Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Moon Meteor Storm Front light for Brompton

I have been using my Cateye Volt 300 for a number of years as a commuter flashing light but have found that the battery has all but given up the ghost. I have therefore been on the search for something to replace it. My search brought me to the 'Moon Meteor Storm.'

I actually bought a Moon rear light last year and was very impressed with it, so I was already aware of the company based on the quality of that light, felt that their front lights deserved a look. With a £30 'Evans Cycles' voucher not used I saw that the Meteor Storm was on offer for £54.99 and had been reduced from £99.99 at some point in the past. This meant that the light would only cost me £24.99.

The light is not the most powerful of the ones that Moon do but it does have some pretty good statistics. I won't use it but it does have a boost function that can pump out 1700 lumens for two hours. The other runtimes were more appealing:

Mode 1  1300 lumens for 3 x hours

Mode 2   850 lumens for 4 x hours

Mode 3   600 lumens for  5 x hours, 30 minutes

Mode 4   300 lumens for 11 x hours

The flash modes are even more impressive in terms of run time / lumens and these are probably what I will be using the light for the most:

Flash 1       100 lumens for 120 hours

Flash 2       400 lumens for   45 hours

Flash 3       800/20 lumens for 28 hours

Day Flash 1700 lumens for 50 hours  

The Meteor Strom

The light is substantial in terms of built quality with a CNC aluminium alloy body. It weighs about 200 grams and is 115 x 48 x 34mm (W x D x H) in size. It is a solid, well made light that looks as if it could stand up to the rigours of a daily commute light. It is water resistant and the rubber USB flap is magnetic so quickly snaps into place.

The light has a very good mounting system and I don't think that there is much chance of the light coming loose or the handlebar bracket for that matter. It was actually quite difficult at to get the light off the mount but I suspect that was as it was new. After a few days of use it was much easier doing this, more so that I was more used to the way it went on and off.

Robust mounting system

Excellent handlebar mount for lots of different bar widths

Magnetic USB flap

The top of the light has a matrix LED display to show what mode you are in and the status of the battery. This took a little getting used to. For example mode 1 has 5 x LEDs displayed, mode 2 has 4 x LEDs and so on. Just a case of getting used to it. Charge times from empty to full was about 6 hours (I think) as it has a cutoff when it has reached full charge.

Incidentally, I found out when reading the very simple one she of A3 instruction guide that you can get replaceable batteries for this light. I am not sure it is worth it as two batteries needed to power the light cost about £40. It remains an option though.

Matrix LEDs

The light has 2 x CREE XM-L2 LEDs (whatever that means) but I can tell you the light output and the runtimes are impressive to say the least. My Exposure Toro Mk 7 is an incredible light but the flash modes on the Meteor Storm are much better and the lumen verses runtime is not too far behind. I had bought this light primarily for is flash modes to replace the Cateye Volt 300 however I could happily use this light for night rides to the coast as a light in itself.

Bright, with excellent run times 

One really goo thing about the light is it comes with a few extras. The first is a USB remote switch. This is small rubber coated and would allow you to cycle through the different modes quite easily.

The USB remote

The next is a helmet mount. I am not overly sure I'd use this but you never know and it is great that it is included.

Helmet mount

Okay the all important question. Do I think the light is worth £54.99? I would have to say absolutely. It's a solid performer and having used it on a 10 mile night ride yesterday I came back liking it a great deal. The fact that I was able to get it for £24.99 as I had a voucher left over from Christmas was a bonus.

The light is available from a few retailers and if you shop around you might be able to get it for slightly less than the 1p under £55 asking price. There are lights out there costing a great deal more that are nowhere nearly as good. Highly recommended.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Brompton Evans Cycles 'Ride It' West London Sportive

Evans Cycles have been putting on their 'Ride It' events for a few years and I have attended several of them. The West London version starting and ending at Osterley Park would be the fourth time I have participated in it.

I had actually booked a place on this event ages ago. In fact, during the Christmas period I decided that this would be a great event to out in the diary, as it would be only a few weeks into 2019. My view was that it would start the ball rolling on the rides that would hopefully follow.

