New Clarence

No, not a new Brompton, just “a few little changes” to Clarence & now in S2RE-XX guise? (Yes, a strange model number – just my label for “rack with no mudguards & an extra-light Superlight”!)

My last posts of Clarence depicted an S6R Brompton & so the life-changes continue. When I think back on how Clarence has changed, I recall that the original build was a M6L but then converted to S6L before my purchase (thanks BA). Later a Brompton rack was added but now, after the latest component changes it’s really only the mainframe that remains from the major bits that came down the 2014 production line?

So why a 2-speed conversion? Since my Chpt3 Rudolph has proven to be so good for me, certainly in comparison with Clarence’s rather sluggish performance (with my health condition), I wondered what a lightened Clarence would offer. Easy enough to shed the rack & guards, I first swapped to a 2-speed wheel that I acquired during the Cheeky shop close. What a lively, easy-rolling feel that provided, & immediately with a bike weight equal to Rudolph. In concert with lower gearing changes for Rudolph, I also further lowered Clarence (from a 40T chainring to the smallest that would fit; a 38T ring). Sure it’s not some monster-geared speed machine; acquiring “MyVirus-08” has put paid to my being able to use that.

What I now have is a minimal-geared 2-speed Brompton, able to climb smaller hills & still provide an adequate speed on the flats & smoothly free-wheel down. The lack of weight & 2-speed hub combine for another benefit; the ability to easily roll Clarence when needing to walk up those hills too tough for riding. Totally enjoyable on all terrains, with 12-17T sprockets that provide a lower gear than Rudolph’s 3rd & a higher gear than Rudolph’s 4th.

The “extra-light Superlight” part of Clarence’s 2-speed conversion came about progressively during the considerable Covid-19 “StayHome” time of late. No long-term plan, just regularly finding bits that would suit Rudolph &/or Clarence. A greater appreciation of component weights & judicious shopping, often to address a particular issue, employing/learning mechanical skills & hey presto – Clarence has lost over 3kg! (An example of an issue could be the 2-speed swap highlighting the amount of drag in internally geared hubs. Aside from enabling the easy rolling, this showed the mismatched weights of the Brompton pedals & created the likelihood of “shin strike” when the cranks can rotate under gravity. My 150g lightweight pedals have replaced the 400g standard pedals, saving weight & my shins.)

Clarence vs Rudolph is now the experiment; what & where suits each bike will take time to decipher. A luxury of choice perhaps but such different characteristics that are both delightful to ride.

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