Sunday 25 February 2024

Brompton London amble

Having an amble on ones Brompton is London is one of those simple pleasures that rarely disappoints. I could have headed off to a group ride where country lanes would have been a feature. I decide that I could not cope with that, preferring the urban. 

Yesterday I headed down from N6 and thankfully did not encounter any strange goings on while freewheeling down Swain'e Lane! The closer I got to Regent's Park, Marylebone Road and beyond I could see a growing and sizable police presence. I later discovered from various chanting of fans that it was a football match later on between Chelsea and Liverpool. 

Finding myself at the other side of Westminster Bridge, as I headed west (at least I think it was west) I encountered that view that it seems every tourist in London tries to capture. Oh well I thought, I may as well too. Despite being early there was already an influencer type with a nifty floor tripod holding two - yes two - iPhones. There was also some sort of run going on as several jogger ran past. As the influencer went to right to put on more makeup, I took my opportunity for the photo below. Sadly, a jogger was to knock over said tripod and I could heard the argument from quite a distance away.

The Palace of Westminster in the photo below is the meeting location of the Parliament of the UK. Its more common name is the Houses of Parliament. Rebuilt between 1840 - 1876 it is a rather pretty building which is possibly the only kind description most can muster. 

Further down the river stands Battersea Power Station. This is now a shopping centre and luxury flats. It is wonderful that this iconic building was saved and the entire area has been transformed. Not that long ago it was a derelict site with the prospect of it falling into decay.

Battersea Park is always rather lovely and the Peace Pagoda build in 1984 is always something that can brighten up a grey morning in London. Opened in 1858 it was previously called Battersea Field and popular for those wishing to settle a score. Coming up to the anniversary of 21st March 1829, the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchilsea met there to settle a matter of honour. When the moment came, Wellington aimed his shot wide and Winchilsea shot into the air. On this day in the past, some reenact the scene. 

Albert Bridge, jointly designed by no less than Joseph Bazalgette and opened in 1872, it is more many their favourite London bridge. 

Oakley Street which lead onto Albert Bridge is quite an interesting one for several reasons. 

The first is that Antarctic Explorer Robert Flacon Scott used to live there. 

A few houses up at 42 is the former home of Bob Marley. Across the road at 87 is a plaque for Jane Wilde, Oscar Wilde's mum! 

Heading back north, I could not help but stop at the Royal Geographical Society and get a photo of Sir Ernest Shackleton. The old man is still looking rather good and staring up at him I could not help but think about the many times I have done just that. 

Wherever you live, I am sure that you have the equivalent of a Brompton amble. Let know if you do. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Thursday 22 February 2024

Dream build - Vol.1 The Millionth Brompton

If you are a Brompton fanboy/fangirl you will have almost certainly seen that Brompton made their 1,000,00th Brompton. To many, it looks a shade of red but to me I can see - well no guesses needed - a hint of orange. It does remind me of my first ever Brompton that was gifted to me when I went up to university. 

That particular Brompton was either made in 1989 or 1990 - to my shame I cannot really say. It was black and red...but to me always an orange tinge. I used this bike quite a lot when at university and back then, seeing another Brompton really was a cause for celebration. Steel yourselves for the next bit! In the time I had it, I had no punctures, didn't put a great deal of oil on the chain, hardly ever cleaned it and rarely pumped up the tyres! It was reliable and never let me down. At the end of my studies, in much the same way it was gifted to me, I passed in on to someone else who might be able to put it to use. What an idiot I was!

Anyway, enough about all that. There is a Brompton video you can find by searching the title of this blog. In this the 1,000,000th Brompton is assembled. It is quite hypnotic to the type of persons I have already mentioned. Definitely worth a look. 

This particular Brompton has been on tour around the world. I think that this has now come to an end but I do not know where it lives? Perhaps one of you out there reading this could let me know. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Monday 19 February 2024

What a carry on, on a Brompton!

At the weekend, I headed out from NW8 and my first port of call was completely by accident as I came down from Regent's Park. As I headed towards Marylebone Road, there on the wall on the block of Farley Court was a rather lovely Blue Plaque. 

The recipient of this honour was none other than the late Kenneth Williams. Those of you of a certain age will of course remember the many 'carry On' films that he starred in. With the passing of time, the were definitely of their time but I do think that Kenneth Williams was the best thing in them.

He lived in Flat 62 between 1963 and 1970, so not that long really. During this time successful films such as Carry On Cleo, Carry On Up the Khyber and Carry On Camping were made. He must have had wonderful views from his flat and in fact in his diaries he wrote about his joy of of moving into it. He wrote: "my bedroom looks out over Regent's Park. The trees are turning now and the sight is beautiful."

I cannot fathom what Kenneth Williams would have made of a small folding bicycle but I am sure he would have had something to say about it. As I finished taking my photos an image of him and Hattie Jacques riding side by side on a couple of Brompton Electric bikes down Baker Street played in my mind. I am sure you can figure out what he might have said!

Until next time, stay safe out there. 

