The Folding Society

Issue 29 - 27 June 1999


The latest issue of A to B reached me during this last week, and I was saddened by the treatment given to the Moulton Bicycle Club (MBC). The style of this little piece seemed to reveal as much about The Mole as the content did about the MBC. Since my name was mentioned in the article, I would like to make it quite clear that I was not involved in producing this story. Officers of the MBC tell me that the problem of a shortage of volunteers was deliberately presented to its members in a rather stark way to create reaction within the Club, and that the only position which has yet to be filled is that of the editor.

While on this theme, why does there have to be so much infighting amongst cyclists? Folders have many advantages, but I certainly don't see the owners of non-folding cycles as enemies. Consider the particular example of train travel: if significant numbers of people started using the folder option, then there would be serious problems due to lack of space, and our current advantages would be lost. On the trains I use most I see folders, conventional cycles, parents with push-chairs, disabled people in wheelchairs and people travelling to and from the airport with large volumes of 'normal' luggage. It is the shortage of storage space as a whole, and the rather inflexible accommodation facilities of trains in general, that are the real problem, and that is not just something which impacts on those who own what are sometimes referred to, in an unhelpfully disparaging way, as 'cumbersomes'. Now each of these groups is a small minority in its own right, but if they campaigned together for better general storage space on trains, then their opinions would carry more weight.

So please, let's try to avoid discord between folders, Moultoneers and owners of other cycles, and let's concentrate more on what we have in common. If we are getting satisfaction from using our cycles and we have no negative impact on the rest of the human race or the environment, surely that is more important than the size of our wheels or other aspects of the design of our favourite cycles?

End of sermon!

Test reports on longer rides with folders and separables

On 17th June I completed my second 100km Brevet Populaire ride testing a folding or separating cycle. Travel to and from the event in Denham was quite complicated, and the portability of the Birdy Red which I used this time was a real asset. However, the other riders were going at a pace I found too fast for me. This was mainly a function of my abilities, or lack of them, rather than the Birdy, although I think I would not have been left as far behind if I had been on a Bike Friday or the Moulton AM7. Nevertheless I completed the distance within the allotted time without any difficulty, and the Birdy proved quite capable of tackling this sort of event.

The previous ride was done on the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket, and you can read the full reports of both rides on the web pages at

If everything goes according to plan, the next ride will be on 11th July at Wall Heath. A preliminary study of the route indicates that it is quite hilly, so I have not yet definitely decided what to ride - I might even use a conventional tourer to allow comparisons with the various folders and separables.


We have made some changes to the organisation of teh Gallery section of the web pages, and a number of new images have been added. You can see the gallery at


Yesterday (Saturday 26th June) I went down to Worle to collect my Steve Parry modified Brompton. A combination of a very early start (even for me), the climbing on and off trains, and a disturbed night investigating reported web page problems (which I cannot reproduce) have left me feeling completely shattered today. However, it was certainly all well worth it, as the new bike, admittedly over a rather short period, meets or exceeds all expectations.

After we had set up the bike to suit me (ie fitted the saddle etc), Steve and I went out for a short ride, and the smooth progression of gears (7-speed derailleur) and the powerful braking (V-brakes), plus notably smooth and free running (suspension seatpost forming the handlebar stem and improved wheel bearings), were notable improvements on my elderly standard Brompton. However, with only 17.5 miles completed it is still far too early to make final judgements. I had hoped for a longer ride today (Sunday 27th), but the weather is very dull and wet here, so sadly this will have to be a day of catching up on work and doing other chores like writing FSN. Watch the web pages though - a detailed report with pictures will be appearing very soon.

My modified Brompton is going to be the last of the Steve Parry machines which will still carry the Brompton badge, since future machines are likely to be built from parts rather than by modifying existing machines, and so will only carry the SP logo. Some may consider Steve's modifications rather expensive, but in this life you tend to get what you pay for, and Steve insists on doing the job properly and using good components, not bottom of the range items. There are also many refinements which subtly improve the bike, but may not be immediately obvious. Just a few examples are the filing down of rough edges and rounding of the fork ends, plus the fitting of retaining wires so that the bolts holding the frame clamps cannot shake out while the bike is in transit in folded form. Jobs like this are quite time consuming and have to be paid for, but they distinguish this hand built machine from mass production products of the cycle manufacturers in general.


