Overhauling the rear suspension of the APB

Servicing the rear suspension on an APB is pretty much identical to that on an AM and very similar to that of the 60s Moultons. After extensive use the rear suspension pivot pin or bushes may wear or may seize if the original lube has been washed out. On very early APBs the phosphor bronze bushes were not as well lubricated as those made since 1992.

Spare parts are available through your local APB dealer. It is advisable to get a new pivot bolt, sleeve and pair of phosphor bronze bushes before starting a full overhaul. It is a good idea to service the rear suspension on a yearly basis if the APB is in regular use. In this case do not remove the phosphor bronze bushes. In addition to the normal tools you will need a vice with soft jaws if the phosphor bronze bushes are removed. If the pivot bolt is seriously seized in the sleeve we recommend that you take it to your nearest APB dealer. If there is some wear present but the bolt is not seized its replacement can be tackled at home.

j1. With cantilever brakes, undo the rear brake cable from the cantilever arms and unhook the straddle wire from the other side. With V brakes, undo the inner cable clamp and pull the cable away from the arms. On derailleur models undo the pinch bolt holding the rear derailleur inner wire in place and release the hub gear wire if you have a 3 x 7 model. Similarly release the front derailleur inner cable on those fitted with a front derailleur. Pull all the inner cables through the outers so that no cabling remains attached to the rear triangle.

On 3 and 5-speed hub gear models disconnect the gear cable. With the 7-speed Sturmey-Archer hub gear, unscrew the wire behind the support arm, undo the cable adjuster completely, unscrew the connector at the frame join and the slide the outer cable away from the eye on the rear triangle so that the complete inner and outer are no longer attached to the rear triangle.

2. On some models it is necessary to remove the right hand crank. In almost all cases it makes access easier. Undo the right hand crank fixing bolt and using a crank extractor remove the right hand crank. Remove the rear wheel. With a 13mm spanner, hold the right hand pivot bolt head still and with another spanner unscrew and remove the nyloc nut on the left hand side. With a soft-faced hammer knock the pivot bolt through the sleeve; if it is very tight you may need to use a piece of steel rod to act as a drift.

3. Undo the four cross headed screws that hold the suspension rubber cone unit to the back of the seat tube. The rear triangle can then be removed from the frame. Support the rear triangle carefully and drift the sleeve out of the phosphor bronze bushes.

4. If the pivot is simply being serviced, leave the bushes in place. If replacement is required, each bush will then have to be carefully removed from the pivot in the rear triangle This is accomplished by using a drift on the inside edge of the bush. Smear the inner and outer surfaces of your new bushes with anti-seize compound, which is supplied with new bushes and pin set. Using the soft jaws of a vice, push each bush into the housing one at a time.

5. Using a soft-faced hammer, knock the pivot sleeve into place. It can be a tight fit. The pivot sleeve should protrude a small amount either side of the bushes when pushed into place. This may not be visible to the naked eye. Test for pivot bush protrusion by placing two straight edges against the bush. If a little movement sideways of the bush is possible before the straight edges touch the phosphor bronze bushes, there is sufficient protrusion. If not, remove the phosphor bronze bushes as described in 4 above, clean some paint from the edges of the pivot housing and reinsert the bushes as described above. Recheck for sufficient protrusion.

6. Place the rear triangle back in the frame. Replace the crossheaded screws that hold the rubber suspension cone in place and tighten. Push and then tap the pivot bolt through the pivot. Screw on the nyloc nut and tighten fully. Replace the right crank if removed. Replace the rear wheel. Reconnect the gear and brake cables and adjust as per their maker’s manuals. Check that the gears and brakes work fully before riding.


REMEMBER THE WARNING

Modification, repair and renovation work should only be carried out by qualified people. If you do not have the experience and/or expertise to judge whether any procedures described in Masterclasses are correct, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE JOB. The information given in Masterclass articles is intended to act as a reminder to capable people who are carrying out repair work. The authors, the Moulton Bicycle Club and its Officers accept no responsibility for work carried out by owners or their agents, whether that work is done in accordance with any information contained in these articles or not.

Carriers for the APB

Introduction

Most owners have found that the All Purpose Bicycle really lives up to its name – you probably wouldn’t choose it to go racing on road, track or off-road, but otherwise it does most things very well. However, the versatility of the bike is further enhanced by the way in which its luggage carrying capacity is an integral feature of the design – as it has been on all Moultons. Unlike the Moultons of the 1960s and ‘70s, the carriers for the AM and APB series are not part of the main frame, but are attached via the mounting points provided on the frame, and not only does this give the option of riding without any carrier at all, but it also means that it is possible to use carriers other than those provided by the manufacturers. This article will take a look at what is currently available in the way of carriers for the APB, and will suggest how the different carriers suit particular needs.

Rear carriers

Most people start loading their bikes – whatever the type – from the back, since this avoids the extra weight having too much effect on the steering. The only current common exception that springs to mind is the Brompton, for which the standard luggage is carried on the front. In the case of the Brompton this has the benefit that it does not interfere with the parking/folding mechanism, and the quick mounting of the front carrier is one of the many ingenious features of the design – even if the result is decidedly unaerodynamic! Brompton enthusiasts like the Henshaws (of Folding Society and A to B fame) and the Edges carry enormous bags on the front of their Bromptons, without any apparent ill effects on teh handling, although personally I find the that a Brompton ridden without any front bag does feel noticeably more sprightly than when the standard front bag is used – even if the bag is empty.

Moulton owners though are advised to follow the normal rule of starting loading from the rear, not least because the effect of a heavy load on the front with the small wheels and suspension can be to induce a very alarming shimmy (although this is much less of a problem with the APB than with the smaller wheeled and softer sprung AMs).

The options for rear carriers which are summarised below.

Do you need a carrier?

