Luggage My Brompton

Removable Mini-S-Frame and Wire Basket on a Brompton

When I acquired a wire basket for my Brompton, I attached it to a modified S frame with cable ties.  The cable ties were really easy to use, and the attachment very stable. However, I’m about to make another bag for Basil because I’m crazy and the closet-full I have already aren’t enough I’d like to have a super-small one. Now I want to be able to slip that mini-S-frame on and off the basket without having to find a pair of scissors.

The new attachment system uses nylon webbing and buckles, and some wide hook-and-loop fastening.  I hand-sewed the webbing, with buckles attached, to the top and bottom of the basket, fitting them carefully over the S frame/basket combination.

The buckles had to wrap so that they were easy to open and close, and the strap/buckle combination had to hug the S frame snugly.

The sides of my modified S frame are not riveted in place — that’s so I can swap them out for differently-sized tubing if I choose to.  This means, though, that they should be stabilized, so that the sides won’t vibrate out of the frame while I’m riding. To prevent that,  I sewed wide hook-and-loop strips across the middle of the back of the basket.  (Those unsecured straps to the right and left of the basket are the hook portion of the strips.)

Here’s how the back of the basket looks with the frame completely attached.  (The hook-and-loop strips flop a little bit over the vertical center frame bars; that just makes them easier to grab when removing the basket.)

Here is the back of the basket with the frame removed.

The security of this system is completely dependent on how well the straps and hook-and-loop tape are attached to the basket, so, if you are tempted to give this a try, sew well!  Neither the buckles nor the hook-and-loop tape will slip if they are installed in the right places, so it’s only the stitching that is vulnerable.

Here is the basket on Basil.  (Indoors. Sadly, it’s not a good biking day.) The buckles and webbing add very little weight, and don’t impede airflow much, if at all, but make swapping out the wire basket easy and fast when the frame is needed elsewhere.  I’ve freed up my modded S frame, and can now move on to the next bag — because, naturally, one just can’t have too much luggage for a Brompton.  Right?  Right?


Fairy Tale Woods

They’re almost always sinister.

Doesn’t it look a little as if we are being menaced by a primeval forest?  (We are getting away fast, though, so no worries.)


My Brompton

On the Move

Is it a panda shot if someone else takes it?

And if it’s taken from the side?

Yeah, I just love pictures of Basil. This isn’t an angle I get to see when cycling.  That Brompton frame is just elegant.

Errandonnee Events

Errandonneuring on a Brompton Bicycle, Part 2

Basil and I were all set to go today, ready to knock off Part 2 of MG’s Winter Erranndonnee Challenge.

Errand 11:  A second trip to the library, this time to drop off only one book. (Due tomorrow, but why not get it done early?) Category 9: Library

This was our second trip to the library for this challenge — allowed, happily — but this time Basil was sporting a new bit of luggage, much smaller than his Brompton T bag, and perfect for this cargo-lite day.

Bonus shot: Inside Basil’s new bag, with library book, water bottle, and mysterious metallic packaging material.  The latter will become important later.

Bonus snack:  Scarfed a piece of chocolate on the way out. Fuel!

Errand 12: On to lunch. Dismal place, actually, and that’s not a very inspiring plate, is it?  Was it my fault for telling them to hold the chips? (The server asked if I wanted lettuce instead, for a 25% surcharge.  I said no.)  It was surprisingly fresh, though. Category 2: Lunch

Bonus shot:  There was plenty of room for Basil. (whoops — I must have been famished.  Never noticed the blur or the lack of light. Good thing I ate.)

Errand 13: On to the Micro-Brewery/Pub, to buy ice cream.  You might think that this is the end of the Errandonnee for my Brompton, Basil, and me. Not so, though, because we still have a second night ride to do.  So we’re over-achieving slightly.  (Also, just in case buying a yoga book on the previous day’s errands is suspect).  Category 10:  Wild Card

As it happens, I don’t drink beer.  Mr. Diarist, though, is extremely fond of Victory Hop Devil. This vice has led to my own discovery of Hopped Up Devil Ice Cream. (Must have messed up my camera settings; it’s always been exceptionally good in low light in the past.  Must investigate.)

Bonus shot:  Ice cream.

It’s possibly the best ice cream ever.  Truly.  Cayenne.  Coffee beans. Chocolate. Just a touch of cinnamon — not enough to notice, except . . . it’s perfect!

Second bonus shot:  Ice cream in thermal packaging.

I bought no beer.  Remember the metallic envelope in Basil’s bag?  That was for the ice cream.  It was 49 F/9.4 C; couldn’t take any chances.

Third bonus shot (whew):  Cycling jerseys.

Mr. Diarist wears the Hop Devil jersey.  Good choice, and, though not high-vis, at least highly visible.  They are for sale in the brewery’s retail store.

