Saturday 30 March 2024

New Brompton 12x speed thoughts

It is still rather early days for me as far as the 12x speed goes. The same can be said of the electric motor up front. I thought I would give a few initial impressions of it.

My bike came with the pretty standard 50t chainring. If you look at all the gear ratios and calculations many people much more knowledgeable than I, they will inform you that when ascending hills, it is the same as having a 44t (coupled with the largest 18t cog on the rear). From my nocturnal adventure in the early hours of Friday morning, I would say it felt a little better than this. Now this could simply be due to the fact that I was peddling up accents in a much more controlled (sensible) fashion. It could be that in the back of my mind I was comforted in the knowledge that by pressing a button, I could cycle up pretty much anything. I do not know. 

I am still going to quite happily use my other 6x speed Brompton bikes and I will see whether my new approach to tackling hills is the difference or whether it is having the 12 speed.

Until next time, stay safe out there people. 

Friday 29 March 2024

Brompton trio adventures in the dark, wind and rain!

For many different reasons it has been ages since Dr John and I ventured out on one of our nocturnal adventures. Far too long. Putting yesterday's date in the diary for many weeks in advance - and also inviting Geoff - we put aside yellow weather warning for windy conditions - to go on one of our favourite rides, London to Brighton overnight. 

My rather lovely Brompton Electric is still very much a recent addition to the fold, however I did want to get away from never using it in the wet. Having a look at various forecasts that predicted all sorts, I decided to revert to sticking my head out of my front door, conclude it would probably rain lightly and dressed accordingly. 

Making sure my little front Brompton Electric bag was packed and the rain cover (sensibly orange in colour) safely stowed away, I headed off for the meeting point not far from the London Eye. 

My plan of attack was not to use the electric motor at all until I came to an incline. I also packed rather light and didn't even use a saddlebag. 

Arriving at the meeting point fashionably late as I had totally misjudged the how busy the traffic would be, I saw Dr John and Geoff waiting. It was great to see them both again - especially Dr John who I had not seen for over a year I suspect. With the route eventually loaded, we were off into a chilly night, but thankfully was without the really strong winds that had been a feature of the that day and early evening. 

Nocturnal mode engaged

The rain came down not long after we had set off and was to be a feature of the remainder of the ride. At times it was quite heavy but the common theme was it being relentless. 

My strategy of not using the motor worked rather well. There were long ascents but going through the 12x gears meant that I always seemed to find one that was just right. Of course I wasn't going too fast.

At Farthing Downs just past Coulsdon I decided to turn the motor on and set it to power setting 1. I zoomed up to the top in next to no time and having cycled up this several times, it was very noticeable how easy and quick it was and what a huge difference it made. 

I didn't take too many photos but did take the two above of Dr John and Geoff on the top of Farthing Downs with Croydon twinkling in the background. I didn't take many photos as my hands - and feet - were freezing, to the extent that it was becoming difficult to change gears!

The rain increasingly became heavier and heavier. This did not mix well with country lanes. It made potholes invisible as they filled with water - that seemed to be everywhere! It was in one of these that Dr John went into and fell off his bike. Thankfully, both he and bike were okay but it made it clear that with 16 inch wheels, the ride was over. 

The nearest station was Gatwick about 9 miles away. With this destination punched into the Wahoo we were off. A couple of miles away from Gatwick, I spied a station which turned out to be Horley. We boarded our train and soon we were saying goodbye to Geoff at London Bridge and me to Dr John at Farringdon. 
Dr John and Geoff's Brompton bikes

My Brompton Electric did perform really well. Strangely, one of my rear lights died and I had to use the lights that came standard on the bike. This didn't seem to be a drain on the battery at all. Once I reached Farringdon I put the battery on power setting 2 just to enjoy the power of that motor and it was as if a couple of gentlemen's gentlemen were giving you a little push along. It is quite wonderful.  

There is rarely a dull moment riding a Brompton on a nocturnal adventure! The Brighton run is now obviously unfinished business. When schedules permit and dry weather is a guarantee, I am sure we will do this again. Many thanks to Dr John and Geoff for their company. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!
My Brompton Electric survived

Thursday 28 March 2024

Out on my Orange Brompton Electric

I have been getting acquainted with my Brompton Electric since I bought it and took it for a spin on Sunday morning. Heading down from north London I had not particular location in mind and just cycled for the pleasure of it. 

I rolled down Swain's Lane and thought it a good idea to cycle back up once I reached the bottom. Carefully and slowly I made my ascent, first without the electric motor, wanting to test out the 12x gears. They do work rather well. Back up on power 1, I had some work to do but much less than I had previously and I ascended a great deal faster. 

