Recent Post

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Just returned from a 1350 kilometres tour through the Canyons and Mesas of Utah and Colorado. Once again the little folder proved to be most reliable and not a bad climber either.

Read the full story here
0


I was able to try out the Anker PowerPort Solar Lite on my latest cycling tour of Utah and Colorado. The two panel solar chargers worked exceptionally well, keeping an Anker battery charger always full and ready to charge my gadgets at the end of each day. Conditions were ideal during the tour as I got plenty of sun most days, but it certainly produced enough charge that for the 20 days touring I never had to plug in my gadgets. If camping in a tent is the main way to spend the night it is always a challenge to keep everything in charge due to the lack of electricity. In the past I would try my best and spend time in cafes and restaurants in order to do so but this time I was able to not do that thanks to the solar panels. On a Brompton as you can see from the picture, the panel can be opened on the top of the T-Bag and secured by way of carabiner to the two plastic loops that are available by the side of the bag. Plate was not included but as you can see the panel offers a great opportunity to elegantly display that too!
0

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Late last year, Nick from Brompton Australia, asked us if one of our demo/hire Bromptons would like to go on a trip to Sri Lanka. So we asked it, and it said “You Betcha”. Yeah, they’re made for cities, but it’s a testament to their brilliant design that Bromptons are capable of so much more.

Watch the video here

0

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Why such a long way on a small bike?”, a passer-by asked me on the Sidmouth promenade as I prepared myself for the climb out of town.
He listened as I tried to tell him that beautiful things come in small packages but as he began to talk about his BMW GS I realised he was beyond redemption.
What I didn’t tell him were my plans to ride the Brompton from San Diego to Vancouver (BC) along the ‘Sierra Cascades’, the cycle route that shadows the better-known Pacific Crest Trail across the Unites States. To describe the SC in one word, it is mountainous. The route conquers seven ranges, the greatest of which are the Sierra Nevadas in California and the Cascades through Oregon and Washington, for a total ascent of about 150,000′ over 2400 miles.

Read the full story here

0

Sunday, February 5, 2017

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_1bL__n8y4

Interesting videos from the guys at http://pathlesspedaled.com explaining what are the main option worth considering when you want to take your Brompton bicycle on a tour.

View the full video here
0

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Packing a Brompton folding bicycle to go cycle touring is not the same as packing our tandem or one of our own bikes. This may seem obvious, but took us slightly by surprise as we began seriously preparing for a Christmas Day flight to Devonport, Tasmania.

Bromptons can carry a fair bit of gear. The front T-Bag holds 31 litres and the rear Rack Sack holds sixteen litres. This is comparable with a pair of our usual Ortlieb Back Roller Classics, which have a 40 litre capacity. Surely the gear we normally cart in two sets of Ortlieb panniers on our tandem would easily fit in our Brompton bags! After all, we will have two Bromptons complete with T-Bag and Rack Sack rear bag…

Read the full story here
0

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Die-hard road cyclist and creator of plus women’s clothing brand Wheel Women Tina McCarthy, put aside preconceptions when she bought a folding bike to ride around Japan. Here is what she learnt…

Read full article here
1

Tuesday, December 13, 2016



On my journey from Europe to China in 2016, following the ancient Silk Road on my Brompton,  the Pamir Highway was of course on my agenda. Having cycled already more than 6000 km, I wanted to accomplish this famous road on my folding bike, not knowing how tough these 14 days would turn out to be.

Read the full story here

Jonathan blog in german gives a full account of his amazing journey  www.gonewiththeroad.com
0

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Inspired by the amazing colours of the autumn leaves I set off for a 1000 kilometres Brompton tour in New England. Starting in Boston Massachusetts, the ride took me to New Hampshire's White Mountains National Park, before crossing into Vermont and its magnificent Green Mountains National Park searching for a perfect maple leaf. Back into Massachussetts and the Berkshire hills after a short visit to Connecticut, it was time for a couple of days of riding in New York City.

See the full video here
2

Monday, November 21, 2016

A very interesting alternative way to store your tools, pump and spares inside the Brompton frame.
1

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Video of a ten day cycle camping tour on Brompton bikes from Reading to Wimborne via the Kennet & Avon Canal and the National Cycle Network. Most clips were shot using a GoPro Hero 3 and some using a DSLR Nikon D7000.

0

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


A 1053 kilometres tour, taking in the colours of the New England leaf season on a Brompton. The cycling tour started in Boston Massachusetts and the little folder performed admirably once again, through the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut before the final parade into New York City.

Read full report here
3

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Last year I was very pleased to be given one of the new Brompton toolkits as a birthday present. It is a beautiful thing, cleverly designed to fit together into a neat package that slots into the open end of the bike’s frame tube when unfolded. I wanted one as soon as they were announced, not because I needed it but because it seemed to be an elegant way of removing clutter (a bag of tools under the saddle) from an elegant bike.

Read full article here
0

Monday, August 29, 2016


Five of us went on a cycling in South Korea. Our tour took us through the scenic cycling trails of the Namhangang River, and also the trails of the Nakdong River; through the bustling cities of Seoul, Daegu and Busan; it took us by rustic towns and villages, and also a few Unesco Heritage Sites. Most of the routes were relatively flat but there was some pushing too as some sections were across steep hills. We got to enjoy the good Korean food, met some interesting people and some quirky personalities too.

Read full report here
0

Sunday, August 28, 2016




Malaysia based blogger Jotaro has a good selection of articles on bike touring with a Brompton as well as experience in cycling tours with other folding and regular bikes.

