Saturday, September 23, 2017

Brompton M6R: Bobike Mini Child Seat with Bryan Adapter and X Bar

Why did I get a Brompton? Definitely not because I need another folding bike, as I already have so many other bikes of various designs and purposes. The main reason for me getting a Brompton is to be able to mount a Bobike mini child seat, so that I can bring my kid along for a ride. When he outgrows the Bobike child seat, I can then install a Pere child seat onto the same Brompton.

After making various modifications to the Brompton to make it more comfortable to ride, easier to fold and roll, it is finally time to install the Bobike mini child seat. I know that this child seat can be installed on other types of bikes, but since most of my bikes are equipped with a drop bar, they are not suitable for mounting a child seat. It is better to have a dedicated bike for cycling with the kid as the saddle needs to be set at a lower height, which is not suitable when I ride myself.

For installation of a Bobike mini to the Brompton, an adapter called the Bryan Adapter will need to be used. This will be shown later on. Before that, let's take a look at how the Bobike mini child seat will position the kid on the Brompton.

How it looks when mounted on the Brompton. I got the child seat plus Bryan adapter at a really good price on the second hand market.

An example of how the kid will look when seated on the Bobike mini that is mounted on the Brompton.

One advantage of mounting the Bobike mini on the Brompton is that the child seat can be mounted further in front and lower than on a normal bike. This is because the Brompton does not have a top tube that will affect the placement of the child seat. Not only is this more stable due to the lower centre of gravity, it also allows the adult rider to pedal more efficiently as the knees do not have to open so widely during pedaling.

As you may have noticed in the pictures above, there is a cross bar that links the two sides of the M handlebar together. This gives the child an alternative place to hold, and also stiffens up the handlebar for more rigid steering, which is an advantage when trying to steer with a load on the front.

Note that the Bobike mini child seat is not suitable for S type flat handlebar, as the child will block the adult rider from accessing the handlebar. As for P type handlebar, I think it can still be mounted but you will not be able to install the cross bar.

Cross bar by Brompton, not necessarily a part of the Bobike mini child seat package. Good to have but not essential.

Parts of the cross bar. Note that the cross bar is made of plastic and not metal.

Instruction manual for installing the cross bar

Quite complicated instructions and method for installing the cross bar...

All ready to be installed! I wonder if there is a simpler design for a cross bar, this seems too complicated.

After a bit of difficulty, the cross bar has been installed.

No interference issue with the front hub axle if you have managed to set the position of the cross bar properly.

With the cross bar done, the next step is to install the Bryan adapter, before the Bobike mini child seat can be mounted. Although there are other clamps that can be used to mount the child seat, this design is the best, as I will explain in a while.

Bryan adapter, used to mount Bobike mini child seat on a Brompton.

The various bolts, nuts and rubber shims on the Bryan adapter.

This adapter that is made out of sheet steel is heavy at 452 grams. But when you are adding a child of 10kg onto the bike, this does not matter.

Just hook the adapter onto the handlebar, and clamp it around the handlepost

The design of this Bryan adapter is superior to other types that just clamp onto the handlepost, as it is much more stable. With the two hooks on top, it prevents the adapter from slipping downwards under load. Also, the two hooks prevent the whole adapter from rotating around the handlepost. A very robust design which I like.

The shifter and brake outer casings are routed around the side of the adapter

The adapter sticks out from the side of the bike when folded, which is a downside.

This adapter can be left on the bike permanently, as the Bobike mini just slots into the adapter without any tools. However, when folded, the adapter sticks out quite a bit which can be annoying. At least the child seat can be removed easily when you are not using it, and it does not affect normal pedaling.

Now, let's take a look at the Bobike mini child seat!

The Bobike Mini child seat. Still in good condition for a second hand product. 

The safety belt goes over both shoulders and clips in between the legs. The clip has a safety feature that requires two hands to open. 

Foot rests, and straps to prevent the legs from swinging around.

The height of the foot rests can be adjusted by moving the fixing bolt. This is more troublesome but also stronger and more secure. 

These two steel rods on the underside of the child seat will be inserted into the Bryan adapter to hold it

How it looks when the child seat is installed onto the adapter 

For additional safety, I added a ring at the end of the rod to prevent the seat from being lifted off the adapter accidentally, although it is difficult and very unlikely to happen.

Final view of the Bobike Mini child seat installed on the Bryan adapter, on the Brompton!

This child seat is located quite high on the handlepost, which is not so good for stability as the centre of gravity is higher. However, this also prevents the adult's knees from hitting the back of the child seat during pedaling, as there is more clearance.

For me, I only have to widen my knees slightly for sufficient clearance during pedaling. However, since I usually step forward, over the top tube when I come to a stop, this child seat prevents me from doing that. The solution is to lower my saddle for riding, so that when I stop, I can just put my feet down at the sides and touch the ground. Not ideal for pedaling efficiency, but necessary for safety.