I eventually crossed the Thames for the first time over the Millenium Footbridge, taking a few photographs for good measure. 

I passed Cross Bones and stopped for a look. This is a disused burial ground with over 10,000 people believed to have been buried there. 

From there I headed south towards Canonbie Road. This is quite a climb and tackling it in power 2 was wonderful. I ascended quickly, nonshalontly in an almost ungentlemanly way - in that it felt a little like cheating. (That last feeling didn't last very long I can tell you). 

On the way back I heard someone shout out 'Orange' from across the road. (I cannot tell you what road it was). It was the gentleman that is, Ross from the Fridays. It was lovely to see him and I hoped he was out in London finding some interesting location for one of his Sunday rides. (They are my favourites). Later I found out that he was indeed. 

So, still very much early days with the Brompton Electric but so far I am loving it. It seems that it will serve my purpose well. On the the flatter bits I won't need the motor at all - the 12x gears very much assisting with this. When the lumpy stuff arrives, the motor will go on. Today I had the motor on for about 22 miles, maily on power setting 1 and then power 2 when I wanted it for steeper inclines. When I got home the battery was showing 68%. That is rather pleasing. I suspect the maximum range stated by Brompton of 45 miles to be a conservative one, although I doubt it will be much more.

Until, next time, stay safe out there people. 

Sunday 24 March 2024

A new Brompton Electric!?

This a rather difficult post on several levels and I am sure that by the time you get to the end you will see why. 

Yes, the first thing to mention is that I have a brand new Brompton in the form of a Brompton Electric, with 12 x gears. It is in a rather fetching Vermillion Red and if you are the eternal optimist like me, it is red with a dash of orange in there somewhere. (In many ways it does actually remind me of the colour of the first Brompton I ever owned when one was gifted to me when I started university). 

The strange thing is that I originally ordered a 4x speed version only a few days before all hell broke loose and the 12x speeds were released. Some emails and a phone call later and it was changed for the 12x speed.

So, why a Brompton Electric? Well, it must have been June last year when my right knee was telling me something was amiss. Resting it, doing a lot less cycling, knee supports and the odd bit of stretching did little to make things better. A trip - several weeks later - to my doctor, prodding moving the joint around brought her to the suspicion that it was, wear and tear. My past - rugby (where I was once able to run very, very quickly), Judo, Karate and jogging (yes I did jog once) all conspired against me. A hospital scan later than day actually concluded that everything was as it should be? The good news is that I will not require an operation, can still cycle and go for long walks with Mrs Orange and the Orangettes. The caveat is that I will need to change the way I cycle. 

The Consultant at the hospital - a cyclist herself - told me not to stop cycling in any way and that continuing to do so was a good thing. She concluded that I needed to perform very specific stretches to keep my knee happy. (An ex-army physical instructor type in the basement of the same establishment, later showed me what I needed to do). I told her about the type of adventures I got up to and she said that they were all okay to do but on very steep ascents I was to take it slow and steady and never try to be first up or compete. (That really is going to be hard)! She also said that if the effort required to pedal up steep inclines was becoming hard on the knee, simply get off and walk. Distances would be okay as long as I factored in some rests where I could do a few gentle stretches before carrying on. Nothing too drastic really. Audaxes (which I hate with a passion so not an issue for me) where there is a strict time limit and racing are out. So, it isn't really that bad. I have resumed cycling - where weather has permitted - and stuck to what she said. I have simply slowed down my pace. She was quite brilliant but did say that if I deviated from this, my knee issues could return. She also asked whether I had considered a Brompton Electric. 

The Brompton Electric is quite possibly being overly cautious but it was on Mrs Orange's orders. She didn't want me to give up cycling but also didn't want me to have another trip to the doctor. For her, the Brompton Electric would allow me to go on all the longer rides and night rides to the coast. The power from the motor would be there when required. A Brompton Electric in Orange was not a possibility and Mrs Orange was the one who choose Vermillion Red - one of her favourite colours. (I was actually going to choose something that was nothing near the shade of red or orange). 

I can opt to not bother using the battery/motor at all for a good few miles but have it when I need it. Those 12x gears will definitely allow this. I am totally aware of the extra weight this electric package will bring but I am fine with it. I won't be using it for commuting on buses (I haven't been on a London bus for 30 years), trains or the tube. When I do use the tube I tend to do so at less busy times and on lines that do not require lots of stairs or escalators down into the depths. In addition, I am more than able to carry the extra weight for these shorter period of time. Those of you who have read my blog for a while, will already know that public transport and I are merely nodding acquaintances. 

