An AM5 with YAGS (yet another gearing system)

AM5’s are excellent town bikes, but their limited gear range makes them only marginally useful as touring bikes. After exploring several of the more obvious options for adding gears, I hit upon a scheme for converting my AM5 to use a dual chainwheel and a front shifter, giving 10 speeds and a gear range of 29-88 ins. This was fitted without any modifications to the frame and without taking the bike off the road at any time during the adaptation.

Transmission system showing the chain tensioning device from Fix-Free Drives

Several more obvious options were ruled out by the dimensions of the AM5’s rear forks – they aren’t wide enough to take any of the recently-announced 7 speed hubs, and an earlier attempt to fit a Dacon converter with 3 derailleur sprockets on the existing 5-speed Sprinter hub failed for similar reasons – the additional sprockets caused the chain to foul the rear triangle.

With a tour of the Scottish highlands and islands in prospect, I was determined to fit more gears without replacing the whole bike. I started by installing a Stronglight 950 triple chainset (52,38,28). This was a good choice because it has offset cranks that enable a short bottom bracket axle to be used. In practice, the inner ring isn’t used in my setup, so I would probably have been better off with the double-ring version of the Stronglight 950.

I had heard via the Moulton Internet mailing list of a « car exhaust bracket » method for mounting a front gear mechanism on AMs. This turned out to be a surprisingly effective scheme. As the above photograph shows, a standard 1.5 in (38 mm) exhaust bracket, available from any car accessory shop, is an almost perfect fit on the AM seat tube, requiring no packing and clamping firmly on the seat tube with no evidence of any damage to the tube.

I fitted a Shimano 600 band-on mechanism of unknown vintage on the exhaust bracket. The mechanism is perfectly positioned relative to the chainwheels. By discarding the 600’s mounting band and cutting away some of the alloy I was able to bolt the mechanism directly to the exhaust bracket using the rear end of the u-bolt to secure it. A Suntour thumb shifter was mounted on the handlebars. Fortunately, my AM5 has some extra cable stops designed for use with the old dual-cable Sturmey Archer hub gears, and I was able to exploit the spare ones to run the gear cable.

A chain tensioning device is made specifically for use in hybrid gearing systems with rear hub gears and front derailleurs by Fix Free Drives (Tel. 01453 873541). I obtained one of these with some aluminium shims to adapt its clamp-on fitting to the straight tubing of the AM rear triangle. When correctly mounted the tensioner does its job well, with little or no tendency to throw the chain. Note also that when the hybrid system is not required, the chain tensioner can be easily removed and a short chain fitted, restoring the AM5 to its standard setup.

The resulting system has been very successful, retaining the convenience of hub gear shifting for town use while making the AM5 a really general-purpose bike, suitable for touring as well as commuting.

GET THE FULL PICTURE ON WOODBURN

John Woodburn is a most remarkable rider. His Cardiff-London record is well covered in Tony Hadland’s book The Moulton Bicycle. Less well known to many Moultoneers will be his later successes on conventional bicycles, notably the End-to-End record (Land’s End to John O’Groats) which he broke in 1982 at the age of 45. He slashed 96 minutes from the previous record and at the same time, pushed the 24-hour record to 494.3 miles. In a nice touch, at the start of that epic ride, former Moulton marketing manager David Duffield, who for many years held the End-to-End tricycle record, waved off John Woodburn.l

Today, aged 65 and having retired from his day job with Parcelforce, Woodburn is still winning races. For example, in August he won the Leo Road Club’s 30- mile time trial, averaging 28.62mph – a performance many younger riders would envy.

John Woodburn was the subject of John Pinkerton’s last in-depth cycling history biographical interview. The result is a 49-minute video in which John Woodburn:

  • tells how he became interested in cycling,
  • talks about his record successes, including the End-to-End,
  • reminisces about his record-breaking on the small-wheeled Moulton bicycle,
  • discusses the problems of balancing his sporting career with the ‘day job’,
  • gives his views on use of performance- enhancing drugs,
  • talks about cycling club life,
  • and looks back on his toughest rides.

The video provides a fascinating insight into one of British cycle sport’s most enduring heroes. And yes, John Pinkerton did ask him about the suspension on the Cardiff-London bike! Is there any basis to the various myths cherished by cynical old-school diamond-frame racers? To hear John Woodburn’s reply you will need to buy the video from Hadland Books – £12 in the UK and Europe, £14 in the rest of the world. Contact details as for other Hadland Books products

Wandering Winchester Way, 6th August 2005

A group of over 20 riders found their way to the start point of the ride at the home of Linda and Zeffy Maayan in central Winchester. A good selection of bikes were turned out, including a mix of NS, AMs, APB, fx8, four Bromptons and a Dahon Speed D7. Most interesting was yet another handcrafted, different, Arthur Smith creation in the form of a most elegant painted Moulton F Frame Mark 3, but reconfigured with AM front and back ends. Arthur had cleverly built this one up from an old AM that had been bought with a crushed frame, which he used for spares, and the Mark 3 frame. The end result, finished in what was almost the polychromatic blue of 1960s F -Frames (but actually a Renault current paint colour), was a fabulous looking bike, combining the best of old and new technology.

