A Sad Case

So after the test ride earlier this week, I have been doing more digging. When I dropped it off, Jack Lilley noted that the Adventure luggage was lower so maybe that was an option? Sadly looking at the Triumph accessories online I see that whilst the luggage looks like it would fit better, it would mean a further drop in capacity, from the Expedition’s 116L (already -1L from the Sprint GT) to 97L.

You can see the difference in position of the panniers between the two sets and also the way the top box – which is bizarrely canted forward – encroaches more into the pillion space the Expedition luggage. So to stay Triumph-branded luggage, the Adventure set would be the answer, but you lose nearly 20L of luggage space from the Sprint.

Over on Givi’s website, their solution looks much better with the same size (or larger) panniers – they’re actually the same ones made for Triumph anyway – and a better rack system that puts the top box up higher, further back and straight up (and again, there’s a much larger top box on offer too).

So maybe the answer is to go for the Triumph panniers (to keep the branding side-on), a set of Givi pannier frames to mount them further back and lower as shown in this video and a ‘matching’ Givi top box in the larger size, plus asking Jack Lilley very nicely to order me another lock barrel so one key fits the lot.

The Test Ride

Today was cold and bright: ideal to test the Tiger and its heated seats.

I picked it up from Jack Lilley and headed back home to pick up my wife.  They’d fitted the accessory Expedition panniers and top box as requested (more on this later).

As it’s not my bike, I couldn’t wire in the Garmin so instead I just mounted a Quadlock mount and my iPhone XS for navigation duties and then we set off for the South Coast and a mix of roads.

211 miles later and we’re home – too late to return it today, so it goes back tomorrow as agreed.

So then, is it a new Tiger ahoy! Well, if it were just me riding it then yes, in a heartbeat. It’s fabulous. But as we do like to ride together, i.e. with a pillion, it’s a no from me at present? Why?

Pros

  • Seating position means little weight on the wrists – mine are bad – so all the weight on your num instead.
  • Cruise control is excellent. A little savage when you turn it off (either by rolling the throttle forward (best) or braking (worst).
  • Quickshifter is excellent (although my Sprint’s gearbox is silky smooth for clutch-less up changes).
  • Power is better than the Sprint: it just takes off over 5,000rpm
  • Heated grips are very good
  • Heated seat is even better
  • TFT dash is fabulous
  • Electrically-operated screen works well on the move, but there’s some buffeting
  • Shaft drive is great

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Range was worse than expected, coming in under 180 miles
  • Clutch bit very late in the lever range
  • No-hands riding showed a bias towards the left for some reason
  • Luggage seemed very small, although allegedly only one litre smaller than the Sprint’s. You can only get one full-face helmet in the luggage.
  • Clasps on the luggage were very fiddly.
  • Panniers were way too high and forward which meant that it was difficult for me to get on an off and even worse for pillions. Also that meant that her legs were uncomfortable and my body forced her legs wide into the panniers.
  • Top box too high and canted forward into the pillion space, so that was uncomfortable too. There’s no reason for it to lean into the pillion seat space and lose space for the rider and pillion together.

Given the luggage is Triumph-branded Givi luggage, it’s unforgivable that the Givi frames are lower and further back, exactly what’s needed! And why should you pay an extra £152 to get the frames after you’ve spent £820 on the panniers themselves (unforgivable on a touring bike)?

Here’s a video of someone showing the before and after fix for the panniers:

Now, what about that mounting plate for the top box? Another Givi one maybe?

But as it is, the Tiger 1200 is not good enough for me.

Work, Work, Work

So my planned extended test ride all went to pot when, instead of relaxing after a long-haul flight back from Johannesburg, I had to travel instead to San Francisco to win some work for us, meaning three long-haul flights in as many days and losing the weekend as a result.

Fast forward a couple more weeks and more changes – a potential client meeting in Stockholm – and I’m now trying to squeeze in a proper test ride before April. Luckily Jack Lilley have been really accommodating, including truncating this week’s planned two day ride into just the one day tomorrow without complaint and fitting the bike with a full luggage set so we can see if they clash or make things uncomfortable on the back.

Benty Henty

Oh dear!

My Henty Wingman Backpack has a problem: the clips on the 18L Dry Bag that clips inside the garment section appear to just be stuck on – vulcanised maybe? – too the bag itself.  The bag hasn’t had much use as I mainly use the garment section for my suit and I wear trainers to and from the office leaving shoes under my desk at work.

So as you can imagine I’m not impressed. I’ve emailed Evans Cycles who I ordered it from to see if they can send me a replacement Dry Bag; the rest of the garment carrier is fine.  Mind you, Henty do say:

“When it comes to our products, we’ve got your back. We will repair or replace the appropriate part(s) if your Henty product fails as a result of defective materials or workmanship under normal use within four years of purchase.”

