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Moulton bikes. Great bike or over engineered?

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Moulton bikes. Great bike or over engineered?

Old 12-21-17, 12:00 PM
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Pahana
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Moulton bikes. Great bike or over engineered?

I demoed a Moulton last week and felt it was somewhat over engineered. My friend swears by it and he also has a Brompton. It's a really nice bike but is it worth twice the price of a Brompton. It was bouncy and not as fast as I hoped. I can't figure why my friend loves his Moulton as much as he does. It doesn't fold but does come apart. The video I watched of a guy taking it apart took time. I could take both wheels off my non folding bikes much faster and store the frame in a box faster. The price is one thing and I have bikes that cost as much but the Moulton seems over rated for my taste. After trying out the Moulton I'm going to buy a Soma Buena Vista frame and fork and switch out the components on a bike sitting around as I like the idea of a very low top tube.
It just seems to my view that Alex Moulton had some great ideas about bikes but went over board on the engineering. Alex Moulton's ideas could have been implemented in a simpler form at a lower price as far as I can see. The earlier frames seem to hold to his thinking and without the elitist form the bikes now have. Yes there is a need for elitist bikes as they move cycling forward but as for me the ride of the Moulton is just good not worth the price asking. I ask forgiveness from all Moulton owners but I just don't get why all the love from Moulton owners. After owning a Brompton for a few years I get all the love Brompton owners feel towards their bikes so maybe I would need to own a Moulton first but with Brompton it was love at first ride.
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Old 12-21-17, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Pahana View Post
...the Moulton seems over rated for my taste.
Okay.

It just seems to my view that Alex Moulton had some great ideas about bikes but went over board on the engineering. Alex Moulton's ideas could have been implemented in a simpler form at a lower price as far as I can see. The earlier frames seem to hold to his thinking and without the elitist form the bikes now have.
In the early 1960s Dr. Moulton tried to sell/license his design to large bike companies and they turned him down. He went into the bicycle manufacturing business in 1962 and his bikes became popular in the UK mass-market of the day. The big British bike companies (chiefly Raleigh) introduced vastly inferior models with big advertising campaigns and strong-armed their dealers to drop Moulton as a secondary line. Moulton's sales dropped, his bike manufacturing efforts began to lose money and he sold out to Raleigh in 1967, ending just four and a half years of independent cycle manufacture. Raleigh, in the great spirit of 'not invented here', ended all promotion, tapered down Moulton-design bike production over the next couple of years, then dropped the bikes entirely in 1974. You can read about this in 'The Moulton bicycle' by Tony Hadland.

Dr. Moulton spent the next several years advancing his ideas, designing around his old patents and went into the bespoke built bike business - your 'overboard' bikes. This 'elite' effort is approaching its 40th anniversary and business is quite healthy, thank you. You can read about this in 'The Spaceframe Moultons', also by Mr. Hadland.
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Old 12-21-17, 01:28 PM
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You make me want to try out a Moulton . A bike that is somewhat unique and with narrow market must be costly, when looking from the manufacturer's and dealer's side. From the consumer's side at least you know that their bikes withstood the test of time. From my personal side, I do not spend money on a car because I ride. If the bike is still significantly cheaper than a car, lasts much longer and retains resale value, I can be tempted
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Old 12-21-17, 01:31 PM
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the Mini, a Car, was where Dr Moulton's Ideas Made Money, the bikes were a cottage industry ...
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Old 12-21-17, 01:49 PM
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Looks over-complicated and extremely expensive but saw a review or two on youtube and they sounded very impressed. I have an old Moulton mini bike and a Moulton midi frame and forks. I prefer the Raleigh Twenties to be honest but find the Moulton's interesting in the way they have been designed and can see merit in their design approach.
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Old 12-21-17, 02:26 PM
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I have to say that I liked my 64 Std. Huffy Moulton as much as my later 97 ATB.
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Old 12-21-17, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Pahana View Post
I demoed a Moulton last week and felt it was somewhat over engineered.
I feel the same about the Moulton and the Birdy. Over-engineered and over-priced.

For the same amount of money, I'd just get a much more practical custom Brompton with an Alfine 11, better wheels, and better shock absorber.
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Old 12-21-17, 03:40 PM
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The Moulton's suspension is unique. Almost like a suspension bridge, but not like riding over the bridge, more like you're part of the bridge. I know that's a strange analogy but that's the only way I can describe the suspension compared to others I've used on folders.

Over-engineered? Perhaps, but in a good way. Expensive? Sure, no doubt about that. It is an acquired taste and not for everyone.
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Old 12-21-17, 04:02 PM
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I think that Moulton went wrong in in his testing phase of trying to come up with the least resistant tire by using a rotating drum. This led him to conclude that 17" high pressure tire was best. Had he done roll down tests such Jan Heine has done in recent times, his designs may differed.

