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David Hembrow

Traditionele Engels wilg mandenmaker. Assen, Nederland

Moulton Series 1 "F Frame" and basket

For many years I wanted a Moulton bicycle. They're a design classic and also very practical and useful bikes. Dr Moulton's theory that a bike with small wheels and suspension could perform as well or better than a large wheeled bike was proven by racing versions of the machine taking some records.

In early 2005, when we still lived in Cambridge, I had a chance to buy a rather beat up Moulton Series 1 from a local person who'd just ridden it to the shops. It had the classic fault of a broken rear fork (and yes, old Moultons really do have a fork at the rear due to the way the suspension works), but also a bent crank had etched a gap in the rear fork and the part of the frame which supports the rear rack was bent quite badly. Together with the way beyond safe tyres and other nasty faults, I didn't pay much for the bike, and its previous owner seemed quite happy that someone wanted her "horrible bike". Mind you, it was a horrible bike. It rode very badly in the condition it was in.

Over a few months I arranged for a knowledgeable student friend to fix the rear fork (students always need money. I did pay him !) for me, and I fixed the rest of it. Eventually it rode very nicely indeed, and the  suspension proved to be particularly effective on cobbled streets. Here it is now:

Mine was a Moulton "standard" fitted with a Sturmey Archer FW four speed hub. The hub was dated 1965 - almost certainly the age of the bike itself.

Of course, any bike of mine needed a basket, and the huge rear rack of the Moulton especially needed one to fit it. By the end of October, I'd finally made a fitting basket, the bike as a whole had been on a few shakedown rides where everything lose had fallen off, and I was looking around for a decent ride to take it on.

Reading the Ordnance Survey Landranger 154 sheet, I spotted the village of Moulton, just a few miles from Newmarket, and decided that riding there would be a good idea. I woke up on the 29th of October with nothing that I absolutely had to do and remarkably nice weather for the time of year, so I packed a camera, sandwiches, drinks and a set of waterproofs in the basket and set off at 11 am bound for Moulton on my Moulton.

I rode out of Cambridge through Teversham and Fulbourn, then made the mistake of riding towards Balsham. The road between Fulbourn and Balsham isn't very pleasant for cycling at the best of times. It's much worse with a strong south-easterly wind in your face. Narrow with a lot of traffic, and I was going really slowly. I considered turning back here as it just wasn't much fun. However, taking this route lead to meeting a pleasant chap called Chris who was lost just short of Balsham with no map and who provided good company for some of the rest of the ride. Ordinarily, I'd suggest going through the Wilbrahams and avoiding balsham Road.

From Balsham, we turned off onto the much more pleasant road through West Wratting, Weston Colville and Brinkley before parting company at Dullingham.

From Dullingham I took the road directly to Cheveley and then had a short but remarkably fast descent (from 99m elevation down to 43m) into Moulton itself. Looking around a bit, I found a sign on another entrance to the village and took this photo to prove that I actually got there:

I stopped for a bit, ate my sandwiches, then back again. This time I had to go back up that steep hill, taking maximum advantage of the gears.

From Cheveley, I took a different route the rest of the way home (I usually do, just for variety), through Saxon Street, Little Ditton, Woodditton, Stetchworth and Dullingham (crossing the route I took before) then turning towards Westley Waterless before the long (and mostly downhill) road to Six Mile Bottom. This is always fun to ride on, even more so when that South-Easterly is still with you. So, I span out on this bit. I stayed on that road all the way to the A1303 by Stow cum Quay before taking the route through Fen Ditton back into Cambridge.

The return journey was quite a bit quicker than the outgoing, and I was back home before 3 o'clock. A few minutes less than 4 hours overall.

I had no computer on the bike, but on leaving a previous employer (ACIS) a few years ago, I was given a gadget for measuring distances on maps. This thing claims that I did just over 40km on the way out and just over 35km on the way back. Given the stop for lunch and umpteen stops for map reading, that's an OK speed for me. Dr Moulton's marvellous bike didn't go badly at all.

More photos of the bike and basket:


The stripe is in red willow. I liked the idea of trying to make it match the frame, though of course natural colours can't really compete with such a bright primary red.


The basket is shaped to fit the Moulton's unusually shaped rack.


This basket is actually about an inch shorter than it should have been. For customers wanting a similar basket I'll make them the correct length !

The basket comes out as 41 cm long, 32 cm wide and 25 cm high and the price is . The height can be varied if this would be a problem given the height of your saddle. By default, I make baskets entirely of buff willow. I don't charge extra for a stripe of colour, but let me know what you'd like.

Sadly I had to sell the Moulton when we moved. However, they're great bikes and I hope that one day I may have another. There are many web sites of interest to Moulton enthusiasts on the web. I'd recommend Moultoneers as a good start.

I've also a few links to my cycle touring stories that might be of interest.


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