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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Which Brompton for touring?

    I wasn't sure if I should put this here or in the Folder forum.

    After fixing up my Dahon Speed for touring (putting a front rack on it, etc.), I've now realised it's just not reliable enough for touring. I've had numerous mechanical failures related to the frame closure, and now the chrome-moly frame has developed a crack . I'm going to look into having it welded, but I'll probably get rid of the bike or just use it for riding around town.

    I think I'm ready to move up to a Brompton, and I'm wondering what features I'd want to look for in a bike that would be used for touring. I understand there's one available with a six-speed hub. Would that be the way to go? What about handlebars? Panniers?

    Thanks for any advice you might be able to offer.

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I wasn't sure if I should put this here or in the Folder forum.

    After fixing up my Dahon Speed for touring (putting a front rack on it, etc.), I've now realised it's just not reliable enough for touring. I've had numerous mechanical failures related to the frame closure, and now the chrome-moly frame has developed a crack . I'm going to look into having it welded, but I'll probably get rid of the bike or just use it for riding around town.

    I think I'm ready to move up to a Brompton, and I'm wondering what features I'd want to look for in a bike that would be used for touring. I understand there's one available with a six-speed hub. Would that be the way to go? What about handlebars? Panniers?

    Thanks for any advice you might be able to offer.
    Are you aware of The Path Less Pedaled? I know that eventually I plan on the 6 speed, -12%, probably a P model with racks and the dyno light set up. Luggage is going to be a personal choice, if you can pack light enough the Brompton T bag should be plenty. Russ and Laura (see The Path Less Pedaled) used a backpack of some sort supported on the rear rack.

    Aaron
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    Have you considered a Bike Friday New World Tourist? It's designed for touring, and I've done a lot on mine over more than 10 years. It's a solidly built travel bike which packs into a suitcase, but it doesn't fold up as readily as a Brompton or another Bike Friday model.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Are you aware of The Path Less Pedaled? I know that eventually I plan on the 6 speed, -12%, probably a P model with racks and the dyno light set up. Luggage is going to be a personal choice, if you can pack light enough the Brompton T bag should be plenty. Russ and Laura (see The Path Less Pedaled) used a backpack of some sort supported on the rear rack.

    Aaron
    Yes, I follow their exploits. I wonder how they attached those backpacks to their bikes. They've also got some kind of bag on the front.

    They've published an e-book that shows exactly how they do things, but I'm too cheap to fork over the $20.00 they want for it, especially if I can get the info. for free from you y'all.
    Last edited by Ekdog; 11-08-12 at 07:33 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
    Have you considered a Bike Friday New World Tourist? It's designed for touring, and I've done a lot on mine over more than 10 years. It's a solidly built travel bike which packs into a suitcase, but it doesn't fold up as readily as a Brompton or another Bike Friday model.
    I've looked at those, but, as you say, they don't have as nice a fold as the Brompton and to have one shipped to me here in the Old World would cost a pretty penny.
    Last edited by Ekdog; 11-08-12 at 07:22 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I've looked at those, but, as you say, they don't have as nice a fold as the Brompton and to have one shipped to me here in the Old World would cost a pretty penny.
    I'd probably buy a Brompton for commuting because they have the best fold, but wouldn't tour on one because of the tiny wheels, limited gear range and non-standard components. I'd look at the Tern D8 as an alternative and make sure you pack appropriately.

    http://www.ternbicycles.com/us/bikes/link-d8

  7. #7
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    This is just my experience and opinion and I haven't ridden a Brompton, but have to wonder if the ride is suitable for touring. It looks like it has a very upright riding posture and long masts for both seat and handlebars. On the small wheeled folders I have ridden that combination didn't cut it for me for all day riding or even shorter more aggressive rides. I find it decidedly awkward and unpleasant for steeper climbing.

    I can only imagine it being worse with even a light touring load.

    I find my Dahon Helios pleasant enough to ride a few miles to run errands, but much more than that and it starts to become unpleasant. I guess I might consider it for a particular type of tour, but probably will never use it for touring. The Brompton has even smaller wheels, looks like it is even more upright, and has even longer masts. I am pretty sure I would find it unsuitable to any of the types of tours that I would be likely to do.

