Accessory Mount for a Brompton

When I added my custom water bottle holder to my Brompton bicycle, the straps took up the space I’d used for my GPS, which formerly rested on the lower part of Basil’s M handlebar.


A lot of diligent searching turned up the accessory bar that my Garmin is attached to in the photo above.  I found it buried on a rack in a small plastic bag at a brick-and-mortar bike shop, without much in the way of distinctive labelling.

This little device is as simple as it can be:  just a tube that connects with a loop to the handlebars; the “clock face” you see above is the connector for the Garmin.  It’s a Profile Design New Universal Computer Mount (model ACUCMXL1, according to the package).


This compact bar installs without tools and stays in place flawlessly.  For my small Garmin, it was a perfect fix.

Do beware that there are two sizes:  I think it likely that mine is the XL (60mm); a Brompton’s bars are relatively thick.  In a burst of unusual efficiency, I tossed the wrapper before double-checking. (The “XL” in the model code above may be a clue.)


This is what I see when riding — a pretty sleek cockpit!  If anything, my GPS is even a little more accessible than it was.  At around $10 (USD), I am very pleased with this device.

It may be hard to find:  The link above is to Amazon because I couldn’t locate it on the Profile Design website, which lacks a useful search function.  Poking around at every random LBS you are near could pay off, though — it always does for me!


No Visible Means of Support

I love taking photos of Basil and his sidekick Argyll.  Sometimes it’s tricky to find something to lean them against, though, and sometimes I get a little bored with the uright folded pose, with the Brompton rear wheels tucked under.

ks-blSo I was intrigued when I ran across the Click-Stand, a portable kickstand meant for bikes without integral stands.  Our Bromptons don’t need them to remain upright, but I thought this might be a good tool for photos.


It’s basically a rod that lets a bike “stand” without requiring any hardware.  It looks like a promising solution for a lot of bikes, but I was a little dubious about how this would work for a Brompton, so I sent a question along to the company.

Tom sent back a picture showing a Click-Stand in use on a Brompton, but set in the middle of the cross bar.   The bike’s frame slips into the cradle, and then geometry does the rest.  (It’s critical to put the foot on solid ground; Click-Stand offers a bigger food for mushier situations.)


I use ours in the underseat triangle, though, to minimize the chance of slipping.

ksbslstGetting the angle right is crucial, too, for good support.  That’s Basil, above, standing tall using the Click-Stand, and Argyll, below, ditto.


The Click-Stand is available in custom sizes (instructions on the website), and folds up compactly for carrying on a bike or in a bag. Following the website instructions, I ordered the Mini-4 with a contact height of 19.25 inches and the x-large cradle size.  (These measurements may be different if the Click-Stand is used elsewhere on the Brompton frame.)

The Click-Stand comes with restraints to hold brakes in place while using the device.  That’s critical; if the bike rolls with the Click-Stand in place, over it goes!   The loops supplied weren’t long enough to go over Basil’s Ergons and across the brake levers, so I improvised my own, which were not as powerful as the ones that came with the Click-Stand.

My improvisation was a huge fail; the brakes slipped and Basil . . . well, let’s just say I hope he’s forgiven me.

Now I use a vinyl-wrapped wire cable tie, and wrap it well around the brake lever and the grip.  Works a treat.


The Click-Stand is a little fiddly, and does require some careful placement on the ground, but it’s light and sleek, and I like the options it offers for photos.

(Incidentally, Click-Stand’s Tom is responsible for Argyll’s color scheme:  It’s the same one as in the Brompton photo Tom sent to us.  We hadn’t seen that combination before, and Dr. Diarist liked it a lotAfter hours on the Configurator, it was amusing to have found Argyll’s colors in this most unexpected way!)

Gear Luggage

Luggage Release Loop on a Brompton

The luggage block on a Brompton, like so much on the bicycle, is sheer genius.  It places the weight of front luggage on the frame, which means that there’s no destabilization when turning, even when carrying substantial weight.


