Friday, June 29, 2007

The Airnimal Joey Sport

We have been lacking a report on the Airnimal Joey for a long time, but happily we now have one, written by Nick Hodges - thanks Nick.
PS: Airnimal Designs tell us that they do now offer a modified steerer tube extender with a 'key' for centring and an improved headset tensioning system. A note to this effect has been added to the test report. Steve. [02/07/2007]

Birdy Touring Test Report

At long last, inspired by Marc's report on the Birdy Light, we have completed our report on a late 2006 Birdy Touring. Read all about it HERE.
The even longer delayed report on the Strida is also nearing completion, and if the weather improves enough to take some photos, it should be released within the next week.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

July 14th Origami ride - Great Malvern

July's Origami ride on the 14th will go from Great Malvern railway station. More details are here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Smithfield Nocturne Folder Race Pictures

Here are quite a few photos of the folding bike race recently held in London. It looks like good fun but rather wet. There is also some video here.

EDIT: PezCycling has a report also.

Steve adds: The only results I have found are -
1. Richard Bailey, Xootr Swift
2. Angus MacAlister, Giant Halfway
3. Phil Jones, Brompton
4. Alex Murray, Dahon
5. James Davis, Brompton
6. Richard Pearce, Brompton
All I can say about this is weird! With due respect to all who took part, and the machines they rode, I'm not sure that this is representative of anything in real life - I can't even say that it was a function of the race format (no idea what it was, but still rather strange in my opinion). Of course the first Folder Forum race was won by a Strida ridden by Mark Sanders (the designer), and again, with the greatest respect to Mark and the Strida (I own one), I'm not sure that it really proved anything, though it too great fun!

From around the traps

The Mirror newspaper had an item on a British family that replaced their car with several folding bikes, amongst other strategies. There is the usual amazement that a family can do without a car.

The Telegraph newspaper notes that the UK head of Warner Brothers, Josh Berger, is fond of his Brompton, in as serious a tone as you might expect.

The Norwich Evening News has quite a good article on local and national initiatives to encourage the replacement of cars with cycles. It seems that the managing director of TRO (a marketing services agency) has a folding bike and his company supports a Ride2Work scheme despite a large portion of their business being car-related.

The Community Care website has a piece from their resident ethical living expert, mentioning his folding bike of course.

Monday, June 25, 2007

ICE at the CTC York Rally

I'm not a regular visitor to the CTC's annual York Rally - last year I went because there was a folder ride on the Saturday. I hadn't planned to go this year, but then news emerged that Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE) had developed a folding recumbent bicycle, so a visit to the show became essential. ICE are of course well known for their recumbent tricycles - the current models fold and separate, and I am an enthusiastic owner of one of these machines. A two-wheeled version would be more compact, so seems interesting, but I have serious doubts about my ability to manage one - balancing as you start off is tricky, especially on an upward gradient.

ICE had four prototypes of the new machine at York (plus of course the usual Trices, which attracted a lot of interest). Although they were prototypes, they looked very smart and were as well-finished and well-engineered as we expect of ICE. The design is not finalised at this stage, and apparently the front-end geometry still needs some refinement; at present the demand for the production Trices is so high that there isn't enough time to finish the development, so they won't now be in production until 2008. Although there will only be one basic frame design, this can be configured in many different ways, as the four prototypes demonstrated, with options on type of handlebars (no under-seat steering though), hard-shell or mesh seat, 451 or 406 wheels, front suspension or no front suspension, etc. Disc brakes will be standard, as will rear suspension (a similar elastomer arrangement to that used on the Trices). Suspension stiffness will be adjustable in a similar way to the Trices (different elastomers and different location points, and the seat angle can be adjusted in the same way as the standard Trices. There may also be a means of adjusting the seat position laterally to a limited degree (not finalised), and of course the boom can be adjusted to accomodate different leg lengths. As well as a choice of the sporty 451 sized wheel and the more common 406 versio of the so-called 20 inch wheel, there is sufficient clearance to allow fat as well as thin tyres to be fitted - the picture below shows one of the machines fitted with Schwalbe Big Apple tyres.

