Thursday, July 15, 2021


For the past decade, WOTANCRAFT has been producing vintage camera bags, daily bags, and watch straps. They have now expanded their creations to bicycle bags having recently come out with the PIONEER SERIES which is specifically designed for Brompton. These bags focus on quick installation and release, expandable add-ons, and lightweight and are able to adapt to all types of scenarios whether it is your next adventure or your everyday ride. The Pioneer Series consists of four bags: the Stem Bag Set, the Basket Bag, the Expandable Front Bag, and the Saddle Pouch, all available in a black or khaki colour. What sets these bags apart from the competition is the ability to customise them by fitting add-ons, letting you adapt each bag to the use you make of it. I found the basket bag double function as an open basket as well as an enclosed large bag really practical and useful. The Stem Set bag system to attach it and remove it by magnetic straps - shows that a lot of thought was given to ease of use. The Expandable Front Bag’s attention to details shows in the elegant interior of the bag with multiple pockets and separations that help you best organise your contents. 


Stem Bag Set  

Like all other bags in the series is made of military-grade Cordura that is anti-scuff and tear and has a PU coating that makes it water repellent. The set consist of a handlebar bag attached to another pouch facing the rider that could be used to store a water bottle but with a leather strap that can completely close the top it could also store any other item securely. The two bags can also be uncoupled by unclipping two buckles, and used separately when needed. Another characteristic it shares with the other bags is the webbing straps that are used to attach expandable add-ons to increase its functionality. What I most like about this bag is the exclusive Quick-Snap system, a clever magnet locking system that can be released from the bike within a second by pulling on the handle and strap in opposite directions. This locks and unlocks the strap really well, making it very easy to remove the bag when for example you need to fold your Brompton. The bag itself has a plain compartment and a zipper that is enclosed and protected by a strip of Cordura material to ensure that it is not exposed should it rain. 

Basket Bag

The basket bag, once combined with a front frame and aluminium skeleton that are sold separately, clips onto the Brompton’s front block and is the most spacious bag in the Pioneer Series with a 22 litres capacity. It’s a very interesting bag Because it can be used as an open basket to carry your shopping or, simply by pulling out the fabric inside, extended into a much more spacious roll top bag that ensures the content is well protected from dust and rain. As i mentioned already a unique feature of this series is the extra add-ons that easily attach to the webbing on each bag using YKK snap-on buckles. Some of the modules currently available include a zipper pouch, a drawstring pouch, a phone pouch as well as a coin pouch. This system allows to quickly combine different modules and is a clever solution to adapt the bag to different occasions. Another add-on is the padded strap that turns it into a comfortable bag to carry on your shoulder. Finally on the inside of the bag, or the outside when the bag is extended, we have a large zippered pocket for safe storage of keys or a wallet. 

Expandable Front Bag

The expandable bag is a compact bag. it clips on a smaller front block, sold separately, and expands simply by loosening the top strap to an advertised 5L capacity. The interior of this bag is particularly elegant and well designed with 3 elastic pockets and a zipper pocket that can be used to neatly organise the stuff you carry. It has 3 handles and a YKK water-resistant zipper that comes with 2 classy leather loops that make opening and closing of the bag very easy even while sitting on the bike. Again add-ons can easily be attached or detached to this bag. 

Saddle Pouch

The last bag of the series is the saddle pouch, a typical bike packing style bag that loops around the saddle frame. With a roll top closure it provides some extra space where you can store something small like for example a light jacket. 


Overall each bag in the Pioneer Series is very well designed with good attention to small details and a quality that justifies their price tag. This is clear from the start as you receive the parcel where each bag is delivered inside its own dust proof bag to further protect it. I find the vintage aesthetics - more evident on the brown Khaki colour version - a great match for a Brompton.  

To check further details and prices of all bags in the series go to the Wotancraft’s online store


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Monday, June 28, 2021

 


10 years ago Kenny Lin toured the East Rift Valley on his racing bike, cycling at 30km/h. 10 years later, he returned on his first Brompton folding bike journey, slowing down & touring the East Rift Valley at 15km/h. “My Brompton allows me to connect with the landscape, people, and culture; allowing me to create life-long memories.”

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

 


For those planning to tour with their folding bike I think a large front bag is a no brainer. Sitting on the front block of the frame it is the perfect way to carry luggage without affecting the bike handling. The Borough Roll Top bag with its 28L capacity is just that, a perfect bag for touring on a folder.


Watch the review here

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021


The Raz Pro Smart Tail Light is a product by Shanren, a relatively new company that in the last few years has developed some interesting cycling accessories with innovative features yet affordable prices. The Raz Pro offers unique smart features that make it much more than a simple light. You can get it in 2 versions according to the mount option you prefer. One is to fix it to the under saddle rails and the second option allows mounting the light on a helmet or on a seatpost. They also offer the mounts as a separate purchase.

