Thursday 29 December 2011


Regular readers of my humble little blog will know that I frequently use a Canon G11 to photograph my adventures when out and about in London. For Christmas I was given a Ricoh GRD III and I have to say I am a very happy chap at owning one finally!

I love this little camera!!

This camera is in many ways a highly niche product that has quite a cult following among street / landscape photographers or those with discerning taste.  It has a fixed prime 28mm lens at a maximum aperture of      f1.9. Yes you read right, it had a fixed focal length of 28mm.

What this does is produce very bright, clear images for its 10 megapixels. Added to the f1.9 aperture, you have a camera that works well in low light and can provide some stunning images.  It also has a 940,000 pixel, 3 inch screen on the back which makes my Canon G11's screen like looking through a steamed up shower cubicle.

The controls are simple and laid out perfectly with a top mode dial. The camera can be customised to your personal likes and a hot shoe on top allows the addition of a flash and viewfinder - not that you'd need oneas the screen is gorgeous.

Elegant and simple design.

It it housed in a magnesium alloy shell so it has bulletproof construction.  The rubber covered hand grip is excellent and overall its ergonomics are the best I have ever experienced in any camera - and I include my Canon G11 and bigger Canon 500D. The whole camera exudes quality and is extremely well put together. It is also very descrete and understated. It will only draw attention from those in the know. Those who understand what a great camera this is.

This is a shot of the screen with a picture of my raw SL2. I took this with an iPhone 4 and believe me it does not do the 940,000 pixel screen justice. It is fantastic!
Since I have had this camera I haven't bothered to take anything else with me - I'd only miss it if I did and regret taking my G11 instead of my Ricoh. The strange thing is that I cannot see myself going back to using the G11 despite the restriction of the 28mm fixed lens. This, I feel, has actually made me a better photographer (I say photographer for want of a better word. I am merely a snapper of what interests me) as I have had to think more about the composition of shots. If I am too far or too near I now have to use me feet, something that with a zoom lens I have become very lazy with.

Battery life is excellent. It is quoted at 370 shots but I look over 500 and was viewing many of my shots back via the screen before the battery icon turned red. It can shoot in RAW so that you can process your images at home further than you can with jpegs.

The camera comes with a charger, wrist strap, USB cables and software. It also has a fully printed instruction booklet, which is much better than the rubbish pdf version you get with other manufacturers.  I managed to pick up this second hand camera at a steal.  The previous owner must have either loved it and looked after it or not used it at all as it appears to be in mint A1 condition!

Below are some of the shots I have taken so far. I love black and white but the colour RAW versions of these produced colours that were faithful, vivid and totally spot on as far as I was concerned. When I was getting things right as far as the settings go, I could zoom in a fair bit and still see that things were sharp. I cannot wait to use this for street photography. I would love to be able to afford the viewfinder than can be mounted to the camera for even more discrete shooting but alas it is not to be.

This camera won't make me better at taking photographs but it makes me want to become better, alter the settings and experiment. The old saying the best camera you can have is the one you have with you really rings home as the Ricoh GDR III will be going with me everywhere.

Marathon tyres 110psi

I have taken a pic of the Marathon tyres that came with my Raw Lacquer SL2. They can be pumped to 110 psi. Honest!

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Full Test of SL2 Raw Lacquer!

As you know I have had my SL2 for a few weeks but have not taken it out at all. Various things have conspired to prevent me from doing this sooner. The holidays, weather and the fact that I didn't want it to get dirty! Well Yesterday I took my newly acquired Brompton out for a thorough test run.

I took my bike on quite an extended run, Maida Vale to the heart of the City, Hyde Park, South Kensington and back to Maida Vale. The S Type flat handlebars are excellent. I actually prefer the riding position to that of my M Type. Yes it was lower and further forward but I did not suffer any ill effects after what was quite a long cycle. Having opted for firm suspension, the ride felt responsive and very sporty. I found turning to look behind was easier than on my M Type as the flat bar, for me at least, seems to be more stable. Cornering also seemed that bit snappier.

This bike has 2 x gears. One to get you off and one to cruse. They are in many ways perfect for the urban environment. I did not feel that I needed more, plain and simple. I loved the simplicity of it all and the weight saving by not having the internal hub is substantial. This weight saving can be felt when carrying the bike folded of course but also when riding. It might be psychological but the bike felt nippier and more agile than my M Type.

As for the colour I love the Raw Lacquer. Seeing the brazing on the joints is something I will always enjoy looking at. It makes the bike look stunning and even though I love my Orange Brompton I must confess to liking the different grades of colour of the raw lacquer more!

I opted for Marathon Tyres and the ones supplied with this bike are very different to those on my Orange Brompton. First off they are a great deal thinner in profile which makes them more free wheeling. They can be pumped up to 110 psi as apposed to 85 on my Orange Brompton. Last of all as they look a thinner tyre I suspect they are much lighter than my original Marathons. All a welcome addition as far as I am concerned.