Up bright and early, the sun was already shining and it was set to be a lovely day - which it was. Saying goodbye to Mrs Orange and the Orangettes, I drove to Osterley Park in good time as there was little in the way of traffic. Arriving there just after 0800 I could see lots of other riders unloading bicycles. Virtually all other riders were on road bikes, with just a few on hybrids. I was the only person on a Brompton.

The start and end point

Always more fun on an Orange Brompton

Registering for the ride, a member of the Evans staff enquired whether I was part of the London based Brompton Club. I think another member of staff asked if I were the writer of this blog. I timing-chip sticker was placed on the side of my cycling helmet and I was given a rider number to attach to the handlebars. (More about the handlebars later).

I was one of the few people taking a photo of their bicycle!

The start line 

Making sure all was good with the bike - and me - I made my way to the start where we had a talk about the route markers and some adjustments to the route. This done, along with the other riders our barcodes were scanned and we were off.

As it was such a glorious day I opted for the medium 52 mile route. Had it of been different in terms of weather I would probably have done the short 42 mile version.

The last two times I took part in this ride I opted for the short route - the first due to weather and last year due to commitments later on. I have always come away feeling that the route was far from scenic. I don't know what was going on today but the route was...lovely! There was plenty of green stuff and what green stuff there was as I cycled along was very picturesque.

Glorious scenery and weather!

As I cycled along a lady from the Friday ride to the coast group said hello as she recognised me. This happened a few times throughout the ride with some kind enough to say that they enjoyed reading my blog.

Several riders could not believe that I was participating on this ride using a Brompton and asked how the bike was for longer distances. I didn't tell them about all the other distances I have completed on my Brompton and just said that it was fine.

Obviously I took my Brompton on this ride. It was a good opportunity to try out my new Joseph Kuosac handlebars and Ergon grips. I liked them both and found felt very comfortable for the whole ride. I suspect that I would not have enjoyed the ride as much on an S type and I was glad at the end not to suffer from shoulder and neck ache.

The temptation to take photos was great! The first location I gave way to was when I saw the sign for Pinewood Studios. Across from where I took the picture below I could see the 'Roger Moore Stage' and thought if only I could get in there to take more photos!

The first feed station was at 20ish miles. Here you could top up your water, have some slices of cake, crisps, jelly beans, banana and a few energy bars. It was all very friendly and there was more than enough of everything.

Feed station #1

Feeling suitably refreshed I wasted little time and headed off again, not as I was in a rush but more that I was really enjoying the ride and wanted to see what was next.

The next feed station was outside a branch of Evans Cycles itself in a retail park at about 30 miles. Again there was lots of food and friendly and helpful staff.

Feed station #2

The route had 522 metres of elevation which I enjoyed. There were some ups and downs for the first 35ish miles but nothing too bad. Saying that there were a couple of very steep ascents. One in particular (I don't know where it was exactly) was a beast. It was steep and just went on for ages. The narrow road with many impatient drivers wanting to pass and then halt in front of you to let other cars go past, resulted in me grinding to a halt and having to get off.

It really did seem to be freak weather - especially as I type this on a grey, dull and wet Monday afternoon - and a layer was taken off pretty soon into the ride.

There were a few long stretches where there was a considerable headwind. I tried to tuck behind some roadies but after three miles of keeping up with them, they slowly broke away and were gone. One thing I noticed about those on road bikes was the large number parked up by the roadside, wheel off and repairing a puncture. Several times throughout the ride those on road bikes would pass me, only for me to pass them when they had a puncture.

With the sun shining and the back of the ride broken I cycled the last few miles. On the outskirts of Osterley Park I saw the familiar face of the gentleman that is, and fellow Bromptonian Andy. We had not seen each other for years. Saying goodbye I headed back into Osterley Park and collected my finishers medal. If you have ever read my blog for a few years you will know that I do like a medal.

The reward

The 52.1 miles took me 4 hours and 17 minutes at an average speed of 12.2 mph and a maximum speed of 29.7 mph (one of the more tasty descents).

