Friday 30 November 2012

Brompton Weekend Ride.

Tomorrow I plan to get up early and take my new camera out for its first proper outing. My Brompton will of course come with me. (Having two I will be spoilt for choice but favour my S2L at the moment as I have been enjoying it on my daily commute).

This is a little like what I got up to almost two years ago when I first got my Orange Brompton. I am not sure where I will end up but it will allow me to test out my new camera and put the finishing touches to an all night Brompton ride in a few weeks time. (I shouldn't really be using it until my birthday but hey ho).

I want to go as far a the City and return along the Strand so I can try and find Temple Church. Bearing in mind I usually get last trying to find it...we'll see if I find it! If I don't fancy this, it is going to be another spin around Richmond Park.

The Nikon V1 - the ultimate Brompton Companion?

Just over a year ago I saw that Nikon had entered the very competitive, cut throat world that has become - compact system cameras. They released the '1' series. The J1 didn't interest me but the V1 did. I recall at theme that reviews were less than kind, in part due to its very high price.

Over a year on and Nikon have released the V2. This has led to retailers heavily discounting the older V1. This discount has brought the camera to a price I am prepared to pay. With a birthday approaching I was allowed by Mrs Orange Brompton and my two little Orange Bromptonettes to buy my very own V1.

Why the V1 I hear you ask. Well, to me at lest it is a rather elegant camera. It has a metal frame and also clad in metal. Build like a tank it is sold and reassuring in the hand. It is very well made and exudes quality.

The 3 inch 920k dot screen is gorgeous. Coupled with this it has an electronic 1.44m dot viewfinder that allows you to frame shots in bright conditions or if you simply want to go old school. Having both is great.

The 10.1 megapixel 1 inch sensor isn't the largest out their but in good light it can produce some great images that punch well above its weight. The battery is the same found in the Nikon D7000 SLR. This means that over 500 shots on one charge is more than possible. (A friend tells me that it is generally a great deal higher).

I bought it with the 10-30mm kit lens (27-80mm in 35mm equivalent). It has build in stabilisation, is well made and is pretty sharp for a kit lens. There are a few 1 series lenses but if your wish a small lens converter allows you to put other Nikon lenses on. I probably won't to this but it's nice to know I could if I wanted to.

The stand out feature is its frame rate. It can shoot at 5 frames per second with its mechanical shutter or 10 frames a second with its electronic shutter. Both of these rates are with full autofocus! I shot a balloon being burst and the images captured were great. If you are prepared to have fixed focus you can go 30 and 60 frames a second! This is quite incredible very usable. I will really use the 5 and 10 frames a second when out on my Brompton rides!

The autofocus is a hybrid type. Phase detection in good light for fast moving subjects and contrast detection when things are low light. It automatically switches between the two and the focus speed is lightening fast!

Another clever and very usable feature is something called Photo Shot Selector. At the press of the shutter the camera takes 20 photos. The camera is so quick it starts to focus on the subject before you press the shutter and takes some after you have finished pressing it. He best 5 shots are selected by the camera for your perusal.

I was able to buy a tiny infra red shutter release for £1.45 and link it to the camera. Now I can fire off the shutter from 15m away. Very useful for all those group shots.

Nikon have been very clever with this camera. They have allowed the owner to change a few settings but the camera is very minimalist, with few buttons. With the V1 it is as if Nikon want you to let the camera do the work. I find myself being like a young Luke Skywalker, turning off his computer on the Death Star run and putting my trust in the Force. I really like this aspect!

I have wanted this camera for ages but the price wasn't right. In short I love it and it will almost certainly become my main camera. I can see me taking this on every Brompton ride I go on as it is fast enough to capture just about anything. I also suspect that the V1 is going to be a camera I am gong to enjoy a great deal. First impressions have been very favourable and I hope to take it out for a good run tomorrow or Sunday.

