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Brompton bike touring with Tarptent

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Brompton bike touring with Tarptent

Old 10-14-18, 02:33 PM
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NigelHealy
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Brompton bike touring with Tarptent

Hi I did two UK bike camping trips with Brompton this year, using two different Tarptents, weather was very different, in one I had to compete with heat, another compete with rain.


- Bike is Brompton S6R from 2011, with a 2007 rear SRAM, a 2008 Schlumpf Mountain Drive. Telescopic seatpost + EZwheels. Stock everything else.
- sleeping bag was PHD Minim 300 from 2011.
- sleeping mat a Thermarest Xtherm (I think like they currently sell).
- Black Diamond folding trekking pole. In the Notch I used two, in Protrail used one. I am biking, not hiking, so not need trekking poles but these are stronger than the poles I got with the Tarptent.

July trip

I did a 4 day loop around Lake District, I'd done this 2 or 3 times before so knew what to expect. What was different this time was it just stayed hot warm and sunny. So you wondering why a Brompton? Well it tends to not be 4 days of warm dry sun in that part of the world, you might get 2 of 3 days but usually you're forced into wet windy conditions and a Brompton can "give up" easily, in a few ways:
- you can spend the day in the tent, not worth moving. The bike is in with you protected.
- you can give up altogether and get any train or bus anywhere
- you can give up just camping for a night and go into a B&B (who probably have rooms as the weather by definition probably put others off).


I mention all the "give up" for a reason. Many do not even bother with any of what I am showing in this thread. Because..... "what if..... what if..... what if....". With a Brompton these fall away if you stick reasonably close to trains, buses, B&B, because of those "what if" situations actually occur, you have fall-back options. So, given those fall-back options, stop being a wuss and give it a try. That increased in me how many nights I went out biking and camping.

So in this trip the only real problem was heat.

Day 1.

- got dropped of by a friend in Preston and got the next train to Windermere direction, a train to Glasgow. Bike in a car boot, and on a train luggage rack. Benefit of a small compact folder!
- changed at Oxenholme, then train to Windermere.
- biked from Windermere train station to Langdale National Trust campsite

Not much biking, biking very easy.















Bike in stock cover in the Tarptent Notch



The Tarptent Notch is a twin vestibule tent so one side stores your bike, the other side is your entrance/exit/cooking. So put the bike on whichever side you don't to enter via.

In the morning the inside of the flysheet was soaked with dew, probably my bad choice of pitch location, there were trees around two sides including blocking the morning sun drying the tent, so I had to stall, open up the tent fully to let air through and wait for the sun to rise and dry, but even so it ended up packed damp, due to the heat I preferred to dry it on the evening pitch, and simply get moving.

I had decided to try to being off-grid electric, see how that worked. In this trip it worked well, so days without electricity and plenty of phone use.






Day's 2 route was hillier, but not that much mileage



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Old 10-14-18, 02:34 PM
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This day is not many hours in saddle so sat in the next shady spot and grabbed lunch







After pitching tent went food at the nearby Wasdale Head Inn.








Much less condensation this night as I'd pitched with more a thought to get a breeze going through and to the morning sun.

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Old 10-14-18, 02:50 PM
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Day 3





Now bear in mind all my kit was in a car trunk, then on two trains and now two nights camping so far, over the highest and steepest mountain passes in England. Goes to due credit of the Brompton. Part of this is also the Tarptent is very versatile, packs small and is lightweight. Combined you're seeing what a little bit of effort can get you.








The weakest parts was my brakes. My front wheel is the Superlight one. At this point it was complaining at me with creaking sounds. No problem, just time looking at views!




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Old 10-14-18, 03:21 PM
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No condensation here either due to keeping the tent better in a breeze plus the morning sun was on it early.

Day 4

I work in USA and this day was July 5th, back to work day after July 4th Independence Day so I needed to be back online working for 4pm UK time so not much biking left now and back to train.

















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Old 10-14-18, 03:23 PM
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So in this trip the major decisions were to:
- camp, using a dual-wall Tarptent Notch
- take a camping stove

The only issue was really heat. I was fine though, I bike often so physical strength and endurance is high enough to take quite a lot of stupidity to get into trouble. I left campsite with 4L (a Gallon!) of water, in form of a 3L pouch and a 1L bottle. I'd drink from the bottle sipping as required, then when empty decant from pouch into bottle and repeat til near end then sip from the pouch. My back was not covered with a backpack pouch holder, I needed to keep maximum evaporation.





