Having picked up my new Brompton CHPT3, & really enjoying the short about-city evening ride to dinner, the next day Mrs Aussie & I just had to get out for an appraisal/comparison session. Sydney Olympic Park was the venue for Clarence & Rudolph to cruise about.
No major hills around SOP but I’m still limited (heart-wise) in being able to keep Mrs Aussie in sight (my usual answer is to ride Ralph-e, my Brompton Alfine GrinTech-electric model). However, my pace on Rudolph really surprised me & the lively & lightweight ride was a delight in being able to keep up comfortably? (A swap to Clarence for a time wasn’t a good idea; my extra speed was gone but Mrs Aussie also appreciated the effortless performance from Rudolph.)
Reflecting on the experience was difficult. I rarely ride a Brompton without loaded front-luggage & Marathon tyres. Did the lightweight Brompton & Schwalbe One tyres make that much difference? More appraisal obviously required, although my too-brief attempt near home the next day with both Bromptons with & without luggage was inconclusive, although Rudolph seemed superior?
Omafiets’ phone call told me that my Brompton CHPT3 was now ready & so without much delay I headed for the shop. After fitting lights & swapping to Presta-valve tubes, I rode off into the night to a celebratory dinner.
Being somewhat blog-quiet of late & often wondering whether there’s something from our little rides that’s blog-worthy, I’ve just had an event (momentous even?) that probably qualifies?
Omafiets in Sydney had an event to present the latest iteration of Brompton CHPT3, the David Millar-inspired lightweight Brompton. With very limited CHPT3 numbers coming to Australia, Omafiets were conducting a ballot to purchase the 2 bikes allocated for Sydney. David was on-hand to talk about the concept & conduct the Sydney ballot draw.
A very pleasant evening of drinks, nibblies, chats & talks before the business of the draw. First number drawn went to ticket holder 01 – wasn’t that me? Yes! Congratulations came from all directions & then the next draw for another lucky winner – Sari. (See pic of winners with David Millar)
No change on the Brompton front (although little activity too) but thought I should post about our new wheels.
We’ve some riding coming up that’s more suited to MTBs so after sprucing up our (very) old steeds, I was almost ready to consider some “un-assisted” riding when I came across a couple of special-priced eMTBs. Sold!!! – following a brief test-ride & yesterday we ventured back to pickup our new toys.
The ferry ride home was a good time to contemplate the road/trail ahead?
Like the eBrompton (that may one day arrive in Australia?), our Pedalec eMTBs have 5 levels of assistance. However, since my brief test-ride the Bosch mid-drive motors have had a firmware upgrade to include an “eMTB mode” that automatically selects the level of assistance depending on the pedal pressure. Without even changing gear, heavy pedal pressure supplies Turbo mode – quite amazing!
I’ve been delighted with Ralph-e, my GrinTech-equipped electric Brompton. The assistance-level is programmable (although rarely changed after settling on a level that provides economical battery range) & the combination of a torque-sensing BB & the Alfine 11-speed rear hub provide riding bliss! How this compares to Brompton’s offering will be the $64k (or $5k?) question?
Our Brompton appearances at the Dungog PedalFest late last year was “interesting”. If it wasn’t for the generous helpings of scones with jam & cream, the rough roads could have seen some DNFs. At the time I’d thought that Ralph-e & Peregrine wouldn’t be back next time but now I’m sure the eMTBs will just love it?
Ralph-e (my Alfine 11-speed Brompton – with a GrinTech electric conversion) has had a frustrating “chain drop” issue throughout the 5 years we’ve been together. With “Murphy’s Law” timing, infrequently the chain can be dislodged from the rear cog & chain tensioner sprockets. I’ve developed a second-sense feel for a successful unparking step, although I admit to including a quick look down at the chain at the rear hub before attempting to ride away.
The following 3 pics illustrate the scenario: (1) taut chain over the rear cog, (2) slight reduction of tension in the chain (where the chain is sagging & starting to slide down & out over the widened rear frame), (3) further reduction of tension (resulting in further chain sag over the frame & commencement of the chain moving off the teeth of the cog). At this point, if the rear wheel rotates backwards then the chain will fall off the cog & then off the tensioner sprockets. The reduction in chain tension usually comes about when parking/unparking & as long as back-pedaling is minimised then chain drop can be avoided. I believe the Alfine hub also has some slight drag when rotating backwards & so vigorous back-pedaling while riding can also achieve increased chain slack & sag over the rear frame tube; hey presto, chain drop?!
Now I think I may have resolved the issue, through setting up a “chain keeper” for the section of chain closest to the rear cog (thereby maintaining chain alignment over the cog teeth). The next 2 pics show my chain keeper in situ with the chain taut (pic 1) & chain sagging (pic 2). My keeper?: a large-sized cable tie (working great). Maybe not what Brompton would do?
Tough night tonight. Had my last ride on Robinson & then Robinson took its last ride in the Tardis – to a new owner in Sydney…
As my original Brompton & source of initial education for riding, upgrades & maintenance, Robinson was greatly valued & appreciated. On behalf of Mrs Aussie & I, as well as Peregrine, Clarence & Ralph-e, we salute you. Farewell Robinson.
Updated – 7/1/17 (refer end of post)
My Brompton bidon cage system is still my favourite but it doesn’t suit someone that wants to use their folded Brompton as a shopping trolley, with handle bars unfolded & a bag on the luggage block – because the cage would foul the bag & regularly removing/installing the cage is best avoided. (Whoops, see update below.) A cage that is readily removable is the Monkii system but after trying one for some time, I’m not keen on 2 aspects of the design. First, I don’t like strapping the bottle to the cage & having to remove the two together when drinking. The killer issue though, is that the Monkii cage can readily be ejected when riding over bumps. So, here’s my attempt at fixing those 2 issues…
Peregrine with the old system…
… & Clarence with the new setup…
Here’s a pic of the old & new components…
Recipe: take one Monkii system, remove the strap & cut off the wings & tail of the cage. Drill & countersink the cage spine & attach to a standard cage with some screws & nuts. When the Monkii stem block is being mounted, hook an O-ring under the block. When installing the new “combo cage” to the bike, hook the top of the cage under the O-ring & stretch it up so that the Monkii portion of the cage can be connected to the Monkii stem block.
So, I now have a Monkii system that lets me easily remove/attach the bottle when drinking & won’t become disconnected over bumps – & lets me readily remove the cage when operating in “shopping trolley mode”!
Update: Since using Ralph-e & trying to avoid removing the luggage bag (& disconnecting the battery), I now realise that I can leave my Bidon in the cage system & the bag just pushes the Bidon to the side (as the bag pivots around while folding the front wheel).