The brake leavers also seemed to have had a make over. They are squarer at the ends and look great. The folding pedal seems to have had a make-over too. The reflectors look better and are more substantial as is the plastic folding mechanism.

I love this new acquisition. It rides fantasically well and for someone over 6 feet with an extended seat pillar the ride and handling was near perfection. Those of you who have read my blog will know that a major concern I expressed was being a 6 footer on an S Type. I need not have worried. I love my S Type! The only decision I will be deliberating on in 2012 is what to take to the Brompton World Championships or which bike to use on my daily commute? Twice the fun for 2012!

Saturday 24 December 2011

Seasons Greetings

Just wanted to say Happy Christmas to all out there in blog-land. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope to be out and about a great deal more sharing my adventures in London. A happy and healthy 2012.

Friday 23 December 2011

World Class Athlete

I was very happy that the popular cyclist Mark Cavendish won the prediciious BBC Sports Personality of the Year. This can only be a god thing for cycling in general. Let's hope that it gets more people to buy a bike and get out an enjoy the sense of freedom it brings. We can also hope that governments do more to make cycling safer.

Yes, I am very happy for Mark Cavendish but I was slightly disappointed that there was no mention of me competing in the 2011 Brompton World Championships. I mean, I am a world class international athlete who has competed at the highest level! Come on! Does Mark Cavendish colour coordinate his outfit the the colours of his bike? I suspect the answer to that is no.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Orange Brompton back from being serviced

Yesterday I got my beloved Orange Brompton back from being serviced. All was fine apart from a the brake cables needing to be tightened, the gear swifter needing to be adjusted and some general tightening of nuts. They also cleaned the chain and oiled and greased all the important bits. (I am very technically minded as you can derive from my vocal). Riding the bike home all seemed real good and I noticed the gear change being that bit sharper.

I still haven't managed to take the S Type on the open road! This is as shocking to me as it may be for some of you reading this. I have been busy but the truth is I am too worried about dirt etc.., daring to go anywhere near the new prancer in my stable. I hope that common sense will prevail as at the moment I am happy to gaze at it lovingly as if it were a piece of modern art in the Tate Modern!

If anyone out there has any words of wisdom to help me get this fantastically engineered wonder out, feel free.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

12,000 Page Views

Wow! 12,00 page views. Thank you to all my loyal readers and anyone straying on to this humble little blog.

12,000 page views - well almost

Only 40 more page views and I will reach the 12,000 mark!

Monday 19 December 2011

Brompton Battery Lights

Recently I acquired a second Brompton bicycle (a full review and pictures will come at some point when better weather returns or I am brave enough) and therefore needed to get some lights.

On my Orange Brompton I opted for the Brompton battery light set and saw no reason to deviate from this as they have served me well for over a year.

The set can be purchased as separate items but I decided to get the lot. It consists of a front light that has three LEDs and runs off 3 x AAA batteries. This front light is attached to the handlebars via a small bracket on the left of the picture. The light sits on rails and can be taken off very quickly and conveniently when not needed.
The front light and bracket.
The rear light is Brompton branded and replaces the red reflector that comes with a Brompton. This is a very quick and easy job. It has a central light in the middle and two reflectors on either side. The rear light is powered by 2 x AAA batteries. The battery life on both lights is excellent and both produce an excellent bright light. By the way batteries are included for both lights so you won't have to scrabble around to find some.
The rear light.
I think that the rear light really does look rather good. It is cosmetically better looking than the original reflector and really does stand out when it's dark.
The rear light fitted to a rather superb Brompton!

The front light fitted to the flat handlebars of the S -Type.
I bought my set from Brilliant Bikes for £36.50 and that price included very speedy delivery. They are a great little online shop for a whole manner of Brompton parts and I wouldn't buy from anyone else. If you don't want or need the whole set the from light costs £20 and the rear light costs £19, so £36.50 is good value for the whole set.

If it looks busy on the roads I do supplement these lights with a few more that I can strap on but they are perfectly fine on their own.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Orange Brompton - service

Today I took my beloved Orange Brompton in for its service.

One thing I have noticed about the newer Schwalbe Marathon tyres is that they seem to have a slightly slimmer profile and can now take up to 110 psi. This would certainly provide a firmer and more responsive ride. I have asked the people who are servicing my bike to give me a price for fitting a new pair. If it isn't too expensive I might take the plunge.

In London the colder weather, which did take a while to manifest itself has certainly made an appearance. Mornings have been very cold to say the least! The last couple of weeks I have had to be in work extra early which has meant I have been frozen on the bike.

I have now been riding a Brompton for over a year and have enjoyed every minute. I love people at work look at me in amazement when I answer yes to the question, 'you surely didn't ride your bike to work today in that weather?'

My Brompton should be ready by Wednesday hopefully and I will be glad to have it back. Until then I have something else to keep the withdrawal symptoms away...