We hear from a reliable source that long time Moultoneer and cycle tourist/journalist Peter Knottley has taken delivery of a Brompton T5. He still intends to ride his AM as his main bike, but feels that the Brompton is more suited to rail travel.

We have had another email from John Prince regarding some further, more detailed, tests he has carried out to investigate the effect of the front bag on the bike's performance. This second batch of tests produced very different results from the first ones (reported in our last issue), in that the bike reached higher speeds and covered the test distance in less time with the bag fitted. This is certainly counter to my own riding impressions, and these are not based on preconceived ides as I used always to use the bag, and it was only after a couple of rides without it that I realised what a difference it seemed (to me) to make. I think that we still haven't got a final verdict on this subject - I don't have access to a wind tunnel, but I may devise some other tests to try to resolve this question.

Brompton Love Story

During the week we received this rather touching email from member Peter Nurkse - those who read Brompton Talk will already have seen it posted there.

"I just got back last night from a 7 day trip away. With a delayed flight and a missed connection, I arrived after Frances had fallen asleep. Checking up on Frances, I noticed her Brompton (or, Brommie, we aren't saying Brompton any more) was sitting folded up at the foot of her bed. And then I saw my own Brommie wasn't any longer in the living room where I'd left it. Didn't think about that any more, unwound a bit, read a paper, then went to bed myself. But there was a big lump on my side of the bed, wrapped up in a sheet, tucked in under the covers. Pulling up on the sheet, I found out it was my Brommie, all folded and cuddled up there next to Frances. Of course, I removed the Brommie right away, but it was a touching sight. Only possible I think with a folding bike, really. Even if you could get a conventional cumbersome bike under the covers, with all that messy exposed chain, it still wouldn't be very substantial, no compact mass, even wrapped up it wouldn't begin to be cuddly. Yet another advantage for folders."
Peter Nurkse


It's now just over a year since the New Series Moulton was launched. A number are now in the hands of lucky members, and although their comments suggest that the bikes are not perfect (what is in this life?), the owners generally seem very pleased.

In my test of the NS during the launch event, reported in The Moultoneer Issue 52, May/June 1998 (page 7), and available on the web at, I was impressed by the bike, but did find a few things which were not to my liking. As with most new products, some minor changes have taken place since the launch, and it is pleasing to see that these address some of my original concerns.

In the original test I found the gap in the middle of the gear range, where there was a jump from a 15 to a 19 sprocket, rather awkward - something which has been present on AM Moultons as well, as mentioned in issue 27 of FSN. Now we hear that the cassette has been changed to one with 10/11/13/15/18/21/24/27/32, which removes the big jump, and gives a much smoother progression through the gears. The alteration was apparently the result of advice from Frank Berto. Another alteration to the NS means that there is now rather more mudguard clearance than was originally the case, and while this still does not permit the use of anything other than the Continental Grand Prix tyres, its should eliminate some of the problems experienced when riding on muddy roads.

Developments are also taking place on the Moulton accessory front, and we hope to be able to tell you more about this soon.

Over the sea to Skye

In our last issue we reported that Graham and Amanda McDermott and Peter Evans were going to Skye for a week, taking with them not only their cycles but also a digital camera, notebook computer and modem. Using this electronics they have been sending us reports and pictures each day during the week, and these have been posted on the web pages as they have arrived. If you haven't been following their adventures, you can catch up now on the web pages at

In fact the only problem we had with the technology was caused by the least portable part of the system - our Internet service provider's web page server has been misbehaving, and as a result the uploading of the report on Sunday evening had to be delayed until mid-morning on Monday.

Graham, Amanda and Peter were all riding Moultons on this occasion, and as Graham's New Series had arrived the day before they left, there were 2 NSs on this ride. Peter's older example has now completed over 1500 miles. Both Graham and Peter seem very enthusiastic about the bikes, although they do find a few things to criticise.

A final summing up of their holiday, with additional comments on the bikes and the technology, will be added very shortly, so check back on the web pages for this in a few days time.

We should also say a big thank you to Graham, Amanda and Peter for allowing us all to join in their holiday. The amount of time and effort required to set up the pictures, load them into the notebook, do any editing and prepare the report before emailing it to us would have been quite substantial - I'd guess that it represented at least 2 hours a day. The pictures have only been reproduced at a relatively low resolution on our web pages to avoid very long downloading times for those of you reading them, but the originals are of a very high standard indeed. Although this shows how good the Sony camera is, we should also take account of the fact that Graham is an extremely good photographer. That's not just general flattery - he is a great deal more than just an 'enthusiastic amateur', and he doesn't just take pictures, he creates images, which is something that I wish I could do.

