As explained in « why travelling by Brompton », after 3 month travelling by bus, train, hitchiking, boat, and, of course, Brompton bicycle, we are still pleased of its modularity. In this post, I explain our customisations, technical tips, and other helpful things which benefit us all in our everyday lives.
Update of this post after our come back in France
First, the bike : Brompton P6R. Multi-position handlebar, 6 speeds, Shimano hub dynamo, easy-wheel, luggage carrier, model 2013 for Anthony, 2014 for Caroline. The shimano hub dynamo didn’t like very much the Nepal roads. We have change this one, for a Sutter precision hub dynamo in Bangkok.
After checking folding bikes from other brands, I’ve only found the perfect bike at Brompton’s.
1. According to me, the 16 inches wheels are the best compromise bulk/riding comfort. Bigger (20 inches or more), the bike takes too much space when it’s folded. Smaller, badly maintained roads are impossible to ride. Moreover, the most interesting is that 16 inches wheels allows carrying a real backpack along the seat tube. This way, you have a very big volume for luggage, and more comfort to carry it when you stop (contrary to normal bike bags) and it improves your stability.
2. Compared to a classical derailleur, on a built-in hub, there is no part that could be broken by the road obstacles. Some will tell us that it remains the chain tensioner. That’s true, but : 1. if it breaks, it’s easy to carry in the replacement equipment (cheap and light) and 2. without this part, by shortening the chain, the bike is able to work on its 3 speeds, temporary. If you want to take no risks, you can instal a Nexus 8 hub or Alfine 11. I think it’s not necessary
, but well, we still have a short experience…
3. Brompton bikes have double-walled rims. Essential for the wheel resistance. What about other brands?
4. The general robustness of the bike. According to professionals, it’s the best in terms of reliability.
5. This table shows different possibilities for the speeds. We chose a 6 speed model with a 38 teeth chainring.
We didn’t revolutionized the bike! We just made few changes to adapt perfectly the bike for our tour…
1. 38 teeth chainring
Originally, you can choose for your Brompton three different chainrings (44, 50 or 54 teeth). But as you saw in the previous table, we chose 6 speeds and a 38 teeth chainring. Simple, efficient, cheap and quite standard. I wish to explain that the 2 m mini development by wheel spin in good. But if we would have a mini development even more « mini », for sure, we would have used it. About the maxi development, 6,06 m per wheel spin is enough to get a 35 km/h speed with your 40 kg of luggage!
2. Fixing the backpack
Some pictures of the piece for fixing backpack. If you ask me kindly, I would make you a plan!
First, I was skeptical about using aluminium. I would prefer steel. But after 2500 km, aluminium turns out to be very strong and perfectly efficient. I’m now very optimistic about the durability of this, until the end of the trip. Of course, I will tell you if something gets broken.
3. Protecting the small chain
This part is protecting the small chain from the hub speed changing. It’s a small piece of aluminium folded. It’s fixed on the luggage carrier screw and the chain adjuster screw.
If you add this part, be careful to avoid the spokes touch it while folding.
4. Tape to protect the cables
Changing the speeds makes rub the cables against the frame. That often repeated movement can attack the laquer and bring local corrosion problems.
5. Complete maintenance of the bike before departure
Changing the brake pads, and oiling the chain. In my view, grease is not very good. And for good reasons : Caroline’s chain, which was brand new, has been first oiled with grease. Mine, which is older than Caroline’s have been oiled with chain oil on a regular basis. Today, the difference is marked : during the trip, I’m used to clean both chains every 7-10 days. Everytime it’s the same : Carolin’s chain is more dirty, full of sand, dust and is longer to clean than mine. It doesn’t squeak more than mine. So, oil is lasting a little bit less but it brings a very easy maintenance and is as efficient as grease.
6. Charging phone and other electric appliances
I installed an energy recovering system via the hub dynamo. It can works for both light and charging a backup battery. I followed this process :
For very useful informations : http://www.eurecart.fr/. Renaud is very kind and reactive. He can answer your technical questions.
However, after 2 month travelling, I never used. We often sleep in places where there is electrical plugs. So, I we have also an easy to charge battery from Decathlon (45€). I think Eurecart nice system would be more useful for cheaper and wilder trips.
Which is the replacement equipment to have on a Brompton round-the-world trip ?
For 1 bicycle
A- 2 small chains (hub speed change)
B- 1 bottom bracket bearings
C- 1 « U » that maintains the handlebar while the bike is folded
D- 24 repair patches, 3 tubes of glue et 1 scraper
E- 1 kit of wire derail cog
F- 1 kit of wire hub changing speeds
G- 4 spokes per wheel (different length according to your configuration)
H- 6 brake pads
I- 1 front wheel hook (for folding)
J- 1 chain SRAM PC830
K- 1 tyre
L- 4 inner tubes
M- 1 chain quick coupler
N- cable ties
O- 1 kit of wire front wheel
P- 1 kit of wire back wheel
The most careful of you would add a chain adjuster, a fixing piece for the front bag and reinforcement rods for the luggage carrier.
a- 1 chain rivet
b- 1 stuff to unscrew the bottom bracket
c- 1 extractor
d- 1 spoke spanner
e- 3 tyre changers
f- 1 adjustable spanner
g- 1 closed-end wrench and loops of « 8 »
h- 1 closed-end wrench and loops of « 10 »
i- 1 sickle spanner
j- 1 closed-end wrench and loops of « 15 »
k- 1 roll of polyvalent tape
l- 1 oil dispenser
m- 1 toothbrush
n- 1 Leatherman nozzle kit
o- 1 Leatherman sleeve bit holder extension
p- 1 Leatherman Wave
q- 1 strong plumbing clamp
This is all I can advice you after 3 month on the road. In addition, you will find all the technical informations about Bromptons on the super Brompton Forum.