The Folding Society

Issue 36 - 26 September 1999


Shortage of time means that preparation of this issue of FSN has been rather rushed, so I hope that readers will forgive any typos etc, and also the fact that it is rather a short issue. The article on tyres has been held over for FSN 37 or 38, as it still needs to be tidied up.

Planning of my forthcoming visit to Scotland is one of the things that has been occupying my time. In the last issue I mentioned that I was still undecided which bike to use, and you will see some response from readers in the 'Letters' section. I think that I have decided that I shall use the Moulton, not so much for my own comfort as because it should give the photographic equipment a rather gentler ride not just on the roads, but if I use forest trails. All the luggage will just go on the back carrier using the standard Moulton bag, with the tripod strapped on top. To achieve this I've decided to use a 35mm camera system, plus a half frame camera, and I have selected a lighter tripod than I was originally going to use. A medium sized bum bag will carry odds and ends that I need during the trip there and back, but I will dispense with it for day rides.

There have been a number of additions to the web pages recently, including a test of the fx8 APB, and these are referred to later in this issue.

Issue 37 of FSN will appear in about 2 weeks time.


On 21 September we had the opportunity to visit the Pashley Cycles works to meet Melvin Creswell and Dan Farrell, and to test the new APB fx8, and the fx4, a development project using the Shimano automatic 4-speed hub with electronic controls. The fx8 is a fixed frame model of the Moulton APB, but it is still of some interest to folding enthusiasts as mentioned in our last issue, since it provides an opportunity to compare a separating and non-separating version of the same bike, and it also has some new features for the APB which we may speculate will appear on the separable APBs as well in the future. 

Compared with existing separable APBs, the frame of the fx8 is about 1.5 pounds lighter, and careful choice of components has also helped to keep the weight down. Since many Moulton owners like to customise their bikes, it is particularly good to see that a full range of braze ons are fitted so that multiple chainwheels or Sachs 3 x 7 gearing can be fitted later with a minimum of fuss. The price of the complete bike is also quite attractive at 599, making it the cheapest production APB at present - the fixed frame makes it cheaper to manufacture, but good quality components can still be used. Given that the APB frame is exceptionally stiff, it was not surprising to find on the test ride that there were no obvious differences in riding the fx8 compared with a separable  APB.

During the visit we also rode the fx4, a development prototype fitted with a Shimano automatic 4-speed hub, and we also saw a prototype of a new front rack, and discussed future developments. A detailed report on the visit and the test ride is available on the web pages at

We have now added some pages to the web site specifically dealing with the Moulton APB range. This section of the site is still under construction, and some pages have not yet been set up, so those interested may care to come back to this section again in a few weeks time, when we have had a chance to complete it. You can get straight to the APB pages using the URL

Bike Friday

Details of the new Air Llama, including pictures, are now available on the Bike Friday web pages at

Kent Peterson completed this year's 1200Km Paris-Brest-Paris ride using a New World Tourist. He has a very comprehensive report and pictures available on the web at . He completed the ride in 79 hours 27 minutes.

Brompton and SP (Steve Parry modified Brompton)

David Henshaw reports that Brompton will be exhibiting at Nottingham railway station on Wednesday 29th September from noon until late, and Thursday 30th September from early morning until lunchtime. Nicola McGregor will be there from the factory, assisted by Freewheel Nottingham. David Henshaw of A to B may help out if required. This will be an opportunity to ask awkward questions about new models and accessories!

Incidentally, I'm embarrassed to see that I spelt Andrew Ritchie's name wrongly in issue 34 of FSN (fortunately I spotted it myself, no one has mentioned it to me!) - profuse apologies.

While visiting Pashley Cycles during the last week, I had a chance to see the new Schwalbe Marathon tyre in the 16 inch size, which we have mentioned previously. It is now listed in the Schwalbe catalogue, though it is still not in full production - Pashley had only been able to get hold of one specimen! It certainly looks very smart. Compared with the current favourite in this size, the Primo, it has a pronounced tread pattern and looks much more substantial, though it is still a 1 3/8in width; it felt rather heavier than the Primo. It has a reflective strip built in (something that I understand may be added to the Primo), and as reported previously it is rated at 100psi. There is also a Kevlar belt in it to increase puncture resistance. Finances permitting, we will certainly be testing these tyres when they become available. If you are reading this issue of FSN on the web, you will find a picture here showing the tread pattern of the tyre - if you are reading the basic emailed version, you may care to check out the picture on the web version at

The new Schwalbe Marathon 16 x 1 3/8 tyre.

