Sunday, 15 September 2019

34 miles on a Brompton fly by

The other day I was meeting a relative outside where he works in the buildings near St. James's Palace and as it was a lovely day I decided to take the scenic route. This would involve a 17 mile cycle ride.

Part of my route involved cycling on the Grand Union Canal. As I passed over a major road I could not help but be a little smug at seeing the lines of cars going nowhere, while I glided along at my leisure. I suppose part of the appeal of cycling is the freedom it brings.




Not long after I was feeling smug, my route turned cyclocross! A tree had fallen over and further along (not shown in the photo below) there was another one down.



After passing through my old haunt of Notting Hill I arrived at Kensington Gardens. As I cycled along I saw a young teenage girl walking quite happily speaking Russian into her phone. About 2 metres behind her were three rather scary looking gentlemen in suits following attentively in a delta formation, looking with suspicion at me cycling along on my Brompton and anyone else that veered too close to this young lady.






At Horseguards the Household Cavalry were getting ready to change. I cannot think how many times I have seen this over the years but when passing, if I have time I always stay to watch for a few minutes.





After a spot of luncheon with my relative as the day still looked lovely I decided the best thing to do was to cycle back a slightly different but equally scenic way.

Just off the Bayswater Road I past the building where Spike Milligan - I think - once lived and Eric Sykes used to have an office. Eric Sykes was a comedian, actor, writer and director. I recall walking up this street in my childhood/youth and always remember him being the most miserable of people every time I set eyes on him.






When cycling along in London you often pass locations you might not have been to for ages but have significantly changed. The properties on the street below used to be single dwellings with one family living there. Now they are all converted into several flats.




This is the beauty of a Brompton. Ride as much as you fancy and if the weather or inclination takes you, there is always the option of other forms of transport.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Thoughts on another new Brompton Special Edition

Over the last few years Brompton have released lots and lots of 'special edition' bicycles. I even bought one myself in the form of the black special edition which you can see in the photo below. I am very happy with it but the recent announcement of the new 'Brompton Explore' did induce me to raise an eyebrow!




Now I won't post a photo of the 'Brompton Explore' as I would be copying one from the Brompton website which isn't cool, so if you click HERE it will take you to the Brompton page all about this bike. (If I see one in the flesh I will of course post a few photos of it).

The 'Explore' is 'kitted out and ready for you to either find a new route, or plan your next escape.' They have teamed up with all round good egg and adventurer Alastair Humphreys to create a special edition ready for anything. 

The details of the bike are at the bottom of this blog post for the M6E version which costs £1525 and it is with some of this I raised an eyebrow. 

I would question why standard Marathon tyres weren't used as they offer better puncture resistance? Why no rear rack? In addition - although there is a mudguard version - why no mudguards? I am fortunate enough to know several truly hardcore Brompton riders, who have gone on adventures that many can only dream of. I am not sure the 'Explore' would be good enough with these omissions. 

Of course I would also question why a dynamo hub and lighting system was not fitted. This has been a godsend on many an adventure - not having to worry about whether batteries will last. 

The luggage looks great, as does the spares kit but I do wonder whether Brompton has rummaged around in the spares bin for discontinued colours and simply done what it has done for a few years which is non-standard paint job labelled 'Special Edition..'

Don't get me wrong, I am a Brompton fan boy through and through but the special editions are bordering on the comical. Many equally keen Brompton types often joke that the Costa Coffee, Greggs, Argos and Subway special editions are surely but a step away?! 

I suspect what people really want is a little more innovation. For things like a double chairing with derailleur or disc brakes for example you have to go to hardened Brompton fans or independent shops offering these enhancements. Should it be Brompton that leads the way on this?

The 'Explore' will be a popular bike and sell out quickly but if you own a Brompton already it wouldn't take a great deal of effort to kit your existing Brompton out so that it was ready for truly epic adventures.  