Wednesday 28 November 2012


I was just trying to upload a photo to share on my humble blog only to be greeted with a message informing me that I had reached the set 1GB photo limit!

I don't really want to have to buy extra space, so I am not sure where to go from here? I have a Flickr account I think (or I can set one up) and post a link to any photos I have but it won't really be the same.

Perhaps I have outgrown blogger? I am fast approaching 80,000 page views. Anyone out there with any advice on what I could do would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Windy London

Yesterday in London it rained. If the afternoon and early evening it rained even more. In the early hours of this morning there was a torrential downpour with strong winds that woke even the soundest of sleepers!

Only someone crazy would venture out to Richmond Park for a quick spin. Step forward yours truly. I went quite early and had the place to myself apart from a sparse selection of dog walkers, joggers and those on road bikes. 

Leaves were everywhere and a few twigs on the road but nothing out of the ordinary. I took my S2L with me (deliberately taken due to it still being windy). I didn't take a great deal else. I didn't even bother with a camera this time - mainly due to the fact I wanted to complete one full lap without any distractions. 

Richmond Park is by no means my favourite location to cycle but it is demanding and this is the only reason I return and will keep returning. The hills are becoming less of a struggle each time I go but only having two gears to play with today made me wish I'd taken my beloved Orange Brompton. Still, I do think it has done me some good and I will need to up my game as far as training goes. 

With no official Brompton rides until mid December, I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms. That simple pleasure of venturing out, frequently to the unknown with a group of other Bromptonians is a difficult thing to explain, other than I miss it.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Brompton Theft!

It is a very sad day when someone you know gets their bike stolen on the streets of London. When it is a Brompton, fellow Bromptonians almost share the sense of loss and why?

This recently happened to a member of the Brompton Club. They had parked their Brompton with a modest cable chain and with good intentions left it there. Apparently captured on CCTV it took the disgusting, vile creature less than five minutes to make off with it. A bike that had been on many adventures. One that had been looked after and perhaps taken great deliberation to buy.

Thoughts of course turned to my own bikes. I cannot imagine how upset I'd be if one of my Brompton bikes were stolen? It is perhaps for this reason that I don't leave them anywhere locked up or unattended. If my Brompton is not welcome when I take it out and about, my patronage for such locations is removed - even when I return without my bike!

The sad truth is that people do know how expensive Brompton bikes are. A look on Gumtree will provide lots of Brompton bikes for sale, but how many are genuine? Before buying my Orange Brompton new, I did consider a second hand one. I remember ringing the buyer up and getting the vaguest of answers to my questions. Suspicions were confirmed when a friend showed me a google image search revealing the very same bike I was ringing up about, which belonged to a blogger in Japan!

I suppose what I am trying to say is be careful out there. Whatever your bike, invest in a lock to match the quality of your bike (if you have to lock it up at all). If you own a Brompton, perhaps consider my stance and take it everywhere!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Where Your Brompton is Welcome in London!

Many people have asked me about taking their Brompton folding bicycle to different London locations. One of the great things about owning a Brompton is that you can take it with you anywhere. In doing so the chances of your beloved means of transport being half inched are much lower. So where can and can't you take your folding friend?


On Oxford Street, Selfridges seems to sell just about everything and are happy for you to carry your Brompton in store. Not sure that I'd fancy doing that in the run up to Christmas but at least your won't be refused entry.


In Knightsbridge Harrods offers a left luggage service. The charge is £3 and the left luggage service is located on the Ground Floor at Door 2a, which can be found to the rear of Harrods on Basil Street.

As far a museums are concerned they are generally Brompton friendly:

British Museum

Brompton bikes aren't allowed in the cloakrooms but there is a bicycle rack just inside the main gates on your right.

Imperial War Museum 

Will almost certainly accept your Brompton (as long as it is folded) in their cloakroom.

Tate Modern

Will accept a folded Brompton in their cloakroom.

