Author Topic: Moulton Experiences?  (Read 9463 times)

Moulton Experiences?
« on: September 28, 2017, 12:41:57 am »
Come Christmas time I might be in the fortunate position to buy a new bike, indeed my first brand new bike in 27 years. I've always liked the idea of a Moulton and having ridden the Trans-Siberian Highway (you may know it as National Cycle Route 74) four times this year I'm increasingly convinced suspension rather than just fatter tyres are needed. I've read accounts by experienced Moulton riders that they are appreciably slower than a regular road frame, especially up hill, and I can't really afford to get any slower than I am already. Anyway, does anyone have experience of riding Moultons, especially on Audaxes? Any thoughts would be welcome. I know I should go and ride one but dealers are thin on the ground in Scotland and I'd want more than a spin round the block. By the way, I'm thinking TSR not Pylon.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 02:03:45 am »
I have ridden a couple of TSR30s (and a Stowaway) round a lot of brevets since PBP03. I find the suspension is a significant comfort improvement over my custom-built S&S-coupled Frezoni for the longest brevets and am happy to trade off climbing (a little) slower. There really isn't a significant difference in overall pace, only during spirited riding on the first day or so. The Moultons tend to be a little quicker in head and crosswinds.

HK tends to use her Jubilee-prototype 'Casper' for long rides since 2011 for the same reason, particularly when the bike needs to be packed for air, bus or rail transfers. She had a S&S Roberts for most of that time, so can directly compare against transportable big bikes. She is currently partway across France, riding Casper 200+km a day before getting TGV/ Eurostar back. Companions had problems booking their big bikes onto convenient trains (but still doable).

You need to pick low rolling resistance tyres (e.g. Conti Grand Prix, Panaracer Minits Lite, some are happy with Duranos but not me) for Moultons in timed events. Sluggish tyres are even more noticeably sluggish on small wheels. Be aware that tiny tyres only last about 2/3 as long as similarly-constructed big tyres, so I always have a spare pair in the garage and usually need to fit a new rear tyre before every long brevet. When we ride 2 or 3 1000+km brevets in a year, that starts to add up.

Tune the front suspension to suit your preferences. I'm heavy and like to climb out of the saddle, so a progressively wound 'race' spring with preload and heavier damping suits me. HK prefers softer and less damped.

If you make a trip down to London, you can borrow my TSR for a day (ride a 200?) to see if it suits. Obviously we'd have to arrange a mutually convenient date by PM but I am out of the country for another fortnight.

My TSR is set up for a tall rider but my short mate Aussie George borrowed it for a week-long camping trip using a dinky stem I have lying around. We have the Day Rack/ Weekend Bag and full touring Big Rack/ racktop bag/ Big Bag setups here and it is easy to swap between them. We have a number of SQR brackets/ bags that you could try, which also work nicely on Moultons. HK and I are fans of mounting a pair of bidon cages beside the head tube in place of using the front pannier rack but I have the pannier rack here too.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 08:23:47 am »
I'd agree with what LWaB says. I'd also add that Moultons are an unusual UK made bike which is something that has both good and bad aspects to it. 

I've done a lot of riding on various bikes with suspension and yet I still find myself going more slowly on my Moulton than I'd like/expect. 

There is more than one way to skin a cat; amongst my bikes is soft-tail MTB. It is about 10lbs lighter than my moulton, is every bit as comfortable, and probably it is (with the right tyres fitted) as quick too. A full suspension MTB I have is also lighter than the Moulton, and has a suspension that can be adjusted more. Neither machine would be a quick into a headwind on the road as a Moulton with dropped bars; partly that is the riding position and partly the bike itself.

I recently spent a little while riding a bike with a suspension seat post. They are fairly horrid things as a rule but this one had a special feature; it was noisy as it moved. The interesting thing was that it did move at various times, not always when I expected it.  Suspension seat posts can be set so that they don't move at all during normal pedalling (which is good because it is an interference) but they can still take the sting out of big bumps.  There are also such things as suspension stems, which can work OK with flat bars and even (if they have a parallelogram linkage) with dropped bars.

The interesting thing is that with a proper suspension arrangement, even when you are pretty beaten up, it isn't as fatiguing to carry on riding (esp on surfaces that are less than perfect) as it is on a normal bike. You can just sit in the saddle ( ahem..."like a sack of s**t" as some folk put it) and twiddle away. It is difficult to describe this sensation until you have experienced it for yourself.

