Sunday, 24 November 2019

An obsession with 16 inch wheelers : Brompton, 3 Sixty, Camp Pikes, Element Pikes, Cigna

Element Pikes, a strong contender to Brompton
Set against Brompton

My first cycle tour was done on a Tern D16. The bike was literally bought so I could follow Love the Fold to Batam and Bintan. Back then, all foldies went into the cabin while the sole, full sized bike was strapped to the deck, held down by ropes. I never looked down on foldies ever since that trip.

As Alvin, the Chief of Love the Fold once said, "Everyone who seriously love bikes will need to go through a Brompton at least once in their lifetime". I think what he meant is, if affordability is not an issue, bike lovers should own a Brompton at least once in their lifetime. Keeping it depends on the love hate relationship. 

So when I was offered a price I could not resist, I bought my first Brompton on 26 July 2016. The very next day, VT and I returned to the shop for another one !!!

It was not an instant love affair. The bikes were hardly used for the first 5 months. I found it heavy and I kept forgetting the steps to fold and unfold!

It was only after I took it to Fraser's Hill at the end of the year, that my love for 16 inch wheels actually began. Yes, it is doable though with many out of breath stops! 

Ever since, I have taken it on 120 km and 160 km distances without much body aches, thanks to its steel frame. So what if the gradient is too much? Get down and push the bike!

The bike is so compact it had saved us in many awkward situations. Bag it and travel as luggage on public transports. Roll it under the table in small restaurants. It can even be stored under the bed!


Element Pikes @ 8 speed - IDR 7.0 million

Tom and Jerry
Comfy saddle
Sturmey Archer thumb shifters
Loved the grips with wrist support
Hated the gigantic hinge clamp levers initially but as an after thought, it is easier for my hands

Ugly pedals
Sturmey Archer X-RF8 (W) hub

Chain tensioner
48 T Chainring

Note the top tube is not a cylindrical tube but narrows towards the end
Proudly made in Indonesia
The use of hex nuts as spacers drives me crazy!
It also fits into a Dimpa though the seat post has to be removed

The bike comes assembled but it is NOT road worthy. The bike mechanic took at least an half hour going through the whole bike from wheel alignment to tuning to ensuring every screw and nut is in place.

The folding and unfolding of the bike is a tad stiff. Not sure if the joints need to be lubed but will certainly  into this further.

Riding wise, the positioning differs slightly from the Brompton but having said that, I can't give a direct comparison as my Brompton is on P while VT's is on H handlebars. Comparing to 3 Sixty's straight handlebar stem, the Element Pike's ride positioning is the closest to a Brompton.

The Sturmey Archer X-RF8 (W) hub comes with a wide gear ratio of 325% with the middle 6 gears evenly spaced at 14% apart. There's a 30% jump between gear 1 to 2 and 7 to 8 which are supposed to rescue your leg muscles during those steep climbs and adds a boost during the descents. 

I am saying "supposed to" because I was using gear 1 (strangely built on direct drive) for flat roads! Switching to gear 2, I could feel the immediate jump in loading, required to turn the crank. this rate, I will never hit gear 8!

I only began to appreciate the hub on Day 2; during my short 10 km ride through killer traffics and narrow backstreets of Jakarta. The gear shifts were smooth, the little monitor helps me keep track on what gear I was on and any gears can be selected while stationary. I could feel the transfer of power and the bike propelling forward after gear 3 which is such a joy on so little effort. It also helps that all 8 gears are in sequence so gone are the complications with the twin-shifter system as in most 6 speed Bromptons. Having 8 gears in an internal hub without a derailluer also reduces maintenace as well!

The hub is said to be noisy but it wasn't drowning the noise on the busy streets like I had hoped it would! Jokes aside, it was slightly more audible than the S-RF3 but nothing too disturbing. Anyway, I do not think it was a fair comment as its like comparing between a M26 and M67 hand grenade. Besides, our gentle giant weighs a whopping 1.5 kg!!!