But it can be a little inconvenient to reach under a bag to pull the release lever.  Fortunately, the lever has a channel running through it — it’s that little circle on the lever, below the block, modelled above by Argyll.


I added a cord loop to the release on Basil’s luggage block.  It loops around his stem, stays completely out of the way, and makes it much easier for me to release a bag.


The cord is run through from opposite sides, and knotted on each side.  In a belt-and-suspenders move, I also stitched the loose ends to the loop.

Viola!  Pull the loop and release the bag; no fumbling under the luggage required.  This might not be a big deal for many people, but my runty little arms really appreciate the more convenient reach.  It’s speedier, too.


I saw this nifty fix when I followed a link from a discussion of Brompton luggage.  Poster trrubicon06 made a far more elegant one (using actual hardware; his Brompton may be an older one without the channel in the release lever).  Check it out here:  trrubicon06’s Brompton luggage release.


This was a happy discovery . . .

Basil’s home-made bottle holder accommodates a paper coffee cup:


I ran out of hands while picking up drinks for two recently.  Basil to the rescue!

The bottle holder is made from a stroller/pushchair accessory, details here.

Argyll Gear

Argyll Gets Ergons

(Can you say that fast?)  Thanks to a generous friend, whose Brompton is now sporting the Biokork version, Argyll and Dr. Diarist are enjoying new grips.

Except for that horrible moment when the original Brompton grips go under the knife, the procedure is fairly straightforward, and not otherwise emotionally traumatic.


Surgery and Brompton bicycles:  It just feels wrong. Nonetheless, the easiest way to remove the original Brompton foam is by cutting it.  Don’t score deeply; you don’t want a mark on the handlebars, even if you can’t see it.  Some standards should be observed.


Peeling the original foam slowly and evenly works pretty well.  Argyll’s left grip had hardly any adhesive beneath, but there was a broad band under the right one.

Getting the adhesive off the handlebar is the only challenging part of this little project.  The Ergons slip on pretty easily if most of the adhesive is removed.  I rubbed as much off as I could, then used household alcohol, sparingly applied with a microfiber rag, to soften the adhesive.


Then I went over the surface with a nylon kitchen scraper.  That got off most of the gunk; repeated applications of alcohol, and rubbing with the rag, did the rest.

There’s a 4mm bolt on the outer edge of the Ergon which will need loosening, but not by much, so that the grip can be slipped onto the handlebar.

Argyll’s grips are Ergon GP grips — probably the GP1 model.  These have to be cut down to fit on a Brompton M handlebar like Argyll’s.  You’ll want to measure carefully, but the cutting itself is easy to do with a utility knife, a mini-hacksaw or maybe a serrated kitchen knife.


On Argyll, a 2014 Brompton, the edge goes right up against the brake lever retention ring.  That’s a nicer look than on Basil — on the 2012 models, the edge of the brake lever blocks an evenly cut Ergon. (The grips could be cut to fit around the lever, but that seems like an excessive pain to me, and wouldn’t allow for any future adjustments in angle..)


It won’t matter if the edges aren’t cut perfectly smoothly, unless you find that sort of thing completely maddening.  (In which case, take special care when cutting, and use a pipe cutter to mark the line you cut along.)  Once flush against the brake supports, the edge will not be particularly visible.

Getting the angle right may take some tinkering, and may vary quite a bit from cyclist to cyclist. Argyll’s grips tip just slightly downward (Argyll has an H-type stem, which is taller than the standard model):


But Basil’s are at a much steeper angle (Basil’s handlebars have been pulled slightly forward):


It’s kind of amazing how the simplest projects become something else.  I had to remove Argyll’s Mirrycle mirror in order to install the Ergons.  That was a pain; the bolt was bent and had to be teased out of the handlebar.  Argyll had taken a fall in the past, and apparently there had been an internal injury we hadn’t noticed.


