Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Brompton Basic Maintenance Workshop

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Bikes & Accessories / Brompton Basic Maintenance Workshop
                                                        AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                                
13th April 2014
Of late, the Brompton Community is getting more matured in Malaysia. As of 7th May 2014, MY Brompton Malaysia, our official Brompton FaceBook page listed 166 Brompton owners; and perhaps somewhere out there there could be a few more who have not been "netted" in.
Then on 23rd March 2014, the Brompton was officially launched in Malaysia, with a distributor appointed by Brompton for distribution of the bike in Malaysia. Now Malaysians can buy the Brompton in Malaysia and do not have to get it from neighbouring Singapore, Thailand, OR even from as far as from Hong Kong and England!

Group photo of attendees with YC the instructor (squatting).
And now on to the next step. A proper Brompton Basic Maintenance Workshop; one organized by Swofinty (MY Brompton Malaysia's administrator). The fifteen available slots were quickly filled in by eager owners who were keen on being able to maintain their bikes themselves.

Prior to this some of us had picked up some maintenance know-how from old hands like Uncle Bil, Felix, Pang Wey, etc. I even once held a small "workshop for three" at my house, with a Singapore Brompton counter-part (who was on holiday in Malaysia) kindly showing us the ropes.

But this one will be different, this one will be proper workshop held at a bicycle shop - the Van's Urban Bicycle Company in Petaling Jaya. They had graciously allowed us to use their premises and had even seconded one their pros, KC, to instruct us. Here, I won't delve into the technical details of maintenance, this will be more of a general coverage of what was taught. So you guys & gals who want to know more and missed this workshop, look out for the next one!

First thing first! Swofinty in the FaceBook event for this workshop had left some note, i.e.
"You're required to bring your own Brompton Bike.
Essential tools must have:
1. Size 15mm, 10mm and 8mm wrench. 
2. Sets of Allen keys Size 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6mm .
3 Two(2) tyre levers.
4 Two(2) pieces of rags of floor mat size.
5 Lube.
6 Degreaser"

The above phot shows my tool kit. Oops! The price tags are still there for the wrenches - just goes to show how often I do maintenance myself. And don't worry, this old man did not forget to bring his bike. Heh! heh!

The following were what we learnt:


Perhaps many of you like me (with rear hub gears) face the difficulty of removing the rear wheel for repairing punctures or for maintenance of the various connected parts. YC showed us a step by step procedure. First was removing the indicator chain and the chain tensioner. Note: For those using Marathon Plus tires, the cable for the rear brakes will need to be released first.
TIP: In order not to get the sequence of nuts and washer right when re-installing the rear wheel, it would be good to take a photo before proceeding. Only the nut holding the tensioner needs to be remove, the others that tighten the rear axle to the frame need to be loosened only. So as not to misplace it, screw back the tensioner-axle nut for the moment.

With his demonstration over, we proceeded to carry out the task ourselves.
And here we are, rear wheel successfully dismantle.
On putting back the rear tires, the indicator chain has to be adjusted correctly.

Next we were shown how to remove the tires. For wheels with 16" rims or smaller, it will be good to use longer tire levers for better leverage.
At the same time, YC gave some advice on reinforcing the rim tapes for pre-2013 Brompton with plastic tapes (these can be obtained from your nearest friendly stationery shop). There are differing opinions on this, others advocate using paper tapes, stating that plastic tape degrade and harden after some time, and could itself cause more problems for the tubes.


Sometimes we ride our bikes through muddy or dusty tracks, this will cause dirt and dust to stick to the chain, chain tensioners and the respective cogs.
Cleaning of the tensioner can be done with a small toothbrush to brush away the dirt and after that a good wash down with degreaser. Similarly, the chain can be washed with degreaser. Some others advice that dish washing detergent is good enough to clean the chain.

The workshop was held at the backyard of Van's Urban shop. It started at 11:00 am and by noon it was getting hot. Rita was on hand with an umbrella to provide shade for our sweating instructor.
YC gave some pointers on which specific point to apply lube to the rear gear cog set and the cogs of the spindles of the tensioner; and clear instructions of fine tuning the position of the gear indicator chain after re-installing the whole rear wheel set.
Lubing of the chain is done after re-installing everything, a good lube should do the job - just don't over-lube as it will attract dust. OR like some, use dry lube like graphite.


Next was a demonstration of removing the front wheel. This was easier and entailed unscrewing the wire frame that holds the black nylon hook from the axle before unscrewing the axle nut on the other side.

While the wheels are removed, it's a good time to wash down and wipe clean the inner face of the mud guards.

Afraid of getting your hands dirty and greasy, just wear a pair of latex gloves. It will be good to keep a pair or two on your bike when it comes to emergencies like changing tubes.

Ohter than YC, a few old-hands like Pang Wey, Pauline and James Wong were at hand to give hands-on help to us newbies. Their assistance was most appreciated.

Here are our folded Bromptons proudly standing after going through the basic maintenance. It's another first for our Brompton fraternity; can we look forward to more maintenance workshops, basic or otherwise?
Many thanks to Swofinty, Van's Uban & YC.

The following link will be interesting for those who wants to carry out maintenance themselves:
Brompton Spares & Accessories Listing.

You may also like :

Brompton Accessories #6 :
Brass Bells
A cute looking polished brass bell, and it sounds great too.

Brompton Accessories #7 :
"Akslen" Two-bulb 10-Lux Headlights
A headlight that mounts onto the Brompton handlebar post snugly.

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Bikes & Accessories / Brompton Basic Maintenance Workshop
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
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