The first part of the ride was around Winchester city area, passing through what was formerly the inaccessible-to-the-public Victorian Peninsula Barracks, now quit by the Army for service use, and converted to housing and a military museum. It has very imposing restored architecture, and worth a look if in this one time capital of England. Riding out of the southern end of the former barracks site, we came to ancient Winchester College and the impressive Winchester Cathedral, construction of which first started in 1079, and now reputed to be the second longest cathedral in Europe.

Our coffee stop was in the Cathedral restaurant building, where we settled in the attached marquee used for functions to consume our drinks and pastries.

Leaving bustling Winchester, it was immediately out into the quiet narrow country lanes of the upper Itchen valley, where the patchwork of rolling downland fields were either being harvested, or were already cleared of crops and dark brown from recent ploughing. It was more a case of looking out for massive tractors and harvesters than cars.

The road took us through the small village of Avington with its pretty cottages and a drink stop was made outside the very fine 18th century church. This lies on the route formerly used by pilgrims traveling between Winchester and Canterbury, and an inscribed stone outside the church shows the names of the two destinations.

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Onward alongside the river Itchen then involved a turn north, passing through a couple of lightly flowing fords before reaching the road to New Alresford. Pedalling along the  B road, a small roadside shop in a hut was selling fresh water cress plucked from the water cress surrounding it. At New Alresford, we parked and enjoyed our pub lunch time stopover and chat before continuing out of the village north west towards East Stratton. A long incline, which split the group between those with the lightest bikes and lowest gearing and those who were on heavier bikes, or were slightly less strong riders, led to the top of a ridge. Here,  a look back south east commanded a fine view for many miles.

kThe return to Winchester was uneventful, and we were pleased to reach the home of Bob and Sue West, our ride leaders, who were to provide tea with some delicious cakes. After a relaxing time in their lovely sunny garden, it was time to head for home, and those who arrived by car returned to the nearby Maayan’s house to load up their bikes and depart.

WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN THE MOULTON BICYCLE CLUB

Ownership of an APB allows you membership of one of the most active bike clubs in the world, the Moulton Bicycle Club »

Membership of the Moulton Bicycle Club brings you the following benefits:

  • Our magazine The Moultoneer, which is normally published four times a year, and contains around 60 pages of A5 articles on Moulton history, renovation, touring and competition articles etc.
  • Technical advice through the magazine, other members, or the Club’s Technical Adviser.
  • Access to parts for original Moultons through Moulton Preservation, or items from members of the Club.
  • Access to the Sales and Wants list, which is available to members for a small fee, and which is regularly updated.
  • The opportunity to attend events organised by members throughout the UK during the year, and also some events which are organised on a less regular basis overseas.
  • The opportunity to attend the annual meeting and ride, held at Bradford on Avon, home of Moulton Bicycles and Dr Alex Moulton, in September each year. There is also an annual dinner on the Saturday evening of the weekend meeting, open to members subject to booking beforehand and paying the appropriate charge.
  • Those with an interest in computers, and access to the Internet, will also be able to subscribe to our electronic mailing list on the Internet, and access our World Wide Web pages

The Stockport Ride, Saturday 27th October 2001

Preliminaries

I spent most of the week 22-25th at Bradford on Avon, visiting Graham McDermott, who recently moved there. We were mainly working on computers, which was just as well, because it was very wet. Indeed, my Birdy got dreadfully dirty on the way down along the towpath from Bath to Bradford on Avon, and again on the way back, when I not only rode to Bath but continued on the cycle path as far as Bristol. A fairly major cleaning job was required on Thursday afternoon to get the worst of the grime off. Pending some lubrication to finish the job, the old Brompton T5 was pressed into service for the trip to the university on Friday – it too got very wet.