Errand 14:  Irish Potatoes. Category 3: Dessert.  Also, NIGHT.  This was going to involve a cupcake. Some kind of TastyKake  “special edition” almost made the cut, but then I spied the “potatoes”, which I, quite wrongly, assumed were dusted with chocolate. The ingredients list looked slightly less poisonous than the one on the TastyKake wrapper.

Yes, I was at the local grocery again, having previously identified it as the only even marginally safe night destination in my area.

I did my best to observe the spirit, as well as the letter, of the rules, and consumed one on the spot. The moment was even a bit social, as one of the clerks had never tried them.  Naturally, I offered them around. The general reaction was “meh”, but then aren’t these a March thing?

Bonus photo: Corn syrup disguised as a small, under-nourished potato.

They’re really kind of awful, but they do look like potatoes. This errand did, however, 1) get me out at night; 2) sent me, for a second time, to a local grocery to which I’d never been before; 3) got me to try a food I’d never considered eating before; 4) required me to use Basil’s rear rack for the first time; and, all around, got me to experience new stuff.  All of which seems right in with the spirit of something  like an Errandonnee, don’t you think?

Second bonus photo:  Basil engaging in the frantic search for a non-frozen (cold ride back) dessert.

Lights:  Cateye HL-EL135N Bicycle Head Light and Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light in irregular flashing mode.

The night rides were tricky, and this is a bit of a fudge (though the potatoes weren’t).  Night riding on our rural roads is suicidal (think roads and streets built where horses used to trod.  No shoulders. Curves. Oblivious drivers who are, generally, quite courteous to the rare cyclist in daylight, but would be stunned to come across one on a road at night.  Or worse, baffled and uncomprehending.)

Managing these two night rides involved sidewalks, a rather fraught enterprise itself, as the sidewalk in question is broken to pieces, and visibility is not great.  We’re happy to have survived.

Third bonus photo:  Basil on the way home. He’s leaning into the brush because the Irish Potatoes are bungeed to his rear rack.  This is why front luggage is first choice when riding a Brompton: The rear rack is Basil’s kickstand.  It doesn’t work very well when there’s a package attached. Fortunately, front-loading a Brompton works beautifully.  Just not tonight!

I bought the lights to use if a winter afternoon ran slightly late; they aren’t intended to really let me see the road unless there is some other kind of ambient light. (By “slightly late” I mean “well before twilight, maybe nothing more than overcast”.”) They are meant to make it clear that I’m nearby, and moving; that’s it.

If I were buying for night bicycling, I’d probably get something like the NiteRider Lumina 650, which was recommended (and impressively demonstrated) by a fellow Brompton rider I met on a train.

Stats from previous day’s Errandonneuring:  10 Errands in 8 Categories with 1 night Ride, 16.4 Miles Total

Stats from today’s Erranndonneuring:  4 errands in 4 categories with 1 night ride, 15.83 miles total.

Combined stats:  14 errands in 9 categories with 2 night rides, 32.2 miles total.

Report on its way to MG, with thanks for a really fun winter challenge!

My Brompton

Bad Boy

Mr. Diarist caught Basil in a compromising position when we were out together recently.  I was inside buying water, and this is not where I’d left Basil.

(“All he needs is a long board”, said Mr. D.)

This is not the first time Basil’s shown his anti-authoritarian side.

My Brompton

A Balmy January Day . . . With Ice

Mr. Diarist and I don’t often ride together, and he hadn’t been out on his mountain bike for months, but it was 64 degrees (nearly 18 C) on one of the last days in January, so we took off together on a ten mile jaunt.

It had been warming up a bit over the past few days, but there was still snow along the water’s edge, and some ice, too, in the water, and a little bit on land.

Mr. Diarist took the photos on this trip. That was kind of cool: I got to keep riding, but also was able to see familiar places through his eyes. Or at least his lens.  Everyone, after all, sees things a little bit differently.

The snow drew a tidy margin all along the shore.  On another stretch of water, the ice looked like parafin:

Mr. Diarist took some shots of Basil and me.  These were revealing; I think of Basil as if he’s a full-sized bicycle, so it was a shock to realize that he really doesn’t look like one. He just performs like one!

Bromptons really are distinctive.  Who knew? I thought that my ability to spy them anywhere was due to a profound affinity for the little creatures.  Maybe it’s just down to how exquisitely diminutive they are. And that great-looking frame.

In spite of the mild temperature, few other people were out.  “Gotta love January”, said Mr. Diarist, as we rode onto the trail.  In January, we can ride at any speed we wish.  April will be a different story.




Errandonnee Events

Errandonneuring On A Brompton Bicycle, Part 1

Rain was expected yesterday; instead there was a fine mist all day. Perfect for a first attempt at the Winter Challenge Errandonnee. On one 16.4 mile trip, I managed to knock off ten of the twelve control options.  Here’s the report.