What I thought I'd try next is to try a different tent and slim my kit down and see if going a bit more minimalist would be less comfort.

Next trip next post.

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Old 10-14-18, 03:29 PM
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Septermber trip.

- Tent: Tarptent Protrail
- I removed the Thermarest chair conversion kit and to sit up behind the trekking pole.

This removed:
- one trekking pole
- the pad chair kit

So instead of sitting up in the Notch like this:


(not my picture, I'll see if I can find of mine later)







With a pole to my left and right and the Brompton on one side. I'd sit up against 1 pole with the Brompton behind me.

My fears were with single-wall tents. I had used the Protrail a few year ago and the condensation was horrible, it dripped over my sleeping bag and I was soaked cold so this next time I was doing it a little differently.

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Old 10-14-18, 03:56 PM
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September Day 1

So a little lighter than the July trip as one less pole and not the pad chair kit






That elevation over distance is a good feeling of the day's ride, slow gentle steady climb following the River Wharfe then the short steep climb out of Wharedale via Cray then the quick descent into Wensleydale. The weather forecast was telling next day needed to be probably a stay inside day after a dry evening so I figured I'd camp but in a village I could spend a day in, so I was thinking of getting into Swaledale, and say camp near Keld but the clouds were thicking up so stuck to Wensleydale.












I went to sleep dry but morning it began raining and rained all day.

The Tarptent Protrail is not waterproof out the box, it needs to be seamsealed. You can either pay for Tarptent to do it or you do it yourself. I had done it myself but I found a few places I'd got leaks, a big one on the roof line seam, so I was dabbing it, and a few spots to the side. So on my to-do list was next time I passed an outdoors shop I'd get some more silicon sealant and do a better job.

I found apart from the slow growing water drops in the leaks it was a surprisingly pleasant experience. Relative to the Tarptent Notch, I had more room to my sides, it is a square rectangular floor in the Protrail so plenty of width the full length. The Tarptent Notch is more a diamond shape with narrow foot and head. What I did in the Notch was put the Brompton luggage at the foot end between end of my bag and the end of the inner. In the Protrail I put my Brompton bags to the side of my feet either side so my feet could not drift to touch the fly. That Protrail method worked ok.




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Old 10-14-18, 04:03 PM
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So having spent a day sitting out rain, next day I figured in my mind I could do this:





The amount of height climbed dominated this day, just a long set of hours climbing. The climb up to Tan Hill and then up Teesdale stand out.









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Old 10-14-18, 04:05 PM
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Many pictures did not post ..

instead showed
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Old 10-14-18, 04:16 PM
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At this point I discovered that Google Maps counts cycling as mountain biking, so off-road. There is no setting to say, no offroad, I want metalled roads. So at this point the bike directions from Tan Hill to Bowes has miles off-road. Which on a Brompton is bad idea, made worse by loaded with camping kit.

I don't have a photo I took off-road as I was rather focused on bike riding. But Google streetview shows you when the road goes to "bike route"

https://www.google.com/maps/@54.4627...7i13312!8i6656





I managed to survive this off-road as it was downhill and eventually got to farms and to roads to Bowes.

The climb up Teesdale had also a "bike route" which involved walking through muddy fields, so there's an idiot somewhere between the real roads, Google, and user / community feedback. I could not find "is not a road bike route" button to give feedback.










I camped in a valley, there was not breeze, and was on wet grass and I woke middle of the night soaked and cold. I think I made the mistake of getting too far into my sleeping bag so I was too warm, I woke with a wet sweaty back. So I was a cause of tent moisture myself via sweating. My PHD Minim 300 bag soaked and then I got cold. At this point I figured I'd solve this via putting on my wet weather gear to put more of a barrier between and the bag I had soaked to get warm. Just a lesson learned one can be too warm and cause one's own problem.

Also as each day went by I got more "unplugged" from technology, less photos taken more day dreaming and soaking in than thinking "that looks nice, time for a photo". I think the purpose of the trip was beginning to bleed through.