After the heavy rain during the week, Saturday’s Stockport Ride – one of the longest-standing and most popular rides in the Moulton Bicycle Club calendar, was looked forward to with some misgivings. However, following a dull start, the weather quickly improved as I made the train journey north from Wolverhampton. As at the Lancaster Ride a couple of weeks earlier, I had obtained permission to bring a folder, which makes travel by train much easier, though of course the riding is not as enjoyable as on a Moulton. As the Birdy was accessible, and well suited to this sort of ride, it was again my choice. During my visit to Bradford on Avon I was able at last to get the Schwalbe Marathon tyres for the Birdy from Avon Valley Cyclery, but regrettably I did not have time to fit them before this ride – I hope to have them fitted and issue a report quite soon. The Birdy tyres are a bit sluggish on the road, though they seem to be quite puncture resistant and long lived; their heavy section means they are quite good for off road riding, though on wet grass or thin surface mud over a harder surface they are inclined to slip around.

The train journey to Stockport was uneventful, and provided the opportunity to write the preceding part of this report. The ride from the station to the start of the ride, in Hazel Grove, is about 8km, but, despite having been there several times in the past, I managed to overshoot the turning into Torkington Road, and added a couple of Km to the distance, meaning I arrived a few minutes after the nominal ride start time – happily other people were still getting prepared, so I still had time for some refreshments.

The Ride

 

 

StartI had left home in the dark, but after some initial greyness, the weather turned had turned bright and sunny, and was to remain so throughout the ride. Indeed, the low sun and the bright conditions made visibility quite difficult when riding towards the sun, and the high contrast did not make for very satisfactory photography. As is usual at a ride, lots of discussion about bikes took place before the start, with owners inspecting the finer points of the other machines present, and showing off their own latest modifications.

As usual, we had a good collection of Moultons on the ride – several APBs, some AMs, a nice selection of F-frame models, but no New Series. There were also three conventional machines, a Brompton and my Birdy. Thirteen riders set out, although unfortunately Gertrud Ludwig and her fx80 had to leave us fairly early, due to work commitments. After the rapid pace set at the Lancaster ride a couple of weeks ago, this was a much more leisurely affair, though still involving some hills.

Lunch stopDespite quite a leisurely pace, and a stop to repair a puncture (on one of the conventional, large-wheeled machines!), we arrived early, soon after 12:00, at our lunch stop, the Olde Cock & Pheasant. Despite a change of management within the last few days, which had resulted in the prior warning of our visit going astray, we received excellent service – very speedy and attentive.

GroupWe were joined at lunch by a number of others who, for various reasons, were unable to take part in the ride itself It was particularly nice to see Hugh Roberts’ recumbent based on an F-frame Speedsix in action again (shown here in the foreground).

Although there was no need to rush the meal, a few clouds were beginning to appear in the sky, and with the shortening days and the need for some people to travel after the ride, we made a fairly early start back. The lunch stop proved to have been at about the mid-distance, but suitably refreshed we made steady progress back to Hazel Grove, where more refreshments awaited us.

I covered a total of 64 Km during the day – about 40 Km on the ride, and the rest in getting to and from the event. Apart from the puncture on the conventional large-wheeler, and some gear engagement problems on one of the old F-frames, all the bikes performed  faultlessly.

Many thanks to Alice Roberts for her hospitality at the start and end of the ride, and to Brian Morrison who organised and lead the ride.

Return – a train journey in hell

I didn’t wish to appear unsociable, so rather than rush off immediately to catch a train, I stayed for a short while at the end of the ride, before setting off to catch the 4:26 from Stockport. My intention had been to try to avoid the majority of the football travellers, and I thought it should still be possible to do this using this train. Unfortunately, the train was running 45 minutes late (signalling problems), and the train was full enough that I had to stand in a lobby all the way back. Despite the discomfort this caused, and the consequent inability to get on with writing this report, things weren’t too bad until we got to Stoke on Trent. Unfortunately some visiting ‘football supports’ boarded the train at this point. I didn’t see too much of them, though they passed very noisily through the lobby where I was standing, and remarked loudly that they were hoping to find a Stoke supporter on the train. Apparently they did later, and when we reached Stafford, the next station stop, there was a 25 minute delay while he received medical attention, and efforts were made to summon police and restore order. It wasn’t too clear what was going on, and I had no wish to investigate more closely, but in the end we left, now about 70 minutes late.

At Wolverhampton we were greeted by a large police presence (about 20), and the doors of the train remained locked, with police standing outside them. After about 10-15 minutes further discussion, those leaving the train at Wolverhampton were allowed to get off, but I believe further searches and identification was going on, possibly with police travelling on the train. I had been expecting to catch the 5:52 from Wolverhampton to Tipton, but in the end it was the 7:22. A lady who had been on the same train as myself, but who unfortunately was much closer to the action, confirmed that after prolonged taunting of the opposing supporter, the group had hit him, and their behaviour had put many passengers in some fear for their own safety – some even getting off the train to avoid any further exposure to this behaviour.