If you have small tires with high pressure, you need shocks or a lot of dental work. And Moulton was into shocks. But shocks are a complication. They add weight and energy loss.

Because he felt that his early pre and raliegh frames were too heavy he designed the space frames. While that design may weight less, it added many more parts and cost more to produce.

Without Moulton there would be no Brompton.
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Old 12-21-17, 05:28 PM
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Triangulated truss is a known design, the Durstley Pedersen used a variation of a truss frame in the 1800's
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Old 12-21-17, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Schwinnsta View Post
I think that Moulton went wrong in in his testing phase of trying to come up with the least resistant tire by using a rotating drum. This led him to conclude that 17" high pressure tire was best. Had he done roll down tests such Jan Heine has done in recent times, his designs may differed.
So said Mr. Heine. In actual fact, Dr. Moulton (and Dr. Chester Kyle) not only did rolling tests on pavement, on numerous occasions he also dispatched employees to ride from his base in Bradford on Avon, UK, to the Wolber tire factory in France to test the tires.

Because he felt that his early pre and raliegh frames were too heavy he designed the space frames. While that design may weight less, it added many more parts and cost more to produce.
He actually designed a 'Y-frame' bike to follow the Mark I, II and III machines. A friend convinced him to design and offer something more radical, mostly for aesthetics and marketing.

You can read about all this in the books I referenced above.

"The Moulton is a delight to ride...it's performance is a revelation to someone who has ridden only standard bikes. It's superior." Sheldon Brown, 1984
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Old 12-21-17, 07:06 PM
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I test rode a Moulton and loved it. The bike rides better than my Brompton and looks better to boot. I won't argue if it is over engineered, I don't have the expertise for that. All I know is that I liked it. If I didn't need a folding bike at the time it would have been my next bike.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:41 PM
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As long as you're not interested in leading the peloton. My Moulton is my stiffest and most comfortable bike But I have always been acutely aware that it's slower.
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Old 12-21-17, 08:40 PM
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One reason is may be overpriced is that you are paying for British labor and subsidizing Britain's welfare state. Today high precision micro electronic devices are routinely manufactured in Asia, but many still think that a bicycle is something beyond the capabilities of Asian manufacturing.

Disclaimer: I typed this message on a mobile device made in Vietnam or Thailand.
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Old 12-22-17, 02:43 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra View Post
One reason is may be overpriced is that you are paying for British labor and subsidizing Britain's welfare state. Today high precision micro electronic devices are routinely manufactured in Asia, but many still think that a bicycle is something beyond the capabilities of Asian manufacturing.

Disclaimer: I typed this message on a mobile device made in Vietnam or Thailand.
I suppose that criticism of subsidising the welfare state could be applied to many European countries. I personally think there are mainly other factors. Firstly it is very low scale production which adds hugely to costs. I'm not sure its a design that would ever be cost effective even if mass produced. However the pound is still somewhat over-valued thanks to the UK having a large financial centre as part of its economy but as the has dropped due to Brexit so manufacturing in the UK has become slightly more cost effective. This contrasts massively with China for example where they artificially suppress the value of its currency to promote exports. Also unlike Germany we don't have surrounding low wage economies to manufacture low cost parts for final assembly. The Nissan and Toyota plants in the UK are the two most efficient car factories in Europe and possibly the world.

However I don't get your last point, no one thinks building a bicycle is beyond the capabilities of Asian manufacturing. Giant and Merida in Taiwan have very high quality robot frame production although I think have been mainly forced out of the OEM frame business and downsized as companies like Fuji-ta in mainland China have stolen much of their business. A case in point people go on about so called German bikes like Canyon but they are all frames sourced from asia but with a made in Germany stamp on the final assembled bike. Same is true of most bike brands around Europe, most at best are merely assembled parts shipped from China and the far east. If you want a bike truly made in Europe with a high percentage of European made parts you have to pay serious money for it. There is a push in Europe to manufacture more bikes and there is now cost effective frame manufacturing in Portugal but they seem poor in comparison to the far east frames with lower weight limits and apart from the frame the rest of the parts are your standard chinese or far east made parts anyway.

I doubt the Brompton would be any cheaper made in France or Germany and only slightly cheaper if made in somewhere like Poland or Portugal. However could be easily half the price or less if sourced from China even if a very high quality factory. How much would the Birdy be if actually manufactured in Germany not Taiwan. Its 2,000 approx from Taiwan so wouldn't surprise me if that priced doubled if it was made in Germany or 3,000 if merely assembled in Germany.
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Old 12-22-17, 03:02 AM
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Moulton (TSR) costing more than a Brompton?
That price is pretty close around here in South East Asia (eg. Singapore)

I had the Moulton TSR and I've ridden my brother's Brompton a few times to try out.
They are two very different bikes, so much so that I feel that its hard to really compare them like for like.
The Brompton folds well, rides not so well, really wide gearing so its harder to find the right one in some instances.
The Moulton breaks-down for transporting (I would not call it foldable), really plush ride, certainly rides faster than the Brompton, and standard gearing.