With the additional weight on the front, the bike is actually quite stable, since the weight balance over the front and rear wheels are now more balanced. However, steering is also heavier due to the extra mass over the front wheel. It takes some getting used to, and strains the arms more than usual.

Perhaps there are better solutions for bicycle child seats out there, but I think it is hard to beat this combination for compactness, as the child seat can be removed easily, while the Brompton can be folded down to a small size. Together, they will fit in a car boot easily.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Brompton M6R: Ergon GP1 Grips

Not many bike brands in the world can claim to be made in London or a major city. Brompton is one of the few brands that still makes its own frames and is assembled in a major city. As such, it commands a higher price than many other bikes, due to its manufacturing location and premium image.

Even though Brompton portrays itself as a premium bike, there are some components on the bike that are not premium at all. Earlier on, I upgraded the hinge clamps, due to the outdated clamp design and plastic knobs. The other component that I feel does not belong on the Brompton are the stock grips.

The stock grips are made of foam that are glued onto the handlebars. Although they are lightweight, they are not comfortable or ergonomic, and are difficult to remove and change. Credit to Brompton, they have already made the changes in their 2017 models, which are equipped with lock on type foam grips that are at least easy to upgrade.

As this is a pre-2017 Brompton, it is still using the glued on foam grips. I tried to get used to the grips, but it was just not comfortable to hold onto for longer rides. Therefore, I wanted to change to more ergonomic Ergon grips that provide support for the palm.

Similar to most Brompton parts, upgrading or modification is not straightforward. First, I had to select the correct type of Ergon grips to match the handlebar.

Ergon grips come in two different lengths, the standard length being 130mm, and the shorter 95mm type for Gripshift or Rohloff shifters. With the shorter type, part of the resting surface for the hand will be on the rubber grip of the Gripshift.

Comparing the length of the shorter Ergon grip with the stock foam grips. Shorter by about 10mm.

The length of the Brompton foam grips are about 100mm in length, and are only just sufficient for my hands to grip properly. If I change to shorter Ergon grips, without a Gripshifter, the gripping length will be too short for proper and comfortable gripping. As such, I cannot do a straightforward swap to the shorter type of Ergon grips.

On the other hand, I also cannot make a direct swap to the standard 130mm Ergon grips, as it is too long. There is not enough handlebar length to move the brake lever or shifters inwards, as they are already close to the bend of the M type handlebar. With a S type flat handlebar, a straightforward swap should be possible.

As many people have already done previously, one of the solutions is to cut the standard length Ergon grips to your preferred length. This is quite troublesome, which is why I stated earlier that upgrading the Brompton grips is not a straightforward matter. The Ergon grip that I will be using is the simple Ergon GP1 grips, without bar ends. Bar ends will complicate the folding and may touch the ground when the bike is folded.

After measurement and comparison, I need to cut about 20mm off the standard length Ergon grip, as shown by the cutting line marked on the grip above.

I used a sharp pen knife to cut the rubber along the cutting line, then peeled it off the plastic inner shell.

After that, a cutter is used to cut the plastic inner shell, enabling it to be broken off and removed.

Finally, some slight filing is done to give a relatively smooth cut edge. I think this method of cutting the Ergon grip is better than using a hand saw, which may tear the rubber.

Final length is about 111mm, quite close to my target of 110mm.

This new length is just nice for me to grip comfortably.

This new length is also about the same as the original foam grips.

The modified Ergon grips weigh about 152 grams per pair.

With the new pair of Ergon grips prepared, it is now time to remove the original foam grips from the handlebar. I did not remove it beforehand as I was not sure how the Ergon grips will turn out after cutting, so I left it on first.

It is not possible to remove the foam grips neatly, as they are glued on and so will definitely be damaged during removal. Therefore this is a non-reversible modification, so you need to be confident that you will like the new grips.

Cutting open the foam grips with a pen knife. Cut it at an angle so as to minimise any scratching of the handlebar.

Peeling off the foam grips. It is starting to get really messy here.

There is still a thick layer of glue on the handlebar, which need to be removed before the new grips can be installed.

I tried using a strong solvent to remove the glue, but it did not work. Using a sanding block also did not work as the glue was stuck on like glue onto the handlebar. Finally, I discovered that the fastest and cleanest method was to use a pen knife to scrape off the glue.

Using a pen knife to scrap off the thick layer of glue

Took quite a while to scrap the glue cleanly off the handlebar. Now to repeat this for the other side...

Finally, the stock foam grips have been removed. You can see that for the second grip, it is done more neatly as I had practice and experience from removing the first one.

The foam grips weigh only 12 grams! Best for weight weenies.

New Ergon grips installed! The brake levers had to be re-positioned a little bit to fit neatly against the grips.

Both the Ergon grips installed! It already looks more comfortable...

About 10mm of clearance with the ground when folded, helped by the larger Eazy wheels.

