Category Archives: Bike-spotting

Perfection

My conversions of some of my Bromptons into external gear 3speed & 4speed lightweight bikes is a personal thing, creating Bs that suit me & my limited power generation capabilities. I think that “power hides things” & I was bogged down by/with 3 factors; slow tyres, IGH hub drag, excess bike weight

Rudolph (Chpt3 v2 S6E-X) was “illuminating”, with fast tyres & a lot less weight than Clarence was running (S6R with Marathons, Brooks saddle, etc, etc). At first I couldn’t put my finger on what was holding back Clarence but once my experimenting with a 2speed rear wheel (acquired some time before, for “the parts bin”) & swapping accessories & tyres, here was a B that was lively & effortless (in comparison). With Covid lockdown (#1) & noticing lightweight parts available, the journey began!

Becoming aware/awake to component weight differences, I’ve tried to limit extras & only replace parts with lighter items. My extras are lights, bidon cage & essentially, a roller wheel extender to primarily protect the Ti rear frame “ears” (having seen a lot of pics of broken Ti frames with savaged roller wheel mounts, I’m hoping the extender is “insurance”?). Probably my first weight-saving consideration was the seatpost area. With a steel seatpost, Pentaclip & Brooks saddle weighing about 1kg, my replacements provide a saving of 500g – hence my following of the Brompton proverb, “Look after the grams & the kilos will look after themselves”. Nowadays there’s very little steel bits left on Clarence & BB, just the mainframe & stem?

Tinkering to improve/tweak performance has come from countless people before me, their tales littering the Internet. Lockdown learning skills & capabilities has shown that the tolerances to modify parts is tiny & often I’ve had to marvel at the original Brompton parts & design. I’d have to say that many of my Brompton tweaks require a “mechanical sympathy” & aren’t going to suit everyone – eg the SunRace shifter is great; I just need to feel when to feather the lever a touch! The whole derailleur system needs precise setup & variations between components & frame tolerances can make for some frustrating/baffling times – eg BB’s 3speed vs Clarence’s 4speed, where exactly the same derailleur & shifting components are used – but with different wheelsets!

So, to now see Brompton’s new P Line Urban models released is partly justification & reflective: I’m content with my creations but now I get to see how Brompton would do their redesign. In brief, I’m impressed/awed/appreciative – & already frustrated to see the “social media knockers”. I’m suspecting the first bike reviews to make many eat their words (hopefully not me?).

Perusing Brompton’s website (& apologies for pinching all the pics below) reveals countless touches – many unexpected. The P Line Urban seems truly a 2speed redesign, where the factory have noted flaws & taken their chances.

My main observations:

• The rear frame ears

• The external mudguard stays

• The 2-position seatpost locking

• The Pentaclip redesign (with oval saddle rail suitability)

• The derailleur design

• The rear hub design (& tweak possibilities?)

• The new 20spoke front wheel

• The roller wheel frame

• The website Support section videos

• The engineering efforts throughout

An earlier video? Due for replacement?

Now let me see, what weight savings could there be? Hmmm… golly, Clarence & BB are under threat!?

Shopping around

Brompton stockists

With the custom setup of Clarence continuing (nearly done), I wanted a Brooks saddle & decided that a Brompton dealer visit was necessary to help decide which saddle would suit. When I returned from a UK trip last year, I had discovered that Sydney (& Australia) now have many more Brompton dealers than I’d thought & so I set out to visit the 5 in Sydney. Unfortunately I never actually finished my task but the one that stood out was “Belrose Bicycles”, who had stock of 12-15 Bromptons & many accessories & spares. This was quite a revelation in comparison to the past, when a few seen in Sydney would represent a lot.

So it was that my latest shopping trip started with Belrose & yes, I was able to decide on my purchase from a very good range of Brooks saddles. For a non-Brompton accessory I wanted I was out of luck & once home again, I decided to phone around to various likely bike shops for what I wanted. “Out of stock” or “not that model” was a common response & so I turned to an Internet search of local shops as a last resort to an Internet order. This time my phone enquiry returned a positive response but on reviewing the shop’s website I was surprised to see that they also were “Brompton stockists”!? Apparently a very new addition according to the website & from my check, not even showing up yet on Brompton’s Dealer Listings? I just had to go for a visit to this “Omafiets Dutch Bicycles” shop!

Omafiets are located at Redfern, right along a bike path & pretty close to Redfern & Central train stations. On arriving there on Ralph. I found a fairly tiny shop that was part showroom & part workshop? Hardly what I was expecting but it was readily explained by their very recent move to Redfern & everything still being setup? I was then taken out of the shop & down a lane next door, into one of those gigantic “old Sydney” warehouses containing countless bikes – with a nice spot to one side for the Bromptons! Once again, all very new & while the Bromptons were on display, the accessories & spares were still being unboxed. My 2 pics below only cover a small section of the shop.
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After lots of discussions & wonderful efforts from the staff to come up with the pieces I wanted, it was time to depart. Back onto Ralph & a short ride (via a cafe lunch stop) to Newtown for a visit to another Brompton dealer: “Cheeky Transport”. No stock of an additional non-Brompton accessory I was looking out for, but what I did see was another 10-12 Brompton bikes! From 5 Brompton shops that I’ve seen in the past 2 weeks, they probably have about 40 bikes on display!? So very different to a Sydney not so long ago?

Window shopping

Out & about in Sydney & thought I should have a look at the refurbished Clarence Street Cycles store. Their window display caught my eye first; it included a couple of Bromptons!? Inside there was another 4 – various colours & mostly M bars I think – very surprised! Actually, I had seen Bromptons there many years ago but of late it’s only been a few Moultons (really just a token presence?). The new distributor for Australia must be doing something?

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I remembered that I was intending to look at the refurbishment & so wandered all 3 floors. The separate Women’s store nearby is no more & now part of the lower level & I even checked out the basement service area – & noticed a new waiting area.

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