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Saturday, January 16, 2021



In this video I discuss  what in my opinion are the best tires for touring on a Brompton and show you in details what you will need to do to replace them and adjust your hub gears.


Watch the full video here

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021


A trip with a Interrail train ticket and a Brompton foldingbike in June 2018. Ferry Malmö - Travemünde , train to Hamburg. From Hamburg a train in the night to Frankfurt. Train from Frankfurt to Appenweier. Biking to Strasbourg. Next day TGV to Marseille. Train strike changes plan, staying in Marseille overnight. Taking scenic local train to Miramas next day instead. From Miramas to Lausanne in Switzerland via Lyon and Geneva. Taking scenic lakeside train route to Olten next day. From there going to old scenic Gottard route to Bellinzona. And taking 57km Gottard base tunnel to Zurich. From Zurich taking the night train to Hamburg. And from Hamburg going home via Flensburg and Copenhagen.

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Monday, January 11, 2021


Not a common event on the strong little wheels of a Brompton but if you do have to fix a broken spoke on the road or while touring it might be useful to have a look at how this is done. Good advice from an amateur mechanic and Brompton rider.

View the full video here

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Saturday, January 9, 2021


One of the most common questions I get asked is how much more effort is needed to cycle on a folding bike compared to a touring bike. This is not surprising. At first sight my Brompton folding bike loaded with luggage at the back and at the front might look like a harder setup to ride. 

My usual answer is: “It is just a little harder."

It is a rather vague reply but it is my experience over the years. I have extensively toured with mountain bikes and touring bikes in the past. On a folding bike you trade-off a little bit of comfort but in most situations, you will hardly be able to tell the difference.

A more interesting question to ask would be:

“Is the ability to tour and explore places limited by using a folding bike?”

The answer to this question is a resounding NO. 

If at all, the curiosity to push the boundaries and see how far my Brompton could take me, has pushed me further than I would have done and I completed routes that I would have thought challenging on any bike. I am not saying that with a touring bike I wouldn’t be able to push further, higher and cover longer distances faster. Anyone interested in speed and performance, should probably not choose a folding bike in the first place, but what about those, that I believe being the great majority, who are more interested in experiencing the journey and its sights?

While touring, my longest daily mileage ever has been 160 kilometres and it was done on a Brompton. The highest mountain pass I have ever climbed on a bike was 5300 metres and I did it riding my Brompton. I never meant to set records but these are clear examples that they are more than capable bikes. Provided you avoid, as much as possible, rocky trails or muddy roads where folding bikes perform rather poorly, the ability to go anywhere else is only limited by your willingness to adapt a little and by your mindset.

I am sure there are mathematical formulas that contradict what I say and tell you that according to physics, the resistance of a 16” wheel compared to a 26”, will make you a certain percentage slower but you won’t notice this as much in practice.

As far as other aspects that will make it marginally harder I will mention a few in an effort to be fair and as exhaustive as possible.

( 1 ) Aerodynamics They will play a part, especially if riding on strong headwinds. You might find that folding bikes usually allow you to take a position that is less aerodynamic and offer more resistance.

( 2 ) Handlebars Beyond what is offered as standard, they tend to be smaller and less customisable because they fit with the specific folding system of the bike. You will probably have more limitations in the hand grip and in the position your body can take while riding. While touring long hours each day this can contribute to a less comfortable ride. When your body position and the ability to change it is restricted, it becomes paramount to find a folding bike that is as comfortable as possible right off the bat.

( 3 ) Gears There are folding bikes, especially those at the higher end of the market, that offer wide ranges and lots of gears but these usually come at a higher cost. Generally, folding bikes are more limited in the number of gears they offer and less options will mean a harder ride at times. On my Brompton I tour with 6 gears only which means that I have less choices to adapt exactly the ratios to the terrain I am riding. If this might sound like a great discomfort, I would argue that you also do not need to have 20 or 30. A few gears with well spaced ratios that are soft enough to climb a steep hill and hard enough to push the pedals when descending are all you need.

