Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

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Bugsbunny
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Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby Bugsbunny » 20 Aug 2018, 7:30am

I have been engrossed with the idea of doing the Indian Pacific Wheel Race - which for those who don't know is a 5500km solo and unsupported ride from Western Australia to the Sydney opera house. My intention is to not race it but just to finish it.

Every one in the races thus far ride large wheel road bikes or gravel type bikes. Some even add aero bars - particularly those in the lead pack who are racing it.

Purely hypothetical for now, but what are the pros/cons with doing it on a small wheeled Brompton?

My hunch is that if I plan on riding slowly (lets say at around 19km/h) then the aero drag (headwind aside) should be low and the more upright position should give me greater comfort and be less prone to neck/hand/shoulder pain than a road bike over the course of 2-4 weeks of riding.

Thoughts?

Bugs

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John1054
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby John1054 » 20 Aug 2018, 8:24am

The most uncomfortable part will be the small wheels on rough ground. My Brompton is a Kinetics special. Whilst riding some "rough stuff" cycle paths on the Isle of Wight, I was very pleased with the "bomb proof" wheels that Ben built for me. I think that you might struggle without some specialist modifications. Good luck if you decide to give it a try.

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pjclinch
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby pjclinch » 20 Aug 2018, 8:29am

Bugsbunny wrote:Purely hypothetical for now, but what are the pros/cons with doing it on a small wheeled Brompton?


It'll work better than trying it on a large wheel Bropmtpon... (b-booom tssss!)

Bugsbunny wrote:My hunch is that if I plan on riding slowly (lets say at around 19km/h) then the aero drag (headwind aside) should be low and the more upright position should give me greater comfort and be less prone to neck/hand/shoulder pain than a road bike over the course of 2-4 weeks of riding.


You have choice of several bars, and the S-bar is a straight one and relatively low, especially if you're fairly tall. So you can have more aero and more backache if you want... Here's David Millar modelling them:

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PH
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby PH » 20 Aug 2018, 8:40am

There was one entered in this years TCR, didn't finish, apparently with gear trouble (Alfine 11). If you're comfortable on it, I think gearing is likely to be the biggest issue. Rider interview in this youtube vid, around 5 min
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEImemPWBnU

backnotes
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby backnotes » 20 Aug 2018, 9:00am

Have a look around here https://www.16inchwheels.uk/tag/brompton/ for discussion of completing long (1200 / 1400km) rides on a fairly standard Brompton.

Brucey
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby Brucey » 20 Aug 2018, 9:29am

Bugsbunny wrote:
Purely hypothetical for now, but what are the pros/cons with doing it on a small wheeled Brompton?

My hunch is that if I plan on riding slowly (lets say at around 19km/h) then the aero drag (headwind aside) should be low and the more upright position should give me greater comfort and be less prone to neck/hand/shoulder pain than a road bike over the course of 2-4 weeks of riding.


Pros

-it folds
-it has (crude) suspension at the rear
- er, it folds...

Cons

- it has tiny wheels that don't roll well on anything but very smooth surfaces
- it has an upright position as standard
- it has twitchy steering
- it has small wheels with tyres (and rims) that are not so easily found as spare parts and that wear out more quickly than larger ones
- there are more limited gearing options vs a 'normal' bike
- between rolling badly on poor surfaces and poor aero (with standard riding position) you are talking about more effort and less speed to cover the distance.

You can set up any kind of bike to have an upright riding position if that is what you want. Personally I think you are crazy if you want to spend several weeks with a lot of weight on your sit-bones (if that is how your 'upright position' works) and neck/shoulder pains are a sign that your other riding position has not been set correctly (you should be able to ride in comfort with just your fingertips on the bars when pedalling normally). Unless you genuinely can't get any other type of bike there to ride, you are having to live with some significant compromises vs a bike that is more suited to the task in hand.

Given that just being outdoors all day in parts of Australia can do you in, I wouldn't want to unnecessarily increase my exposure to the weather (/limit my choices about when I rode) by riding more slowly than I had to. IIRC along parts of the route points of 'civilisation' are few and far between, and simply carrying enough water to get from one place to another is a problem. Obviously that problem becomes greater the slower you go.

Anything is possible, of course, but I think you would be making something that is already hard work even harder work.

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reohn2
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby reohn2 » 20 Aug 2018, 10:12am

When I read the OP my first thoughts were why a Brompton?
If it's to prove it can be done on one that's OK or if that's the only bike the OP can get the OZ then that's OK too,otherwise if I had to choose a worse bike for the job there are some others I could think of but not many.
I agree with Brucey on this one,it wouldn't be much fun and could end in disaster.
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Freddie
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby Freddie » 20 Aug 2018, 10:26am

5500km of cycling with your arms locked out like the guy in the picture above would rather quickly become a hellish experience, I imagine. The Brompton is a folding thing that turns into a bike, more so than a bike that also folds, unless you need the folding aspect (commuting), then other bikes are better, some much better.

There doesn't have to be a massive height disparity between the handlebars and the saddle on a road bicycle, although that is the modern trend. A gravel bike would be much superior to a Brompton; if you want something that might be better again, perhaps a bike that takes 26" tyres, which I imagine are far easier to find in the outback in Aus, in a pinch, than a wide 700c tyre.

Drop bars are more ergonomic than straight bars, you just need them in the right position (high enough, essentially).

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pjclinch
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby pjclinch » 20 Aug 2018, 10:28am

Brucey wrote:Anything is possible, of course, but I think you would be making something that is already hard work even harder work.


OTOH if you look at e.g. the recent completion of the round the whole world on a unicycle (with touring luggage!) then you start to see that "because I can" is a pretty valid reason to do this sort of thing.

You can look at it as "why suffer any more than you have to?" or you can look at it as "I can do suffering well enough, why is adding a bit more going to stop me?"

c.f. End-to-Ends and Mt. Ventoux on Raleigh Choppers and Boris Bikes.

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Brucey
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby Brucey » 20 Aug 2018, 10:45am

IMHO it is only a matter of time before someone pogo-sticks up Everest, or does a transcontinental hop on one leg.

It does not however mean that it is a good idea to thusly enter an event in which other folk are not locomoting in a similar way.

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foxyrider
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby foxyrider » 20 Aug 2018, 10:51am

Because it 'could' be done doesn't mean it 'should' be done.

Spend your £1000 on a bike suitable for the job and leave the city bike where it belongs.
Convention? what's that then?
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1982john
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby 1982john » 20 Aug 2018, 11:58am

Everyone seems a bit down on the idea on here. I followed the guy doing TCR on a Brompton (which I think had some custom work) and he seemed to have fun so why not?

Just depends on how competitive you want to be.

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horizon
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby horizon » 20 Aug 2018, 12:32pm

1982john wrote:so why not?



Some posts addressing this question above.
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby PH » 20 Aug 2018, 12:34pm

1982john wrote:Everyone seems a bit down on the idea on here. I followed the guy doing TCR on a Brompton (which I think had some custom work) and he seemed to have fun so why not?

But didn't finish.
Just depends on how competitive you want to be

I know the OP said they just wanted to complete it, but it is a race and IMO not riding to the best of your ability goes against the spirit of that, choosing the equipment to enable you to do so is a part of it. People enter Audaxes on all sorts of unusual equipment, that's different, it's not a race.

alexnharvey
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Re: Brompton - Ultra touring possibilities

Postby alexnharvey » 20 Aug 2018, 1:01pm

You could fold it up and bring it with you if you require an additional challenge.