After this unpleasant experience, I had  my own further potential incident, when a group of youths started shouting and screaming at me just as I was about to dismount for a short walk up an unlit path into the estate I pass through on the way to and from Tipton station – after the earlier experience, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and instead rode an extra kilometre loop on a busy main road to avoid the path and the majority of the estate.

While I was at Bradford on Avon, my attempt to ride the towpath to Bristol on Wednesday had been curtailed by police turning me back  – someone told me that a body had been found in the canal, and certainly when I used the towpath later there were police apparently interviewing boat owners. Overall it has been an ‘interesting’ (as in the Chinese curse) week.

Spare parts

Spares for older Moulton bicycles are available from a number of sources. Advertisements appear regularly in The Moulton Bicycle Club publications, The Moultoneer and The Moulton Flyer. You may also find parts listed in the Sales and Wants list.

Two latest editions of spares lists from two well-established suppliers are given below. Please check prices, availability etc before making purchases, and enclose an sae when writing with general enquiries. Parts not specifically listed may also be available from these sources.

Listing of sources of parts here or in the publications of The Moulton Bicycle Club does not constitute a recommendation, and buyers make purchases subject to their own judgement.

Moulton Summit 2005 Kyoto and Lake Biwa, Japan

Having attended and very much enjoyed the 2003 Moulton Summit around Mount Fuji in 2003, I wanted to attend another as soon as the opportunity arose. I missed the 2004 event, but was able to make it again this year. Fortunately my brother-in-law lives in Kyoto, the most historic city in Japan, with hundreds of temples and shrines. It was the capital for a thousand years before Tokyo usurped it just over a hundred years ago, and just to the north lies Lake Biwa, the largest in Japan.

Hence I set out early on Saturday from Kyoto in the family car, headed for Hikone on Lake Biwa, with a Land Rover APB in the boot.  Jiro Tominari of Dynavector, the Moulton import agent, had kindly arranged for Kyoto dealer Moku to lend me a bicycle for the weekend. I had collected it the day before, and enjoyed a test ride round the city.  The original 3×7 transmission had been replaced by a close ratio 9-speed derailleur, making it quite light. I successfully navigated my way to the already very busy Meishin Highway for the 60km run to Hikone, at a toll of £10, and somewhat fortuitously found the port car park where dozens of Moultoneers were already assembling their bicycles.  As well as Jiro, Shaun Moulton, and Dan Farrell and Adrian Williams of Pashley were also there, having travelled from Tokyo the day before; we four Englanders were the only non-Japanese. I literally flew the flag by wearing my new Foska.com Union Jack cycle jersey, which attracted a certain amount of photographic attention, including from passing cars during the ride.

With immaculate preparation, we were handed full colour, glossy maps and timetables of the day’s ride, including photographs of each stop. We were to ride east to west round the northern end of the lake for some 60km, then take a chartered ferry back to the start point across the lake.  At the first stop some riders joined from nearby Maibara station on the Shinkansen (bullet train) line from Tokyo and west Japan, and altogether we numbered around 80.  It was interesting to see how owners had modified their Moultons, perhaps in different ways than we do. One Pylon owner had a hand-crafted day bag of shaped aluminium sides and leather, at a cost of around £600; it did look very impressive!  Several had wicker baskets, in the tradition of older bicycles, and the most amazing variety of handlebar shapes.

We cycled alongside the lake, mostly on the pavement, as cyclists are entitled to do in Japan, thus safe from the traffic on the rather narrow roads. We paused for the first of about ten punctures, and took the opportunity to take photographs and chat. As we approached the second stop, Kohoku Mizudori Station, dark clouds rolled in and rain started to fall, developing into heavy showers as we sheltered by what seemed to be an indoor vegetable market. Feeling peckish and unable to find anything inside suitable for immediate consumption, I resorted to an outside stall selling a local speciality, takoyaki, grilled octopus balls. They were very hot (in the thermal sense), and I could persuade only Adrian to try one, Shaun and Dan uncharacteristically preferring to remain hungry. We bought drinks from the ubiquitous vending machines to be found literally everywhere in Japan, offering a wide selection of both hot and cold beverages. Since the cans of hot drinks are dispensed immediately, I often wonder how long they have been kept hot, but have never had a bad one.

The road soon turned inland from the lake, and we cycled between immaculate paddy fields against a mountainous background, spotting the occasional heron poised to pounce, while kites soared above.  Just before Katayama tunnel, there were some roadworks, and we were waved through by baton-wielding traffic controllers into the tunnel. At the other end we emerged back onto the lakeside before arriving at the lunch stop, Okubiwako Drive In restaurant, where tables had been reserved for us.  For less than a fiver each we had a set lunch including a main dish, miso soup, rice and pickles.