Fitting no carrier at all saves weight, and makes it easier to bag the bike if you need to; you may either be managing without any luggage at all on a short ride, you may be using a conventional saddle bag, or perhaps a bum-bag. It is generally regarded as better practice to carry the load on the bike than on the rider’s back – far more stable and more comfortable. I cannot understand the prevalence today for cyclists carrying large bags on their backs – except that perhaps their (non-Moultons) do not provide any way of carrying the load on the bike! However, a bum-bag up to the size of the Kirtland Twin Bottle Pack can be quite effective for very small loads, and has minimal negative effects. Although it is not fashionable at present, the traditional saddle bag attached to the saddle is very effective for carrying modest loads. Although many modern saddles do not have mounting loops, bolt-on loops can be bought which mount on the rails of the saddle. Cost, excluding the bag itself, is zero if your saddle has mounting loops, or about £2.50 if you need to buy mounting loops.

Day bag

AM owners are lucky enough to have a day bag carrier and bag available to them, but there is no equivalent factory option for the APB – one problem is that the on the AM no mounting strut is needed, but with an APB some support strut is required to prevent the carrier pivoting down.

Two neat solutions are available for the APB to provide an equivalent to the AM day bag carrier. The first of these is Steve Parry’s day bag carrier, modelled closely on the AM version, but with a support strut (which needs to be shaped to clear the brake cables, different versions being needed for V brakes and for normal cantilevers). The carrier seems to be made out of steel rod, so is relatively heavy for its size, but as it is quite small anyway, the weight is quite acceptable. The carrier is very neat in appearance, fits the style of the bike, and is intended for use with a bag of similar style to the extraordinarily light (if rather flimsy and pricey) AM day bag. Cost, excluding the bag, is under £20. Additional comments on this carrier can be found at the end of this article.

The second alternative is Malcolm Lyon’s mounting bracket and strut which enables a Pletcher carrier to be mounted, inverted. This is a remarkably light and strong combination, and will take quite a reasonably sized camera bag, rack top bag or the like. It mounts very low, and although it doesn’t match the styling of the bike, it is an extremely effective solution. Cost excluding the bag is under £30.

Intermediate

Next up comes the factory rear carrier. This is probably the best overall compromise, and takes the large Moulton expandable bag (or anything else that will fit on it). It’s fairly robust, and will support other types of bags, piles of magazines for posting etc. The only things to be said against it are that it increases the width of the bike so that it needs to be removed when bagging the bike, it is a trifle heavy if you don’t need to carry much, and this carrier and bag are not particularly well suited to camping, when you have a tent and other luggage to carry.

Touring

Quite a lot of people still find the conventional cycle touring arrangement of twin panniers very convenient. This is particularly true if you are touring with a tent – a conventional pannier arrangement makes it easy to carry the tent on top of the rack, with sleeping bag and other luggage in the panniers on either side. I certainly find that the standard Moulton carrier, excellent as it is for many purposes, is not particularly suited to cycle camping. Doug Pinkerton can supply a rack which attaches to the existing APB mountings and which is ideal, taking two large panniers on either side, with space for a stuff sack or tent on top. The carrier is quite slim – narrower than the standard Moulton one, and if anything the styling suits the bike better than the standard Moulton one. The design means that the load is actually lower on the bike than with the standard Moulton carrier, which is useful for stability with a heavily loaded bike. As it is made of 531 tubing the weight is quite low, and it is very strong.

The price (excluding any bags) is about £130 – not cheap, but it is quite substantial, uses 531 tubing, and the racks are hand made and customised to suit the individual buyer’s requirements in terms of pannier type and other special requirements.

Front Carriers

As mentioned earlier, the load on the front of a Moulton should be kept to a reasonable amount, or it can have a detrimental effect on the handling. The options are described below.

No carrier

Personally I try to avoid carrying any load at the front of my Moultons. The equivalent of a saddlebag – a bar bag – is not desirable as the weight high up on the bike, with the small sprung wheel, does not inspire confidence. However, a number of people have made a simple bracket to allow a bar bag such as the Carradice or Karrimor to be mounted on the top carrier mounting tube, and this seems to work quite well. As the bag is small, one is unlikely to be tempted to overload it. Non one seems to supply such a bracket commercially, and although construction is quite simple, for most people the biggest problem will probably be finding suitable materials.

Standard Moulton carrier

This is the one carrier described which I do not have for my APB, although I have the equivalnet for the AM. I’m not very keen on them, as I find that the effect of them hiding the front wheel, and not turning as you steer, is a bit unnerving.

Conventional panniers

One of the first attempts to mount conventional small front panniers on an AM or APB was the Packhorse carrier devised by Paul Lund. This is extremely light and uses the existing mounting points, but supports the panniers alongside the front of the frame and projecting forward. Although the panniers are moderately high, the effect on handling is if anything less pronounced than the standard carrier (as the load is further back), and quite a reasonable volume can be carried. However, I would still avoid carrying anything heavy there (my AM7 shimmied in a very alarming way when I put too much in these carriers, although the effect is much less pronounced with the APB). Paul does not supply these carriers commercially, as he (very sensibly in my view) has decided that the state of product liability legislation is such that he does not want the trouble and risk. Paul’s Packhorse works well, is very light and occupies minimal space, although when the panniers are mounted and loaded they can slightly impede knee movement just as you are mounting and starting away from rest. The appearance is the only possible down side – they are attractive in their simplicity, but being made from metal plate, rather than tubing, they do not look in keeping with the rest of the bike.

A number of people have made their own equivalents of the Packhorse type of carrier. Doug Pinkerton has also produced a fairly substantial version, which not only takes the panniers and a lamp, but can even provide a mounting point for other items such as a pump (see photograph). Although it is made of 531 tubing, it is somewhat heavier than the original Packhorse, but it is very sturdy, and by carrying the bags slightly further out sideways and to the front the impact on knee movement when mounting is reduced. The Pinkerton carriers are hand made from 531 tubing, and customised to meet the buyers requirements, which means that inevitably the price is quite high at about £120, but you get what you pay for, and this is still good value.

On the road

I use nearly all the carriers mentioned at various times, and it would be inappropriate to say that one is better than another – they all work well in their intended mode. Clearly the day bag sized racks are not suited to heavy touring with a large load, while you can use the more substantial racks for short unloaded trips, albeit with a weight and bulk penalty. If you never go long distance touring, don’t have any panniers at present, and don’t like panniers, then the Pinkerton rear carrier is an overkill.