The Ergon GP1 grips are so much more comfortable than the stock foam grips, and it is an upgrade that is definitely worth the effort. Some shops may offer to install the grips onto the bike for you when you buy the grips from them, and you should take up that offer as it is quite a lot of work to remove the original foam grips and also cut the Ergon grips.

If you decide to buy the grips online and install it yourself, you can refer to the steps above as a guide for installing new grips.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Canyon Endurace: Reynolds Assault Limited Edition Disc Wheelset

One of the main reason I bought the complete Canyon Endurace bike, instead of buying the frameset and installing all the components myself, is because it comes with a good set of wheels. Canyon is known for choosing good quality wheels for its complete bikes, with a quality level corresponding to the grade of bicycle. For some high end models, high grade DT Swiss or Zipp wheels are selected, which adds a lot to the value of the complete bike.

The Canyon Endurace CF SLX Disc 8.0 Di2 comes with the Reynolds Assault Limited Edition (LE) wheelset, which differs from the standard model in appearance. This is a wheelset that has a MSRP of USD 1800, which is considered a relatively high end wheelset, although it is not as high end as Enve or Zipp wheels. Let's take a closer look at this good looking wheelset!

All components on this wheelset are stock. Looking good with the stealthy matte black finishing!

These stock wheels come with an inner tube that has a short valve, and thus it comes with a valve extender. However, these valve extenders are not threaded on the outside, which means that I cannot use Lezyne pumps with pump heads that need to be threaded onto the valve.

It should have come with inner tubes that simply have longer valves, but since it does not, I will have to change the inner tubes to ensure that I can use my Lezyne pumps on these wheels. These wheels are tubeless compatible, but the stock tires are not. In any case, I am not so keen to go tubeless as using the sealant will be messy. Sure, it may be more comfortable or have lower rolling resistance or be more puncture resistant, but getting messy installation and maintenance as a trade off is not worth it for me.

Therefore, the main objectives of removing the components on these wheels are to weigh them individually, and also to change the inner tube to one with a longer valve.

Ultegra 6800 11-32T 11 speed cassette, weighs 280 grams.

XTR Ice-Tech rotor, SM-RT99 in 160mm diameter. Weighs 115 grams each.

Aluminium rotor lockrings are 8 grams each

Continental GP4000 tires, 28mm width, weighs 266 grams each. Not too bad at all!

Stock inner tubes are Schwalbe Extralight tubes, which is a surprise. Can fit 28mm to 44mm wide tires.

These inner tubes are quite lightweight, at only 105 grams for this rather wide size.

Replacement inner tube with longer 60mm valve. Can fit 18mm to 28mm wide tires.

Even though these are slimmer tubes, they are not of the Extralight variety and so weigh slightly more at 109 grams.

Comparing the size of the stock inner tube on top (28-44mm) to the new inner tube (18-28mm), there is quite a significant difference in diameter.

Wheelset stripped of all the components on it, such as the cassette, rotors, tires, inner tubes.

Each wheel has its own QC sticker and date of inspection. Rim is relatively wide, at 17mm internal and 25mm external width.

These look like tubeless rim tape, as it is securely stuck on the rim bed, instead of loosely like normal rim tape.

Large 12mm hole at the front hub for the E-thru axle. Note the straight pull spokes used.

Same 12mm E-thru axle size for the rear wheel

763 grams for the front wheel

874 grams for the rear wheel

This gives a total wheelset weight of 1637 grams inclusive of rim tape. Compare this to the Ultegra 6800 wheelset which I installed on the Merida Scultura 5000, which weighs 1650 grams (without rim tape), and about 1690 grams with rim tape.

The carbon Reynolds Assault wheelset has a rim height of 41mm, and yet weighs slightly less than the aluminium Ultegra 6800 wheels with a rim height of 24mm. This is a decent weight for a carbon wheelset with a rim profile of 41mm.

Before reinstalling the wheels back onto the frame, let's take a look at the E-thru drop outs and the E-thru axles themselves.

Front E-thru dropout of 12mm, this is the non-threaded end. There is a curved profile that guides the hub axle into the dropout.

Rear E-thru dropout of 12mm. This is the non-threaded side.

Rear E-thru dropout, at the threaded end. It threads into the derailleur hanger, which is also part of the dropout.

Weight of rear E-thru axle, which is 142x12mm. 38 grams.

Weight of front E-thru axle, which is 100x12mm. 29 grams.

Quick release lever which can be used for either of the E-thru axles. 31 grams.

In total, the quick release axles and lever weigh 98 grams, which is considered pretty lightweight. This is mainly due to the shared lever which means that only one lever is needed.

On the road, these wheels roll nicely and comfortably. The freewheeling sound is audible but not overly loud, which is how I like it. Appearance wise, the matte black finishing with glossy black details on the rims makes it look more expensive that it is, and also matches the Kerosene Red of the Endurace frame very well. No wheelset upgrade is necessary as these wheels are already very nice!