Errand 1:  First stop was a small local bike shop, where I acquired a couple of caps for valve stems. Nice people at this shop, and they’ve sold me accessories, and done a little maintenance on my ancient Italian folder in the past.  Category 1: Bike Shop

Errand 2:  Next stop was another local bike shop a couple of miles away.  I’ve bought some accessories and clothing here; today I was asking about fingerless mitts, but I’ll have to check back once the spring stock is in, around March, to see if they have anything I can use.  Category 1: Bike Shop

Errand 3:  Returned 8 books to the library. Amazingly easy. Category 9: Library

Bonus shot: 7 hardback books and 1 paperback virtually disappear into the voluminous Brompton T bag.

Errand 4:  At the office supply shop I learned that the glossy business card pack I need so that I can print more of Basil’s cards is out of stock. Category 7: Not A Grocery Store

Errand 5:  Bought cat bed at pet store.  Copious numbers were in stock. Relieved to see that at least one serious errand will be knocked off on this trip.  Category 10: Wild Card

Errand 6: At the sewing pattern store, I learned that the pattern I’ve been waiting a month for is still out of stock.  Category 7:  Not A Grocery Store

Errand 7: So I found a miniature traditional fruit tart, and ate that.  Category 3: Dessert

Bonus shot: The fruit tart. Loved filling, loved the glaceed fruit, didn’t care much for the crust, didn’t eat it. Perfectly nice crust; I just don’t care much for most tart crusts.

Errand 8: Having sinned, went to local organic store and bought yoga book in order to further healthy living.  I’m calling this “health/personal care” since no doctor’s office is anywhere I can ride (rural roads, no shoulders).  Ditto hair cutter, which I avoid, anyway, like the plague, and I don’t do massage, nails, or anything like.  However, I plan to over-achieve with more than 12 errands, in case MG disallows this rather lawyerly interpretation.  (Though if a beer run counts, surely a yoga resource run should, don’t you think?)  Category 8:  Personal Care

Errand 9: Ate dinner at local Mexican place. Forgot to tell server I don’t eat rice and beans.  The huge stuffed poblano chili was more than sufficient, and tasty. Note Basil, tucked discreetly beneath the table.  (The trim on his saddle bag is just visible at the lower right.)  Category 5: Dinner

Errand 10:  Small neighborhood grocery. First time there.  Sells nothing healthy.  Bought newspaper.   Category 6: Grocery Store, also NIGHT.

Switched to basket for the night run. Bonus shot:  the newspaper.

Lights:  Cateye HL-EL135N Bicycle Head Light and Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light in irregular flashing mode.

Bonus shot: Tron.

Stats:  10 Errands in 8 Categories with 1 Night Ride, 16.4 Miles Total


Concrete Haven

Hundreds of cars drive over this underpass each day.

It’s so much better to be cycling beneath it.

My Brompton

Basil Poses

There’s a bit of a roguish side to my Brompton bicycle.

He’s fond of hopping onto sewer lids, for instance (though only if they’re elevated).  You’d think they were especially designed to be pedestals for Bromptons. That’s the formal pose above.

He’s looking a bit saucier from this angle.

Posing is well and good, but Basil’s most into action. A couple of quick snaps, and he’s ready to tackle the road once again.


High-Vis Kit

I love my all-purpose cycling jacket, but it has one flaw:  It’s black.  That’s an advantage if I want to be inconspicuous once I’m at a destination, but not any kind of plus on the road.

So I’ve kitted it out with removable fluorescent sleeves.  They slide on over the coat sleeves, and tuck into a pocket when not in use.  I used a fluorescent poly knit and athletic elastic.  (The tricky part is finding fluorescent thread.  Luckily, I had some hanging around.)

They couldn’t be easier to make.  Measure your coat sleeves, draw a pattern (on a fold) that tapers from the shoulder to the wrist, add a seam allowance and an allowance for stitching elastic to each end, and stitch them up.  Here’s what a finished one looks like, inside out.

I used griper elastic for each end, folded the edges over, and stitched the elastic to the underside.  (Gripper elastic is what’s on the inside of the lower edge of your cycling shorts, and maybe on your cycling tops, too.) Remember that your elastic should be a bit shorter than the opening to which it’s being attached.

It takes two seconds to slide these off and put them into a pocket when I want to blend in, rather than be screamingly visible.

Once I’d made the sleeves, I added a mesh vest.  (It tucks away in a pocket just as easily as the sleeves do.)  I ditch the watermelon helmet, too.  It may be just a little ostentatious itself.

I think this will do the job, don’t you?

(It was 18 F — 7.7 C — out when I took these pictures. My coat is the seventh layer of apparel I’m stuffed into. Worked beautifully!)