Sunday, 29 August 2010

Smells nice

Something you miss out on stuck in the car or the bus - the gorgeous smell of Eccles Cakes being made as you cycle past.

And if you into that sort of thing, then it's worth a detour past the Marble Arch on Rochdale Road for a sniff of the beer brewing:

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Getting ready for the Marin Trail

A few things to do before we go to the Marin Trail

With my brothers help we did some bodging to my old Raleigh to get it ready for the first ever bit of actual mountain biking it's done in the 14 years since it rolled out of Nottingham.

To start with:

Swap the rear deraileur that doesnt fit properly.....
...for one that does...
The one that didnt fit properly was a replacement off ebay many years ago after the original disintegrated on the streets of Newcastle. It worked perfectly well for riding on the streets, but would have been a major liability on bumpy single tracks. While we were at it, I replaced the gear cable for a new one since shiny new cables tend to work better than rusty 14 year old ones.

Then the big job - swap the fork for the cheapo suspension fork I bought a few weeks ago.
Satisfyingly large spanner for the headset

The bearings were in reasonable condition, but the bottom bearings were in desperate need of some new grease.

With the fork out, it got clamped in the vice....

...and the bottom bearing ring given some gentle persuasion to come off with a big pointy thing and a big hammery thing.

When that was off we found the bearing ring wouldnt fit onto the new fork. Being cheapo and chinese it hadnt been machined enough (you get what you pay for). After a bit of dremelling though it went on nice and tightly with a few knocks from a mallet.

The new fork had a shorter steerer than the original one. So we did away with the two original spacers to leave enough thread for the main nut to go back on.

With no compression on the fork you can see that the angle of the top tube has been raised by a couple of inches. I've no idea of this is good or bad - probably neither as the fork will compress with my weight over it as I go down the hills.

And finally a tiny bit of bodging to make the rear splattergaurd stay straight. These things are forever getting knocked to one side and are frankly a bit crap, but this should make it slightly less crap. One of many, many things that can be fixed with a hole and a ziptie.

Pump some air into the excessively knobbly Tioga Psycho II tyres and we are ready to go!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Nexus 8 Shifter (part 3)

I've been having a bit of an issue with the Nexus 8 shifter. Basically it shifts in a different direction to the one I'm used to. The gripshift on my Trek is twist backwards to go down gears and twist upwards to go up gears. I think this is the same on all gripshift systems, but I might be wrong. But for some reason the shifter for the Nexus system goes in the opposite direction. It shifts in the same way as a motorbike accelerator, you twist backwards for faster.

This is fine if your only gripshift is the Nexus, but I use both bikes and its really confusing to ride the Nexus then get on the Trek and start changing down gears when I meant to change up and vice versa.

So the only easy solution I could see was to swap the Nexus shifter from the right hand side of the bars to the left. This would mean the number dial would be upside down, but I can live with that if it saves me from getting the gears all wrong when I'm in the middle of traffic.

The shifter is also a bit of a handlebar hog and had meant my brake levers were not symmetrical, so whilst I was at it I decided to solve this by chopping a bit off one of the grips.

I made sure I had enough of the grip leftover to accomodate the width of my hand, since the shifter wouldn't be comfortable to use as part of the grip for long trips.

I'm toying with the idea of some swept back handlebars on this bike, so this might all get redone at some point anyway.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Hopper Pt 2

Here's a few more photos of the Hopper being stripped. 

Scrape away some of the very thick grime to find the bike is much older than I was expecting.

Bottom bracket is nice and free running. The cotter on this crank came out easily, but was very seized on the drive side. Nothing a bit of liberal WD40 and mallet application won't solve though.

Here's the cranks after a bit of WD40 and a wire brush. Nice and shiny and ready to go back onto the bike when the time comes.

A sticker on the seatpost proudly tells me the frame is made from Pheonix 101 cycle tube. It'll be a shame to lose this sticker and the Elswick logo, I like them. If I can I'll try to mask over them and keep them as part of the new paint.

The mucky pedals cleaned up reasonably well whereas the grips are more 'cream' than white.
Some shots to show the chunky lugwork.
And finally the bare frame on its own.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Elswick Hopper Cosmopolitan (Pt 1)

In a fit of fleabay madness I seem to have bought a rusty old ladies unisex shopper bike. So let me present Elswick Hopper’s answer to the Raleigh twenty.

It’s basically the same principle as a Twenty but with a slightly more elaborate double tube frame and nifty one piece bent tubes forming the chain and seat stays.

That’s about all I know about this bike. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of the Cosmopolitan on the internet at all, just a few brief historys etc about Elswick hopper itself such as on Sheldon and an article from 1949 which has some fantastic black and white photos.

This particular one is a complete rust-bucket and it’s a good job I have no intention of restoring it to the condition of the one show below that sold on ebay in Coventry because so many of its original components are bin-fodder.

Laughably the seller described the brakes as 'great', even though the rear caliper had no cable or brake blocks and the front was so rusted that the pivot was seized. All that was stripped and binned within 5 mins. Good job it was cheap and I didnt want the brakes anyway, no harm done but cheeky to describe something so inaccurately.