So, how have I found my new Brompton Electric? The extra gearing (and yes there is some overlap) really does help. I have to say that cycling without the use of the motor is much the same as cycling along on one of my existing Brompton bikes. There is very little drag - if any - up front and those extra gears do help with hills and the heavier overall package that is Brompton Electric. 

As soon as I was able I took a fully charged battery and attempted the very hilly route of the 'Cobblemanster.' For much of the route I didn't need the motor but I did want it for Canonbie Road. The assistance is quite amazing. It was as if  I had a couple ethereal angel types gently pulling me along. I have never arrived at the top so quickly or so refreshed. I had no discomfort from my knee and in short, I loved it. To further test its hill climbing prowess, I headed for Swains Lane. Not a particularly awful hill but a very good test. It performed impeccably. I also found that I didn't need anything more that assist level 2 and the first level provided enough for this and Canonbie Road.

Have I made any changes? Well, it is rather early into the relationship but I have made a few subtle ones. The Brompton decal has been replaced with my moniker of course. For once, I am keeping the Brompton saddle on. There might be some more tweeks but I do not particularly like straying too far from team Brompton. 

The Brompton Electric was a bike that I was destined to get in the future but for me it has come a little sooner. I have earned my stripes as it were, ascending pretty much any hill on my normal Brompton bikes and can now still enjoy them with the near-cheating that is that motor assist. I am rather pleased with this Brompton and it just makes me smile. (Of course, that is pretty much the story for all my Brompton bikes however this one made be smile a great deal more than I suspected)!

If you are aware of the actor Terry Thomas and the films he starred in, I could not help but liken my battery powered motor to something he might employ. In fact as I cycled towards Highgate Hill - not a million miles away from where he born - 53 Lichfield Grove - I fancied I could hear the unmistakable, 'you rotter!' 

At some point I will do a much more comprehensive review and give you my full thoughts, but I do need to used it a great deal more before this. 

Until next time, take care out there people!

Wednesday 13 March 2024

BWC 2024!

The news dropped that the Brompton World Championships 2024 is going to happen over the weekend of 21 - 23 June. 

Further details will be announced soon and it is rather good that the premier bike manufacturer with thousands of fans might have the opportunity to experience the joys of all things Brompton. 

I feel that everyone will be watching this one from near and far. 

Until next time, stay safe out there!

Friday 8 March 2024

My blog views - wow!

My humble blog began as an online diary for me to record all my Brompton adventures. I still regard it as this and I know I have a loyal and healthy following, but in the last 6 month or so my views have skyrocketed!

Last month I recorded the highest monthly page views in the life of this blog. This month is set to equal it, and you never know, better it. I am not really the sort of chap that looks at the page views or any of the other statistics available but I had noticed the increase. Delving deeper into it all, it seems I have my usual healthy following in the UK and Europe but like many a UK rock band wanting to break into the USA, I think I have. In addition to this, I have done pretty well in the Far East. 

I doubt whether I will pay a great deal of attention to this all again for many months, however, it is good to know that there is a readership for my ramblings. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Saturday 2 March 2024

Rain and your Brompton

Rain! Recently it seems as if it has done nothing but rain and we haven't even reached April when April showers are a such a thing, it is a saying. I thought I would explore the sometimes touchy subject of rain and ones Brompton bicycle. 

Those clouds look ominous!

February 2024 is now on record as being the wettest in 200 years. A long time! If you live in the UK you are pretty used to it. The subject of the weather generally, what it has been like, predictions of what it is going to be like are topics of conversations. The opening lines when meeting new people can be the state of the weather. Standing at a bus stop (I don't but you get the idea) and engaging in smalltalk can be all about how hot, cold, wet, windy (or all of these) if oft used to fill awkward silences. Many weather presenters have become celebrities in their own right. You get the idea. 

I actually don't mind the rain at all. If you have read my blog for a while, you may remember me mentioning my dearly departed mum. She never let the rain stop be doing anything and would get us all out no matter how heavily it fell. I suppose I am very much the same now. I do draw the line at some of my Brompton bikes however. 

My Orange Titanium is my summer Brompton and a do not really like taking it out in bad weather. My other Brompton bikes I don't mind. I have a friend who loves their Brompton Electric and especially when it rains. He always tells me that in driving rain - often with an accompanying strong headwind - the power from the motor up front is nothing short of joyous. 

Not for the wet stuff!

Any Brompton is more than capable of being used when raining but many decide not to, or get another one they can use when raining. It is all rather silly. What do you think?

Until next time, stay safe out there people!