Brompting to a Bothy

Scotland is fortunate in having a network of 'bothies', or mountain shelters, in remote places, which can be used by anyone hardy enough to get there, and prepared to sleep on a wooden shelf!  Usually these are a few miles from the nearest road, and walking in with all your kit is a necessity. With a Brompton there's another solution: sling the bike in the car boot at the end of a long week, and head for the hills. If the bothy can be reached by a forest track, let the bike take the weight (in our case, this included 10kg of coal!) Brompton's frame suspension takes a lot of the bumps away, and a heavy food bag on the front block stops the handlebars jarring. OK, I admit it, the track into Cadderlie (pictured) was quite a challenge. Loose stones from the nearby quarry, and some steep sections made it very difficult to stay on the bike the whole way, and for...
Read More

Black Isle by Brompton

Whilst on retreat on the 'Black Isle' (the section of E Scotland between the Moray Firth and the Cromarty Firth - not an island!) I went for a spin on my black Brompton, and discovered the wee village of Munlochy. For a small place it boasts an impressive church, an attractive gastro-pub, and a good view of Munlochy Bay, a sizeable inlet that cuts into the south coast of the 'isle'. (Pictured, with 'Beti-Du'). I returned to Kilmuir (whose ivy-engulfed church hosts the grave of a former Minister of said church) along part of Sustrans Route 1, past the Black Isle brewery, and an impressive estate house - 17th Century? - which may be attached.  This route took me back to the A9, thankfully on a path alongside, and quickly off again back to Kilmuir. The evening sunlight was breathtaking against the beech woods, and as ever, the Brompton helped me feel connected to the curves and the contours. I passed the...
Read More

Two bikes in one small boot (and how to kill vibrations)

Once again the Brompton comes into its own on a brief weekend break. I didn't want to get the bike racks out, fit them to the car, load up the big bikes... instead, two minutes work, and two bikes fitted snugly into the boot of our small hatchback. We went for a spin around Perthshire this morning (before the rain!), negotiating bumpy farm tracks, smooth country roads, and a short stretch of busy A road. Vibration in the handlebars is an issue if you take your front tyre pressure up to the limit (my mistake today). 60psi is a good compromise between comfort and low rolling resistance. Another trick on poor roads is to load up the front carrier block with a weighty bag, which significantly dampens the vibrations. If you have to carry stuff, better there than on your back! Of course, the built in frame suspension means your back (and backside) fare much better on a Brompton than a rigid bike, when...
Read More

New Brompton cover from October 2018 – what’s to like?

I've been looking for a new Brompton cover and saddlebag, and discovered that Brompton have changed the design - not for the better, in my opinion. My old bag was stolen from the bike about a year ago - ever since I've done without, getting by on the odd bus trip by pleading with the driver to let me on without one. After all, I can't see why a Brompton is any more of a dirt hazard than a wheelchair, buggy, shoe...  especially if your chainwheel is smaller and not protruding enough from the fold to come in contact with anything. And you don't need a bag for the train! But the old bag (above) is useful - flexibility on public transport, and a bit of spare carrying capacity - on warm summer days when you've no coat or pockets, and you want to spin along unencumbered by bags of any sort, the old-style saddle-bag (or sack, more accurately) can hold a...
Read More

Amongst the trees of the ancient Caledonian forest

One of my favourite places in the world... Loch Garten on Speyside, in the heart of the ancient Caledonian pine forest. This forest used to cover most of Scotland; now only about 1% of it is left. The mix of Scots Pines and Silver Birch create a unique environment, dripping with lichens (so much so it almost looked like it had been snowing today.) The bike is parked opposite the RSPB reserve, where in May, if you are willing to get up very early, you can go and watch the elusive capercaillie gather, or at other times, watch Osprey fly to and from their nest. All in all a gorgeous place to explore on a Brompton, whose lively, responsive handling helps keep you feeling close to nature!...
Read More

Touring with a Brompton

The Brompton tagline is 'Made For Cities', but why stop there? Some may be put off cycle touring with a Brompton because they fear the small wheels, smaller gear range, or lack of luggage space. But in reality these need not be an issue. And there are some great advantages to touring with a Brompton that far outweigh the drawbacks. So let's first lay some ghosts to rest. Wheels. One of the things people often ask me when they see a Brompton up close for the first time is "what about the wheels?" They imagine the wheels slow the bike down somehow, and they fear the rider will be exhausted after any distance. It's not true. Yes, there will be a tiny bit more effort at the hub, which has to roll further to achieve the same speed as a big wheel. But this gain in friction is negligible. A second factor is the degree of vibration felt through small wheels compared to...
Read More