Ok... on the Moulton.
TSR at least, since thats what I used for up to about 1yr on many rides and against as many roadies.

I do think it has design cues from the 60's-70s where the major competition were steel bikes, heavy box rimmed wheels, etc.
And... I'd presume, poor Brit roads (or maybe even country tracks)...
So the smaller wheels were indeed lighter than the competition then.
The poor roads in some places did meant the need for the suspension with the original 17" wheels.
The weight of the steel bikes then would be on par with the Moulton.
A lot of the ideas were brought over to the newer TSR.


What we get on a bike like the TSR is :
1. A plush ride if you ride in not the best of roads (which is still a reality in 2017)
2. Packable for overseas or into the car
3. Very strong frame with little fear or loading issues
4. OMG! I got the most comments how good the bike looked for the Moulton.

However, the counter arguments against it are :
1. Some places do have good roads ( I never needed the suspension riding everywhere in Singapore)
2. Fatter tires and a bit lower pressure does give good enough comfort riding poorer roads and long distances (eg. 1.5" at 65psi)
3. Alu and Carbon are lighter
4. Even a minimalist frame style is lighter (eg. BF pocket rocket pro)
5. Most newer small wheeled bikes do fold (and many can be easily pushed around)
6. Its heavier and the suspension does take away some speed (esp on climbs) ; I often lost ground against road bikes on the climbs.
I also found that I started to be very conscious of the bobbing above 35kph (never found out if it was a good thing or bad)
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Old 12-22-17, 04:11 AM
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I was attracted to the Moulton by its unique design. It is visually unique and attractive to the engineer in me. I was so intrigued that I purchased a sample when the opportunity arose (2007) - a used Landrover APB.

I must admit to be being somewhat underwhelmed by the bicycle. It was heavy; it was not particularly nimble even with 20" 406 wheels; and the suspension could best be described as limited. I gave it a complete service and tried a variety of tyres to no avail.

I sold it after a couple months.

However, I would often read glowing reviews and reports. Perhaps I had just had a poor example? So I went in search again.

This time I purchased two Moulton - an original Moulton ATB and a TSR27. I tried very hard to like either but could not. Wonderful examples of the metalworker's art but alas not for me.

I found that the Moulton suspension can be effectively matched with the use of large volume tyres - such as the Vredestein F-Lites or Greenspeed Scorcher on good road surfaces; Schwalbe Big Apples (heavy), Schwalbe Shredda or a wide variety of lightweight competition BMX tyres for rougher surfaces. Maxxis offer a nice selection.

Cost - I gather most Moulton enthusiasts embrace the brand beyond mere utility. That is neither good or bad. It is what it is. Good luck to any company that can command such loyalty from its customers.

I'm rather pragmatic and regard my bicycle as a tool. They may be my favourite tools but ultimately they are merely a means to facilitate my travels...

Last edited by MultiplexMan; 12-24-17 at 06:30 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 12-22-17, 04:29 AM
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Only Brits can do 'pixie dust'.

Originally Posted by Bonzo Banana View Post
I suppose that criticism of subsidising the welfare state could be applied to many European countries. I personally think there are mainly other factors. Firstly it is very low scale production which adds hugely to costs. I'm not sure its a design that would ever be cost effective even if mass produced. However the pound is still somewhat over-valued thanks to the UK having a large financial centre as part of its economy but as the has dropped due to Brexit so manufacturing in the UK has become slightly more cost effective. This contrasts massively with China for example where they artificially suppress the value of its currency to promote exports. Also unlike Germany we don't have surrounding low wage economies to manufacture low cost parts for final assembly. The Nissan and Toyota plants in the UK are the two most efficient car factories in Europe and possibly the world.

However I don't get your last point, no one thinks building a bicycle is beyond the capabilities of Asian manufacturing. Giant and Merida in Taiwan have very high quality robot frame production although I think have been mainly forced out of the OEM frame business and downsized as companies like Fuji-ta in mainland China have stolen much of their business. A case in point people go on about so called German bikes like Canyon but they are all frames sourced from asia but with a made in Germany stamp on the final assembled bike. Same is true of most bike brands around Europe, most at best are merely assembled parts shipped from China and the far east. If you want a bike truly made in Europe with a high percentage of European made parts you have to pay serious money for it. There is a push in Europe to manufacture more bikes and there is now cost effective frame manufacturing in Portugal but they seem poor in comparison to the far east frames with lower weight limits and apart from the frame the rest of the parts are your standard chinese or far east made parts anyway.

