Sunday 30 May 2021

The best overnight Brompton ride to the coast so far for 2021

After a very bust few days at work I had been looking forward to the night ride to the coast I had planned with with Dr John a few weeks ago. We had intended to choose Whitstable as our destination but with the Bank Holiday timetable being slightly disrupted making the return leg for Dr John problematic, we opted for our joint favourite Brighton. 

I cycled part of the way and encountered very few other cyclists in Hyde Park and The Mall. The start point was not too long before midnight near the London Eye. The South Bank was busier than it had been the past few weeks but still nowhere near as busy as before the 'C' word. It was good however to see some normality return. Dr John was there waiting when I arrived and not too long thereafter we were off into the night. 

Our pace was conversational but the few miles between Oval and Clapham South we always take a little quicker as it tends to be a more lively location. We made the left turn at Cathless Road but for once there was no fox to be seem stealing across the road in front of us. 

We reached Farthing Downs and the infamous cattle grid! Infamous as on the small wheels of a Brompton it is a big deal riding over it!! After taking a few customary photos and having a snack we headed off. At this point our respective dynamo lights were beefed up with our larger offerings on our handlebars, as this point becomes more rural. 

At a location called Chaldon the sign that mentioned the date 1086 caught my eye. I do not know for certain but I would imagine this dates from the Domesday Book on the same year where it must get a mention. 

Not too long after 2 a.m. we arrived at Outwood Mill, having been looking out for it. This time we walked round to the side to get a better view. This is a privately owed and a sign reads 'viewing by appointment.' I fancy it would be well worth doing just that. When I looked at the photo I had just taken the reddish hue to the sky took me back to the story of the workers putting the finished touches to the top of the mill, who could see the glow of the Great Fire of London in 1666. 

Our halfway stop was the usual 24-hour petrol station that had the bonus of a hot drinks machine! Once we had eaten our various snacks, yet again I started to feel a little chilly so on it was with the boil in the bag light waterproof jacket. This stayed on for a few miles before coming off again. 

Turners Hill - once a challenge came and went and now serves as a way of warming us up. Dr John usually calculates what the temperature will be there at 03:00 to help decide what clothing to wear. 

Dawn arrived not too long after 04:00 with birds stating to sing their hearts out. In some of the fields in the photo below we spotted some Red Deer running. They settled but as soon as they saw me - trying my best to take a photo - they bolted. A lovey sight though.

For this ride I had decided to abandon my saddle bag in favour of my Mini O bag. I liked having the extra capacity and didn't mind the weight being on the front. 

Pressing on and with the sun doing its thing, the scenes before us were stunning. On our previous rides this year we have missed these views altogether as sunrise has been much later. It was great to see and experience it and one of the draws for this sort of ride. 

With the sign pointing for Ditchling we knew that the big test, in the form of Ditchling Beacon, was not too far away. The lovely scenery made for some great backdrops (for my Brompton) so I snapped away quite happily. 

Arriving at the car park at the base of the Beacon we got ourselves ready. Our ascent would not break any King of the Mountain times on Strava (not that I am on Strava) but that really wasn't the point. We made our ascent together and as we rode up, to our left the views in-between the trees and hedges were stunning. 

Before 06:00 we had made it and welcomed the next few miles into Brighton, most of which were downhill. 

At Brighton I took a photo of the Pier and we headed off to the station. Our train should have taken us to St Pancras but instead stopped at London Bridge. Punching a route to Baker Street into the Wahoo we headed off to the Wetherspoons for breakfast. 

Breakfast arrived quickly and eaten as rapidly. That done we went our separate ways until next time. Another great adventure. Many thanks to Dr John for his company and friendship. I am sure that we will do something like this again soon. 

I got home in very good time and after a shower and cup of tea I headed off for a few hours sleep. As I type this I feel fine but my legs are telling me that I have cycled from London to Brighton. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Brompton wall display

You might have been to one of those old fashioned hotels or stately homes where somewhere a wall is adorned with one of those awful displays of some poor creature that has been shot, stuffed and mounted. Know the sort of thing I mean? Well, I am thinking of an old favourite that I have seen several times, a Brompton version. 