As the basic frame is the same for all the versions, it will be possible to reconfigure your machine after purchase - just as the 2007 version of the Q (or QNT) can now be fitted with a hard seat or mesh seat.
Unfortunately none of the machines was available for test riding, at least while I was there (a wet grass test track is not ideal, and perhaps ICE were reluctant to allow the public onto their not-finalised prototypes, which might not give a proper impression of the final machines). I did get to sit on two of the machines though, one with the mesh seat and one with the hard shell. As I am not only very short, but particularly short in the leg, ability to reach the ground is rather critical in my case, and in this respect the hard shell seat worked better for me.
These promise to be very interesting machines, and I look forward to more details in the future, and perhaps a chance to try riding them. ICE had a preliminary colour A4 sheet about the new two-wheelers, but it only provides some pictures, and no detailed specifications as yet. At the present time, there is no information on their web site, but no doubt details will appear there in due course, when the design is finalised and we are nearer the start of production. Prices obviously cannot be finalised at this stage either, but seem likely to be in line with other recumbent two-wheelers of similar specification (of the order of £1300??).
As far as the rest of the York Rally goes, I was only there on the Saturday, so I did not get a chance to see very much. There wer a number of Airnimals on the Mike Dyason stand, though I did not get a chance to talk to Richard Loke about them. There were also quite a number of folders, mostly Bromptons, and Moultons being used by visitors, though not noticeably any more than on previous visits.

Birdy Light Test Report

Marc Obrowski has supplied us with a report on his Birdy Light - you can find it HERE on our web site. Many thanks to Marc for the report.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tales (tails?) of 2 Airnimals

In January we published a report by Andrew Stewart on his very interesting Airnimal Chameleon, which has a fixed wheel (ie only one gear and no freewheel). Andrew has subsequently updated his report - in fact he updates it regularly, so rather than re-publishing the update on the foldsoc web site, we suggest you use THIS LINK to go direct to his web site. Even if you aren't into fixed-wheel riding, this is still a very interesting report, so you might want to bookmark it and check how it develops.

My own Airnimal is a very different animal (sorry), and justifies the model's name - Chameleon: I need and use all my 27 gears, which cover a range of 21 inches to 106 inches. It's most recent serious escapade was the Cotswold Outing Brevet Populaire (100Km) on 10th June. This was the third time I'd done this ride, but this year the ride started from Wythall rather than Cheswick Green, and I chose the anti-clockwise route instead of the clockwise route. I've ridden a number of 100Km BPs, and although they have all been well-organised, the Cotswold Outing is unquestionably the best one each year, perhaps the best ride of any kind in the year - so congratulations and thanks to Beacon RCC for organising such a great event. As I've commented before, the Chameleon makes a great folder for doing audaxes. In fact, perahps I should not include the qualifier 'folder' in the previous sentence - although I don't often ride conventional bikes, I do sometimes use a Thorn Audax on these rides. The Thorn is a superb bike, but I think the Chameleon performs at least as well in most respects for this sort of ride, and it is certainly easier to transport it to and from the event. The only area in which it is perhaps weaker is that of the gear change and (rear) brake - like most folders, with convoluted cable runs, friction and wear and tear on the cables resulting from folding and unfolding do make for slightly less precise operation of these controls.
Since the Cotswold Outing, my Chameleon has had a major makeover - I've put dropped bars and STI levers on it (it previously had flat bars). Given my recent problems with sciatica, I'm not sure whether this is a sensible change, but the appearance of the bike is far more purposeful (I defintely favour function over appearance, but in this case the difference is striking). I'll report further on the modification, and how to retain the option of either flat or dropped bars, some time in the future.

2 years of Citycycling

Issue 24 of .citycycling marks 2 years of publishing some fine writing. The hunt for der Bromptonaut continues, of course.

End to End Trips

Simon Berry is setting up to do his second End-to-End (Lands End to John O'Groats) cycle ride later this year. It looks to be the first E2E to be ridden exclusively on Sustran's National Cycle Network. Like his first E2E in 2006, he'll be using a Pashley Moulton.

Duncan Mackay rode his Birdy from the Isle of Wight to Cape Wrath in 2004, resulting in another interesting website.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mac Ride Update 9th Sept 2007

Latest info from Rob - Last year there were 4 of us from the group on Trices - Can we find at least one more for the 50 mile route. How many folding bike riders can we get to sign up to ride this year?

MacRide 2007
is on Sunday 9 September 2007 - the website with all the details is at and we are taking entries - just download and send your entry form.
Do please help us to raise even more this year for Macmillan Cancer Support - all the money is spent within the Warwickshire & Coventry area - and don't forget that through the generosity of our sponsors, supporters and volunteers our costs are minimal (less than £200 in 2006) - that means that over 95% of the entry fees and 100% of sponsorship and donations go to Macmillan.
We are running the popular 25 and 50 miles routes again, but this year, by popular demand, we have added a third distance option for a "metric century" - that's 100Km or about 63 miles. By offering this distance we are hoping to attract an even bigger field of riders, especially club cyclists and Audax riders - and anyone who likes a bigger challenge!
.... and please note : with the increase in rider numbers (and hopefully even more this year!) we have out-grown the start venue and will be starting MacRide 2007 from the Stratford Park & Ride (by arrangement with Warwickshire County Council & Johnson's Coaches, the operator) - the cycling routes will still be on quiet roads, using the off-carriageway cycle-paths to and from the start.
Ride the MacRide - tell your friends, family and work-colleagues - and help make the event even more successful.
Hot news : for 2007 we have a MacRide cycling jersey available in return for a donation of just £25 (that's a proper Coolmax jersey with back pockets etc, not a T-shirt) - details on the website at
Looking forward to seeing you!
Rob & the MacRide Team