We bought a new mirror, and I replaced the bolt.  The crash wasn’t sufficient to break the glass on the original mirror, but the “protected” bolt bent anyway.  Curious, indeed! No matter; the issue was easily resolved. We like these mirrors very much; the Mirrcycle mountain bike mirror fits a Brompton perfectly, and can, if adjusted carefully, swing out of the way when the bicycle is folded.

Ergons come in various sizes; I’ve heard a rumor that there’s even a version that will fit Brompton M bars without requiring cutting.  When buying a model off the shelf at most bike shops, though, what you should know is that the paddle portion of the grip is sized — Argyll’s grips are size large, and Basil’s are small, reflecting the considerable difference in size between Dr. Diarist’s mitts and my own.  Choosing the right size will matter for optimal comfort.

Related, with a bit more detail about installation on Basil:

Basil Gets a Grip (or two)


Vincita Sightseer Giveaway

12/5/2014:  The giveaway is now closed. 

Thanks to all who entered; the winner will be announced within the next day or two as soon as feasible.

Yesterday I reviewed the Vincita Sightseer Brompton transport bag.  (Read the review here.) Vincita sent a bag for me, but also provided a second Sightseer to give away.

st-bgThis is a terrific set, and I’m really happy to have the chance to share it with a reader.  Here’s how the drawing will go:

  1. The contest is open to anyone with a shipping address within the continental USA, meaning that the winner could live elsewhere, but I will ship only to the contiguous continental states (ie, not to Hawaii, Alaska, or — sorry! — the rest of the world).
  2. Leave a comment on this post before midnight (Eastern US DST) on Thursday, December 4, 2014.  Be sure to put a valid email address in the email field where you write your comment.  (Don’t put your email address in the comment itself; use the field so that it won’t be published.)
  3. Comments will be numbered in the order they are received. Only one entry per person, please; duplicates will be discarded.
  4. At the close of the entry period, a random number generator will select the winner, according to the numerical order.
  5. I’ll send the winner an email requesting the shipping address, and I’ll get the Sightseer off as soon as possible.
  6. The winner will have 48 hours from the time I send the email to respond.  If no response is received within that time, another drawing will be held and the Sightseer will go to the winner of the second drawing.

That’s it — good luck to all!

Gear Luggage

Vincita Sightseer Transport Bag

There’s a never-ending and vigorous debate amongst Brompton owners about the best way to travel with our bicycles when packing them is essential.  No one method suits all, with minimalists going for slipping their Bs into IKEA’s Dimpa shopping bag or the equivalent, and maximalists going tor super-pricey hard cases — with many methods in-between.


Until my most recent trip, I have always travelled with Basil un-shrouded, but I knew the day would come when I wanted either more protection for him or stealth packaging, so that it wasn’t obvious that I was travelling with a Brompton.  I was quite interested, then, when the Vincita company contacted me and offered to send their new made-for-Brompton Sightseer Transport Bag to me for review.


I found the Sightseer very easy to use.  To place a Brompton in the Sightseer bag, you undo the zipper all the way, and fold the padded sides down, around the exterior.  It was tricky dropping Basil in at first, but the second time was easier, and the third time quite easy.  It’s helpful to grasp the folds at the top edge, and give a gentle shake as you settle the Brompton into the bottom of the bag.

A firm base supports the bottom of the bag, and extends up the narrower sides — something I particularly appreciated, as Basil’s rear rack benefits from the additional security the hard base provides.  Hook-and-loop straps (that’s the X you see above) make it possible to secure the bike so that it won’t shift within the bag.


Basil’s bigger than a lot of Bromptons:  I frequently take long rides with him, so I don’t remove his somewhat extensive collection of gear when we travel.  My handlebars are customized so that they lean in toward me when I ride, which means that Basil is wider than usual when folded.  He has a rear rack with Eazy Wheels, a saddle bag that I don’t remove, Ergons, Zefal toe cages, and a squishy water bottle holder that also adds a little bulk.



