The Folding Society

A C2C ride on a Brompton - preparation

By Richard Mathews

Further to my email re the C2C trip, the plan is as follows:-

We depart on Monday 9th August having overnighted in Keswick. I will be accompanied on the trip, by my son James, who is almost 15. I will ride my Brompton, James will be riding his Trice recumbent.

We are doing the ride the easy way staying in hotels and having our luggage transported from hotel to hotel (for easy read, soft!). We have booked with "Holiday Lakeland" for the five day ride. The average distance we will ride each day is 30 miles. While we are both more than capable of doing much more than this, we decided to take our time for two main reasons. Firstly, we want this to be a holiday and have time for sight seeing on route, but importantly if the weather is bad, we can knock the thirty miles off early, and spend the rest of the day doing some else.

My Brompton started life 4 years ago as an L3 but a couple of years ago I changed the back wheel for a five speed and have added a rack. Making it effectively a T5. My latest upgrade is the addition of a Stronglight double chainset with 48/36 rings. I have as yet not added a changer, kicking down with my heel. To change back up I took an idea from, John Pinkerton. Making an L shaped hook from a coat hanger hook (why a coat hanger hook? You need the knob on the end, you will see why later). Having straightened out the hook I pushed it through a Harveys Bristol Cream cork, fixing it with Araldite. The knob stops the wire pulling through in use. Once set, the end was bent over to form the L, this then fits neatly in the end of handlebars until needed. I of course have to stop to change up. I have not calculated the gear ratios, but I have ended up with a set of low gears which I can use when in the Lake district or similar, with a top gear quite adequate for cruising, so that I do not have to keep changing up to the top ring. I am a member of the Richard Ballantine school of cycling and do not believe in pedaling down hills.

Other additions are, Stubby bar ends, handle bar strengthener, Aztec brake blocks, (by the way I have always been puzzled by the problems people seem to experience with Saccon brakes. I changed the blocks when I first bought the bike, I am no lightweight, I have no problem with them at all.)

At the same time as adding the the chainset, sealed bearing jockey wheels were fitted, I would recommend this upgrade, it makes for a much smother drive train and where I live there is a lot of sand on the roads. Finally, computer, dynamo with Standlites back and front, SPD pedals, Brooks 17 saddle, Kwiklift and most importantly a Moski bell.

A word about Kwiklift, I think that the Brompton luggage system is second to none and the front bag is excellent, however I live on the coast where itís windy more often than not. With a headwind the bag can be a real drag (no pun intended), especially when empty. For day touring I have often used a rack pack, however this interferes with folding, I tried a saddlebag, but this catches the back of my legs. At the CTC York Rally this year, I spotted a Brompton fitted with a Kwiklift. Beautifully hand made by W.G.Lord of Lancashire, it provides a stable rack, plus a quick release system. Coupled with the Nelson long flap saddle bag, brought as a second from the Carradice stand, it works well. I will use this rather than the front bag for the C2C. Mind you with the saddle bag, front bag plus a rack pack it makes for a lot of carrying capacity, and I have a trailer!

Tyres are of course a problem, I am a great fan of Primos, but the temptation to go off road when the opportunity arises is to great. I saw three off in the first three months of this year, I am at present running on a pair of Swallows that I acquired with on an old Moulton, they run quite well. For the C2C I will fit some new Raleigh Records, but afterwards it will be back to Primos, and I will have to resist the temptation to go off road.

While at York I visited the Bohle stand they told me that there will be a new Schwalbe 16 by 1 3/8 tyre out next year, on the lines of their Marathon Range. I also believe that Brompton are developing a new tyre, so with a bit of luck there should be more choice in the Millenium.

Well thatís it, I will let you know how we get on.

Ride report

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Copyright (C)1999 Richard Mathews
Last updated: 22 August 1999