0



Travelling with the Brompton to other places by air is great. But one has to be careful on how to pack it and protect the more sensitive or protruding ends. Many use hard cases or semi-hard cases; but if you are ending your cycling tour at a point other than your start point, these hard cases are going to be a problem carrying around on the bike.
I frequently travel with my Brompton packed into an IKEA Dimpa Bag. It's a soft bag so some additional protection has to be done. This bag folds into a small, convenient piece making it easy to carry around. Now the things is to ensure that the protection boards and pieces used are also foldable and easily carried on the bike.

0

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


A little over a month ago, I introduced My New Set of Wheels -- my folding Brompton bike. Many of you asked how I liked my new bicycle, which I affectionately named "Bromleigh." At the time, I hadn't put enough miles on Bromleigh to form an opinion. But now, with more than 800 miles on my new rig, I'm ready to share my thoughts.

Read full report here
0

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Last summer my boyfriend and I planned an epic, two weeks 1864 mile (3000 kilometer) circular road trip by car that would take us from Vancouver through some of the most beautiful scenery of BC and the Alberta Rocky Mountains (The Rockies), a place I have wanted to return to since I had been there with my family as a teenager. But this road trip was different because I experienced a lot of it by bike.

Read full report here

0

Tuesday, June 28, 2016



At the beginning of June, Jenny and I cycled to Amsterdam on our Brompton folding bicycles. We travelled over 500 kilometres in five days. It was an amazing experience. The first two days were quite challenging but we kept on pushing and were rewarded by three days of fine weather and very pleasant cycling. What made this trip special was meeting up with friends along the way to share the experience.
Read full report here

1

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


It was the turn of Sri Lanka, a rather unusual destination, who would have said! Promises of cheap and good food, smooth roads and hot winter temperatures and not too great distances and I was immediately sold. It was quite a shock to be so suddenly thrown from a wintery Italian bike ride wrapped up with scarves, gloves and hat, to a sweltering anarchic traffic mess. With all the tiredness from the travel and after assembling the bike under the staring eyes of the Airport security, I proudly set out from Bandaranaike International airport, heading north and desperately trying to get to the coast.

Read full report here
0

Thursday, January 14, 2016



We did a lot of research on which folding bikes to purchase and ultimately landed on Bromptons for one reason: they fit in an overhead compartment (unless you’re on a tiny plane; more on that later). Yes, Bromptons are more expensive than Bike Fridays, Dahons, etc, but with bike luggage fees running up to $ 150 one way, we will definitely save money after just a couple trips.

Read full report here

2



There are many options to travel on the plane with a Brompton bike. You can get a suitcase or a hard case that is designed for a folding bike, you can box it up at home or at the airport, you can also try gate-checking it, or bring it on the plane as a carry-on. I took a combined approach. Because I wanted to be able to ride to and from the airports and not having to rely on taxis or transits, I decided to get a portable transport bag and checked in my Brompton bike. Moreover, I already have enough stress as it is from flying, I didn’t want the extra stress from dealing with TSA and gate checking staffs.

Read full report here
0

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A small adventure I have been dreaming of for years became wonderful reality and, in the best way, ended exactly where it began. It might seem sad. Actually I am, like today’s autumn wind.
But the sun slowly rising up behind the Attican mounts and ambushing them, is reminding me that there is always something good when a dream comes true and reaches an end, like a happy day finishing. Read the full report of a Brompton touring adventure covering 14 different islands.

Read full report here

0

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Bike touring is a great passion of mine and my first choice when traveling and discovering new places. Having used a Brompton M6R on my latest cycling tours I can definitely say that it exceeded all my best expectations and performed so well that it has become my bicycle of choice for my cycling tours ever since.
I fly packing the Brompton into a soft folding bike bag and my setup to carry all I need on my tour consists of a Brompton T Bag at the front and a standard rucksack fitted on top of the bike rack in a way I described in this article
This has become a tried and tested way to carry things on the folder and has been used by many Brompton cycle-tourers all over the world. It offers a stable and well balanced ride and mostly it is extremely versatile in any multi-modal tours where some kind of transportations is  involved. 
Whenever you need to you are able in just a few minutes to switch from a fully loaded bike to a packed setup that you can hold on with two hands and carry on a car, bus, train or plane!
I have always loved bike touring but loathed the difficulties of transporting bikes to destinations, finding boxes to pack things, and shift around two or more panniers at the same time!
No setup I have ever used makes it so easy and hassle free.
Concerns about the reliability of such a small wheeled bike as well as its comfort and ability to cope with hills, descents and generally long days of riding with the weight of my luggage, proved to be unfounded and touring on a Brompton has just been a pure joy. 
I believe there are three conditions to meet before you consider cycle touring on a Brompton; if these don't seem to much of a limitation I would have no hesitation recommending it.

  1. You are planning a tour on well surfaced roads.
  2. You will not be touring in extreme cold temperatures.
  3. You will not be for any extended time in remote areas where self efficiency is a must.

( 1 ) Brompton's are sturdy bikes and can withstand more abuse than you imagine but still their small wheels and thin tyres are not suited to rough terrains and muddy tracks. You will be able to cope with the odd exception by walking and so on but if that is the condition of most of the roads you travel on an expedition bike or a mountain bike will be much more fun and less trouble.

( 2 ) This might be a bit more arbitrary and you can probably prove me wrong but I have found that my setup has to be really compact and light in order to work best. Traveling in cold temperatures means having to carry quite a lot more volume and weight mostly due to bulky clothes, warmer sleeping bags, etc in order to be comfortable.

( 3 ) Brompton are definitely reliable bikes but are not bullet proof like some expedition bikes, also they use a lot of specific and proprietary spare parts. Traveling for an extended period in remote areas means that should you have technical issues that you are not able to fix and have no transportation available within reach your tour will not be much fun! Also as in point two, traveling remote areas involves being self efficient i.e. carrying a lot more stuff than you would otherwise. Carrying lots of water and food and all the gadgets and utensils that make it possible is not an easy option on such a small bike.