The main features which make these lights really interesting are Brake Warning, Road Bump Warning, Colour Selection, Light Sensing and Auto Wake-up as well as Synchronisation.
Brake Warning operates thanks to a sensor that detects a sudden slowing down motion and activates a brighter light as it is standard on motorised vehicles.
Road Bump Warning uses the same sensor but this time it detects a jolt in the bike caused by hitting a road bump or an uneven surface. This is useful when cycling with others as it will warn them by flashing a continuous white light for a few seconds.
Light Sensing allows the light to detect the level of ambient brightness and adjust its luminosity accordingly.
Auto Wake uses the motion sensor to detect whether the bike is moving. When stopping for an assigned time the light stops flashing and restart once you begin to move again.
Sync is a fun feature. When you have more than one of these lights or are riding with others that do, if they are set up with the same flash mode they will automatically synchronise and after a few seconds start flashing together.

The Raz Pro Tail Light is setup using a simple App available for iOS as well as Android. Via this App it is possible to customise all the features as well as the colour options. Once these are setup the light is used by operating a single button and you don’t need to use the App anymore, unless you want to modify the features or have an accurate read of the battery charge. Despite being advertised as a Tail Light the fact that you can customise the colours means that you can also use it as a front light and mount it on the handlebar, for example using the seat post mount.

What I most liked about the Raz Pro is how responsive the Brake and Road Bump Warnings are. For cyclists using their bikes in cities or riding in traffic, these are very useful features that beyond making you more visible can increase your safety.

The advertised battery runtime of 24 hours seems a little optimistic and might be achieved by using the light without some of the smart features enabled. When these are all turned on, they do affect the battery charge which doesn’t come as a big surprise. I tested my unit in full daylight which would trigger a brighter light and with all features enabled after 2 hours of riding it retained 62% battery charge. Given all the extra functionalities This is quite good but if you are planning longer rides I would recommend disabling some of the smart features such as Road Bump Warning, Ambient Light or even the Sync function unless you are riding with others.

One thing I would change is the magnetic charge cable. I am not sure if it was done to make the light as compact as it is but as nowadays many gadgets use mini USB cables, it would make the Raz Pro Tail Light more compatible and should you misplace the cable or even lose it, you could still be able to charge the battery using cables that you probably already have.

The Raz Pro Tail Light retails in the UK for £29.99 and in the US for $30.99



Watch the video review here

Buy the Raz Pro Tail Light


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Thursday, May 20, 2021



For those interested in a Bike Touring manual with a fold I have just published "Touring on a Folding Bike" (not such an original name I realise...). It is a guide on how to travel and explore the world using a folding bike. Discover the advantages of touring with a small and easy to carry bicycle and the amazing opportunities it opens up for the keen cyclist. Hopefully you will find some good advice, fruit of several years of experience on a Brompton folding bike. 
While the book is mostly for the less experienced cyclists, maybe thinking to tour for the first time - at least on a folding bike - I hope that even the more experienced bike tourist will find some valuable and useful advice. For those that have followed my YouTube Channel, while some of the information has been covered in the videos, the book provides more insights into the process I follow before and during a bike tour, in what I hope is an easy to read and well structured way. 



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Sunday, May 16, 2021

 


A Brompton combined with a train journey can make it really easy to explore the best parts while skipping what is less interesting or places one has already seen. In this ride along the South Devon coast Andy makes the best of the ease with which our favourite folder can be easily transported.

Watch the video here

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Sunday, May 9, 2021

 


The combination of COVID restrictions on travel and the forecast of good and dry late April weather, spurred me to finally take a tour of England, home away from home for many years. In this tour, started from central London, I followed mostly National Cycle Network routes available on www.sustrans.org.uk, moving South and the West to Land's End and returning to Bath, my final destination. 

I have created 15 sections which reflect the day stages I followed. To download the GPX files simply click on the links below:




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Friday, May 7, 2021

 


A beautifully shot short movie on a 2 days ride on a Brompton following the Penedès route in Catalonia.  For a total of 153 km and 2100 metres total climbed and using a light back packing style on a Brompton. 

Watch the full video

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

 


Freitag, the Zurich based bag manufacturer and Brompton have recently announced their collaboration in producing a new backpack, the F748 Coltrane. It is the perfect companion to a Brompton as it is designed to clip on to the front carrier block of the bike. Freitag is world famous for giving new life to used materials and the F748 is no exception and it is made of recycled truck tarps and shoulders straps and all straps and handles are manufactured using discarded seat belts.

