Friday 31 May 2019

The end of the line for the Brompton P-Type!

The news is out there that Brompton will be discontinuing production of the P-Type handlebar. I have to confess a little sadness at this news that I knew was coming.

Offered first in 2005 the last of the P-Type bicycles have already been produced and no more will be. The P-Type handlebar was quite unique in many ways. It was a bit love it or hate it however there were quite a number of P-Type devotees all across the world. Judging by the emails I received when I owned a P-Type there was a massive following in the Far East.

I bought mine back in 2014, selling it - I think - last year and while I had it, I enjoyed it a great deal. When I bought its replacement I opted not to get a P-Type and my new Flame Lacquer isn't either. I suppose I wanted something different.

When I look at the photos above I do think back to all the adventures I went on. Perhaps the last photo by the seaside is the abiding memory of this bike - lots of riding through the night to arrive at a seaside resort the following morning.

Bicycles come and go. My new Brompton bikes are very much objects of joy and already providing loyal service. It is a shame that the P-Type is going but things move on. I wonder if Brompton will replace it with something else...something different? If you like the P-Type now might be the time to get out there and buy one! For me, I will recall all the adventures and the bike but pedalling forward I am keen to see where my new Brompton bicycles take me.

Thursday 30 May 2019

Frost + Sekers Brompton Quicklock Mount

I heard of Frost + Sekers some time ago and really liked their 'Otis' saddlebag when I spied it on another bicycle. Seeing some photos of a Brompton using their special mount to carry this saddlebag I posted a comment on their Instagram feed saying to consider me if they were ever interested in me doing a review. They kindly said that this would be fine and sent me one of their 'Quicklock' mounts specific to a Brompton. It is worth pointing out they were keen for me to carry out an honest review and provide feedback on whether the instructions were easy to follow, what fitting of the mount was like and what I thought of it overall.

The mount is packed in a fairly small box that has a few details of what the mount looks like and how it works.

Inside you get:

  • The mount handle 
  • Rail to go on the Brompton Pentaclip - also where the handle goes into with saddlebag attached
  • New Pentaclip bolt and plates to fix the rail in place

Also included is an A4 sheet of instructions that are very easy to follow. If you get truly stuck there is even a QR code which takes you to a YouTube video telling you how to fit it. Most probably wouldn't need this but it is worthwhile having a look.

Pentaclip with the Frost +Sekers plates and screw

The Quicklock rails can be moved forwards and backwards horizontally and allow you to position saddlebags of different size or have the bag positioned to your taste.

Once in place the the handle simply clicks in and out. It is very easy to do and takes no effort at all. It is something that you can do very easily with one hand and there are no latches to push in or lift up. Very clever.

Another use I found for it is that the handle makes wheeling the Brompton along on its eazy wheels quite easy. I found this when an over zealous member of TLF staff insisted I fold my Brompton at London Bridge!

I must confess that the ease in which you can click in and out made me wonder if it would do the same on its own when riding. I cycled with a fully packed Carradice Super C Audax saddlebag over the many cobbled sections of east London as well as an off-road section when cycling to and from Box Hill and all was secure. It's a brilliant deign. I also think that the materials chosen - especially the wooden handle complement my Brooks saddle, your saddlebag and the Brompton itself.

Any of my Carradice sadldlebags work with the handle. It is just a case of threading though the leather straps onto the Frost + Sekers handle rather than the mounts/rail on your saddle.

If anything as far as the Brompton is concerned it allows the saddlebag to sit in a much better position. I didn't need to use the strap fastening the saddlebag to the seat post but this is easy to attached if desired.

So why buy it? For me there are times when I use my Brompton for all sorts of adventures. This can involve leaving my bike chained up on a luggage rack on a train with me sitting some way off. With this mount I can very quickly and easily detach the bag and take it with me. At the other end there is is no fiddling around with straps etc.., I can just clip in an go. This alone makes it worthwhile having.

Good Points

  • Lightweight - you really won't notice it is there
  • Easy to fit with good instructions
  • Quality - this is a buy once product and build to last
  • The clip in, clip out is done with almost no effort whatsoever
  • Once clipped in it is very secure
  • It is fully adjustable 
  • Very convenient and quick to use

Not so good

Not a great deal that I can see apart from the price.