Reliability

In my experience I have had hardly any reliability issues to report, probably on a par or even less than on mountain bikes or touring bikes I have used in the past. Traveling about 3000 kilometres all I had to cope with was a single puncture on a rear tyre, and on one occasion surely due to my lack of attention, the small chain cables that attaches to the rear gear shifter detached and I had to screw it back in place which took no more than  two minutes.
The small Marathon tyres even on such tiny circumference are exceptionally tough. The rear tyre will wear out faster than on larger wheels. It is only natural that the small wheels increased contact results in increased wear; I recommend always bringing one or two spare tyres for Brompton's 16" wheels as these are not always easy to source in bike shops. In the past I have simply swapped tyres when I felt that they were not evenly worn but a tyre failure shouldn't be a reason to wreck your plans and two tyres are small, not too heavy and can be easily carried for example around your rucksack like on the main picture above.  
Other than that the small wheels always performed faultlessly, staying perfectly tuned to the last day.
I always carry several replacement spokes too, again due to the fact that should you need to fix the wheels a shop might not have the right size. This are stored in the hollow tube holding the rucksack. 

Comfort

Of course it's great benefits in portability means that you have to do some compromises in comfort; these are less noticeable than you would imagine. With a 6, 12% reduced gearing bike setup, you are able to climb most hills or even mountains where gradients are not extreme, and prove an adequate gear ratios to cover most terrains, fast descents, flat sections etc. Using a Brompton makes you more conscious of how much weight you take with you; you will travel much lighter and I found that often I am faster on climbs than most cycle tourists I encountered along the road. On descents the opposite is true. You must be aware of having small wheels and therefore more cautious and focused.  Overall during a day you will find that your pace and the daily distances you are able to cover will probably match those of other tourers and their more traditional bikes and setups. 
A front T Bag with the heaviest load and a lighter rucksack at the back turns up to be a very efficient way to load the bike. You feel very well balanced, secure and the handling of the bike is almost better than while unloaded.
Having a rucksack instead of a dedicated bike pannier is much more versatile. If you want you have the extra ability to take a day off the bike and go for a trek and when you have to take the bike on buses or trains you have a fast way to put luggage on your shoulders while having your hands free to carry the folded bike and T Bag.
I heard that on older Brompton versions brakes efficiency on long descent would be a challenge but I found the more recents models come equipped with adequate brakes and feel secure on the steepest descents even with the extra luggage weight you are carrying.

Conclusion

The only limitations I can see are climbing steep mountains, going on extended expeditions in remote locations where sourcing proprietary spare parts would be difficult and touring where road conditions involve off road or dirt tracks. The Brompton offers in my opinion the best setup for a multi-modal tour, where the odd transfer by other means of transport is involved.
If these compromises are not too much to make, I found touring with a folder like the Brompton a easy and fun way to cycle travel and I will surely have many more tours and adventures with it! 


6

Sunday, October 4, 2015


This is a comprehensive list of what I would normally carry  with me on a bike tour with a Brompton. This setup works really well for me and has been improved as a result of several tours and several thousand kilometres on the bike.  I assume one is not touring in extreme cold temperatures. The ability to carry luggage on the Brompton is limited therefore it is crucial to limit the things you bring, finding an efficient way to pack them by having weights well distributed and making them easy  to access during your tour.

Everything needed is carried on the bike inside two bags.  A front T-Bag with a capacity of 30 Litres and a hiking backpack of 40 litres capacity sitting over the rear rack of the bike.


Backpack content:



Things that are used less should obviously be put in the least accessible place. The bike bag is only used to carry the bike on the plane, therefore it is stacked at the bottom of the backpack. Over this I put all the bike tools and repair kits as well as all the toiletries and water bag. Next are one or two folded Dimpa bags that are used to cover the bike for short transfers on bus or trains and if needed to cover the bike at night. Then I would put the bungee chords and slippers and sleeping bag. Finally, I reserve the top for my charger and cables and clothes things that I might want to access during the day.
My Thermarest mattress is a bit wider so I just strap it to the outside of the backpack and secure it with the bungee chords of the rear rack.

T-Bag content:


The front T-Bag contains most of the valuables and things that need to be accessed easily while you are cycling. With its clip it is easily removed from the bike and is therefore never left unattended. In the inside zip pocket I usually keep my passport and other travel documents. At the bottom of the main compartment I insert my lightweight tent and cable accessories. Next I put my jacket and depending on the weather my sweater, gloves and hat. On top I keep my camera, Go Pro and all the cable and accessories I need to take pictures or shoot movies during the ride.
My iPhone is usually strapped around my neck with a lanyard and rest in my shirt pocket. This makes it easy to access it securely at any time while riding or still. This always leaves space for food when I do my groceries during the day or before setting up camp. The T-Bag has also two rear pockets, one I normally use for a water bottle as it fits perfectly the other one I generally use to keep my wallet and my gadgets charger should I need to re-charge things on the go. The outer mesh pockets are very spacious and are an excellent place to keep my lock, repair gloves and bananas or energy bars that are consumed regularly and are convenient to access at any time.