I was having a clean out and discovered an unused original Brompton saddle and a set of handlebars. These items are all you need for that shot, stuffed and mounted look, without some unfortunate creature suffering. 

With the saddle facing downwards, all one has to do is to position the handlebars through, fasten it all together and then fix it to a suitable wall. I am going to put mine in my study/office at home. For mine I am going to get some wood - probably oak - and fashion some sort of plinth for the saddle to be mounted to. I have seen this done before (I think they even had one at the Brompton factory if memory serves me) and always thought that I would like one.  

When I get it done I will let you know and post a photo or two. If you have already done this, please let me know and sent a photo or two.

Stay safe out there people!!

Monday 24 May 2021

Brompton bike in stock, out of stock!

I do feel sad for the poor people that want a Brompton, have been waiting for one, see one in stock only for it to sell out on seconds. It seems to be a thing at the moment. 

Over the weekend the Brompton website, according to a loyal reader, had a few in stock but they went almost immediately. Another reader has highlighted the other bitter pill many of you out there are having to swallow. You order a Brompton from your bike shop, told they have a delivery in a few weeks, only to be told it isn't happening. 

I cannot really offer any pearls of wisdom, other than try and be patient and hope that when things get better with the 'C' word situation, the availability of Brompton bikes might improve. If you want a bicycle now - especially as better weather is surely on its way - you might have to compromise and get something different to tide you over. I would however say that you don't forget the idea of buying a Brompton. Once you have one, all frustrations of waiting will disappear. 

Stay safe out there people!!

Sunday 23 May 2021

New Brooks Ergonomic Rubber Grips

I had a voucher expiring from a well know bike shop and didn't really see anything I wanted but did see that they stocked the new Brooks Ergonomic Rubber Grips. As you cannot get these directly from Brooks as they are still temporarily suspending all new orders from the UK, I took the plunge. 

These grips are nothing that new and reminded me of the many grips I have had over the years by Ergon. However, they do seem to be a great deal lighter, a little more compact and the rubber is both forgiving and grippy. They remind me of the material on my Brooks C19 - which isn't a bad thing.

Fitting them is easy enough and the aluminium clamp is very secure. The Brooks end plugs are better than the others I have had and also made from aluminium. The overall vibe is fairly understated. 

In use I have found them to be very good and having large hands I have had little issue in finding a very comfortable sweet spot to rest my hands. The rubber does help to dampen vibrations, more-so than the leather versions I have. The best bit is the price. They retail for £40 but shop around and you can get them for a little less. I have them currently on my Titanium Orange Brompton and they look pretty much at home. I am sure that they will make things that bit more comfortable. 

Stay safe out there people. 

Saturday 22 May 2021

Probably for the best I couldn't make the ride yesterday!

All week I was looking forward to the night ride to Maldon - which isn't quite to the coast but we won't get hung up on that. Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances, there was no way I could attend and I had to send my apologies.

The rain that was forecast - and believe me fell - did not bother me and I had a main waterproof and secondary jacket ready and waiting. It appears that on the ride there were at least 3x punctures to deal with, one of which took a greta deal of time. A pothole caused a bit of a tumble for at least one poor rider (they are okay) and the entire group sadly abandoned the ride at the halfway point which was just 39 miles in. 

I am sure that participants still enjoyed the ride and will dine out on the experience for days if not weeks to come. As for me, I do feel more than a little deprived and was not pleased at missing the ride - even if it was cut short. 

Fingers crossed I will be on a night ride to the coast this Friday coming and the weather forecast - if you pay attention to such things - is predicting much more favourable cycling conditions. So, after I have pressed 'publish' I am going to get my Titanium Orange Brompton on the stand and give it a good clean in preparation. 

Stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Orange Brompton in wet weather!

If you have read my blog for a while, you will know that rainy weather does not bother me a jot. I take the view that it shouldn’t stop what you were intending to do. There is however a slight exception…my Brompton bikes!