After lunch we divided into two groups, as there was a choice of ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ routes to the next stop. Somehow I found myself in the former, and we climbed to 200m on a narrow, twisting road called the Okubiwako Parkway. At the top we passed through another tunnel before an enjoyable fast descent, limited only by the turns and damp road surface.  This is where I discovered that a lack of mudguards and a saddle with a hole in the centre do no favours for the state of one’s shorts.  The two groups recombined at Nishi Asai Parking for another raid on the drinks vending machines.

For the last 10km the road went round a headland close by the lakeside, then through another tunnel to arrive at an irresistible ice cream shop opposite a jetty where our ferry was waiting.

We carried our cycles along the jetty, then onto the stern of the boat, up some steep steps to the top deck to park them, then back down inside for the hour-long crossing.  As we cruised over the lake, there were several formations of unidentified black birds flying northwards, just above the surface of the water.  Approaching Hikone, the heavens opened again, with dramatic lightening forks above the backdrop mountains.

From Hikone I drove back to Kyoto and the Kyoto Prince Hotel, located in the north of the city adjacent to the International Conference Hall. It was here that the so-called ‘Kyoto Agreement’ on the environment was hatched back in the late 1990s.  We barely had time to wash and change before the evening event in a banqueting room, yet amazingly many of the bikes which had been ridden that day had been cleaned and displayed in the room.

There were a number of presentations throughout the evening, including one on the new AM20 Shaun had brought from England, new Bridgestones for the Japanese market, the history of Pashley from Adrian, and finally one from Shaun himself. Jiro translated from English to Japanese, though the occasional brevity reminded me of the film, ‘Lost in Translation’, about two westerners suffering culture shock in Tokyo.  There was also a splendid buffet dinner of both Japanese and western food, drinks included, and a prize draw in which I think everyone ended up with a prize of some sort.  The final ones were awarded with a mass ‘scissors, paper, stone’ contest.

Sunday 5th June

After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, again with choice of Japanese or western food, we gathered for a group photograph in the car park of the adjacent International Conference Centre, By this time we were about 130 in number, so it took quite some organising!

There was an optional guided bicycle tour of Kyoto, with four cycling guides leading groups of about ten each. I joined one along with the other Englanders and Jiro, led by a delightful young Japanese lady called Junko. First we toured the nearby Takaragaike Park, somewhat hampered by a coincident mini-marathon, before making for Shimogamo Shrine in north Kyoto.  Shrines have the characteristic orange coloured gateways, and are part of the native Shinto religion which celebrates nature, as opposed to temples which are Buddhist.  There was quite a lot going on as we looked around, including a samurai film being made on location, a wedding in traditional costumes, and a new-born baby’s first blessing.

We then moved on through back streets to the expansive grounds of the former imperial palace (go sho), and on to lunch in a machiya, a traditional, wood-built Kyoto restaurant.  For less than eight pounds each we enjoyed a delicious Japanese lunch consisting as usual of several dishes, in the most peaceful surroundings.

After lunch we made our last stop at a workshop where stencil painting of fabrics wasn’t so much demonstrated, but participated in. We each donned aprons to protect our clothing, as we attempted to follow the instructions how to decorate a fabric coaster, with varying degrees of success.

Junko then led us to the River Kamo which flows north-south through Kyoto, and has wide pathways each side.  We paused at some stepping stones so that Shaun, Dan and Adrian could stand in the middle of the river and hold their bicycles aloft. At this point I asked Junko if this was the craziest group she had ever led, and received a very diplomatic denial as she collapsed in hysterical giggles.

With that the tour ended, and we made our way back to the hotel, mostly along the river path amid the Sunday walkers and picnickers, before making our separate ways.

Thanks to Jiro and Taro Tominari of Dynavector and their volunteer helpers for organising another wonderful Summit Meeting, and especially their hospitality to us gaijin (foreigners). I met friends old and new, and hope to see several again at BoA this year or next, and at future Japanese Summits.

Report by Eric Reed, photographs by Chris Eley

After a week of Britain receiving the entrails of Caribbean hurricanes, it was fingers crossed as to what the weather would be for the « South Hants Spin » on 19 September. Thankfully, despite a naff Saturday, Sunday morning broke with a sunny outlook and at 10.00 there was a group of 11 persons assembled for the ride start at Southampton Airport(Parkway) Station. Although not a large group, there was a miscellany of Moulton marques; with a T21, a Jubilee 16, a FX8 modified to 16 speed, an APB multidrive, an AM5 and AM7; two New Series and the classics in the form of a Major and my 1965 deluxe « new look ». The only non -Moulton was in the form of a Birdy Red.

