Category Archives: Bits

Pristine Peregrine

Phew! All done now! Pristine Peregrine has become Practical Peregrine in being modded to take the new Brompton S6E to a state ready for anything that Mrs Aussie is likely to tackle? (There is one issue still undecided but this is unavoidable for our scenario: buying a new stock Brompton at a “cannot resist” price. Yes, the stock Brompton comes with the stock 6-speed gearing & it will be interesting to see whether Mrs Aussie will cope? But then, that’s the beauty of the new crankset design in that the reduced (or raised?) gearing is available through just the change of crank rings – & a longer chain if the raised gearing option is desired?)

I must admit to feeling a little sad in now seeing Peregrine modded with various essential/desirable/irresistible bits. Where is that shiny new Brompton of a week ago? Maybe there is something to be said for keeping a Brompton absolutely stock standard? Oh well, perhaps next time? In the meantime, Peregrine has some mods that are all proven delights & all go to improving an unbelievably good flat-bar folding bike!

First off the rank for the mods was swapping saddles & installing a Brooks B17 Aged Ladies model (hmm… must give some thought to that wording?) from Robinson (my original Brompton currently running as an M6R with reduced gearing). Next was installing MKS removable pedals from the “squirreled parts bin”. A number of other bits came from the same source, before a new set of Ergon GP2-S handgrips went on.

Rubber choices were non-options by virtue of purchasing a stock Brompton, where Peregrine’s spec of a flat-bar, 6-speed Cobalt Blue Brompton with a firm suspension block & a luggage block were pre-ordained by Kobie, the Australian Distributor. Hence, I was going to have to take my own actions if I wanted Presta-valve tubes & Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres (to replace the standard Schraeder-valve tubes & Brompton tyres). I have no experience of the new issue Brompton tyres; I just preferred to fit a known “bullet-proof” (or perhaps, “Mrs Aussie-proof”?) set of rubber – that had, incidentally, seen service on Ralph during last year’s UK-tour! The fitment of the M+ tyres wasn’t an issue (well, just the usual M+ fitting issues?) & I can’t say that the new Brompton double-wall rim design was any easier/harder for fitting? What I was pleased/surprised about was that the tyre swaps were achieved without having to touch a tyre lever! ie the Brompton tyres (once deflated) were able to be pulled off the rims without much effort!? (Not something that I ever expect to hear of for the M+ tyres! – & with sidewalls that seem as tough as some tyre treads?)

The final steps were to pop a Brompton Toolkit & a spare tube into the main frame sections & then to fit a new Lezyne Micro-Drive front light to the handlebars. (This model light is the only good/small light that I’ve seen, that will mount back from the front of the handlebars; avoiding issues with the fold, where an overhanging light will clash with the front wheel, forks or cables, etc.)

I tried to remember to weigh various of the components & the whole bike at certain stages. For the components I’ve included some of the weights within the mods listing below & for the whole bike I can report that the initial weight of 11.42 kg (11.3 according to Brompton?!) has grown to 12.85 kg (ie on-road weight complete with tools).

Full listing of mods:
Brooks Ladies B17 Aged saddle in place of Brompton item (590g vs 460g)
MKS Ezy removable pedals in place of Brompton items (430g each pair)
Removable pedal storage bracket mounted on rear frame (storage of LH pedal)
PDW rear light mounted at top of seatpost
Eazy wheels in place of roller wheels
Cateye Strada Wireless bike computer (fitted to Profile Design UCM on handlebars)
Brompfication hinge clamps & springs in place of Brompton items
Bidon cage (my “non-patented” design mounted on stem)
Ergon GP2-S handgrips in place of Brompton items (230g pair vs 0g?)
Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres in place of Brompton units (480g each vs 240g each)
Schwalbe Presta-valve tubes in place of standard Schraeder-valve tubes
Lezyne Micro-Drive front light mounted to handlebars
Brompton Toolkit in mainframe
Spare Schwalbe Presta-valve tube stored in mainframe

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Cluttered cockpit

For my last 2013 blog post (along with my best wishes to you for the new year) I wanted to show the rather cluttered cockpit of Ralph, my Alfine 11-speed Brompton. The handlebars have become somewhat crowded over time with an assortment of old & new gadgets. Now, Santa has apparently thought that my blog could benefit from including some videos & so I’ve gained a GoPro camera (the Hero3 White unit).