Sales and Wants

If you have a folder, separable, or accessories to dispose of, or you want to buy, remember you can use our Sales and Wants page ( If you want to have something put on the list, just email us the details ( - there is no charge, but please let us know when it is sold so that we can take it off the list.


John Prince writes in response to comments in FSN35::

Congratulations on another very interesting news do you find the time for all this writing??

Just a few comments...I have never found Primos on the Brompton fragile and on my potholed lane strewn with glass, thorns etc get some stick.

With regard to your camera problems, I surprised that you are still using conventional kit...we have changed to digital and have a wonderful camera with photographs on to a standard floppy disk (reusable and costs 50p) giving 20 high definition pictures or 45 standard resolution. 

Can I request more details of the A0 plastic envelopes.. could be good for us to transport Bromptons/Microlites etc...where to buy, price, original use?

Your correspondent pmailkeey...may I beg to differ with his views???????

Has he ridden the SPs referred to? The suspended handlebar is light years ahead on the Brommy bent (for what reason?) handlebar. His comments on the brakes are pure rubbish...perhaps he would like to enter a braking contest with his stand job against the V brake version. please tell me what odds he is offering so I may place a substantial beat on the outcome.

If one tries out a badly adjusted or maintained cycle, it does not permit one to judge ALL based on that whilst agreeing that for everyday use and particularly on a folder, a hub gear makes sense, the S-A 5 speed is not exactly may favorite unit and I gather from the  paragraph ."On a recent outing...." that we are being told that bottom gear was so inefficient that he questions its usefulness too! And its much the same with Sachs 7 speed where I often am not sure, and can hardly distinguish between 6 and 7 gear.

I use a Nikon Coolpix 900 digital camera for a lot of work now, particularly for pictures for the web pages. However, for big enlargements (10 x 8 inches or bigger) I find the quality (1M pixel) is not as good as a conventional camera, and handling and control is certainly inferior. I think that one reason the Brompton has those bent bars is that, because they flex, they give some insulation from the road surface to the rider's hands and shoulders - desirable with small wheels and high pressure tyres. The SP's systems provides sprung insulation, so the bars themselves can be rigid. I believe the A0 plastic envelopes were discards from a Drawing Office - they originally held material used for copying drawings. I don't know of a source - if any other riders do, please let us know - I would be interested in some myself.

Richard Mathews writes regarding my forthcoming trip to Scotland:

I have read of your recent exploits with interest. When you book your folder or separable on the train to avoid removing the luggage, this would appear to defeat the object of using a folder. When travelling by train with my Brompton I often use a rucksack strapped to the rack. This I can put on my back, leaving two hands free, one for the cycle and one for the front bag. However, this would not necessarily be suitable if carrying large amounts of gear. I am considering riding some of the longer Sustrans paths next year and would like to camp, so I will need to carry quite a bit of stuff. I would also like to travel to the start by train.

This got me thinking about trailers. I have a home- made trailer that I tow with the Brompton. It is a large plastic box on an aluminium Dexion frame with 16" wheels. It is towed from a hitch attached to one end of the rear axle. It works very well for shopping trips etc., but would not be suitable for travelling by train. It seems to me that a possible solution would be a "Bike Hod". The Brompton could be folded and the Bike Hod wheeled like a shopping trolley.

I would like to ask if there are any Folding Society members who have experience in towing a Bike Hod ? If so, is my idea feasible? Would the Bike Hod handle light off road work. such as forest tracks, as found on Sustrans paths ? I would be most grateful for any suggestions members may have. 