I’m happy to be able to choose the ideal carrier for any journey I’m planning, but if I could only have one, then it would be the Pinkerton rear carrier, with a saddlebag for short lightly loaded trips, and a Packhorse at the front.

Earlier this year I had a couple of weeks in Scotland with the bike. I often camp nowadays, but this particular trip was on a photographic holiday – one week on a course, the rest doing my own thing, and I had accommodation arranged. Although I didn’t need the tent, sleeping bag etc, this was more than made up for by the need to take quite a lot of photographic gear, including quite a substantial tripod (other items include 3 35mm camera bodies, a range of prime lenses from 24mm to 135mm, plus 2x converter, two meters, 35mm film, Yashicamat 6x6cm camera and 120 film). Unfortunatley the APB was not available for this trip, and so for the first time ever I used a conventional touring bike for the trip. While it performed adequaately, it left me convinced that the APB makes a superb tourer, and it would have been far better for the job than the bike I actually used. I say this particularly from the point of view of carrying this sort of load. While the conventional bike with two large panniers and a bar bag could carry everything I needed (I didn’t even need front panniers), I found it much less comfortable and secure than the APB would have been. A particularly telling feature is that with an APB, especially when heavily loaded like this, it is much easier to get on and off with the step through frame, and with the rear luggage so much lower down. Mounting the conventional tourer, particularly with a tripod mounted so that it is on top of the rear rack, sticking out a considerable way at the back, is quite tricky. On the APB the tripod would be far lower, would not project out as far, and anyway you can step through the frame.

For this trip the APB with its Pinkerton rear carrier would have been perfect – camera gear and other luggage in the panniers, and the top of the rack forming a perfect location for carrying the tripod. I shall certainly make sure that for any future touring expeditions I don’t let my self get in a situation where the APB or another Moulton is not available.

AM Carriers

AM owners have a very similar set of options to those available for the APB. At the rear the main differences are that the day bag carrier is a factory item, and is nowadays supplied with many of the models as standard. The Pinkerton rear carrier is available for the AM range, the price being about £130 (higher than the APB version due to the slightly more complex rear mounting strut fixing). The options at the front are the same as for the APB – again the Pinkerton carrier is available. I would recommend AM owners to restrict front loading weight to avoid affecting the handling, in particular the shimmy mentioned earlier.

APB Day Rack

Graham McDermott

The annual gathering of Moultoneers at Bradford-on-Avon is always an event to meet up with friends made at previous meets and, of course, to see Moultons old and new – no two bikes the same, as all seem to have some ‘improvement’ by way of modification.

This year I was rather taken by a day rack fitted to a bright orange APB. (To be truthful it was the bike that first caught my eye!) Am I alone in finding the spacious rear bag on the APB carrier a little too much for a day run? A smaller, lighter rack carrying the AM day bag seemed a sensible option.

I spoke to the bike’s owner, Steve Parry, who had made his as a one off. Being a bit cheeky I asked if he could make me one as well He promised to do so and two weeks later my rack arrived. It was very well finished in a black powder coat and came complete with all the necessary screws and bolts. It took a few minutes to fit – fixing in much the same way as an APB rear rack – and I took the bike on a very bumpy off-road ride to see how it faired.

I am pleased to report that it performed perfectly, finishing the ride as firmly fixed as it was at the start. It looks good on the bike and functions well In short a very useful APB accessory.

Replacing the front spring of the APB

WARNING

Repair and renovation work should only be carried out by qualified people. If you do not have the experience and/or expertise to judge whether any procedures described in Masterclasses are correct, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE JOB. The information given in Masterclass articles is intended to act as a reminder to capable people who are carrying out repair work. The authors, the Moulton Bicycle Club and its Officers accept no responsibility for work carried out by owners or their agents, whether that work is done in accordance with any information contained in these articles or not.

For the figures referred to in the text, please see the paper edition of TMF.

Introduction

My APB is a relatively early model, fitted with a rather hard front spring, which is not ideally suited to my normal usage, the vast majority of which is on roads, with occasional excursions onto canal towpaths, old railway tracks, bridleways etc. A few months ago an APB road spring was mentioned in The Moultoneer, and I subsequently bought one from the Pashley stand at Folder Forum 2 in May. Currently the factory only offers this road spring for the front, and a standard rear suspension unit – perhaps this makes the harder front spring which I removed a valuable item! I hadn’t done anything about fitting the new spring until now because the APB had had a front end overhaul only 12 months before, and I thought I would wait until another strip-down before fitting the new spring. In the normal course of events that would have meant waiting at least another year, but as a technical article on APBs was needed, I was persuaded to do the job now (2nd October 1997).

Fitting a new spring in the APB involves much the same steps as replacing the Nylatron® cylinder at the base of the spring. This is a component that has been known to jam on occasion (though not on my APB), so the information that follows may also be of use to those tackling replacement of that cylinder. I had the corresponding cylinder jam on my AM7 (after about 7 years, so this is not a frequent or serious problem) and had replaced it myself, with a little help from my friends. Consequently, although this was not a job I had done on the APB before, I felt it was something I could tackle. If you are in doubt yourself, you should get a competent person (eg dealer) to do the job for you. The information which follows tells you how I did the job on my bike – it is in no sense to be taken as a recommendation that anyone else should do the job themselves, nor is it suggested that this is the way it should be done. If the information is useful, all well and good, but don’t blame me for any consequences if you decide to do it yourself, whether you do the job in the way that I did or not.

l

The spring was supplied as shown in figure 1 above – this is now the standard spring, and currently no others are available. The one I bought came exactly as shown, with no information on fitting it. The spring itself is shown in figure 2 below.

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1. The first job was to find a suitable space in which to work. I don’t have any workshop stand, so I needed to be able to lie the bike on its side and work around it. Normally I’d do the job in the garage (or kitchen, if it is cold), but as I wanted to take photographs for this article as I went along I did the job outside (on a sunny early autumn day) – not ideal because of the risk of dirt getting into bearings etc.