This Friday I will be going on an overnight adventure that will see me cycle about 65 miles. I am looking forward to it and considering what rain jacket to take. I don’t really care about me getting wet at all and refer you to the above. I do however, hate getting my Brompton bikes wet and dirty. 

It has taken several years to condition myself to the fact that they might and I am just about okay with it -just about!

The route will feature some mild off-road sections and I know that I will probably curse my way through until I reach the other side. 

In the past, there have been times when the rain has been howling down and the conversation from fellow riders is understandably nonexistent, where I speculate as to what Sir Ernest Shackleton or Sir Wilfred Thesiger would make of me cursing the rain, the mud and the general wetness, simply because my beloved Brompton is getting dirty?!

I’ll let you know how I get on! Stay safe out there people  

Monday 17 May 2021

What I take with me on an overnight Brompton adventure

A few of you out there have asked what I take with me on an overnight Brompton adventure, so I thought I thought I would let you know what works for me.

The first thing to highlight is that what works for me might not for you or others who do the same. What I take now is a far cry from what I did when I first started out on these!


One of the most important pieces of equipment are lights. Even though I have a good dynamo setup, I personally beef this up. At the front I have an Exposure Toro. I have had this for a few years now and it has yet to let me down. It can pump out possibly 600 - 700 lumens for over 9 hours. It is more than you really need but at 02:00 in the a.m. on a country lane in the middle of nowhere and an absence of any street lighting, it definitely comes in handy! (I have been know to also take a meaty Lezyne Mega Drive 1800i front light and it is almost a match for the Exposure Toro and in some ways better).

On the rear I use a small SeeSense rear light, the power of which can be dialled down via a phone app to make the battery go further. It is a great little light and when I get back to London, it has enough power left to turn it up to the full daytime, flash setting.

What to wear

Some people take lots of items of clothing for all eventualities. I simply have a quick glance at the weather forecast and then ignore it, preferring to stick my head out of the front door to see what I think. 

Colder weather - bib tights, baggy shorts over that, merino base layer, cycling jacket, Proviz gilet and lightweight boil in the bag waterproof, gloves, just in case. 

Warmer weather - bib shorts, baggy shorts over that, merino cycling jersey, Proviz gilet (light version) if chilly, boil in the bag waterproof just in case and gloves.


Normally, one water bottle and a couple of peanut bars. If I know that there won't be anywhere to buy a snack I will take some sort of sandwich. 


In addition to a Brompton Toolkit sitting in the frame, everything I need is usually carried in a small zipped pouch that includes:

  • 2x inner tubes
  • Tyre boot
  • Titanium 15mm/10, spanner
  • Spare chain CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHY!!!!
  • 2x CO2 cartridges and valve connector
  • Rubber gloves
  • Small Park Tool multitool 

I have found that I don't really need a huge amount more.


I always take my iPhone with me which in addition to being a phone, acts as my camera. I usually take a small portable charger and connecting wires just in case. This also gives a boost to my Wahoo if it ever needs it. 


The Wahoo goes with me everywhere and for me at least as been the device that I have finally got on with enough to navigate with. I have had lots of different one by Garmin but for me they just weren't as good. 


I don't really carry a huge amount of cash with me on these rides but I do carry a hole in the wall card. I also cary a small, fountain pen...just in case! I carry most of this in a Carradice Zipped Roll saddlebag but I have been know to also take my Mini O Bag. Unless I really needed to carry lots, one of my many Brompton front bags would stay at home. 

That is just about it. As I said, this works for me and I will be making sure that I have all of these items for Friday, as there is another night ride. I am looking forward to it already!

Stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Top ten Brompton rider types. Which are you?

There are lots of reasons why people buy a Brompton bicycle and the type of person who buys one produces an equally long list. Over the years I have encountered many types of Brompton rider and by the end of this blog post, I ask you to consider the question...which type are you?

#1. The commuter.

The sort of person in this category buys a Brompton purely and simply as personal transport. It lessons the journey to the station and to their place of work. They can, in good weather, decide to cycle all the way there and back again but that is as far as they go. At other times, their Brompton is folded and stored away.