I know that a number of people have used a Bike Hod with a Brompton - I bought one after seeing David Edge sue one, and trying his. I have used it with the Brompton in the past, but not since fitting the expensive carbon fibre seat post! You need to specify a seat post clamp to suit the Brompton, as the Brompton seat post is large diameter. I find the Hod is fine for short shopping trips to the local supermarket, but I would not personally care to use it - or any trailer - for touring. The small, wide low pressure tyres do create a fair amount of rolling resistance, and with a load of shopping in I find the 'surging' effect very disconcerting, where the trailer (perhaps partly due to the rubber linkage) seems to keep catching the bike up, then trying to drop back, even when riding quite smoothly. I find I can get almost the same amount in two conventional large panniers. That said, the Hod is certainly useful on the shopping trips, and I don't regret buying it.

Charlie Halliday has also written regarding this trip:

Regarding your trip to Inversnaid, you may be interested to know that I recently had a train/bike holiday in Italy using my Brompton T5 (why didn't I buy one years ago?).

I wanted to ensure that I always had one hand free when walking so I wanted to use a rucksack for my personal things and half the camping gear. I used a 45 litre rucksack and an alloy framed camping stool (7 or so from Millets). I left the Brompton front mounting bag at home (to keep the hand free). Much to my surprise I was able mount the rucksack firmly on the Brompton carrier. To do this, I folded the stool and mounted it across the rear of the carrier using some releasable cable ties, I then placed the rucksack in front of the inverted stool and used several bungees to bind them together. A cable tie from the top of the rucksack to the saddle completed it. This take a few minutes to set-up and dismantle, so it isn't good if you are making lots of changes. The good side is that you can always have one hand free when walking. For short journeys, say a few miles, I found that riding with the rucksack on my back was acceptable. In my experience the Brompton ride stability was hardly affected despite all the rear end weight.

Note: for convenience and speed, the cable ties need to be of the rare type that can be released by a finger nail. I have yet to see them in a retail shop, and got mine from Viking at .

When I was using a back-pack style camera bag earlier this year I removed the Brompton front bag from the carrier (easily done - just release the Velcro on the base and lift it off) and strapped the camera bag (Lowepro Trim Trekker) to the carrier, which then mounted on the luggage block in the usual way. A small conventional rucksack could also probably be carried this way. I seriously considered carrying the photo gear this way on the Inversnaid trip, with a standard Brompton front bag system mounted on the back of the Brompton (which my SP with its special rear carrier permits). It's rather surprising that Brompton themselves haven't offered rear luggage mounting which is as easy and simple to use as the front system. What put me off using this solution in the end is that I would need a second pannier rack unit, and I intend to delay getting that until the new touring bag is available - that bag would also have been more suitable than the standard one if I had adopted this solution. The tripod would also have been rather difficult to accommodate. Don't get me wrong - I would regard the Brompton with this luggage system as a perfectly acceptable solution for this trip, it's just that I have this ridiculously large collection of bikes, and from it I can select something which, at least in my opinion, is even more suitable for this particular holiday, the luggage to be carried, and the riding that I will be doing. 

Going back to Richard's point regarding whether it defeats the object of having and using a folder if I choose not to fold it for this trip: I do regularly make use of the folding facility normally (in three train trips this week, I folded once because I had to, once for convenience, and once I didn't fold at all, as it was not required and I was using an APB; I folded the bikes twice at destinations for ease and security of storage). However, on this two week holiday I didn't feel that 6 was too much to pay to avoid the difficulties of fully unloading the bike, folding and unfolding, and having to carry everything - which even using a rucksack would have been the rucksack, at least one additional bag, tripod, plus bagged bicycle.  I have taken a folder and folded it on holidays when I was camping, and had camping gear (tent, sleeping bag etc), but without such a large collection of photographic gear and without a tripod! Alec Scaresbrook recently emailed me about a Manfrotto nature tripod, and I intend to investigate this when time and finances permit. Gitzo also make some light carbon fibre tripods, but the price is very high. One theoretical advantage of folding is that as you do not need to book the bike on a specific train, you might have greater freedom about which train to catch, and travel arrangements generally. However, if you want to take advantage of cheap train fares (saving more than the 6 bicycle charge!) you need to travel on a specific train, so that advantage is lost. As mentioned in the last issue of FSN, the ability to fold (or separate) can come in very useful in emergencies even if you did not plan to do it, so using a folder is still an advantage, and I rate the folders as more suitable for this outing than my conventional bikes anyway. Finally, I would add that the decision does depend rather on which folder/separable one is using. For a small, not very strong person like myself, using the folding/separating option with all this paraphernalia really would be very awkward when using a Moulton or Bike Friday, but with a Brompton it would be more feasible as the Brompton is so much easier to carry when folded; the decision with the Birdy would be more marginal in terms of carrying the folded bike and luggage, but as I've said before, I would find it difficult to attach all the luggage to the Birdy in what I would regard as a satisfactory manner.


