The Folding Society

Issue 25 - 19 May 1999

Informal gathering at Weymouth, 14-16 May 1999

Our informal gathering at Weymouth proved quite popular, with 40-50 members attending for all or part of the weekend event. They included one member from the USA and one from Germany. We were very lucky with the weather, which was dry throughout in Weymouth, with a reasonable amount of sun; a cold wind blew at times, but it was nothing compared with two years ago.

Not many people took advantage of the option of including the Friday in the event, so the majority of the activity took place on the Saturday and Sunday. The informal arrangement of meeting in front of the Pavilion at the end of the Esplanade, particularly in the morning and evening, worked quite well; specifying a more precise for meeting time might have been better - though from experience I doubt if people would actually have taken all that much notice of the agreed time!

The system of people agreeing amongst themselves where to go, and going out in small groups was also quite successful - most people seemed to much prefer finding a group with similar interest and not having the problems which cycling in larger groups can create. The Saturday rides took in Abbotsbury, Litton Cheney, Maiden Newton, Upwey and various other places.

On Sunday we found the local Vintage Motorcycle Club had a meeting on the car park at the Pavilion, and this counter attraction delayed the departure of some people on their ride. Once again we split into smaller groups for riding, the majority opting to go to Portland., though some people chose shorter rides. The first Portland group of 9 riders set off before the motorcyclists left the car park, a further 6 deciding to wait to see the motorcyclists set off before departing for Portland. The first group was lucky to be led by Lillian Maton, who lives in Weymouth and used her local knowledge to show us a quiet ride up through Fortuneswell which was not as steep as the other routes we had tried, and included some excellent views. Unfortunately her husband John was not able to join us as he was suffering from back pain. After refreshments at Portland Bill, where the two groups met up again, people gradually made their way back to Weymouth, the length of their stop being influenced by their travel arrangements for getting home afterwards (the majority as usual had opted for train travel). A small group of survivors, who were not leaving until Monday, met at the bar on Sunday evening.

The predominance of Bromptons was particularly marked at this event, after a stronger showing of other makes last year at Ventnor. The only non-Bromptons we know of were a Bickerton, a Bike Friday New World Tourist, Tandem Two'sday, 3 Birdys, a Fold-It, one Moulton APB, a separable Pedersen (used by John Prince for part of the event) and a modern large-wheeled folder used by Derek Baker (sorry - I did not note the make). Steve Parry had his much modified Brompton (described previously in our web pages), and Peter King's Brompton also had received a similar conversion - these two bikes attracted most interest. Steve had added a modified rear carrier with a quick release block mounting allowing another Brompton front bag to be carried at the rear, with very rapid removal (using the bracket that Steve has developed a bar bag can be substituted at either the front or rear, when the larger bag is not needed. Peter Henshaw has also ordered one of the Steve Parry modified Bromptons. and another member was also in the process of placing an order, with at least two showing hovering. Steve was due to visit Brompton immediately after the gathering to show them what he has done.

I was due to leave at 12.50 on Monday, so, having an hour or so to kill in the morning I decided on a short ride, but as a result of taking a wrong turning I found myself cycling towards Dorchester. As I was riding along I saw a cyclist leaning against a lamppost, who waved me down. He needed help, his back having gone, and he could barely move. While I used my mobile phone to send for an ambulance I discovered he was John Maton, Lillian's husband, and a member of The Folding Society (though riding a conventional bike on this occasion). I am sure we all wish him a speedy recovery.

Many thanks to all of you who came to the gathering and helped to make it successful - I hope you all enjoyed the weekend.