#2. The spatially challenged. 

For this rider, the fact a Brompton takes up little space is the number one reason for buying a Brompton. They might have a small flat, room or one of those people who have a caravan and buy a Brompton in case they need to explore - or nip to the camp site shops for a pint of milk. 

#3. The controlled extrovert.

This person buys a Brompton as they know that even in a city where there are literally thousands of them, they will still stand out, and by nature of those little wheels, garner some attention. They may even match the colour of their outfit to that of their Brompton. I have to say that I know this sort of rider rather well. 

#4. The hipster 

But a step away from #3. the poser buys a Brompton as it is the hip thing and the accessory those on trend must have. There will be no lycra or cycling specific clothing for this rider. They will wear their finest as they cycle around the fashionable parts of the city they live in. They be easily spotted as they sip a latte, the coffee beans of which have moments before just arrived from South America, outside an independent coffee establishment, using an iPad, fountain pen and leather bound notebook. 

#5. The engineer.

This person buys a Brompton as it is a bike with some engineering and design prowess. They appreciated the design, how it folds and  how each component part works in unison.

#6. The racer.

This rider may well have a road bike or not at all, but they take great pleasure in taking as many scalps of roadies (or any other cyclist) as they can.

#7. The adventurer.

You will find this Brompton user taking their bike on quite long distances. Rides to the coast, the Dunwich Dynamo, the odd audax and sportives that are normally the preserve of bigger wheeled bicycles.

#8. The day tripper. 

Perhaps a shorter distance Brompton user than #7 this rider takes their Brompton out and about exploring their local area and beyond. Usually part of this ride involves some sort of refreshment stop.

#9. The club rider.

There is a whole ecosystem build around the Brompton. It seems that wherever there are Brompton riders, there are Brompton clubs. This rider loves cycling with other Brompton users and the more the merrier! Ain addition, taking photos is VERY important! 

#10. The multitasker 

This rider dips their toes into some of the above as and when it suits them. Commuter by day, adventurer and club rider at the weekend. 

So, which number fits you the best? Do you know anyone who fits the bill for a particular number? Let me know in the comments. 

Stay safe out there people!!

Monday 10 May 2021

New chain and sprockets for my Orange, Black Special Edition

Once the worst of the winter/Spring is over (here in London it does seem that even thought we have entered the month of May, winter/spring has yet to release its grip) I replace the chain and sprockets on my Brompton bikes. 

I already did this for my Titanium Orange Brompton a few weeks ago and it was the turn recently of my Orange, Black Special Edition. This a very easy and quick job for me now but I do remember when I first got my Brompton I did not know how to take a wheel off, let alone repair a puncture. Thankfully, I am now able to carry out most servicing on my beloved bikes myself. 

Having given my bike a test run afterwards, all was good and the bike felt that bit better. It is now match fit for a few adventures that are starting to appear out of the long shadow cast by the dreaded 'C' word. 

The more eagle eyed amongst you will remember that the posh mug you see below was one I 'acquired' from visiting a friend during lockdown. They kindly offered me a cup of tea while I stood on the path to their house. Later that Christmas, a few boxes of these were given as presents by the same friend. Who says crime doesn't pay!

Stay safe out there people!! 

Saturday 8 May 2021

Rain and more rain in London on my Orange Brompton ride.

I haven't used my Orange, Black Special Edition Brompton too much recently, as the Titanium Orange has occupied centre stage. It was quite lovely taking it out for a spin early this morning. 

Hyde Park was all but empty, with only a few joggers and dog walkers to keep me company. Strangely, I didn't see any fellow cyclists as I went through?

It was raining when I set off and it continued to do so as I cycled along. I had a new bag with me on the front carrier block - the Metro Waterproof Large in Black. This really is an excellent bag and I can attest to its waterproofing prowess. I should really do a review of it at some point - along with a few other bags I have recently acquired. 

