Tuesday 25 October 2011

Sad to give the 2 speed Brompton back

With a heavy heart I made my way to the cycle shop to give back the 2 speed Brompton I had hired for 24 hours.

It poses more questions than answers. First and foremost I liked the 2 speed a lot. The colour? Well it has to be raw - they are just stunning in the flesh. An S type of not an S type? This will take me some time.

If I had another Brompton I would like something different and I have always lusted after an S type. The cold reality of choosing, is turning me into one of those ladies in a Jane Austin novel that dithers and prone to a fit of the vapours.

In the meantime I will give the matter some serious thought and perhaps by January (which is when I would probably start the ball rolling) I might have made up my mind!?

Monday 24 October 2011

Road Test of 2 Speed Brompton

Well the day finally arrived. This afternoon I collected the 2 Speed Brompton from a cycle shop in London. Here are my impressions.

The bike colours are a fetching purple and apple green. Not really to my taste but that isn't what is important.  After cycling a few miles it was quite obvious to me that I really did like the simplicity of just having two gears. I did managed to go up several small hills and one that was quite steep. The start off gear was pretty good at assending and I didn't seem to need anything else. Quite impressed.

A fetching colour?

The bike I hired had a great big front hub light. Totally pointless as far as I am concerned as it adds a great deal of weight to the bike. I suppose the hire shop needs to cater for people who might need the lights. The weight saving despite this, is noticable and I would imagine that without the light hub it would be quite telling. Certainly comparing my beloved orange Brompton which is a 6 speed to this, I really did notice the weight saving. This is something I didn't think would be as noticeable to me.

The simple rear wheel of the 2 speed without the extra weight of the hub gears.

Just one gear lever makes things very easy.

Hub light. Is it really needed??
I cycled down Oxford street, the Edware Road and eventually ended up on the Harrow Road. As I knew I was not too far from Kensal Green Cemetery I decided to pay it another visit. I am going to Whitby in a few days time for the Goth week. I am not a Goth but I have occasionally worn black and like those old RKO and Hammer House of Horror films so this location gets me in the mood for Whitby.

Very Gothic.

I am taking the bike back tomorrow but I already know what I think of the 2 speed. I love it. It is just so efficient and simple. The weight saving is considerable and it just seems like a great option for City riding.

When I cast my mine back to the Brompton World Championships I am coming to the conclusion that the 6 gears on my orange Brompton were actually a hinderance. I was up and down the gears and not ever seeming to find the gear I wanted. Going up a sustained incline bordered on the ridiculous as I desperately tried to find traction. After riding this 2 speed today I am convinced that I would have had a more successful and less stressful ride. I could of course be wrong and those of you our there reading this might very well have an opinion you'd be gracious enough to comment on.

What I am still not so sure about is an S Type. The being over 6 feet tall and riding comfort thing, does bother me. Added to this if I did get an S Type, my C Type bag wouldn't fit. This would mean another added expense. In addition as I need an extended seat pillar, my ride is fairly sporty on my beloved orange Brompton anyway. There is also a part of me that likes the tradition of an M Type. This combined with raw lacquer and the brown Brooks saddle I took off my orange Brompton in favour of the black one, would certainly create the look I'm after. So...I really am not sure?

Sunday 23 October 2011

Two Speed Brompton Testing

I am just back from my Sunday Brompton ride in London.  As I forget my phone I didn't manage to take any photos which is a putty as I passed a mens clothes shop on Wigmore Street with the most shocking outfits I have ever seen! Who would wear them I don't know. I will return there with my iPhone another time but I do know this particular shop changes its displays often.

Tomorrow I will be hiring a two speed Brompton. As you know I have been riding my current Brompton for the past few weeks with just two gears to try and replicate what a 2 speed might be like. So far I have to say I quite like the simplicity of just two speeds. I will be able to test this out fully tomorrow and it should allow me to decide if a 2 speed is the way to go.

My other deliberation has been handlebar type. I currently have a M type but have been lusting after an S type. Being just over 6 feet tall I have been worried about whether it is going to be comfortable enough. I do have a couple of friends who are much taller than me, both with an S type and swear by it. The only trouble is they live too far away for me to have a test run.

Of course colour is the other massive decision. I was thinking Black then moved on to Yellow, then Turkish Green and now I can't get the simply elegance of the Raw Lacquer. This in particular looks stunning, especially in an S type!

I will let you know how I get on and whether I like the 2 speed. I am quite excited at the prospect of finally having a go on one.

Monday 17 October 2011

Sunday Morning on a Brompton

Yesterday I went for a Sunday morning cycle - for a second week running. (I wonder if I'll do the same when it really gets colder)?

My first port of call was Tower 42. I wanted to go there as it was mentioned by David Lindo in his talk at the Wetlands Centre last week. As I gazed up I tried to imagine what it would be like to look down from such a great height over London.

Once this was done on my way back away from the City I stopped briefly at St Paul's Cathedral to see the protestors in good spirits and in sizeable numbers. There was a fairly strong police presence which must have been for this.

Going back along The Strand I fancied going to Temple Church. Even though I used to work within a stones throw of the actual church, I have great difficulty finding my way to it! This is because there are copious amounts of building work, renovations and consequent road closures. Eventually I did find it but felt Harry Potter-like when he tried to find platform 9 3/4!

