Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

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speedsixdave
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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby speedsixdave » 4 Mar 2019, 9:50pm

Sidlaws wrote:Hello everyone,

Does anyone have anything positive (or negative) to say about buying a Moulton?


Sorry, rather late to this party, but yes.

Sidlaws wrote:Looking forward to contributions from anyone with experience of riding Moultons, or knowledge of the equipment spec, good or bad.


I've had an APB, a TSR2 and now a new Jubilee, and have had a variety of F-frames since 1989 including a speedsix on which I did big miles in the early 1990s. I did a fair bit of touring and camping on the APB until it was mashed by a car, and hope to do rather more camping on the Jubilee starting this year.

In general, and as others have noted upthread, Moultons provide an exceptionally smooth ride by the standards of most bikes, and have certain advantages generally related to size and packability. The small wheels may however bring other issues related to speed and off-road capability, although opinions vary somewhat on how large these issues are. It is generally recognised that a smooth riding style suits the bike rather better than a punchy, powerful style. It is always worth remembering that Moultons are the creation of an individual and very strong-willed designer, and the resulting bikes were all engineered to suit his preferred riding style. If your preferred end-use and riding style align closely with that of the late Alex Moulton, you will probably enjoy riding his bikes greatly. The more your end-use and riding style differ from his, the more likely you are to be disappointed with the bike.

Sidlaws wrote:I'm thinking of the SST model (basically a slightly uprated TSR -- crucially incorporating a beefier rear-pivot bearing) equipped with the latest incarnation of Alfine 11 hub gear (SG-S7001-11).


The SST is probably the sweet spot if you want a bike to actually ride. As you note the improved rear pivot is the big upgrade, although it could be argued that this pivot should just be fitted to TSRs without charging more money for it. If you're riding a lot the new pivot might well be worth it.

The rear disc is probably a good thing and a major advantage of a hub gear on a small-wheeler is that it moves the chain as far from the filthy ground as possible. See how low it is on my Jubilee below. If you are happy with the gear range the Alfine variant seems a very sensible option.

I went round the houses quite a lot before settling on a Jubilee (105) - practically it's not worth the extra cash over an SST, but the BoA frame looks nicer to my eye and will hold its value better, for what that's worth. However I think the non-hairpin BoA frame is rather more laterally flexible than the Stratford hairpin frame. That's not a problem at all unless you're using front panniers, but I was surprised how much flex you can get along the Jubilee by wobbling the handlebars while in the saddle. One of my issues with the APB was that front-end shimmy was quite easy to induce unless you were quite careful loading your front panniers. I think the redesigned front pannier rack is stiffer than the old APB one, and so far I've had no shimmy issues on the Jubilee but only just started riding with the front panniers.

The Moulton definitely rides nicely with a load, but if, like me, you are rubbish at travelling light it is harder to fit all your stuff on than a traditional tourer with four big panniers and a bar-bag. On the APB I used to use a big Ortlieb holdall (see avatar) on the rear rack which held everything but sagged over the sides and when strapped down was hard to get in to. I'm experimenting now with a couple of bike-packing handlebar rolls below the rack and then a large Moulton bag above - see below - which gives a similar capacity but is also not without its issues. If you are not going camping on the bike, or can pack lighter than me, these may not be issues.

When travelling light I really like the little day rack and tail bag, and the SST/TSR day rack is rather neater than the Jubilee. This is probably the best integrated day bag on the market.

Luggage apart - and apologies for the dive into that rabbit-hole, it's what's concerning me at the moment - I would recommend all cyclists to own a Moulton at least once in their lives. As this thread has demonstrated they can generate strong opinions for and against, even amongst owners. You might get on well with one and think it the best bike you've ever ridden, or you might not. If you're familiar with Bromptons you will already be familiar with the disadvantages of small wheels and idiosyncratic bikes, so I suspect your Moulton experience will be fairly positive. If you were coming at one having only ridden Specialized Venges, you might be more surprised.

Finally I would be tempted in the first instance to buy one second-hand and see what you think. Although Moultons hold their value very well compared to normal bikes, you would still lose money if you buy an SST, don't like it, and sell it again. A month on any second-hand bike TSR will tell you whether you like Moultons or not and you could re-sell for what you paid without problems, before taking the plunge on a new SST. Or not.
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speedsixdave
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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby speedsixdave » 4 Mar 2019, 10:29pm

fossala wrote:While I'm ranting I might as well quote myself.
fossala wrote:I have owned a few Moultons and I think as a do it all bike they are fantastic. My pride and joy is my AM-18, it is off the road while all the salt is down but I can't wait be be riding it again in the next few months.

The downside about Moultons are three fold. First is the poor design on many models, the second is the attitude at Moulton if you do have a problem, third is the lack of OPEN discussion about these problems.

Problems I can think of from the top of my head are.