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The merry band started off heading north then westwards through Eastleigh on footpath/cylepaths forming part of Sustrans routes NCN 2 and 23, on nice smooth cyclepaths through linear landscaped open spaces on modern housing development. The route then took us for a couple of miles on road where unfortunately the Jubilee sustained a puncture which brought us to a halt. With puncture repaired it was off via a crossing of the Itchen Navigation, an old barge route between Southampton and Winchester for coffee stop at Brambridge Garden Centre. A feature of this garden centre is the nice restaurant with tasty cakes and what are referred to as « bottomless » cups of coffee – you can return for top ups at no extra charge; unusual in this part of the world.j

  After the break it was nearing midday and the group restarted eastwards along narrow hedge lined rural lanes nestling in a chalk valley, before a steep climb up onto the down land ridge road at Owlesbury. After a stop to admire the scenery and distant views stretching south to the Isle of Wight, a long shallow downhill descent followed along very quiet lanes leading to our lunch stop at the Alma Inn, Lower Upham.

By the time a lazy lunch and chat had been enjoyed, it was heading towards 3pm when the brigade pedalled away south along country lanes towards Durley on a slight uphill grade. What goes up comes down and a long roll via a single track lane towards our tea stop was halted by further puncture repairs on the Jubilee.

When the planned pub tea stop was arrived at, we found the place packed with soccer fans watching on Sky TV the local Saints team playing Newcastle.
Rather than queue in a very smoky atmosphere for refreshment, a decision was made to continue on as time was progressing on. The group rode on past a pleasant small lake and on a short section of stone track towards West End on the outskirts of Southampton. From there it was a few miles on road via A27 which was part of an old turnpike route and only 30 years ago the main south coast east to west route prior to construction of the nearby M27 motorway.

The final leg took us past the giant Ford production plant where Transit vans are produced, adjacent Southampton International airport, and back to the start point at the Parkway station car park.

A most pleasant ride in the lovely Hampshire countryside enjoyed by all. Our thoughts during the day were with poor Linda and Zeffy Maayan who sadly were unable to attend. They both attended BOA two weeks before, but on Monday 6th September Linda had a blow out cycling to work on her Moulton, came off the bike and badly broke her arm. Also to the unforgettable yellow peril at BOA Brian Wey who attended his son’s wedding the day before and could not make the ride.

First full road test

The Sunday of the Launch Weekend had been set aside for a ride by Moultoneers and others who were attending the event. Due to the difficulties of finding a suitable venue for lunch, the start was scheduled for 11.15, riding from The Hall to The Mill at Rode for lunch at 2.15pm (the same location as for the lunch stop last September) and then returning to The Hall. A coffee stop was also included in the program, although some people missed this out and went direct to the lunch stop. This made a total distance of 25 miles – enough to be able to get a reasonable impression of the new bike.

The day dawned with weather showing signs of fitting the description applied to the month in the UK – ‘April showers’. I went down to my bike at about 7.15am, and decided that it was dry enough for a short early morning ride, but within 20 minutes I was overtaken by a very heavy shower, and returned to my B&B very damp. Things looked much better on arrival at The Hall for the start of the ride – not only was the weather better and the sun coming out, but I was privileged to be allocated one of the New Series bikes (which I will abbreviate as NS in the rest of this report) to ride (the white 531 model which had been in a separated state during the previous days of the launch). I was, however, asked to let others try the bike during this ride, so Ray Racy and Chris Dent also tried this bike, although I rode it most of the way. This arrangement was very good for me, as it allowed me to switch from the NS machine to older AMs, providing a better basis for comparison.

The weather at the start of the ride flattered only to deceive, and we had a number of heavy showers, and even hail, during the outward section of the ride, and everyone arrived at The Mill soaking wet. The return to The Hall was accomplished later in the afternoon in much better conditions.

But of course what was most important on this ride, and what you want to read about, is how the NS performed. I think the thing which most clearly struck everyone was the smoothness of the bike – not just the ride which results from the new suspension (though that is certainly tremendously impressive), but everything about the bike. It just seems to glide along, so that you felt you could sit on it and ride all day. The very progressive operation of the suspension was ideal for me, although it was my impression that heavier riders were using up more of the suspension travel. The Moulton/Lepper saddle was extremely comfortable – I simply didn’t even notice I was on an unfamiliar saddle. In fact, returning to my own bike at the end of the ride, it was that old familiar saddle which immediately made its presence felt.

The general impression of smoothness makes this an exceptionally enjoyable and effortless machine to ride. The narrow, high pressure tyres must contribute to the low rolling resistance, and they handled all the conditions encountered during the day very well. Hill climbing on this bike is particularly impressive, but the bike also handles descents in a way that inspires complete confidence. The bike feels very stable, and as Chris Dent demonstrated briefly, riding hands off would be quite possible technically, although of course undesirable and not recommended. The roads we used on the ride varied in surface from very smooth to badly worn, and the bike handled all of these beautifully. We did make a very short excursion down a muddy track, and the bike felt reasonable on this, but to avoid getting the bikes and ourselves too dirty we carried the bikes back to the road, which served to emphasise how very light the NS Moulton is.

