Sunday, 22 May 2016

Brompton Touring Mods - Part II


A few weeks ago, I set up Lucy the Brompton with everything I believed would be needed to transform her from a multi-modal commuter into a "Short(ish) Distance Touring Bicycle That Folds". 

Trying out the kit revealed a few further changes were necessary, notably a support for the Carradice saddlebag. I have an original Bagman Sport support frame but for convenience for the kind of trip we are making (including being required to take all the luggage off, fold the bike and put it into a bag while on the EuroStar trains), I decided to try the SQR system which fits to the seat post rather than to metal loops on the back of the saddle -- which isn't an option for me anyway having ditched my VeloOrange leather saddle in favour of the Selle SMP Dynamic I prefer for distances longer than a commute. 

I fitted the Carradice SQR today and I think it's a winner. The system was easy to fit and will keep my Carradice Barley saddlebag away from the backs of my legs as I pedal. The metal frame also has a nylon web handle attached to the top, which will come in handy when the bag is off the bike. 





A water bottle mount for the main frame has still not been sorted to my satisfaction. I got this Rixen Kaul Bottle Klick system. It was a bit fiddly to fit (with incomplete instructions in English), as I needed to disassemble the adapter block to rotate the orientation 90 degrees, and I found a lot of torque was needed to screw it back together tight enough not to rattle. In fact, the red buttons that depress to release the block still have a bit of play but I think I can live with it.  The big problem, however, is that, with the adapter block fitted, Rixen Kaul claim that any standard bottle cage can be fitted. Not so. Because the holes for the bolts to hold a cage are drilled out for screws provided by Rixen Kaul -- and these are not threaded the same as standard bolts used for bottle cages (and rack mounts etc). I am so annoyed when I discovered this, I was very nearly speechless for all of two seconds! (Adam thinks he can devise a workaround. We shall see.)

Meanwhile, however, I am very pleased with my cockpit arrangements, with a Monkii Cage that I will use for a smaller water bottle. A standard bottle cage would be very tricky to position so as not to interfere with the fold. I have been using the Monkii Cage (into which you can strap any size bottle) and the Monkii Clip (onto which the Cage fits by way of a slotted shape that slides over "cleats") for several months and have found it quite easy to use, even to drink while on the move, so it seems a good solution. The Monkii Clip comes with a clamp-on mount but I found it too bulky and awkward to fit anywhere on the Brompton other than on the stem. That location isn't possible because I want my handlebar bag fitted to face me, so I've opted instead for a simple (and very cheap) alternative I found on Amazon. This works beautifully with the Monkie Clip without taking up much space. 




I have had a cheap and cheerful Roswheel handlebar bag for years -- which saw good service on my Surly Pacer -- and am pleased it works well to give me "glove box" capacity in a convenient location. 


I plan to remove all bags before folding the Brompton up for transport on the EuroStar, but out of curiosity I folded the bike today with the bar and rear bags still attached. The only real downside I see is the fact that the Carradice SQR mount prevents the seat post from going down to its lowest point. I will need to pop the bike in its travel bag to see if the bag will still close!



Lastly, I have decided to use my trusty, comfortable Speedplay Light Action pedals for this trip, so today I fitted the pair that is normally on the Enigma (as they have slightly shorter pedal spindles than the pair on the Cross Check). My second attempt at SPDs in recent weeks have convinced me I will never be able to make due with just 6 degrees of float, so I guess I will be selling those pedals and cleats -- or, more likely, giving them away, as they are very cheap to buy new and really aren't worth trying to sell in secondhand condition, even if only used a handful of times as mine are. 


The common thread across all these mods is the ability to carry various accessories using mounts that take up very little space when the accessories are removed. In other words, the bulk of the mounting system needs to come away, when I remove the accessory. Hence, the Bagman frame comes away with the saddle bag and the Monkii "bottle cage" comes away with the water bottle still strapped inside it. The same 'take it with you' principle informed my selection of the Rixen Kaul Bottle Klick adapter to be able to carry a much larger water bottle on the main frame -- and I think this is still the best solution. So -- once we've resolved the screw/bolt issue -- I think we're ready to go!

7 comments:

  1. It's an interesting puzzle: how to keep all components easily removable, yet be able to also carry these items with mounting racks/hardware intact. It sounds like you've solved all the foreseen problems.

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    1. Thanks Annie. I'm not sure I've "solved" the problems, but I feel fairly confident that the compromises are acceptable, at least for this trip. Depending on how well this goes, we are thinking of taking the folding bicycles to Amsterdam via EuroStar in September. The train would be much faster and less fuss than a ferry so I am hoping this all works out! (Due to EuroStar's appalling policy on transporting full size bicycles, taking the Enigma or one of the mixtes is not an option.)

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  2. Hi Rebecca,
    What effect do the SQR bands have on the foldability of the Brompton? I use the SQR system on another bicycle but setting up my Brompton for touring I have decided to use Brompton's mini O bag and rack-top bag, together with a Barley on Carradice's classic bag support. I do have a rack on the Brompton and I use a B17 saddle, so that all works for me. But I'd be interested in your thoughts on the SQR system.

    Very much enjoy reading your thoughts on cycling!

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    1. Hi, funny you should ask that! It's a very close-run thing. The two metal bands take up a fair bit of space on the seatpost, meaning it does not go all the way down. It does go down *just enough* to "catch" whatever it is that locks the fold. Meanwhile, however, I find the placement of the Rixen Kaul Bottle Klick on the main frame near the seatpost affects the angle of the nose of the saddle when I push the seatpost all the way down. Usually, I angle the nose 'inward' over the centre of the folded bike, but the nose touches the rear of the R K clip. You can see this in the two photos of the folded bike. This keeps the seat post from going in that vital few millimeters needed to lock the fold. I have found two solutions: keep the R K clip with my Monkii Clip when I remove my water bottle (I'll have to post a photo.), which leaves only the round black block on the main frame. Or angle the saddle nose *outward*. This is awkward but as I usually lift the folded bicycle by the main frame anyway, it's not too much of an issue. All in all, none of this is 100% ideal. But for short term conversion of the bike into something suitable for 30-40 miles of touring, I can live with it. I'll then take all this extra stuff off the Brompton when the trip is over.

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    2. P.S. I'll post my thoughts on usability of the whole system once we're back. The key conclusion I'm drawing now is that, when we fold the bikes to put them in the travel bikes to go onto EuroStar, I will want to take everything I can off the bike to ensure it folds properly.

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  3. I look forward to hearing how the Brompton set-up performs. I will be touring somewhere flatter (the Netherlands) on mine and the foldability is less important as I will going by ferry. I'd be interested in whether you find the saddle-bag affects the handling of a Brompton. Have a good time touring!

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    1. Hi James, I've used Pendle and Barley saddlebags on Bromptons for years and have never noticed any change to handling. At least, nothing like the effect that having a front bag (or not) has. Have a great time in the Netherlands. I can't wait to go back!

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