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2. Next I assembled the tools I expected to need. This was rather a guess – the actual tools used are shown above in figure 3. I also used a small mallet and a long thin rod, the purpose of which will be described later. The small allen key was only used in disconnecting the brake cable.

3. Like most jobs on a bike, this can be a bit messy, so it’s a good idea to put on old clothes. I omitted to do this, and spoilt a favourite shirt!

4. The next task was a quick wipe down of the front end of the bike to remove any surface dirt and grease – even wearing old clothes it’s more pleasant to avoid getting unnecessarily dirty.

5. Now the brake cable was detached at the callipers so that the forks could be removed later, and the front wheel was removed.

6. Although I didn’t do so on this occasion, I sometimes use a sketch pad and/or Polaroid camera to record what I’m doing, so that reassembly won’t present problems later.

7. The suspension links were now removed on both sides – three nuts on each side (see figure 4, above).

8. As the parts were removed they were carefully placed on plates so as to help remember the configuration for later assembly (figure 5, right). Avoid misplacing any of the washers at this stage, either on the securing nuts or even more importantly on the links themselves. If you have a non-cycling partner, it may be better to use some other type of receptacle in or on which to store the parts!

9. The front forks now slid out of the steerer tube/head tube without any problem (figure 6, right). However, the ball joint at the top pulled out of the Nylatron® cylinder between it and the spring, leaving the cylinder in the head tube. If the cylinder comes out with the forks, life is much easier, as the spring is then free to come out too. I suspect that more often than not the cylinder stays in place. If the reason for doing the work had been a jammed front suspension, then the cylinder would certainly have stayed in the tube. When the job is being done to free jammed suspension, I am told that if the cylinder doesn’t just drop out, the best thing to do is drill a small hole in it, put in a self tapping screw, and then pull it out with the screw. However, this of course destroys the cylinder. and if it was not faulty and you are merely replacing the spring, this is rather a waste. So I removed the handlebars and used a long thin rod (it needs to be thin to pass the upper locator for the spring) to push the cylinder out from above. A firm push was needed, but no real force. When replacing the cylinder on my AM 7 some years ago I used this approach, and much more force, to remove the cylinder. However, the experts do not recommend this as it risks damaging the inside of the head tube by applying force with the rod.

10. Once the cylinder was removed, the spring simply dropped out. Figure 7 (above) shows the old (greasy!) and new springs, and also the cylinder.

11. I took the opportunity to clean the bottom end of the head tube. Lubrication is NOT recommended as it can cause the cylinder to expand and jam, but I did apply a little molybdenum grease, which I had been told in the past is safe, to lubricate the tube and reduce the risk of corrosion. [Editor’s note: The factory currently recommend only a sparing application of lithium grease if protection from corrosion is required, and NO other alternatives.]

12. The forks and links were cleaned fairly thoroughly next, as it was easy to get at parts which are normally rather inaccessible on the bike, and the links were lightly greased. The handlebars were refitted.

13. The new spring and cylinder, followed by the forks, were slid back into the tube, making sure the ball joint correctly located on the cylinder.

14. The links were replaced. making sure they went back exactly as removed (nuts on the outside, the two closer-spaced bolts at the front). The spring needed to be compressed slightly – rather awkward while fitting the links, but made easier by pushing the handlebars against a wall.

15. The front wheel was put back and the brake cable was reconnected. The operation of the suspension was checked, and the setting of the nuts on the links was adjusted to give the required degree of damping (as per normal practice).

16. The ride height was checked, so that the front links were more or less horizontal with the rider on the bike in the normal riding position, as per normal practice.

Job finished (apart from clearing up, typing up the text, and getting the photographs processed). The job took about 2 – 3 hours, but I had no instructions to work from, and I did unnecessarily dismantle a couple of parts, and I was taking photographs as I went along. I reckon that, even without the benefit of both a workstand and ideal working conditions, it should be possible to complete the job in 1 – 11/2 hours. If I need to do it again, I shall have these notes to work from, and I will be able to check that estimate.

And the effect on the ride? I’ve only ridden the bike over a short distance since fitting the new spring just before the publication date of TMF, so it may be rather too early to judge. However, at this stage I would describe the change as quite a subtle one. The suspension is still significantly harder than on the AM (not necessarily a bad thing in my view), but it is also noticeably smoother than with the original spring. I’m very pleased with the result so far – I may report back with more observations later, when I have had a chance to ride it further and under more varied conditions.

Announcing the Land Rover APB The best 3 x 7 for a 4 x 4 x far

The Frankfurt Motor Show on the 12th September will see the launch of the all new Land Rover APB (‘All Purpose Bicycle’).

The new Land Rover APB features 20″ wheels with suspension front and rear and a unique triangulated space frame which separates into two halves for easy transport or storage – all the ingredients for the bicycle of the future today.

Like its Land Rover stablemates it is a supremely versatile vehicle delivering exceptional performance on and off road. The 20″ wheels give the Land Rover APB agility and responsive handling that is far superior to conventional bicycles. Fully active suspension provides a level, controlled ride that helps to reduce rider fatigue and deliver optimum tyre contact and grip over varying terrain. It is a combination of qualities that makes it unique.

The rider-friendly Sachs 21 speed 3 x 7 Centera gear system combines the best features of derailleur gears and hub gears, the wide gear range making hill climbing effortless. It is the ideal gear system for both the beginner and the more accomplished rider. Cantilever brakes, as fitted to mountain bikes, give positive stopping power.

The one size frame is adjustable to suit all riders and the low step over height makes it equally suitable for both sexes.

Optional front and rear racks and purpose designed bags carry loads lower than on a conventional bicycle and ensure greater stability.

The Land Rover APB is for individuals who seek the freedom to explore in their own manner and style.

Designed by Dr Alex Moulton (inventor of the Mini suspension system and latterly Hydragas(R) as used in the new MGF sports car), the Land Rover APB is hand built in the U.K. by specialist cycle manufacturer W R Pashley. Production has already begun for delivery from the 1st October. The price will be under 900 pounds in the U.K.

Pashley acquired the licence to use the Land Rover marque for the new cycle from Windsor based licensing agency Design Rights International, who represent the marque on behalf of Rover Group.