For an illustrated version of this report, and additional material on the event, please see our web pages at

The choice of what to take to Weymouth

Decisions, decisions! What was I going to take to the Weymouth gathering? Well, apart from a few clothes there were quite a lot of other things required for the event - paperwork relating to The Folding Society, a few copies of "It's in the bag!", cameras, and the computer with membership details. This amount of luggage ruled out the Birdy, and would also have been a problem with the Brompton as I have now removed the rear rack, plus the fact that the Brompton gearing is not ideal for the fairly hilly area with a load. The Pocket Rocket a bit too high geared when loaded, so I decided I would have to reassemble the NWT. The powder coated parts were collected on the Monday afternoon and assembly was done on Monday and Tuesday evenings. A quick test ride was made round the block on a rather showery Wednesday, a few final adjustments were carried out and seemed OK. Normally I would like to do a bit more testing before embarking on a five day outing with a bike, but I decided to risk it. Everything was loaded into two universal (ie fairly small) panniers on the rear rack, plus medium-sized bum bag.

During the event the NWT performed very well, and the new V-brakes make an enormous improvement to its performance. However, I had forgotten just how big it is when folded until I reached Birmingham New Street and had to carry out the operation on the platform. The resultant package is quite a problem to stow on the train - it would not fit into the luggage shelves at the end of the carriage, and when placed alongside them it tended to impede inside door operation, particularly as it does not stand very well when folded. On most trains I put it in the area near the outside doors, but when the platform is on a different side at every other platform this means rushing along to move it each time the train stops. Apart from the brakes, the only change from its previous specification was a modified stem, lower and with a slightly longer reach. This certainly suited me better than the original stem. With its 20 in wheels and City Jet tyres the bike rolled along very freely, and felt very stable, coping very easily with the load on the rear rack. The 3x7 gearing also made hill climbing quite painless. However, the more awkward folding and larger folded package did mean that when at the end of the day the Brompton owners carried their machines into the pavilion for drinks and a meal, I opted to return to the B&B and carry the NWT up to my room - with some difficulty, as the staircase was rather narrow!

More observations on the Steve Parry modified Brompton following its appearance at Weymouth

With all the modifications, and hand fitting, the cost of the complete set of modifications and the bike is around £1200. Although this makes it more expensive than the cheapest Bike Fridays and most of the Birdys, it is still a very attractive package. Few would dispute that the Brompton folds more effectively than either of these bikes, or indeed virtually all other folders, and Steve's modifications do not in any way detract from the folding performance. The Brompton also has one of the best luggage carrying systems around, and again Steve's modifications in no way detract from these capabilities - indeed, with the additional special rear rack for the front bag (a further £100) the Brompton becomes an even more convenient luggage carrier. While a standard Brompton rides remarkably well, most people find the riding position less than ideal, the braking rather unimpressive, and the gear range/spacing a little limited. Steve's modifications address all of these areas, and make the Brompton even more versatile. Steve's modifications therefore retain all the strengths of the Brompton design, and also keep the character of the original machine, but they address the areas where the Brompton is less attractive for those who want to extend its usefulness.

I have a Brompton and a Friday (plus of course several Moultons), and bought a Birdy about a year ago. Had Steve's modified Brompton been available then I would have had one of these rather than the Birdy. It would have meant one bike could do the job of both these bikes, and the modified Brompton would have surpassed the Birdy in every department, except possible off-road. I am eagerly awaiting delivery of my SP modified Brompton.

By the way, Steve has decided that he will generally only do the full modification in future on new bikes, as existing modifications made by owners and older specification bikes can cause problems. If you want to contact Steve to discuss this interesting machine, or find out if your Brompton is new enough to be modified rather than start with a new machine, you can reach him on.

Birdy News

A Birdy mailing list has now been set up by Bob Gelman for owners of those machines, or others with an interest. To subscribe to the list, just send a message (no text needed) to

One of the subjects to receive an airing on the Birdy mailing list has been tyres, not surprisingly. A number of other manufacturers who produce tyres of the right size have been mentioned, but some of these are low quality tyres intended for children's cycles. A more promising possibility is that apparently in Japan an IRC tyre is available in the right size, although it does not seem to be available in the USA or Europe. Availability is being investigated. It is also being reported that riese & muller (the Birdy company) are developing a new semi slick tyre, for pressures up to 85psi, with tougher treads. It is expected to appear at Eurobike, a bicycle fair in Germany.