Clothes:




In the picture above you can see all the clothes I take with me while touring. It might seem very spare but I assure you it is all you need to be comfortable and warm enough to tour in most weather conditions. Most garments come in sets giving you the ability to always wear a clean set while you wash and dry the other one. In order to be light I choose clothes that are comfortable not only for cycling but also provide a good option for all the time I spend off the bike. The only cycling specific garment I take with me is one pair of cycling shorts. These I normally wear under my light trousers at the beginning of the tour when I am not used to be on the bike for long hours and the padding will make this transition more comfortable. The downside to them is that they are not quick to dry so I limit their use to the minimum necessary to ride comfortably. I still use underpants while wearing them as this will keep them much cleaner and should you wish to, you will be able to wear them a few times before a wash. I have talked about the great qualities of Merino wool in another article, suffice to say that my merino base layers and socks provide odour free and comfortable wear for many days without the need to be washed. Zipped trousers are used in their short version during the ride and the extensions can then be zipped at other times allowing for a very flexible use. Long johns are very useful to provide extra warmth with a very little addition to space and weight. I mostly wear them at night while camping. Riding long hours each day doesn't mean that one cannot keep clean during a tour. A very useful trick I figured out is that wearing light and quick drying underpants that are washed each day under the shower (perfect sponge too...) or with some water is a great way to keep clean; having two pairs of them means that you can wash the pair you used during the day, wear the clean ones for the night and the following day while the others are put on the outside of your luggage to dry. This works a treat and also brings a degree of theft deterrence while you shop! All the clothes that are not worn during the day are stacked on top of each other and rolled. I then put them inside an Exped 8 Litres waterproof compression bag. Once at the campsite I can have easy access to them when I need to get changed. Also this bag design, without buckles and straps makes for an ideal pillow.
As far as shoes I have used a light pair of trekking shoes, again avoiding the cycling specific solution.  Yes it is more efficient to have clipped shoes that you can attach to pedal and very stiff soles that don't bend while you pedal but my view is this. Clips might had a little speed and distance to your day but come at the risk of being tied to the bike. Even those who are used to them might not react as quickly when their bike is fully loaded with weights. Bike shoes might not be as comfortable when you are off the bike too.  I next plan to try riding on Keen sandal type shoes which are much used by cycle tourists and seem to offer a good balance between riding and comfort.
3

Thursday, September 3, 2015



Watch the video of a 1400 kilometres bike tour with a Brompton Folding Bike completed in July 2015. The tour starting point was Lake Louise, heading north to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway then returning on the same road back to Lake Louise before heading West to Vancouver via Whistler. The Brompton again was a joy to ride and made it a hassle free adventure.

0

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


The T-Bag is a must have for anybody considering a cycling tour with a Brompton bike. It is the largest and roomiest of all Brompton front bags, which include the Folding Basket, the leather attache case or A-Bag, the small messenger bag S-Bag and the medium messenger bag C-Bag.
Having toured on a Brompton for a few years, I find this piece of equipment something I could not do without.

It has a capacity of over 30 litres but thanks to its roll-up closing system it can store much more when you leave the top unrolled and open. This is something I do for example when I go to the grocery store at the end of my cycling day and need to stock up on food. Simply leave the bag open and just put the strap on top across to secure your shopping and you are guarantee to be able to carry a large load! Bear in mind that according to Brompton the bag weight should not exceed 10 kg.

The greatest feature to me is the fact that the bag seat on a large clamp attached to the frame. This ensures that the bike stability is not affected and I personally feel that it gives my Brompton more stability than when I ride it unloaded. There is small zipped compartment inside which is convenient to store valuables and documents. When touring the clip system ensures that you can quickly remove the bag and always take it with you when you have to be away from the bike.
On the rider side there are two small compartments. The one to the right has an elastic closure and is an ideal location to store your water bottle. The right one has a waterproof zip and can securely store gadgets, your wallet your mobile phone or anything else you might want to have regular access to.
The surrounding mesh gives a lot of extra space. I normally use it to store the waterproof cover for my backpack, the bike lock and all the food I consume while riding.

The clamp system is very sturdy and having used it for over 4000 kilometres so far it does not show any sign of deterioration.

If you are considering touring on a Brompton folder this is the only option to store luggage at the front of the bike and an excellent solution at that.



1

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Starting from our very first ride, Dmitry and I were excited to think about what we would do differently and better. We are traveling fairly minimalist (at least compared to bike tourists who have full size bikes, camping gear, and so on ), but we were both excited to lighten the load even more. After the first few weeks in Thailand, our main topic of conversation while we rode turned to re-packing, what we could leave behind, what we would acquire, how we would reconfigure our bags. We weighed ourselves and bikes outside a 7/11 in Thailand: Dmitry+bike+luggage was 97 kg (214 lbs), Mila+bike+luggage was 102 kg (225 lbs). Meaning that since Dmitry is a little heavier than me, I was carrying way too much stuff. (My bike is also about one pound heavier than Dmitry’s bike – 28 pounds as opposed to 27 – because my handle-bars are a little higher).  Luckily, our two weeks in the US for the holidays allowed us to completely change up our rigs – paring out some things (mostly clothes), adding a few others (mostly bike repair items).

Read full story


0

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Blog account of a loaded Brompton bike tour starting with the mountains in Banff and Jasper National Park before heading west to Vancouver. A total of 1400 kilometres, including several mountains passes over 2000 metres.