Glasgow to Inverness by folder

John Richfield (45), cycling officer, Solihull Council, West Midlands, and his son, Tom (13) and Simon Baddeley (57). Lecturer at Birmingham University and his daughter Amy (13) are travelling to Inverness from Glasgow by folding bicycle during July '99.

John and Simon use their Brompton folding cycles for commuting and combined rail/cycle journeys to the rest of the UK. They and their children will be riding Bromptons on their holiday, taking the 4 bikes to and from Scotland by train.

They plan to explore the 216 mile Glasgow-Inverness Sustrans route in stages, taking in the scenery and relying on the versatility of the folders to switch, if the weather's bad or anyone tires, to train, bus or taxi. They will give publicity and raise money for "Friends of the Earth" in Birmingham, "Transform, Scotland" and the architectural concept of "Bike Stations".

"We expect" says Simon "to learn things about cycling on folding bikes and about family cycle tours and about the pleasures of a green holiday."

The group will stay at B & Bs and hostels, carrying as little as possible - maps, repair kits, midge repellent and spare clothing. John described their wish "to make our journey relaxed but interesting and as a result tempt others."

Simon Baddeley 0121 554 9794 34 Beaudesert Road, Handsworth, Birmingham B20 TG, England Simon Baddeley

We hope to have a report on this ride on our web pages later - after it is completed though, rather than while it is taking place.

A note to snail mail subscribers

We have a handful of members who receive FSN by snail mail, and we hope to keep this number small as we could not cope with the cost in time and money of sending out large numbers of copies this way. These members originally sent me a book of stamps to cover postage costs, but I'd like to remind them that I have long since used up these stamps, and if they want to receive future copies of FSN I will need to ask for a further supply. In fact it would save complication if they could manage to send me stamped addressed envelopes, C5 envelopes and normal second class stamps will do, and 5 or 10 would be plenty to carry on with. Please note that no additional formatting of FSN to suit paper distribution will be carried out, and I cannot handle sending copies overseas by this method.


Saturday 3rd July - Mud Dock
Meet at the Mud Dock Cafe in Bristol from about 10.30am. Further details from Gary Lovell, Tel: 0117 932 4633.

Saturday 10th July - 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 details of any special arrangements, at, or contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685 to confirm arrangements for this month's ride.

Saturday 17th July - San Francisco Summer Ride
The rides usually leave the San Francisco Ferry Building at the base of Market Street at 10.00am. For more information, e-mail Tom Vogt ( or call (510-237-7380)

Saturday 24th July - Devon Folders
Reading through the Folding Society News page in the latest issue of A to B, we came across an event which we had not heard of previously (!), but now we know about it we are pleased to be able to include it in our events list. A new group meets on Saturday 24th July - the Devon Folders. Meet at Exeter Mud Dock cafe at 11-ish for a circular ride of about 8 miles to a well-stocked public house for a hearty lunch, and return via the Topsham ferry. Call [REMOVED ON 19/08/2008 at the request of the person named, as apparently it comes up on a Google search for his business name] for details.

The Lancaster Cycling Weekend 30th July - 2nd August 1999
No CycleFest this year, so this seems to be the alternative. Further details are available in the provisional programme on our web pages at

Bike Friday European Meeting, The Netherlands, 31 July to 1 August
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 Roosnik indicates that other cycles will be welcome. For more information, contact Enno at

Sunday 15 August - Chichester Harbour Ride
25 miles approx Meet Chichester Railway Station 10am for 10.30 start. Further details from Eric Jones, Tel 01903 782631. [Information provided by Moulton Bicycle Club]

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

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

A Canal Holiday
Member Bob Hutton has asked us to mention this event in September.

"A one or two week holiday aboard the Narrow Boat 'Silas', commencing Saturday 4 and/or 11 September 1999. This will be as 'As it comes' holiday, rather than highly organised, so bring your folder and let's see how we go. £65 per person per week covers the boat and fuel. Folding Society members and families only please."

Contact Bob Hutton, [removed], first come first served.

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 a previous 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: 27 June 1999/20 April 2004