Natural History / Science Museum

They have two choices. You can use the bicycle racks outside the main entrance via Cromwell Road. They are located just beside the Security hut.

Alternatively (although pricey) you can pay £6 to leave it in their cloakroom (Natural History Museum).

National Gallery / Portrait Gallery

Unable to accommodate Brompton bikes in their cloakroom but there are three sets of City of Westminster bicycle racks, situated in Jubilee Walk, by the Orange Street Education Centre and opposite the National Gallery in St. Martins Place (next to the church of St. Martin in the Fields.

An alternative would be to use the left luggage storage lockers in Charring Cross Station. They are open from Monday to Sunday 07:00 - 23:00. The charge is £8.50 per item for the 1st 24 hours then £5.00 per item for every 24 hours thereafter. It is a great (but pricey) facility and you can find these lockers at the following stations: Euston; Kings Cross; Liverpool Street; Paddington; St Pancras; Victoria and Waterloo. You can find details of the company in the link below.

Victoria and Albert Museum

Will not accept folding bikes in their cloakroom but as it is so close to the Natural History Museum you could use the bicycle racks I have described above.


There really are too many theatres in London to comment fully on this. I would say that going to the theatre perhaps once or twice a year at different locations for the last couple of years I have not been refused my Brompton being deposited in the cloakroom (and once in the theatre security office).


With regards restaurants I have generally found that as long as you are polite and are prepared to fold and leave the bike under your table or in a location the restaurant suggests, I have yet to be refused.


Cinemas are usually a no no but to be honest I have't taken a Brompton yet to find out. Perhaps someone who has could leave a comment.

Generally I have to say that the vast majority of places I have visited on my Brompton are quite happy to accommodate. I perhaps shouldn't say this but some of the places they say they do not allow folding bikes in their cloakrooms, do. (Or at least this has been my experience).

Being polite and friendly is the key. I wouldn't however want you to give the impression that you could turn up and expect your Brompton to be accepted. My advice is, if in doubt phone the establishment in question or email them in advance and ask.

Owning a Brompton is so much better than a full sized bike! Just imagine trying to take a Specialized inside the Tate Modern! The Brompton is perhaps the ultimate personal transport that really can be taken almost anywhere.

Brompton Toolkit Update

As I posted recently I am not going to be buying the Brompton Toolkit - mainly as I just think it is rather pricey.

I got my little midget spanner in the post today and as promised here is a picture of it next to a Bic pen to give an indication of its size.

To my surprise also enclosed for free was a 10mm and 12mm version which was a bonus. The 15mm spanner weights probably less than 50 grams and easily copes with taking taking a wheel off. I had a go with it and encountered no problems.

I am very pleased with it and for £4.69 I am much happier. Being so small and light it will go with me on all journeys.

Monday 19 November 2012

Why I won't be buying the Brompton Toolkit After All

Since news of the Brompton Toolkit was released I have been eagerly awaiting its release. I have blogged about it. I have seen it in the flesh at the Brompton Factory and I have talked about its many merits to other Bromptonians. Now that its release is imminent, I won't be one of the many who will buy one.

I must state that I think the design and build quality (from what I saw at the factory) is second to none. It exudes quality and is very well engineered. I would stick my head out to say that it will probably win a raft of awards. So why won't I be in line buying one I hear to you ask?

The opportunity arose to place an order for one this week. The price £48 - which of course might be adjusted up or down. When it came to actually pressing confirm order - which was the position I was in - I could not proceed. Despite all I have said and written about the toolkit, when it came to parting company with my money I just thought it was too expensive.

At say £29.99 I would have bought it. But for me at least £45ish is too much. With my new Carradice saddle bag I carry a a few tools on even the shortest of rides and wonder if I'd really need it? With this in mind I sought an alternative. I had to look at serious car mechanic stockists and search long and hard for something suitable, but I think I found what I wanted.