However by their very nature, such machines, if they offer the best isolation from the vibrations of the road, are not best suited to out of the saddle efforts etc and may not climb well either unless you can turn the suspension off in some way.  Bobbing whilst climbing is in good part due to the effects of chain tension on suspension movement. Here I'd have to say that I think the Moulton is at a disadvantage to some other suspension designs.

It is as well to remember that AM decided that his bike could have small wheels provided it also had suspension. The small wheels fall into holes into the road more than larger wheels so 'every road is rougher' for small wheels.  That it can end up more comfortable than a rigid bike with large wheels is bonus/accident.

If you are regularly riding on rough surfaces, the tyres that work best on the road might not be tough enough for the rough bits. I have used fatter tyres (such as big apples) on my Moulton and the net result is (IMHO) distinctly sluggish. Tyres with heavy treads are also sluggish when fitted to Moultons.

Also do bear in mind that you are left with some of the other side-effects of small wheels, specifically

- handling; I don't find it at all easy to ride no hands with small wheels and even after prolonged use I'd say I'm more likely not to follow a wheel well and more likely not to follow my chosen line whilst looking over my shoulder

- acceleration; it is slightly better on small wheels but by calculation it is only worth about 1.5% to 2% on a machine with 20" wheels vs 700C (with equivalent wheel rims/tyres)

- gearing; getting enough low gears is fairly easy but getting good medium/high gearing can be problematic. You may find yourself having to buy large (expensive) chainrings that don't shift especially well, and using small sprockets too. The small ones that are used for tapping along tend to wear out faster than normal and the small ones that are needed for a high top gear can also cost a small fortune. 

- the rear derailleur is that bit closer to terra firma which means it can be clouted by rocks, kerbs etc more easily and will (all things being equal) get a bit dirtier too.

So I'd suggest that trying a machine out and seeing how you get on is a very good idea.

cheers

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 10:52:45 am »
Moultons need some adaptation from conventional bikes, but overall most find them advantageous. The riding comfort is particularly noticeable on longer rides. Being much more responsive some find them twitchy at first, and I certainly never ride hands off. On the other hand, I can usually catch the bike if the front wheel slips on wet or greasy surfaces.

Climbing, just stay in the saddle and spin; as Alex Moulton used to say, "don't ride like a gorilla"! The front suspension damping can be adjusted, and some models have a lockout, but I've never used it. Stiffer front springs are aslo available if desired.

The only time I prefer larger wheels is for serious off-road use, as they ride better over the larger bumps.

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 12:59:14 pm »
The first time I tried an APB I hated it  :facepalm:

I 'mashed' the pedals with my pedalling style rather than pedaling smooth circles. Resulting in excess bobbing (no, not an excess of good hair). Trying one a few years later with a somewhat more refined souplesse was a totally different, and much nicer, experience.

I'm a fan as my forumname hints at...
not so much a gravel grinder.... more of a gravel groveller


zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2017, 02:11:48 pm »
i wonder how difficult it would be to make a nice integrated shock with an expansion cylinder and a lockout. the head tube is long which gives enough space for creativity.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2017, 02:17:40 pm »
Look at Cannondale's Headshock variations or before that Action-Tec's Pro Shock. All of them require more maintenance than Moulton's forks and they aren't light either.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2017, 02:34:20 pm »
the technology has moved on since then, sub-10kg full suspension mtb's are pretty common in races now, so why not transfer the know-how to small wheeled bikes.

DaT

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2017, 03:42:26 pm »
the technology has moved on since then, sub-10kg full suspension mtb's are pretty common in races now, so why not transfer the know-how to small wheeled bikes.
You can get a sub 9kg Moulton, I bet I could build my AM to be sub 9kg if I picked the right components.

The reason I ride Moulton bikes is because I like the handling, shock absorption and the way they look. To me there is a better tourer, commuter and fast bike but not one that can do all of them as well as a Moulton. I do think they are the best bike for Audaxing though, Dave Bogdan road RAAM on one and he was the only person to be able to sign his autograph at the end.

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2017, 04:19:40 pm »
that is totally fine, i was just thinking that a better options may be available for suspension in this day and age. i've tested a couple of moultons so know how they ride etc.

