Moulton Bikes

wafter

Über Member
Location
Oxford
Not really something I've paid attention to in the past, but they do intrigue me a bit.

While I'm all for a bit of inspired, left-field design and innovation I can't really see the appeal of these bikes. To me they seem like a bike redesigned to accomodate the shortcomings of using small wheels, while the wheels don't really bring any tangible benefits. I guess we have less room taken up and lower rotating / total mass, but these are about the only things I can come up with.. are they really deal-breakers in real world use? I guess the front suspension is probably pretty handy too.

Anyone care to enlighten me as to why one might choose one of these quirky little rides over a more traditional alternative?
 

Deafie

Veteran
Small wheel bikes annihilate road bikes in start stop situations ( in the city ) they accelerate rapidly and they are a hoot to ride. IMHO
 

Once a Wheeler

Active Member
Historically, I see the Moulton as a stepping stone to the collapsible bike of today and, as such, a worthwhile innovation leading to the definitely worthwhile Brompton. As an innovation, it has much in common with the Dyson vacuum cleaner: a definite design breakthrough that can hold its own with the tradional offering but, when tested in detail, proves to be a different route to the same end rather than the blazing of a new trail. For example, Dyson makes great play of the constant level of suction regardless of the amount of dust in the reservoir. However, Consumer Association tests show that popular models such as Numatic have even more suction when their bags are full than the Dyson has at any time. Hetchins curly stays, Bates curly forks, recumbants, suspension, indexing, the démultiplicateur relais (ultra-nerds only), all have their place in the story. The really useful, long-lasting innovations are relatively few and far between; but they all feed on each other and overall lead to progress.
 

Ian H

I am an ancient randonneur, & I stop often for tea
Location
East Devon
Not really something I've paid attention to in the past, but they do intrigue me a bit.

While I'm all for a bit of inspired, left-field design and innovation I can't really see the appeal of these bikes. To me they seem like a bike redesigned to accomodate the shortcomings of using small wheels, while the wheels don't really bring any tangible benefits. I guess we have less room taken up and lower rotating / total mass, but these are about the only things I can come up with.. are they really deal-breakers in real world use? I guess the front suspension is probably pretty handy too.

Anyone care to enlighten me as to why one might choose one of these quirky little rides over a more traditional alternative?
Wikipedia gives a good account of what Alex Moulton was trying to achieve. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulton_Bicycle
 

NorthernDave

Never used Über Member
As the Boardman Pro Carbon has been stuck away since last summer, I decided to get it ready for a ride tomorrow.
Nothing major, just the basics - drivetrain cleaned and lubed, tyres checked and inflated, gears and brakes all operating as they should.

Given my general fitness it remains to be seen how I get on with a lowest gear of 36/28 rather than the 34/32 on the Giant I've been (occasionally) riding since putting it away...:whistle:
 

StuAff

Silencing his legs regularly
Location
Portsmouth
The only reason Trek, Cannondale (Hooligan excepted), et al haven't piled in and done their own take on small wheeled bikes like the spaceframe Moultons is UCI regulations and resulting 'win on Sunday sell on Monday' business. Back in the 60s, Coventry CC's pursuit team were backed by Moulton and were very successful, the small wheels enabling tighter drafting. Smaller wheels= lower rotating weight, lower moment of inertia, and lower drag. My Dahon Speed Pro TT is a real hoot to ride, and it's a lot less stiff than any spaceframe Moulton…
I'd love a Speed. Only £9,950......
Moulton+SPEED.jpg
 
OP
wafter

wafter

Über Member
Location
Oxford
Thanks guys :smile:

Small wheel bikes annihilate road bikes in start stop situations ( in the city ) they accelerate rapidly and they are a hoot to ride. IMHO
Thanks; would certainly be interesting to try one! As it happens I have a spreadsheet that calculates the kinetic energy present in various bits of the bike (giving an insight into that required to accelerate it) and based on ballpark values 20" wheels (as part of an overall package) should only increase acceleration by around 3% for a given input.

I guess all these smallish things add up to make them a potentially good city bike - better stop/start performance, manouverability and smaller footprint to make storage in a shoebox flat more viable..

John Woodburn broke the Cardiff to London record on a Moulton Speed, covering 162 miles at an average speed of 24 miles per hour.
Wow - that's an incredible achievement!

Historically, I see the Moulton as a stepping stone to the collapsible bike of today and, as such, a worthwhile innovation leading to the definitely worthwhile Brompton. As an innovation, it has much in common with the Dyson vacuum cleaner: a definite design breakthrough that can hold its own with the tradional offering but, when tested in detail, proves to be a different route to the same end rather than the blazing of a new trail. For example, Dyson makes great play of the constant level of suction regardless of the amount of dust in the reservoir. However, Consumer Association tests show that popular models such as Numatic have even more suction when their bags are full than the Dyson has at any time. Hetchins curly stays, Bates curly forks, recumbants, suspension, indexing, the démultiplicateur relais (ultra-nerds only), all have their place in the story. The really useful, long-lasting innovations are relatively few and far between; but they all feed on each other and overall lead to progress.
Thanks; I'd not really considered their merits from the angle of a link in the evolutionary chain that's led is to where we are now :smile:

