Moulton bikes

JackE

Über Member
Location
Hertfordshire
Just wondering if there are any Moulton fans on this forum. Because of my type of work, I get quite a lot of lower back pain and was wondering if the suspension system on the TSR range would ease the problem. I'm a lightweight tourer and usually do around 60-70 miles per day. I have a "big birthday" coming up in a few years time and I'm thinking of treating myself to a nice bike.
Questions....1) Are they as "comfortable" as people make out. 2) Are they really as fast as a 700c wheel bike. 3) Will I become an obsessive Moulton "anorak" within a few weeks!!!!!
 

Alan Whicker

Senior Member
Dunno if this helps, but Jack Thurston who does the excellent Resonance FM bike show rode Montreal to New York on a Moulton (I think it was a Moulton anyway - it's been a while since I heard this!)
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http://thebikeshow.n...by-bicycle-one/
 

Danny

Legendary Member
Location
York
Uncle Phil is the man to speak to about Moultons, and I am sure will be along shortly to extol their virtues.

If you have lower back problems I would strongly recommend going to an LBS that can do a proper bike fitting exercise. I went to Paul Hewitt for this reason and he changed my riding position quite significantly. I now get much less back pain than I used, though I can't say the problem has been cured altogether.

I would also suggest you look at his Cheviot touring bike. Not nearly as fun as a Moulton but certainly the most comfortable touring bike I have ever had.
 
... and as if by magic...

I have a restored AM18 and I love it.

It's very comfortable - particularly for me, as I like a short top tube (virtual top tube in this case) and a fairly upright position. A Moulton gives you this if you want it. I also find the suspension means I can spend much longer in the saddle before sore shoulders and a sore arse drive me to take a rest. But that's me.

As fast as a 700c wheeled bike? That depends on the engine. There's no reason it shouldn't be. Moulton spent months doing roll-down tests in a hangar in the 1960s working out the optimum compromise between wheel size and weight and rolling resistance. On high pressure tyres, he concluded around 16 - 17 inches was the best - the wheel is much smaller, lighter and stronger than a 700c wheel, and with a high pressure tyre and suspension, rolling resistance is about the same.

MIT recently did the same testing, but with dynamometers and all that jazz - but came to the same conclusion. The newer Moultons and Pashley-built TSRs use 20" wheels, largely because of tyre availability.

Incidentally, the small wheels make the bike very nimble and quick to accelerate. Riders can also draft each other closer. Moultons did well in track racing back in the day - until the UCI decided they were not bicycles and banned them from competition (a sure sign of a superior technology).

Will you become an anorak? Not necessarily. But look - you're posting on a cycling forum. I think it's already too late for you...

It's well worth calling the Moulton factory and arranging a test ride. They have a little test track around the grounds there, and you can try all the models on that. Give them a bit more notice and you can take a bike out for a day's ride and see how you get on with it. Or make friends with a nearby Moulton owner, or join the club. There's also a lively forum.
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
Incidentally, the small wheels make the bike very nimble and quick to accelerate.
The corollary of that is that small wheels are more easily deflected i.e. handle a lot worse on rough surfaces.

It's a bit like getting a fixed wheel - great fun to ride, but I'm glad it isn't my only bike.
 
The corollary of that is that small wheels are more easily deflected i.e. handle a lot worse on rough surfaces.

It's a bit like getting a fixed wheel - great fun to ride, but I'm glad it isn't my only bike.
That's true - but that's why there's suspension. A Moulton isn't great off tarmac, it's true. But as a road bike I don't think a spaceframe Moulton is in any way inferior to a large-wheeled bike. Just different.
 
OP
J

JackE

Über Member
Location
Hertfordshire
Phil,
Thanks for your input. I am going to join the Moulton Club and perhaps go along for part of their Bradford weekend in Sept. The idea of being loaned a bike for a day's test ride is almost unbelievable and must be worth trying out. What you say about the "pain in the ass" problem being less on the Moulton is interesting. As I get older, this problem seems to be getting worse (even on my ti tourer with 28 Marathons).
Thanks again.
Jack
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
That's true - but that's why there's suspension. A Moulton isn't great off tarmac, it's true.
The easier deflection intrinsic in small wheels increases side-to-side movement i.e. makes the handling worse. Suspension will help with up-and-down movement, but not with deflection. Moultons never caught on because - despite the 'space age design' hyperbole at the time - their all-round performance is inferior to standard bikes.