    That said if your riding style is different and/or your tours are less about the riding and more about off bike activities it might work out better for you than it would for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I've looked at those, but, as you say, they don't have as nice a fold as the Brompton and to have one shipped to me here in the Old World would cost a pretty penny.
    According to the Bike Friday website, they have a dealer in Barcelona, Plegabike: http://www.plegabike.com/

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    PDX dealer (clever cycles) has a Blog on his Brommy tours.
    M6L, with a Double crankset change to have 2nd lower range..

    I fit a Mountain drive Crank , A much lower range with AW3/BSR.
    M3L gets 6 speeds widely spaced.

    Extra space: Carry-freedom City Trailer , [it folds too]

    Some of your options: rear rack , backpack standing upright on it,
    Seat post beam rack to use panniers, QR one will pop right off to fold.
    Or a big Carradice saddle bag + the front touring bag..

    M bars take the double grip shift width Ergon grips ,
    GR3 maintains Quick fold, GR5, a moment longer
    to loosen the bar end clamp with your pocket multitool..

    B17 is a common factory or aftermarket option..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-08-12 at 11:30 AM.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Packing a load in my Front touring bag actually increases the bike's stability
    the bag is on a clip on the frame, headtube.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    This is just my experience and opinion and I haven't ridden a Brompton, but have to wonder if the ride is suitable for touring. It looks like it has a very upright riding posture and long masts for both seat and handlebars. On the small wheeled folders I have ridden that combination didn't cut it for me for all day riding or even shorter more aggressive rides. I find it decidedly awkward and unpleasant for steeper climbing.

    I can only imagine it being worse with even a light touring load.
    When I was relocated to an office in NJ I wanted a folder to commute in combination with the train. The idea was that if the weather turned really bad, I could pop the bike in someone's trunk and get a ride at least part of the way home. A LBS carried both Brobmptons and Fridays. I test rode both and passed on the Brompton precisely because of the upright posture. I felt like I should be tooling around the English countyside at 10 mph in a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows. I ended up buying a Friday NWT because I could set it up in a more agressive position and put bar ends on it. It served me well for years on my mostly flat commute, but climbing short hills was not that comfortable. But what really made me think "Who would tour fully loaded on this?" was its lack of stiffness in the handlebar mast. The frame also flexed noticeably when I stood up and hammered up small hills, and the 20" wheels also made for a harsher ride.

    With that said, people tour on them. In Glacier N.P. I crossed paths with ACA's North Start Tour on its way to Alaska. One participant was riding a NWT with two panniers and the suticase trailer Friday sells. Don't know if he made it, but I do remember him saying it wasn't his first loaded tour on the thing.

  12. #12
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    But what really made me think "Who would tour fully loaded on this?" was its lack of stiffness in the handlebar mast.
    I have never ridden an NWT, but had hoped they would suffer less from that particular issue. I am sorry to hear it is an issue even with the BF NWT. I guess it really doesn't surprise me that much. I would think it would be hard to build a bike that folds small and doesn't suffer from that.

    I could maybe see touring on a small wheeled folder along the Danube or some flat canal way. Also some riders must not have as much of an issue flexing the mast and frame, because I have ridden with some guys (they weren't touring) who said they thought the NWT rode "just like their regular bike" that was a full sized non-folder. I was dubious if I would agree based of my limited experience with other folders, but always wondered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    When I was relocated to an office in NJ I wanted a folder to commute in combination with the train. The idea was that if the weather turned really bad, I could pop the bike in someone's trunk and get a ride at least part of the way home. A LBS carried both Brobmptons and Fridays. I test rode both and passed on the Brompton precisely because of the upright posture. I felt like I should be tooling around the English countyside at 10 mph in a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows. I ended up buying a Friday NWT because I could set it up in a more agressive position and put bar ends on it. It served me well for years on my mostly flat commute, but climbing short hills was not that comfortable. But what really made me think "Who would tour fully loaded on this?" was its lack of stiffness in the handlebar mast. The frame also flexed noticeably when I stood up and hammered up small hills, and the 20" wheels also made for a harsher ride.

    With that said, people tour on them. In Glacier N.P. I crossed paths with ACA's North Start Tour on its way to Alaska. One participant was riding a NWT with two panniers and the suticase trailer Friday sells. Don't know if he made it, but I do remember him saying it wasn't his first loaded tour on the thing.
    I've toured on my NWT since the year 2000, and I've climbed lots of mountain passes on it. I haven't noticed any problem with a lack of stiffness in the handlebar mast or flexing when I stand. I'm a small rider and a strong hill climber (and a relatively slow rider on the flats and everywhere else). Perhaps you're bigger than me, and if so, that might account for the different experience.