I wondered if my encumbered Brompton would fit into the Brompton-specific Sightseer; he did, perfectly.  His handlebars do cause a slight bulge, though, which can be seen to the right, below.  That wouldn’t be an issue for most Bromptons, and wasn’t a problem for the Sightseer, either.


The Sightseer isn’t just one bag, actually, but two: an outer case, and an inner sleeve that drapes over the folded Brompton.  That’s the inner sleeve, below.  There are three pockets:  one on each side, and one across the top.  When packed, the sides provide some protection for the bike.  The sleeve drops down to about axle level on a Brompton, and I found that I was able to pack all my biking-specific clothing in the three pockets.  The shoulder strap allows the sleeve to be carried like a garment bag, worn cross-body, or hung up in a closet.


I was not only able to wrap the packed sleeve over Basil, but also managed to tuck my biking shoes and a week’s worth of clothing — I’m a smallish person, your mileage may vary — in and around Basil’s lower bits, beneath the sleeve.  (Featherweight packing cubes are perfect for this job.) Those stuff-able spaces meant that the Sightseer was the only bag I needed for my Brompton and all of my clothing.  The packing cubes also provided more padding for Basil, though if I were gate-checking him on a plane, I’d do something more formal about protecting projecting parts.


The Sightseer rolls on large wheels, which are partially recessed.  I found that it moves easily and well, but people my height (5’2″/157.5 cm) and/or with shorter arms like mine may find it inconvenient to roll the bag far, particularly if it is packed heavily, since the angle might not be maximally efficient for easy pulling.  This would not be an issue for most people, though.


The pull handle is adjustable, and Dr. Diarist, with long arms and greater height, found it easier to roll than I did, as he was able to pull the bag at a more acute angle.  Supporting struts along the bottom of the bag ensure that it doesn’t sag; they support the fully-packed bag and Brompton quite effectively.


Optionally, the bag can be worn on a shoulder; straps are provided, and tuck away into zippered pockets on each side of the Sightseer, so they are out of the way when not needed.


For maximum convenience, Vincita has added a buckle onto the shoulder pad, so that the two straps can be clipped together, preventing them from slipping apart when worn.  Clever!


I’m quite impressed with the construction of both the bag and the sleeve. The zippers move easily and appear strong sturdy; stitching, and the stitched exterior straps which strengthen the bag are well-placed and neatly done.

There are thoughtful touches everywhere like tabs at the ends of the zipper, so that there’s something to grab onto when closing the bag.


The padded pull handle has a buckle, allowing it to separate so that the bag’s zipper can be more easily accessed.


The sleeve has protective corners, which help keep its shape, and should ensure long wear.


A selling point is that the Sightseer and packed sleeve can be ported on the back of a Brompton, held in place with bungee cords.  There’s a loop on the back to hold the bungees in place.


That might be practical under certain circumstances, in a world where, for instance, security requirements might allow someone to ride right up to an airport.  (That can be done in the USA, but it’s not common, and probably not possible at all airports.)  It’s not a feature I’d ever use, but may be one that others would be pleased to exercise.


Here’s Basil with the Sightseer (and hidden sleeve) attached to his rear rack.  The bag widens his profile a bit, but not hugely beyond his M handlebars; it would be important to remember that extra width when riding, though.

I wasn’t sure how useful I would find this system, but I was surprised at how much I liked using the Sightseer, and how simple it made packing and transporting my Brompton.  As a stealth tool, and a solo bag which covered both my cycling and my clothing needs for the duration, it proved a great solution.  It’s one I’ll depend on again and again!

One thing does need changing, though in my opinion:  I don’t want to travel with an obvious bicycle logo on the side of my luggage.  I’d like to see this bag made available without the (admittedly appealing!) bicycle graphic.