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In 2014 I’m expecting that I’ll have some blog postings to explain the what, why & how of all these bits & tweaks – including how the Brompton fold is affected (or not, in my case)

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So, a brief summary of what to expect from the above:
I foresee the GoPro featuring in various posts, both with setup/use & (hopefully?) for some decent video output?
My “work-in-progress” with the iBike Newton power meter may take some time before I can disclose how/why this has replaced my Garmin Edge 705 computer?
The Lezyne Micro Drive front light is great – & particularly relevant to use on a Brompton!
Long overdue is a post about my computer mounting system that avoids conflicts with the Brompton fold?

And no doubt more…

Let’s have a happy new year!

Sorry Miles

My original version of a Bidon Cage was fitted onto both Bromptons, Ralph & Robinson, & have proved to be an excellent setup (if I do say so myself!?). They were really meant as an interim solution, until Brompton released their rumoured “magnetic water bottle” or something else came along that I was happy with. One unit that I’d read about (but never encountered in Australia) was the Monkii bidon cage & Brompton stem mount adapter. The reviews were good & once seeing them with the designer, Miles, at the CycleMiles stand at BWC2013, I figured they would be a quality addition to my Brompton tweaks (or at least deserved an evaluation?).

Once back in Australia, I started to have some reservations but fitted one to Ralph anyway. My concerns were minor & there were some good points about the Monkii cage, so I just had to give them a go…

My evaluation went well for about a month & I became quite comfortable with their different operation to a standard bidon cage (ie the Monkii cage has a Velcro strap to hold it to the bidon & the cage clips onto an adapter bolted to the Brompton stem). I also found that I coped with (mostly) leaving the bidon strapped to the cage when off the bike & when using the Tardis “cup holder” (in our VW T5 Campervan). When folding Ralph, I made sure I unhooked the bidon/cage first & then clipped it back on after the handlebar was folded. (This avoided any fluid spill & accidental unclipping of the cage when the bidon was inverted with the handlebar fold.)

The turning point of the testing process came about when I needed to double-back on my ride to retrieve my bidon laying on the ground after being ejected vertically from the adapter clip through the jolt of riding up a driveway ramp! Not ideal & I could see no easy way of improving or tightening the cage clip onto the adapter lug. Sorry Miles, maybe I should have advised of my misfortune & maybe you’d already had a solution? With my version of a bidon cage having held up so well & so long – & survived all trips & travel without needing to be removed from Ralph or Robinson – it was a no-brainer to resume using it.

Refer pics of “Mr Aussie’s (non-)patented Brompton Bidon Cage” (ie 2 bits of bent alloy strip, some dense foam (with adhesive), stainless nuts & bolts, 2 O-rings & a proprietary standard cage)

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Minimalist multi-roles

Well, here we go again; another trip coming up in the Tardis , our VW T5 Campervan. This time however, the Tardis will be more of a T5 Transporter than Campervan, as we’ll have an extra passenger in Mrs Aussie’s Mum.

The trip with “the Mum” has highlighted what we seem to take for granted; that the step into the Tardis is a fairly tall one. Perhaps it was time to get ourselves a little portable step? Looking around I couldn’t see anything that fills our usual criteria of items readily integrating into the van & ideally having dual roles? (Our Tardis is deceptively spacious but can’t match its namesake!)

Another thing I’ve been meaning to do, is setup a support frame or such for when carrying a Brompton in the passenger area. Robinson fits neatly under the bed in the rear but Ralph usually just lays on the floor in the rear passenger area with some packing under the Alfine rear hub to avoid the pointy acorn axle nut digging into the floor. (Robinson is a rack model Brompton & when laid on the side, the rack/Ezi wheels & the MKS removable pedal adapter (with pedal removed) become three points of contact with the floor & makes for a stable package. Ralph has no rack & the wider rear frame with Alfine hub becomes one contact point, along with the MKS pedal adapter & Ezi wheel.)