Still fun to have one, of course.
 

Beardie

Well-Known Member
Lower back pain? Try a recumbent with a decent backrest.
 
Lower back pain? Try a recumbent with a decent backrest.
+1

I also wanted a Moulton, but for reasons of price and a desire to have the bike fold easily to fit in the car, I bought a Dahon Jetstream P8. I know that it is not the same animal as a Moulton, but it is a 20" wheel with suspension at both ends. It is a little bit more twitchy than a 700c wheeled bike, but I can confirm that it accelerates very well and is what I'd call 'lively'. It is quite comfortable on the road and quite passable for short off-road bits where the tyres (and rider) are the biggest limitation. I hope one day to be able to buy a Moulton, but in the meantime the Dahon is a useful substitute.
 

kit-small-wheels

New Member
Location
Forest of Dean
Just wondering if there are any Moulton fans on this forum.

<big snip>

Questions....1) Are they as "comfortable" as people make out. 2) Are they really as fast as a 700c wheel bike. 3) Will I become an obsessive Moulton "anorak" within a few weeks!!!!!
You bet there are! :rolleyes:

I've got five of the little things at the moment, down from seven at the start of the year. As to your questions :-

1) I think so, but then I'm wholly biased not having ridden a 'big wheeler' since 1963, when I got my first Moulton. They certainly ride potholes a lot more comfortably and after last winter that's a big plus point.

2) Pass, I'm not a racer anyway, but the rolling resistance of a 16"-17" wheel is considerably less than that of a 700C wheel. Having said that, only the more expensive AM or New Series range would be lighter than a similar spec 'big wheeler'. The current TSRs tend to be slightly heavier than their conventional counterparts, the older APBs and even older F frames are quite a lot heavier, in standard form anyway.

3) Depends. There are two types of Moulton rider, those who ride them because they are a bit different and who have a few other types in their sheds, and those, like me, who are totally 100% besotted with all things small wheeled. :rolleyes: Only you'll know which type you are once you've ridden one.
 
OP
J

JackE

Über Member
Location
Hertfordshire
Thank you for all your replies. I do apologise for my flippant comment about the Moulton anoraks. I'm getting more intrigued by Moulton's all the time and have just applied to join the MBC. I hope to get down to Bradford in the Autumn for a test ride of the TSR 27/30.

This German guy's take: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36579973@N02/show/ on using a front (platform) carrier looks interesting. Does anyone use this system or is the front rack with small panniers more popular?
 
Mrs Uncle Phil uses a front platform carrier, with the dedicated bag, on her AM. Also the rear platform and bag.

That's largely because her bike (bought second-hand and significantly updated and upgraded) came with those items.

I haven't been able to get the special bags, so I use a specially-built rear rack, styled in the Moulton fashion, but with straight sides, which takes regular rear panniers, and another specially-built gadget that attaches to the front rack mounting points and allows use of a Brompton bag on the front end.

This combination works well for fully-loaded camping touring.

The bikes will be around at Bradford-on-Avon this weekend. I'm willing to build more of these racks and Brompton-bag thingies if anyone's interested.
 

willem

Über Member
If, like me, you have lower back problems and if that is an issue with cycling, a recumbent is probably the best way to go. If, like me, you like climbing and off road touring a lot, then it is probably not such a good idea, however. However, do not forget that you can have a lot more comfort on a traditional bike as well. Of course, it all starts with proper fit, as others have already remarked. Second, in my experience a drop bar at saddle height or even a bit higher than that is preferable to a straight bar. Sitting upright is quite a strain on the back. Third, fitting wide tyres like 50 mm makes a vast difference, particularly with the higher frequency vibrations. There is a vast range of wide tyres for 26 inch wheels, from fast Schwalbe Kojaks to rugged Marathon Extremes, and much in between. Fourth, a good suspension seatpost like the Cane Creek Thudbuster makes a real difference, even on tarmac. Fifth, for off road touring you could also consider a suspension fork. A bike like the Thorn Sterling even leaves you a choice, depending on conditions.
Alternatively, if you are interested in a really fast machine, you might consider a 650B audax bike with clearance for the 42 mm Grandbois Hetre tyre.
Willem
 
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