I feel so strongly about this that I sewed a flap over the logo before I travelled with the bag; I don’t particularly want to advertise that Basil may be alone in my hotel room on the occasions when I can’t have him by my side.  (I left the Vincita logo, though; it’s discreet, and anyone who guesses what the bag is might be very happy to know where they can find one!)

The other suggestion I’d offer to Vincita is to include a card which explains the features of the bag.  I didn’t notice the hook-and-loop straps, for instance, until I’d used the bag a couple of times.  The Sightseer is feature-rich; I think Vincita should capitalize on all those details — and ensure that owners will use and appreciate them by spelling them out in detail.

The price, in US dollars, is a quite reasonable $159.00; Vincita is in Thailand, so shipping cost to some parts of the world could be an issue.  However, Urban Bike Fitters, in Oregon Fremont, California, is a Vincita dealer, so they might be a possible source for USA residents, and there is an extensive range of global Vincita stockists.

Disclaimer, and a Giveaway!

Vincita  provided the Sightseer and its internal sleeve to me at no cost; keep this in mind if you think that may have influenced my review!  Vincita also sent a second set so that I could give it away to a reader; I’ll be paying the cost to ship it to a winner within the continental USA.  Details of how the giveaway will work will be posted tomorrow, and I will add the link HERE once that post is up.


After-Market Hinge Clamps for Bromptons

It drives me nuts that my Brompton’s hinge clamp swivels every time I fold or unfold my bicycle.  I “solved” this problem by cutting an extremely thin strip of plastic, and fitting it, with a spring, to the Brompton bolt.


(The spring was actually longer; I broke it after I removed it from Basil.) This worked, within limits, and didn’t prevent secure clamping.  However, the plastic was frangible, and also crushed easily if misaligned.  In desperation, I turned to the thriving Brompton after-market community.  I found these clamp replacements on a site recommended by a reader who was originally discussing a different product with me.


The site is BIKEgang, and the “Brommie” section is  . . .  amazing!  They appear to be UK distributors for Taiwanese manufacturers.  I was warned that prices would be eye-watering (which they really are, though not too bad for these clamps).  Shipping, even to the USA, is quite reasonable, though, which limits the pain quite a bit.  I ordered two sets of these RIDEA clamps.


The clamps came in a neat little package.  There is a clamp, a spring, and a washer, which I gather is for use with a beautiful handle also sold by BIKEgang.  I’d read, though, that those handles were very uncomfortable to use, and I like the Brompton handles very much, so I just purchased the clamps.


The clamp goes on right where the OEM Brompton clamp goes, and the spring goes against the plate. You screw the bolt on as normal.  There’s an extended lip on one side of the clamp; that’s what keeps the assembly from flipping around.  (That’s it, on the left, above.)  The other side is the same size as the Brompton clamp, so you open the hinge to exactly the same degree as you normally would.


I was concerned that the after-market clamps would not fit as securely, or provide as tight a closure.  This does not seem to be the case.  The extended edge does go right up to the stem, but is not impeded by it, and the closure seems virtually identical to that provided by the original Brompton equipment.  The clamp above is the original one, still on Argyll.

Below is the RIDEA clamp, installed on Basil. In measuring the sides, I can find no significant difference in length.


At the Philadelphia Bike Expo this past Sunday I asked US Brompton representative John McConaghay, if Brompton were working on similar clamps.  He indicated that they were under consideration, and adding that lead time was always an issue with product development.  I asked what concerns there might be regarding after-market versions, and he said that squared-off clamps put excessive stress on the frame.  John wasn’t familiar with these particular RIDEA clamps, but I, too, have seen clamps similar to those he mentioned, with sides set at 45 degrees.

You can easily imagine that sharp angles could lead to undesirable play between the hinge and stem.  However, the RIDEA angles appear to be extremely close, if not identical to, the gently sloped Brompton angles.

rdc-cmp(I know, my photography is awful; sadly, I’m too busy cycling, and, you know, living, to fix this right now!)  I think you can see what I see when I look at the clamps in real life:  the angles are very, very close, if not identical.  (Brompton on the left, RIDEA on the right.)

