswell Micro). This unusual bike, a stick folder, was much in demand for test rides, and despite its appearance most of those who tried it judges it to be a much better ride than they expected, although really only suited to short commutes to and from a station. You can see a picture of the Micro Bike on the back cover of "It's in the bag!" (of course you will all own copies), on the right in the middle of the page, ridden in that photograph by Nigel Saddler in the grounds of The Hall at Bradford on Avon some years ago. Saturday's bike is illustrated in our web pages, along with other interesting machines at Mud Dock.

Towards the other end of the performance spectrum, Vince Mackenzie's very smart Air Friday looked relatively conventional. Incidentally, Vince tells me that he can now supply a hard case suitable for carrying a Brompton by air, which requires only very minimal work in addition to the normal folding operation. If you want further information on this, contact Vince at Valley Cycles, 01933 271030, email

While a number of regular Brompton owners were riding other bikes on this occasion, Mike Hessey, perverse as ever, had chosen to switch to a Brompton, giving his newly lightened 5-speed an outing. The removal of the T accoutrements and the fitting of a carbon fibre seatpost have resulted in useful weight savings, and the Alhonga brakes improve its ability to stop, but it is nowhere near as light as the special Brompton Light 3 which Jane Henshaw was using, and which featured in A to B No. 7.

The bike which attracted most interest though was Steve Parry's much modified Birdy Red. The most significant alteration is the fitting of 20 inch (406) wheels, which means that a wide range of excellent tyres become available. A short test ride on the bike confirmed that it rides very well and even on such a brief outing it certainly felt to run more freely with the better tyres. Fitting of the 20 inch wheels and tyres is made possible by the fitting to the dropouts of some well engineered extension brackets. The negative side of all this is that it raises the bottom bracket markedly, and of course also raises the step over height of the frame, although neither of these factors has any obvious effect on the bike in use.

Also of interest were some of the other fittings which Steve has incorporated, notable a Brompton front carrier block at the front and rear. The one at the front appears to be fitted by drilling and tapping the aluminium frame, which means that for reasons of both strength and the obstruction it would cause, the normal Brompton carrier and bag are not really suitable for use on the bracket, and Steve was using a smaller bag, about the height of the normal Brompton one, but much narrower. Steve also has an idea for developing a means of using standard bar bags based on the KLICKfix mounting with the Brompton mounting block, which would be extremely handy for those occasions when a smaller and lighter bag is preferable to the standard Brompton offering, but retaining all the convenience. Mounting a standard bar bag this way should do away with the big drawbacks normally found with such bags, namely their effect on the handling of the bike and interference with access to the brake levers. The

rear mounting is very securely located on a frame with 3-point attachment to the bike, and allows the standard Brompton rear bag to be carried in the normal vertical position. There looked to be very ample heel clearance. Of course an alternative or larger bag such as the ones made by Jane Thomas and Jane Henshaw could be used instead. An unconfirmed rumour was circulating that Carradice, who manufacture the standard bag, are to produce a larger version themselves. Steve's rear rack also provides a much needed mounting for a bottle cage, something for which there is no provision on the Birdy.

After the usual socialising at Mud Dock most riders undertook the short ride (a couple of miles) to the Whistle Stop Cafe, where the drained energy banks were recharged. By then the weather had become rather colder and windy, so the majority opted to depart after lunch, while Chris Dent led a group of 7 who felt like a bit more riding.

Those of you who were present, or who have been to Mud Dock before, will know what an enjoyable event it is. If you haven't been, and are within range, do give it a try. Mud Dock events are usually on the first Saturday of every month, unless this happens to clash with some other major event. You can get more information from Gary Lovell on 0117 932 4633.

Forthcoming Events

The next meeting of Folder enthusiasts is the Origami Ride at Meriden on 14th November. Although we are meeting at the usual time and place (10.30 for 11.00 start at the Meriden Tea Rooms), this is a rather different ride, as we shall be riding the 4 miles or so to the National Motorcycle Museum for a look at what is on display. From previous experience I can assure you that it is well worth a visit, even for someone like myself who is not normally interested in motorcycles. For more details please contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685. Information on Origami Rides is available on the web at

The Portmeirion weekend is now less than three weeks away - let's hope the weather is as good as in previous years. News of how to get there for those who have booked and haven't been before should appear some time before the event.

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Last updated: 31 January 1999