Anxious about airline handling and facing $200+ each way in fees, I left my AM7 in San Francisco with the idea of buying a bicycle fit for riding from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The Probike site offered Dahon Mu P8s for a reasonable price and I knew they had a shop full of full-size frames too. On arrival I went to the several shops I found on Google. The best prices (small but excellent selection) were at Saengthong Cycles in Nonthaburi (Mu P8 was 17k baht, about US$570 with rack in Dec 2010), but I didn't find anything I really wanted to buy.
Then I ate something that violently disagreed with me and ended up flying to CM. I spent just one day out of three weeks on a rented city bike (heavy *and* flexy but nevertheless still effective at inducing the happiness of two wheels and only US$2/day). In CM I did see a few Louis Garneau mini-velos but these weren't for sale.
So I rode neither to nor from CM but late in the trip I discovered that there were both Birdy and Moulton dealers in Bangkok. I just hadn't thought to check. The shop in Bangkok even has two websites:
When I flew back into BKK I tried to call but the number had been disconnected. I hadn't printed directions so I asked the woman at the tourist desk to write the address in Thai for the taxi driver. She said, "You know this is a house, right?" Um, no.
The cab ride was quite long (maybe 25km?) but the meter came to about US$8. We entered a gated community and meandered through the sois and we found a sign for "The Spaceframe" with a little Moulton logo. The driver left me there and I knocked persistently until a gentle Thai man answered. I asked if he was the Moulton dealer and with a bit of surprise he welcomed me into the shop and introduced himself as "Tu".
Tu said that most of the mechanics and staff had the day off. He then spent almost two hours with me talking Moultons while I took pictures and went for a couple spins around the block on his demo bikes and his own TSR.
The shop was a small-wheel candy store:
* seven bikes on the first floor, a few demos and a few in for service
* on the second floor were more TSRs, another Bridgestone, 3 AM20s and 2 New Series
* several framesets hanging on the wall (turns out import duty in Thailand is 17% for frames and 37% for complete bikes)
* every Moulton part or accessory that had taken me so long to track down in the US: racks, bags, new and old style squashballs, etc., etc.
* a gorgeous AM20 which belonged to his late brother-in-law, kept on display as a memorial
Brief ride impressions:
* The Bridgestone amazed me. It's very stiff, no noticeable flex at all. A blast to ride, the 17" wheels are sprightly, the bike feels very light and fast.
* Tu's favorite is his own TSR30, which he uses mostly for fast day rides. I liked this bike a lot. I was surprised at how different the 20" wheels felt.
* The AM Esprit is most similar to my (1986) AM7 and this one was setup just like mine with Brooks saddle and 42cm drop bars. Taking this around the block the sense was of recognition: Ah, yes, this is what I've been missing for the last month. The Esprit was noticeably smoother, as if my AM7 had been rejuvenated.
* I didn't ask to ride any of the new bikes upstairs. In Asia, many bike shops don't allow test rides at all (customers want factory new) so I felt very fortunate to try one of each model downstairs. Though I wouldn't have refused a turn on a New Series
We talked a bit about prices: the BSM has become difficult to export from Japan and Tu said it would go for about US$2500. Jitensha.com in Berkeley lists one at $1950, but I don't know if they actually have one for sale. The TSRs are a bit more (maybe 20%) than US distributors charge. Tu quoted $6000 for the Esprit, which surprised me (I'd expected $3-4000) but apparently they are very hard to obtain. I offered to buy one of the BSM demos but he said they weren't for sale and sensibly suggested that I buy one new in the US. Since I was planning to tour New Zealand I pressed just a little bit but relented when he held firm.
So despite having over $3000 on my person (running late to SFO on departure date, missed bank errand), I somehow left the shop with the cash and without a bicycle. But it was very sweet to spend a couple hours with an extremely gracious host and huge Moulton enthusiast. Thanks, Tu!