A follow-up review of the Tern P24. 8 months later… plus, an overnight ride-n-camp report.

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Since I took delivery of the Tern Link P24, it hadn’t seen much action; until lately when I started commuting to work twice a week. Not counting the Bike Friday that was kindly loaned to me by good friend Alvin for my little jaunt around Hokkaido, this was my first foldie, and it took some getting use to. Initial relations between us were a bit cool … I didn’t quite like the overly-stiff feel of the bike, and it didn’t quite behave the way a good friend did.

I suppose it isn’t a fair comparison, seeing as my other 3 bikes comprised a full-suspension MTB, a full-carbon road-racer, and an all-steel Surly LHT, all of which are relatively comfortable bikes. It didn’t help that the Tern’s infamous rear Sturmey Archer 3-speed internal hub lived up to its promise of slipping gears every now and then. Whenever I stood up to pedal going up an incline and my foot would just mash down into nothingness, it was one pedal stroke closer to saying goodbye to each other.

But I didn’t think that the rear hub problem couldn’t be resolved. So I did some research. The Tern forums offered no solutions, only unresolved complaints. Some gave up and changed to other models. Finally, I found the solution – it was so ridiculously simple I’m surprised Tern didn’t bother to post it on their site.

How to adjust the Sturmey  Archer 3-speed rear hub cable:

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Easy peasy. Do remember that sometimes dirt can get in through the top of the plastic housing so it’s a good idea to remove it and clean it once in a while.

Anyway, after I solved the problem, I started riding the Tern to work. At first, the Titus seemed to be the logical bike to ride, (I could even detour to my favourite MTB trails for a quickie before work) but eventually the slight bobbing of the front and rear suspension (no full-lockout) on tarmac got to me. Out-of-saddle bursts literally sucked – energy, that is. I also tried the road bike but it felt too vulnerable on some debris-strewn roads. It was a fast commute though.

So I went back to the Tern … again. The rear hub had been behaving very well. I can’t quite recall it ever slipping since I adjusted it … except once when it didn’t shift properly which was easily resolved with some adjusting of the cable.

I got used to the gripshifters. I got used to the gearing. I got used to the stiffness of the bike that actually made it ride faster. In short, I enjoyed riding the bike as a commuter. After clocking some decent kms on it, the verdict is clear — it’s a very capable bike. It takes everything I can throw at it, and then some… including going offroad with it. It’s held up very well. The Marathon Supremes roll very confidently; but then, I pump it quite hard for minimum rolling resistance.

One big gripe with this bike:  you need to be very practiced repairing a rear wheel puncture before you even start riding it. I found out the hard way when I suffered such a puncture on one of my early morning commutes. I hadn’t realised that the rear wheel was locked with 15mm nuts and not quick-release levers. I had a spare tube, and the pump is built into the seat post but, without a spanner, I was literally screwed. But as luck would have it, I was near a motorcycle repair shop and the owner kindly lent me a 15mm spanner to do the job. And… another warning here — it’s not just a simple matter of removing the nuts either. The rear-hub adjuster cable is connected to the bike so that had to be removed as well. And…you’d have to readjust the little itty bitty chain going into the hub correctly before you ride off otherwise the gears will slip again.

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I happen to have a Shimano hub spanner lying around so I simply taped it with duct-tape to the top of the rear rack. It’s only about 2mm thick so it takes up almost no space. Just like the seat-post pump, it’s always there.

 

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The best part of commuting? Taking the path of least resistance, and where there’s more greenery. This is the Damansara Toll exit.

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Premium parking — next to my desk

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On a whim, I detoured to KL’s ultimate MTB playground Kiara and rode The Office to see how the Tern fared…it was a slow and crazy bumpy ride, not something I’d do again though…

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A couple of weeks ago, I took it out loaded with 2 panniers (including a camp chair) for the first time on an overnight bike-and-camp at Sg Sendat in Ulu Yam. This is one of my favourite campsites; still very unspoilt with a pristine, crystal-clear river running through it, and a waterfall nearby. It’s also a favourite because it’s only an hour’s drive from home (or 3-4 hours by bike).

It was a great ride, even though the haze was just beginning to make its yearly presence felt. It was also very warm even with the sun shrouded behind the cloudy sky. But the ride and the camping made it all worthwhile.