The bag is 19L capacity, is water repellent and each one of them is a unique piece with its patterns and colours. It's a great backpack as it is but, if not used on the bike, it is also possible to remove the aluminium frame by unfastening a couple of velcro straps and sliding it out. As far as storage the bag is simple but very functional. In the main compartment you will find a pen loop holder, the nice touch of a matching leather mud flap, 2 thin compartment, one with padding material meant for tablets or laptops, as well as a zippered inner compartment. On the outside there is a zippered pocket for things you want to access easily, even while seating on the bike. The bag has a second zipper for easier access to the laptop compartment.

Retailing for £ 320,00, this is an expensive bag so what else do you get for your money?

For one thing you get Freitag renowned build quality which is apparent in the stitching and attention to details. With a little care you get a unique and trendy bag that will probably outlast you and bring a lot of joy into your commute with a Brompton. I was surprised at how comfortable it feels as a backpack despite the frame and how soft the seat belts strap feel on the shoulders. What I loved most though has to be the ease of shifting from cycling to wearing it as a a comfortable backpack, Brompton on one hand, able to walk easily into the office or grabbing a latte at my favourite café. Nothing could make it easier than this bag and a Brompton, they really are a perfect match.

Watch the video review here

https://www.brompton.com/freitag | https://www.freitag.ch/brompton





#FREITAGxBROMPTON

#frtg #ridewithfreitag

#bromptonbicycle

#mybrompton



 


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Saturday, April 3, 2021



Fascinating video on how to restore an old Brompton to its former glory. The M3R even though bought with a good price and running was really in a bad condition so I decided to just stripped it down and rebuild it. It is a good way to spend time also learning the bike mechanics. I had fun doing it and although the finish is not as good as a Raw Lacquer Model as expected from an amateur like me. I think it turned out well! Please enjoy the video! 

Watch the full video

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

 


Follow this brilliant tutorial on how to pack gear on a Brompton for travel. Susanna Thornton shares her experience after years of experience touring with our favourite folding bike. 


Watch the full video

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Thursday, March 18, 2021


Another very informative video by the guys at 2Bikes4Adventure. Very few bike multitools are compatible with Brompton bicycles, and here they review 3 of them plus a few additions to tools you may already own. A must watch for every Brompton enthusiast. Head to their Youtube channel and don't forget to subscribe!

Watch the full video here


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Thursday, March 11, 2021

 


No matter how much we all love these little bikes they are not perfect. If there is one issue that disappoints most Brompton owners is their shifting system. Although Sturmey Archer is a solid and reliable gearing system, it is let down on a Brompton by poor shifters and plastic components that at times can get jammed and prevent from changing gears. When gears options are already limited with a maximum 6 gears available as standard, any malfunction in the ability to shift is quite limiting. 

Watch the full video here

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Sunday, March 7, 2021


Follow Martin tracks on his first tour on a Brompton. Quite impressive to be able to cover 1500 kilometres on a loop that started and ended in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires. 

Watch full video here 

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Thursday, March 4, 2021

 


139Km ride on the Round Island Route of Singapore of course on a Brompton Folding Bike!

Watch the video here

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021


 In this video I share three easy tips that have allowed me to go for over 4500 kilometres on a loaded Brompton without a single puncture. They might be things you already know but what matters most is following them all and making it a habit in your cycling routine.


Watch the full video here

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Head over to Everyday Cycling Youtube video for a thorough comparison between riding a standard Brompton and a Brompton electric. The test was carried out following the same road and comparing the different speeds on exactly the same grades and same route. A microphone was also installed on the motor of the electric Brompton to give a further immersive nature to the video!


Watch the full video here

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

 


Another interesting video by the guys at 2Bikes4Adventure. Here they show how with a little creativity it is possible to find an alternative front bag to the one sold by Brompton which as good as they are can be rather expensive. 


Watch the video here



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Friday, January 29, 2021



Folding bicycles have a great advantage. A small footprint that makes it easier to pack them ready for transport. How you pack them depends on the risk you are willing to take and to a certain extent the type of tour you are planning.

There are two main choices here. You could use a hard case or go for a soft bag.

Hard Cases

They use their hardcore shell to protect from damages and have lots of padding on the insided to further ensure your bike will be found as you left it no matter what happens. They are usually expensive, large and cumbersome but on the plus side quite comfortable to move about as they always include a set of wheels to roll it. Airlines charges do vary but as a general rule you will find that a bicycle carried in this type of luggage falls into the ‘sport equipment’ extra fares when they apply them, otherwise you will simply pay more due to the weight but also the size of the package as your luggage will often have to be checked in at special gates for Extra Large items. They do not have much space left for anything else beyond the bike. This means that you will have to carry much more weight in the cabin. Often airlines will not let you bring more than one bag for example and will also want to know the weight. You see where this is going. Yet again more charges as well as losing your patience in stressful negotiations!

