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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Luxury Luggage 2

Back in February when I purchased the Brompton, I also invested in a luggage block and a Brompton C-bag. Whilst the price of the C-bag was enough to make me wince, it is a high-quality product and has served me well since then. However, circumstances change and I now find myself in need of more carrying capacity when using the Brompton, so I took the plunge and purchased a T-bag. 

The T-bag was formerly known as the Touring Pannier and its recent name change brings it in-line with the rest of Brompton's luggage range and also shows that they still don't take themselves too seriously. It uses the same carrier frame as the C-bag but boasts a considerably increased capacity. The downside of this is that it is a bit more unwieldy and less pleasant to carry around when off the bike. The strap lacks the padded sleeve of the C-bag making it less suited to extended stretches of being carried over-the-shoulder.

The T-bag (completely unrolled) next to the C-bag. The difference in capacity is quite startling. The inside of the T-bag is lined with yellow fabric, as is the C-bag, in order to facilitate finding stuff rattling around the bottom. It's the kind of small touch which can help rationalise purchasing luxury luggage such as this.

The zipped pocket contains a fluorescent yellow rain cover much like the one which comes with the C-bag (book not included).

Unlike the C-bag, the carry strap can be removed if preferred, which can be useful to prevent it flapping around when riding. The top of the bag has two strips of velcro to pair the edges of the bag together before the top is rolled down. As a nice extra touch, the bag includes two identical strips of velcro which can be used as 'blanking strips' if you do not wish to use the velcro fastening.

The rider-facing part of the bag contains two pockets, the left one is identical to the pockets on the C-bag, the right is a draw-string affair which permits over-stuffing and would be particularly useful as a bottle holder. After looking it over, I decided to put the bag's capacity to the test:

Much like the C-bag, the T-bag has a reflective rectangle on the front in order to prevent flash photography and possibly also to aid being seen.

This is the T-bag in its over-stuffed state (although I should add that there is still some room in the front mesh pocket). In this state the bag slightly interferes with the steering, but not enough to cause a problem when riding, only when manoeuvring the bike through doorways etc. In this state, the bag is sufficiently large to accommodate the entirety of Star Trek.

After removing the four Enterprise box sets, the bag can be properly rolled-closed and clipped into the sides where the yellow and blue boxes are.

The contents of the bag emptied out for scale: Three The Original Series box sets, the The Animated Series, seven The Next Generation box sets, seven Deep Space Nine box sets, seven Voyager box sets, four Enterprise box sets, the first 10 films box set, a separate copy of The Voyage Home and the most recent film on Blu-ray. 

Whichever way you look at it, the Brompton T-bag has an impressive capacity. It would be ideal for carrying a significant amount of grocery shopping, lending further credibility to my assertion that if I could only have a single bike for all purposes, it would be a Brompton.

Monday, 21 November 2011

B&M Lumotec IQ Cyo senso plus T

The Cyo T is much like the 60 lux Cyo, but with a row of four LEDs under the main lens which direct light at oncoming traffic for enhanced visibility

I have replaced my ailing B&M Lyt plus with the catchily-named Lumotec IQ Cyo senseo plus T also made by B&M. There are currently around ten+ variants of the Cyo, including 40 and 60 lux versions (the 40 lux incorporates a reflector which the 60 does not) bottle or hub dynamo versions, near-field lighting versions, automatic on/off via light sensor versions, versions with daylight running lights and either a black or silver finish for some of these models (as discussed previously). 

The Lumotec IQ Cyo senseo plus T is the hub dynamo version of the 60 lux Cyo, with automatic on/off via light sensor and daylight running lights. In this version, the light sensor switches the light between day and night modes. The daylight running lights consist of four LEDs underneath the lens for the main beam. Unlike the main beam which is directed at the road, these LEDs are directed at oncoming traffic as an aid to 'being seen.' During the day the main light beam is at significantly reduced intensity, whilst the four LEDs underneath the lens are all illuminated. At night, the main beam is illuminated to full intensity and only two of the daylight running light LEDs are illuminated, with these two LEDs also forming the stand-light feature in this model.

Whilst I am very happy with the Philips Saferide lamp recently acquired for the DL-1, the unique proportions of the Brompton mean that only a handful of front lights can be fitted without causing problems with the front luggage system. The Saferide is not one of these due to the lack of mount compatibility with B&M fixings (unless modified). Brompton specify either the bottom-of-the-line Lumotec halogen light with the Shimano dynamo wheel or the top-of-the-range (ish) 40 lux Cyo with the SON dynamo wheel. This is perhaps a little unfair to customers, as it suggests that the Shimano dynamo wheel can only power a low end light, despite it being capable of powering the same range of lights as the  SON*. As I discovered, as an alternative option the Lyt can be fitted to a Brompton by using a Cyo mount, although my initial research suggested that this was not common.

