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 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.

Photoshoot with Ali and the MX5

Finally, the weather was good enough and we weren’t too busy to do the promised photoshoot with Ali and her MX5 last weekend.

We went for a fashion theme, rather than lingerie or nudes and as our orders of latex dresses hadn’t arrived, we went for the little black dress with some killer Christian Louboutin heels and set the whole ensemble to a Black Widow/Merry Widow theme:

The Merry Widow

The Merry Widow

Intent

Intent

Ali and Her MX5

Ali and Her MX5

Ali and Her MX5

Ali and Her MX5

The full story is over here on my photography website.

Good Friday; Good Drive

On Good Friday, we finally got a chance to take the MX-5 for a proper drive, having collected it on a rainy Sunday before heading off on holiday.

I had arranged a studio photoshoot with Zara Watson up at Milton Keynes and Ali was going to be joining in for part of the shoot.

A to Z

A to Z

This meant that we had to keep the roof up on our drive up to MK, sadly, so as not to potentially leave her hair in a mess. This did show that even at speed on a motorway with the roof up, the car was actually fairly quiet inside.

Our journey back home – via Thurrock Lakeside for shopping – was another story though: having worked out that you can’t lower the roof is the boot is not closed whilst loading my camera kit and Ali’s modelling gear, we dropped the top, turned on the super-efficient heated seats and hurtled off.

I can report that the MX-5 handles superbly on the MK race circuit – er, I mean roundabouts and roads – and that again at speed with the roof and windows down it’s still very acceptable in terms of noise and a lack of turbulence.

After shopping and dinner and despite it getting dark, we dropped the top to drive back up to London. As Ali had been forced to drink wine, she still didn’t get a chance to drive her car either. Result!

I Wanna Be Collected

Whilst the weather last week was lovely and Spring-like, we couldn’t go and collect it on a nice, dry and bright Saturday as I was moving house. No, we went to pick up the MX-5 on the Sunday, my birthday, as it happens.

But it was a little soggy when we woke up and grabbed a bus, the London Overground and a train to get to Eden Park and walk down to the dealers, Masters.

As we walked into the showroom, there it was – it’s a ‘she’ apparently… – sitting there in the showroom looking lovely.

Ali in the MX-5 at Masters Ali 4 MX-5

We did the paperwork, handed over some more cash and off I drove into the traffic: Ali isn’t used to London driving yet, so I got to drive the new MX-5 home. Sadly, it wasn’t dry enough to put the hood down: instead, we got to try out the exceptional 5-point heated leather seats which were very efficient indeed!

I plugged the house address into the built-in satnav and off we drove. A lovely car it is to drive too! Once home, we put the hood down and set to work pairing our iPhones with it: the MX-5 has a feature where it stores multiple user profiles so my phonebook and phone are set for one user and Ali’s for another.

But rain stopped play with our intended photoshoot which will have to wait until we’re back from our holiday.