The new handlebars were generally liked by riders, although some felt that they were rather too narrow. Personally I rather liked the width, although it would probably take rather longer than this ride to become fully used to them.

Not only are the brakes very powerful and smooth, but the lever position is very good for normal riding (although Chris Dent felt they might be angled a little further out, and after some thought I’m inclined to agree with him). The anti-dive characteristics of the suspension help to inspire complete confidence under braking. The position of the gear lever on the bars suited me very well, and made for extremely easy changes, although some of the riders of the other demonstration bikes felt they would like slight repositioning – it seems to be rather a matter of taste.

The range of gear ratios was just about ideal for the ride – I spent a lot of time in the top 3 ratios (but I didn’t need anything higher than was available), but for one quite steep hill I did use bottom gear briefly. I think that for my riding I would probably slightly lower the overall ratios by opting for a slightly smaller chainwheel. The range would certainly be quite enough for me, and I prefer not to be encumbered by a second chainwheel, which is why I like my existing AM7 (now fitted with 8-speed indexed Shimano gears) so much: the double chainwheel on my Jubilee L only adds about one extra effective gear to the overall range. However, I think it is possible some riders might like to have one more higher gear without losing out at the bottom of the range. The gears changed very smoothly throughout, and generally the ratios between the two extremes are well chosen, although I did notice one step fairly close to the middle of the range which was rather greater than I would like. There seems to be a similar step from 4th to 5th gear on my Jubilee L and 8-speed AM7.

Were there any things to dislike? Apart from the few minor points mentioned above, all of which come down to personal preferences on detail settings, there was really nothing that could be categorised as strongly as a dislike. Chris Dent commented on the difficulty of mounting a bar bag due to the suspension design (he normally uses a low-mounted bar bag located at the upper mounting point for the front carrier on his AM), and I too feel that for some situations, notably touring, it is a pity that front luggage carrying seems to be ruled out. The clearance between the mudguards and tyres is about the same as on an AM model, and at one stage some mud attached itself to the tyre, and could be heard rubbing against the mudguard on every rotation. It didn’t hinder progress, but was irritating, and continued until I stopped and wiped it off. Personally I would prefer slightly greater clearances on both the older AMs and the NS.

There was no ocassion to split the frame on this ride, but separating the bike into two parts to put in a car boot should be if anything easier than with an AM. The further dismantling into a smaller package, so that it can be taken by air, for example, is useful, but likely to be too slow to make it suitable for frequent use.

Overall I was most impressed by the bike. When I first saw it, read the specification and discovered the price, I concluded that it was a beautiful piece of engineering which I would love to own, but which lacked the folding capability for use with trains and the (front) luggage facilities which I ideally need for my own purposes. So in view of the price, at that stage I just felt that it was a nice machine, but I wouldn’t be getting one. But now I’ve ridden it I’m hooked, and I know others who tried it feel the same. This bike is wonderful to ride, and spoils you for anything else. Owning and riding Moultons can be, as many of us know, addictive. One of the Japanese visitors at the launch event apparently owns 44 Moultons! The NS Moulton is going to raise this addiction to new levels.

LAST ROUTEMASTERS IN CHELSEA 1960’s NOSTALGIA EVENT

F-FRAMES SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED INCLUDES THE ICONIC KINGS ROAD.

FRIDAY 22ND JULY?** PUTNEY ALL DAY *7PM TO 11PM* PUTNEY-CENTRAL LONDON-PUTNEY.

?**NOTE:- DATE COULD BE POSTPONED AT SHORT NOTICE. BEST CONFIRM BY PHONING ME IN WEEK BEFORE.

As many of you may be aware London has all but lost it’s Routemasters. There are now only five routes left with these buses which, like the Moulton Bicycle, are an enduring icon of the 1960’s. Of these, the 14 and the 22 are due to be converted to one-man operation on 23rd July.

It has now become a tradition for the last day of Routemaster operation to become an event supplemented by the running in service of plenty of classic and preserved buses along the route including many of the 1940’s-1950’s (as in Cliff Richard’s “Summer Holiday.”)

Given the 1960’s iconic nature of the Routemaster and the fact that Route 22 runs along the length of the 1960’s iconic Kings Road (close to where Mike Woolf, another 1960’s icon lives) it is proposed that we enhance this celebration by getting as many F-frame Moultons to join in the event.