In complete darkness the Cyo T provides almost as much illumination as the Saferide. The beam is a bit less wide and the throw seems a little less too. The apparent subjective reduction in throw compared to the Saferide is likely a result of the central bright spot which comprises part of the beam shape. Whilst useful for avoiding potholes (especially so on a small-wheeled bike), the bright spot does make the rest of the beam which is projected beyond it seem less intense than it actually is. The slightly reduced beam width and throw compared to the Saferide is likely being exaggerated in this case by the lower mounting height of the Cyo on the Brompton (~350 mm) than on a conventional bike (~750 mm), but the beam is still entirely sufficient.

Where the Cyo T excels is in its urban-friendly features, such as daylight running mode which to helps mitigate the risk of not being seen by negligent motorists, and the automatic switching between day & night modes via light sensor. The daylight running lights are particularly effective at drawing extra attention in daylight, directing a good amount of light at oncoming traffic. At night, the two lower LEDs which remain turned on are illuminated to a lower intensity, to avoid blinding oncoming traffic. The automatic light sensor can be over-ridden if desired to keep the Cyo T in daylight mode at night. The level of road illumination provided by the light in 'day mode' is sufficient in well-lit areas where being seen may be of more concern than lighting up the road itself, still meeting the minimum standard for a 'proper' light.

The stand-light is different to other lamps I have used. Like the Lumotec Retro, the stand-light is provided by auxiliary LEDs rather than using the main beam as the Saferide and Lyt do. However, unlike any of these other lights the stand-light does not merely stay illuminated until the capacitor has been discharged, it is timed to shut off after around four minutes despite the capacitor having a capacity for a greater length of time. The result of this is that the stand-light is immediately available if the bike (dynamo) is moved again.

The rotary switch on the rear of the Cyo has three settings, off, sensor and daylight mode

Unlike the 40 lux version of the Cyo and the Lyt, the Cyo T does not come with an integrated reflector. A reflector is available for adding to the bottom of the standard Cyo mount, although the Brompton mount is not compatible with this. It is also worth noting that the Torx bolt which comes with the standard Cyo mounting bracket is not compatible with the Brompton Cyo mount due to the different tube thickness. Whilst this set-up has left the Brompton without a front reflector, the daylight running lights are definitely a replacement which is in the spirit of the law even if it does not conform to the letter of it.

The Torx bolt has instead been pressed into service mounting the Lyt back on the Yuba Mundo

I like the Cyo T. In plain terms of brightness and throw, it is not as good as the Saferide, but as I stated in that review, for urban utility riding the beam of the Saferide is overkill. The Cyo T also provides more than enough light for riding along unlit roads. However, the daylight running mode and the automatic switching between day and night modes make this an ideal choice for the primarily urban cyclist, whilst the beam it provides is more than sufficient for riding on unlit roads and paths too. Unless you do a great deal of your riding on completely unlit roads, these extra features probably make the Cyo T the better choice.

*The Brompton SON dynamo wheel could be used to drive a pair of front lights as is fairly common practice amongst SON owners. For typical Brompton usage it is probably not worth the extra cash.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Raleigh Twenty Stowaway

The Sturmey Archer AW hub which was used for the pictures taken to make the hub servicing guide which formed my last post was from this Raleigh Twenty Stowaway; the folding version of the classic Raleigh Twenty. This Twenty belonged to a friend of mine and I was servicing the hub before selling it on her behalf. Prior to servicing the hub, I had done just about every conceivable bit of maintenance on this bike including front wheel, headset and bottom bracket bearings, a complete disassembling, cleaning, greasing and reassembling and replacement of the tyres, tubes, chain and saddle. As a result of this, the bike rides just like a brand new bike, despite being from 1976.

Raleigh used the 'Stowaway' branding on some of their folding Twentys (in addition to several unrelated models).

The main hinge in the frame is perhaps inelegant but very sturdy.

Difficult to see on the picture, but the rear reflector is branded as Sturmey Archer.

Pletscher rear rack, complete with a rat-trap for carrying a newspaper.

Sturmey Archer AW hub, as featured previously.

The original Sturmey Archer grip shifter, controlled by rotating the entire grip to switch gears. In practice it works better than I expected.

Raleigh Twenty 'R-20' branding.

Seat-tube decal.

'The Raleigh' Nottingham headbadge.

Brand new Raleigh Record tyres, as originally specified with the bike.

The Raleigh Twenty design has undoubtedly passed the test of time. It is a shame that the equivalent models subsequently made by Raleigh have failed to match the comfort, handling and practicality of this model. Clones of the Twenty do exist, although they have their drawbacks including price and the use of V-brakes on the UK model. There is nothing to stop Raleigh bringing back the Twenty properly, a good, small utility bike could be a good addition to their range. A few concessions to modern manufacturing techniques and componentry could be made, such as a welded frame (rather than brazed) a unicrown fork (rather than lugged). These minor sacrifices could easily be offset by a few improvements, such as dual pivot caliper brakes (or drum/coaster brakes), 406 mm aluminium rims (allowing a greater choice of tyres and the ability to stop during rain) and a proper headset (rather than a nylon bushing at the top of the head-tube).