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Old 10-14-18, 04:26 PM
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Next day:






So here my challenge was one of time. Everything was soaked, but the sun was shining, so I spent nearly 2 hours spreading everything out to dry, and yet I needed I wanted to get some tent silicon sealant before shops shut before next rain. So I went to the direction of Keswick, which I knew is full of outdoors shops, and basically pedaled at speed so few photos.

But from memory:
- the mapping software was crap (again) bike route seemed to want to send me lots of mileage, following cars was sending me on busy roads
- so what I ended up doing was following the car route til road got busy with trucks, then I'd follow bike routes, and alternate like that.
- I ended up going through Penrith (lunch) and then Greystoke, then A66 pavements called bike paths and roads with a bit of white paint to claim "my bit of road". I did make it and actually the only Keswick shop with a tube of silicon was Needle Sports
- quick pitch to begin drying tent, then sealed seams at places which had leaked to let it begin drying as rain due in morning.
- this method is NOT what Henry Shires Tarptent recommend, they recommend a more involved use of white spirits to dilute, thin, some silicon and paint it on. That is very wise advice as a least weight is added to the tent, just enough, but my method leaves too-much excess adding some weight. What will happen is that excess will wear off over time, but I should really carry "something" lightweight to handle a leak (I'll do some research Gaffa tape ???)
- best advice would be likely follow Henry's wise instructions with your inexperienced hands, then let it be in rain and then look for drips, then fix as required, before you rely on the tent. I'd seam-sealed my Notch and no leaks in it, so i'd just done a worse job on my Protrail.











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Old 10-14-18, 04:27 PM
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Rather large chain guard, What kind is it and is it on stock chain ring?
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Old 10-14-18, 04:31 PM
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Next day I figured I'd find my day down south like Morecambe but my legs were complaining, I guess I'd had a rushed fast earlier day trying to get my tent sealed and dried before night. So this day as i biked up the steep climb out of Keswick to Thirlemere, my legs began negotiating with me for a day off. So I first told my legs I'd cut it shorter and go to Langdale, but by Grasmere, myself and my legs had negotiated if there was a cheap B&B I'd go there instead. That's what happened.





So, just for the record, this is what the brain sees: a direction a place to go. Views.




This is what legs look like. They been biking for 3 days lugging camping kit and sleeping in a bag. They look chunky and strong but they have a voice.






This is then what legs and brain sit down and do. They negotiate.




Having brains and legs negotiated they hold a ceremony in commemoration of going into a wuss.





Then after the ceremony, the legs take over and rest.





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Old 10-14-18, 04:36 PM
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Next day.

The weather forecast was showing rain coming from the north so I was going south. I had behind me a "rest day" so in front of me could be a higher mileage day. The day after was going to be wet everywhere so I had in front of me one long biking day then needed to be indoors again. So went to a family member's house.







The weather then was daily due to be bad, I decided I'd done enough biking with camping kit so then decided to drop the camping kit and go on just B&B into southern England. As that doesn't involve a Tarptent I'll stop here.

Costs
- Askrigg campsite. You get a field, a toilet, a tap. A very nice lady and chap, the soil suits tents, thick enough to hold pegs in but not hard. 3 pubs, a corner shop and a tea room. Who needs more! 5 a night. I spent 2 nights here.
- Haggs Bank campsite You get 3 levels of flat grass, like a rice paddy terrace, each capable of fitting a few tents, tap. A small test to find where the hell you check-in, a wonderful luxurious showerblock, warm clean, perfectly kept. Cost 10 a night, spent 1 night there. Only problem I had here was not the site's fault, my tent got soaked with condensation. Probably best for those with dual-skin tents.
- Langdale NT campsite. I really love this campsite. I keep returning it time after time. I remember when it was 4.50. It is about 12.40 now, that's 1-man tent and 1 man and a bike. It is very close to Ambleside, there is a bus service, and there is a shop at Chapel Style and a good pub 5 mins away. Has showers available.
- Wasdale NT campsite. This place has changed a lot over last 25 years. Used to be windswept, but the trees grew. Acceptable. 12.40 now.
- Braithwaite Campsite. I have a love/hate relationship with this campsite. It would be perfect apart from proximity to the main road. The traffic drones on, it is not dark, a lot of caravans (road - duh!). Upside is the nicest campsite people, never a dull cross word, I have camped here for about 25-30 years, the Caravans get more space each year (road... duh). Good showers. 3 pubs nearby, 2 on foot, 3rd on bike, and on a Brompton, 10 mins away is Keswick. Camp shop and they do breakfasts. I remember when it was 2.60 for a night. About 12.40 now.