NOTE:

1) *WHY THE LATE RIDE?*

When the last bus leaves that is an event in which a convoy of vintage a show buses lead it’s return trip. The 14 goes one man in the evening so the last Routemaster on the 14 will leave Central London at about 9.30PM. This gives us the opportunity to have a formal ride with the convoy of buses in a real event. With both routes running between Putney and the West End we can actually ride there up Kings Road via the 22 in daylight in true 1960’s mode then return with the last 14 down Fulham Road. NOTE:- The return ride will be in darkness. (If anyone wants to shadow the last 22 that will be around midnight)! Also this will enable many to attend after work.

2) SO WHY IS THIS AN ALL DAY EVENT?

On the last day of Routemasters plenty of vintage and show buses operate on the routes. By making the all-day aspect of this is to allow us to meet up and ride on some of these buses in service and perhaps have an impromptu ride or two up and down the Kings Road. It would be wrong to formalise a day-time ride because many of us might (want to) be riding on the buses at any time and without any schedules that is impossible. However, I stress, that if you contact me prior I will guarantee to ensure some kind of co-ordination. (The 14 goes from Putney Heath  to Tottenham Court Road Station via Fulham Road and the 22 goes from Putney Common to Piccadilly Circus via Fulham Road.) IF ANY GROUPS WANT TO DO THEIR OWN THING DURING THE AFTERNOON THAT IS NO PROBLEM. I intend to « do » the buses too.

3) BRING YOUR CAMERA (TO PUTNEY BRIDGE)

This day wil be very very public with photographers snapping away at every street corner, both anoraks and the media. If you are just coming in the evening for the ride but want to picture the buses beforehand locally the best place is nearby Putney Bridge which both routes cross before bifurcating at either side.

4) WHERE TO MEET?

The meeting place for this ride and the focus for the day will be at the Putney Common terminus of route 22 at Lower Common SW15, a dead end off Lower Richmond Road. This is a perfect meeting place as there are no parking controls after 10.30am in the nearest side streets. There is a pub on the corner of Lower Common and Lower Richmond Road which would make a fair meeting spot, (*NOTE THIS WILL BE THE MEETING POINT FOR THE EVENING RIDE AT 7.00-7.30PM*) but I will put a notice on the nearest lamppost as to where my van (P377UGC) is parked so if I’m not there (due to riding buses or Moultons) you will know. I will keep you informed with a notice on my dashboard when I’m not there and leave the drivers window open a sliver if anyone wants to push a note in – I don’t have a mobile! Incidentally, just down the road is the shrine to Marc Bolan, a 1970’s icon, where he was killed in his Mini, another 1960’s icon! It is a safe area to leave bikes and people will be welcome to place them in my van or borrow one of my spare F-frames.

5) PARKING AT PUTNEY…. BE AWARE!!!!

Be aware of the parking controls. You can park unrestricted after 10.30am in the few side streets in the immediate vicinity. Parking controls remain in force up to 4.30pm in the next tranche of side streets up to 4.30pm and all parking restrictions cease at 6.30pm so if you’re coming for the evening ride you will have no problem at all. PLEASE TAKE HEED not to leave your vehicle even one minute before controls cease or you could get nabbed!

6) RIDE ETIQUETTE.

It needs to be said; please be aware that this will be a very public occasion with both bus routes and the termini lined with bus enthusiasts and cameras, both from the public and the media. Indeed, there should be loads of people out. We should attract some attention but please respect the fact that they are there to photograph the buses and not us so no going round the buses to stop in front of them at traffic lights because the photographers and cranks will not be amused. If you go round them pull up well clear in front. Also, this is London so it should be a reasonably paced ride and of course a flat route. Remember we will be cycling through Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross Road on a Friday evening when revellers are out, but at the time we will be there the traffic is light because they tend to be in their theatres, clubs and restaurants. Also, note, don’t dilly dally in the Piccadilly bus lane and if you use the underpass at Hyde Park Corner do remember to go fast.

7) CONTACT….

If anybody is interested please phone me on 020 84503413 or e-mail me at abey@wisehead.homechoice.co.uk. Feel free to phone or e-mail me at any time for more details.

Whatever happens, I strongly recommend that anyone up for this event thinks of it as a fun afternoon and evening and allows time for it and is prepared to be dictated by how the buses run…. Obviously with more than one ride. All the terrain is flat, there will be plenty of photographers an interest around and I will do my best to endeavour that those wishing to get the best out of the buses as well as the cycling. Remember, public and press will be out with cameras! Also, I am passing this information on to the Veteran Bicycle Club and possibly some classic car groups… original Minis would be perfect for this!

FINALLY, I have three F-frames. I’d like to see them all out on the day so anyone wishing to use one of mine would be doing me a favour.