Paris-Brest-Paris — A fold of Bromptons

In previous PBPs there have been a few Bromptons successfully complete the ride: Tal the Israeli (2007) and Robert the Norwegian (2011) have notably completed PBP on Bromptons.  However, I was reliably informed by les anciens that it had never been completed by a Brit on a Brompton, so I set out to be the first. 

On the Saturday, registration day, there were a couple of other Bromptons in the line for the bike check, but they both turned out to be supporters/parents of a Spanish rider, just using their Bromptons to get around St Quentin:

I already had news that Mike Wigley of AUK was riding around St Quentin on his Brompton, but he would be doing the ride on his "proper bike".

While having lunch later on away from the vélodrome, we spied a Brompton going past that looked suspiciously like it was PBP-ready — later confirmed by Richard who texted "J171", definitely an entrant.

When I rode into the vélodrome, the start, on the Sunday, I spied another Brompton against the railings and immediately rode up: it was Maurizio from Italy, who told me a compatriot of his, Aldo, was also riding on a Brompton — so that made four Bromptons.  I headed off to drop my hotel bag at the bag storage, leaving my Brompton in view for others to admire:

Back out on the field, we gathered together for some photos:

On closer inspection, it turned out we were all riding 6-speeds, although two were heavyweights and two lightweights.  Two S-types, an M-type and a P-type.  Aldo and Maurizio eschewed mudguards:

  • Nick (me, F018) — S6L (modified gear hub, Carradice front and rear bags, Alpkit tribag)
  • Maurizio Bruschi (L101) — M6E (Apidura saddle bag, Apidura tribag)
  • Aldo Mangione (S153) — S6E-X (Carradice Nelson)
  • Yasuo Tsukamoto (J171) — P6L-X (Brompton front bag)

As it happened all the luggage was British (or Brompton-standard) as well as the bikes!

Halfway round I bumped into Marcus who said Maurizio and Yasuo had been heading towards Brest and would've been out of time.  However, when I checked the times at the end, it turned out that all four of us had finished!  Chapeau!

Even Maurizio's wife got in on the action with her pink Brompton thumbs up

All four Bromptons had dynohubs fitted — mine had the basic, cheap Shimano hub (which works just fine); Aldo and Yasuo had the much more expensive SON hub fitted; and Maurizio had what looks like a custom-fit SON Deluxe.  It's really a no-brainer, though: for multi-day events on any bike, a hub dynamo makes a lot of sense.

Some non-standard lights, though:

  • I had the Busch & Müller Luxos IQ2 U (with USB charging) fitted, which I have used for the past 30 months
  • Maurizio and Yasuo had the SON Edelux II fitted
  • Only Aldo had a standard Brompton-issue B&M lamp fitted

(strictly speaking the term "DynoHub" is a Raleigh trademark from the 1960s, as my other 16-incher, a 1968 Raleigh RSW16, has a beautiful chrome hub dynamo fitted with "DynoHub" embossed into the flange)

Aldo was by far the koolest in our little gang! thumbs up

Some differences in choice of pedals: mine are the same Shimano SPD pedals I rode on LEL and have easily done 20,000km without any problems.  Yasuo was on some sort of platform egg whisk.  Aldo on double-sided platform/cleated pedal I don't recognise, with sandals.  Maurizio was on Shimano touring SPDs.

When all said and done, everyone loves a Brompton and so many had their own Brompton stories it was almost unreal and a great, great pleasure to hear smilethumbs up

Nick Wilkinson

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