After courting the 'sporting goods' and 'bicycle shaped object' markets extensively for the past few decades, perhaps it's time for Raleigh to look back on one of the models which once made them great, and bring it back.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Servicing a Sturmey Archer AW hub

The Sturmey Archer AW hub is 75 years old this year. The reliability of this design means that there are plenty of these hubs still in service. The ease of serviceability of this design means that returning one of these hubs to its former glory isn't all that difficult. Many minor issues such as resistance to freewheeling, hub seizure, general resistance to rolling and problems accessing certain gears can be fixed by taking the hub apart, cleaning the internals and re-assembling it all with some fresh grease.

Whilst I have written about working on an AW hub previously, the nature of the work means that it is difficult to take pictures whilst cleaning and re-assembling the hub. Thankfully, this time I was able to get a little help with taking pictures. To open up an AW hub (and most other Sturmey Archer hub gears) remove the left-hand (non-drive side) locknut and cone and uncrew the right-hand ball ring using a hammer and a flat screwdriver on the semi-circular cut outs of the ball ring (these are not rounded on the older versions of the AW). This should let you get the internals out, axle and all. This can be further disassembled by removing the right-hand locknut and cone, which allows the rest of the hub mechanism to be taken apart.

One of the notches for unscrewing the right-hand ball ring

Left to right: The left-hand axle nut, non-turn washer, locknut, spacer and cone

Left to right (top): right axle nuts (later integrated into a single piece), non-turn washer, locknut, cone lockwasher & cone. Middle: cone. Bottom: indicator rod (with indicator rod locknut seen above the locknut)

Left to right (top): Dust cap, sprocket snap-ring. Bottom: spacers. Assembled as: Dust cap, spacer, sprocket, spacer, snap-ring.

The driver assembly and clutch spring

Gear ring (left) and right-hand ball ring (right)

Left to right: clutch sleeve, clutch, axle key and thrust ring

Top: Axle (including sun pinion). Bottom (left-to right): Planet-cage, 4 planet pinions (cogs) and 4 pinion pins.

The low-gear pawls in the planet-cage can also be removed if necessary, although when removing these be sure not to lose the tiny pawl springs in the process. The same also goes for the pawls in the gear ring.

Once all this has been disassembled, a good cleaning with some degreaser and a cloth or paper towel should restore the hub to its former glory. Particularly dirty or rusty parts can be soaked overnight or cleaned with wire wool (just make sure to remove any left-over bits of wire wool before re-assembling the hub).

To re-assemble the gear mechanism, hold the axle vertically with the drive-side pointing up (axle hole above the sun pinion).

Add the planet pinions and the pinion pins back into the planet cage and place the assembly over the top of the axle with the planets at the top.

Add a dab of Sturmey Archer hub gear grease to the planet pinions and rotate the planet cage assembly around the axle a few times to distribute the grease around.

Place the clutch sleeve over the axle and line up the hole in the sleeve with the hole in the axle.

Place the clutch over the axle and the clutch sleeve.

Slide the axle key through the hole in the clutch sleeve and axle, with the threaded hole in the axle key lined up with the centre of the axle.

Slide the thrust ring over the axle key and clutch, lining up the grooves in the thrust ring with the protruding parts of the axle key.

Place the gear ring over the planet cage assembly and clutch assembly, being sure to line up the grooves inside the gear ring with the planet pinions.

Place the right-hand ball ring over the gear ring.

Add some lithium grease to the ball bearings within the ball ring (ideally more neatly than this).

Place the clutch spring over the axle, ensuring the plastic (or metal) ringed-end of the spring pointing upwards.

Place the driver over the axle. The clutch spring will push against the driver until the right-hand cone is added to hold the driver in place.

Add lithium grease the the ball bearings in the driver assembly and screw the right-hand cone onto the axle as with any other cup-and-cone bearing system.

Add the cone lockwasher and locknut.

Add lithium grease to the left-hand bearings.

Add the left-hand cone, spacer and locknut.

On the right-hand side, add the dust-cap, a spacer, sprocket, another spacer and snap ring to the end of the driver assembly.

The wheel may be bolted back into the frame, the indicator rod screwed back into the axle key and to the gear cable and the hub is ready to be tested. With any luck, the hub should perform just fine for another couple of decades. The 'no intermediate gear' (NIG) versions of the hub, such as the current AW hub, the S-RF3 and the gear mechanism in the X-RD3 are fairly similar to this, with minor changes to the clutch assembly and the driver, which has its own pawls in this version. There have also been numerous small revisions throughout the run of the original AW hub, although they should pose little trouble when using this guide as reference. The best advice I can give anyone who wishes to service one of these hubs is to just go for it; when disassembled the hub really isn't as daunting as it may appear from reading this guide (or similar guides).