As far as affecting what kind of tour you will be able to have, a hard case poses a practical problem too. You will have to store it somewhere when you start touring. A tour from point A to point B will only be possible if you take some transportation to return to the starting point when you have completed your journey.

Provided the above conditions are not too limiting, a hard case ensures that your bike will be safe and undamaged.

Soft Bags

Especially if traveling by airplane, they are not as good as hard cases in protecting your bicycle. On the other hand they give you all the freedom to decide where to stay and how to travel. As they are light and can be folded small and carried as part of your luggage you will also have the ability to use them should you need to take some transportation in the middle of a tour. You can find an effective bag for not much more than it would cost to buy a cup of coffee and being light, they limit the chances of you having to pay any extra fees during transport. 

The last thing we want as touring cyclists is to realise that our bike was damaged during transport. With a soft bag you have to put some extra attention and care in how you are packing. Put soft items all around the bike, and include further padding at the bottom. Another good idea is to insert some cardboard that you can cut down to size and can become another layer that can protect the bike further.

Soft cases are all that I have used for all my touring travel. Experience taught me how to compensate for their vulnerability with some of the ideas that you have just read and more that you will be able to see from my videos on the subject.






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Thursday, January 28, 2021


Pam and Gilbert from 2Bikes4Adventure believe that you can travel the world on bicycle without quitting your day job. They’ve figured out ways to make this work for them and every year they refine their system. The overlap between cycle tourers and ocean cruisers is small. Learn more how we are narrowing the gap between those two extreme ways of seeing the world using our Brompton bicycles.

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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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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

We all agree that punctures are bad for cyclists. They stop your ride, delay you and get your hands dirty. For the latter, I always recommend an easy fix. Simply, never leave home without some DIY or even vinyl gloves. They are small and light enough to fit with your spare tubes in a tiny saddle bag and you will thank me later.

But what about the rest? All the huffing and puffing, the 'why all this happens to me?' Or the fact that punctures tend to happen at the worst of times and as you lean down for a repair, it will likely begin to rain?

I find that on a Brompton this is further complicated by the way the rear wheel is fixed to the bike and due to the hub gear. And, yes, in case you are wondering, a tyre puncture usually happens to rear wheel. 

Recently there are on the market airless tyres like Tannus, which are filled tyres without inner tubes and promise to fix this for good. The reality is that I personally find them not as comfortable to ride. I find they have more drag while riding and they are not as stable when cornering which I couldn't get adjusted to.

Over the years I have found that three main habits greatly help in preventing punctures. When I started touring with my Brompton fully loaded with luggage I would average a puncture every 500 kilometres or so. Since using these 3 principles I am happy to say that such a poor result is a thing of the past and I have ridden my bike over a 1000 kilometres of gravel and 3000 kilometres of tarmac on a fully loaded bike without a single puncture! Some of them will be of course things that you already do and know but following all of them made a huge difference to me.


1) Tyre Wear:


I use what are considered some of the best quality tyres for touring: Marathon Schwalbe Standard  as well as Plus. No matter the brand what is key is to keep an eye on how worn is the tread. When this is thin with lots of cuts in the rubber it is a good idea to replace it with a new one. If you are touring and would like to save yourself a little money when touring, use that worn rear tyre as a spare tyre that can be used as a replacement in an emergency.


2) Air Pressure:


Investing money into a good portable pump was worth every penny for me. While touring,  I used to rely on the Brompton standard pump that comes fixed to the bike. Before starting the tour I would go to a bike shop to get the wheel pumped up to a good pressure but after a few days riding this would inevitably decrease. Topping up air pressure with the Brompton pump is not really possible. It is a pump that is designed for nothing more than getting you home if you need to fix a puncture but it won't be able to bring the pressure up to an ideal 80 to 85 PSI. Now I use a portable Lezyne pump with a gauge which allows me without too much an effort to bring the pressure up to a level that would normally require a floor pump. Using it to top up some air every couple of days or so, ensures that I keep my pressure up to an ideal level especially on that rear wheel which supports most of the weight and pressure.


3) Tyre Check


Before you start your ride each day or at the end of it, get into the habit of slowly spinning one wheel at a time, inspecting whether anything got stuck to their tread. Sharp objects don't always give you a flat tyre there and then; what can also happen is that they slowly pierce into the rubber the more you ride. If they are not sharp enough to puncture your inner tube they might still cause small cuts on the tyre surface which then is more likely to pick up further debris. Making it a regular habit will also make you more aware of how much the tyre is worn in the first place which brings us back to the first point.


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