Read the full story here
0

Friday, August 7, 2015


You cannot climb mountains with a Brompton

I was the first to believe this. When I first decided to use a Brompton Bicycle for touring I was extremely careful in choosing a route that wouldn't entail much climbing. Cycling the US Pacific coast on a couple of occasions I limited my efforts to uphills that never took me over 1000 metres and grades that never exceeded 6%. The reliability and total fun of touring with this bike brought me this year to do something a little more daring, cycling in the canadian Rockies and in the end I was able to tackle pretty hard climbs that I would be hard pushed to climb on any other bike I could chose. I cycled along the Icefield Parkway both ways,  climbing cols over 2000 metres and more challenging even,  Duffey Lake Road from Lillooet to Pemberton in British Columbia ascending 1500 meters often as steep as climbs in the european Alps. All it took were a few minutes pushing the bike where the road was just too steep but these were out of well over two hours of climbing time. I am by no means a strong cyclist, I don't necessarily train before my tours. I get fit as days go by so a sensible first consideration is to not plan the steepest of climbs on your first few days when your body needs to get conditioned to the effort needed to cycle long distances.
 I reached the conclusion that it is indeed possible to climb mountains on a loaded Brompton and the limitation are not that much different from those you have to consider when touring on a heavy loaded bike.
On a Brompton you can chose ( and you should! ) the six reduced gearing option and if this is not enough to get you going, walking is more efficient! On my softest gear while climbing the most difficult sections on Duffey Lake I would cruise at  5 or 6 kmh just above walking speed. Should I need lower gearing I would be better off pushing the bike up when I needed.
I believe this is the same on any bike loaded for touring; you end up using the softest gear and should you go below the five kilometres threshold it hardly makes sense pedalling and it becomes easier pushing the bike to get over the toughest parts. Of course it goes without saying that tourers on touring bikes or mountain bikes will in the end carry much more weight than you do and I often found that to the contrary I was faster while climbing than they were!

You can't ride too far with a Brompton

Another myths I used to believe. Ideally a day ride on my tour will not be so long that I am not able to stop frequently, eat loads and take all the beautiful pictures and videos and still make it to a campsite by 4pm. Talking about distance on average I find that 70 or 80 kilometres is an ideal distance.
Of course sometime we have constraint on times or it is necessary to ride longer to get from point A to B, so what then?
Surprisingly I found that covering long distances on a Brompton is not impossible either. On a recent tour where I had to cover longer distances than I would have liked I completed several days where in the end my speedometer was just short of 130 kilometres. Indeed this is on par with the longest distances I ever covered on tours with my mountain bike when I was twenty years younger too!
4

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Taking our fully-loaded Brompton six-speed bikes from sea level up to 1700 meters (5600 feet) required us to briefly engage the Brompton "super-power" - a quick fold, and into the back of a three-wheeled taxi they went. We have been traveling the world on our Brompton bikes for four months, through Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal, but the ride up to the Indian Hill Station town of Munnar, nestled amid emerald tea plantations, was our biggest challenge yet. The route took us to the peaks of the Western Ghats, a mountain range that spans the west coast of India.
0

Monday, April 6, 2015

Just when you start thinking that pretty much everything that can be done with a little folder has been done think again... Six days bicycle tour across the ice of Lake Baikal,  the deepest freshwater lake in the world. This 183 kilometres journey in extreme conditions was carried out in March. Temperatures during the day were 0 degrees but reaching a -20 degrees celsius at night time

View the pictures here




0

Friday, April 3, 2015


Even the sturdier and most reliable bike is subject to wear and tear during a tour and any part has the potential to fail and stop you on the road. Like most cycling tourists, I am not an experienced mechanic and in a dozens tours with different type of bikes I have so far completed, I mostly had to deal with fixing punctures and  some basic gearing or brakes adjustments.
Although some people are doing exactly that, I would not recommend a Brompton bike for unsupported extreme expeditions or round the world trips where you will be spending weeks without the chance to access basic facilites or other forms of transportation should you need to.
Even if you were a skilled Brompton mechanic, the limitation on the amount of gear you can carry with you, means that you could easily find yourself without the right tools or spare parts to be able to fix it.
Bromptons are mostly built with proprietary parts that are not easily accessed in remote areas and your run of the mill local bicycle shop might be at a loss in trying to get your bicycle back on the road.
Where this folder excels instead is in multi-modal touring and short to medium tours where you will have access to alternative transportation in case of emergency and if possible access to shops where spare parts can be found. The latter is not a must provided that you are happy to take the risk of an unlikely failure that could stop you from cycling; even in this situation having a folding bike that you can easily pack away and a rucksack you can quickly put on your shoulders makes for a good chance that your touring holiday will not end in total frustration.

BEFORE YOUR DEPARTURE

(1) Before you set off on a tour, always make sure that your bike is in good conditions. Like I said above Brompton's are sturdy bikes but if you have the bad luck of running into a major failure, they are not as easy to fix as a regular mountain bike or racing bike. Before starting my tour I usually service my bike at a Brompton dealer, as they are the expert and know what are the parts that mostly need looking at for wear and tear. I am not sure it makes any difference, but I do mention to them that I am going on a tour and ask them to pay special attention to critical parts such as wheels, chain, etc.

(2) In the past few years global popularity of Brompton bikes has rapidly grown meaning that dealers are now rapidly expanding and can be found more and more in towns and cities all over the world. Access to them while you are touring in your destination might not be as difficult as it used to. I usually take a flight to the starting point of my tour and as much as possible I pick a destination that will have a Brompton dealer available should I need to. I haven't had the unfortunate event of a bike damaged by airline transport but this is obviously a possibility and if you are not far from a Brompton dealer, once arrived you will probably be able to repair the bicycle without losing too much time or having to change plans. Further along these lines, if this is an option, do some research and know where easily accessible Brompton dealers can be found along your touring route should you need to get some spare parts, fix things or simply having a check on your bike during your tour.

WHAT YOU MUST LEARN

(1) The most likely repair you will have to carry out during your tour is a puncture tyre. The procedure for removing the tyre from the wheel and replacing or fixing an inner tube is the same that you would follow on any other bicycle. What is trickier on a Brompton is removing the rear wheel in order to replace the inner tube. I found the Brompton Technical Guide youtube videos a valuable resource to learn to do so. Do not rely simply on watching the videos or read manuals though, as always practice only makes perfect! To be prepared start by removing the rear wheel at home where you have access to all your resources should anything go wrong. Once you are a little bit confident the next step is to take your Brompton for a day ride and do the same repair by the side of the road without having access to videos or manuals. That way you will be well prepared and much more confident once you start your tour and a puncture will be just a minor frustration and a good excuse to have a break and enjoy the scenery!