    I've toured with panniers in the Pyrenees including the Col du Tourmalet. I toured in the mountains of northern Laos. I encountered about 30 other touring cyclists in Laos, including 4 others touring on Bike Fridays. Two of them were pulling the suitcase-trailer. I biked up Going-to-the-Sun road on my NWT, and in the mountains of Mexico, plus a bunch of other places. I love my NWT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Also some riders must not have as much of an issue flexing the mast and frame, because I have ridden with some guys (they weren't touring) who said they thought the NWT rode "just like their regular bike" that was a full sized non-folder. I was dubious if I would agree based of my limited experience with other folders, but always wondered.
    That is undoubtedly the case. I've done a number of camping bike tours on my Bike Friday and haven't had any issue with excess flexibility. The tours have been down the Pacific coast and in the SF Bay area on terrain that certainly wasn't flat. I can feel more flex due to the long stem compared to my 700c touring and road bikes if I look for it, but it's not something I normally notice while riding, incl. climbing steep grades.

  15. #15
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    S bar option is there for those who want to lean further over on their Bromptons.

    You also can fit Ergon grips on the S bar..

    I just bend my elbows a little .. its also my front suspension..

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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    I test rode both and passed on the Brompton precisely because of the upright posture. I felt like I should be tooling around the English countryside at 10 mph in a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows.
    And you say that like it's a bad thing!

    In more seriousness, I second the recommendation of checking out the experiences of Russ and Laura of the Path Less Pedaled. No tweed involved.
    http://pathlesspedaled.com/?s=brompton
    http://urbanadventureleague.blogspot.com/ http://societyofthreespeeds.wordpress.com/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanadventureleaguepdx/

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    The been touring the world for 50 years, Herr Stuke
    is now also on a Brompton, M6R

    his previous rig was a Bike Friday, which he got them, BF,
    to build a Low rear rack to stand Up a Back Pack .

    [Russ and Laura adopted that arrangement, later]
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-08-12 at 02:02 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    Yes, I follow their exploits. I wonder how they attached those backpacks to their bikes. They've also got some kind of bag on the front.

    They've published an e-book that shows exactly how they do things, but I'm too cheap to fork over the $20.00 they want for it, especially if I can get the info. for free from you y'all.
    I believe that the front bag is the Brompton T-bag. Carradice makes one for the Brompton too, but I believe it is smaller.

    Aaron
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  19. #19
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    According to a recent poster, there should be plenty of Bromptons in a Spanish bike shop, so if you can find it, go for a test ride.

    We researched, and have continued to research folding bikes for touring based on our experiences with our travels and travails in Europe.

    The problem for us with the Bike Friday is that it doesn't fold for instant convenience, and from what I gather reading blogs and even BF's own site, reassembly and disassembly of a BF would take me as much time as an diamond frame bike would. Recent issues with cracking and breakages of the steerer tube on one of their models also is a worry.

    This brought us to the Bromptons, because they do fold down relatively compactly for instantly getting on trains. But the problem is the limited gearing, and IIRC, it starts at 39gi, which might be a problem with a load and climbing a 15% grade like we did yesterday.

    So essentially, I think you need to work out what you want to do with the bike, what gearing you want, and how quickly you want it (my belief, based on SJS Cycles' assessment is a 17 week wait). If you can locate that bike shop, you might have a Brompton in your hands tomorrow... according to lucille who says the shop is in Barcelona.

    Then there is the Birdie, but the front suspension worries me because extra linkage points mean more things to wear, break down and replace.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    According to a recent poster, there should be plenty of Bromptons in a Spanish bike shop, so if you can find it, go for a test ride.

    We researched, and have continued to research folding bikes for touring based on our experiences with our travels and travails in Europe.

    The problem for us with the Bike Friday is that it doesn't fold for instant convenience, and from what I gather reading blogs and even BF's own site, reassembly and disassembly of a BF would take me as much time as an diamond frame bike would. Recent issues with cracking and breakages of the steerer tube on one of their models also is a worry.

    This brought us to the Bromptons, because they do fold down relatively compactly for instantly getting on trains. But the problem is the limited gearing, and IIRC, it starts at 39gi, which might be a problem with a load and climbing a 15% grade like we did yesterday.