While they might be a little harder to ride, my conclusion is that folding bikes are perfectly capable bicycles for riding a long tour provided you are willing to make small sacrifices for the flexibility they bring.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2020


Interesting blog about travelling through Japan on a Brompton by using trains, ferries, planes, buses or any other transport if needed to connect the different places.
Visit the blog to read information that could be potentially helpful also for other bicycle travellers through Japan, such as list of bicycle roads, helpful web pages etc.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

 


In mid September, I was still in Sweden. The nights were getting chilly, and a new Covid wave was breaking out across Europe. I needed to go back to the UK, and I wanted to cycle it. I wanted to try the route along the North Sea coast, which looked as if it would be very different from the inland route I'd taken on the way out. But what with one thing and another, I was hesitating, delaying setting off. Suddenly, however, I realised that a lot of campsites would close at the end of the month. So, if I was going to ride it, I had to go pretty much immediately. The weather forecast was bad - tons of rain - but I packed up the bike, and late one Friday night, I set off. It did feel a bit mad to leave our cosy sitting room and ride alone to the docks in the dark and the wet. But I was pretty sure that, come what may, I’d enjoy myself. Anyway, here's what happened! Hope you enjoy the film!


Watch full video here
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Monday, December 7, 2020

 


I managed to get on the last Brompton Factory in Greenford for this year. It was a great experience. I definitely learned a lot about the Brompton Bicycle that isn't as obvious through their marketing. I definitely recommend doing this tour. Huge thank you to Nigel for extending our tour and answering all our questions.

Watch the video here

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Friday, December 4, 2020

 


When the UK lockdown began in March, my husband was in Sweden and I was in London. Finally the restrictions eased and we could travel, but planes and long-distance trains still felt risky. So in August I took my tent and my Brompton, and I cycled through the Netherlands and Germany, and then sailed over the Baltic to Sweden. Before leaving London, I dehydrated enough meals for the whole journey, so that I could largely avoid going into shops along the way, apart from a couple of lovely bakeries, a brilliant sausage stall, and (quite a few) outdoor cafes serving apple cake. Before I set out, I knew little about the region. I found it super interesting. There's lots of history, good and bad - glorious old trade-route towns, as well as poignant reminders of the Nazi era. I found out that n the Dutch woodlands where I pitched my tent there'd been a labour camp from which people were sent to Auschwitz, and only a few miles south of my route in Lower Saxony was the site of Bergen-Belsen. The ride was beautiful, and really thought-provoking. Hope you enjoy the film.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

 


Riding on a Brompton W12 on the magical island of Bali, Indonesia.

Watch the full video

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020



Sicily is a great place to bring your Brompton. Sunny and mild most of the year, amazing food and a good selection of roads from flat to more hilly and challenging. Follow this video of a 850km tour from Palermo to Siracusa following the souther coast of the island and taking in some of the best sights.

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Friday, November 20, 2020




Check out another option for a suitcase that can protect your Brompton folder when you travel. This is a folding bike box from B&W - for folding bikes  and perfectly suitable for Brompton bikes. The video shows how it works, as well as weight and dimensions.

Watch the full video here

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Friday, November 6, 2020

Here is our way of fixing a flat tyre on the Brompton. We think it's the fastest, simplest and easiest way to fix a puncture, but what do you think? After watching a few videos on fixing flat tires, we thought we would share the method we were always taught, and want to know what you think! Is this the easiest method? Watch the full video here
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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

 


A nicely shot bicycle travel in West Japan. Traveling by Shinkansen or bullet train, from Tokyo to Kyoto, it gives an insight into the historical and calm city as well as beautiful Shimanami islands of Japan. This was done with a Brompton W12 Folding Bike.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

 


With the increased popularity of Brompton bikes right now, some of you may be wondering if there are any accessories you can get for your new ride. From as little as 4 US dollars to over a hundred, this video shows you six accessories you can get for your Brompton.

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Friday, September 11, 2020


 Terry Hilbert runs through a very light setup option for touring with a Brompton. Making use of a T-Bag and a large saddlebag he removes the need for a Brompton rack. Depending on much gear you are planning to take with you this might offer a good alternative.

Watch the full video here 

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Thursday, September 3, 2020


Watch this video explaining in great details how Brompton gears compare to regular bikes and touring bikes when it comes to range. Pam and Gilbert, thanks to their experience in touring with Bromptons, offer and expert advice as to which gearing system is best if you consider touring with a Brompton.

Watch the full video here

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Saturday, August 29, 2020


I have always hoped one day to be able to cycle from the UK, my adopted country, to my hometown in the Italian Alps. I was finally able to do it and complete a ride that vaguely followed Eurovelo 15 down the Rhine before a diversion into Bavaria, Austria and finally Italy. All in all 2500km of easy and flat terrain and cycleways for the most part of the trip.