Now that’s a pretty impressive guarantee; let’s see if Evans will step up.

To Buy, Or Not To Buy…

I’ve mentioned previously on my Triumph Sprint GT blog that the problem with so-called “Adventure Bikes” is that the manufacturers make them and then add a few thousand to the cost of the bike and then charge you extra for the luggage that anyone who buys one of these things will want to fit anyway!

Back in 2013, my Sprint GT with all the luggage, heated grips and a comfort gel seat, etc. came in at £8,500 whilst the then Triumph Tiger was £11,000+ and the Ducati Multistrada was £17,000, or twice the price of the Sprint.

Over the past 5½ years, I’ve only done a little under 10,000 miles on the Sprint, mainly on “Eurothrashes” as we call them. After my last one to France, Spain and Andorra, my right hand index finger was numb for a number of weeks which I put down to a combination of vibration and all my weight being on my wrists.

The latter was largely resolved by fitting bar risers but that then shifted more weight to my bum, so a Corbin seat was sourced from the USA at great expense and it seems pretty good.

I’m still left riding an older bike with good luggage capacity, nice looks and a good engine, but with dated and fairly awkward trip computer and no cruise control which is a real issue given that most of the Death Star’s mileage is done in big hits and hundreds of motorway miles to get to the fun roads.  All of these issues are resolved in the latest Adventure Bikes, like the latest BMW R1250GS Adventure – aka the Clitoris (“because every c**t’s got one”) – and the updated 2019 Triumph Tiger 1200.  Talking of the GS, a mate has finally changed from his venerable Kawasaki Versys to a BMW R1200GS Adventure because the 1200 stock was being shifted before the new model came out and he grabbed a bargain.  Being the Adventure, the BMW comes with a massive 30 litre tank capacity giving it a 350 mile tank range unlike the ‘normal’ R1200GS and its 20 litre tank (the same size as the Tiger 1200 and indeed my Sprint GT), so a 200+ mile range. Frankly, that’s not really an issue for me as I usually like to stop and stretch my legs every 100-150 miles anyway.

As I wrote last summer, when the Death Star was in for a service, I borrowed a Tiger 1200 and reported that:

“I test rode the new Tiger 1200 XRt at the same time. Good power, much more upright riding position and all of the toys, including cruise control and heated rider and passenger seats as well as automagic suspension adjustment. On the minus side, after not too long riding it, I had a numb bum so how it would cope with a Eurothrash, I didn’t know.”

At the London bike show at the ExCel last weekend, Mrs Me and I sat on a Tiger 1200 XRt and thought it felt OK, but that the luggage space seems much smaller than the Death Star’s. I’ve just checked and the Death Star has 117 litres of luggage space (standard panniers and top box) and the Tiger 1200 accessory Expedition luggage space totals 116 litres, but that top box looks tiny by comparison.

Looking at my Sprint blog, I’ve been umming and ahhing about a Tiger 1200 (or Tiger 1200 Explorer, as it was known previously) for a couple of years now.  The upright riding position – especially coupled with cruise control – means that my old and decrepit wrists should fare much better, so it’s all down to the seat. The best way to find out whether the (heated) seats are any good on longer runs is to try one out properly and Jack Lilley at Romford (or East London Triumph) have kindly offered me one in a couple of weeks for an extended ride. I intend using one of Ride magazine’s routes around the South Coast (GPX file) and stay over at a mate’s house (he’s a great chef…).

The bonus is the bike they may be letting me try is in the white that we like:

We shall see…

 

Six Weeks In

After 3½ weeks of travelling – Poland, Costa Rica and the USA – it was time to ride to work again, especially as today the Brompton was due its first 6 week service courtesy of Evans Cycles.

Sadly, they’ve told me that the issue I’ve had with changing gear from 5th to 6th – i.e. using the two external derailleur chainwheels – is because the chain adjustment derailleur assembly is defective after less than 50km so I can’t collect it today as they’re going to have to source and replace it under warranty.

Hopefully I can collect the Brompton on Friday.

Henty Wingman Backpack

This morning was my first commute into the office on the Brompton.

I dressed as normal in a suit, shirt and tie (but still wore my Nike walking/running shoes as I keep formal shoes at the office) and then rode in. The weather forecast was for showers and indeed a little over halfway there the drizzle started, enough to leave a trace on my Garmin and to feel it, but not really enough to make me wet, fortunately.

But that does raise the question of what to wear as winter draws in: when I run, I wear clothes including waterproofs/water resistant jackets that are fine for warm, cool or cold weather. I wear a different suit every day for work, so simply leaving one at the office won’t work for me. So my choices are either to wear the suit into the office and risk getting it wet or carry one in every day and change when I get in. But how to carry the suit? I looked at some of Brompton’s luggage that clips to the block on the frame of the bike, but none really looked right as a suit bag.  I already have a number of suit carriers but none would be suitable to sling over my shoulder without them falling off again or they’d be flapping in the breeze. No, a better alternative was needed, so off I went to the Internet.