When I reached Oxford Street, I could see that there were a few people dutifully queuing outside a few shops, waiting for opening. At this point the heavens truly opened and I felty compelled to take sanctuary inside Bond Street tube station. I was joined by lots of people with the same idea. When the heavy stuff subsided to a light trickle, I headed out again. 

Rain has never bothered me. If you have read my efforts for a while, you will already know that I get this from my late mum. If it were raining, it was all but guaranteed that she would be out and about, with my dad in tow, in SW7 and beyond. She took the view that rain should definitely not stop play! As long as you were prepared, by carrying a good umbrella and wearing a decent coat, you would be okay. So, with the rain lightly falling and with both of them in mind, I enjoyed a slice of cake and cup of tea standing outside a pretty fine eatery that they frequented on such days, Brompton parked next to me. 

Stay safe out there people. 

Friday 7 May 2021

Plenty of Brompton bicycles available - if you want a Brompton Electric

Lots of people have emailed me about not only when the Brompton bike builder will be back but when they can actually buy a Brompton? Well, you know as much as I do.

It seems that the only Brompton bicycles out there at the moment seem to be Brompton Electric versions and for many, this is not what they want to buy. In a recent article in the Financial Times the MD of Brompton has warned of extra costs due in part to extra costs from aluminium shortages, the higher cost of steel and increased shipping costs and Brexit. Perhaps this - the the huge demand - is a factor in the shortages?

I do think that Brompton need to do something to get more bikes out there as I know of 3x people who, fed up waiting, waiting lists and the scrabble for a new Brompton that a shop may or may not have, is all a bridge too far. Two have bought bikes by Dahon and one has bought a Birdy. They do not regret their choices and I doubt they will knock on the door of Brompton anytime soon - if at all. 

You can have the best product in the world (and let's face it, as far as folding bikes go, it is the Brompton) but if you can't buy it within a reasonable timescale, you will probably walk and go elsewhere. I just hope Brompton can do something about this and the increasing cost of a Brompton.

Stay safe out there people. 

Folding Brompton makes me buy similar items

Steel yourselves for this next statement. In fact, should you find yourself affected by the sentence to come, you may need to seek professional help. Are you ready? Here goes. I have a life outside of all things Brompton. Yes, I know that this may have shocked some of you but please read on.

As we all know, the Brompton is a wonderful space saving bicycle that can fold and fit into spaces that full sized versions cannot. Perhaps without even knowing it, I have carried on this theme for other areas.

The first is what I write with. I exclusively use fountain pens and as I have large hands, my pens tend to be the larger, oversize versions (that are sadly the most expensive too). One pen however I take with me everywhere is a small pocket pen by the Japanese manufacturer, Pilot. Their 'Elite 95s' is very small when the cap is on but becomes a very useable full sized pen when you need it to. I have several of these pens and if I find a good price for one and can get one (they are not easy to find in the UK) I pounce on them. The folding, compact theme of the Brompton is there.

The second is walk in the country - or for an urban creature like me, the London Wetlands Centre or walks along the river Thames. In such locations I usually see lots of wildlife and to get a better view I often use a monocular rather than lug around a pair of binoculars. The one I have has great lenses, is light in weight and easily carried. It comes with me when I am on walks with Mrs Orange and the Orangettes or when I am heading out east along the river Thames. 

The binoculars are great but I use the monocular more often

Smaller and more compact

Finally, there is the camera I use. Of late I have left the bigger camera at home in favour of my iPhone 11. It takes great photos - especially in low light - and being able to shoot 4K video at 60 frames a second is just a bonus. 

Do any of you out there go for the portable and often smaller version too?

Stay safe out there people!!

I think these two photos speak for themselves.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

What bike shop do I take my Brompton bikes to and why?

I have been asked this quite a few times recently. so I though that I would give a shout out to the only two have ever really used. 

The first is Compton Cycles over in southeast London. Owner, Jim is a true gentleman and in addition to using them for repairs, a Brompton service and actually buying a Brompton from them (way back in 2013) if I were to buy a Brompton from a bricks and mortar shop it would Compton Cycles. Actually there is one more.

