Concerning ‘Airport Folders’ (Letters, A to B 36), I have seen handlers (literally) throwing bikes onto a trailer at Heathrow. Moreover, as the baggage carousels get larger, so even 700C wheeled bikes must take their chances with the hard cases. I am lucky enough to find myself in lovely places (usually for work) and take my Brompton for weekend use when work is over.This year: Lisbon, Paris, Bordeaux, Stockholm,Vienna, Rheims and Rotterdam.
The Brompton (with riding clothes, shoes, helmet and tools) fits into a large Samsonite case.The case is now black as well as the original blue but the bike remains intact.Total weight is slightly over the 20kg allowed by most airlines, but I’ve had no surcharge so far. However, wretched Ryanair has now cut the allowance to 15kg. So for the (Bergerac) Bordeaux and Skavsta (Stockholm) routes, I used the Carradice Brompton bag padded with a Karrimat – a total weight of only 15.7kg with clothes and tools. Ryanair threatened penal surcharges for excess, but I was not charged.
With hand luggage, what really counts are the terms of the carrier and not the recommendations of the International Air Travellers Association. Conditions are available on demand and the law says that travellers cannot plead ignorance.Take the three carriers I have flown with this year:
||55cm x 40cm x 20cm
||45cm x 35cm x 20cm
||50cm x 35cm x 23cm
None checked the size, and curiously, the only one to check the weight (at Bergerac – not busy, so perhaps nothing better to do) was Ryanair, the most generous. Only today I read that the Office of Fair Trading has compelled a number of carriers to keep their terms in line with those recommended by the IATA.
Pilots Pay Too…
I am an avid reader of A to B and thoroughly enjoy it even though I am a pilot with Ryanair and I guess part of the ‘fuel burning population’. In the course of my employment I fly 900 hours a year and thus burn about 900 x 2,200kg of aviation kerosene (1,980 tonnes) but I do move a lot of people around for not too much money! Fortunately the CFM56 engines on the 737-800 are amongst the most efficient and least polluting engines in the world at the moment, so at least that is something!
To make up for this I rarely drive, apart from the trip to work (hard to cycle 18 miles in a full pilot’s uniform and arrive in a fit state!), but I do a lot of riding around my local area on my two bikes, a Brompton L6 and Specialized MTB.The Brompton goes with me on longer trips and fits perfectly in the largest Delsey rigid suitcase, along with my clothes and other bits and pieces. (If anyone wants the details, it is a Delsey Model 90179 AT costing about £80, and one would swear that has been designed perfectly for the job.
I am new with this airline and as yet have not carried the Brommie with them, but as a Ryanair pilot I have no more rights than the customers, and I am aware of the rigid baggage policy, as I have had to fork out large amounts for baggage when using them to position for flights for my previous company. I guess that is the downside of cheap fares!
Name & Address supplied
Mr Martin (Letters, A to B 37) might like the look of the Knightsbridge, even though the arm doesn’t swing: I still favour simplicity and light weight. It was designed for AVD, manufacturer’s of the Windcheetah, but I may make one or two myself.
Ooh, lovely! Should anyone lust after a simple, light, yet highly effective folding bike, Mr Burrows has just the thing.That chain-guard really does double as a rear frame member – not swinging, but a light and innovative solution.Tel: 01603 721700. [Eds]
Some Dual Swing Arms…
In A to B 36 it was suggested that a chain might be hidden in the swing-arm of a cycle, the Riese & Müller Avenue seems to fulfil this brief. Hope to see a road test.
Tattershall Thorpe, Lincs
R & M Equinox
After reading Hugh Martin’s letter about hollow swing arm drives on bicycles, I do know of one. Riese & Müller produce a bike called the Equinox, which has a chain running right through the suspension swing arm and even an enclosed chainring guard. Incidentally, I think Giant’s Revive EZB may have one too, on its high specification model, if it makes it to production. It does seem like a great design for a clean, efficient chain drive. Maybe you could review one or other of these bikes?