Gattopardo

  • Lord of the sith
  • Overseaing the building of the death star
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2017, 06:57:18 pm »
My moulton introduction was being given an F and a mini as projects.  The mini wasn't that nice but I was a bit too big for it.  While the F, with a stuck stem and poor brakes and tyres.  I serviced the bike and bought cheap tyres and pedalled away and it was great fun.  Handling was a bit interesting and ride was good.  Have ridden a pashley and apb and a double pylon.  They are all really nice handling bikes, feel like your floating. 

To the point I still have the F needs lots of work and have another F frame that was powdered and twisted..  I am looking for a cheap MK3 as I would like a bridgestone moulton or an APD but can't afford one.


DaT

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2017, 08:13:33 pm »
Back to the OP's options..

There now appears to be as a result of the popularity of disc brakes combined with generally poor roads  a much better range of fast wider tyres in 700C*. Pair them with relaxed frame angles and a compliant rim brake front fork. Perhaps include a rear disc in the build for gentle braking during skoggy winter riding. Certainly this would be the cheapest option.

*Because disc brakes require a strong = rigid fork.
Ignoring Moulton bikes, 650b with compass 42c tyres are lovely to ride. I had a Raleigh portage and it was very comfortable (ignoring the shimmy it got if you went over 40mph!).

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2017, 08:35:34 pm »
Thanks for everyone's thoughts, it certainly does sound like an option. I'm not often down in London but I appreciate the offer to lend me a Moulton Littlewheels. I'll see if I can get a ride of one closer to Glasgow before I start planning Audaxes in the South East. There's a whole range of more conventional options of course Shand, Whyte, Fairlight, Mason... that offer wider tyres, diosc brakes et. al. My Byres Aravis seems a fairly compliant frame but I'm maxed out at 25mm with guards.

Socks

  • Clennel Street on my touring bike
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2017, 08:36:24 pm »
I used to ride 'conventional' bikes - cheapo racer; Ribble alloy racer; 531 tourer; commuter bike.  Since I acquired a 1960's Moulton f-frame a few years ago I have increasingly used them instead, and have now disposed of the big wheelers because I wasn't using them.  I've never been a fast rider, but I'm no slower on the Moultons and appreciate the comfort of full suspension on long rides.  I've completed audax and sportive events up to 400k distance on a TSR 30 / TSR 27 / Moulton Jubilee.

And a semi-off road 110k in April this year - you might have seen a picture of the bike in Dean's pictures and write up in the last Arrivee.  They do take some getting used to, as the small wheels and suspension make the handling quite different.  Test ride is definitely recommended before you decide.

I live in the North East of England, PM me if you'd like to arrange a visit to try out one of my Moultons.

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2017, 08:46:46 pm »
Thansk Socks, that's a bit closer to home and I'm from Gateshead originally so travel back every now and then. I saw the pictures in Arrivee, nice looking bike. I've also seen a chap on a cream coloured Moulton on a couple of the Scottish rides but no idea who he is.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2017, 12:41:45 am »
Just to pick up on one point about gearing.

HK and I specifically chose 406 wheels because we could get an adequate top gear (nominally >100") with a 58t chainring and 11t sprocket. The 58t ring has all the ramps and pins and shifts fine with standard front derailleurs. That combination allowed us to use cheaper 11-25t 10sp Campag cassettes, rather than cassettes with a 9t or 10t top sprocket that would otherwise be needed. I am fairly lazy and tend to replace cassettes annually, rather than religiously checking chain wear to swap chains early. Moulton's 11sp cassettes starting from 10t cogs tend to result in expensive running costs for high-mileage folk. Shimano's 9-26t Capreo cassette is only available in 9sp and I fear it could be discontinued soon. SRAM and others are now doing 10t-up MTB cassettes and Moulton riders just need somebody to make a narrow-range cassette in the same format but that could be some time yet.

Riders with 406 tyres (e.g. Moulton TSR) can also choose from a range of tyres from a variety of manufacturers. Moulton's proprietary 369 wheel size has fewer options.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

DaT

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2017, 07:06:35 am »
Just to pick up on one point about gearing.

HK and I specifically chose 406 wheels because we could get an adequate top gear (nominally >100") with a 58t chainring and 11t sprocket. The 58t ring has all the ramps and pins and shifts fine with standard front derailleurs. That combination allowed us to use cheaper 11-25t 10sp Campag cassettes, rather than cassettes with a 9t or 10t top sprocket that would otherwise be needed. I am fairly lazy and tend to replace cassettes annually, rather than religiously checking chain wear to swap chains early. Moulton's 11sp cassettes starting from 10t cogs tend to result in expensive running costs for high-mileage folk. Shimano's 9-26t Capreo cassette is only available in 9sp and I fear it could be discontinued soon. SRAM and others are now doing 10t-up MTB cassettes and Moulton riders just need somebody to make a narrow-range cassette in the same format but that could be some time yet.