At a glance, the clamps are virtually indistinguishable from the OEM Bromptons; they’re just brighter, which a chrome-like finish.


Communication with BIKEgang was great; they had a question about the order and responded right away, and the clamps turned up in timely fashion.  The clamps are called “Brompton folding hinge solution (RIDEA)” on the web page; the clamps are listed with the handles, but can be purchased separately.

Note, off-topic:  John says the infamous Brompton water bottle is still under development; I had to ask.  John pointed out that these things take time.  (It’s true!)  I pointed out that, though I’ll probably buy any eventual Brompton water bottle, I’d rather Brompton just kept making excellent bikes, and kept the primary focus there. Perspective, people, perspective!


Off Yer Bike Handle Update

This is just a quick follow-up report on the the Off Yer Bike handles sported by our Brompton bicycles, Basil and Argyll.  We’ve been using the handles for several months now; they’re holding up beautifully.  Dr. Diarist and I both recommend them wholeheartedly — they make a big difference in both ease of carrying and in

Dr. Diarist has never had trouble transporting two Brompton bicycles at once — he actually claims it’s easier than carrying one.  Even so, he says that the OYB handles have made this kind of weight-lifting much more comfortable.

We’ve also discovered an additional benefit of these smart handles: Should you happen to recklessly shove your folded pedal past the restraint click, an OYB handle will absorb the blow.


Not that you would.  But if you did, somehow, in a moment of utter madness, your Brompton would survive unscathed.

Also, an OYB handle will prevent scuffing of your Brompton’s yellow main tube.  Not that anyone here would ever have done that.  Not at all.  Or, if it did happen, everyone’s forgotten.  Trust me.


Testing the Brooks Cambium Saddle

Back in September, after altering my riding geometry to allow for a longer leg extension, I borrowed a test saddle, a Brooks Cambium C17S, from a bike shop.  I liked a lot about the Cambium, but it didn’t turn out to be right for me.


Until I changed the distance from pedals to seat, I’d been quite happy with the original Brompton saddle — more than 1800 miles/2 896.8 km worth of happy.  Then I took a longish ride and discovered that the Brompton saddle wasn’t going to work any longer.

Brompton riders tend to love the traditional Brooks leather saddles, but I was leery of the break-in time, and uncertain that I’d find a good fit.  The Cambium is Brooks’ “vegan” model — it’s rubber with a linen-like cover, which comes in this light-colored version and a dark gray.  I decided to start with The Cambium.  Testers are marked with a Brooks credo:


The Cambium has a different shape to the Brompton, and a shorter nose.  This women’s model — or the “S”, for “shorter” — has a broader seat surface, too, and lacks the indentation at the back of the Brompton.


The width turned out to be a problem:  The Cambium seat is too wide for me. Maybe that’s not surprising; I’m a smaller woman (5’2″/157 cm) with a slight bone structure. Brooks offers just two saddle sizes, nominally one for women and one for men; I’m definitely to one end of the scale rather than comfortably in the middle range when it comes to cyclist size.

The rail placement is a bit different, too.  In spite of that, I was able to install the Cambium effectively on Basil, though I had to place it at the extreme end of the rails to sustain the arm/leg/seat geometry I required.


The Cambium ride was excellent; I loved the very natural feel of the cushioning provided by the rubber, which was easy without being soft.  And I particularly loved the fabric cover; it was impossible to slide around at all on the saddle. The Cambium, appropriately enough for a “vegan” product, felt quite organic — like a natural part of my Brompton.

However, my personal anatomy requires more of a cut-away at the front, so that my legs move more freely.  Returning the saddle to the shop was a sad moment; I’d love a Cambium that fit me, and I’ll probably always wistfully remember the comfort of the seat itself.  It’s a wonderful saddle; it’s just not right for me.