The Avenue has a conventional chain line as far as we know. Both the Revive LX and Equinox run the chain through a frame member – a halfway house to a one-piece monoblade chainguard/rear frame assembly.The EZB project seems to be progressing rather slowly (see News), which sounds a bit suspicious, but we understand that the first bikes will arrive in 2004. [Eds]
Regarding your comment (Letters, A to B 36) that British railway companies will not sell you a ticket to Amsterdam, Anglia will, from any of its stations (and possibly others) to Amsterdam and elsewhere, and at a discount. For bookings, call 08700 409090. Incidentally, I would advise readers to urge the SRA to accept Anglia’s bid for the new ‘Greater Anglia’ franchise, or we could end up with some jumped-up bus company running our trains.
I agree that so called ‘travel agents’ are little more than flight and car hire agents, but I don’t think getting SNCF to run British trains will help.We recently went by train to Gstaad, Switzerland via London/Paris/Montreux, and Raileurope was unable to deal with the Swiss end, referring us to Swiss National Railways.We finally booked with Trainseurope (see www.trainseurope.co.uk), a company based in March, Cambridgeshire.The tickets didn’t arrive particularly quickly, but we had a completely hassle-free journey, despite the TGV arriving in London 30 minutes late.The Anglia service was on time as usual.
Anglia, like Chiltern, was franchised to railway managers who, by and large, seem to have run a model franchise, despite abolishing SuperSaver fares. Bicycle provision is probably unequalled. Another excellent suggestion for worldwide rail bookings is the travel agency arm of the Ffestiniog Railway, which has been doing this sort of thing since 1836.The staff are both helpful and knowledgeable: www.festtravel.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01766 516010. [Eds]
Bike Space Reductions
Re: Letters, A to B 37. Our new trains currently being built for the fast main line services between London and Portsmouth will have spaces for six cycles and two wheelchair seats. The new trains that will provide the local stopping services will only have space for two cycles and one if a disabled passenger is carried.
The new trains will cover all routes currently operated by slam-door trains, and will start to be introduced in the next few months. It is hoped to have all in service by the end of 2004.The current Wessex electrics will provide the core services on the Weymouth line.
Customer Relations Officer, South West Trains
Oh, No it Won’t…
Having spoken at length to the manufacturers of the Ezee Forza bike (A to B 36), I feel it is only fair to point out that you have been slightly misled! The bike you tested, with the excellent lightweight nickel-metal hydride battery, couldn’t be retailed at £650 in the UK, although the cheaper sealed lead-acid battery version probably could.
The NiMH battery and full spec as tested, would add £200-£250 to the price quoted, which of course puts a very different perspective on your review, especially in reference to the ‘end of the line dinosaur’ Powabyke range! In fact, the retail price of the Forza would be more than our 24-speed Commuter – a considerable price hike for a few kg?
We are in the middle of finishing two prototypes at the moment, including an NiMH option for all Powabykes. I think you will appreciate the weight advantage.
Managing Director, Powabyke
We look forward to a new Powabyke battery with great interest. Ezee is not to blame for our rather optimistic price estimate.The company gave us a raw trade price and we added a reasonable margin for a dealer selling direct to the public.We did, however, forget to factor in VAT at 17.5%, which would bring the price up to £760-£820.We still think a direct mail-order outlet could sell the bike for this, but via a dealer network, the price would be closer to £900 or £1,000.The prospects for the Forza certainly do become a bit stickier at this level. [Eds]
It Happened in a Trice
Regarding the KMX review in A to B 36, a major and not too obvious drawback of tricycle recumbents is the nasty injuries that can occur when the rider’s feet slip from the pedals, catch on the road surface and are dragged under the frame cross members.The rider’s knees and feet act as brakes and he/she may be thrown onto the chainset with rather unfortunate results.This happened to me once at around 17mph, or was it 17:00 hours?
Anyway I suffered a hole in my big toe you could put a pencil in, which took months to heal properly, a few broken and dislocated ribs and rather gory grazing of hands and knees. I’m not blaming anyone, but I think I should have been informed of this possibility when I bought the Trice. I have spoken to a couple of tricycle recumbent owners who have experienced similar things, but it’s possible the lower ground clearance of the KMX may help in avoiding such a mishap. Recumbent trikes are tremendous fun but should probably be used with toeclips or ‘clip in’ pedal systems – just in case.