Russell Turnham, Marketing Operations Director for Land Rover said, « The Land Rover APB is an excellent example of the type of licenced product that Land Rover is looking for through its innovative licensing programme. Not only does it exemplify the high standards of engineering associated with Land Rover but also it captures the essential values of freedom and adventure typically associated with the brand. »

Introduction to all Purpose Bicycle

WARNING

Modification, repair and renovation work should only be carried out by qualified people. If you do not have the experience and/or expertise to judge whether any procedures described in in the APB Pages are correct, and/or you do not have the experience, expertise, materials and equipment to carry out the work, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE JOB YOURSELF. The information given in the APB pages and Masterclass articles is intended to act as a reminder to capable people who are carrying out repair work. The authors, the Moulton Bicycle Club and its Officers accept no responsibility for work carried out by owners or their agents, whether that work is done in accordance with any information contained in these articles or not.


APB = All Purpose Bicycle – a very apt name for an extraordinary bike. It really is a ‘Jack of All Trades’, but the unkind epithet ‘master of none’ certainly does not apply – it is a highly competent performer in all applications, on and off road.

The Moulton APB (All Purpose Bicycle) was introduced early in 1992, based on the earlier ATB (All Terrain Bicycle), and since then has become, in its various forms, the most popular type of modern Moulton, due to the combination of all the usual Moulton features and a reasonable price.

The APB pages represent a new section within the Moulton Bicycle Club and Folding Society web pages, dealing with issues of particular interest to owners and prospective owners of the Moulton APB. These pages are still under construction (starting 12 September 1999), so please excuse the fact that some topics are listed as being in preparation. If you do not find the information you want here, try looking in other parts of the Moulton Bicycle Club pages (eg the Masterclasses), try visiting these pages again in a few days time, or contact us by email.

Available now:

  • Current models – brief specifications of the current range, including some models assembled by dealers.
  • New developments – some official news of what is coming in the future, and some unofficial speculation about what may happen.
  • Maintenance of your APB – a particular virtue of the APB is that it needs little maintenance, but you can find out more about what does need to be done.
  • Improving the performance of your APB – the APB in all its forms is a competent performer, but many owners like to customise their bike to particularly fit their own requirements.
  • Carriers – luggage carrying is one of the strengths of the APB, like other Moultons, and there are a number of options apart from the factory supplied racks. Read the Masterclass article on the subject – this will be updated in the not too distant future …
  • Links and contacts – other relevant web sites, including Pashley (the manufacturers), dealers etc

Coming soon:

  • APB history
  • Past models of the APB
  • APB accessories – both from the factory and from third parties
  • APB Gallery – pictures of APBs in interesting situations

REMEMBER THE WARNING

Modification, repair and renovation work should only be carried out by qualified people. If you do not have the experience and/or expertise to judge whether any procedures described in in the APB Pages are correct, and/or you do not have the experience, expertise, materials and equipment to carry out the work, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE JOB YOURSELF. The information given in the APB pages and Masterclass articles is intended to act as a reminder to capable people who are carrying out repair work. The authors, the Moulton Bicycle Club and its Officers accept no responsibility for work carried out by owners or their agents, whether that work is done in accordance with any information contained in these articles or not.

APB developments

The information given here is provided in good faith. By the nature of things, however, it is somewhat speculative, and products described here may not go into production, or may be subject to changes of specification.

Two new APB models were on show at the Moulton Bicycle Club Weekend at Bradford on Avon, 4-5 September 1999.

Two existing APB owners try out the new Pashley models at the Bradford on Avon Weekend – Paul Evans on the left has the fx8, while Ian Hodgson on the right tries the automatic 4-speed hub fx4 version.

The fx4 is apparently still under development, the main feature being that it uses a Shimano electronic automatic gear change. The automatic system has a number of settings to suit different riding styles, and there is also a setting for manual gear selection (which is achieved by pressing a button to change up, or another button to change down). The experienced riders who tested it, none of whom has any fear of normal gear change systems, were not entirely convinced, particularly as a number of people reported that the system changed up while climbing the steep drive at The Hall.

Since then we have carried out our own brief test of the fx4, and you can read the results at the end of our test report on the fx8.

The fx8 model is already being mentioned on the Pashley web site, and it should go into production in October 1999. The main design target is said to have been to reduce the weight of the APB, which most people consider rather high in its normal form. The main things which have been done to reduce weight are to dispense with the separability, and to use a Reynolds 531 seat tube and Reynolds front forks. Some people, myself included, are doubtful about the desirability of removing one of the features which distinguishes the APB from other bikes, namely the separability. What will be interesting is to see if the 531 seat tube and Reynolds forks are also available later on separable APBs. The new bike reputedly weighs about 26 pounds – this seems to exclude mudguards, and the bike only has a single chainwheel 8-speed derailleur, so a fuller specification would push the weight back up. Nevertheless, this does represent a useful saving in weight compared with existing APBs. An interesting aspect of the design is that in recognition of the fact that owners modify/customise their bikes, braze-ons are fitted as standard to allow the later fitting of multiple chainwheels or a Sachs 3 x 7 – an excellent idea, as adding braze-ons later is troublesome and expensive, and would necessitate a respray.

Maintenance of the APB

WARNING

Modification, repair and renovation work should only be carried out by qualified people. If you do not have the experience and/or expertise to judge whether any procedures described in in the APB Pages are correct, and/or you do not have the experience, expertise, materials and equipment to carry out the work, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE JOB YOURSELF. The information given in the APB pages and Masterclass articles is intended to act as a reminder to capable people who are carrying out repair work. The authors, the Moulton Bicycle Club and its Officers accept no responsibility for work carried out by owners or their agents, whether that work is done in accordance with any information contained in these articles or not.


The APB is supplied with an Owners Guide, which provides useful information about riding and maintaining the APB. If you do not have a copy of this manual, we suggest that you contact the manufacturers, your dealer or local distributor.

Most aspects of maintenance of an APB are similar to conventional cycles, since most components are similar to those used on conventional cycles. Many good cycle maintenance books are available, and you should consult these for general information. Do not attempt any work on your cycle unless you are competent to do so, and have the necessary materials and equipment. If in doubt, contact a qualified dealer.