Over in Chobham, in Surrey is Brilliant Bikes. They started out as an online parts business - and to this day is THE best location to buy anything Brompton spares. They are just...brilliant! It is likely you might encounter Mike, who is very much in the same mould as Jim over at Compton Cycles. 

Brilliant Bikes also have a YouTube presence and a search for Brilliant Bikes will reveal lots of reviews, helpful tip/tricks and many highly entertaining. 

Just in case you are wondering, I have not been paid or get a discount from Compton Cycles or Brilliant Bikes (mores the pity) and I write this as a happy customer. (In fact I know lots and lots of equally happy customers from the Brompton fraternity).

Stay safe out there people!

Monday 3 May 2021

Neglecting big wheels in favour of my Brompton bikes

I own two big wheeled bikes. One is a Condor Fratello and the other is a go anywhere, Surly Disc Trucker. While I do like both of these, they haven't really got a look in...I cannot actually remember when. This is all to do with owning two Brompton bikes. 

When I first got my big wheeled bikes I really did enjoy them and if honest it was a case of the new toy in the toy box. Once the novelty wore off, I found myself on one of my big wheeled bikes wishing I had of taken a Brompton instead. That feeling didn't and hasn't gone away. I now find myself not even things a second thought and the only decision I make, it what Brompton do I take today? 

For the moment at least I cannot really see this changing anytime soon. I always find myself happier on one of my Brompton bikes. Those of you with big wheels in addition to small wheels, what do you think?

Stay safe out there people!!

Sunday 2 May 2021

Kew Gardens, Box Hill, Kew Gardens on an Orange Brompton

The run out to Box Hill from Kew Gardens is always great fun on a Brompton and on Friday night I joined an old friend, Tom, for this late evening adventure. 

The meeting point was outside Kew Gardens and I cycled the almost 7x miles from SW7 to get there. London was again a little busier than it had been of late but still quiet when compared to what I remembered it to be pre 'C' word. 

I took my Titanium Orange Brompton while Tom had the newest of his Chpt3 Brompton bikes. There are no photos this this post as Tom is notoriously camera shy and is one of those rare people in 2021 with no online presence. (His real name ins't even Tom, so you get the idea). 

We set off in good time and reached Bushy Park quite quickly. There were quite a few people in the park and for one moment I thought there was a 'Park Run' taking place as there seemed to be lots and lots of joggers out and about?

The route was the same one used for previous outings and the fact that there were very few cars made things that bit better. I knew that the route would lead us through the Claygate Badlands and my first worry was whether the Schwalbe One tyres on Tom's Brompton would get through in one piece? 

Reaching the entrance to the badlands at the end of a residential street, the road was replaced by a bridal path. The sun was well on its way to setting before be reached this point and entering the Badlands was a little like a clip from 'The Walking Dead.' At any moment I half expected the zombie hoards to surround us and had visions of me partially folding my bike to gain access to my Brompton Toolkit to use as a makeshift weapon! Thankfully, this was not needed but we would be going this way on the return!!

Arriving at the base of Box Hill we took on some water and a few snacks before making our ascent. We cycled up together and reached the top in good time. The ascent of Box Hill is not really too taxing but it is an interesting and lovely climb and well deserving of its 'must do' reputation.  The top was total darkness, with only the small pinpricks of light from houses and cars below. There was however lots and lots of cars parked, playing loud music. 

Making our way back we passed the 'Smith and Western' pub still sadly closed until a few weeks time when it can open again. If it does I think I will see if some members of the band can join me so that we can cycle there and having something tot eat before returning. 

Back at the Claygate Badlands - which I still wasn't looking forward to - we traversed in complete darkness, negotiating large ruts and horse droppings, freshly made! We arrived back at Kew just after midnight, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. 

The Box Hill run is a good one. We clocked up just over 49 miles and with a couple of hundred metres of elevation, it certainly keeps things interesting. In addition to this, once you have ascended Box Hill itself the second half of the ride is almost downhill all the way to Kew Gardens. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people.