Sunday, December 30, 2012

The blog now has a twitter account!

Hey everyone!  Hope the holidays have been treating you well.   I finally got around to establishing a twitter account for the blog - @dirtybrompton

Everything should be set up so that whenever I publish a new post, a tweet will be sent to announce it with a link.  I will probably also be tweeting bike-related photos from my instagram account.  Hopefully I can figure out some way to have tweets incorporated into the sidebar of the blog...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Just a quick post to wish everyone Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

1000 MILES!

The virtual odometer rolled over today and I surpassed 1000 cumulative miles ridden on the Brompton!!  It was quite a chilly ride this morning, with the temperature at 36 degrees Fahrenheit.  I was noticing new squeaking sounds on this morning's ride... wonder if it's the cold, the need for a tune-up, or even the Brompton toolkit (kinda doubt it).  The squeaking disappeared and reappeared several times, which was odd.

Anyone done a tune-up to their Bromptons?  What kind of schedule should I be following?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Brompton Toolkit Review, Part 2: On the bike & what it can fix

This is part 2 of the Brompton Toolkit review.  To see the first part, click here.

The toolkit only enters the bike in one way, with the wrench closest to the hinge.

And the way the toolkit sits in the bike leads me to this minor caveat for a the few owners who use the Brompfication hinges:

THE TOOLKIT WILL NOT FIT IF YOU USE THE BROMPFICATION LEVER BOLT AND LOCKING NUT!  The longer bolt will interfere with the wrench during closing.  You must switch back to the stock length lever bolt in order to use the toolkit as designed.

Locking nut is impeding the path of the wrench into the bike.
The stock lever bolt provides sufficient clearance for the wrench.

Once the toolkit is installed and the bike is ready to go, the toolkit is essentially forgotten.  You don't notice it at all while riding... no weird sounds or anything of the sort.

As for the using the tools themselves, I am going to shamelessly copy and modify the list that The Bromptontalk Wiki has for which tools fix what.  I have not personally confirmed all of these, so if a correction or addition needs to be made please let me know in the comments.

15mm: Back wheel and standard front wheel, chain tensioner.
10mm: Brake arms, brake wire, brake central bolt, front light (Edelux, Cyo), seat post clamp, suspension unit.
8mm: Back light, back fender.

Allen Keys:
6mm: Handlebar.
5mm: Brake arms, brake pad holder, brake lever (Shimano BLR5500), gear lever (SA SLS50 T5), Pentaclip.
4mm: Front wheel (SON), front light (Edelux, Cyo), gear lever (SA SLS50 T5), luggage block, back frame hinge.
3mm: Powergrips, Blackburn mirror.
2.5mm: Alignment brake arms, back fender.
2mm: Brake pad insert.

Slot: Front fender.
Phillips: Luggage block lever, gear lever (SA SLS3C R3).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Brompton Toolkit Review, Part 1: Component Breakdown

This is the first of several review posts about the new Brompton Toolkit.  The second post can be seen here.  Today I'll be covering the components of the toolkit and some of the specifications I measured.  Future reviews will cover storage on the bike and the use of the tools.

The complete assembled toolkit weighs 6.0 ounces (approximately 170 grams) and the longest dimension was approximately 5.4 inches (13.7 cm).  These initial run of toolkits were rushed out without any nifty packaging, just a foam envelope similar to what most electronics are protected with.

The weight of the total Brompton toolkit was 6.0 oz.

Brompton Toolkit maximum length was approximately 5.4 inches.

All of the tools are stored in the compartmentalized internal structure and covered by an aluminum tube.  The internal structure is mostly plastic but also has rubber-encased magnets to secure the toolkit onto the bike.  There is a notch on the aluminum cover as well as a "key" on the internal structure to aid in alignment while snapping them together.

Brompton toolkit with cover removed.

Compartmentalized internal structure

The aluminum cover has no protrusions into the middle of the tube.

The kit consists of the following parts (and their respective weights):

  • Aluminum cover tube (1.1 oz / 31 gm)
  • Compartmentalized internal structure (0.9 oz / 25.5 gm)
  • 15mm wrench & ratcheting head (2.1 oz / 59.5 gm)
  • 8 & 10mm wrench and tire lever (0.6 oz / 17 gm)
  • 8mm wrench and tire lever (0.6 oz / 17 gm)
  • Phillips & Flathead bit (0.1 oz / 3 gm)
  • 2 & 6mm hex bit (0.2 oz / 5.5 gm)
  • 2.5 & 5mm hex bit (0.1 oz / 3 gm)
  • 3 & 4mm hex bit (0.1 oz / 3 gm)
  • Sandpaper and tube patch (less than 0.1 oz combined)

Tools in the Brompton Toolkit
The drive bits, sandpaper & patch are standare fare, so let's dig deeper into the other components.