The first decent one – according to all the reviews I read – was the Henty Wingman Backpack which rolls the suit to prevent creases rather than the normal folding suit bags.  In addition, some stiffeners in the bag prevent it from folding and hopefully leave the suit and shirt crease-free.  The garment bag takes a suit and a couple of shirts max and is zipped up and a second roll bag then clips in front of it, intended to take your shoes and toiletries, etc. before the whole lot gets rolled up.  I preferred the backpack design to the messenger bag version.  I’ll probably just use the roll bag for waterproofs and additional layers, I expect, plus my wallet, although that can go in the outside pocket. So I’ve ordered one to pick up today and try out tomorrow.

Wingman Backpack Final 20161223 1080p from Henty on Vimeo.

And here’s today’s ride. I forgot to set the Garmin off early enough so it took a few metres until it had located me, so it was actually slightly longer.

Brompton First Ride

Nipped out to collect it at lunchtime and rode home from Evans Cycles (Waterloo Cut) as far as Great Suffolk Street before I realised I’d forgotten to start recording it on my Apple Watch – doh!

Brompton Nine Streets Edition H6L

Yes, I’ve gone and done it: I’ve bought one of those ridiculous-looking folding commuter bikes, but in my case a strictly limited-edition one with a rather nice paint finish.

When I say “ridiculous-looking” it’s not been one of those bikes that lends itself to too much in the way of ridicule unlike the MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) shots or at least that was until the BBC’s “W1A” satirical show featured them:

Anyway, I’d long thought about riding in to the office on my Carrera Kraken 09 20″ mountain bike but its lack of mudguards, our lack of a shower at the office and more particularly my lack of anywhere to keep a full-sized bicycle safe whilst I’m inside had put paid to that idea so instead I’ve been walking both ways, which is fine in itself other than arriving a tad sweaty in a suit and spending around 35 minutes each way walking the 3½km each way.

The downside of that is my getting through a pair of Nike shoes every year and it taking so long.

By chance a review of Brompton’s new electric bike appeared on my Twitter feed the other day and that got me to thinking about a Brompton as a sensible choice for the short journey, given I can fold it and bring it into my office each day… a la W1A.

So I had a look on their website and decided that they looked quite good, but what colour to specify? Easy: when i saw the Nine Streets limited edition, I was sold.

“Originally launched in 2017 to celebrate the opening of the Brompton Junction Amsterdam.  Nine Streets sports the never before seen, special fade finish. The effect is a special fade finish of Red and Blue lacquer which is created using a hand sprayed [sic]. The process leaves a unique finish on each Nine Streets bike, meaning no 2 bikes are the same.

“Nine Streets is produced in the Brompton factory in London. Each bike is handmade with the highest quality craftmanship to create the Nine Streets unique finish.

“Inspired by Amsterdam 9 Straatjesis well known for it’s stylish shops and creative influence, Nine Streets is a nod to the iconic canal-district area in the Netherlands.

“Only a small batch of Nine Streets Edition bikes have been produced…”

Brompton Nine Streets

The paint job is fantastic, starting with blue at the front and fading into red at the back:

Red at the back…

and blue at the front

Click on the first image to see it at larger scale.

I’ve gone for the higher-barred H-series handlebar version and a longer seat post for my 33″-34″ inside leg measurement. It comes with the 6-speed set of gears: 3 internal hub and 2 external rings.

H-type handlebars

Gearsets

It also comes with dynamo-driven front and rear lights powered from the dynamo mounted in the front wheel hub:

Front Wheel Hub

As it’s limited in numbers, I couldn’t order one direct from Brompton but found one at Evans Cycles near Waterloo; I pick it up tomorrow. This is the spec.:

  • Model: H6L
  • Edition: Nine Streets Edition
  • Handlebar Type: H
  • Gears: 6
  • Mudguards / Rack: Mudguards, no rack
  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Main Frame Colour: 2-tone fusion of Red and Blue lacquer
  • Extremities Colour: 2-tone fusion of Red and Blue lacquer
  • Gear Ratio: Standard
  • Seatpost: Extended
  • Lighting: Shimano Hub Dynamo
  • Saddle: Brompton Standard
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Racer
  • Front Luggage Mount: Yes
  • Luggage: No
  • Bike Cover: No
  • Toolkit: No
  • Additional info: Unique Serial Number plate

I’ve also ordered a cadence sensor from Garmin to grab a few more stats like on the Carrera onto Garmin Connect.