After pondering the separate issues of T5 step & Ralph’s support system, I realised I could combine everything. I found that my wooden work stand was a good size for a step (albeit not really stable enough) & that the handle bar support legs where ideally placed for supporting a Brompton frame. Turning to my stock of timber off-cuts I then constructed some “support boxes” that would become leg supports for the step, supports for keeping Ralph’s acorn axle nut off the floor & also a seat protection pad for when using the work stand in its original role.

Enough of trying to explain all this in words, let’s see some piccies of the work stand in a multi-use way – step, mobile stand & support cradle (& when not in use can be stacked on the side door sill beside the sliding door).

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Hopefully that’s all made sense, although perhaps I should clarify:
The work stand fits any of my bikes & usually sits in the garage but I’ve often missed it while on a trip. Now, with the recent Aldi purchase of a work stand, my mobile work stand may stay in the Tardis?
I don’t expect to carry both “the Mum” & Ralph on the next trip (Ralph will stay home & other bikes will be on our rear bike carrier).

Up-market servicing

It was meant to be, it was fate! After many years making do with cobbled bike work stands & support systems, it was pointed out to me (while in the shopping centre) that Aldi was having one of their bike stuff sales – & that a work stand was included! I’d never been enthused to spend lots of money on a super-duper work stand but maybe this one would do? Finished my coffee & trotted along & sure enough; a cheap work stand & probably good enough? After all, it did say, “Fits all bikes” on the box?

Back home & assembling it but noticed that the in-box instructions now said, “Fits bike tubes from 25 to 40mm”!? Oh well, maybe ok for the other bikes, if not the Bromptons? Here’s a pic of the assembled unit (with some irrelevant extra bits):

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Trying the stand with Ralph highlighted a few things. The bike tube clamp was just big enough for a Brompton, although it would have better that the hinge have a cantilever arrangement in order that the clamp jaws were centred on the tube (ie the shape of the jaws ideally suit the smallest tube size but when the clamp is opened fully, the jaws give the impression of “fingers squeezing a lemon pip”?) I will probably fabricate something to get the clamp hinge further apart? Soon…

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The alarming thing I found with using the stand with a Brompton, is that the clamping area on the mainframe tube is not the balance point. With more weight to the rear, you have to have all clamps done up tight to avoid the Brompton rotating! I pondered this for a while & then rummaged around the garage, resurrected my first version of a luggage block adapter, bolted a bidon cage to it, popped in a large sized tool container & filled it with garden pebbles. Hey presto! – a counter weight.

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New old new levers

I’ve recently received a new set of the original Brompton Toolkit tyre levers. As mentioned in my blog post “Toolkit testing”, I’d had a little whoopsie when trying to remove a Marathon Plus tyre from the rear Sun rim on my Alfine 11-speed Brompton & was left with a broken tyre lever. When Brompton withdrew the Toolkits from sale, until the latest design of tyre levers is available, I was under the impression that Brompton would eventually replace the levers for current owners of the Toolkits. Initially I was happy to await the release of the new levers but then I decided to email Brompton to confirm how the replacement process may take place & to flag my ownership of some Toolkits. The communications raised some interesting aspects to the likely outcome.

First, the Brompton prompt response to my query disclosed some information I wasn’t aware of. Their email said,
“Thank you for your enquiry. As you may be aware we have offered temporary replacement tyre levers (the lever has a longer metal tip than the original) to customers via their Brompton dealer or distributor who have experienced a snapped tyre lever. Once the improved version has been finalised and passed inspection we will be issuing dealers and distributors with the tyre levers so they can forward this onto customers who have a Brompton toolkit. I would recommend contacting the dealer you purchased the toolkit from or the Australian distributor for a replacement.
Also I noticed on your blog post you mentioned that you used the tyre lever on a Marathon Plus. We would not recommend using it on a product that is not used or recommend by Brompton (Standard Marathon, Brompton Kevlar and Kojak will be fine).”

