Sunday, 8 May 2016

Summer? A Taste And A Test

After a prolonged cool and damp spring, this past week has brought Proper Summertime Temperatures, i.e. 20C degrees! That's 70 in Fahrenheit. (Normal service resumes tomorrow: cool and unsettled with thunderstorms, which means showers, including hail I have no doubt.)

Today is the climax of our mini-heatwave, with temps of up to 27C expected.  This presented me with an unexpected (and very welcome) opportunity to set up my Brompton according to the plan I had devised (on paper) for our South of France trip next month. In addition to prepping the bike, I have also kitted myself out according to plan, anticipating similar temperatures in the Avignon area. 

I had purchased two handlebar-mounted adapters for my Monkii Clip bottle holders but one is faulty. I am awaiting a Rixen & Kaul Klick-Fix one later this week, which should fit the main frame and be able to hold a 750ml bottle. 

I usually use a Carradice Original Bagman support for my Barley saddlebag but have decided to get a seat-post mounted quick release version ("SQR") before we go, as that will be much quicker to remove when we fold and bag up our bikes for the Eurostar trains. 

And yes, I think I'm going with SPDs for this trip!  My experiments last year with SPDs were not entirely satisfactory, the main difficulty being the float being less than I need if I do any climbing out of the saddle. Our planned route involves some long but fairly gentle inclines, which I expect to do seated. And these pedals are double-sided, which will be nice on our pootling-around days without luggage, when I may wish to wear sandals. 

My wardrobe for the 9-day trip will mainly consist of Nuu-Muu dresses and Rapha shorts. Three sets for cycling days, plus a packable waterproof jacket, a pair of casual shorts, linen trousers, cardigan and sandals. That's it, I think. The bulk of my stuff is actually non-clothing: toiletries, medicines/first aid, sunscreen, camera gear, battery chargers and daily paraphernalia like spectacles, tissues, etc. Everything fits in these bags in a configuration that puts the right stuff easily to hand. 

Oh, and I found the EUR 130 that I somehow mislaid on one of last year's trips -- phew!


  1. Nice set- up, Rebecca, and lovely colours too. Coincidentally, my husband bought a Brompton just this Saturday and is absolutely loving it. He wants me to buy one too, and is tempting me with promises of cycling weekends by the coast. I am seriously considering it, but have a couple of concerns as I will need to sell my current city bike, a Pashley Poppy, before I buy a Brompton. The Brompton will therefore have to become my commuter bike, and I am just wondering about a couple of things. Firstly, does it cope well in the rain? The Pashley is a fantastic winter bike, it is super stable even when really wet. Have you ever had trouble with the Brompton in the rain? Also, do you think I should get the lowered 6 gear option so that it will cope better with hills? I notice that you first went for the 3 speed version but then regretted it when your commute changed and ended up adding more gears. I would love to hear your thoughts if you can spare the time!

    1. Hi Stephanie, thanks for your comment. Have you tried riding your husband's new Brompton? That may be the easiest way to see if it's right for you. I believe you ride on towpaths, right? I'm not sure I'd ride my Brompton on towpaths with rough surfaces or with bricks or paving stones that may have gaps large enough to catch small wheels in. As for gearing, what have you got on the Pashley? I find gearing quite a personal thing but my tip would be, look at the range, not just the number of gears.

      As for handling in the rain, I've never sensed the Brompton is different from any other bike but the key is TYRES. Marathon Plus tyres, as delightfully puncture resistant as they are, are slippier than many other tyres in the wet, so you have to take care to avoid drain covers. This is true of this tyre, in any size on any bike. I'd see that's the key factor in the wet -- and this is down to the rubber compound, not the tread.

      My Brompton was originally singlespeed. When I moved to Bedfordshire, we fitted a new rear wheel incorporating an 8-speed internal geared hub. Unfortunately, I found that increased the weight of the bike too much for me to comfortably carry the bike up and down stairs at Luton train station (which does not have lifts!). For just riding (no carrying), it was great. But due to the weight, we recently changed it again to the lightweight JTEK wheelset with Sturmey Archer 3-speed internal gear hub. SJS Cycles sells the whole wheelset here . The SA hub is this one.

      I can happily handle the bike now, although ideally for me I'd like the low gear to be a little lower. One option is to swap out the single rear cog for one that is 1-2 teeth larger but this would lower all three gears.

      Let me know what you decide!

  2. Thanks Rebecca, that is very helpful. I have ridden my husband's Brompton a couple of times, but will do so more and on the routes I usually take to make sure it is the right one for me. I had no idea that the kind of tyre you use makes such a difference in wet and slippery conditions, so thanks for that tip. My Pashley is a Sturmey archer three speed, which is adequate for commuting in my area but would probably not be good enough for longer rides in hillier places. I wish I could keep it too ... Maybe I will ... But our back yard is becoming very cluttered with bikes, and I will have to adopt a one in, one out rule. Perhaps the council will build secure cycle street parking areas in my borough - I have asked for one, so fingers crossed that will happen!


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