All ready to roll for my first loaded ride on the Tern

All ready to roll out for my first loaded ride on the Tern

On the motorcycle lane of the GCE. A portent of hazy days to come.

On the motorcycle lane of the GCE. A portent of hazy days to come.

At the very end of the GCE, just before the toll into the North/South highway, I took another shortcut down into the road that led to Kuang town, from which I took the old road to Rawang.

At the very end of the GCE, just before the toll gate going into the North/South highway, I took another shortcut down into the road that led to Kuang town, and from which I took the old road to Rawang.

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My version of Da Brim (are you reading this Al? :-) Just rip off the top of a RM6.99 hat and wear the helmet over it. A bit floppy but it work great :-))

My version of Da Brim (are you reading this Al? 🙂 Just rip off the top of a cheapo RM6.99 hat and wear the helmet over it. A bit floppy but it works great :-))

Nearing the town of Ulu Yam Baru, taking a shortcut across a motorcycle/pedestrian bridge

Nearing the town of Ulu Yam Baru, taking a shortcut across a motorcycle/pedestrian bridge

At noon, I reached Ulu Yam Baru and lunched at a warung where the food had just come out of the kitchen. I had a bit of this and that -- fried catfish, potato, bamboo shoots, sotong, rendang kerang and empeng, and a glass of fresh lime.

At noon, I reached Ulu Yam Baru and lunched at a warung where the food had just come out of the kitchen. I had a bit of this and that — fried catfish, potato, bamboo shoots, sotong, rendang kerang and empeng, and a cold glass of fresh lime.

The campsite is just about 10 minutes ride from Ulu Yam town. Normally

The campsite is just about 10 minutes ride from Ulu Yam town.

Normally, there would be campers as well, but I was lucky; a big group of secondary schoolkids were at the other side of the campsite so I had this part all to myself

Normally, there would be campers as well, but I was lucky; a big group of secondary schoolkids were at the other side of the campsite and blocking the rest of the place, so I had this part all to myself

The tarp is up...

The tarp is up…

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…the hammock is up

the hammock is up, as well as the camp chair...slightly bulky but worth every bit of its weight

yes, that’s a camp chair…slightly bulky but worth every bit of its weight

Cyclocamping heaven...

Cyclocamping heaven…

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Caption this yourself  :-)

Caption this yourself 🙂

Next, time for a swim. Finally managed this nice self-timed shot

Next, time for a swim. Finally managed to get this nicely self-timed shot.

Aeropress in action...for my caffeine fix. Honestly, it's quite hard to top a day like this ... next to the gurgling river among tall shady trees, enjoying the solitude and cool, fresh country air.

Aeropress in action…for my caffeine fix. Honestly, it’s quite hard to top a day like this … next to the gurgling river among tall shady trees, enjoying the solitude and cool, fresh country air. I’ll be back soon…

An overnight ride to Frasers Hill

It’s just 2 weeks to my impending tour of Sichuan, and I haven’t ridden my Surly in quite awhile, since Mae Hong Son actually. So I thought it would be a good idea to do an overnight tour to familiarise my bum to the Brooks saddle again after the leave of absence.

Frasers Hill was the destination, taking a counter-clockwise route via Gombak, Bentong and Tranum. Winston, newbie tourer with a brand new Surly and all the necessary accessories, would be my companion.

Starting and ending from where I live in Shah Alam, the total distance would be around 260km. We’d stay the night at Frasers Hill in a friend’s holiday apartment, and the next morning, we’d ride home via Kuala Kubu Baru and the backroads of Rawang, just so we we’ll avoid the old trunk road as much as possible. It is also fortunate that the next day being a Labour Day weekend holiday, our backsides would have plenty of time to recover.

All in all, it was a good ride. We chalked up 260km riding from door to door, definitely a great warm-up to my Sichuan trip…..