I bought a Teng Tools Midget 15mm spanner for £4.69. It is less than 10cm long, weighs next to nothing and could be carried in a pocket let alone my saddle bag. The picture above is of course the 17mm version I got from the web and I will post a picture of it when it arrives. With this I could happily change a wheel and I just feel happier about paying £4.69 rather than £45+

Knowing me, in a few weeks time I might be posting pictures of the Brompton Toolkit I have bought but for the moment at least I won't be one of those placing an order for one. In many ways it is a little like the 'Brompton Oratory Jacket.' Loved it, wanted it but wouldn't pay £250 for it.

Sunday 18 November 2012

CO2 Puncture Repair in abundance!

When I saw how quick and easy it was inflating Mark W's flat tyre I was impressed and so was Mark. Both of us bought a 'Genuine Innovations' mini pump and Mark ordered come bottles of CO2 in bulk.

He offered to initially spilt his haul 2x ways, then 3 ways and then 4 x ways. This little lot of 13 CO2 bottles cost the bargain price of £6.50. I must say that I suspect this represents an almost lifetime personal supply as I have only ever suffered one puncture so far.

Of course the point of having these on a trip is that if others in your group had a flat they would be more than welcome to use up one of these bottles if it meant they got going quicker. 

Now that I know how to change wheels on my Brompton if I or one of my fellow riders suffers a puncture, I am confident that things will be sorted out pretty quickly.

Lifeventure Thermal Mug

When I was at Mick's last week, before we ventured down to his workshop he made some tea but didn't put it in a cup, he put it in one of these Lifeventure Thermal Mugs.

I must confess to forgetting about my tea for hours as I was busy learning all about the secrets of wheel changes. When I did come back to it to take a sip, I did think that it would be lukewarm at best. To my surprise I actually burnt my tongue, things were still that hot. (It also keeps things cold of course).

That was it. I wanted one as I could see the benefits of having it at work and also when out and about on my many Brompton related adventures.

I managed to get these two for £9.88 each from Wiggle - which was the cheapest price I could find. They do come in 11 different colours and apart from the matt black I was drawn to the orange version for some reason...

The lid had a another screw off compartment where presumedly you could store sugar etc. There is also a little pressure escape valve. Added to this is the fact it is made of stainless steel, totally waterproof and holds 300ml (a decent sized cup of tea or coffee) it really does have it all.

So, next time I am out on my travels one of these is coming with me!

Colour Photos from the Greenwich Loop

Here are some more photos taken with my Sony RX100 from the Greenwich Loop ride. These are all colour, unlike the ones posted yesterday and are the raw files straight out of the camera with no changes  apart from the copyright notice.

Epic On the Thames and Over the Thames Ride!

Today was the Brompton Greenwich Loop ride organised by Mark W. It would be true to say that many of us intrepid Bromptonians had been looking forward to this trip for a long time - certainly since Mark posted the original idea.

The premiss was simple. We would meet at Greenwich and cycle on a loop, viewing the Thames Flood Barrier, going over the River Thames on the free car ferry at Woolwich and going over the River Thames on an Emirates Airline cable car. You can see perhaps why I have labeled this blog, 'epic.'

The day started early and I found myself at Piccadilly Circus taking shelter in the entrance of Lillywhites as the heavens opened for a short but heavy shower. While I waited for my riding partner, iCrazyBee a gentleman started to clean the marble step I was taking sanctuary on. He asked me about my bike and soon got on to the meaty question, 'how much costs it?' I told him the rough figure of £800 which we eyed with suspicion. He then told me that in Colombia they didn't have bikes this this but he did like the colour.

Talking of colour, I took two cameras with me today. My much loved Ricoh GRD IV and my Sony RX100. The former is viewed by many as one of the best little cameras pound for pound at taking black and white photographs. I love this little powerhouse and all of the pictures in this blog are ones that I have taken with my trusty Ricoh. I will post another blog entry with the colour pictures taken from the Sony.