The handlebars and stem went straight in the bin as the stem bolt sheared immediately, leaving me to cut the stem with a hacksaw and hammer the rest of the bolt & quill out. The chrome plating on the front rack is rusted to hell, so that may get painted up and reused in someway, or just put on ebay along with the white pedals and grips.

It came with 20” 451 wheels, but I’ll replace those with bmx sized 20” 406 wheels instead and use drum brakes. The 3 Speed AW Sturmey Archer is stamped August 73 and it’s in pretty fantastic condition considering it's age and how knackered some of the other components are. I’ll be stripping the AW down completely and cleaning it up. Then it can either go onto ebay to recoup the cost of the bike or I’ll keep it for the future.

The frame will get a new coat of paint and I’ll be keeping the chain guard. The mudguards I’m not sure about, as the rear one is badly split and they wont be quite the right size for the smaller wheels anyway.

It will take a while to build up the various parts needed to make a working bike out of this, so this one is a long term project for rainy days.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A week in Scarborough

We spent last week up on the coast near Scarborough. There wasn't any cycling involved, but whenever we were out and about I tried to keep an eye out for any interesting bikes to post about on here.

Before I even got chance nosey at other people bikes, the first thing I noticed on the drive up there were some great looking (for this country anyway, which means crap for any country with decent infrastruture) cycle paths and the a much greater effort to provide facilities for cycling in general. I'm sure there is still the inevitable dodgily routed cycle lanes that appear standard in Britain, but through the eyes of someone more used to the streets of Manchester it was quite refreshing to see some effort put into providing a useable cycling infrastructure.

A bit of googling comes up with Scarborough Council's cycling strategy.

There seemed to be a thing of using old bikes as a bit of themed advertising. Such as this one advertising Scarborough Music on the main shopping street:

There was a similar bike to this outside a butchers shop on the way into town. That one had a smaller front wheel though to allow for a bigger front basket. unfortunately they had closed and taken the bike in before I got a photo.

Here's a lovely old Pashley that looked as if it was in frequent use and not just a bit of advertising furniture:

This couple has their young kid in a little towalong trailer. He was busy on his Nintendo whilst mum and dad did the pedalling.

I really liked this well-used looking Dawes Super-Galaxy, but if it was mine I wouldn't have locked it up with such a skinny little cable lock. I once had a lock like that, I thought it was fine to use until one day I accidently snapped the lock shaft with my barehands using very little effort (I bought it from Halfrauds obviously)

Nice touch on the bicycle racks, shame the only person enjoying the use of them at the time wasn't actually locking a bike up!

When I saw this fella from a distance I thought he had a Raliegh Twenty, so I got the camera out and snapped. When I got closer I realised it was some kind of Philips folder with deraileur gears. Still nice to see the flatcap and trouser clips combo combined with a nip to the corner shop. (funny colours in the photo due to pressing the wrong setting on the camera, I quite like it though!)

Postie bike, but not a Mailstar on our way into town.

And here it is in use on our way out of town. Liking the socks.

This last one is in Middlesbrough, it caught my eye as it had no brake levers which is odd for anything other than a 'fixie thats trying a bit too hard' in this country. On closer inspection the owner must be happy with just a rear coaster brake.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Weight Loss .....kind of

This post is not about intentionally wanting to lose weight, it's certainly nothing like the heroic efforts to lose weight put in by people like Gary over at theamazing39stonecyclist. It's just an observation on the effect that (almost) daily cycling has had on my own weight.

When I started riding the Brompton into work I weighed 10 stone 12 lbs or thereabouts. I'd roughly weighed this amount for years, it was a perfectly normal healthy weight for someone my size and it never occurred to me whatsoever that to take up daily cycling would result in losing weight. It just wasn’t why I was doing it. As far as I was concerned there was no weight to lose, so it was a little surprising to notice over the course of 8-12 months that I was steadily losing around 1 lb per month.

Early on, in response to this I decided I must be needing to eat more*, but it made no difference to the steady drop in weight.

The 1 lb a month kept disappearing til I reached around 10 stone 2 lbs. This is where it stopped and I still weigh roughly this much another 8-9 months later. This again happened without any further changes at all. My body seemed to have adjusted entirely by itself, slowly shedding the few excess pounds til I'd reached whatever magical weight my dna would be happy with given my current intake and exercise levels.

All of this without actively trying, I'm just cycling to work & back. Not particularly pushing it, but not trundling slowly either.

My weight has even stayed the same now that I'm back in Tameside and cycling much further each day. This makes me think that it's not really about the amount of exercise you do, but simply doing at least some everyday. Or at least 5 days a week.

I'm a stingy bastard hence the name, so hell will have frozen over before you get me to pay for a gym membership. Besides time is precious and I'm not inclined to waste any of it doing robotic exercise when I can achieve the same thing as part of my normal daily routine. In fact cycling has gained me some of my time back. It is by far the quickest way I could get to work and back and certainly beats catching colds on the train or bus.

*Bonus!, I get to eat and enjoy more tasty snacks without the bother of putting weight on. It's nice to know that little bit of money is going towards my enjoyment and not vanishing on petrol or public transport fares.