15mm Wrench & Ratcheting Head:
The 15mm wrench is used for loosening and tightening the wheel axle bolts.  It can be used on its own or while it is sticking out of the assembled toolkit.

The ratcheting head uses magnets to secure the drive bits during use.  The bits only attach from one side, and of course the ratchet is reversible.  There is a vertical significant offset between the wrench and ratcheting head.

Tire Levers with Built-In Wrenches:
The tire lever with the narrower edge has a combination 8 & 10mm wrench cutout.  This lever also has a spoke hook to anchor it when removing a tire.

The tire lever with the wider edge has a single 8mm wrench cutout and no spoke hook.

Steel runs the entire length of both tire levers (I checked with a strong magnet).  A plastic coating helps protect the rims.  The tips of the tire levers seem sharper than most of the ones that I am accustomed to... hopefully this will make it easier to remove the smaller tires!

Tips of the 8mm (top) and 8 & 10mm tire levers

Profiles of the tire lever tips.
From top:  PDW, Pedro's,  Brompton 8mm, Brompton 8 & 10mm. 

Profile of the tire levers stacked as they would be when stored.

Another view of the stacked tire levers.

A latch on the internal structure keeps the tire levers secure.

The Brompton logo etched / embossed onto some of the parts adds a nice touch:

Comment with any questions!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Brompton Toolkit - sneak preview

I received my toolkit today from Portapedal. Full review to follow very shortly!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 El Tour de Tucson photos

I ponied up the money and bought the set of photos with me in it for my (and your) enjoyment.  I know being a photog is a tough gig, especially one with approximately 9000 participants in it, so I feel they've earned it.

Walking up to the start area.
The happiness before the pain!
I think this is on Tangerine Road...
Hauling ass down Freeman Road.
Walking through the World Famous Canyon Ranch
Still walking...
High speed corner (well, it's supposed to be high speed).
Silverbell Road sucks! 
Me & my soccer teammate Tyler on my left shoulder.

Passing the Santa Cruz Church.
Thanks Bike Patrol!
Finish line!
Time to celebrate!

Monday, November 19, 2012

111 miles on the B, aka El Tour de Tucson

El Tour de Tucson is the biggest cycling event around these parts, attracting cyclists from all over. The main event is the 111 mile race that runs around the perimeter of town. I've done this ride twice before on a road bike, but of course this year I had to do it on the B!

Let me rewind a couple of days... I was getting flats on both tires a few days before the event (even though I had Flat Attack in the tubes).  I took the rear tire off and for the life of me I couldn't get it back on.  Had to go to the LBS to get it back on with a new tube and sealant.  The front tire went back on just fine.  I also snugged up my headset at BICAS since I could feel it coming loose.

Back to race day...

First of all, the weather could not have been better!  It was overcast all day, and the morning wasn't very cold.  As usual, all the participants were cheery and ready to roll.  I arrived to the starting area around 6:00, about an hour before the start.  I chatted up with a couple of guys who flew in from Kansas City.  I was able to park the B with the rear folded until just before the start.


The B ready and waiting and getting some stares.

Riders getting anxious.

The dudes from KC checking their phones.

Testing out Apple's new panoramic feature

Let's go already!

Before I knew it we were off and running. I didn't see any other folding bikes... I did see an unicyclist and three elliptiGO-type bikes, along with a hand full of recumbents and hand-powered cycles.  It was relatively uneventful 100 miles in... I did spontaneously find my soccer teammate about 40 miles in, then we parted ways soon after, then met up again with about 15 miles to go.

Me passing the unicyclist

I was beginning to struggle at about 10 miles from the finish.  I ran out of water in my Camelback hydration pack with about 7 miles to go.  I stopped about 5 miles to go and ate another gel, which in hindsight was a mistake because I didn't have any water to wash it down with.  Another 2 miles down the road my body (and especially my arms) were getting severely tingly and numb...I had to pull over again.  A couple of minutes later a bike patroller stopped, gave me some water, made sure I was ok, and escorted me to the finish.