When I was out I saw loads of other Brompton riders. On a weekend they generally fall into two broad categories.

1) The lycra, full cycle gear type who rides with BWC attitude.

2) The ordinary type who rides at a leisurely pace in normal non-cycling attire.

Which type was I on Sunday I hear you ask? I am afraid to say, shocked even, that I was a type 1.

My question to you is, what type are you?

Sunday 9 October 2011

David Lindo at the London Wetlands Centre

I love my iPhone! I say that because today I was going to go to London Zoo with my family but saw a tweet that David Lindo, aka 'The Urban Birder' was giving a talk at the London Wetlands Centre to promote his book titled the same. We changed our our plans and headed to Barnes.

We haven't been to the Wetlands Centre for quite a while and besides, they do some rather tempting cakes.

Arriving in good time we sampled some of these cakes and I packed my wife and children off to the playground and a walk around the wonders of the Wetlands Centre.

I waited outside the theatre for the talk. (I thought this best as my children are very enthusiastic about nature and David Lindo being someone they have seen on TV and the Internet, would possibly been enough to induce them to rush what little stage there was)!

Initially I felt my jeans and Nike track top were out of place amount the greens and browns of many in the audience. Once the Urban Birder appeared in a similar getup I felt better.

The talk started promptly and the assembled audience was treated to some very interesting stories from David's past, told in an engaging way. I particularly enjoyed his retelling of an encounter with a bear in Finland. I also liked the photo and recount of his work on the top of Tower 42, which I was outside last week. I could have listened to much more but sadly after 50 or so minutes things were brought to an end.

I would have like to introduce myself but alas I received a text from my other half to come now, so knowing that this did indeed meant 'now' I had to go.

If you search my previous blog entries, I have written a review of David's book which you can look at. I would give it a go, especially if you live in the urban jungle and have children. It's a great little book and will inspire you to find nature in the most urban of places.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday 8 October 2011

2 Speed Brompton

I have had a bit on an obsession lately, which has taken the form of a 2 speed Brompton.

As you know I have a 6 speed and love it! I just keep hearing about the huge weight saving, the  efficiency of the 2 speed and how great it seems to be for all round urban use.

Looking at the gear ratios the first gear on the 2 speed seems to be similar to the second gear on my 6 speed. The second gear on the 2 speed seems to fall somewhere between the 4th and 5th gears on my 6 speed.

For the last week I have been riding my 6 speed in 2nd gear to start me off and 4th for cruising. This has given me a flavour of what I might expect on the 2 speed. Not being an ideal way to test whether I like them or not I decided to hire a 2 speed Brompton for 24 hours. This will be in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait. It will finally put to rest whether a 2 speed is for me or not. Luckily the cost of hiring is only £20, which I think is very reasonable.

I will let you know how I get on!

Sunday 2 October 2011

My new foot pump

I thought I would post a mini review of a new foot pump I recently bought.

I am somewhat ashamed to say that the first one I purchased was from Argos. The old adage that you pay for what you get is very true. On the very day of the Brompton World Championships this Argos foot pump snapped only serving to deflate my tyres. At the BWC I managed to borrow one and it was a Specialized one. I made a mental note to get one.

It cost £29.99 and is a metal construction and instantly feels of sound quality. The pump stands much taller than my previous one and this makes things much easier as their little bending down.

The nozzle has a metal clip and is very easy to get on and off the valve. It again feels of very high quality.

The gauge is big, accurate and easy to read. In addition there is an outer revolving bezel that allows you to mark your desired inflation. The footplate is metal and covered in an ultra grippy surface.

I am sure it will last me ages and I am glad I bought it and didn't get a replacement from elsewhere that would in no way be as good as this one.

Brompton ride on hot October morning.

In the early hours of this morning, knowing that I was almost guaranteed good weather I headed off on my beloved Brompton.

My original plan was simple to cycle for a bit and see where the mood took me. I ended up in Central London.

The River. Sunrise was lovely with this view all to myself.

When I first headed off it was like one of those zombie films where you literally have London to yourself. When I got to St Paul's I saw possibly 50 eager and wide awake Japanese tourists following a guide with an umbrella toward the footbridge. What they were doing and where they were going so early I don't know? They did take quite an interest in my bike and proceeded to take photos of it as I headed off.

Now I know London pretty well but it did get to the point where I hadn't got a clue where I was? This situation was brought about due to lots of road closures and builders lorries blocking off the routes I was familiar with.

Thankfully I soon arrived at familiar territory and once I had found my bearings I headed off. As I did I spotted two Brompton's heading my way. One was a yellow S type and the other a black P type. I suspect it was a husband and wife team who like me, were out on a mini adventure in glorious weather.

I headed back towards The Strand and when passing The Savoy made a mental note to see if they do cream teas as it would make a great Christmas present for someone.

Once past Trafalgar Square I headed up The Mall towards Buckingham Palace. In doing this memories of the Brompton World Championship launch ride and factory visit flooded back.

I continued and ended up in Knightsbridge and eventually South Kensington.

Once the pictures were taken at the Albert Memorial I took the bike into Hyde Park and cycled round as far as Marble Arch and then home.

Had a very enjoyable time and was home by 10:30 and then off to London Zoo with my family. I read today on Twitter than one of the people I follow actually took an inflatable kayak on the Thames today. Now, I wonder if it would also take a Brompton? That really would be a mini adventure for the future...