Thanks for an interesting, witty and informative magazine. I too like the flying lady and would also like to express my fondness for the general A to B ethos.What puzzles me is how the other magazines manage to get it so wrong? I think perhaps I’m suffering from plaudit overkill… arrrrrgh… (Crashes to the ground clutching copy of A to B).
Ronald Arthur Dewhirst
Sometimes we walk a tightrope between excessive ‘nanny-state’ scare-mongering and providing legitimate safety information.When testing the KMX, we made a few (very) low speed experiments and decided that a misplaced foot probably wouldn’t get drawn under the machine, but the truth is we don’t know. If in doubt, SPD-style clipped pedals would make a wise purchase. [Eds]
Solar Down Under…
You might be interested to know that solar panels certainly do work on a trike, at least in Australia.We built a machine with two lightweight 30 watt panels, set up on the rear, so that they could be pivoted to catch the sun as you were riding along.We used a Heinzmann motor and four 12 volt batteries. I found I only needed the 270 watt motor for about 20% of the time, when climbing hills at less than 20kph (13mph).This seemed like the most efficient way of using the extra energy.
On a 40km round trip over rolling hills, average speed increased from 19kph to 26kph with the solar assistance. I also found that however far I went, I never managed to flatten the batteries, so it seemed to have an infinite range with the solar panels on the trike.
One of the nicest things was that one no longer needed low gears, as you can see by the size of the chain ring.The smaller ring was never used.The all up weight was 30kg, and I found that the extra weight seemed to make no difference on the level, but it was definitely faster downhill!
Ian Sims, Greenspeed Recumbent Trikes
Ferntree Gully, Australia
We’re convinced that a lightweight electric-assist recumbent trike has a great future. [Eds]
Practice Makes Perfect
We were at Tandem 2003 last week; a week-long rally of several hundred tandemists, including a few machines fitted with S+S frame couplings, as advertised by St John Street Cycles (see back pages).We never saw them uncoupled, as the tandems all arrived and departed as complete machines on top of large cars.
This led us to wonder – are the couplings any good? At the sort of price shown in the adverts, they ought to be, so why are the machines’ owners not putting their cycles in the boots of smaller cars, or even taking them as luggage on trains? I think we were the only cycle-camping participants at the event who didn’t arrive by motor. Have you ever reviewed S+S couplings in A to B?
Further to your experiences of disorganisation at the CTC’s Birthday Tea (Mole, A to B 37), we can let you into a secret.They can achieve such levels of disorganisation only because they have had so many years of practice! One or other of us have attended about a dozen Birthday Rides events over the past two decades, and each one has featured 5th August birthday tea chaos.We now always take our own food and drink!
Cathy Melia and Graham Lansdell
We touched briefly on S+S couplings some years ago. It’s a great idea, but expensive, and folding can involve a lot of fiddling with cable connectors.Very few companies are licensed to fit the couplings – the two primary ones in the UK being St John Street Cycles (tel: 01278 441538) and Kinetics (tel: 0141 942 2552). It’s disappointing to hear that people are basically too lazy to split their tandems for carriage, but not particularly surprising. [Eds]
CDs, PDFs and Other Animals…
Having just searched through my back numbers of A to B, I thought ‘If only it was on a CD’. Many magazines now put back numbers on Compact Disc.What chance for A to B?
A CD looks unlikely for the time being.We’re highly suspicious of PDF, HTML, and other esoteric files and generally happy with the printed word.We also keep and sell a lot of back-numbers. One thing we really must do is to put a comprehensive master list of articles on our web site. (Eds)
Off the Rails
Re: Mail on Rail, A to B 37.The closure of city centre sorting offices brings further costs, mostly palmed off on Royal Mail staff who now need to run cars to get to and from the ‘remote’ sorting centres. I’d estimate that in some cities 80-90% of the traffic around 5am is generated by Royal Mail.The other issue is hazard – I’ve seen a motorway crash where a Royal Mail articulated lorry ended up on its side across all three lanes.