Bike Friday News

The Bike Friday web pages in the USA have had another overhaul, to fit in with substantial revisions to the model range and prices. You can see the results at Changes to the model line up include a Pocket Rocket Pro, under 20lbs in weight excluding pedals and saddle, more tandems and Triple. The AirGlide now starts at $1995, the Pocket Rocket is $1095-$1895, the Pocket Rocket Pro is $2095-$3495, AirFriday $1995-$3995, Metro $695-$849. New World Tourist and Pocket Llama models are also available - see the web pages for details of their prices and the full specifications of all the models.

The Bike Friday User Group UK newsletter is due out in June, but probably not until the middle of the month due to pressure of other work, and the fact that I want to include an article which I cannot write until then (nothing very exciting, just a ride a plan to do on the Pocket Rocket).

A three day tour on folding and separable cycles

John Pinkerton and I completed a successful and enjoyable 3 day ride from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Wolverhampton between 4th and 6th May, using a Moulton APB and Birdy. Full advantage was taken of the folding and separating capabilities of the bikes in reaching the start point, and in slightly shortening the ride when we got bored with riding on canal towpaths at the end of the journey. Both bikes performed well, and handled the conditions and the light touring loads carried more than satisfactorily. You can find a full report of the ride - now with the pictures to prove we really did it - on the web site at


Saturday 5th June - Mud Dock
Meet at the Mud Dock Cafe in Bristol from about 10.30am. Further details from Gary Lovell, Tel: 0117 932 4633.

Sunday 6th June - New York Folding Bike Ride
The first ever New York Folding Bike ride will take place on Sunday, June 6 at noon. Meet at City Hall (Park Row side opposite Pace University) for a leisurely 10 mile bike ride to Coney Island. (People without folding bikes are also welcome to attend.) If interested, email - or just show up.

Saturday 12th June - Origami Ride
The usual arrangement is to meet at the Tearooms in Meriden from 10.30 for an 11.00am start, but the location occasionally changes to suit special rides. Watch the web page for more details, at contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685 to confirm arrangements for this month's ride.

Sunday 20th June - London Ride
Meet at the cafe in Battersea Park at about 2.00pm. For more details contact Rob Cope at

Sunday 20th June - Bristol's 3rd Bike Festival
This will take place at the CREATE Centre and Brunel Way Park opposite from 11.00am to 4.00pm. With a large folding contingent in the Bristol area, this should be a good opportunity to demonstrate the merits of folders. More information is available on 0117 936 5993.

30th July - 2nd August - The Lancaster Cycling Weekend
No CycleFest this year, so this seems to be the alternative. Further details are available in the provisional programme.

31 July - 1 August - Bike Friday European Meeting, The Netherlands,
We've heard from Bike Friday enthusiast Enno Roosnik that there will be a Bike Friday Meeting in the Netherlands on Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August. This year's event will be in the Arnheim/Nijmegen region, and the plan is to stay in a youth hostel. There will be touring and sightseeing, and a visit to the Dutch National Bicycle Museum Velorama in Nijmegen. Although intended for Bike Fridays in particular, Enno indicates that other cycles will be welcome. For more information, contact Enno at

20-22nd August - Bike Friday Homecoming, Euegene, Oregon.
More information from

4-5th September - Moulton Bicycle Club Bradford on Avon Weekend
The annual Moulton event at the home of Dr Alex Moulton, The Hall, Bradford on Avon. More details later.

29 November - 3 December -Portmeirion. The very popular autumn Folding Society gathering at Portmeirion will be taking place as usual - this will the fourth year. If you have been before, then you will know what to expect, and I'm sure you will be planning to come again this year. If you haven't been before, please give it a try, it's an ideal spot for an autumn/winter break with lots of good company, and we have had excellent weather every time so far, despite it being quite late in the year. This is another fairly informal event, and the booking of houses at Portmeirion is done by individuals. As explained in the last issue of FSN, A to B have agreed to act as a clearing house in helping those who have booked houses find people to share them, or those who want to share to find people with space, so contact them if you need help in this respect. It's important that enough people book houses in time, and the place can fill quite quickly, so don't delay in making arrangements. You can contact A to B at

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.

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)1999 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 19 May 1999