Sunday 18 March 2012

A look back at Manchester's cycle infrastructure of 2011

...Yep. There it is. Manchester's finest achievement in cycle infrastructure of 2010/11. The invention of the cycle patch.

The basis for the cycle patch is that they could be installed at 8m intervals (in reality double that*) without having to apply for the TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) that would be required for a normal (shitty) cycle lane.

In other words - they are the lowest of the low.

A token piece of cheap shit that can be put there with the least bother to themselves.

Box ticked. Move along.

They even come in a dashing urban camouflage green. Which quickly chameleons itself into road dirt grey and thus vanishes from sight.

As if they were even particulary visible in the first place.

The saying goes 'Buy cheap, buy twice'.

Well this cheap shit has worn away quicker than a taxi drivers patience.

*or not at all in Hyde Rd's case.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

R.I.P Pancakes

It's pancake day.....and it's a sad day.

Many years ago, if you wanted to go somewhere to eat in Manchester(and you were me), there was only one place on the list. The Dutch Pancake House. No restaurant could beat sitting in the ancient 70's decor and eating a 3ft pancake covered in any number of bizarre toppings. It closed in 2007, but they've recently started to knock down the building.

How it used to look :-*(
Meanwhile next door: a rather nice Chopper.
Aptly, nearby to the fallen Pancake house is another derelict piece of Dutchness (ish). The remains of one of Manchester's very few segregated cycle paths. Abandoned as part of the Council offices refurbishment, it wouldn't be complete without the words 'cyclists dismount'.

Speaking of the Council. It's unfair to hold out any hope of something so complicated as proper segregated when they woefully fail to get the basics right. (they sacked the streetcleaners and imagined that covering the bins would solve that little problem).

Monday 20 February 2012


This section of the national cycle network had to be resurfaced due to its poor condition only a few months ago in the late summer. Thankfully it's already matured well and now fits in well with the standard of the rest of the network....

As you can see the high standards of our cycle facilities in the UK attract a great many users, even on a fresh February afternoon.We've simply no need for the fancy sort of smooth, well maintained traffic free tarmac routes that Johnny foreigner's got. Frankly you Dutch fellows can take your fancy tarmac and stick it up your you can see thats what we do with our own cycle paths.

Saturday 29 October 2011

How to kill a Nexus 8 Shifter

Step One: Ride the bike 5 days a week for a year or so.
Step Two: Change gear roughly 1 million times per ride.
Step Three: When it starts shifting badly between gears 7-8 decide "ah I'll look at it at the weekend"
Step Four: Continue riding it whilst thinking "bugger this is getting worse"
Step Five: Leave it in 6th and limp home because its completely knackered

Steps 3 -5 happened over a period of about one and a half rides, so it was a fairly terminal failure. It didn't feel too bad at first, then all of a sudden I could barely change gear at all so opted to just leave it in 6th (the most all round gear for my ride).

The good news was I could tell it wasn't a problem with the hub. It was clearly the shifter, since it was making some horrible noises and felt like the teeth on the ratchets had mashed themselves to bits from overuse.

This was all no big deal really. I have other bikes to use and to be fair this shifter is not only second hand but has also done a hell of alot of work for me since I change gear so often whilst riding it. Mainly because the 8 speed hub allows you to pick just the right gear for whatever the circumstance, so I tend to go for the correct gear to maintain a steady cadence. Unlike on a deraileur where I might either pedal harder or faster just avoid shifting.

Practical cycles furnished me with a brand new shifter via their eBay site which was a piece of cake to fit.

Once that was on I could have a look at the old one to see what went wrong. My guess at it being the plastic rachety teeth was completely wrong. Turns out it was a teeny tiny spring. I'm not entirely sure where it goes or what this spring does, since it was in two halves and loose inside the case. This had then been mashed against the moving cable, frayed it and then caused the wholse thing to sieze up.

So there you have it. the Shimano shifters are mostly made of plastic, but it was one of the few metal parts that fatigued and broke, taking down the rest of the ship with it.

Beat up old shifter

The result of the frayed cable from all the way up at the handlebars

Shiny new shifter with cable already included and ready to fit
Shiny new one fitted, works perfectly straight away.

The old shifter taken apart - teeth were fine
This is the tiny spring which had broken - filthy fingernail for scale

This is roughly how it should look when not broken

Friday 7 October 2011

Rubber Brompton

I love Bromptons. They are probably the most versatile bike money could buy. It’s a unique bike. Quite unusual and different to other options out there but they really should come with a special warning label. 
Something like:
‘Dear valued customer, this bike will gratuitously accentuate how silly you look in those rubber knickers....please for the love of God wear your normal everyday clothing when enjoying a Brompton’.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Green Machine

How to compensate for your crap bike lock?, paint it a horrific green in such an uncaring manner it would make even bikehacks blush. I especially like the matching green shopping bag-come saddle cover. Very fetching..... No, honestly I do like it. Chavs will nick anything, but this will make them think twice at least. Room for improvement?, it could have been candy pink maybe.