Watch video here

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

 


A video of a day trip around Kranji on my trusty Brompton, stopping off at many of the area's well-known tourist attractions. Kranji Countryside, shows an alternative side to Singapore filled with farms, trees, and a little bit of history.

watch the full video here

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

 





Bicycle travel in the most beautiful and chaotic city Tokyo, Japan with a Brompton W12 Folding Bike. Place i visited; Okutama, Odaiba, Asakusa, Shinjuku and Shibuya.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

 


I took my Brompton for a spin around one of the best loops the world has to offer. The scenery of the Italian Dolomites is so stunning that you are likely to forget how tough is the climbing. Leaving from the mountain village of Canazei I did a clockwise loop around the Giro dei Passi climbing for mountain passes that are in the history of Italian cycling. Passo Sella, Passo Gardena, Passo Campolongo and the most famous of them all, Passo Pordoi. 

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Sunday, August 16, 2020

 


Some of the reasons why touring on a folding bike is a great and convenient way to cycle tour in your favourite destinations.

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Monday, June 15, 2020


Watch the test and review of a very interesting touring bag for your Brompton.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020



Whether you are using your Brompton in a city or to travel around, clip on bags of various shape and sizes are a useful add-on for your bike. Get to know the new range of Brompton Bags available in 2020 from this video.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020



Watch this exciting short video of two Bromptons cycling around India. A treat to the eyes and professionally shot it entices you to take your Brompton a little further...

Watch full video here
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Thursday, April 30, 2020


I am pleased to announce the publication of a collection of travels exclusively on a Brompton. This collection of stories include trips that I have taken over the last seven years on my trusted Bronte. The bike is now retired and I am waiting for a suitable replacement to carry on with more traveling. The ten chapters including 50 original drawings, cover some of the most epic roads in the world such as the Karakoram Highway, Manali-Leh and the US Pacific Coast and many more.

The book is available right now on Amazon as a kindle ebook as well as paperback. If you would like a sample chapter, I have included a link to a PDF file you are able to download for free and read.

GET THE BOOK https://amzn.to/2C2m4DI
GET THE PAPERBACK https://amzn.to/32nFqxO
GET SAMPLE PDF CHAPTER HERE




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Thursday, April 23, 2020



Il progetto di viaggio del 2018 prevedeva uso di biciclette pieghevoli che solitamente utilizziamo  per andare al lavoro tutti i giorni o girare in città. Mi riferisco alla a bici  Brompton si tratta di  una city bike pieghevole e trasportabile, adatta per il trasporto urbano e per l’uso cittadino.  Esistono vari modelli, nel nostro caso si tratta di una 3 velocità manubrio ad H senza portapacchi peso della bicicletta 11,35 kg . 
Perchè fare una scelta del genere ?  Motivi molti il primo riguarda la trasportabilità della bicicletta in aereo, sicuramente più semplice delle mountain bike, quest’ultime dovevano essere smontate totalmente vs la Brompton che va semplicemente piegata .  Secondo riguarda sempre la trasportabilità in treno, questa tipologia di bicicletta non prevede il pagamento del biglietto e non serve prenotare il posto. Ultimo motivo perché no? Spirito di avventura e sperimentare un modo diverso di viaggiare.

Unico problema e che le biciclette  in nostro possesso hanno  solo 3 marce, quindi il percorso non poteva prevedere troppe salite, le tappe non al di sopra, sulla carta di 60/70 km, infine il bagaglio non deve superare i 9 kg. 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2020


Watch this travel movie about a Brompton Folding bike tackling the legendary rough roads of the Carretera Austral in Patagonia. Starting from the Chilean town of Coyhaique I headed south and after 575 kilometres crossed the border with Argentina to end my tour in the hiking mecca of El Chalten.

Watch movie here


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Monday, March 30, 2020


Who said these bikes are not good for climbing...  I am sure it must be every Brompton owner dream to be one day able to climb the magic mountain passes of the Italian Dolomites. This video shows the 6th Edition of the event organised by Brompton Italia. Our hearts go to all our friends in Italy in such challenging times. Me these be soon over and let's look forward to the next edition in a glorious sun!

Watch 2019 edition video here.

Watch 2018 edition video here.
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Some Brompton owners who purchased new models with the updated shifters ( 2017 model to date ) refer of an issue when the shifters are affected by extremely hot temperatures and humidity. During travels in hot countries users reports how their shifters happen to get stuck and unable to shift to a higher gears.

