The most used phrase when I turn up at a summit or an event. Well, sometimes they add a few other words in the remark 🙂
No, so many people ask this but I don’t have to pedal twice as fast or anything like that, the gearing makes it all work like a conventional sized bike.
The Brompton is a 6 speed lightweight S Bar Black Lacquer Edition. This edition was the top of the range at the time, it features titanium forks and rear triangle together with the lightweight alloy wheels. Stripped down to its essential components is tips the scales at 9.8Kg.
I have performed the following changes :-
- ERG 3 Handlebar grips.
I can change hand position which is more comfortable on long rides in particular.
- Fitted LOOK KEO pedals (
my other bikes use LOOK KEO pedals, no extra shoes to buy
- Changed the saddle to a FABRIC SHALLOW.
standard saddle not comfortable/suitable for long rides
- Fitted a STRONGLIGHT 99 double chain set
very versatile chainset allows 86 BCD 50/28 chain rings.
- 16mm pedal extenders
to stop heel clipping due to the narrow Bottom Bracket
- CHRIS KING headset.
fit and forget upgrade when refurbishing frame
- MINIMODS alloy seatpost.
standard seat post often slipped, this is lighter and more secure
- Brake shoes SWISS STOP.
my opinion the best, great feel and longevity
- Shimano HG 8 speed chain.
I found lifespan of some alternative chains too short due to stretching
Twelve but, there is a considerable overlap, so effectively 9.
There are three gear sections:
Hub gear – Standard Brompton Wide Ratio hub giving three gears. Operated by a three-position lever marked 1,2,3.
Rear sprockets – The Standard Brompton 13 and 16 sprockets. These are changed by a two-position hand lever and marked + -
Chain set – My addition, a Stronglight 99 double chain set fitted with 50/28 rings. Operated by hand.
Due to the shape of the Brompton frame, a standard front derailleur will not sit in the correct position above the chain ring, so changing can be unreliable. Another problem would be the drop from 50 – 28 on the chainrings which is too large for most derailleurs
I did not want a third gear change one my handlebars so to change I manually lift the chain on and off the rings. With a bit of practice, it can be done while riding.
Using my 3 gear options I have the following ranges (in inches) : -
|Chainring / Cog
|Hub Position 1
|Hub Position 2
|Hub Position 3
|50 / 13
|50 / 16
|28 / 13
|28 / 16
My top gear of 98.2 would be close to a 52/14 on a conventional bike.
My lowest would be close to a 32/46.
Only on one occasion on my trip did I use 18.2 and that was on the Port de Larrau, and I was glad I had it.
I carry the following
- Garmin 1030 computer
- Cycliq FLY12 camera
- Spurcycle bell
- Two 750ml bottles
- A Brompton tool kit – fits inside the frame
- Two spare innertubes – tucked in the frame
- TopPeaks bag containing spare inner tube, Alien II toolkit, spare chain link, 2023 battery, a couple of cable ties
- Top peaks pump
- Cateye front light
- Olight rear light
- Spare tyre strapped under the bag
My decisions and my risk.
No one, the trip and the rides were all solo, let's face it, who else would be crazy enough to do this with me.
My first climb Col de l’ Oellion was a tough one for me as it was the first climb after recovering from Covid.
Hautacam was tough because of its undulating road which never allowed an rhythm to be established.
Semnoz was a nightmare. Supposedly a beautiful ride but I had cold wind and thick cloud base near the summit. It was freezing.
Port de Larrau was extremely testing due to the 70kph cross winds and the only time I was forced into my lowest gear.
In the Massif Central it was the Col de l’ Oellion at 20km.
In the Pyrenees it was the Col du Tourmalet at 19.6km
In the Vosges it was Col du Calvaire at 18.6Km
In the Jura it was Col du Grand Colombier at 17.57Km
In the Alpes du Nord it was Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard at 27.72Km
In the Alpes du Sud it was Col du Lauteret at 26.10Km
At 3.05km the Cote de la Croix Neuve also nicknamed the Montee Laurent Jalabert.
Difficult to pick just one but the favourites would be
Col de Peyresourde,
Col du Soulor
Col du Petit Saint Bernard - it was a beautiful day
Col d l'Iseran - with its snow capped peaks, breathtaking
Mount Ventoux - One of my all time favourites
Cime de la Bonette - The landscape is out of this world
I found these two the least enjoyable but in some perverse way I do actually want to ride them again to convince myself how bad they were,
Les Deux Alpes was a big dissapointment
For the most part it was hot, sometimes in the 40s.
Occassionally I 'enjoyed' drizzle and low cloud bases on some peaks. On one occassion it was 75Kph winds which were 'interesting' on the Port de Larrau .
Semnoz was undoubtedly the worst experience. a warm start at trhe base then a sudden freezing wet fo near the summit. I thought I was going to suffer hyperthermia.
No punctures in Massif Central or the Pyrenees.
A screw came lose on my camera mount and a pedal needed tightening on the crank, apart from that no issues.
Pyrenees = 28 and 22 inches
Massif = 51 and 40 inches
Holding down a gazebo with three others during an Old Testament thunderstorm while the cook in the caravan kept cooking.
Seeing Vultures and large eagles
Hearing wild wolves
Yes, they probably do.
You could look at 10 different sites and get 10 different profiles (unless some copied others) and when you are actually riding the climbs then Garmin will show a different figure altogether.
Generally I find that most stated profiles are near enough in the same ball park and consider them as a guide.
If they say its going to be a high number then you know its going to be steep.
Anyone loafing around at the summit who makes the mistake of making eye contact with me.
At the time of writing 67.
Philip Woolway (Brompton)
They are most awesome of places to be.
I don't want to be stuck in a chair when I'm 90 wishing I had.
My target for 2024 is to retrun to the Alpes and possobly ride Les7Majeurs.