The mention and photo of the Esge stand (A to B 37, page 28) got me excited – I have been trying to get one for seven years.They’re not to be had in Hereford though. One retailer thought Esge had folded? Another thought Raleigh sold one, but the current catalogue only includes something that looks like a tuning fork that would be less stable. Help!
As with most specialist parts, you need to find a specialist shop. Ours came from Avon Valley Cyclery of Bath, but most of the shops advertising in A to B should stock this sort of item. If they don’t, tell them they should! [Eds]
I too used to have an Esge stand (2,000 miles on a Lafree, A to B 37) fitted to the Pino I ride with my disabled daughter. After a trip to York a few years ago we returned to collect our car which had been parked at Kings Cross Station. I wheeled the bike, with my daughter on board, off the platform and out to the car park. As I put the stand down there was a ‘Ping’ and one leg of the stand fell onto the floor. It was lucky I was still holding the handlebars or my daughter would have been on the floor too. So don’t put too much trust in yours when loading children into a rear seat. Before this incident I too had been very impressed with the Esge stand. I have since fitted the stand made by Häse and find it superbly designed for the purpose.
I recently fitted a Heinzmann 200 watt motor into the front wheel of my Pino so that I could keep up with everyone at the Company of Cyclist’s Week in the Cotswolds. My daughter doesn’t pedal at all and weighs about ten stone, so I tend to lag behind on the hills. But the Heinzmann made such a difference. Not only could I keep up, I even managed to give a boost to some of the trikes. I couldn’t tell you what kind of mileage we did, because I found the electronics upset my cordless computer readings. (I’ll have to fit my old one back on!) I even took the charger on one day and persuaded the park rangers at Cotswold Water Park to let me recharge during the lunch stop. By measuring the route for that day on the map it seemed to be about 17-18 miles each way, plus some vicious climbs.
The Esge is more stable than a traditional stand, but it isn’t necessarily stronger, so it’s best not to ask too much of the legs, which aren’t really designed to stand the weight of a large child. A good tip when putting a child in is to assume the bike will fall over.That way, if it does, you’re ready to whisk the child to safety. Bicycles are dispensable… [Eds]
Over to you Brommie!
Our child seat conversion. Clearance is tight, but it works well, even with a four-year- old on board
I have a new Brompton and I am getting on fine with it, but would like to fit a child seat. Cycle Heaven of York wasn’t too keen to provide much advice, presumably being concerned about liability. I bought a seat from Index and it fitted fine – not bad for £25.The trouble is my heels keep clipping the footrests of the seat so it was back to square one. I’ve tried positioning the clamp further up on the seat post but there is too much flexing. I may investigate a Polisport seat, but wonder if you had the same problem?
Adapting a child seat is liable to invalidate both the bike and seat warranty.We think this is one for the manufacturer – how about a child-seat kit, Brompton?
Our Polisport seat (see A to B 24) fits at the bottom of the pillar. Clearance is tight, but never a problem.We reduced the load on the seat pillar by mounting a rubber yoke under the seat, transferring weight into the rear mudguard.This still works well (Alexander now weighs 18.3kg), and provides a well-damped ride, although we’ve destroyed at least one mudguard in three years. [Eds]
How can I transport my three young (nearly one, nearly four and nearly six) children around using two adult bikes? Any pointers as to where to look/what to use would be appreciated. I own a Brompton L6, so knowing what I can do with that would be helpful.
We’re great advocates of trailers – safe, secure, dry (usually) and instantly removable for solo rides. If you do any child-carrying that includes bus or train, the Brompton child seat is priceless, folding up and down in seconds and occupying little more space than the folded bike. (Eds)
I am interesting in getting a folder, but I have been warned off by a major manufacturer because of my weight. I weigh 102kg (16 stone), which is not excessive given my build and height (6′ 2″).The manufacturer I spoke to was concerned that a folding frame might not cope with this amount of weight bouncing around on the frames his company produces. He seemed to think that other folder manufacturers would also advise riders of my weight that their frames would not be able to take the punishment for any length of time. I’d like to see if your opinion is the same and whether any brand of folding bike stands out as being substantial enough to cope with a rider of my weight.