The solution is explained in this article but for a clear video on what is involved should you have to fix it Wilhelm created a clear video explaining the procedure.

Watch video here
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Tuesday, January 14, 2020



For all those who like to modify their Brompton to suit their taste I have never come across such a through article explaining in details all aspects of customising your folding bike.

Read full article here
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Watch this video showing how Brompton folding bikes are transported in a hard case.

Watch full video here
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Thursday, December 26, 2019


 With a Brompton you can decide to tour a country using only the bicycle  exploring and cycling only the best parts. In this video of a three weeks tour in Sri Lanka train transfers and a bike are used in combination to make the most of both worlds!

Watch the full video here
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Monday, November 11, 2019


Arctic Norway! A 10-day bicycle trip along the fjords, alone with the gulls and hills and sea, miles and miles between scenic fishing villages! I ached to begin. Then. Six months before setting off to cycle the Lofoten Islands, I was diagnosed with angina and atherosclerosis. My airline tickets had long ago been confirmed, the route throughly planned, the Brompton purchased and the hotels pre-booked. There was no way I was going to miss this trip. Kathy and I agreed that if I was cleared by the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, I could go. After exhaustive testing and a consult with a wonderful Mayo doctor (and my promise to get off the bike and walk if necessary), we all agreed it would be possible. I adopted the Mayo Clinic Heart diet, lost ten pounds (I was pretty skinny to begin with), religiously took my statins, obtained an amulet for the nitroglycerin and carried on with my training regimen. I’ve been cycling since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, had ridden many national and international multi-week tours and, at age 73, knew my limitations; “as we age” was a phrase I was all too familiar with. This was the adventure to began yet another chapter in my love affair with travel and cycling.

I had chosen the Brompton for its simplicity and compactness; it would be taken on large and small planes, car ferries and small fishing boats, trains and possibly busses, in and out of hotels and walked up the steeper bridges and hills. My entire “ride” weighed only 46 pounds which included the bike, clothes for the ten days and all of my gadgets (camera, iPad, mobile phone, chargers, toiletries, medicines and my cane). Yes, my cane. A cycling accident, followed by not so perfect spinal surgery left me with nerve damage and a calf muscle that did not respond to my every wish. My six speed Brompton has been “souped-up” with a smaller, 40t vs. the standard 50t front chainring to accommodate my “as we age” cycling style and with large downhill mountain bike platform pedals that allow full foot placement over the pedal axle.

Tromsø (geo: 69.682778, 18.942778) was overcast and chilly for a Floridian when I landed. It took me only twenty minutes to unbox, unfold, and repack the Brompton for the six-mile ride to the center of town and my hotel. Tromsø was an amazing arctic city. Modern architecture along the waterfront contrasts with the traditional wooden houses of the side streets. The Norwegian government, wanting to reinvigorate the city, had founded a world-renowned university in Tromsø and stressed its importance as an international center for Arctic research.

“If you build it, they will come,” and the city is bustling and vibrant and young. The bike shop I went into for my last-minute tidbits had an amazing selection of both traditional and e-bikes. Although expensive, the e-bikes are used for everyday transportation in Tromsø. Since cars are so expensive to own and the town area quite hilly, the e-bike is seen as the perfect way to get around. During my explorations of the city, I wished my Brompton had been electrified.

Although I consider myself a solo cyclist, there is something to be said for the conviviality of small hotels and B&B’s. A few of my lodgings, although very comfortable, resembled shipping containers in size and others were spectacular. However, one evening, I had to abandon my planned (and paid for) guest house because it was so derilict, scary looking and just plain dangerous. I was saved by the Hotel Marmelkroken, in Risøyhamn, and spend a wonderful evening watching the fog roll in over the bay. The Quality Hotel Saga in Tromsø was great and served traditional afternoon waffles garnished with thin brown wafers. What was this? The Swiss woman next to me pantomimed that is was cheese made from a combination of cow and goat (or was that “baaa” a sheep?) milk with caramelized sugar. Her young daughter encouraged me to spread jam on top. I could get used to this arctic lifestyle.

The Art Studio, on Langøya Island, was the beautiful apartment of famed Norwegian artist, Britt Boutrous-Ghali www.edelmanarts.com). I had a 3-room apartment with the cyclists dream, a bathtub. Not just a bathtub, but a giant bathtub. That day I had forgotten that most shops are closed on Sunday. So after cycling around Sortland in the drizzling rain, all I had found was take-out pizza. When I reached The Art Studio, I begged a beer from Britt’s son, Paul, and had pizza and beer in the tub. Glorious!