The Sturmey Archer thumb shifter comes with 2 levers. The longer shifter reduces the gear while the little one behind it is for loading. Both requires an outward push to click which was a bit complicated even for a girl's hand. Both aligned together, I have to feel my way behind the longer shifter every time I want to increase my speed. What happens if someone has a big thumb?

Riding wise, the chromoly frame absorbs the rattling quite well. The grips with wrist support was a joy and you can't help smiling from ear to ear for such a STEAL !!!

14.05 kg !!!!


Camp Pikes @ 3 speed - last known retail price was RM1450, September 2019

Supposedly the older versions of Element Pike with straight stem and lower specs
Kenda tyres 
Flimsy Chain tensioner
44 T chainring
Also Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub


3 Sixty @ 3 speed - last known retail price was RM2300 in metallic bronze, aluminium seat post and handlebar, September 2017

3 Sixty without a luggage block, placed next to a Brompton.
Rear view
48T Chainring
3 speed Sturmey Archer
Chain tensioner
Stem is shorter compared to Brompton. 
Ugly foldable pedals
Aluminium seat post, considered a higher spec!
Front wheel
12.28 kg
The 3 Sixty price range varies trememdously. While this bike shop tries to sell a basic model at RM2988 (July 2017), most buyers gets away with RM1600 to RM1900, after some hard bargaining! 

Cigna @ 3 speed - last known retail price was Baht 16,000, also on 3 speed Sturmey Archer Hub
Cigna also runs on 3 speed Sturmey Archer Hub

Monday, 23 September 2019

The Quest for Margarita (31 August - 3 September 2019), Day 1 : Subang Jaya to Teluk Intan

Perfect 10 after Kampung Perepat
Team ladies at Subang Jaya station
Hot on Merdeka spirit with our Singapore friends
On our way to Klang
At Klang Sentral
Pintu Kawalan Air Tambak Jawa
Pantai Remis
The second watergate near the Sky Mirror Ent Vacation
Free advertising
Kuala Selangor
Altingsburg Lighthouse
The old fort at Bukit Malawati
At Auntie's Kopitiam, Kuala Selangor
At Auntie's Kopitiam, Kuala Selangor
At Auntie's Kopitiam, Kuala Selangor
At Auntie's Kopitiam, Kuala Selangor
3 punctures all at once!
Wishing tree
Sekinchan's paddy fields
At the Hutan Melintang toll plaza
Soon to exit Teluk Intan toll plaza
Teluk Intan R & R

Everyone were really “kancheong” this morning. We have a long day ahead and the top most agenda was to catch the 7.11 am train from Subang Jaya to Klang. Despite Claudine and VT arranging to lead Joyce, Jac, Mr Tan, Mr Lim and KC to the commuter station, all had left Subang Valley Hotel even though the duo arrived at the agreed time of 6.30 am. Seems like the latter group had gone ahead in search of takeaways which they only found at the commuter station. If they had known, they would have invited them to join the canai and teh tarik session 50 m away from their hotel.
Seems like many in the group were not paying attention in the group chat. They failed to bring their Touch N Go cards or topped up cash in their new Identification Cards which comes with the same. While the senior citizens were allowed to purchase tokens on Warga Tua rates of half the actual fare, those without the relevant cards had to purchase KTMB’s cards with a non refundable deposit of RM10, topping up an additional RM3.70 for the actual fare. Perhaps, a conniving marketing strategy by KTMB on Merdeka Day, for all ticket machines were coincidentally out of order!
Waiting for our train at the platform, we stepped into the first train that arrives only to realize it was heading for KLIA!!! Thank goodness an officer highlighted our mistake to us and so the retreat commenced!
Seems like the early commuter train was timely and before long, we were transported to Klang Sentral. Once we got off, we had to wait a few minutes for Sasee to arrive and even longer for him to set up his bike. Then, we were off...
Riding through the streets of Klang was a horror! Cars seemed to be in a hurry and reluctant to stop at junctions. Thrice, they threatened to run us down!
But there were amusing moments when we spotted a transsexual, hoping to get “picked up"! We secretly wondered if she had been working throughout the night!
Passing by Restoran Boston Baru on Jalan Kapar also brought back memories from our 2017's LTF BKT Melaka to Klang ride. Back then, the ride had ended there with a dinner meeting with Legends Mike Khor and Jotaro Zen.
Soon, we were riding on Jalan Keretapi Lama, an old railway line from 1913 which used to run from Klang's Connaught Bridge all the way to Kuala Selangor. The tracks have since been removed and the remaining visuals of a past history is the relatively straight route.
Federal Route 5's Jalan Kapar runs parallel to Jalan Keretapi Lama. Whilst Jalan Kapar is a busy lifeline, the latter was a quiet road on National Day, running past many small and medium industries; notably, paper recycling center, "kereta potong", plastics and autoparts.
At Kampung Perepat, we tried crossing Sungai Kapar Besar but the crossing shown on Google Maps was no longer there. It must have been removed as the river was going through a dredging process.