The mount will set you back £80 on its own. For me I would't buy the mount on its own (unless I wanted to use it on more than one bicycle). The way I would go would be to buy the 15 litre capacity Otis saddlebag and Quicklock mount together for £176. (I haven't used the Otis bag and only seen it on a bike however I am going to check them out in the black version)!

Many thanks to Frost + Sekers for making this happen. Thinking about the Dunwich Dynamo in July and the coach trip back to London, I think that having this system on my Brompton will work really well. I will be able to put everything in the saddlebag and be in a position to quickly take it with me.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Visiting 'Compton Cycles' for Brompton checkup

'Compton Cycles' 23-25 Catford Hill in London is a little bit of hallowed turf in hardened Bromptonian circles. The reason is quite simple. It is quite possibly the best bike shop in London. With my Flame Lacquer needing its 100 mile check-up, there was only one place I wanted to take my new steed.

Compton Cycles are a great little bike shop. I bought my Titanium Orange Brompton from there and more recently my Surly Disc Trucker (which I love and actually like a great deal more than my Condor road bike and that it saying something believe me). They also sorted out my DIY disaster on the stem of my Orange Special Edition! I think every other Brompton cyclist I know has had some association with Compton Cycles whether that be buying one from them, having it serviced or getting some kind of customisation carried out.

I didn't actually buy my new Brompton from them but owner and gentleman among men Jim said it would be okay. Setting off early I ended up at London Bridge station, got on a train and off at Maze Hill.

As I rolled up outside the shop I saw the former owner Chris who despite being retired was keeping his hand in and providing his ever expert advice to a German couple looking at a Brompton Electric. Handing my bike to Jim he took it in and gave it the once over.

As Jim got to work I eyed some of the many offerings on offer at Compton Cycles. There were a few in Flame Lacquer, the new '75' (which will be reviewed at some point by fellow Brompton rider Simon at some point) and a rather sparkly purple.

When Jim handed it back there were no issues. Saying my goodbyes I headed back to central London with the bike feeling good, especially the brakes.

I decided to cycle back to central London rather than take the train at nearby Catford Bridge. Putting Aldgate into my Wahoo, the route came up and I was off. It was about seven and a half miles and they went by pretty quickly. As I crossed the Thames and neared the City I recoiled in horror as memories of working there very briefly in a financial institution flashed across my mind. I peddled a little harder glad in the freedom my new little folding bike afforded me.

Not my local bike shop by any means but I am more than happy to travel that little extra for the always friendly welcome and somewhere you can trust.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Brompton London to Whitstable...Coming Soon!

In less than two weeks time Mark (King of the Hill) will be leading his Brompton day ride to Whitstable. This has been favourite ride for many a London Brompton owner with the first being back in 2013!

I have posted links to the three rides I attended from 2012 through to 2015 as you will see if you have the time to read them, indicate that this event has been eventful to say the least!

Hopefully a few of us will start early at Trafalgar Square, cycling to Otford where we will meet the main group. In total it will be 80 miles.

Along with a near mountain-like hill I suspect it will provide much to dine out on for weeks to come. Watch this space!

Links to the previous years blog posts about this route:




Monday 27 May 2019

Brompton ride with an old friend

Today is a Bank Holiday here in the UK which means that if you are out and about early enough you pretty much have central London to yourself. I knew that I could slot in a couple of hours of cycling, so I invited my Partner in Crime Andrew. Luckily he could make it so we arranged to meet at the London Eye at 08:00.

A missed tube train resulted in me being fashionably late by about ten minutes. Once at the Eye the ever welcome sight of my Partner in Crime came into view.

We set off and chatted away about all sorts. My riding partner seemed happy and was more bak to himself that our last ride out which is a great thing. We also fell into the usual routine of trying to find an iconic landmark, place our Brompton bicycles in front of said landmark and then take lots of photographs of our Brompton bikes where the subject (our Brompton bike) takes on much more importance that the iconic landmark!