Piccadilly Circus - with my Orange Brompton

Soon I was greeted by iCrazyBee and we made our way to Embankment where we aimed to get the Thames Clipper all the way to Greenwich. I could have gone by tube etc.., but I thought that this would be a more fitting way to travel and the idea must have touched a chord with others as quite a few of us travelled to Greenwich in this way.

At Embankment we met up with a few other riders and after chewing the fat for a while we made our way to the gangway and waited for our launch.

Waiting for the Thames Clipper

The Thames Clipper is an excellent service. You are able to travel from Central London all the way to the O2 and there are lots of stops on the way. If you have an Oystercard, as I did the return journey from Greenwich cost £10.45. The service is regular, quick and much more interesting that a crowded and dull tube train.

The London Skyline is something I never tire of.

We left Embankment and at our first stop, The London Eye we met up other members of the group. It was great to see them and as always many tourists were curious at what these little folding bikes were all about? As we travelled along there were copious famous landmarks to see. The Houses of Parliament, St Stephens Tower, The London Eye, The Shard, St Paul's, Tower Brigde...the list went on an on.

Many of us spent more than half of the journey near the outside seating area so that we could take photographs of the many landmarks and view them that bit better. I really enjoyed the journey and will return again with my family as it was something we did when my children were quite small. I suspect they'd appreciate the view more now that they are older.

The Shard. I will be going up to the top of this in February 2013.

A close up view of the London Eye.

A hazy London from the River.

We left Embankment at 09:33 and got to Greenwich at a very prompt 10:15. Once there were saw our leader for this trip, Mark and the the other Bromptonians going waiting by the famous Cutty Sark a beautiful tall ship that was once the fastest of its kind.

Also at the meet up point there was a circular, brick build entrance to the foot tunnel that goes under the Thames. There is another at North Woolwich and I have walked along this tunnel at about 3:00 am many years ago, which was an eery experience believe me - but that is another story. The tunnel is a public highway and as such must be kept open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The foot tunnel entrance at Greenwich

Opened in 1902 its spiral staircase leads down something that has always reminded me of the television programme, 'The Prisoner' where Patrick McGoohan walked along a similar tunnel. Time constraints meant that going under the Thames was not possible but again it might be something for another time?

There were 21 riders today (I think, but I lost count). Believe me the sight of seeing so many Brompton bikes out in force was a quite a sight! As we travelled along we stopped to talk to the curious about our bikes and who we were. I even gave one couple my Orange Brompton business card. (If you are reading this by chance, do consider getting one as you'll have loads of fun).

What is the collective noun for a group of Brompton bicyles? Please post your ideas!

We made a short detour to the Royal Observatory where many of us took quite shameless photographs of our bikes with the London skyline in the distance.

Yes the first bike is my beloved Orange Brompton!

It was quite strange travelling in East London. Reminders of London's past littered our path. Trendy new riverside apartments lined the once thriving industrial wharfs. Former factories, if they managed to survive, have now been converted to riverside living - for those who can afford them. New buildings make their journey to completion. There are some of the original houses, perhaps inhabited by a select few who are old enough to remember cranes busily loading and unloading goods from all number of river craft.

The many empty pockets of land are being filled by new developments. The movement of lorries (some of which we saw) carried and taking supplies, rubble etc.., caused certain sections of the road to be very muddy. One section in particular was pretty bad and caked in mud. With my new Schwalbe Marathon Plus London Edition tyres on (which I must say were already getting too dirty for my liking) there was no way I was going to cycle through it. So, I did the only thing I could. I picked up my bike and minced (for want of a better word) through it. I did apologise for doing such a girly thing but I mean they are new tyres and I have already blogged about them!

One of the more interesting riverside abodes was a section of a boat that looking as if it were on a permanent mooring. It looked quite big and a bookshelf provided the only clue of what it might become.

Some of the scenery reminded me of that described by Charles Dickens in  'Our Mutual Friend' where the river Thames features heavily.

