The Folding Society

Issue 31 - 25 July 1999

This is really the season for getting outside and enjoying cycling, so, as not much seems to have been happening on the folder front over the last couple of weeks, this is a shorter issue of FSN. Unless you are going to be away on holiday, take a look at the events section and try to get to one or more of these rides - it's much more enjoyable to be cycling rather than discussing technicalities on the Internet.

On my bikes

The last 2 weeks have seen several of my folders and separables in action, though over very short distances. Unlike some members I don’t clean my bicycle after every outing, so in the winter months I tend to use only one or two cycles during a period, to avoid having too much cleaning to do. In the better weather, such as we have enjoyed recently, I can vary my choice much more without ending up with a big cleaning job.

The only long ride since the last issue of FSN was yesterday, Saturday 24th July, when I rode just over 70 miles. This ride was enlivened by a number of mistakes on my part, mainly stemming from the fact that it was such a lovely sunny day that I kept extending the ride, which was originally only going to be about 40 miles. Not having intended to go as far, I had not taken a map with me, and I managed to get lost in the lanes around Wheaton Aston – something that happens to me quite often, despite having ridden in the area many times – and this contributed at least 5 miles to the distance I finally covered.

During the ride a front mudguard mounting bolt came loose, and because the hex headed bolt was actually on the inside of the mudguard it was difficult to reach, even with the wheel removed. This provided support for the warning given in the web pages on tools (which can be found in the portable paraphernalia section of the web site), that many of the multi-purpose tools actually won’t do the job when you need them. I had a PowerTool 21 with me, but although it had a spanner the right size on it, it was impossible to get it into the mudguard to tighten the offending bolt. I managed to secure the bolt, though not very tightly, by hand, using a couple of allen keys on the sides of the bolt head to gain a bit more pressure and leverage.

After 50 miles I was beginning to feel rather weary, but the train options were rather limited, with not too many stations, a not very portable bicycle, and an infrequent train service, the times of which I had forgotten. I modified my normal return route to use a canal towpath – a longer route, but flatter – into Wolverhampton, where I was able to catch a train into Tipton. The canal towpath, however, loosened the mudguard bolt again, so another brief halt was required to tighten it again as much as I was able without suitable tools.

By the end of the ride I was very dehydrated, having only taken one water bottle with me. Multiple bottle cage bosses are a real asset on a bike used for longer rides in the summer, and many folders, intended mainly for shorter rides, do not provide any at all. Mind you, it is no good having the bosses if you do not carry the bottles in cages on them, which is what happened on this occasion.

Long test rides

I have not completed any more of the Brevet Populaires since the last issue of FSN. So far the rides have used the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket, Birdy Red and Moulton AM7, plus a recce of one ride on a conventional bike. All the reports on these tests are on our web pages. Weather, health and mood permitting, the next ride will be on 2 August, from Nantwich to Llangollen and back, which should bring back memories of my ride earlier in the year from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Wolverhampton on the Birdy. The intention at present is to use the Brompton-SP for this ride. After that the plan is to do a final ride from Denham, for which I expect to use the Pocket Rocket again, since I know from an earlier ride that those taking part are likely to ride fairly fast. Reports on these rides will appear on our web pages and in future issues of FSN.

Bicycle breakages

Those who subscribe to the various emailing lists for the more popular folding and separable bicycles will be aware that periodically reports appear in most of them of instances of breakages to rear forks, handlebars, stems etc. The problems seem to have affected several manufacturers, and since the lack of information about other manufacturers does not prove that they don’t have similar problems, it would be inappropriate to name any particular machines here. Although such breakages have no doubt only represented a tiny proportion of the machines made, failures of this kind can be at the very least unpleasant. Of course cycle manufacturers have real problems in designing their products, because it is generally regarded as important to avoid adding unnecessary weight. In fact breakages are probably more often the result of manufacturing or material defects rather than problems with the basic design, and with components coming from outside suppliers, that is something over which the bicycle manufacturer may have no control. Also, some riders are not at all sympathetic in the way they their machines – not readers of FSN, of course, but I’m sure you have all seen examples of this in the way others ride their bicycles.

So what can we do about it? Well, not a lot individually, except take what precautions we can – here are a few suggestions, which are probably unnecessary for our expert readership.

Finally, after all these warnings, we should add that this is not just a problem for folders and separables, although the design of them and the way they are used probably puts them particularly at risk. When commuting daily to the university I used to see a chap on the train who rode conventional bikes, and he regularly broke handlebars, cranks, frames etc.


We hear that Peter Evans is now running his New Series Moulton on City Jet tyres, although Continental GPs are supposed to be the only tyres to fit the bike. We await more information with interest.

Julian Kowalewski recently sent me a picture and some information on Robert McCann’s Moulton-based tricycle, which incorporates a Stowaway joint, and fitted into the back of a Renault 5 with little trouble. A picture of this machine appeared in The Moultoneer a few years ago. I will be loading the picture and description of the machine on our web pages, in the Moulton special interest section.

Calais France: La Journee "En ville, sans ma voiture?" Wednesday 22 September 1999, 7am to 9pm

By Sam Webb, SPOKES East Kent Cycle Campaign

There is a Car Free Day in 73 French Cities on 22 September. This year there are over twice as many participating cities as last year.

SPOKES East Kent Cycle Campaign is going over with the Mayor of Dover Town Council at the invitation of the Mayor of Calais. We will be sailing on the 7.45 P&O Stena Ferry from Eastern Docks Dover. The Mayor and other dignitaries will be carried on BROX 4 wheeled super bikes.

Cyclists, roller bladers and pedestrians are invited to participate. Don't worry if you can't make this ferry there are many more.

Connex SE old slam door rolling stock have guards vans and bikes are anyway carried free. You can carry bikes on the new rolling stock but there is not so much room. Trains for Dover Priory leave from Victoria via Canterbury and Charing X via Ashford/Folkestone. There is no train which will get to Dover for the 7.45 ferry but sailings are very frequent and the event goes on all day. You will easily make the 8.45am sailing if travelling from London. Check ferry times with P&O Stena 0990 980 980. It is likely that ferries will be free that day for cyclists.

The Car Free Day is treated as a major event  in France and is a chance to study alternatives to the private car. Air quality is monitored in the participating areas. School children take part. Two areas of Calais will be set aside this year. In Paris la Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysee and Arc de Triomphe are closed to all traffic except bicycles, roller bladers and of course pedestrians.

Anyone interested contact me:

We will be putting further details on our website soon.


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

Saturday 31 July - Ledbury Herefordshire Ride
Meet at Ledbury Fire Station, Bye Street (free car park behind, and not far from the railway station) at 10.00am for 10.30 start. A 20 mile ride. Further information from John Sewell, Tel: 01432 851537. [Information provided by The Moulton Bicycle Club].

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

Saturday 7th August- Mud Dock
Meet at the Mud Dock Cafe in Bristol from about 10.30am. Further details from Gary Lovell, Tel: 0117 932 4633.

Saturday 14th August - 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.

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. We hear that more details will be available very soon. 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.

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Last updated: 25 July 1999/20 April 2004