Bike
  • Edition: Brompton Explore
  • Model: M6E
  • Handlebar Type: M type (1015mm)
  • Gears: 6 speed
  • Mudguards / Rack: version E (no mudguards or rack)
  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Colour: Distinctive colour scheme - Forest Green with Explore Orange highlight front frame and bespoke graphic
  • Gear Ratio: Reduced (-12%) 6 speed with 44T chainring - Lower gear range aids climbing and luggage
  • Saddle: Brooks Cambium C17 - All Weather Saddle in special Giallo finish
  • Seatpost: Extended (inside leg up to 35 inches)
  • Lighting: Reflectors only
  • Tyres: Marathon Racer Tanwall folding tyres
  • Grips: Gum rubber grips - softer compound for increased comfort
  • Folded Dimensions: 565mm (H) x 585mm (W) x 270mm (D)  (22.2'' x 23'' x 10.6'')
  • Weight (approx.): 11.88 kg

Luggage
  • Front Carrier Block: Yes
  • Explore Edition Metro Pouch:
    • New pouch, designed to fit under seat, on handlebar or inside larger luggage
    • Includes magnet to avoid bouncing
  • Explore Edition Borough Rolltop 28L bag:
    • Big capacity with lots of sections, ready for any adventure
    • Custom camouflage fabric
    • Fidlock closures on rear pockets
    • Integral water bottle sleeve
    • Laptop sleeve
    • Extra load strap system for securing other items
  • Spares kit
    Everything you need to keep you on the go:
    • 2 x Impac Inner Tubes
    • 4 x Spokes (2 front + 2 rear)
    • 1 x Chain Power Link
    • Replacement Brake Pads (front and rear)
    • Rim tape
    • 1 x 3-Speed Gear Cable
    • 1 x Rear Brake Cable
    • 1 x Marathon Racer Folding Tanwall Tyre
    • 1 x Brompton Toolkit with extra puncture repair patches
    • 1 x Brompton Pump


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Seiko Watch Review

Your eyes did not deceive you. This is nothing whatsoever to do with Brompton bicycles or cycling, so if this isn't for you I have given fair warning.

If you are still here as the blog post title suggests this is a Seiko watch review. Before start I will perhaps provide some background.

In my formative years I liked action films, the sort of thing where James Bond or Arnold Schwarzenegger was saving the world and/or running around blowing things up. Watches play quite a part in many of these films. Bond has been seen wearing some rather expensive wrist attire from Switzerland - and I have been there too - but he also wore lots of watches from Seiko. In fact a Seiko watch used by Schwarzenegger in several films has just been updated and re-released (yours truly is equally excited) with the nickname 'Arnie.'

So you could say I have a bit of a soft spot for the brand. One of my favourite watches is a very simple mechanical Seiko called the SKX007. I have had it for ages. It has never been serviced but still works faultlessly. Perhaps the link with Brompton bikes is the fact that this watch has a cult following and they can be customised with infinite options to suit the owner.

My new watch is the Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver's Green Dial - SPB103J. Like lots of other Seiko dive watches it has the nickname of 'Sumo.' The specifications are impressive:





  • Premium sapphire crystal glass face protecting against scratches 
  • 6R35 automatic movement, with 24 jewels and a whopping 70-hour power reserve
  • Screw in crown
  • Uni-directional bezel
  • ISO certified 200 metre water resistance 
  • 45mm case width 
  • 13.7mm case thickness
  • Steel bracelet with security clasp and wetsuit extension 
  • Lumibrite markings that are bright and last for ages
  • That green dial and bezel!!!

The photos in no way do the green dial and bezel justice. It is gorgeous! More a British Racing Green, it picks up the light in different ways sometimes making it darker and at other times much lighter.






I am no James Bond or Schwarengger and the last time I did anything approaching diving was snorkelling in the shallows of a rock pool off the shores of Malta on a holiday with my mum and dad when I was 10 years old! However, this watch is certainly going to cope with me cycling at all hours, in all weathers and with the occasional knock.


Safety clasp

Wet suit extension


If this is anything like my other Seiko watches it provide years and years of faithful and reliable service and not let me down.

Lumibrite - wonderful stuff


I got this one from a company called 'WatchO' who are based in Milton Keynes. Have to report that they are brilliant. The price for this watch was very competitive but the current 15% discount made things even better. Delivery was lightening fast and when I returned a totally different watch for a refund as it didn't suit, it was handled with equal efficiency. I will certainly paying them another visit.

Link to WatchO

Since I got this watch it has not left my wrist and I have been enjoying that wonderful dial and bezel. For a mechanical watch is very reliable and it has been running no more than 10 seconds fast - pretty amazing really - so I am very pleased.

I very much doubt that I will utilise this watch to its full potential, unless I have to - for reasons unknown - leap into the depths of the Serpentine while cycling through Hyde Park! Still...nice to know my watch would be up to the task, even if I were not!!