APB suspension is too low, can lead to seat tube collapsing.
Series 1 rear forks not being strong enough.
Early series 1 front forks where not brazed correctly. It is common for the steerer to detach from the forks while riding where the brass hasn't fully flowed.
Paint on new models come of if you sneeze near them.
Moulton TSRs didn't have bump stops large enough at some point (don't know years that where effected), this meant that the forks banged into the leading link plates damaging the forks. This happened to me and Moulton refused to warranty them until I threatened legal action. IMO the damage that happened to my forks and them knowing it was a design fault that could lead to sudden failuer should result in complete recall and replacement.
Stainless steel New series rusting through.
£500 stems that go rusty in a year
Faulty rear flexitor on New Series that was leant to Bicycle Quarterly and ended up with a bad review. Moulton only fixed on proviso that the owner wouldn't lend out for review again...
Rear suspension on pivot on TSR is a faulty design. Is fixed on the SST still selling the TSR.
Early AM fork where too weak so they changed the design so there wasn't any taper.
Bridgestone Moulton rear forks can break at the pivot. I guess this is because the aluminium can't take the flex.

I'll post more when I think of them.

I would 100% never buy a Moulton new and I would only buy a few models (Later AM/Series 2/MK3) second hand after I have inspected them.


Fossala, I would agree with some of your points and I certainly don't think the Moulton Bicycle Company (in past or present guises) is a faultless organisation. However I don't think it's very fair to criticise a manufacturer in 2019 for the fact that in 1963 some of their brazing was substandard, or that in 1983 the brand new fork needed tweaking. And for what it's worth, the paint on my 2018 Jubilee is fine.

My major criticism of Moulton today is that they're not being inventive enough. All the new bikes are fine but all are evolutionary tweaks of previous designs (like my Jubilee), or revisits of previous dead ends (Flyte, XTB). Even the New Series is now 21 years old. I'd love to see the MDev 90 finished and released; I'd love to see Flexitor suspension on a low-cost (less than £9000!) bike; I'd love to see carbon fibre monocoque frames (surely lighter, stiffer and cheaper than a spaceframe now); and I'd love to see some sort of electronic damping control to really make the suspension work when you want it, and not when you don't. But I worry that Moulton now is a heritage bicycle company predominantly making heritage bicycles for the far eastern market.
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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby pwa » 5 Mar 2019, 8:03am

Some of the original aim of the first Moultons has gone. They were meant to be practical, and an essential element of "practical" is affordable. That went out of the window a good few decades ago. Perhaps getting a decent ride from small wheels was always going to mean a very complicated bike, with inevitable cost. Brompton took the small wheel idea and did something more practical with it.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby Mick F » 5 Mar 2019, 8:10am

fossala wrote:I didn't say fast, more confidence inspiring. I'd argue that they are fantastic (as much as a bike can be) in a cross wind. Any small wheeled bike is.because the front wheel doesn't get caught by the wind as easily.

BTW the humming only happens on the TSR (caliper model only). I think it's to do with the brake cable.
Thanks for that.
Brake cable eh? You mean the bare wires through the space frame?
What about the gear cables?

The cross-winds thing seems to come from the frame, not the wheels. Very non-aerodynamic frame.
Difficult to quantify perhaps.

Definitely. The Moulton gives confidence in everything ................. now that I got rid of the awfully non-ergo-dynamic Tiagra STIs and the equally awful bendy Tektro brake callipers.
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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby Mick F » 5 Mar 2019, 8:19am

PS:
As for the "faulty" design of the TSR rear pivot, it can easily be mitigated by injecting grease as often as you think about it.
Mine wore out in less than 4,000miles, but since fitting new bushes, hardly a fortnight goes past without me injecting grease into it. I expect it to last more than 5,000miles before it need any more attention.

Willing to be proved wrong of course! :wink:

The bushes are cheap as chips via Simply Bearings but they need a bit of trimming on the flange thickness to get them to fit.
It had hardly any attention in those 4,000miles, so no wonder it failed.

Yes, a faulty design without doubt, but increased maintenance will mitigate.
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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby pjclinch » 5 Mar 2019, 8:19am

Sidlaws wrote:Hello everyone,

Does anyone have anything positive (or negative) to say about buying a Moulton? <snip>

But why a Moulton? I'm currently riding a Brompton M6L which...


I have a Moulton TSR and a Brompton. I love both a great deal, but for actually riding any distance the Moulton is much the better bike: the frame is enormously stiffer, gear choice better and the suspension a whole level of better. Lots of people are down on the wee wheels, but I find I prefer the more responsive steering of the Moulton compared to most 700c/26" bikes. The only real issue I have with mine (bought second hand) is the dual-pivot brakes with mudguards limit my tyre choices somewhat. I might get Ben "Kinetics" Cooper to change it to discs front and rear to get around that.
So, one thing I'd check is what you'll be able to put on the SST (I think the 11 model has a dual pivot at the front) and will that cover the riding you want to do.