After a very plush night, I had a nice, leisurely breakfast and left around 8:00 for the 11:10 ferry at Melbu, 25 miles away. I met Paul a mile down the road and he beckoned for me to come and see his new project. He had purchased a 1938 wooden, gaff-rigged, 50-foot boat that had unfortunately sunk over the winter. The history of the vessel was fascinating. Built in Tromsø, it had been commandeered by the Germans during the war and used to transport prisoners around the Lofoten Islands. His plan was to have it trucked to his farm and restore it to be a floating classroom for the schoolchildren of Langøya Island. We got so wrapped up in the project that I lost track of time and finally discovered that I had two hours to travel the 24 miles to the ferry. I cycle like molasses in January. For the next 120 minutes I time-trialed to Melbu and the ferry. I arrived just as the last cars were coming off and I zipped onboard. I was pooped ! I had cycled from Langøya Island to Hadseloya Island over a crazy, steep bridge (another walk, and this was during a time trial). The ferry took me to Austvågøya, where Svolvær, my next stop, was. Needless to say, I dawdled the remaining 22 miles and arrived at The Scandic Svolvær hotel quite spent.

One thing cyclists love about the Norwegian towns is that there are specific bike/walk lanes into and out of each city. The path out of Svolvær went on for 6 miles, until we cleared the “burbs”. The next 10 miles were on the E10, the Long Island Expressway of the Lofotens; one lane each way with no shoulder. I just did my little-wheel thing and the cars and RV’s and busses avoided me and we all seemed to just get along.

In contrast the 815 was one of the most beautiful 24-mile stretches of road I have ever ridden. Craggy cliffs and meadows on one side, the sea and inlets on the other side, very few cars and great tarmac. I was in Brompton heaven. I took 3 1/2 hours to traverse this road; I stopped for photos, explored roadside art installations, turned down little side dirt roads to find quaint beaches and even found a cafe for coffee and cake. As I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the homemade chocolate cake (sorry Mayo) I enjoyed watching two children frolic in the icy water.

As I entered Stamsund and was literally right around the corner from The Live Lofoten Hotel, I stopped into a little gallery. What caught my eye was the art installation piece in the front yard. ULF M ( http://ulf-m.net ) is a surrealist artist. He is one interesting fellow; has shown in a gallery in Chelsea (NYC), and his work is hanging in my hotel. We spent a good portion of the afternoon discussing Surrealism, Dali (St. Petersberg, Florida, has the largest Dali museum in the world) and his eclectic collection. He wrapped the poster I purchased in a cardboard sleeve and later, I wondered how I would get it home with my minimalist packing. That was the fitting culmination of one terrific day. Dinner was a hodgepodge of yoghurt and fruit and bread and nuts and beer from the nearby Joker Market.

My schedule was quite casual and the daily mileage ranged from 30 to 50 miles. With sunlight all day, I was able to meander along and not worry about what time I arrived at my evening’s destination. I cycled with my camera always at my side and stopped often to capture the spectacular views. My only logistical concerns were catching the numerous ferries that connect the islands within the Lofoten archipelago and finding my lodging by using Lat/Long coordinates since the houses do not always have street numbers. I was also never stressed about losing time when I had to walk up a particularly nasty stretch of road nor the very steep bridges that connected some of the islands; whistling kept me company. My daily routine, once I recovered from jet lag, was to have a leisurely hotel breakfast of homemade bread, salmon, herring, granola, yoghurt, fruit and those luscious waffles and nice flavorful, black coffee, pack up the Brompton and be on the road by 10:00 (or perhaps 11:00). My exhaustive research ( I love that little yellow gal on Google Maps) had prepared me for point-to-point rides with no services along the routes. Arriving at my destination town I would check out the local Joker or Coop, chat with the locals, and prepare for dinner. Most of my hotels did not offer any dinner, so I dined on canned sardines or kippers (note the repetition), fruit, peanut butter (when you see it, buy it!), bakery bread and a local beer. If armies march on their stomachs, cyclists pedal with their protein. Not knowing any Norwegian, I sometimes found myself eating canned something or other that I thought were sardines but actually... I still do not know. When I was lucky
enough to find a resort restaurant along the road, I engaged with culinary passion. One such experience came as I was cycling down the western side of Andøya Island. I happened upon an unexpected restaurant overlooking a beautiful lake and stopped in for lunch.