NYCeWheels - a great source of Brompton information

I will get this out of the way first. I have neither been to New York nor have I been to the USA. Why then am I writing about a shop in New York? I will try to explain.

A few years ago when I first got the idea in my head that I not only wanted to start riding a bike to work but wanted a folding bike I trawled the Internet for any information on Brompton Bikes - the best folding bike in the world in my humble opinion. One of the locations I kept coming back to was NYCeWheels.

They have a great little configuring tool where you can experiment to your hearts content with the various combinations of colour you can elect your Brompton to be made in. In addition to this they have a huge range of Brompton related videos on YouTube. These range from taking you through the various options of what type of Brompton to consider and why, to simply the love of riding a Brompton. My favourite is 'Peter from NYCeWheels' riding his Raw Lacquer ML6 in the middle of a New York winter, snow and all.

It looks like an excellent shop, carrying only the best of the best. For those of you in New York you are lucky and one day I hope to visit New York and along with all the other touristy things one would do if in such a great city, I'd certainly pay a visit to the people at NYCeWheels.

A second Brompton for twice the fun

Just thought I would post a few teaser shots of the Brompton I recently acquired.

It is rather lovely to say the least. I haven't been able to take it out in anger as the weather has been terrible and I am still at the stage of looking at it lovingly from afar.

I will of course post a full review as soon as possible.

In the meantime hope you all get a chance to have a break from the daily grind this Christmas and get out on your bikes for a winter adventure.

Thursday 15 December 2011

A new Brompton!!!!!

Today I obtained a new Brompton! I am very excited about it and have kept it quite a secret. At the moment I have yet to have my first ride on it on the open road. If we get some dry weather I will take it out and post a full review and reveal all.

For the moment you will all have to keep guessing.

Saturday 10 December 2011

S Bag review

Well my S Bag arrived very quickly from my favourite Brompton accessory shop, 'Brilliant Bikes.'

The review that I promised and comparison to the C Bag I have had for over a year will unfortunately have to wait until after Christmas!

I opened the package up to make sure all was okay and once I had said, 'yes it looks all okay' the S Bag and packaging was taken away and I was informed that it was going to be a Christmas present!

First impressions were very favourable. The size looks great and I love the black colour. Apart from that I cannot say too much until Father Christmas comes down out chimney - assuming I have been a good boy of course.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Brompton S Bag

I have been thinking about getting an S Bag for some time now and on Saturday I placed an order from the suitably named 'Brilliant Bikes.'

The S Bag is specifically made for the Brompton S Type with its flat handlebars. Slightly smaller than the C Type which I currently own it will provide a slimmer profile for those days when I am not carrying too much or if I get an S Type Brompton....

I know a few people like me with an M Type Brompton who use the S Bag purely for the fact it is an overall smaller and more compact package.

When it arrives I will get some photos on here and do a comparison with my C Bag. By the way after much consultation I decided to opt for the black version rather than the flap with with the red fire hose or Union Jack.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Road Rage while out on a Brompton

Monday morning was a rather interesting start to the week. I was out on my Brompton before 07:00 a.m. as I had to be at work very early.

I cycled my usual journey and then went down a one way street. I would stress at this point that I was going the correct way and they it was one way to any traffic coming the opposite direction to me. It was then that a quite large white van drove at speed towards me.

The road in question is very narrow and a car let alone a van would just about make it. This particular van was driving the wrong way up a one way street and doing so at speed. I got off my Brompton and moved as far over as I could. As the white van passed me its wing mirror hit me on the top of my shoulder. I shouted out 'oi' and nothing more.

At hearing this (as his windows were down) I was greeted with a barrage of expletives from the driver. There was a passenger with him who looked as if the ground could have gobbled him up and took no part in the verbal tyrade. I stood in stunned amazement. I asked the passenger what his colleagues problem was as he was driving down a one way street the wrong way, he was the one who hit me with his wing mirror after I had attempted to get out of the way? His passenger at least said, "sorry mate.'

While all this was going on I couldn't pass the white van and go on my merry way and the white van driver was in no hurry to do anything than turn the air blue. At this point we were joined by another car, this time going the right way and behind me. I am sure you can imagine what took place.

The car driver sounded his horn and began to get visibly agitated. The van driver let fly even more foul language via his window and sounded his horn. I started to wheel my bike past the car, back where I had come from. At this the car driver drove forward and touched bumpers with the white van. I could hear more verbal exchanges as I thought of an alternative route and glanced to see the car driver out of his car and going towards the white van drivers window. I didn't stay to see whatever else took place.

When I was on the open road again I thought about what could have possibly made this idiot for want of a better word so angry and to act in such a stupid way? This has been the first time that I have ever experienced road rage while out on my Brompton but I am still at a loss to come up with a reason for it? Perhaps I shouldn't have said 'oi'?' What I do know is that this particular driver really shouldn't hold a licence to drive.