Friday, December 27, 2013

Ortlieb mini-o bag: initial impressions

Merry Christmas to me!  I just got a white Ortlieb Mini-O bag (to be honest, I got it just before Christmas to use, sans Brompton, on my USA east coast trip.)

I've been eyeing one of these bags ever since I've got Mondrian.  The smaller area and more rigid surface should make me a little more aerodynamic.  This should be great for when I am zipping around town and don't need to carry a change of clothes or anything else substantial.

The smaller volume makes it easier to find your contents, and is actually ideal for a carry-on bag on a flight.  It'll hold my in-flight entertainment (small Kindle Fire, iPhone, in-ear headphones, etc.)

Ortlieb mini-o bag with my in-flight essentials
This bag gives me tons of room for my feet.
I'll report back once I actually am able to ride with it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Portapedal visit (December 2013)

I went up to Portapedal earlier this month to pick up the revised Brompton toolkit tire levers, say hi to my friends Donna and Al, and check out any new stuff that they've got.

Donna and Al from Portapedal
There were a couple of cool things in the store.  They have received the new Brooks Cambium saddles.  These saddles are made of rubber and cotton, and actually look and feel awesome.

Portapedal also has one of the last limited edition Moulton 60 bicycles (only 191 of them were made).  These beautiful bikes have as stainless steel frame that is silver brazed and incorporate Moulton's legendary suspension.  The bike is already sold and will be shipped soon.
Limited edition Moulton 60
That's it for now!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bromfoot 2 Folding Pedal Extender / Protector: First Impressions

In my early days with the ODB, I would inadvertently "overfold" the folding pedal and would scratch the raw lacquer finish.  This was upsetting, particularly on such a beautiful, expensive bike.

When I got Mondrian, I was determined to not let that happen again.  I recalled in an earlier post that Jeff from Bromfoot suggested using his product in order to prevent this from happening.  

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), Brompton had changed the shape of the folding pedal to more closely resemble the size of the non-folding pedal and the original Bromfoot would not fit on the 2012 and later folding pedals.  The new folding pedals are about the same size as the non-folding one in the fore - aft direction, but the effective left-right width was narrower (I think it had something to do with a European law regarding lean angles, or something to that effect).

Fast forward to November 2013.  I had bought Mondrian and Jeff had recently released the Bromfoot 2 that is shaped for the newer style folding pedals.  It was go-time!  I bought mine at Portapedal.

Bromfoot 2 in package
The package consists of the Bromfoot 2, four replacement fasteners, and a 2.5mm hex key.
Each of the fasteners had threadlocker compound applied to them.
Here is a video on how to install the original Bromfoot.  The Bromfoot 2 is even easier since popping off the reflector is not required.

Folding pedal before Bromfoot 2 installation.
The reflectors are integrated... no need to pry them off.
Make sure the Bromfoot 2 is in the correct orientation.
Bromfoot 2 installed
Another view of the installed Bromfoot 2
The Bromfoot 2 plastic will be the only thing to touch the frame when the pedal is overfolded, which eliminates scratching.
I found the Bromfoot 2 to be a clever solution to a few of the shortcomings of the Brompton folding pedal.  Firstly, it'll prevent me from scratching the frame if I make a bonehead fold.  It'll also prevent scratching during transport (like flying in a case or gate checked).  Secondly, I did notice that I was far less conscious of the placement of my left foot when riding.  Before the Bromfoot 2, my left foot would feel out of place and I would have to re-adjust it.  Now I'm doing that less.  Thirdly, I've heard that other riders have had trouble with their heels getting caught on the small rolling wheel or Eazy Wheels (it hasn't really been a problem for me, but I could see how this could happen).  The Bromfoot can give your foot a little more clearance room.

So... initial impressions are very positive for the Bromfoot 2.  I'll keep you updated if anything changes.

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Brompton tire levers for their toolkit

Brompton finally released their redesigned tire levers earlier this month.  I picked mine up from Portapedal this past weekend (I'll have more about that visit in a future post).  Here's some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Here are some comparison shots with the older tire levers:

It may be difficult to see in the photo, but the profile of the new tire lever is a little thinner than the old one.

The "spoke lock" entry is on the opposite side on the new lever.

The redesigned set of tire levers have a mass of 58 grams.

The old set of tire levers have a mass of 34 grams.

The new levers are obviously much heftier, and should be pretty much indestructible.  Otherwise, they pretty much function the same as the old ones.  Nice polishing job too... not super shiny, but you can't see any tooling marks either.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Wow, this site has now had over 50,000 views!  Back when I started I was pretty ecstatic to have more than 2 views a day!  I hope that I have helped some of you out there... that's really what makes me happy.  In addition, I've also learned so much from everyone's comments.

I've got a few more posts in the pipeline, so hopefully during the holidays I'll have some time to finish them.  Thanks for tuning in!

RIP Bert Cebular from NYCeWheels

In case you haven't heard the news, Bert Cebular, the owner of NYCeWheels, died last week in a tragic accident.  Bert was a pioneer in showcasing how awesome folding bikes are by opening his shop in NYC, doing Brompton tours in the city and fun rides like Brommie Yummie, and of course his famous videos on NYCeWheel's YouTube channel which have helped thousands of riders decide on a bike (myself included).

I was glad to have had the opportunity to contribute to the NYCeWheels site.  I've never been to the store, but I am actually heading to NYC later this month and will take the opportunity to drop in.