Cruelly, we threw this one at the manufacturers. Airframe says customers of 151/2 stone (99kg) have no problems, Dahon recommends a maximum load of 16 stone 6lb (105kg),Brompton says 18 stone (115kg), and Bike Friday said they would be delighted to build a bike for you, as their bespoke products have been made for riders of up to 26 stone (164kg) in the past! Pashley and Strida declined to comment. [Eds]
To Pedal or Not to Pedal?
I wonder if you would mind answering a little question for me, please? I bought back issues 27 and 31 to read the reviews of the Giant Lafree Twist and Comfort, but even now I am not absolutely clear on a point that is important to me. It’s this. Can they be ridden on power only, i.e. without pedalling at all?
It’s surprisingly easy to miss the most obvious points from a test, for which we apologise. Electric bikes come in two forms – Pedelecs such as the Giant Lafree, which must be pedalled, and E-Bikes, where leg-power is optional. For more information, see page 28. [Eds]
I’m a poverty-stricken Brompton rider in my 50s and have been mending punctures for forty years or so. But I have great difficulty in getting the tyres off my Brompton. I feel quite humiliated that I need to get (usually) a man in a bike shop to mend punctures (and pay around £10), simply because I can’t remove the tyre.
Has anyone any tips? Does anyone know where I can buy a set of metal tyre levers? Local bike shops only stock plastic ones which bend. I feel desperate about this, and feel sure that some A to B reader will come up with a solution.
Liz Moore, London
You are not alone Liz – small tyres are usually tighter on the rim than their big cousins (but there are huge variations, with some 406mm tyres literally falling off once deflated). As for 347mm tyres (16-inch), in our experience, the Schwalbe and Raleigh tyres are tight and the Brompton and Primo are quite a bit easier.We wouldn’t recommend using metal tyre levers or excessive force, as this can precipitate early rim failure.The best advice we can give (see also Professor Pivot) is to avoid punctures – the Schwalbe and Brompton tyres are (relatively) immune, with the Primo mid way and the Raleigh far and away the worst. [Eds]
I have found that a more efficient version of the Cateye EL300 (page 16, A to B 33) is sold in Germany as the EL-300G, incorporating a battery current regulator and low battery warning light.The regulator should improve performance with rechargeable batteries and give a longer battery life.This lamp meets the strict German regulations and at E50 is about the same price as the inferior British model. I got my local bike shop to ask the UK Cateye distributors about the EL-300G, but they said they only sold the standard model.
The EL-300G manages battery consumption more efficiently and has better lenses than its cruder counterpart, which seems to result in increased brightness rather than extra battery life.
Interestingly, the light fails to meet the latest German regulations through being too dim in the main beam area, but too bright outside it. A special exemption was granted for Germany, and German regulations are normally treated as being the equivalent of British Standards, so it may be legal in the UK. By all but these most exacting regulations, the EL-300G is a superb lamp, but not currently available here.The UK distributor was unable to comment. How helpful. (Eds)
The Final Word
In which you get your say… briefly
Congratulations on reaching your tenth birthday . Utterly and completely brilliant . Always interesting and thought provoking .Against fierce competition,A to B is almost certainly our most enjoyed magazine! Consistently interesting . I love it – it’s great . I love your magazine and its bolshie way . I read it cover to cover . Cover to cover read . I read and enjoy every word – sometimes twice . I like the ‘old time’ British flavour and humour Don’t be tempted to go monthly . Should be monthly . Should be weekly . A to B has real articles unlike that pap in Cycling Plus and, increasingly, the CTC magazine . Much better than the CTC magazine . I bought a Brompton on the strength of your review. I’m glad I did – it’s great .The best – great range of topics, well balanced reviews and healthy cynicism to boot! Excellent. Continue to strive for change in the cultural perspective . Still wonderful, but I didn’t like issue 37 . Great article on Royal Mail trains . Please continue with A5 format and pro-rail, pro-cycling views . Rather too much on electrics, but enjoyed nevertheless More pedals, fewer electrics . A regular ‘workshop for beginners’ would be nice . Could we have an article on servicing and adjusting the SRAM 3-speed hub? More on kids’ bikes, family cycling and maintenance classes . Life-enhancing [from a doctor] . Essential to my life It’s good to know I’m neither alone nor insane…