The main parts of the APB which differ from conventional bicycles are the front and rear suspension systems. Compared with the suspension of conventional mountain bikes, the APB units require very little attention, and indeed there is more danger of causing damage by fiddling with them than by leaving well alone. It is particularly important to note that the front suspension system should not be lubricated in the normal course of events – doing so will almost certainly cause problems.

Two adjustments can be made to the front suspension, and these are referred to in the Owners Guide. The first of these involves setting the ride height, which is done by adjusting the ride height nut and its associated lock nut, located inside the rubber bellows at the top of the fork stirrup. The nut should be adjusted so that the leading links are close to parallel with the ground when the rider is in the normal riding position – see the Owners Guide for details. The second adjustment is to set the damping, which is done by tightening or loosening slightly the nuts at each end of the leading links – see the Owners Guide for details. Personally we have found that if the nuts are tightened too much, to increase the damping, this can result in the front suspension operation becoming sticky, so that travel is reduced, with the suspension tending sometimes to stick in a partially compressed state after going over bumps.

Early APBs were fitted with a much stiffer front spring than current models, and owners of these early bikes can obtain the current spring from Pashley. Replacement can be carried out by a dealer, or those competent to do so can do it themselves – some general information on how the job is done can be found in a Masterclass article. The original spring is no longer available, so those who would like a stiffer (or indeed a still softer) spring will have to make do with the standard one.

We understand that current APBs are being supplied with small containers of special grease – a copper-based type for application around the rear suspension pivot point and a silicon grease for application around the base of the steering tube (more to prevent corrosion than for any other reason). Only very occasional, very sparing, application of the grease is required – once a year may well be enough for some users.

Apart from ensuring occasional lubrication of the rear suspension pivot using the appropriate grease, as described above, the rear suspension should require no attention, although after very extended use the bearing may eventually wear and need replacement.

The front suspension should also be relatively trouble free, but it is possible for the nylon cylinder which slides in the fork tube to swell and jam – this is particularly likely to occur if any attempt is made to oil it. If the front suspension appear to have jammed (which usually happens under hot conditions), we suggest that you first check that the leading link damping is not too tight. If the suspension has jammed, but the problem seems to disappear later under cooler conditions, you should be warned that it is likely to recur, and it is best to deal with the problem before it causes problems again in the future. Most owners would be advised to contact a Moulton dealer to have the cylinder replaced, but for those who have the necessary skills and equipment, the process is described in a Masterclass article (the article actually deals with fitting a different front suspension spring, but cylinder replacement follows the same steps).


REMEMBER THE WARNING

Modification, repair and renovation work should only be carried out by qualified people. If you do not have the experience and/or expertise to judge whether any procedures described in in the APB Pages are correct, and/or you do not have the experience, expertise, materials and equipment to carry out the work, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE JOB YOURSELF. The information given in the APB pages and Masterclass articles is intended to act as a reminder to capable people who are carrying out repair work. The authors, the Moulton Bicycle Club and its Officers accept no responsibility for work carried out by owners or their agents, whether that work is done in accordance with any information contained in these articles or not.

Making improvements to the APB

WARNING

Modification, repair and renovation work should only be carried out by qualified people. If you do not have the experience and/or expertise to judge whether any procedures described in in the APB Pages are correct, and/or you do not have the experience, expertise, materials and equipment to carry out the work, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE JOB YOURSELF. The information given in the APB pages and Masterclass articles is intended to act as a reminder to capable people who are carrying out repair work. The authors, the Moulton Bicycle Club and its Officers accept no responsibility for work carried out by owners or their agents, whether that work is done in accordance with any information contained in these articles or not.


Introduction

It is often said that you never see two Moultons which are identical – every owner seems to modify and customise his or her Moulton to suit his or her own requirements. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with the bikes as supplied, simply that owners take real pleasure in having a Moulton, and in tailoring it to their own personal requirements.

Certainly such customisation can be very rewarding to enthusiasts, though if you just bought the bike to get on and ride, you will find the standard specifications work well.

There are an almost infinite number of ways in which you can customise an APB, and since the objective is to suit your own individual requirements, it’s impossible to detail them all, or suggest the ‘best’ things to do – every user is different, and uses the bike in different ways, for which different modifications are appropriate. Another very important point to bear in mind in reading this section, or any other articles on modifying APBs, is that what you do can depend significantly on which model you start with. Some models do not have mudguards as standard, and fitting mudguards would be a priority for many users in this case, but if your model has mudguards and you like getting dirty when riding off-road, you might want to take the mudguards off! My own APB is a very early model, and was fitted with much wider wheels and cruder components than later models, which influenced some of the changes made to it.

This section of the APB Pages is going to be gradually extended, so we suggest that you come back periodically for more information. We are going to start by discussing briefly one of the underlying principles which can guide customisation, and then move on to the most personal part of all. The next topic which it is planned to address is wheels and tyres.

A note about weight reduction

Some people believe that the weight of the bike is irrelevant unless you are racing, while others, myself included, think that it makes a significant difference to the performance of the bike and the pleasure of riding, so long as you do not become obsessive about it. What is clear from past lengthy discussion of the subject is that the two groups have firmly entrenched positions, and neither is going to change its mind. If you belong to the group which believes that the weight does not matter, there are some parts of this section of the APB Pages that you can ignore, but I hope that even so you will find some of the comments of interest.