B&B in Ambleside:
- this trip I knocked on doors til I heard of a single room. The one I used this trip was this one: https://www.holmeleaguesthouse.co.uk/ a very good experience. The ones here I also used, all excellent and they were full when I passed through this year https://www.hillsdaleambleside.co.uk/ 2 Cambridge Villas Bed and Breakfast offering Friendly Accommodation in Ambleside - 2 Cambridge Villas Rysdale - this year I paid 40 for B&B which is fairly typical rate.
-

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Old 10-14-18, 04:50 PM
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What I am working on next:

- All tents get condensation is a fact. I'd had one wet condensation night in the Tarptent Notch in a July night, and one wet condensation night in the Tarptent Protrail in September.
- The advantage of the Protrail is I could easily wipe down the Protrail fly inner. If I woke I could use a small hand towel to wipe the fly, the fly on the Protrail at the head is high I could not accidentally touch it, so I could reach hand up to wipe over head, then sit up more and wipe further down, by the time I am leaning forward my back is touching what I had wiped, so then finally get to wipe the foot end. To do that in the Notch I'd be able to dry to the side, then reach up overhead, unclip the inner, and progressively wipe all the inside, but in the Notch it would be overall harder.
- So to my surprise, the fact that all tents get condensation, but a Protrail allows you to easier dry it, made me overcome my fear of single wall tents.
- Back through time in earlier tents, before the Tarptent Notch I did have a Terra Nova Laser Competition. It is a solid inner with a little mesh, but it suffered condensation too but even worse than Tarptent. It would condense one's own sweat/breath on the inside of the inside and there is no barrier to it. With the Notch there is a mesh roof which tends to hold the drops off overhead, and drips to the side run down the outside of the mesh. So Notch was better due to mesh inner keeping wet fly off. The Tarptent Protrail worked well in a different way, you are far away from the condensation but you can reach it easily to wipe it down. Both that easily reachable far-away fly single-wall and the dual-wall with plenty of ventilation in the inner, both work. So a Moment DW may also work as it has a solid roof but also venting to the upper of the sides and the foot and head end.

What I'm look at next:
- I found I was ok not cooking food. I did cook a few times, but for the size and weight of the stove and the tinned and dried food, I am not sure in summer months it is worth it. I was ok using pub food, or eating bread rolls I'd pick up along the way, eating tinned meat out of the tin. So I think i will ditch the cooking kit and remove its weight and volume.
- Moving to 1 trekking pole and removing the pad chair conversion worked well, it was comfortable but to lower size+weight further I have ordered a thicker 600 Carbon pole, a 45" 4-section with spike and shock cord for $66 delivered. That will lower the weight from roughly 8oz to around 3.5oz. Carbon does not like scratches or being bent too much, but in the Tarptent Protrail does not need the Brompton tight against the pole, it can be inside the cover bag and loosely tied to the pole, and I am leaning against a Thermarest which rests against liner so the pole won't feel sharp narrow point force, more of a spread out force. So hopefully it won't break.
- I'll be more aware of being in open breezy places to keep condensation down.
- I'll probably go to sleep just in a jacket and a little cool, as basically I think my body is dumping heat into my bag and I'm getting warmer when asleep, so I need to go in cooler, and in the night if i wake cold then put my torso in the bag.
- I am going to apply some DWR to my Tarptent to encourage drips to slide down the inside and soak up less water.
- I see there is a new dual-wall Tarptent Moment for 2019 coming. I am thinking if i keep the Protrail for summer and use a Moment for more into cooler months as its solid inner has a solid roof so would be warmer and less chance to drip condensation onto me relative to the mesh roof of the Tarptent Notch.

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Old 10-14-18, 05:20 PM
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Lots of ...................... spaces.
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Old 10-14-18, 05:27 PM
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thanks browser crashed, deleted a bad post. Should all be good now?
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Old 10-14-18, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by keke View Post
Pictures no load.