I doubt the Brompton would be any cheaper made in France or Germany and only slightly cheaper if made in somewhere like Poland or Portugal. However could be easily half the price or less if sourced from China even if a very high quality factory. How much would the Birdy be if actually manufactured in Germany not Taiwan. Its 2,000 approx from Taiwan so wouldn't surprise me if that priced doubled if it was made in Germany or 3,000 if merely assembled in Germany.
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Old 12-22-17, 05:55 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra View Post
Only Brits can do 'pixie dust'.
I think personally the 'pixie dust' mentality is about brand snobs where you can have 2 near enough identical bikes often sourced from the same far east factory but logistic differences can make one hugely more expensive than the other but is justified by having the right brand slapped on. It seems wrong to apply it to unique bike designs that are engineered differently to competing models. There is no pixie dust to Bromptons, Birdy's, Moulton's, Bike Friday etc they are their own unique design with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. I'm not saying that the novelty and satisfaction of buying something not made in China isn't a factor. I'm sure many people in the UK like the fact that a Brompton is british made and those in the US like the fact Bike Friday's are made in the US though. That is economic and patriotic reasoning though not 'pixie dust'. Pixie dust implies a pure fantasy basis which surely is my explanation above.
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Old 12-22-17, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Pahana View Post
I demoed a Moulton last week and felt it was somewhat over engineered. My friend swears by it and he also has a Brompton. It's a really nice bike but is it worth twice the price of a Brompton. (Snip snip snip)

Alex Moulton's ideas could have been implemented in a simpler form at a lower price as far as I can see.
Wait for the cheaper Chinese Moulton clone which will be called:

MoultHon
MoulTern

and cheap chinese Birdy clone ...
Beely
Di Blardi

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Old 12-22-17, 01:50 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Bonzo Banana View Post
I think personally the 'pixie dust' mentality is about brand snobs where you can have 2 near enough identical bikes often sourced from the same far east factory but logistic differences can make one hugely more expensive than the other but is justified by having the right brand slapped on. It seems wrong to apply it to unique bike designs that are engineered differently to competing models. There is no pixie dust to Bromptons, Birdy's, Moulton's, Bike Friday etc they are their own unique design with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. I'm not saying that the novelty and satisfaction of buying something not made in China isn't a factor. I'm sure many people in the UK like the fact that a Brompton is british made and those in the US like the fact Bike Friday's are made in the US though. That is economic and patriotic reasoning though not 'pixie dust'. Pixie dust implies a pure fantasy basis which surely is my explanation above.
Please don't feed the Boy in Bali.
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Old 12-23-17, 09:36 AM
  #22  
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To answer the subject question, both.
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Old 12-23-17, 05:21 PM
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From reading this new thread, it seems no one tested a real Moulton, i.e. not a Moulton bike with a Pashley made frame but a bike with a real Moulton frame ?

The BOA made frames are built differently and the high end Moulton use really high end steel especially the stainless steel frames.

The result of this is that they ride much better and weight much less than the Pashley made Esprit, APB, TSR and even SST.

For the price, these bikes are hand built in very small quantities and as many components as possible are made in Europe (parts not made by Moulton like the groupset, handlebar.. are from Italian companies, only parts almost impossible to find from Europe like rims are not made in Europe). Their price is comparable to the price of other high end road bikes fully hand made in Europe (Italy for instance) in very small quantities.
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Old 12-24-17, 06:52 AM
  #24  
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^Sorry. I owned an original bright yellow ATB made from Reynolds 531. I have corrected the typo in my original post.
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Old 12-24-17, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Jipe View Post
From reading this new thread, it seems no one tested a real Moulton, i.e. not a Moulton bike with a Pashley made frame but a bike with a real Moulton frame ?

The BOA made frames are built differently and the high end Moulton use really high end steel especially the stainless steel frames.

The result of this is that they ride much better and weight much less than the Pashley made Esprit, APB, TSR and even SST.

For the price, these bikes are hand built in very small quantities and as many components as possible are made in Europe (parts not made by Moulton like the groupset, handlebar.. are from Italian companies, only parts almost impossible to find from Europe like rims are not made in Europe). Their price is comparable to the price of other high end road bikes fully hand made in Europe (Italy for instance) in very small quantities.

The "Esprit" is not made by Pashley but by Moulton in Bradford-on-Avon.

"Production of the bicycles will initially remain unchanged, so the TSR will continue to be made in Stratford-upon-Avon, while the Esprit, New Series and Double Pylon models will continue to be made at Bradford-on-Avon."

esprit ? Moulton Bicycle Club
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