Saddles

The choice of saddle is a very personal thing – what suits one rider may create agony for another. Some cycle manufacturers actually sell their machines without saddles, recognising that the owner will want to fit their own favourite, and others deliberately fit quite low specification saddles in anticipation that the owner will replace them. APBs generally come with reasonable quality saddles, but whether or not they suit you is uncertain. A few general points are worth noting:

  • Apart from the T21, most APBs have and are ridden with flat, rather than dropped, bars, and generally very narrow saddles are not comfortable with the more upright riding position that results.
  • Ladies require different saddles, generally rather broader and shorter, such as the Terry Saddles. Some men actually find these more comfortable as well.
  • Although it might seem that a soft, padded saddle would be more comfortable, this is not always the case, particularly on longer rides.
  • A saddle material which breathes is preferable to one that does not – particularly when it is hot.
  • Whatever saddle you fit, it may not give instant comfort. I think it is not just a question of breaking the saddle in (which really only applies to leather saddles anyway), but also acclimatising your posterior to the saddle. If you have a number of different bikes, avoid having different saddles on each one (though different types of riding position might make this appropriate), as changing from one to another can result in discomfort.
  • Some people never get on with leather saddles, but many others find they are the most comfortable overall.
  • Saddle weight can be quite substantial – in my investigation of weight of my APB I found that a very comfortable Brooks B17 saddle was about 12 ounces heavier than the saddle I now use. However, obviously it would be silly to be uncomfortable just to save weight on the saddle.

So what do I use? Most of my bikes (apart from the Bromptons, with their very upright riding position) are fitted with Flite Titaniums, which are very light and which I find quite comfortable. However, it may well be narrower than many people would choose, particularly with the APBs rather upright riding position when using flat bars.

Wheels and Tyres

Coming soon ….

Other topics to be covered:

Gears

Brakes

Carriers and luggage

and more – send us your comments and suggestions.


REMEMBER THE WARNING

Modification, repair and renovation work should only be carried out by qualified people. If you do not have the experience and/or expertise to judge whether any procedures described in in the APB Pages are correct, and/or you do not have the experience, expertise, materials and equipment to carry out the work, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE JOB YOURSELF. The information given in the APB pages and Masterclass articles is intended to act as a reminder to capable people who are carrying out repair work. The authors, the Moulton Bicycle Club and its Officers accept no responsibility for work carried out by owners or their agents, whether that work is done in accordance with any information contained in these articles or not.

Current APB models

The information given here is provided in good faith. However, the models do change in specification, and we do not receive information on the changes, nor do we have access to detailed specifications. Therefore please check details with dealers and Pashley Cycles.

The main listed models of APB currently available (12 September 1999) are:

  • APB S3 – a basic model with 3-speed Sturmey-Archer hub gear, flat bars and mudguards; this model is listed by St John Street Cycles, but does not appear to be in production now, as it is not listed on Pashley’s own pages.
  • APB S7 – fitted with the 7-speed Sturmey-Archer hub gear,  flat bars and mudguards.
  • LandRover APB – with the Sachs 3 x 7 gearing (3-speed hub and 7-speed derailleur), flat bars and no mudguards.
  • APB T21 – a touring version, with the Sachs 3 x 7 gearing (3-speed hub and 7-speed derailleur), dropped bars, mudguards and rear rack.
  • fx8 – coming very soon – see notes below.

Apart from the variations in gearing and handlebars, more expensive models tend to use better quality (and lighter) components than the cheaper models.

Various accessories, including front and rear carriers and mudguards (for models not already so equipped) are available. Please see our accessories page for more information.

In addition to these standard models, Pashley Cycles seem willing to build to other specifications on request, particularly models using conventional derailleur gearing with multiple chainwheels.

St John Street Cycles currently list an APB J14 model. This appears to be a machine originally built for Japan, with a 14 speed derailleur set up (double chainwheel to 7-speed sprockets). It has unusual handlebars, rather like inverted racing bars with the ends cut off and the brake levers mounted on teh forward extending part. It is listed at a price of £1050 at the time of writing (12 September 1999). St John Street Cycles also regularly advertise that they can supply older models at clearance prices.

A number of new models are in development, or are just being launched, including the fx8, a lighter version, but which sacrifices the separability of the frame. See our New Developments page for information on this and other new models. The fx8 is expected to go into full production during October 1999. A full report and road test are available on our web site.

The APB Page

You may recall that in Moultoneer 51 there was a copy of an old advertisement for a Rover bicycle which had appeared in the photographic magazine Focus in 1907, promoting the bicycle as a photographer’s accessory. Although that’s not how we are likely to see it today, nevertheless many cyclists, including Moultoneers, seem to have an interest in cameras and photography. Cycling provides opportunities for seeing, and being able to stop to take photos, which might have been missed when travelling in a car. And of course when attending cycling events there are often pictures to be taken of the event itself, and the people and cycles present.

For cyclists, though, the size and weight of any equipment carried is of paramount interest – pity the poor cyclist forced to carry the equipment shown in the old Rover advertisement mentioned earlier! Today there are many attractive, high quality compact cameras on the market, and we’ll look at some of them in the first section of this article. However, although convenient, these cameras can be rather limiting for serious photography, due in particular to the lack of control over shutter speed, aperture and focus, and the fact that they are viewfinder cameras rather than single lens reflexes (SLRs), so that you don’t see in the viewfinder exactly what will appear in the final photograph, a particular problem for close-up work. Therefore after considering compacts we’ll look at the options if you want something rather more versatile.

When travelling with a camera, particularly if you are carrying a more extensive outfit than just a compact, Moultons are particularly suitable bikes. Last year I went to Scotland for two weeks on what was intended as a photographic holiday, which included a week at a course at the superb Inversnaid Photography Centre. If you are paying to go on a photography course in these surroundings, then you want to take a reasonable amount of equipment with you, and if you are using a bicycle to get there (with help from the train) and to get around, then this is a good load test for the bike. Loading the bike with 3 35mm SLR bodies, 5 lenses, 2 meters, accessories, film and a tripod is quite a severe test. As it happened the APB was not available on this occasion, so that I used a conventional tourer. While it got me there OK, it did serve to demonstrate how much better my usual mount, an APB, is for heavy touring, and for carrying such equipment. The APB would have carried the load lower down, increasing stability, and the tripod could easily have been carried at the back; mounting and dismounting would have been easy with the step-through frame, whereas with the conventional tourer it was quite awkward, with the high load and the tripod sticking out at the back. In addition, the APB suspension would have provided protection to the camera equipment from the road and track induced vibrations. So I would certainly recommend the APB as the All Photographers Bicycle.

This review is going to be a fairly general nature, and the views expressed will be personal. In particular I haven’t had a chance to test all the cameras on the market, so many comments and recommendations are influenced by what I have had a chance to try.