The only reason Trek, Cannondale (Hooligan excepted), et al haven't piled in and done their own take on small wheeled bikes like the spaceframe Moultons is UCI regulations and resulting 'win on Sunday sell on Monday' business. Back in the 60s, Coventry CC's pursuit team were backed by Moulton and were very successful, the small wheels enabling tighter drafting. Smaller wheels= lower rotating weight, lower moment of inertia, and lower drag. My Dahon Speed Pro TT is a real hoot to ride, and it's a lot less stiff than any spaceframe Moulton…
I'd love a Speed. Only £9,950......
View attachment 524699
Thanks - hadn't considered the drafting argument. I'd be very intererested to see one of the above properly tested in terms of drag, rolling resistance etc compared to a traditional alternative. £10k though :blink:


EDIT: Not that it really concerns me (and at the risk of incurring the wrath of the mods) but I see this has been moved to "folding bikes" - when IIRC these don't actually fold..? :whistle:
 

StuAff

Silencing his legs regularly
Location
Portsmouth
Thanks guys :smile:


Thanks; would certainly be interesting to try one! As it happens I have a spreadsheet that calculates the kinetic energy present in various bits of the bike (giving an insight into that required to accelerate it) and based on ballpark values 20" wheels (as part of an overall package) should only increase acceleration by around 3% for a given input.

I guess all these smallish things add up to make them a potentially good city bike - better stop/start performance, manouverability and smaller footprint to make storage in a shoebox flat more viable..


Wow - that's an incredible achievement!


Thanks; I'd not really considered their merits from the angle of a link in the evolutionary chain that's led is to where we are now :smile:


Thanks - hadn't considered the drafting argument. I'd be very intererested to see one of the above properly tested in terms of drag, rolling resistance etc compared to a traditional alternative. £10k though :blink:
TSRs, though still not exactly cheap, start about £1350 or so new. The Bradford-on-Avon made models (handmade in the grounds of Alex Moulton's former home) start at £5k. Double Pylon, top of the range: £18,950.
 

berlinonaut

Well-Known Member
Wow - that's an incredible achievement!
There are quite a lot of them - you see some of them if you scroll down to "Racing and Records" on this page:
http://www.moultonbicycles.co.uk/heritage.html

The most impressive ones to me are Race Across America (RAAM) (including the trivia that the Moulton rider would have been the only person ever that was able to write his signature properly after the end of the race :-)) and the speed record that was set by Jim Glover in the 80ies and is still unbeaten today:

The highest speed officially recorded for a bicycle ridden in a conventional upright position under fully faired conditions was 82.52 km/h (51.28 mph) over 200 m.[16] That record was set in 1986 by Jim Glover on a Moulton AM7 at the Human Powered Speed Championships during Expo86 World Fair in Vancouver. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_performance#Cycling_speed_records

Thanks - hadn't considered the drafting argument. I'd be very intererested to see one of the above properly tested in terms of drag, rolling resistance etc compared to a traditional alternative. £10k though :blink:
To be fair: While the original Moulton started a revolution that led to today's folding bikes before it became a fashion item and was killed by it's own success today a Moulton is not generally quicker or necessarily "better" than other bikes. It looks better (or at least very special) and most of them are way more expensive than other bikes and the ride is very comfy. But Moultons tend to be a bit heavier than the competition due to the suspension (and the lack of carbon on most models in recent times) plus - also due to the suspension - suffer a bit from bob when going uphill out of the saddle (which means you should learn to ride a bit differently on a Moulton uphill than on other bikes). They are fast and comfortable tourers, however: The advantage of high pressure tires is no usp of Moultons any more. Buying a Moulton today is more of a design statement than a rational decision in most cases I'd guess. Still I love mine and it is my fastest bike - but I am not a racer anyway.
 

Deafie

Veteran
Thanks guys :smile:


Thanks; would certainly be interesting to try one! As it happens I have a spreadsheet that calculates the kinetic energy present in various bits of the bike (giving an insight into that required to accelerate it) and based on ballpark values 20" wheels (as part of an overall package) should only increase acceleration by around 3% for a given input.

I guess all these smallish things add up to make them a potentially good city bike - better stop/start performance, manouverability and smaller footprint to make storage in a shoebox flat more viable..


Wow - that's an incredible achievement!


Thanks; I'd not really considered their merits from the angle of a link in the evolutionary chain that's led is to where we are now :smile:


Thanks - hadn't considered the drafting argument. I'd be very intererested to see one of the above properly tested in terms of drag, rolling resistance etc compared to a traditional alternative. £10k though :blink:


EDIT: Not that it really concerns me (and at the risk of incurring the wrath of the mods) but I see this has been moved to "folding bikes" - when IIRC these don't actually fold..? :whistle:
I'm surprised it's only 3%, but I'll take your word for it. They feel fast on take off and even as a kid on my RSW 16, mates where in awe of my speed:tongue:, must be my awesome thighs!
 
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