Riders with 406 tyres (e.g. Moulton TSR) can also choose from a range of tyres from a variety of manufacturers. Moulton's proprietary 369 wheel size has fewer options.

I rode my Moulton AM-18 (60/46 - 10-32) back to back with Martyn's Jubilee (30 veloce model). I don't know if it was the smaller wheels, or hydrolastic rear suspension but I did prefer mine over Martyn's. His did climb better because of the unified rear triangle though. I also think both are an improvement over the TSR, also the mk3 rides better than the TSR .

Here is a Moulton project I'm finishing to ride to work on each day (5 speed rear hub with 2 sprockets, should get 27-98").


To OP, if your ever on holiday in Cornwall you can try one of mine.

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2017, 07:48:13 am »
re gearing; if 58/11 is high enough then one is fairly well catered for as LWaB describes. However whilst the top gear ratio is nominally >100" it is actually (on a ~30-406 tyre) about 98" or even less with a narrower tyre. The gearing on models with 369 rims is significantly lower. This may or may not be important to you.

58/15 gives about a 72" gear (on ~30-406) which I'd use quite a lot for tapping along; however mainly for reasons of wear rate & efficiency I'd choose a larger sprocket if I could (eg on a bike with bigger wheels).

Another route to a wider range of gears is to use a hub like CS-RF3 which gives three IGH ratios (IIRC 0.75, 1.0, 1.33) and will also accept a 8/9/10s cassette. 52/(11-32) gives a gear range from ~23" to 117", for example, and gives you the option of tapping along on 52/18 in high ratio if you so desire.

cheers

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2017, 09:36:16 am »
I don't use gears above 100" after the first day of a long brevet and rarely on the first day. YMMV
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2017, 04:05:57 pm »
I'm currently running a 52, 39, 30 triple and 12-30 cassette, so 26" to 114" range on 700c 25mm tyres, but anything above 100" is downhill only!

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2018, 01:39:39 am »
Just an update to say I've now acquired this very yellow TSR30 from a Moulton Club member.



About 9 years old but only done a few thousand miles, first owner couldn't get on with it and the second preferred his APB. I've added my own saddle, bottle cages, pump, lights and replaced the adjustable stem with a very nice Velo Orange item and the tatty bar tape with Kinesis four season. Mudguards on order. The leaden (and I suspect original) Duranos will have to go at some point but they'll do for now. 56/42/30 Chorus triple and 11-23 cassette (23.65 to 92.58 range) so I'm missing out at the top end compared my current set up but we'll see if that's a problem. Centaur shifters and RD, Comp FD, miche hubs, Alex rims and flexy Tektro calipers complete the spec. Only had a quick spin but first impressions are supple ride, lively handling and it's a bugger to clean. I've been given a six month grace period to keep it or my Aravis as our household operates on an R-1 policy (rather than N+1) where R=2.

Samuel D

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2018, 03:18:44 pm »
Yellow is a excellent colour for a bicycle. Maybe the best.

I haven’t had a go on a machine like that, but theory suggests that tyre choice makes an even bigger difference than usual. I wouldn’t judge the machine by how it rides on Duranos. Get some Schwalbe Ones or other genuinely fast tyre on there!

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2018, 04:08:53 pm »
Yellow is a excellent colour for a bicycle. Maybe the best.

I haven’t had a go on a machine like that, but theory suggests that tyre choice makes an even bigger difference than usual. I wouldn’t judge the machine by how it rides on Duranos. Get some Schwalbe Ones or other genuinely fast tyre on there!

Yep, as I undestand it Red bikes are more powerful but lab tests have proven Yellow bikes to be more aero ;) Schwalbe Ones or Panaracer Minitis Lights to go on when funds allow.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2018, 06:33:24 pm »
You can run up to a 58t chainring on a TSR without doing additional metalwork and a bigger tyre ups the gearing a little more.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Moulton Experiences?
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2018, 10:19:48 pm »
You can run up to a 58t chainring on a TSR without doing additional metalwork and a bigger tyre ups the gearing a little more.

Ta, and 11-25 cassettes are cheap enough if I want to lower the other end as well.