I tour on a 'bent, mixed-mode or somewhere with dodgy parking it's the Brom, but the TSR is my general hack Weapon of Choice: a good fix of fastish, nimble, comfortable and practical. Despite me not taking the greatest care of my bikes it's also greatly admired, the space-frame giving it quite a vibe.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby pwa » 5 Mar 2019, 8:30am

Surely there is a good mechanical reason for Moulton themselves not putting a disc brake on their suspension forks. I've only seen them on the rear of Moultons.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby pjclinch » 5 Mar 2019, 8:52am

pwa wrote:Surely there is a good mechanical reason for Moulton themselves not putting a disc brake on their suspension forks. I've only seen them on the rear of Moultons.


I don't think it's an easy assumption to case as "surely" with a small and rather quirky manufacturer.
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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby pwa » 5 Mar 2019, 9:14am

pjclinch wrote:
pwa wrote:Surely there is a good mechanical reason for Moulton themselves not putting a disc brake on their suspension forks. I've only seen them on the rear of Moultons.


I don't think it's an easy assumption to case as "surely" with a small and rather quirky manufacturer.

Probably, then. Maybe the forks, with their moving parts, aren't up to the twisting forces of an asymmetric disc brake.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby fausto99 » 5 Mar 2019, 9:35am

speedsixdave wrote: It is always worth remembering that Moultons are the creation of an individual and very strong-willed designer, and the resulting bikes were all engineered to suit his preferred riding style. If your preferred end-use and riding style align closely with that of the late Alex Moulton, you will probably enjoy riding his bikes greatly. The more your end-use and riding style differ from his, the more likely you are to be disappointed with the bike.

+1 on that. Dr. Moulton was a tall fellow who liked to sit back and stay in the saddle so the original F frame had a shallow seat tube angle to cope with long legs. I have short thighs and a long torso so my F- frame is set up with a reverse saddle clip and straight seatpost so that I'm not too far back from the BB and I have the longest stem I could find to give me upper body space.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby Brucey » 5 Mar 2019, 9:41am

nailing a disc mount on the back is not very difficult (or risky)

Image

although I'd have added some more bracing; that doesn't look as strong as it could easily have been.

Kinetics have done RH front disc brakes eg

Image

but again this doesn't look ideal to me; I'd want the RH moving leg to be at least twice the strength since it now carries all the brake torque. I'd additionally note that some disc calipers should not be run 'backwards', i.e. on the RH side; the reason for this is that the caliper body gap is wider on one side of the caliper than the other, and when the caliper is fitted the wrong way round the pads can be spat out when worn.

I'd further comment that the brake forces (as in standard moultons) impose a bending force in the telescoping part of the front suspension. This can interfere with the front suspension action whilst braking. However this force can be reacted into the static part of the fork assembly instead if a floating caliper bracket is employed. FWIW some folk have converted to front drum brakes using a reaction arm that is attached to the static part of the fork and this seems like a very good arrangement.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby Samuel D » 5 Mar 2019, 9:44am

Mick F wrote:Mine wore out in less than 4,000miles, but since fitting new bushes, hardly a fortnight goes past without me injecting grease into it. I expect it to last more than 5,000miles before it need any more attention.

… excepting your attention every fortnight! Not acceptable in my view, but of course I’d do the same if I encountered the problem you did.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby Tao » 5 Mar 2019, 10:52am

Samuel D wrote:
Mick F wrote:Mine wore out in less than 4,000miles, but since fitting new bushes, hardly a fortnight goes past without me injecting grease into it. I expect it to last more than 5,000miles before it need any more attention.

… excepting your attention every fortnight! Not acceptable in my view, but of course I’d do the same if I encountered the problem you did.


Agreed. Moulton clearly know there's a problem with the rear pivot on the TSR,hence the improvement on the SST, yet continue to sell it anyway.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby fossala » 5 Mar 2019, 3:53pm

Tao wrote:
Samuel D wrote:
Mick F wrote:Mine wore out in less than 4,000miles, but since fitting new bushes, hardly a fortnight goes past without me injecting grease into it. I expect it to last more than 5,000miles before it need any more attention.

… excepting your attention every fortnight! Not acceptable in my view, but of course I’d do the same if I encountered the problem you did.


Agreed. Moulton clearly know there's a problem with the rear pivot on the TSR,hence the improvement on the SST, yet continue to sell it anyway.

This is my gripe.

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Re: Moulton SST -- reasons (not) to buy?

Postby Mick F » 6 Mar 2019, 7:16am

Samuel D wrote:
Mick F wrote:Mine wore out in less than 4,000miles, but since fitting new bushes, hardly a fortnight goes past without me injecting grease into it. I expect it to last more than 5,000miles before it need any more attention.

… excepting your attention every fortnight! Not acceptable in my view, but of course I’d do the same if I encountered the problem you did.
The "attention" is hardly a difficult or long-winded issue at all.
Turn the bike upside-down, connect the grease gun to the nipple, to or three strokes, disconnect, wipe up the excess, and put the bike the right way up.

It takes longer to get the grease gun from the shed than it takes to do the job.
Other than collecting it and putting it way, the job takes less than a minute.
Mick F. Cornwall