I have another of these rides in April, the 'Evans Windsor Ride It Sportive' and I do look forward to it. The organisation of these rides is extremely good and with the odd discount code it was £20 well spent. Until next time.

Map of the route

Saturday, 26 January 2019

New handlebar for my Orange Brompton!!

I have always liked the S type version of the Brompton. I am on number 3 in fact but I have been thinking long and hard about whether or not this still works for me.

I do use my Brompton for its intended purpose  - multi-modal short trips. However, I tend to use it more for journeys probably only a devotee to the brand would attempt on a regular basis. My Brompton has seen me riding through the night 60 - 70 miles at a time, ascend dreaded hills such as Ditchling Beacon and also attempt longer rides of 100 miles or more such as the Dunwich Dynamo.

This year I hope to use my Brompton on lots of these adventures but there had been a problem using the S Type that doesn't seem to be getting better. I have found that on longer rides the cycling position afforded by the S type brings neck and shoulder ache. I don't know whether it is because I am getting older or the fact I am quite tall, but I just don't seem to be able to get away from this.

I did think about fitting some bar ends or Ergon grips as they would definitely help with regards comfort. Certainly the orange grips I have on at the moment are lovely to look at but they aren't very comfortable. In the end I decided to go down a different and ultimately more long-term solution.

Joseph Kuosac make all manner of after market components for Brompton bicycles and I was aware that they made a handlebar for the Brompton. This is the mid-rise which when fitted to an S type stem brings the handlebar height and ride position almost the same as the new M type. Quite a radical step in many ways but for me at least the best long-term solution and the cheapest option. I say cheapest as the alternative might be going do ether new stem/handlebar route. (Remember these words for later on).

The Joseph Kuosac mid-riser in black is readily available for around £20 and looks pretty good - better than the new official Brompton M type handlebar in my opinion.  The only other thing I needed to buy would be new M type cables. I had a few of these anyway so didn't need to buy that many.

Taking the cables off was easy enough. If you think about doing this or replacing your own cables (it isn't that hard) just make sure you take a few photos  or perhaps a short video clip of their currant position so that you can refer to it afterwards.

Undoing the handlebar bolt I took out the straight S bar and got the new one ready. As I put the S type handlebar to one side I had a tinge of regret at having to take it out. It didn't last long. I have already ridden a Brompton with exactly the same set up as I was intending and it felt much better.

Putting the new Kuosac handlebar in position I folded the bike to see how much on each side I would need to cut off. I estimated that I would need to cut 6cm on each side. The Kuosac bar comes with very handy centimetre celebrations to let you know easily how much you are cutting off.

Fitting the new M type cables was easy and didn't take very long. In the space of a few minutes the bikes was cabled up and looked pretty good on the bike stand. I took it outside for a quick spin around the block and liked the ride position instantly. Taking it back inside I only had to tighten the centre bolt that attaches the handlebar to the stem. That is when things took their disastrous turn.

To cut a long story short I made the rookie mistake of over tightening the bolt. Before I could stop myself I had sheared off the thread of the bolt and those it threaded into on the stem! Oh dear! (I have cleaned that last comment up)!

There was nothing for it. I took the bike to the brilliant people at 'Compton Cycles' for them to buy me a new stem and fit it all back together again - yes you read correctly.

I collected the bike today and it felt wonderful when I rode it. I could have just opted for an M type stem as I had ruined the original S type one - I had to pay for a new stem anyway. I decided to stick with an S type stem and the Kuosac riser bar. I still have the S type handlebar and cables and know that if I ever wanted to go back to the lower position of the S type (if unicorns fly and I ever got into the Brompton World Championships) I could.

For me at least I now have the best of both worlds and I do like the ride position of these bars. It will also serve to hopefully lesson or eradicate the neck and shoulder ache I have been experiencing. In addition, I hope to use this bike on a great deal more of my longer cycling adventures. This will culminate in the Dunwich Dynamo. Yes, this was a painful and slightly costly experience but for me at least, it has worked out rather well