(2) Replacing the tyres. Small wheels mean that your tyres will wear out much quicker than you think. Even the best of tyres if you are cycling past 1000 kilometres will start to show some wear and tear, especially in the rear wheel. After my first extended tour on a Brompton where I had to swap rear and front tyres half way through my journey I decided it is a good idea to bring two new tyres with me in case I need. Being small means that they are lighter and that they can be easily slid on the outside of my backpack, a perfect and unobtrusive way to carry them for any emergency. In my experience 16" tyres in most countries are associated with children bikes and even though you could access a bike shop easily you might not find a spare Schwalbe Marathon in that size and what is on offer might be completely unsuitable for your purpose.

(3) Adjusting a Sturmy Archer gear cable. In order to have your gears perform well it is sometime necessary to adjust the little chain alignment. If you removed the back wheel you had to learn to losen that anyhow so it should be something you are familiar with already.

(4) Lubricating the bike. This is straight forward but again a Brompton bike is built in a different way and it is important to know which parts need lubricating and which part don't. Any extended tour involves you cycling for days and chances that you will also encounter bad conditions such as rain or dust on the road means that your bicycle will need some more attention in this department too.

(5) Learn to carry out basic safety checks. These are often found in the manual that came with your bike. Make sure you do this before you start your tour in order to assess the condition of the bike after it was transported to your destination. Get into the habit of having a quick check each day following the manual recommendations.

WHAT YOU SHOULD LEARN

If you are inclined to, it will certainly help learning a few more advanced repairs.

(1) Fixing a broken chain. I never had a chain failure on my trips but it does happen. If you have the right tools with you it could be the difference between being able to fix it there and then and continue cycling as opposed to having to itch a ride to the next town. The good thing about a broken chain is that you won't need a Brompton specialist to fix this, any local bike shop will be able to quickly offer help and repair it.

(2) Fixing a broken spoke. Again not something I had to deal with on a Brompton so far. This is a tricky repair mostly due to the difficulty of truing a wheel once a spoke is replaced, an art in itself. If you can learn this it is something that again might save you a long walk to the next town. I haven't mastered it myself and for this reason, one thing I do make sure is that I carry spare spokes with me! This is important because like a chain every bike shop will be able to help you but might not have the right spoke sizes for your small wheels! Again children bike's spares are not always of the quality you need for your more 'grown up' bike!

(3) Replacing braking pads. If you are going on a 2000 kilometres or longer tour you might have to swap your braking pads too. This is a straight forward procedure and even though I never did change them during a tour they are small and compact enough to carry and I always make sure I have a spare set just in case.

SPARES AND TOOLS YOU SHOULD CARRY


2 Spare 16" inner tube
2 Schwalbe Marathon Kevlar ( expensive but lighter and easier to replace )
Patches and glue for fixing tubes
Selection of Spokes ( rear and front wheel use different sizes )
1 set of Brake Pads

EXTRA SPARES YOU COULD CARRY

Brompton Front Carrier Block & Clip
1 Sturmey Archer Derailleur unit
Chain repair kit
Screws and Bolts

TOOLS YOU NEED

Brompton Pump
Wrenches: 8mm, 10mm, 15mm
Allen keys: 2mm; 2,5mm; 3mm; 4mm; 5mm; 6mm
Lubricating Oil
Tyre Levers
***
All the right keys and wrenches sizes as well as tyre levers are included in the Brompton Toolkit. A little expensive but it fits inside the frame and is very compact and ideal for the job.
***
Plastic Gloves ( why get your hands dirty! )
Chain Pusher ( if you know how to repair a chain )
Spoke Wrenches (if you can replace a broken spoke )

2

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Alvin Wong has produced a 'Quick Visual Guide To Basic Brompton Maintenance'. It is a friendly guide by a bunch of Brompton fans. This guide was put together based on knowledge acquired in technical workshops, personal research and experience for the purpose of sharing some Brompton maintenance tips with Brompton owners. Some of the content in this guide are also available on the internet which may or may not be Brompton specific.

View or download the pdf here

0

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Winter offers special challenges for my Brompton folding bike as it’s not really built to handle snow. I have to disassemble and clean the derailleur at least every two weeks. Yet considering that I have no real treads left on my tires, I think the bike is handling quite well, and the snow is just about over.

Read full story here


0

Sunday, February 15, 2015


We started at 7:30 in a chilly misty rain. There were some really steep hills out of Carmel and Dani had some early doubts about the wisdom of taking on the hills of Big Sur on our Bromptons. For the first few miles out of Carmel, highway 1 was a busy multiple lane highway. It subsequently narrowed to two lanes, but it didn’t get much less busy.

Read more here


0

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Sri Lankans love to honk as their vehicles pass us on the road – some of them are clearly “hello” honks (often accompanied by a wave, a shouted “hello” or just a head wobble). Others seem more like a “get out of my way” honks or “just so you know, I am right beside you” honks. Most are obnoxiously loud, some are startling enough to almost make me ride into the sandy shoulder. Honestly, despite the obvious good intentions behind it, all the unnecessary honking gets old extremely fast. But once in a while, you hear a tuk-tuk approach from behind, brace yourself for the inevitable blare of the horn, and instead (or in addition to) you get a vehicle packed with children shouting hello, waving, and giving big smiles. Oh, Sri Lanka, we can’t stay mad at you.