At one point in the ride I spotted a couple of little, white, fluffy and fancy dogs - you know the type. One of them regarded me with great suspicion - they say dogs sense fear. As I cycled past, it bared its little teeth at me. As its owner shouted out 'Belle' to beckon it back to her side, it occurred to me that you could give little Belle any name you like. 'Belle' would I wager quite happily sink her copious little teeth into the fleshy part of my leg!

Just before Greenwich we spotted a cruise ship. It wasn't one of the ones the size of a battleship but it was rather strange to see it moored where it was.

We walked the bikes through the foot tunnel at Greenwich and headed onwards towards the O2. It was our intention to cross the river Thames using the Emirates Skyline to get a a snack at a cafe near the Thames Flood Barrier. We chanced upon the Emirates Cafe / Shop and decided to get a suitable snack there.

With our snack eaten we made our way to North Greenwich station not too far away. Andrew was to get off at Green Park and I a few stops later.

It was great to see my riding partner out and about again and I am sure that it won't be too long until we do it all over again.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Brompton London to Maldon night ride

Last Friday night I took part in another night ride to the coast, this time to Maldon. This location was a first last year and I enjoyed it greatly. It was sensibly back again but this years ride would be very different for yours truly.

I had been looking forward to the ride during preceding week and had got both of my Brompton bikes ready, so that I could choose whichever one I wanted to on the day. With the weather looking very favourable I opted for my new Flame Lacquer after I had investigated the possible weather scenarios very carefully indeed - sticking my head out of the front door five minutes before I had to leave.

Starting from my base in SW7 it was a lovely mild night and knowing I was too early decided to take the scenic route. Pressing start on my Wahoo Bolt I set off. At the traffic lights near Buckingham Palace I couple - worse for wear - enquired about my Brompton. They told me that they loved it. They then told me that they loved London. They then told me that they loved me and had the lights not turned green I feel that several well intentioned hugs might have been forthcoming!

I arrived at the start location just after 23:30. Our ride leader and gentleman among men, Nick ticked my name off and told me that as I was doing a job I would need to stand up on the steps when he went through the safety briefing. I had been raised through the ranks! At some point in the early hours of a previous night ride to the coast, Nick had asked whether I would be able to act as the person who rides with him at the front and under his instruction arrange for junctions and what have you to be marked by willing volunteers. I said yes. I was very grateful that Nick had faith in me.

After the safety briefing we were off at the stroke of midnight. I was on Nick's rear wheel for the entire ride and the experience of riding solely at the front was very different to being a participant riding wherever you fancied. There seemed to be no waiting around and we just keep moving. I liked it.

We stopped every so often and at one location near a pub a Russian lady came over to enquire about what we were doing and where we were going. She was very interested and telling her where she could look up the group she said that it was definately the sort of thing she'd like to try. Another new recruit hopefully?

My first junction soon arrived and I politely asked for a participant behind me to mark it. They did and we moved on. Nick gave instructions on what he'd like and I made it my business to make sure it was carried out. It worked very well. As I had been provided with the route beforehand, on my Wahoo Bolt I could see junctions coming up and arranged for several of them to me marked without Nick having to ask. I enjoyed doing it. For a few junctions I could not get 'I've got the power' by Snap out of my head!

At Waltham, seeing one of Queen Eleanor's crosses I remembered a previous ride to Cambridge. The Eleanor Crosses were a collection of twelve monuments marking the resting place of her body as it moved along the route from Lincoln to London. Built between 1291 and 1294 the one most Londoners know well to look at, is the one that stands just outside Charring Cross railway station.

There were a few familiar faces in the ride. On Brompton bikes were Jenny, Simon and Chris. On big wheels - as he would be cycling home afterwards - was Mark. Another participant had the same make of bicycle as Mark but in a rather fetching orange, so a photo had to be taken.

A couple of hours in to the ride we more or less left the urban behind. On this ride I saw a deer, foxes, badger and rat all run across our path. In addition to this there was the faint outline of the odd bat or two flying around in total and almost unearthly silence.

At about 40 miles in and at roughly 04:00 in the a.m. we reached 'TheVillage Tearoom' at Hatfield Heath. For £6 you could get a hot drink, sandwich and particularly fine flapjack. As space was tight, when I had finished I took my Brompton outside to let anyone who wanted to take my place.