Lots of ...................... spaces.
Hmmm, looked ok for me but tried in incognito browser and yuk, yes you're right, thanks for letting me know i'll edit it up better. Will take me a while...
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Old 10-14-18, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Schwinnsta View Post
Rather large chain guard, What kind is it and is it on stock chain ring?
In OP, wrote "2008 Schlumpf Mountain Drive." its a 54t If like mine,
in low, gear box in crank, it's a '21.6t'
crank arms turn 2.5x faster than the chainring..
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Old 10-14-18, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
In OP, wrote "2008 Schlumpf Mountain Drive." its a 54t If like mine,
in low, gear box in crank, it's a '21.6t'
crank arms turn 2.5x faster than the chainring..
Wow, sorry, I had to edit all my posts to move from copy/paste of images into uploads.

I have a 2008 vintage 56T Schlumpf Mountain Drive. At that level with the SRAM I have a low enough if I'm struggling then walking is not much slower, if I made it a smaller chainring I'd gain a little seldom on the lower end but lose useful top. So its a middling compromise.

What I am thinking of doing next is replace the 2007 SRAM with a 2011 BWR. It would give me a lower low and a higher high. It would those lose my close gears. I have all the parts to try it next loaded bike camping trip.

I may have saved an hour in total or so if I'd had a lower gear, replace some of the walking up steeper sections, but it is marginal <15" as you're not far off walking speed at very low gears and the bike is vulnerable to falling over and if you stop you cannot restart. The only section I feel I would have benefited from, where it was a little too step but manageable, was Lorton to Winlatter.

Last edited by NigelHealy; 10-14-18 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 10-14-18, 08:57 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Schwinnsta View Post
Rather large chain guard, What kind is it and is it on stock chain ring?
Apologies on some image upload issues, I had to change from copy/paste to download/upload. Hopefully fixed now, any bugs let me know.

That is a 56T chainring with 56T guard. The 2007 vintage SRAM hub was a narrow range, so you had to choose where you wanted to get your range. The Schlumpf Mountain Drive is a 2.5x downshift. So back then, I'd figured about 56T about right.

It is all different now since the BWR hub ~ 2011. The need for Schlumpf is much reduced. I do have all the parts to make a BWR + MD. But what chainring? If I kept as-is 56T then I'd have a much lower low and a much higher high. I might just assemble it and experience!
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Old 10-15-18, 09:32 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by NigelHealy View Post
Apologies on some image upload issues, I had to change from copy/paste to download/upload. Hopefully fixed now, any bugs let me know.
Great pictures, interesting tour. All pics loaded for me.
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Old 10-15-18, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by NigelHealy View Post
Apologies on some image upload issues, I had to change from copy/paste to download/upload. Hopefully fixed now, any bugs let me know.

That is a 56T chainring with 56T guard. The 2007 vintage SRAM hub was a narrow range, so you had to choose where you wanted to get your range. The Schlumpf Mountain Drive is a 2.5x downshift. So back then, I'd figured about 56T about right.

It is all different now since the BWR hub ~ 2011. The need for Schlumpf is much reduced. I do have all the parts to make a BWR + MD. But what chainring? If I kept as-is 56T then I'd have a much lower low and a much higher high. I might just assemble it and experience!
OK , mine came as a 54t from CM Wasson, The original Brompton dealer in California, (now retired)
I use a 15t cog on a 3 speed, which has been the skip tooth one from the Sachs hub spares..

1st used it on this bike, moved to a newer M3L BSR.


....

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-15-18 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 10-15-18, 12:24 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
OK , mine came as a 54t from CM Wasson, The original Brompton dealer in California, (now retired)

....
My Schlumpf came direct from Schlumpf, I emailed with Florian to tune my solution, from Switzerland in 2008.

Channell passed away a couple of years ago. I bought Brompton from him 2011 and 2015. The bulk of the Brompton in the photos is from my 2011 Brompton I got from Channell, the rear wheel from a Brompton dealer Avon Valley Cyclery (Bath, UK) from 2007. Front wheel I got for free from Channell as there was a recall notice on Superlight wheels and so he had a load of spares.

I have a BWR hub from my 2011 Brompton, the spokes broke but I have the spokes to rebuild the wheel so I may do that and move to BWR from SRAM to widen the range.
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Old 10-15-18, 03:09 PM
  #25  
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His house in Palo Alto must have been worth a fortune by now..

I got a dynohub so I have an extra front wheel too, now

that one in the picture had a 20 spoke front wheel . steel hub.
AW3 hub was dated 94.. as I recall... spokes Zn treated steel then.






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-15-18 at 03:14 PM.
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