The annual Moulton Bicycle Club weekend at Bradford on Avon, hosted by Alex Moulton and the Moulton Bicycle Company was held on September 10th to 12th 2010. I arrived around 11PM on Friday evening and there was already a large contingent of tents erected on the grounds of the Hall. I set up my tent in limited light and went for a walk around, and met a few friends from previous outings.
I woke early and walked into Bradford on Avon to purchase some items for breakfast. When I returned the place was buzzing with activity. The Bring and Buy sale was packed with club members hoping to find spare parts, wheels, racks, tyres, books and even whole bicycles. I needed to travel light, so I resisted temptation and only bought some spare tyres at the Moulton Bicycle Company table.
Outside, members mingled and chatted about their purchases, discussed bikes, modifications and accessories. The Moulton Bicycle Company opened up the shop, and put many models on display. Club members were treated to the TSR2, the new Moulton Speed, the AM20-2 with lighter, more compact frame, as well as many more established models.
In the afternoon, the crowd gathered round for the expert discussion in glorious sunshine. Alex Moulton arrived on his New Series Pylon, and to everyone's delight, he circled the courtyard several time on his Pylon, before taking his seat. Tony Hadland welcomed everyone, and introduced the first guest, Jim Glover, who famously set a speed record of over 51mph on a Moulton in 1986, which has never been broken.
Jim entertainingly told the story of how he got involved with the record breaking attempts and some of the problems and incidents along the way. One such problem during testing was with steering stability at high speed - Moultons are designed to be maneuverable - which was temporarily solved by attaching a bungee cord to the front forks to act as a steering damper. Alex interrupted to inisist that this was not a proper solution, and that reversing the forks to create a large trail was the correct solution.
Several members brought along examples of the S range of Moulton bicycles from the 1960s. The S range was built by Jack Lauterwasser in a separate premises in Bradford on Avon. The S range was built to a higher specification than the normal range, and were built to order, so many variations occur. The experts estimated that "hundreds rather than thousands" were made, and probably as few as "low hundreds".
An S Deluxe, several S safaris and an S Stowaway were shown by members, and tales of their acquisitions were told. Only one was bought for a high price on ebay, and several were bought in poor condition including one that had it's original chrome covered with black paint, which probably served to protect the chrome for years before Nitromors helped reveal it's original glory.
The subject of friction dampers - which were fitted to the S range - came up, and Alex said they were not necessarily a good idea... "but we fitted them anyway". He said that there was built in damping in the hysteresis of the rear suspension rubber, and with the friction of the front suspension. Suspension engineers were concerned with additional damping only to deal with the problem of riders moving about excessively, instead of "doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is sitting down and pedalling".
Several members also displayed examples of the Land Rover APB, which was launched 15 years previously.
Alex was asked whether "docking the tail" of an F-frame adversely affected the structure of the bicycle - a topic of frequent debate among Moultoneers. He started by telling how he was annoyed with John Woodburn, when John removed the rack and cut off the tail of the London-Brighton record breaking Moulton, in order to save weight. Alex had wanted the record to be broken on a standard specification bicycle. He finished by discouraging owners from modifying their frames... "my advice is don't do it!".
Later in the evening, while other members enjoyed silver service at the club dinner, I decided to stay in the sunshine, and enjoyed a relaxing barbecue on the lawn.
On Sunday morning, Dan Farrell led our group of 19 on one of the three organised rides. The route was spectacular, taking in country lanes with sweeping views, charming villages, a couple of tough hills and a nice stop for tea and cake along the way in Lacock.
We arrived back at the Riverside Inn in Bradford on Avon in time for a lunchtime pint, and I got chatting to Jim Glover. Jim regaled us with anecdotes about the record breaking rides, and about his current role as a cycling coach in Ottawa, Canada. All too soon, it was time to walk back to the Hall, pack up the camping gear, say lots of goodbyes and head for the train station to start the long journey home.
Every Moulton weekend at Bradford on Avon is special, but I think I enjoyed this one most of all.