Moulton TSR2 by MoultonBuzz on flickr
Yesterday courtesy of my tweetpal @alien8 I got to ride a very different machine indeed. The Moulton TSR2 was sitting in his hall right near his front door, so when he offered me a ride as I walked in, I instantly said “Why not?”
The bright orange colour is very eye-catching, but it’s the frame that slows your inspection – at first glance, I thought it’s not that different to a Brompton folder, but it is really…….
The wheel diameters are quite a bit larger, and the drive is a belt. The rear hub, he described, is a two speed automatic. But no cables or gearshift – it’s a “kick shift” where you quickly pedal backwards just a little to change gears (pedalling further backwards activates te coaster brake). I climbed on board and was pleased to note that the lowered frame design allows easy unisex mount and dismount. Clever for commuting then.
It’s very pleasing to hear that the bike is “Made In England”. The steel frame is, whilst not superlight, light enough to be very easily picked up and manouvered about. You can see the quality in the braid welding on the frame joints – @alien8 tells me that this is what contributes to the purchase price, but of course these Moulton’s retain their value really well and have been known to be sold for purchase price after three or four years of ownership. Impressive how they don’t depreciate.
I took off up the street and found it handled quite sharply. The ride was smooth without being overly softened by the front and rear suspension. Acceleration was brisk in first gear, and it only took me a couple of goes to get it up into second. My journey was only a quick lap up and down the street, but I got the hang of it on the way back and accelerated up quite hard. It could do with a third gear (I’m used to 21 gear hybrid) but as a commuter it has all the boxes ticked for acceleration and cruising. The overall length verges on “short” and the handlebars are not overly wide at all – in summation then perfect for traffic weaving. All positive and smiley so far then.
Until you get to the frame disassembly that is. An allan key is needed – no bother, we had one of those – and it’s dead easy to separate into two distinct manoeuvrable halves and is thus ideal for throwing into the boot or onto the backseat of your car / taxi / train / ferry / whatever. The “but”? Yes, there is one – it’s not easy or straightforward to reassemble the two halves – two of us struggled just a little with a clumsy three handed technique that took several goes to get it in. Locking the frame back in together once connected was a breeze – tighten locknut and allan key and we’re away. It felt overly secure in the refitting if anything – a very trustworthy and strong frame connection.
Probably this point of slight difficulty will markedly improve with a few practises – but I would advise that the first few times you practice it that you don’t choose a cold or rainy day as frustration might enter the scene.
This bike, for me as a family cyclist, has a great advantage in being able to be carried easily on other modes of transport. At the moment, if I want to take the family cycling, I have to put down all the seats in my MPV to stow the bikes. The mechanism on this clever Moulton means I could just throw it on the seat or in the boot in a collapsed state, or I could imagine carrying it in a specially devised carrier bag. Eurostar? Tube? London cab? Heathrow Express? Oh yes indeed.
Summary – eye-catching design and practical (oh so practical!) in execution. Hotcakes will sell much slower than this.
Update – just had an email which confirms that dry lube has made frame separation going in and out easy now. That’s sorted. Review by @PedroStephano goes up +1 🙂