I also wanted to acclimatise to the outside conditions. I felt cold and felt compelled to put on an ultra-light jacket. This stayed on until a few miles later when I had sufficiently warmed up.

We all set off again at about 05:00 with the sun well and truly risen. The views were stunning and at one point a rainbow arched its way across the sky. I didn't stop to take a photo as I normally would but it is such moments that make rides like this so addictive.

Throughout the night Mark would join me at the front for a chat, only for us to get to a junction and me ask him to act as way marker. Despite this we talked about another cycling adventure in the not too distant future.

It was a really mild night and as we got closer to Maldon the sun started to shine a little. Spots of rain fell occasionally but it didn't amount to anything. I was glad of this as I didn't really want too much of the wet stuff to fall on my new Brompton. My new Brompton rode really well and I enjoyed using it a great deal. The front O-bag and no saddlebag felt a little strange at first as I normally use the latter. By the end of the ride I liked this setup a great deal. This bike has now done well over 100 miles so I will need to book it in somewhere for its initial service.

The last few miles to the Jolly Sailor pub in Maldon went quickly and at just after 08:00 we had done it. With no station at Maldon I would need to cycle another 7 and a bit miles to Witham that did have one. I decided - as I often do - to forgo breakfast and head back home. Saying goodbye to Nick, Mark, Chris and Jenny and a few of the other participants I headed off.

The journey to Witham station was picturesque and quiet, along country lanes. I arrived at the station in very good time - despite taking a leisurely pace - I arrived at Liverpool Street just after 09:30 and home just after 10:00.

This was a lovely ride! A really great route and well organised by Nick. Many thanks to him for having faith in me and to the many willing participants who kindly agreed to mark various junctions. Also thanks to Ross, Greg and Tim at the rear. It was great that there were lots of first time riders and hopefully they will come back for more.

The route was shy of 66 miles but in total I cycled just under 86 miles. Had I know I was close to the magic 100 miles I might have cycled just a little more. Until the next adventure...

Monday 20 May 2019

See.Sense Ace Rear Light on a Brompton

A few months ago I saw an advert for the 'See.Sense Ace' rear light which you could get for £24.99 rather than the usual £44.99 official retail price. At that price I thought that I would give it a go.

The Ace was a bike light originally started as a Kickstarter. It arrived very quickly and opening the packet my first thought about the Ace rear light was how small and lightweight it was. Looking at the specifications it is a mere 35 grams.

As part of the pack you get:

  • The Ace rear light of course
  • 1 x Ace mount and insert
  • 1 x aero mount (nit really of any use to me)
  • 1 x bag mount (very useful indeed)
  • 4 x straps of varying size
  • 1 x micro USB cable

Plugging the light into charge didn't take long and in about two hours or so I have a full charge. The light can be operated by the button on the front but where it comes into its own is the additional functions to be had via the app.

The app has worked really well with my iPhone and there have been no issues connecting it to the light. With the app you can power the light on and off and control the different modes. You can choose between having the light on constant, flash, twin flash, burst, pulse and Eco mode. They are all pretty useful but for me the best feature is the ability too dial down the brightness for the obvious but also to increase burn times.

 Another option that can be turned on / off is the brake mode. With this on, when you get to a point where you come to a stop - traffic lights, junctions, roundabouts - the Ace increases its brightness automatically. Again this works very well.

Other options include the ability to send crash alerts to a designated contact or you receiving an alert shock you bike be moved.

The light pumps out 125 lumens at it maximum setting and provides 200 degrees of side visibility and is IP67 rated for its waterproofing.

The mounts are small and discrete and work well. I like the bag mount in particular. The lightweight clip is strong and there is little chance of it coming loose from a saddlebag, jacket or jersey. The seat post mount, attached via two rubber straps works well, holding the light very securely.

I have used the light on a couple of all night rides and had plenty of juice left on the light when I am back in London in daylight. Dialled down it is still an excellent rear light after 7 - 8 hours of constant use but can then be put to the maximum brightness setting for daytime use so that it can still be seen.

For £24.99 it was a bargain but you can get one for about £33 from a few shops. It is a great little light and I am really glad that I bought it.