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Available at: My Bike Shop

Moulton TSR 8

This is one of those bikes you’ll buy not so much for its practicality, but because it has pedigree dating back from 1962, and a very good track record among the touring and commuting crowd. It has style – the eye-catching F frame with its lattice structure. And it is British.

Moulton TSR 8: Riding a $3,400 Bike

Made in Britain.  These three words mean a lot. It is the country where the likes of Bromptons, Royal Enfields, Land Rovers and the Beatles come from. But they prove to be a bit of a dilemma for a lot of people. On the one hand, anything that is MIB is rather expensive, not exceptionally better in, not exceptionally reliable, and it fails to compete with its rivals. This pretty much was the case of the British car industry. But, unlike the many good old British cars which have gone into the annals of automotive history, the British bicycle industry seems to go through thin very well. So what’s its secret?

The Moulton is a one-of-a-kind bike. Uniquely British, perhaps, but the Moulton takes unorthodoxy to a new level. It is the one of the most expensive bike you’ll never encounter with 20” wheels, but ironically, it isn’t particularly light, nor is it particularly well equipped. Yet, it still has many fans! The configuration I had was a 8 speed Sturmey Archer internal hub-geared version, with the standard TSR frame, a flat handlebar, with a cute little bell.

The Moulton TSR is marketed as a touring and commuting bike. How well it does touring and commuting is something I’d have to test.

Boing, boing, boing

The first time I got on this bike, I asked myself, “why is this bike so bouncy?”

There was no reason for this bike to be a bouncy bike. It had Continental Supersport tyres, something that goes head to head against Kojaks and Duranos. A stiff one-of-a-kind lattice-structured frame and a rigid seat post. Interestingly, you’ll be quick to realise that this is a one of a kind full-suspension bike. Full suspension is rare in this category of bikes – not many manufacturers have such a nice addition.

The full suspension is something you’ll love and hate. On the one hand, it does help to smooth out every bump. You don’t feel the full brunt if you ride down the stairs, or hop down curbs. Even if the road has nasty potholes, or an uneven surface, the front suspension does a good job of dampening the impact and vibration transmitted to your palms. For a seasoned rigid bike rider, it will feel a bit weird at first, because the response from the suspension is not expected.

There is a major niggle with the suspension. Off the shelf, the front suspension is too soft while the rear suspension is rather hard. If you put a lot of torque while seated, you can feel the suspension compressing and rebounding according to your pedal stroke. When you stand up, it seriously feels like you are jumping on a pogo stick. The rear suspension, which I find is more critical than the front suspension, is rather hard, and so the male anatomy still does take a beating. However, it is done such, so that the rear will not bob excessively during the ride and rob away precious energy. Thankfully, the seat is quite comfortable.

The suspension system on this bike is quite good, but it does necessitate serious correction in order for it to be optimal. According to My Bike Shop, the suspension can be tuned in two ways. At a user level, there are screws at the bottom of the suspension which you can toggle to increase or decrease the spring rate. Of course, if you send it back to Moulton, you can change the internal spring to suit your desires.

The Fold

The Moulton does not fold. Instead, it separates into two halves. In order to be able to separate the bike, you’ll have to do a few things. Firstly, you have to remove the kingpin, which is a very long bolt that goes through the width of the frame in the middle of the bike to join the two halves, next, you’ll have to unscrew the connector that links the gear and brake cables. Lastly, you’ll have to unscrew another thumbscrew just below the kingpin. You do need an allen key to unscrew the kingpin, and your fingers to unscrew everything else.. It is actually quite easy and intuitive.

At such a stage, the bike is still pretty much the same size as it is, since all you have done is separate the bike into two halves. It still wouldn’t go in my small hatchback’s boot. In order to fit it in, there are a few more ways you could save space. Firstly, you could remove stem, and along with it comes the handlebar, then the seat post and lastly, if necessary, the wheels. Notably, nothing here is quick-release except the wheels. But, fortunately, I didn’t need to remove the wheels, with the first two parts taken out, it happily went in my boot. Don’t forget to bring the allen key with you for reassembly. Reassembling the bike is pretty much the reverse of disassembling was.

As a Commuter

Should you desire to commute with the Moulton, the best thing to do immediately after you buy the bike is to buy the rear rack that Moulton makes. This is because no other rack will go onto the bike – standard racks do not work because this is a full-sus bike. Of course, you could buy a seat post rack, but while functional, does take away some of the elegance of the Moulton; the rack made by Moulton looks like an extension of the bike.

This bike, the Moulton TSR 8, has a Sturmey Archer eight speed internal gear hub. An internal hub sounds like a great thing to have, especially since you wouldn’t have any trouble with the problems of a derailleur system, such as the necessity of tuning now and them, or maintenance of the cogs. The most practical thing for commuters is, however, being able to shift while stopped. The downside is that having a big piece of block down at the rear wheel sure does make the bike really heavy. The total weight of the bike is quoted at 12.6kg.

Riding this bike is a pleasure, both to look at and to ride. It is a moderately speedy bike, with a reasonable gear ratio of 30-96. It would be better to have a lower gear ratio at the lower end for those times where you encounter steep hills and when you have the bike loaded. This bike has a low centre of gravity, which gives you a sense of security when you are weaving through tight spaces.

Conclusion

As with all the goodness that this bike brings with it, you ought to remember that this bike does come with a hefty price, and a lot of competition today. It does have reasonable equipment, but not the best, and you ought to know that you’re paying a lot for the handmade frame made by a few guys in England.

This is one of those bikes you’ll buy not so much for its practicality, but because it has pedigree dating back from 1962, and a very good track record among the touring and commuting crowd. It has style – the eye-catching F frame with its lattice structure. And it is British.