    So essentially, I think you need to work out what you want to do with the bike, what gearing you want, and how quickly you want it (my belief, based on SJS Cycles' assessment is a 17 week wait). If you can locate that bike shop, you might have a Brompton in your hands tomorrow... according to lucille who says the shop is in Barcelona.

    Then there is the Birdie, but the front suspension worries me because extra linkage points mean more things to wear, break down and replace.
    I was in my LBS the other day: no Bromptons available at all. I'm in no great hurry, though, which is more and more my approach to touring and to life in general.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the input.

    In case anyone else is interested, here's how Russ and Laura attach their rucksacks to the Brommies:


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    The problem for us with the Bike Friday is that it doesn't fold for instant convenience, and from what I gather reading blogs and even BF's own site, reassembly and disassembly of a BF would take me as much time as an diamond frame bike would. Recent issues with cracking and breakages of the steerer tube on one of their models also is a worry.
    It is FAR easier and faster to pack a Bike Friday NWT into its suitcase and reassemble it than a diamond frame bike. And one important note is that the Bike Friday will be securely packed into a suitcase which is under the current airline maximum dimensions which avoids a hefty surcharge. Also, the NWT model does fold instantly, but it remains fairly unwieldy to carry compared to a Brompton or the Bike Friday Tikit model. I have been able to fold my NWT and take it on trains which don't allow regular bikes. The same with a few buses which didn't have space for a regular bike.

    The steering tube issue is a red herring. It affected only the Tikit model, and only a few bikes at that. BF quickly moved to alert owners and fix the problem.

    Most importantly, the Bike Friday NWT is DESIGNED to be a touring bike and performs like a touring bike. The other folders simply do not. If I were getting a bike I wanted to ride mainly in urban areas and easily take on public transport, I would get a Brompton or a Bike Friday Tikit. But for any real touring, there simply isn't anything out there that performs like Bike Friday's models.

  23. #23
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    Beating a dead horse here.

    I had a chance a few months ago to compare a BF to a Brompton, and the Brompton felt like the type of bike you can take on a holiday as local transportation, and then throw under the bus to your next destination. The BF felt like a true touring bike, one that folds nicely

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I observe:
    BF Tikit and Brompton share same tire size.. 349..

    BF 20" wheel travel bikes partially fold and knock down,
    made to get you to the trip start
    hidden in a suitcase.. but the dismantling is a bit slow..

    But if the airline nails you with a $100 fee, for 'Bike'
    each time you go somewhere, the cost-benefit picks up.

    Brompton is a fast fold, and folded size is smaller than the Tikit.

    OP in Spain, is closer to UK than Eugene Oregon, USA.

    so within EU, has easier access to UK products.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-09-12 at 10:33 AM.

  25. #25
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    You haven't disclosed us as to why you want a folding bike. The reality is that you won't find a perfect bike and have to take the trade off into consideration.

    I did test ride a bike Friday on a multi day tour and it was fine but it didn't suite my needs. I wanted a bike that folds and unfolds in minutes. The Brompton fits this requirement. I exit an airplane, train or bus unfold attach the bags and I'm off. It's also nice to detach the bags, fold up and take the bike inside the store/restaurant so you don't have to worry about it. The key though is to pack light, you have the T-bag and a bag for the rear rack. A backpack for the rear bag is a great option if you need to take more luggage along. I got by with a garbage compactor bag (smaller size and thicker material than regular garbage bags). In there I keep my tent and sleeping mat. A string easily wraps around each end so I can carry it over the shoulder.

    Riding 16 inch wheels is just as scary as riding 20 inch wheels at the beginning. It's something you will get used to though. The reduced stock 6 speed is great setup and allows you to go up hills just fine. Riding the Oregon coast I could keep up with riders on full sized bikes, although riding with them is a bit difficult as the fewer gears means your optimal speed might not match theirs. Going downhill will cause the biggest difference though, as you will max out much earlier at the speed where it makes sense to pedal along. So there you will be slower, which is probably good since you have smaller wheels anyway.

    The biggest challenge though will be to pack light. But soon you wonder why you carry four huge paniers on your full sized touring bike.

    Pick the one with your favorite handlebar style 6R. The reduced gearing as mentioned earlier and the T-Bag for your luggage. You might want to add the son hub system as it comes with great bright lights.

    You can read more and see some photos at my Brompton blogs: http://adventurelaus.blogspot.com/search/label/brompton
    One man's adventure is somebody else's boring life. These are my adventures: http://adventurelaus.blogspot.com/

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