Crossing the finish line

Many thanks to Bike Patrol #11133, who gave me water and escorted me to the finish.  I made Silver status (under 9 hours) by less than 3 minutes thanks to him.

I was hoping to get some cool acquisition data using the GPS from the iPhone, but it didn't work out... the battery ran out before the finish and my external battery kinda malfunctioned.  Oh well.  Luckily the GoPro just barely hung on long enough to get the finish.

One lesson I learned was to keep eating and drinking!  I ate 3 Clif Bars, 3 Larabars, 2 half-bananas, 7 gels and a handful of pretzels, along with 3.5 Camelback's worth of water and it wasn't enough.  And I know that amount was way more than I had last year.

Healthy post-race meal!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The long awaited Brompton Toolkit is leaving me breathless

Wow.  Thanks to Unfold and Cycle Blog, I got to see a video shot by NYCe Wheels on the upcoming Brompton Toolkit.

Holy crap!  I think this was way beyond what any of us were expecting when Brompton announced that they were making a toolkit.  Time will tell, but it looks extremely well designed and a lot of time and care went into making things perfect.  I love that this company didn't just slap together some cheapo tools and rolled them up in some cheap canvas envelope thing and called it good enough.  I will be eagerly awaiting mine!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's official... the Tucson Brompton Bicycle Club is here!

As I mentioned in the last post, I was thinking about starting a Brompton group at  There are two other Brompton meetup groups... one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Edinburgh UK.  The one I am organizing will of course be based in Tucson, but I hope to perhaps get members from all throughout Arizona and maybe beyond!

I'm thinking about organizing events for Brompton owners (and those curious) to hang out, take rides, maybe even do some trips!

Here is the link to the Tucson Brompton Bicycle Club! (Let me know if it isn't working).  Hope to meet some of the readers here sometime soon!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

First kinda-sorta meetup...

Yesterday I met up with the other cool Brompton owners at Sky Bar. It was the first time we all have gotten together since the Gary Fisher ride. It was nice to see everyone again and talk about the future rides and trips they are planning.

It was mentioned that they have seen other Bromptons around town, which is exciting. I think I'm going to make the leap and form a group on, and hopefully that'll make meeting more Tucson Brompton owners even easier! Once I get everything figured out I'll share the group info in a new post!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

First $100 saved!

According to my "back of the envelope" calculations and records (visible here), I've saved my first $100 worth of petrol!  I've got a ways to go to recoup the cost of the bike, but as they say it's about the journey, not the destination.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


The stats from the blog says that there have been 5,000 views on this blog.  Wow, that happened way faster than I could have anticipated!  Thanks to all of you readers!  I'll do my best to try to continue improving my posts and keep this blog interesting and helpful.

BICAS Build-A-Bike Workshop

Earlier this month I took a Build-A-Bike workshop at BICAS where you take a donated bicycle and re-condition it with new grease and parts and adjust everything for optimal operation.  The class was divided into 5 days that ran about 4 hours each day.  The following topics were covered:

Day 1: Fixing flats and re-conditioning hubs
Day 2. Headsets and bottom brackets
Day 3. Brakes & wheel truing
Day 4. Drivetrain: Chains & derailleurs.
Day 5. Final details and test drive.

Our instructors Ash & Kristen were very knowledgable and patient with us while we struggled with adjusting just so, which was the most difficult part.  The class was helpful in helping us learn what each part is called and also how to determine and use the appropriate tool for each job.

My "lab partner" Jan and I worked on a Trek Multi-Sport 720, and if I remember correctly it was 62 cm, which is WAY too tall for me.  The Trek was very abused, so we didn't have to make too many adjustments to it.  There were other very different bikes that the other people in the class were working on, which was nice since we could get exposure to all the nuances of different parts (i.e. sealed bottom brackets)

Overall, I really enjoyed the class and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in gaining knowledge of the inner workings of bicycles and the tool required to work on them.  The class was $80, but you will receive $40 in shop credit that can be used toward shop time, used parts or bikes.

Entrance to BICAS

The class workshop

My lab specimen

Cross-section of a headset

Ash teaching us about headsets

My lab partner Jan

Lupe, one of the many mascots at BICAS

Ash demonstrating wheel truing.

Wheel truer, AKA field goal posts.

Learning about drivetrains.

Jan getting the most important finger stuck in the handlebar.

Jan putting the bike through its paces.