Read the full article here

0

Thursday, January 22, 2015


I would do this again with my Brompton. It complements bike touring the Netherlands very well. Because it’s flat and easy to ride around, I didn’t have any difficulty with 16 inch tires and 2 speeds. Some hotels have very small and some even don’t have elevators with steep narrow stairs to climb, but I didn’t have trouble managing it. Flashing bike lights are illegal, so bring spare lights, extra batteries, chargers, etc. Bring music too! The only complaint I have about the trip was that my baggages were too heavy to go any faster and longer.

Read full article here

0

Monday, January 12, 2015


A twenty days and 1300 kilometres ride from the northern California border to San Luis Obispo. Like last year the Brompton proved an amazing and reliable bike. During the trip I had to take one bus transfer to cut about hundred kilometres of busy roads. I just pulled aside once I reached the bus stop and in less than ten minutes the bike was neatly packed and ready to board the bus!


0


Cyclopolitan have used two Brompton bikes with a trailers and traveled around Europe for a year. To see how they pack their things and carry them they posted an interesting youtube video detailing all their equipment.

View their video here


0

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Russ and Laura's blog The Path Less Pedalled was my first personal inspirations when considering the Brompton as a feasible touring option.  As they say there isn't such a thing as a perfect touring bicycle but after a month on the road they felt Bromptons do fit their traveling style perfectly and are as perfect to them as they could have hoped to find.

Read full article here


0

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Brompton is not a new bike. It’s not even new to me. But it is the best folding bike around, and it will change how you travel long distances, too. I’ve had mine ever since I recovered enough from a broken leg to hobble up to the local bike shop and order one. That was a few years ago, and since then the bike has come with me to three different continents, traveling on planes, trains, trams, automobiles and buses.
You can even ride it to the airport and pack it up when you get there.

Read full article here

0

Sunday, December 28, 2014



Here are some ideas regarding how best to pack and carry your gear on a tour using a Brompton. Despite being sturdy bikes, touring on a Brompton entails obvious limitations on what you can take with you but I have found out that the following setup works exceptionally well provided you will stick to decent surfaced roads and travel where temperatures are not too cold. The greatest benefit of this system together with the compact fold of the bike is that in ten minutes you are ready to transform your fully loaded bike to a conveniently packed setup, ready to be taken on a shuttle bus a train or  plane should you need to take a transfer during your tour. The backpack goes on your shoulder, on one hand you hold the folded bike stored in a light Dimpa Bag, on the other simply carry the T-Bag. It really works! To secure the backpack on the rear rack of the Brompton a metal bar is fixed horizontally under the saddle by means of a couple of leather straps. This allows a secure support for the backpack shoulder harnesses that is stable and easy to remove. Further reading and close-up pictures.

Below I listed the content of each bag on a typical setup for a tour that can last from a week to a month or even longer. Of course there is room for improvement and my list might not fit your needs but provided the load and volume is similar it will work just as well.

Front Bag: ( Brompton T-Bag )



Inside Compartment

  • Light tent
  • Camera
  • Go Pro
  • Gadgets cables and accessories
  • Gloves, Woollen hat
  • Gore-tex Jacket
  • Long sleeves light jacket
  • Extra space can carry food to take to campsite at the end of each day
  • Passport in zipped inside pocket
Outside Pockets

  • Ready access food to eat during ride
  • Water Pet Bottle
  • Oil to lubricate chain
  • Repair Gloves
  • Mobile phone
  • Wallet
  • Chamoix Leather ( Perfect as a towel at the campsite )
  • Combination Lock


Backpack:




Top Compartment


  • Spare clothes in compression bag ( 1 light underpants, 1 merino long sleeved shirt, 1 merino socks, 1 long johns, 1 light down jacket, 1 short sleeved shirt, 1 light knee pants with zip extension ) This compression bag can function as your pillow at night!
  • Cables, plugs and chargers in compression waterproof bag

Centre

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Toiletries bag
  • Light plastic flip flops
  • Portable Radio

Bottom

  • Repair tools
  • 2 spare inner tubes and repair kit
  • Extra bunjee chords
  • Heavy duty gaffer tape
  • Dimpa Bag
  • Light Bike Bag ( Used only for flights at start or end of trip )
Outside

  • Sleeping mat (tied to backpack with bungee chords)
  • 2 spare tyres around backpack
  • Helmet if not worn

Clothes:




In the picture above you can see all the clothes I take with me while touring. It might seem very spare but I assure you it is all you need to be comfortable and warm enough to tour in most weather conditions. Most garments come in sets giving you the ability to always wear a clean set while you wash and dry the other one. In order to be light I choose clothes that are comfortable not only for cycling but also provide a good option for all the time I spend off the bike. The only cycling specific garment I take with me is one pair of cycling shorts. These I normally wear under my light trousers at the beginning of the tour when I am not used to be on the bike for long hours and the padding will make this transition more comfortable. The downside to them is that they are not quick to dry so I limit their use to the minimum necessary to ride comfortably. I still use underpants while wearing them as this will keep them much cleaner and should you wish to, you will be able to wear them a few times before a wash. I have talked about the great qualities of Merino wool in another article, suffice to say that my merino base layers and socks provide odour free and comfortable wear for many days without the need to be washed. Zipped trousers are used in their short version during the ride and the extensions can then be zipped at other times allowing for a very flexible use. Long johns are very useful to provide extra warmth with a very little addition to space and weight. I mostly wear them at night while camping. Riding long hours each day doesn't mean that one cannot keep clean during a tour. A very useful trick I figured out is that wearing light and quick drying underpants that are washed each day under the shower (perfect sponge too...) or with some water is a great way to keep clean; having two pairs of them means that you can wash the pair you used during the day, wear the clean ones for the night and the following day while the others are put on the outside of your luggage to dry. This works a treat and also brings a degree of theft deterrence while you shop! All the clothes that are not worn during the day are stacked on top of each other and rolled. I then put them inside an Exped 8 Litres waterproof compression bag. Once at the campsite I can have easy access to them when I need to get changed. Also this bag design, without buckles and straps makes for an ideal pillow.
As far as shoes I have used a light pair of trekking shoes, again avoiding the cycling specific solution.  Yes it is more efficient to have clipped shoes that you can attach to pedal and very stiff soles that don't bend while you pedal but my view is this. Clips might had a little speed and distance to your day but come at the risk of being tied to the bike. Even those who are used to them might not react as quickly when their bike is fully loaded with weights. Bike shoes might not be as comfortable when you are off the bike too.  I next plan to try riding on Keen sandal type shoes which are much used by cycle tourists and seem to offer a good balance between riding and comfort.