So, there have already been changes to the levers? – & I believe my broken lever was of the later design, rather than photos I’ve seen of broken levers that seemed to be composite material? (double-whoops?) Next, my use of the levers is not recommended for Marathon Plus tyres? – & I guess that includes any other rim, tyre or bicycle type? Hmmm…

Anyway, I thought I’d contact the Australian distributor (rather than the UK dealer where I’d purchased the Toolkits) & check what they could do. However, the response here was that as this part of the world never received any Toolkits they also were never supplied any of the replacement levers that Brompton’s email mentioned. All was not lost as they would happily provide new replacement levers when they came available if I was unable to obtain replacements from the UK dealer or directly via Brompton.

Things then got a bit more confusing with emails between all parties. I was trying to say that I was happy to wait for the replacement levers (or obtain them via a trip to the UK, whichever came first?) but I’m unsure what others thought “replacement levers” meant. Before I knew it, Brompton were sending some directly to me (with the explanation that, “…we do not offer direct warranty replacements as the contract of sale is between the end user and the dealer. However given the circumstance I am happy to send you a set of replacement tyre levers…”!?

Overall, a very impressive customer-contact process! Perhaps even “very Brompton-esque”?

Toolkit testing

I think the Brompton Toolkit is a lovely piece of equipment. Nicely engineered & well thought-out – but with flaws included? The tyre levers have certainly come under criticism owing to breakages & I await the production of redesigned levers. (Having purchased 2 toolkits in the UK recently, I’m no longer awaiting the re-release of the toolkit; just the levers.) My toolkit purchase was made with the knowledge of the flawed levers & their expected replacement, but I thought that the levers may be sufficient “as is”? (& the rest of the toolkit was irresistible?)

The lever design is interesting; fitting together to minimize space within the storage housing & meant to be kept together when commencing a tyre removal. Once the tyre bead is levered over the rim, one lever can be clipped to a spoke & the other lever is then slid around the rim, progressively pulling the rest of the bead over the rim. However, stage 1 of the flaw is that users will read the instructions & follow them. The next stage is that the levers are not strong enough to survive usage that fails stage 1. Personally, I believe that there is a further stage in that the Brompton tyre levers weren’t designed to operate on anything other than stock Brompton rims (more later).

As for other flaws, perhaps it’s nit-picking to say that the ratchet & removable bit usage is going to be compromised depending on the positioning of the item being adjusted/removed/whatever? Time will tell, hopefully not at the wrong time & place?

The spanners that are cleverly combined within the tyre levers have been ok for my minimal use & the wheel spanner (when still fitted in the case) is very comfy – as compared to gripping it when removed?

On-bike storage within the front section of mainframe is neat & effective (far easier than my previous on-board tool set: wheel spanner, tyre levers & Allen key-set tied with a rubber band, wrapped in disposable gloves & maneuvered into the mainframe front section). I haven’t “lost” the disposable gloves; they’re now included with a spare tube, wrapped In a piece of fiberglass mesh & stored in the mainframe rear section. (The mesh makes it easier to insert the items in the frame & gives me something to grip when extracting everything.)

Testing:
As an on-bike emergency toolkit, it’s seems ideal – but to date my toolkit testing has all been done in my garage & mostly of an elementary effort, although the tyre levers have been used a number of times.

Unfortunately I have to divulge the test score as:
tyre levers 3, Brompton single wall rims 0
tyre levers 0, Sun rim 1
That’s correct, the rear wheel on Ralph, my Alfine 11speed Brompton, has defeated one of the levers & snapped off a piece. Owing to the rim having a rather flat profile, there’s very little well for the tyre bead to sit in when removing the tyre & hence getting the bead over the rim is “difficult”. From what I remember, the pair of levers were good enough to get the bead over the rim initially, but when I tried to slide one lever sideways (very difficult), the thinner lever couldn’t stand the pressure between the rim & tyre (a Marathon Plus) & the end snapped off! (Ralph &/or I shall be carrying a separate set of tyre levers until further notice!)

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