The Folding Society

Issue 13 - 13 December 1998

Brompton update

When I was converting my 8 year old Brompton from T to L spec a few months ago I also replaced the chain. While doing this I found that the jockey wheels in the chain tenisoner were getting very worn, which probably in part explained why the transmission was not running as smoothly as it should. Anyway, I finally got around to doing something about it this week. Not only were the 'teeth' very worn, but when I removed the jockey wheels I found that they were extremely slack on the inner metal bearings, presumably also due to wear. The central hole through which the fixing screw and bearing fit is larger than would fit any jockey wheels I had in stock, and in the end it was decided that as my chain tensioner is of an old, obsolete, pattern, it would be better to fit a complete new tensioner assembly. This certainly seems to have improved the running of the transmission, and has also overcome the problem that the old tensioner system seemed to be pulling the chain slightly out of line. Anyone else who has the latter problem might like to check for wear in the tensioner system. For much of its early life my Brompton covered very few miles indeed, so the total distance covered when this replacement was carried out was about 2500 miles.

Long term report

The Birdy is just coming up to its first thousand miles, and once that landmark has been reached I hope to put on the web a long term test report, covering it, the Bike Friday, Brompton and Moultons, all of which have already done at least 2000 miles. I'll you know in a future issue of FSN when the report is on the web.

Ownership Survey

There has been quite a good response to the survey on ownership and use of conventional bicycles. If you've forgotten, I was enquiring into how many members also had conventional (ie non-folding, non-separating) machines, and on when and how they used the conventional or folder/separable. I've divided the replies into four groups; the way I've done this is in some cases a bit subjective, and perhaps it would have been better if I'd asked people to do the classification themselves.

So the overall result could be summarised as showing that even amongst folder enthusiasts most still make at least some use of conventional cycles, but although the majority still use the conventional cycle quite a lot, a substantial proportion find the folders meet most of their needs.

My own reaction to the results is that they show that we are a reasonable lot - more conventional bikes can be better for some purposes, but folders win hands down for others, and can be used quite successfully for almost any cycling needs. My impression that we had a lot of owners of conventional cycles in the group, and that most members are not anti-conventional cycles, seems confirmed.

If you didn't reply to the survey questions originally, I'd still be interested in hearing from you, so that the survey results can be made more complete. The results of this survey, plus an update of folder ownership, are now on our web pages.

CAMRBS - or Support your Local Bicycle Shop

Readers in this country will no doubt have heard of CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale. I'd like to suggest that we now need CAMRBS - a campaign for Real Bicycle Shops.

All too many of the local specialist bicycle shops which used to provide service, helpful information and a supply of all sorts of useful bits and pieces are disappearing - either going out of business or being taken over by flashier organisations whose interest seems to be either in just selling cheap mountain bikes, or selling expensive fashion machines and creating a Posers' Paradise social atmosphere. Neither of these caters for the needs of real cyclists.

Of course some of the older style shops were far from perfect, and some of the newer shops are good, but the reduction in the number of good specialist outlets must surely be a retrograde step. In the Birmingham area we used to be fortunate in having an extremely well stocked specialist dealer (family run); earlier this year it was taken over, and the stock of specialist parts began to be run down. Now the last member of the family seems to have departed, and there are rows of brightly coloured mountain bikes and BMX machines where once there would have been an interesting variety of different machines. Moultons seem to have disappeared, and one solitary Brompton was on display, where previously there were several plus some other makes of folder. Now I've certainly come across much less satisfactory shops than the restyled one on the outskirts of Birmingham, but for cycling enthusiasts the old version was certainly preferable.

Most of my business will now go to Fred Williams Cycles in Wolverhampton and Dudley, although unfortunately they are not Moulton stockists, and though they do sometimes supply Bromptons, they don't keep them in stock..

The real cycle shops are an endangered species; they won't survive if we don't support them. Too many cyclists seem to be obsessed with buying parts at the lowest possible price, and yet they spend more on getting to an alternative shop, or on telephoning and paying postage costs to a mail order organisation, than they might save compared with buying locally from a specialist shop. If you want to be able to continue to be able to get specialist cycle parts and get service locally, then do support them by giving them your business.

The usual disclaimers apply - I don't have any financial interest in any cycle shop or any other part of the cycle industry.

Cold feet

I've had quite a number of useful suggestions on this topic, but the weather has turned much warmer, so I'm waiting for an opportunity to try some of these, and I'll report back later. Despite my interest in research, I don't mind too much if the weather stays warmer and the tests have to be delayed.


The Origami Mince Pie Ride passed off successfully on Saturday. The very gloomy weather probably discouraged some people from attending, not to mention Mr Portly's Christmas Pudding ride which was timed for the same date. Nevertheless we had a pleasant gentle ride of about 15 miles, taking lunch at Fillongley, and consuming mince pies on our return to Meriden. As was the case on the same ride last year, my train journey to the event was enlivened by a Central Trains Santa Claus coming round handing out mince pies and sweets to travellers. The makes of folder represented on the ride were Brompton, Bickerton and Legano - most unusually for an Origami Ride there were no Moultons. Rather shockingly there were nearly as many cumbersomes on the ride as folders. Despite the rather dull weather, it did not rain until just after the ride had finished - I got a bit damp cycling back to Birmingham International, and nearly didn't complete my plan of cycling from Smethwick Galton Bridge to Dudley using the canal towpath.

I haven't yet received any reports on Mr Portly's Ride - if anything comes through it will be posted on the web pages, together with the report on the Mince Pie Ride and any pictures.

I don't know of any more rides taking place in 1998, so the next events for our calendars are Mud Dock on 2 January 1999 and the Origami Ride on 9 January. As far as I know the Mud Dock event will be at Bristol as usual, but please note that the Origami Ride in January is a special event tracing the origins of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (I Mech E), and the meeting point will be Bromsgrove station. For more details of this ride please contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685.

The San Francisco Winter Ride is scheduled for 16 January, leaving the San Francisco Ferry Building at the base of Market Street at 10.00am.

Sales and Wants

Please remember that there is a Sales and Wants section in the web pages, so if you have anything folder-related to sell, or you are looking to buy something, take a look there. If you are selling, it would be helpful to everyone if you would let us know when it is sold, so that it can be removed from the list. Items will be removed from the list automatically after a couple of months, so you will need to let us know if you want them to be put back on the list.

Web pages

Don't forget to keep an eye on our web pages, which are at


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Copyright (C)1999 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 31 January 1999