Some Further Packing Light Wisdom

With a little experience one finds out things that work and things that don't. Often it is just about trial and error but we also learn and get inspired by what other people do. Hopefully you will find some of these tips useful and take some of them with you on your next tour!

  1. Merino Wool: It took me forty years to figure out but I hope it will come faster for you! Basically this is the best gift you can give yourself if you are serious about touring. These are expensive but with some care they last long and their benefits make the purchase very worthy indeed. Merino wool garments keep your body temperature cool when hot and warm when the weather gets cold but mostly can be worn for weeks on end without the need to be washed and they dry extremely quickly too. Odours are neutralised by the natural fabric and can be worn much longer than any other sport dedicated material. Recently NASA tested every material conceivable in order to chose the best for astronauts planning long stays in space and guess what material came on top... Merino Wool. I use two long-sleeved shirts that i change every week or so. They are on my skin during the cycling day, are removed while I take a shower and then are back on on my skin for a night sleep! Long sleeves I found work best no matter the temperatures and weather you will find. In hot and sunny places the long sleeves will keep your forearms from sunburns and if it gets cooler the long sleeves will keep your arms warmer too.
  2. Merino Continued: As you are there get yourself some Merino wool socks too for the same reasons...
  3. Use normal light trousers: The temptation to go for cycling gear is natural but I found in my experience that this is not a good idea. Cycling trousers have the benefit of a chamoix padding to make your ride more comfortable but they have many shortcomings too. They smell really bad after just a day riding ( yes I do take showers every day... ). This means that pretty much every day or two you will have to wash them and the padding makes the drying process a long one. Usually you would wash them in the evening at the campsite when temperatures are cool and end up drying them by putting them soaked wet, tied somewhere outside your bags during your next day ride. I usually do take a pair with me to use at the start of my tours when my rear hasn't yet become too friendly with the saddle... After a few days riding, a better solution in my opinion is using normal light short trousers possibly with zipped extensions that can be attached in the evening as this will serve a double purpose and can be used when you need to look just a little bit smarter at the restaurant, etc. Now for the most secret and intimate...underwear. A great way to stay dry and clean during your tour is to simply bring with you two pairs of light and quick drying underpants. At the end of the day you wash the one you were wearing while you take a shower ( by the way they make an excellent sponge too... ),  and put on the clean ones for the night and the next day ride. Quick drying materials mean that your washed set will be probably dry by the morning but as you only need them the next day in the evening you have plenty of time to just hang them on your luggage during the day so that they can dry in the sunshine. Pants strapped on your cycling bags are also good theft deterrents! 
  4. Use normal shirts: Again as above! Usual wisdom says that it should be good to wear lycra shirts with cycling pockets behind and so on... If you want my advice, don't! Bring with you two short sleeved shirts with buttons and pocket at the front instead, the kind you would use for trekking. I wear these over a Merino base layer. It looks much more stylish, is more  comfortable and chances are you might even be complimented on your cycling style! If you wear Merino wool on your skin the shirt will be just an extra layer on top that won't make you too hot and will be so much more useful when you are not cycling and it is time to go to a restaurant or cafe to recharge body and soul! I bring two shirts with me, one I wear and the other one is a spare to get changed after I get a chance to do some laundry. I heard people saying that they don't like Merino on their skin as it is itchy but I believe this is mostly due to the quality of Merino they have used. I don't like that feeling myself but have found that thin base layer of 100% Merino Wool are most comfortable on your skin. 
  5. Everything in twos: I just realised that it seems that everything comes in twos but the bike and the tent... Two base layers, two underpants, two socks, two shirts and even two tyres as you are not likely to find Brompton size good tyres outside main cities.
  6. Compression Bags: These can also be waterproof if needed but they mostly function very well to keep your gear tidy and in place. Cables, chargers for your gadgets, and clothes can all be organised in small packets and easily found when needed. Your spare clothes compression bag will be the most comfortable pillow at night too so try to choose compression bags without straps and buckles. Usually roll down tops work best. See an example of the kind I use here.
  7. Gadgets: That is where it gets hard and we all tend to bring too many of those... I still take a very heavy DSLR camera for my photos but more and more light gadgets that do it all come on the market and make it easy for us to carry less around. Smartphones are today capable of taking decent pictures, amazing HD videos, help you keep connected to friends, check maps on the internet and much much more. There is no reason why a smartphone is all you probably need. If you are like me you can't resist taking your iPad with you too and a small radio for weather, news and entertainment at the campsite!
  8. Cooking Gear: Come on, why did you tour on a Brompton anyway! This is a no brainer...just don't bring anything of this sort! You don't have the space for it, if you are touring with a Brompton chances are that you are not crossing the desert or Siberia and you will be just fine eating out here and there and getting stuff from groceries. Trying out local food is a great part of the enjoyment so make the most of it and stay light!

0
google-site-verification: googled04c7400295f7785.html