Compact Cameras

In this category come the small, light cameras which can produce excellent results, although the lack of exposure and focus control, and viewfinder inaccuracies when taking close ups, can present problems when taking action shots and close ups of cycle parts.

Since we last looked at cameras for cyclists, the APS (Advanced Photography System) has been launched, so it seems appropriate to start with this, before looking at the more established 35mm scene.

APS Compacts

The principal advantages of APS can be summarised as:

  • Easier film loading
  • Cameras can be smaller as the film cassette is smaller, the negatives size is smaller, and as a result lenses are smaller
  • More attractive presentation of finished prints and film, including additional data printed on the back of prints
  • Fashionable

Needless to say, there are some disadvantages as well:

  • Film is more expensive
  • Film processing is more expensive
  • Cameras are generally more expensive than 35mm equivalents
  • Smaller negative results in lower quality results
  • Film choice is restricted to colour negative, although black and white (C41 process, rather than the more usual
  • chemistry) is just coming out, and transparency has been promised for some while, but is still not imminent
  • Some of the smallest cameras have reached the point where they may be difficult to hold

For cyclists the biggest advantage over 35mm is likely to be size and weight, but quite a lot of the APS cameras aren’t actually any smaller than the smallest 35mm cameras. So unless some of the other advantages of APS are important to you, I’d suggest that only the smallest of the APS cameras are worth considering in place of a 35mm camera. Of these, three are particularly worthy of note (prices continually change, so these are approximate):

  1. Canon IxusCanon Ixus Z70The Canon Ixus, currently priced at about £229. This tiny and beautiful looking camera has been a huge success, and demand exceeded supply for some time. It has now been supplemented by a fractionally smaller, and cheaper, Ixus L1 (£119), which has a fixed focal length 26 mm lens in place of the 24-48mm zoom (equivalent to 35-70mm in 35mm). A very recent addition to the Ixus range is the Z70 (£260), which has a larger zoom range (23-69 mm, equivalent to 29 – 85mm in 35mm) and the useful facility to change the film mid roll. It also has a more powerful flash. It is a little larger than the original Ixus, but in some respects this is an advantage, as it is easier to hold.
  2. Pentax EfinaThe Pentax Efina, priced at £179. This is very similar in specification and appearance to the Ixus.
  3. Fuji Fotonex 3500ixThe Fuji Fotonex 3500ix, priced at £280. I only came across this recently, and again it is obviously intended to appeal to the same buyers. One advantage is that it includes mid roll film change – a film can be removed before it is finished, another one put in, and then later the original film can be put back, and will automatically skip over the pictures taken previously. This might be useful to keep particular subjects on a single film, to allow fast film to be used when necessary, but revert to higher quality slower film at other times, or to put a black and white film, or transparency film, in for some pictures (when they are available).

I had an Ixus for a while, but I did not really get on with it, the main problem for me being that the small size and delays while the electronics worked resulted in some camera shake, and generally I wanted a bit more control over the camera. John Pinkerton now has that camera, and produces excellent results with it, so the problem seems to be more with me than the camera!

All these are beautiful little cameras (jewellery?!), but not cheap; however, they should last many years, and are likely to hold their value better than some cameras. They may well be regarded in years to come as classics.

Modern 35mm compacts

There are still plenty of 35mm compacts on the market, and the smallest are no bigger than all but the most diminutive APS cameras. Generally, feature for feature, they are cheaper than APS cameras, the film and processing costs are lower, film is more readily available and in more types, and the bigger negative means they are potentially capable of better results. For cyclists the Olympus mju range has always been attractive and popular, as they are particularly small and light, and the capsule design, with a sliding front cover, gives good protection to the camera, and means that a case can usually be dispensed with, saving more in size and weight. The mju II (£99) is even smaller than the original mju, and the mju Zoom is now available with a zoom ranging from 38mm to 140mm (£230) (versions with more modest zoom ranges, and hence probably better lenses, are still available). I had one of the original mjus, and still have my early mju Zoom (35-70mm zoom only) and I’ve been very satisfied with them. The Pentax Espio range is also worth considering – the cameras are attractive, well specified, perform well and generally get good reports in tests, but they are quite a bit larger. The Espio 928 (£179) is particularly interesting and appeals to me, as the zoom range starts at 28mm rather than the more usual 35mm, and extends to an adequate, if not outstanding, 90mm. As mentioned before, zoom ranges tend to be wider than on the smallest APS cameras.

Compacts are available which sport very long zoom ranges, but there are a number of serious drawbacks to these, and you would be well advised to consider these before choosing one:

  • The cameras are usually bigger
  • The quality of the optics is usually not as good
  • They have slower lenses (smaller maximum apertures), which means that they don’t cope as well with low-light situations

Sadly the zoom facility is often used by people as a substitute for moving closer to the subject! Often, though obviously not always, it is possible to move closer, although of course you can’t then use the different focal length to change the picture perspective and background framing.

Older 35mm Compacts

Having mentioned the limitations of compacts in terms of lack of exposure and focus control, this might suggest that it’s worth considering one of the older generation of compacts. Certainly many users of the old Olympus XA cameras, Rollei 35s etc swear by them. Personally I wouldn’t choose one, as the lack of, or limited, focussing aids is a handicap, and they still lack the accurate picture framing of an SLR. Much of this also goes for the inordinately expensive modern compacts from Contax, Nikon, Minolta and Rollei. As I know some Moultoneers own Leicas, perhaps I should not say what I think of those cameras*. If you are looking for a good, controllable camera which is reasonably compact, then I’ll offer my suggestion after considering SLRs – and it’s one of the cheapest options too.

* The original product had a profound impact on the market and the industry, which is still evident today, many years after its introduction. The use of a smaller format and a degree of portability which had not been possible before were particularly important features of the design. Nowadays the company still successfully produces beautifully engineered, high quality, but high priced products. However, they seem primarily aimed at a niche market, principally those who are enthusiasts for the marque itself, and collectors. The impact of the company’s products on the average user, and also on professional and even more general enthusiasts, is minimal today. [Yes, I know that this description could be applied to other products …..]