The first 20 km of the ride was hot, humid and boring. When we saw the first gerai near U Panel Furniture Industry, we steered happily into it, grateful for any random change!
Closing in on Pantai Remis, we came upon our first water gate at Sungai Janggut. Surprisingly, there will be many more to come on this tour. Nearby is a small Chinese temple with immaculately kept grounds but we did not have time for another stop knowing we have a long journey ahead.
Before long we arrived at Pantai Remis, a short strip of sandy beach so close to the Capital city. Despite the food court, stalls and a few sea front accommodations, it was not attracting the crowd it deserves especially on a national holiday like today.
Following the route that ran past the few stalls on the strip, we soon found ourselves out of tarmac and were rolling on the beach instead! The sand was soft and the wheels were taking a lot of effort to turn. Thankfully, it was a short strip but our cheers did not last...
After a short distance on tarmac, we entered a dirt path. Initially, we passed a few open dumpsites. Later, we spotted the back end of a village bordered by an inlet filled with black brackish water. A few wooden makeshift bridges lay across the inlet, allowing the villagers to cross over.
All along, the sea front was eclipsed by vegetations. Not realising, we had slowly steered away from the sea...
Thus the second water gate caught us by surprise for we had found our way to a river estuary instead! A bigger surprise were the 2 tour buses parked a little ahead with its passengers gone for the popular sky mirror photography, a current craze!
Following the route where the bus had come in from, we were relieved to be riding on tarmac again. Looks like tourism had brought newly paved roads to the small Chinese village though it remained a single lane passage.
Back on the main road, heading for Kuala Selangor traffic was beginning to build up. The Merdeka spirit was high on the road with many groups flying the Jalur Gemilang proudly.
Soon we rolled into Kuala Selangor, once a royal town. In fact, the first 3 Sultans of Selangor were buried high up in Bukit Malawati where the ancient fort from the early 18th century was built to fight invasions. When the Dutch eventually took over Kuala Selangor, the Fort was renamed Fort Altingsburg; after its governor of the time. The lighthouse from 1907 is a replacement of the old one built by the Dutch.
Silver leaf monkey besides the usual long tailed macaques at Bukit Malawati
Tram service
Enroute to Sekinchan, our horrors began. Beginning with a tyre puncture on Mindy's bike, Jac, VT and Sasee suffered the same fate not long after! This delayed our arrival in Sekinchan.
As most coffee shops were closing up at 3.30 pm, we made our way to Dong Xin Trading; a shop in the fishing village side of Sekinchan that manufactures fishball and Yong Tau Foo. They also retrade salted fish, ikan bilis and keropok made in the nearby cottage industries.
After a short visit, we moved on to the ever popular Pantai Redang, famous for its wishing tree and Chinese temple. As the place was a total chaos, we only stayed long enough to finish our lunch, taken at a time when most people were having tea!
Enroute to Teluk Intan, we made a side tour to Sekinchan's paddy fields. It was the planting season and paddy shoots from the nursery were being replanted in the fields filled with water. As the water gates were opened to irrigate the fields, the flow of water brought along fishes which attracts the cranes as well!
The evening ride towards Sabak Bernam was a calculated one. We were trying to ride as far as we could with the remaining daylight. Plans to take the local ferry at Hutan Melintang had to be cancelled knowing we cannot reach there on time for the last ferry.
It was admirable to note everyone's determination to finish the ride. Nobody took up the offer to throw their bags in the support car despite the tempting offers made at Kuala Selangor and Sekinchan, let alone to quit. Even though Sarah had said she wouldn't mind lightening her weight in Kuala Selangor, she was even more determined in Sekinchan saying she came to ride and she will finish it. Even Sasee, who was showing signs of defeat in Sekinchan did not crumble when May offered him a ride in the car.
The route from Sekinchan to Sabak Bernam was an unpleasant one. The ongoing roadworks for WCE meant many sections of Federal Route 5 is reduced to a two lane road going in opposite directions. Thankfully, with dusk setting in, traffic was thin and bicycles could squeeze in and out between the barriers set up to keep off the newly tarred roads from vehicles. In a way this gave us a safer passage.
Sungai Besar's McDonald's was tempting. So were the many eateries around Sabak Bernam. But everyone sensibly chose daylight savings instead.
We finally made a stop for dinner as the last streak of light was about to leave our longitude. But none of us had the appetite to eat much, our stomachs filled with too much water.
The last push for Teluk Intan was hilarious. Riding in the dark, none of us noticed the signage for Route 5's Teluk Intan. We only realized our mistake when we saw the Hutan Melintang toll plaza in front of us. By then, we were too tired to turn back.
Taking a big gamble, we went ahead knowing it was against the law. Entering through the motor lane, we were surprised no staffs were present at the toll plazas. But then again, it is opened on a trial run and have not started collecting toll.