We past the O2 and the striking Antony Gormley, 'Quantum Cloud' sculpture. When looking at this from the correct angle you should be able to make out the figure of a person. Very clever and you can just about see it in my picture - or at least I can.

Passing the Emirates Airline created a bit of a buzz. The only time I have seen this was when I was on the top of Tower 42 and could just make it out in the distance. As I rode past I looked forward to going on it even more!

Another thing to do in London!

The O2 in the distance.

At Royal Arsenal, Woolwich we were all quite taken with the steel statues by the artist Peter Burke. A suggestion that we all park our bikes next to one of the statues was greeted with enthusiasm and we all obliged and then took lots of photos.

The Thames Flood Barrier, a marvel of engineering that has saved London from possible devastating floods was an obvious draw.

We made another crossing to the other side of the river using the free car ferry at North Woolwich. The short crossing on bikes was again a sight to behold!

On the Woolwich Ferry.

A pit stop at a cafe with the Flood Barrier in view was welcome opportunity to refuel and chew the fat. Many were keen to get going as the Emirates Skyline beckoned. When we arrived the whole process was quick and easy. Those with an Oystercard simply swiped and went through the barriers. They even said that our bikes didn't have to be folded! (We did of course fold them as it meant more people could get into one of the cable cars).

The cable car was a good size and I went on with Jon and Louise. We happily took photos (to try and keep our minds off the height) and took in a quite incredible view. The O2 looked quite small from up there and at the very top the car ground to a halt. The momentary panic that ensued this occurrence was eased when an announcement could be heard informing us that from time to time they have to stop the cars to let passengers on and off. While not moving the photo taking was pursued with vigour. Soon we were off again.

The decent down was at quite an acute angle and getting off reminded me of something from Alton Towers. Again something I will take the family on at some point as they would love it!

With this done we said goodbye to a few of our number who had to make their way home and the rest continued back to Greenwich. Once there we said our goodbyes and many of us boarded the Thames Clipper back to London.

As we rode along the Thames adjacent to the historic Royal Naval College the narrow walkway was at several points covered with water as the Thames almost told us that it didn't want us to leave. The tide looked high and water flooded on to the path. Mark and Tobias bravely cycled through. Tourists attempted to walk an almost tightrope along the edge - many unsuccessfully. I, not wanting my beloved Orange Brompton to get any dirtier, decided to stoically carry it through the oncoming torrent! As I tip toed along, a particularly violent surge of water engulfed my feet. I had little fear as my 'North Face' trainers were 'Gore-tex' and therefore waterproof. I can report that my 'North Face' trainers were not that waterproof at all! When I got home I discovered that the trainers seemed dry enough but I had absorbed all the river water in to my socks!

The return journey was busier as people were returning from the museums in Greenwich and visits to the O2, Despite this it was still a very pleasant way to travel and a great deal more enjoyable than the tube at this time on a Saturday!

London at night is stunning and Tower Bridge and The Shard were illuminated as if for me to take a picture of it. (This concept will be a preoccupation for a few weeks as I am planning a London night ride where we will cycle around taking photos of various London landmarks).

At Embankment we got off and iCrazyBee and Michael B paid a visit to a bike shop on the Embankment. There iCrazybee bought a few items and made sure that he would never be forgotten and we made our way towards Piccadilly Circus. Once I reached this location I said goodbye to iCrazyBee and Michael and we went our separate ways.

Today was great. A very big thank you to Mark for thinking of this route and for organising it. I wager that we may do this route again at some point - it was that good.

As always thoughts turn to what next? I have said before that riding a Brompton in a group like this is mildly addictive and many of us look for our next fix. I don't know what this will be, however I am sure that some of us will have an unofficial sojourn sometime soon.

So, if you have a Brompton what did you do this weekend. As always if you like the sound of what I got up to, no matter where you live you could be doing something similar. Start up a local group and you never know before long you could be riding somewhere with a group of like minded individuals!