On the restaurant chalkboard - Dagens suppe: Potter med Hval

Looked good. I caught the word soup and it was a tad chilly. I ordered the suppe, bread and coffee.

Waiter: How was your soup ?
Me: Very nice. Was that potato and mushroom?
Waiter: No sir (they call me sir here) potato and whale.
Me: Excuse me?
Waiter: Potato and Minke whale. You can also have that as an entree.
Me: No thank you, I’ll just have the the check.

It did taste just like mushroom.

I had read about the numerous tunnels in Norway and was prepared with front and rear lights and orange outerwear for the dim but always lit passages and I always pushed the “sykkel” button to let the vehicles know I was in there. There was so little traffic along my route that I was never anxious about being in the tunnels, some of which were almost 2 km in length. When I did encounter a car or RV, the drivers were extremely courteous and waited patiently behind me for a safe place to pass (just as in Florida). I was able to bypass the notoriously dangerous Nappstraum Tunnel, connecting the islands of Flakstadøya and Vestvågøya, by taking advantage of an entrepreneurial fisherman who set up a ferry service during the off fishing-season. The 76-year-old cod fisherman ferried cyclists between Ballstad and Nusfjord in his traditional 34 foot, diesel-powered, fishing boat. Fishing since he was 14, he piloted his boat (during my only very rainy day) through a seemingly endless maize of reefs, fog and small rock islands. Cod fishing, which takes place during the winter, is a lucrative, but dangerous occupation. Sailing alone and setting a line of 1500 baited hooks, he goes out most days and, by law, must not spend the “night”. This, of course, is during the Arctic winter when there is nothing but “night”. We landed safely and I continued on, to the end of the tarmac in a village called Å. Taking a photograph of the Å signpost (I guess it’s like dipping your front wheel), I backtracked the few kilometers to The Lofoten Rorbuhotell in Sørvågen from where I could catch the ferry in
Moskenes to Bodø the next morning.

My original plan was to take the ferry to Bodø, which is on the mainland, where I would continue my journey by train to Oslo and meet Kathy. Plan B. There were no sleeper cabins available for the two-day trip, so remembering my promise to Kathy to take it easy, I decided to fly from Bodø to Oslo. Luckily, a Red Cross thrift shop in town had just the right chair cushions I needed to safely pack the Brompton in my Ikea “dimpa bag” for the flight. The airport was close to town, and after a 30-minute fold and pack, the bike was checked onto the plane and my journey was completed.

Relaxing in our apartment in Oslo, I collected a Brompton carton from the very nice people at Spin Bicycle Shop in Majorstua, and shipped the bike home using ShipMyBag, whom I had used on my previous trip to Scotland. Easy peasy. Kathy and I then set out to enjoy Scandinavia for the next five weeks.

Did my “condition” alter my touring style? Yes. My daily mileage was about half of what I had done in the past, I was very conscious of my diet (lots of fish, whole grains, nuts, few pastries and no red meat) and when the road became too vertical, I walked. The alternative, to stay home and mope, was not even considered. “As we age” can be a wonderful adventure.

By Peter Forde
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Sunday, November 10, 2019


Follow this Brompton tour on the spectacular Hebrides Islands. Who said Scotland is too wet and windy to be cycled on a folding bike!

Watch the full video here
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Sunday, November 3, 2019


When you tour with a Brompton bike you are probably carrying a mobile phone maybe a camera, a goPro to film your tour and other electronic gadgets that need charging. If your are planning a tour where you stay in hotels overnight all you need to take is adaptors and cables to charge at the end of the day. One thing I have done in the past if I needed is stop at restaurants or cafes asking if they wouldn't mind me charging my mobile while I had my meal.

If on the other hand you like more freedom and don't want to be limited by hotel bookings, you might find that access to electricity outlets is not always available. 