However, SOMEONE IS WATCHING and before long, Mior pulled us over in his pick up truck. Oops!!!

He must have taken pity on us for he allowed us to continue our journey with only words of advice. After all, the hour was late and to ferry us or escort us to the end of the line was against his SOP. Besides, it was a genuine mistake as Google's walking route had led us on.

Riding on the WCE was very enjoyable. The cool night air rejuvenated us. Traffic was low and we felt safer on a highway, not having to worry about pot holes.
In the beginning, the Royal Malaysian Air force kept us in check with their fleet of transport planes. Later, swarms of dragon flies danced along the route from Pantai Remis to Sekinchan. But it was the stars that lit up our way during the night, guiding our caravan of cyclists all the way to Teluk Intan.
Despite spotting the toll plaza from afar, it took forever to arrive at theTeluk Intan toll plaza
"Objects in mirror are closer than they appear"
But in our case, the Teluk Intan toll plaza took forever to arrive!!! When we finally reached the end, our short rest extended to a long rest with Sasee's bike taking another hara-kiri!
Teluk Intan toll plaza was not the end of the road. We still had another 15 km more to our hotel. Just as this morning, the night continues to bring moral support from passers by, if not more!
Our spirits lifted when we saw the signboard for Teluk Intan; 3 km to the heart...
...and then we turned left and away from the heart!!!
Initially nobody protested. But when we appeared to be moving further away from developments, we began to question the lead rider.
Racing forward to speak to Mindy, Claudine asked if she noted the hotel to be far away from the town. When she confirmed not, Claudine raced to VT to double check. Frustrated, he showed her the map and they were on track with another 1.5 km to go!
20 minutes before the stroke of midnight, before our rides turned into pumpkins, we finally arrived at Merge Summit hotel. It was a comfortable stay with a 24 hours mamak right across the road. What a good way to end a very very long day...
* from 6.30am, meet up to 11.40pm, end of ride
* 160 km distance
* 5 Brompton rear tyre punctures

Photo credit :