Sunday 11 February 2024

Urban vs rural on an Orange Brompton

For those of you who have read my ramblings for a while, you will know that I am very much an urbanite. Although I do enjoy cycling outside of London, I will endeavour to explain my thoughts on the matter. 

On Saturday I had a very shortish 10x mile cycle in the countryside. The Chilterns to be exact. The large fields that seemed to go on and on with a huge variety of colours was stunning. The horizon - somewhere in the distance - has cobalt blue skies, dispersed with wispy white clouds. 

Roads soon turned into semi paved ones and then dirt tracks with potholes you could stand six fully grown adults in. My Brompton was filthy, I was filthy and if I had of not been a few miles away from my friends house, there was no phone signal to be had, no public transport and therefore little hope! In addition to all of this was the abundant wildlife that seemed everywhere. Deer, foxes, rabbits, horses, sheep, cows, rats, things that looked like a rat, but squashed out to make it longer, cared not a jot that it was a Saturday afternoon. Worryingly, Buzzards circled overhead called out, as if to suggest if anything happens to you... we'll be ready!

We stopped off one of those quaint village pubs that has been there for hundreds of years. Upon entering (having to duck through the doorway as people back then must have been at least 40 cm shorter than me) it was a little like the film 'American Werewolf in London' where the locals all stop talking and look at the city folk. Perhaps it was the Brompton bikes being carried in or the suspicions aroused when - being tea total...I ordered a pot of tea! 

After a few hours I arrived Chiltern Line station which had a bus replacement service for part of the way. I embraced this slight inconvenience with enthusiasm.  As some of you may know, I am not a fan of public transport, but once eventually on the train to London it was bordering on emotional! 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Ah London!

Friday 9 February 2024

Brompton 12 speed frenzy

Since the new 12 Speed Brompton P-Line and T-Line dropped not that long ago, there has been a frenzy of activity. I will explain.

Both the P and T Lines were introduced with no rear hub but a new rear triangle that could take the new 4x sprocket set up. The weight saving impressed many - especially the T - Line but only having 4x gears didn't cut the mustard for just as much. Brompton have now in many people's eyes put this right with a new rear hub. This takes the gears to 12!

Brompton have advertised it as having the lowest and highest gearing ever on a Brompton - certainly true - and as such there has been a clamber to buy a new 12x speed or buy a new rear wheel that has the new rear hub if you have a P or T Line.

Many have already done this. I have a friend with two T-Line bikes. One has a low handlebar, the other a mid. He has no intention, for the foreseeable future, of ever updating to the 12x speed set up as the weight reduction was his number one priority when buying one. Many are selling their Brompton 6x speeds and below so that they can buy a new 12x speed. Some of these bikes are fairly new and it does seem rather foolish to part company with them after such a short space of time. 

Many of you have contacted me to ask whether you can convert your older Brompton to get the 12x gears. The answer is not really. You'd need a new rear triangle, along with all the other bits to make it happen. You have also asked whether I will be getting one. The simple answer to that is no. I am taking a different path. My 6x speed Brompton bikes are fine for me and what I get up to. 

I am in the process of putting my Cloud Blue up for sale - when I get my act together - purely as I know I do not need it anymore with two other Brompton bikes sitting waiting for me. I am fortunate not to need the funds from this sale to put towards a new Brompton, if this was what I was going to do. 

So, the new 12 Speed is definitely causing a great deal of activity and it would seem Brompton cannot make these bikes fast enough. Strangely, there are still the highly negative brigade that periodically come out of the woodwork moaning about anything Brompton does do to their bikes or doesn't. With these people Brompton cannot win and I question why they even bought one?

What will you be doing dear reader? I would be interested to hear. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people. 


Saturday 3 February 2024

Brompton Superlight Quick Release Pedals

I have been using clipped in pedal on all of my Brompton bicycles for a few years now. Over the past few months I have been using my Brompton in situations where I do not really want to wear clipped in SPD shoes and would rather just wear, whatever I had on my feet at the time. There is another reason for this but that's for another time perhaps. Not wanting to go back to the standard Brompton pedals where one folds, I decided to give their new version a go. I am very glad that I did!

The new pedals to give them their correct title, Brompton Superlight Quick Release Pedals come in a small box with all the bit and pieces you need to fit them

The pedals themselves are rather lovey and in addition to the four reflectors (very useful for us night riding types) they are in an almost bead blasted black. Everything speaks quality, with the pedals spinning freely. 

Another really good thing about these pedals is that on the bike they are identical. This one one of the things I didn't like about the standard Brompton pedals. 

The pedals are small and compact but on pretty much all the shoes and trainers I have used so far, I have not had any issues with grip. The wonderful thing about these pedals is of course that one of them has a quick release allowing you to happily stow it away in a little bracket fixed to the outside of the front brake. The little magnet that holds it in place is quite strong. 

These pedals come with T Line and now with the P Line. The weight saving is only just over 100g but this is not why I bought them. I will almost certainly get a pair of cycling specific non-SPB shoes for those longer riders but as I have said, they have been comfortable with just about everything I have worn. I really do like these pedals a great deal and can see them a permanent fixture from now on. For me worth every penny.