How to keep everything charged

The best way to keep your gadgets charged during a Brompton tour is to bring along a battery pack together with a solar panel. Every year these become more and more powerful and efficient in storing power. I carry two products from Anker that have been of great use on my tours. Anker PowerPort Solar https://amzn.to/2rafJnx and an Anker PowerPort https://amzn.to/2qf2KAw

During the day while I cycle, I open the Solar Panel on top of my T-Bag like you see on the picture above. I use 2 carabiner to attach it to the plastic loops that are on the bag and carry the cable into the zip Pocket at the back of the T-Bag which is where I store my battery pack that gets charged. You will also notice from the picture that I have a registration plate hanging forward. The reason I do this is that the three panels of the PowerPort Solar should be on top of the bag to get a better exposure to light. This means that if you cycle fast and especially when riding downhill the wind will probably push your panels and often cause them to close. By putting some kind of weight hanging on the bag ( in my case a registration plate! ) you can prevent this from happening. If I do sometime stay in hotels of course I can charge the battery pack overnight but if your Solar Panel is open all day while you cycle I find that I am able to charge all my gadgets.

As I use my mobile phone for pictures, videos and to store my maps for guidance it is important to make sure that I have an efficient way to keep it powered. These two gadgets solved the problem.
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Sunday, October 13, 2019


A 633 kilometres tour on this famous cycle route that stretches from Incheon down to the beautiful coastal city of Busan. It's a world class cycle lane dedicated to only cyclists and pedestrians with breathtaking views of mountains, rivers, farmlands, bridges and parks.

Watch the full video here

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Monday, September 30, 2019


A travel video about a Brompton cycling the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan. It was always a magic road that I hoped one day to be able to cycle. The mountain sceneries were of course stunning but what impressed most was the kindness of Pakistani people that made this tour full of joyful memories. Starting in Islamabad I headed up the Murree Mountains before climbing Babusar Pass at over 4000 metres and joined the Karakoram Highway to Gilgit and Hunza.

Watch full video here
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Friday, September 20, 2019


Another well shot video from the guys at Awa-re.com.
What is it like to live in rural Japan? Awa-Re offers many truly unique bicycle tours and rentals on the legendary folding Brompton Bicycle.

Brompton Folding bicycles have long been hailed as the best engineered, most compact, folding bicycle available. Awa-Re has a fleet of Brompton’s for any group size.

Awa-Re Brompton tours give you the flexibility and mobility to experience rural Japan in a way not possible before.

Tours can be customized to your needs, but most tours offer an easy ride, with stops at culturally significant spots, featuring epic views, unique experiences with locals, and a lot more. “A New Life Abroad” really captures the feeling and emotional connection only possible on a tour such as this.

Watch the full video here.
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Sunday, August 18, 2019


A short video of a very popular cycling route in South Korea, the Fours Rivers.

Watch full video here
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Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Watch this group of Japanese Brompton fans inspired by the simple transportation and joy of riding these folders. A Journey Through Iya Valley is sponsored by AWA-RE a company that provides unique bicycle tours in Japan.

Watch full video here.
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Friday, June 21, 2019


An account of how I slowly unfolded my Brompton up through Scotland in a journey of under five hundred miles in nine days at 9mph and with very little pushing!
I bought my Brompton L6 in 2004 but only used it for commuting to work. It didn’t occur to me to use it for touring until I retired in 2011, and eight of us began a tour of the Orkney Islands by catching the train from Edinburgh to Thurso.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019


Watch this four days ride in Japan on a Brompton. It starts in Tokyo and includes sites of Mount Fuji ending in the historic city of Kyoto.

Watch full video here
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Sunday, May 26, 2019


Cycle touring is a passion of mine and bringing a bicycle along is my favourite way to discover new places. In the last six years I have used a Brompton folding bike. I can definitely say that it exceeded my 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
Over the years it has become a tried and tested way to carry luggage on the folder and having been used by Brompton travellers all over the world. It offers a stable and well balanced ride and is extremely versatile in any multi-modal tours where some kind of transportation is an option. 
If needed, you are able in just a few minutes to switch from a fully loaded bicycle to a packed setup that you can hold in your hands and carry on a car, bus, train or plane.
Every bicycle traveler loathes the difficulties of transporting bikes to destinations, finding boxes to pack things, and shift around two or more panniers at the same time.
This setup prevents all that and makes it all very easy and mostly hassle free.
Concerns about the reliability of a Brompton folding 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. Touring on a Brompton has just been a pure joy. 
I believe there are three conditions and a few trade-offs worth considering before you begin cycle touring on a Brompton; if these don't seem too much of a limitation I would have no hesitation recommending it.

  1. You are planning a tour on decent, mostly 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 best suited to rough terrains and muddy tracks. I have at times cycled on unpaved roads and you will be able to cope with the odd exception by walking, but if that is the condition of most of the roads you will travel on, an expedition touring bike or a mountain bike will be a better choice. Mud, due to low clearance of the mudguards and limits on the choice of tyres, is something that Brompton are definitely not made for.