Saturday 2 October 1999 - Mud Dock
During the August Mud Dock meeting a proposal was apparently put forward to move the location of future meetings. However, the suggested location is usually closed in the winter months, so, pending clarification, I would suggest that anyone planning to go to the event on 2 October should go to Mud Dock in the usual way. Meet from about 10.30am. For further information contact Gary Lovell, Tel: 0117 932 4633.

Saturday 2 October 1999 - Severn Valley Ride 
Meet Kidderminster at Severn Valley Railway Museum Cafe 10am for 10.30. There is a free car park at the station. 35 mile ride with option to shorten to 24 miles and travel back on the Severn Valley Steam Railway. Further details from Sandra Evans. Tel 01562 862701 [Information provided by The Moulton Bicycle Club - event also open to folders]. This sounds like a very enjoyable event if you are far enough north to find travel to Mud Dock rather a chore, or if you are not too sure where the 'Mud Dock' meeting will be on 2 October! I shall be away at the time, otherwise this is an event I would certainly have in my diary.

Saturday 9 October - Origami Ride
Meet in front of Milton Keynes Central Station or in cafe for 11.00am for a tour round Milton Keynes, largely on traffic-free Redways including appropriate lunch and refreshment stops. Yes, we will visit the concrete cows but we will also visit the site of a medieval village (literally the 13th century Milton Keynes), site of a Roman villa plus a number of other places of interest that you might not expect to find in a town like Milton Keynes. For more information please see the web pages at, or contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685.

Rides for Folding enthusiasts in San Francisco
Fall Ride - October 16th
The ride will leave the San Francisco Ferry Building at the base of Market Street; arrive from 9.30am for a 10.00am start. The route will be Golden Gate Park to view the Camera Obscura. For more information, e-mail Tom Vogt ( or call (510-237-7380).
In 2000 there will only be two rides - the Spring (20 May) and Fall (7 October) rides. More information on these in due course.

November 7 : Moulton Day Meet at St Kilda pier Melway 57 K10
Michael Kater in Australia has sent us the following information about this ride: Meet from 10 am  for a coffee at Dennys restaurant at the end of the pier, leave at 11 am to ride to Ricketts Point Cafe Melway 86 C8 for refreshments and Half Moon Bay to HMVS Cerberus. (Bathers optional) Return to St Kilda. A wide  variety of Moulton bicycles will be present. All welcome. Michael Kater 03) 5344 8296 (RSD B183 Cardigan 3352) Email

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 a 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

CycleFest 2000 - Lancaster, 2nd  8th August 2000
The bi-annual cycling feast will soon be coming around again, and it'll all be up and running from Wednesday 2nd to Tuesday 8th August at St Martins College, Lancaster, UK. Quite a bit has been planned already of course, and as usual there's a theme for the sessions - this year it's "Transmissions", and we already have some great speakers booked for this (Tony Hadland, Florian Schlumfp, Izzi Ureili et al) and some interesting new activities planned (50m sprints, midnight torchlight parade and BBQ etc). However, further ideas are always welcome. There will be announcements in Folding Society News, The Moultoneer and other publications in due course. The Cyclefest web pages are now available (, and will be regularly updated as the event approaches. We hope to have a major folder/separable presence at Cyclefest 2000 - more about this later. If you have any queries concerning CycleFest, contact: John Bradshaw, Tel/Fax: 01524 384474 (day) or Tel: 01524 66658 (eve)

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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Copyright (C)1999 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 26 September 1999