Chong Loo, the nearly-tourer, came to see us off. Later, he would buzz by us on his BMW Xcountry motorcycle on a day-trip to Cameron Highlands. On my trusty Surly is a 50 litre Ortlieb dry bag belonging to Chong Loo that I'm checking out. It's waaay too big

On the gloomy, busy DUKE hiway, a few km from the exit to Gombak

Newbie tourer resting his butt after the Brooks saddle gave him a hard time. It's ok Winston, you only have to ride another 900km or so before it's broken in

At the top of Genting Sempah

Refuelling at Kg Bukit Tinggi

After Bentong, and on the lonely road to Tranum, we stopped by this little one-street village serving mostly palm oil smallholdings

The next village was Kg Sang Lee. Durians are their business. In fact, most durians from this region are exported to Kiasuland where they fetch a better price

They also worship the Land Rover here

At Tranum, we crossed this footbridge to look for food at the Chinese village of Tras, another durian-growing town

It was pitch dark after dinner at Tras. We only had my one Magicshine light between us so we decided to try and hire transport ie the Hilux above, to get to The Gap. No go, as Mr Hong, the guy we talked to, was heading out to Bentong for dinner with friends. He did however, graciously allowed us to stay the night in the big hall downstairs. At the time, we didnt know that nice Mr Hong wasnt even the owner...

The well-appointed lodgings at Hotel Tranum. At least it was clean and cool. The baskets are for durians which the real owner of the house, Mr Tan (next pic)...

... is a big trader of in these parts. Here, we're having coffee with them at Tras

Mr Hong from Muar -- durian trader and good friend of Mr Tan. So good a friend that he let us stay here without even asking Mr Tan frst 🙂

Mr Hong's friendly Orang Asli helper insisted that we had a taste of a D24 before we headed off to Frasers.

The start of a long climb. Quite gentle though.

Just before The Gap

Nasi Lemak and teh tarik at The Gap

It was still nice and cloudy when we hit the bottom of the hill, and the Sg Selangor dam

Bypassing the main roads, we even detoured to an offroad section in Rawang. Here, we're just next to the North-South expressway. This section is near the northbound R&R stop.

Day 3. End of ride

I almost didn’t make my 4pm bus. Instead of turning right at simpang pulai, I went left and made for gopeng 13 km away thinking that taman Medan gopeng must surely be in gopeng. Turns out it’s actually less than 5 km from the junction. So I really had to hustle covering the 18km in abt 35 min, taking into consideration that I was tired, the sun had come out to play, I hadn’t had lunch yet, and of course, I was lugging 2 panniers, a tent and the self inflatable mattress that I never got to use (good weight training tho) and my bus was leaving at 4 sharp. I made it with 15 minutes to spare.

I bought some food and drink and proceeded to the bus. The driver upon seeing my bike said “kena charge ni” I said “berapa?” “Aiya…cukup minum kopi boleh la”. I gave the robber rm5

The Transnasional bus is nice tho. There were only 10 passengers so I went and sat in the Club class section. I should be home by 7. The wife is picking me up from Jalan Duta station. After that last bus-chasing run, I decided it might be wiser not to ride home.

Day 3. At simpang pulai

One of the nicest rides. All cloud cover, cold, and a bit wet. Suffered another puncture again. All my tubes are patched twice each. Went through the inside of the tyre mm by mm and found not 1 but 2 tiny slivers of sharp wires that worked it’s way through the tyre. Stopped at kg raja to change tube and was helped by 2 local guys, both mt bikers from KRI Ipoh. One of them even went home and got me a new tube to keep as spare, just in case. But I made it down to simpang pulai no problem. Now on the way to gopeng 10km away to catch the 4pm bus.

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Day 3. Up to simpang pulai

Ron, Joseph, Cheryl and Patsy have decided to go back down to tapah the same way we came up. Which means all downhill. Me, I’ve decided to stick to my original plan to finish the loop via simpang pulai and then take the bus home from gopeng.

The weather is nice and cool. Very misty in the hills ahead. All tubes have been repatched, or rather added more patches. Apparently, there were 2 tiny punctures instead and that was why it suffered slow leaks. All’s well now…

I’m off.

Day 2. At Tanah Rata

It would seem that we were not destined to camp after all. Arriving at the campsite we were greeted by sounds of dangdut blaring out from a karaoke set. Some 200 campers, Malay families, had booked the whole place. Oh well, back to town to look for cheap digs for the night.

When I say cheap, I didn’t expect it to be as cheap as rm12 a room –well, if it can be called a room. I’m quite sure my store room is bigger.