( 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 and provide the benefits that a folding bike brings in the first place. Traveling in freezing temperatures means having to carry much more weight and gear in order to be comfortable during the tour. Each kilograms you add to your setup will put further strain on the bike and make it harder to be carried on public transport if needed.

( 3 ) Bromptons are reliable bikes but they are not bullet proof; they also use a lot of specific and proprietary spare parts. Traveling for an extended period in remote areas means that should you have a technical issue, you might not be able to fix it. Adding to that the likelihood that no transportation is readily available, your tour will not be much fun. Traveling remote areas involves being self sufficient 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 over 10000 kilometres 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. In all my tours all I had to cope with were punctures and several tyre replacements. I find the key is to properly maintain your bicycle and ensure that it is well tuned and fully functioning before setting off on a tour. My strategy here is to be more proactive than I would be on another bike. I regularly replace parts that need changing after a recommended mileage. Chain and sprockets are swapped when needed, gear cables and brake cables are also newly fitted every few years, to limit the possibility of failures while I might not be able to source spare parts.
Marathon tyres even on such tiny size are exceptionally tough. One thing to consider though is that 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 too; I always bring one or two spare quality tyres for Brompton's 16" wheels as these are not always easy to find in bike shops around the world. 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 one or two spare tyres are small, not too heavy and can be easily carried.  
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. These are stored in the hollow tube holding the rucksack. 
Something I am always aware of is to try and be gentle on the bike. While climbing a steep hill I refrain from any temptation of standing on the pedals and rocking the bike as I would do on a mountain bike or a racer. When the road is bumpy and uneven I ride in a very conservative way and do not hesitate to dismount and have a little walk if I believe it safer for myself and the bike.

Comfort

The great benefits in portability means that you have to do some compromises in comfort; these are less noticeable than you might think. With a six, 12% reduced gearing bike setup, you are able to climb most hills or even mountains where gradients are not too extreme. You will find them 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 light and this makes you faster or as fast as any cycle tourists you might encounter along the road. On descents the opposite is true. Always be aware of rolling on small wheels and therefore more cautious and focused.  Your pace and the daily distances you are able to cover will likely match those of other tourers and their more traditional 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. It is well balanced, secure and the handling of the bike feels more stable than unloaded.
Having a rucksack instead of dedicated bike panniers is much more versatile. If you want you have the 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.
Older Brompton versions had brakes deficiencies especially on long descent but more recents models, certainly from 2013 on, come equipped with adequate brakes and feel secure on the steepest descents even with the extra weight you are carrying.

Conclusion

In my opinion Brompton offers the best setup for a multi-modal tour, where the odd transfer by other means of transport is involved. There might be times where the road is too steep and you might need to break your cycling with a short walk but I turn this limitation into an advantage. It becomes a good chance to use different muscles and I have found out that a folding bike loaded this way is extremely comfortable and easy to push.
To me these compromises are well worth it and I found touring with a Brompton folding bike, an easy and fun way to cycle travel.


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Saturday, May 25, 2019



You cannot climb mountains with a Brompton

I was the first to believe this. When I 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 seldom 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 and I was twenty years younger too!
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Friday, May 24, 2019




If you are looking for a well tested solution for securely attaching a regular backpack to a Brompton bike, I thought I would share some pictures clearly showing how it works.
It has been tested in multiple tours I have so far taken on a Brompton and used by many Brompton cyclists; this simple hack works really well. You can use any backpack you might already have but I find that a 45L capacity is about the perfect size. The  shoulder straps are harnessed over a horizontal bar ( I use a empty tubular metal but any thing sturdy would work. Broom stick anyone? ) attached to the saddle by means of leather straps.  A couple of large sized zip ties also do the job really well if you don't want to buy similar straps. The waist strap is tied to the seat post as a way to further secure the backpack as well as giving it more stability. The Brompton rack bungee chords are then tied to the bottom of the sack to make sure it doesn't shift forward and hinder pedalling. Another benefit of this system is the fact that it is very quick to dismount the rack and put it back where it belongs, on your shoulders!
This setup is very stable and makes a rucksack the perfect cycle touring solution on Brompton.

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Thursday, May 23, 2019




Here is a complete list of what I carry while bike touring 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 you need 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 little 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 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.
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