Condolences to Bert's family, friends and crew at NYCeWheels.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ergon GP2 Grips - Installation

The first aftermarket upgrade most people do to their M, H or S bar Bromptons are to change out the underwhelming foam grips.  The Ergon line of grips are the most popular by far, and for good reason.  They are intelligently designed to be more comfortable.

After fondling a selection of Ergon grips at Metrognome Music & Cycle to go,  I decided to go with the GP2 small sized grips.  These grips have a small bar end that will allow you to change hand positions during a ride.  It's kinda hard to tell how these will feel without riding them... I hope I chose wisely!

Ergon GP2 grips (small size).

Loosening 2-speed gear shifter with a 3mm hex key and moving it towards the center.

Loosening the brake lever mounts with a 3mm hex key and moving them both to the center.

I tried to remove the grips non-destructively, but ultimately I just cut them off with a box cutter.

Use a razor blade to scrape off the old adhesive.
Slide on the Ergon GP2 grips with the bar ends removed so that you can see when you reached the end.  This is how I initially set it up (with the end of the grip is flush with the end of the handlebar) and Jeff from Ergon states in the comment below, THIS IS NOT HOW YOU WANT TO DO IT!

The correct distance is used by this template included in the packaging.  I used a permanent marker to mark the spot where the inner edge of the grip should be.

THIS is how much the handlebar should stick out from the grip!

Bar ends snapped on.  They are a bit tough to get on... I used a rubber mallet to help get it in position.  Use a 4mm hex key to tighten on the bar ends after adjusting to taste.  Re-adjust the brake levers and gear shifter.

The Ergon GP2 grips do not affect the fold.  No cutting of the grips were necessary on a S-bar Brompton.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Meet the newest addition, Mondrian.

I’ve been looking to get a second Brompton for a while, both as a lighter weight option for quick rides and also just to have another bike if I have company in town.  I’ve been riding a few S-bars and felt at home on them.  I bought Mondrian at MetroGnome Music and Cycle to Go.

Mondrian started life as a S2L Brompton, but I took off the fenders and made it a S2E.  I had seriously considered making it a single speed, but decided against it.  The main frame is red and the extremities are cobalt blue, which match the colors of the University of Arizona very well.  When Todd from MetroGnome was doing his initial order way back during the Brompton US Championships I suggested this bike configuration, with the idea in the back of my mind that if it didn’t sell I would pick it up.  I added the sunflower yellow saddle from Brompton that I had bought a week earlier, which should make it pretty unique.

I had originally planned to call this brommie Wilbur, after the UofA mascot, but decided on Mondrian.  Why Mondrian?  Check this out…

Piet Mondrian was the father of cubism a cubist a cubism-influenced abstract expressionist, which seems appropriate since the Bromptons look very cube-like when they’re folded up.  Also, MetroGnome’s building was influenced by Mondrian.

I already have a few plans for Mondrian, most urgently is installing some Ergon grips and perhaps cutting the handlebars narrower.  I’m also going to try to find a small Wilbur sticker to decorate it just a little.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tragedy at El Tour de Tucson

The weather was the worst it's ever been for this year's El Tour de Tucson.  Usually the weather is just about perfect, but this year it rained pretty hard and the temperature was about 50 degreees F.  This was the first year it had ever rained substantially during the 107-mile event.  A number of riders had to be treated for hyperthermia after the race.

In addition, a cyclist was killed in an accident near the end of the race.  John Henderson was struck from behind by a Nissan Leaf.  The incident is still under investigation, but it was believed that the driver had a medical episode that caused him to lose control of the vehicle.  This was especially sad because I have friends who know John well.

Additional info at Tucson Velo.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Installation of 2013 Brompton brake levers

I recently installed a set of the new (2013) brake levers made available as an aftermarket upgrade from Brompton.  I did a little step-by-step for anyone interested in seeing what is involved in swapping the levers.  It's been a few weeks since I did this, so I hope my recall is correct.

The 2013 Brompton Brake Levers in box

Brake lever unleashed

Cool logo on the inside of the handle.  Shame that it can't really be seen.

For the weight weenies, the weight of the single lever is 77 grams (2.7 ounces).

Disclaimer:  THIS IS AT YOUR OWN RISK!  If you are not comfortable with working on your bike, have a professional do it.

Tools needed:
10mm wrench (spanner)
2.5mm & 3mm hex keys
Brake cable cutter and crimper

Supplies required:
New brake levers
New brake cables

Original brake levers

Step 1: Have your bike unfolded, and on a bike stand if possible.

Step 2: Loosen the 10mm bolt that retains the brake cable and loosen the cable.

Step 3: Cut off the crimp on the brake cable using heavy duty cable cutters.

Step 4: Remove handle grips if necessary.  This may require cutting them off.
(Since I have a p-type handlebars I didn’t need to remove them)

Step 5: Loosen the bolts on the old brake levers and gear levers using the 2.5mm and 3mm hex keys.

Step 6: Slide off the old brake and gear levers.

Step 7: Pull the brake cables out of their housings.

Step 8: Thread a new brake cable through the new brake levers and the old brake cable housings.

Step 9: Reverse steps 6 - 4.

Step 10: Squeeze the brake caliper and re-tighten the 10mm nut to lock down the brake cable.

Step 11. Adjust the tension required to squeeze the brakes.

Step 12. Cut the excess cable length and crimp.

The brake levers are a good upgrade from the previous version...if I ever need to, I can now do a skid stop!