Folding Bike on a Boat

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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Interrail trip with a Brompton

A trip with an Interrail train ticket and a Brompton foldingbike in June 2018. Ferry Malmö - Travemünde and 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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Less punctures on a Brompton

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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