One Tonne Carbon Challenge

According to the News Shopper, Kent County Council is challenging participants to reduce their carbon emissions by a tonne. Prizes include free bus tickets and a folding bicycle.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Train Restrictions on Folding Bikes

Train companies in the south of England have banned carrying all bikes south of London during the London to Brighton charity bike ride, according to the BBC. While this has been railway company practice since 2004, this time it also includes folding bikes. Hopefully, any affected folding bike riders already know this, as 27,000 L2Bers will be riding to the seaside on Sunday 17th June.

Is there anything modern British train companies can do well?

EDIT: According to the Argus newspaper traffic near Brighton was gridlocked on Sunday, due to the motor vehicles needed to transport riders back to London.

“The Fónta”TM folder

Velo Vision has a report of a new Irish-designed folder called “The Fónta”. We have now received a press release on the machine too. Although there is quite a detailed paper specification, the only pictures seem to artist's impressions of the machine fully folded and fully unfolded. One point noted in the spec is the quoted weight of 13.8Kg, which is moderately heavy. Other points readers should note are that the asking price is £1997, which is very high, and a waiting time for delivery of 18 weeks - which suggests the machine is some way from production, and most experienced folder designers will confirm that the time, expense and trouble of getting from concept, or even prototype, to production are considerable. The artist's impression shows what looks like quite a compact folded package, but the number of joints involved must raise questions about lack of stiffness when riding. The company has a web site address,, but apparently this will not go live until July. You can find information in the meantime at the Velo Vision web site. It will be interesting to see what comes of this machine, but at this stage I certainly won't place an order myself (just paid for home and car insurance)!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rugby Revisted

A reminder that January Origami ride started from Rugby Station in Warwickshire.

The picture here shows the riders meeting on the platform with folding bikes after arriving by train.

The following link to a 1955 film shows how cyclist from London could gain access to cycling in Warwickshire by using the train.

There are many locations in the film that the Origami rides have been to including Draycote.

Film Location Here. Youtube Film1 . Youtube Film2

Source: CTC Email May 2007

'Materials in Bicycles' Conference Speakers

Several worthwhile speakers will be at the Materials in Bicycles conference, at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining on 6th of July. They include Alex Moulton, Mike Burrows and Chris Dodman. Details can be found on the BikeBiz website, together with those of the Royal College of Art's Bicycle Design Summer School 4-5th July.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dahon D7 Speed (2006 model) test report

We now have a report on the Dahon D7 Speed (2006 model), by Sue Jones. You can reaad it HERE.

Strida steering pin warning

Apparently a small batch of Strida 3's have a bolt used to secure the steering pin slightly out of tolerance, which can result in the steering pin being or working loose. There is information on how to check for a loose steering pin on the Strida web site HERE. Strida 3 owners should check this, as it is a safety-critical area - the link above also provides information on what to do if your machine is affected. Mine seems perfectly OK.

Folders in Design Week and the June Origami Ride

The June 7 Issue of Design Week contained an article by David Henshaw on folder design. Amongst the machines mentioned were the Strida and Swivel-Head, both designed by Mark Sanders, and on the basis of this Mark has been able to put a copy of the article, in pdf format, on his MAS Design web site. You can download it from HERE for the next couple of weeks.
The June Origami Ride in Milton Keynes on 9th produced a particularly varied collection of folders.

There were of course a good number of Bromptons, but Dahons were unusually well represented, including Chris Eley's new Curve SL, already much modified, and Mike Roberts' Groove - disc brakes, but it does not fold!

Both these Dahons are equipped with Schwalbe Big Apple tyres (though different sizes of course), and both owners seem impressed with the ride and rolling reistance of these fat, low-pressure tyres. I'm tempted to try some on my Trice.
Amongst the less common makes which were present were a Strida, which coped very well with quite a long ride, with some rather difficult surfaces in places, and an AIrframe with the 8-speed Sturmey-Archer hub.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Smithfield Nocturne Folder Race

BikeBiz report that Dahon is sponsoring a folding bike race during the Smithfield Nocturne in London on the evening of June 23rd. Unlike the recent Brompton World Championships in Spain, the race will have a 'Le Mans' start.