Brooks B17 Saddle Galore

Having tested a Brooks B17 saddle during a long distance tour on a Brompton folding bike, here are my thoughts. I had read how uncomfortable they could be for the first few weeks if not months and as I started my tour mostly wearing thin cargo trousers rather than the usual cycling shorts with padding, I was prepared for the worse;
I can say that despite finding it pretty firm during the first couple of days, it soon became clear to me that this on the contrary was the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden on. Having used all kinds of saddles on racing bikes and mountain bikes in the past, I found out that it is often the hardest ones with less padding that in the end offer a better support and comfort.
This saddle also simplifies the rucksack set up I used and detailed on this blog, through the two metal buckles ( one clearly visible on the picture above ) that allow leather straps to hold the top part of the sack into place.
The vain note of the B17 being so stylish and somehow a hand crafted work of art is still there but most importantly now it is supported by the fact that it is a perfect marriage of look and comfort.
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Zéfal hpr pump

This is the pump that comes attached to the Brompton frame. I tested it yesterday while learning how to repair a puncture, remove the rear wheel and so on.  Despite the small size the pump seems to be more than capable of inflating the tyres to a hard pressure without too much effort. Seems to be the best compact pump I have used so far and clipping to the frame means it is always ready for use.
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Brompton Technical Guides

First few rides on the Brompton in London have proved that this little bike has lots of character and really rides well. One has to get used to the fast responsiveness of steering and the fact that the small wheels are more susceptible to uneven road surfaces but those are very quick adjustments and soon become natural.
I am far from an expert when it gets to mechanics but the minimum I need to be able to do before I start thinking about a tour, is to be able to fix a tyre puncture!
Before I purchased one, I read some pretty daunting articles on the difficulties of removing the rear wheel on a Brompton and the effort it takes to remove a Marathon Schwalbe tyre from the small wheel rims.
Yesterday armed with the best of patience and the whole day to overcome these obstacles I thought it would be time to test this for myself from the comfort of home in order to be prepared to do it on the road should I need it.
I am really happy to report that I was actually surprised finding out how easy all those tasks were! I followed the Brompton Technical videos showing step by step what you need to do; despite being the first time and not being exactly a mechanic wizard, I was quickly able to remove the front wheel, remove the rear wheel,  removing and resetting a tyre and adjust the gearing.
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Welcome Brompton!

Finally my new touring machine has arrived! After about 5 weeks since ordering it I was somehow more excited than when I got my new car months back...The reason I bought it, is mostly to get me back to what I really loved doing in past holidays, bicycle touring. It might not look exactly like the touring bike one would expect but too often I put off bike touring mostly due to the hassle it entails if you want to carry a bicycle on a plane. Having recently seen that quite a growing number of tourers have successfully used the Brompton to travel to the most unusual places and knowing how reliable this folder can be, I couldn't resist the temptation, hoping it will inspire many more journeys to come. This blog will be the chronicle of such adventures!
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Crazy Guy On a Bike
The ultimate database and since 2000 a great online journal resource for cycle tourists. If you want to cycle in a particular place around the world and are planning your route, chances are that you will find someone who has cycled it before here!
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Anker Astro E4

Years ago my only gadget I would take along on trips was a trusted digital camera but those days have long gone! While bike touring nowadays I like using phones or tablets as my main resource for directions, entertainment, taking pictures, videos, etc. Not to say the usefulness of being able to link to the internet wherever there is a wifi connection keep in touch with friends, upload pictures, blog and search for a good place to stay, eat or visit.
As one of the joys of cycling trips is the freedom to pitch a tent wherever you are it becomes necessary to be able to have some power to recharge your gadgets so will look forward to start using my newly arrived Anker Astro E4 which should be able to give about 5 full charges to my mobile phone!
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Dahon Speed TR

Searching for a perfect folder for touring my first attempt was the Dahon Speed TR. I purchased this bicycle in 2010 and even though I wanted to like it and wanted it to be the easy solution to traveling by bike again it turned out to be not as successful.
The positive of a very comfortable ride, gear options and already fitted racks that can take standard panniers were hindered by the fact that the handlebar stem folding system turned out to be very unreliable. After about one year of not a lot of use the steering started to feel strangely hard and a visit to a bike shop in London confirmed that parts inside the steering wheel were damaged. Believing it might just be bad luck I visited several shops in the last two years trying to figure out how to permanently fix this but instead realised that this is a well known limit affecting several Dahon bikes and not uncommon at all. They never encouraged to change the parts as it seems the mechanics itself of the handlebar folding system are not well thought through and I would probably experience the same in the future. This means that every few months when I feel the handlebar developing some slack or getting hard I bring it to my local shop and they just botch fix it and this usually keeps me going for a few months. Recently I was told by a mechanic that the best thing I can do is never fold it, hardly a good sign of a functioning folding bike but I must say now that I just use it as a standard bike the handlebar is working ok.
This unreliability of course meant that in four years I have never contemplated touring on it.

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