Category Archives: Cycling

Making progress

At last I am making some progress again. Way back in June I wrote that I had completed my first weight loss target using thelinediet.com but July and August were not good for weight loss. As we were busy packing, moving and unpacking I struggled to find time to ride much and so I ended up putting back on some of the weight I had lost.

However, at the beginning of September I started the line diet again and I am pleased to say that today I am again no longer obese and in fact am a bit lighter than the lowest I reached in June.

This time I have coupled the line diet with a determination to form a healthy habit. It seems that research has shown that we take 21 days to form a new habit. So with the help of habitforge.com I have set myself the goal of forming a proper cycling habit. HabitForge makes it easy to keep track of your success in forming a habit and also helps with the motivation. At the minute I have cycled 11 days in a row.

I have been wondering how we might use this idea of forming healthy habits within the context of the Church. For example to help people in their prayer lives or with reading scripture daily.

Anyway just off for the first ride of the day on my new bike to the recycling depot.

The ConDem government’s encouragement of dangerous and violent driving

The Government is trying to save money. That can be a very good thing.

However, when you use the excuse of saving money to make changes that

a) will end up costing far more money

b) endanger many lives

c) pander to the rich

then it is not a good thing. In fact it is a terrible thing.

Our government is doing this crazy thing by shutting down speed cameras and massively reducing funding for road safety. This makes no sense.

I have been caught by a speed camera a couple of times. The points from the first one have long expired and for the second I got an option to go on a speed awareness course (which was actually pretty good).

Speed cameras have changed my driving. It needed to change as I would break speed limits a lot. Now I am far more careful. That does not make me a better driver but it does massively reduce the chances of me killing someone (and it also saves me a lot of money in fuel).

One road near us that has benefited greatly from speed cameras is the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon which has average speed cameras all the way. Since they were fitted it has become a much better road to drive on. A simple comparison with the A14 from Huntingdon to the M6 makes it obvious that when it is busy the average speed cameras help traffic flow a great deal easier with far less sudden speed changes.

So now we are losing all the benefits of speed cameras (which can only be installed where there have been accidents) so that money can be saved. But

a) this ignores all the other costs associated with speeding. Hospital costs, loss of life, emergency services, fuel, carbon footprint

b) It ignores the costs of death and injury that speed makes so much more likely (and makes the results of an "accident" much more severe) such as loss of people from the workforce (bad for employers and bad for tax income), need to support families that lose the wage earner, support for children that lose their parents, support for parents who lose their children. The list goes on and on.

c) It ignores the fact that speed cameras are nearly self funding. A very low cost way of reducing death and injury on the roads. (Note the duplicity where we are told speed cameras are costing us money while at the same time we are told that they are a part of a war on motorists).

At the heart of this is an idea that speeding is not really breaking the law. That flexibility is needed to allow for special cases.  Rubbish.

Speeding is a crime that has the potential to cause more harm than many others (most other crimes do not result in anyone's death or permanent disability).

If we really want to save money then it makes good economic sense to install many more speed cameras.

For more see Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest: The ConDem government’s encouragement of dangerous and violent driving. For a scary catalogue of some of the deaths caused by speeding just look through the recent posts on Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest sadly there are multiple deaths and serious injuries reported there each week.

A great value urban bike

I have written several posts about some absolutely fantastic urban bikes. See

For more generic issues see my older post 42: What makes the best urban Bike

Now time to address a "value" option, a bike for everyday use that is affordable for more people.

For me the Halfords | Carrera Subway 8 Hybrid Bike 18" looks like excellent value at £350.

Subway8

  • You get 8 gears (Shimano Nexus which should be fine for daily use if you are not attempting to break any speed records). The gears will require no maintenance (although be warned there are scare stories on the internet about people whose nexus gears have failed after a few 1,000 miles – but it looks like they were enthusiastic hard riders which the nexus is not designed for).
  • You get roller brakes. Zero maintenance. Perfectly adequate if you are not expecting race bike responses.
  • You get mudguards/fenders. Essential for everyday use. You stay much drier when there are puddles and the whole bike stays cleaner which means you do as well.
  • You can fit rear and front racks which makes it easy to carry plenty of stuff without having to put it on your back (you stay drier and cooler and get less tired).
  • Should be easy to get a basic chainguard fitted eg a SKS ChainBoard.
    2290500400Available from many UK bike shops from around £15. Many shops will have other brands just as good.

I have seen so many people struggling with cheap, heavy mountain bikes. They end up walking up hills because the gears don't change properly (so many just can't get the front gear change to work at all). They can't fit racks so can't carry much. They have knobbly tyres that are slow and heavy. They have no mudguards so think you can't ride a bike if the ground is damp without getting dirty. They need bikes like the Subway 8 that are fine with all the off roading they ever do and work so much better around town.

If shops sold bikes like this people would ride them so much more than the cheap mountain bikes rusting away in sheds.

And the stupid thing is that I have visited the 4 nearest Halfords shops and not one has a Subway 8 for sale, some even tried to deny that Halfords sold them at all.

If you want a bike to ride around town and on bridleways and the National Cycle Network then do not let shops sell you a rubbish mountain bike. Demand a bike with:

  • Hub gears (they will all work, they will work for years, you will not need to do any maintenance). If you are in anywhere that is not flat then look at more than 3 gears.
  • Roller Brakes (no maintenance)
  • Mudguards/Fenders (no bike cleaning, no special clothes needed)
  • Rear Rack (carry shopping etc)
  • Front Basket (makes like so much more convenient around town)
  • Chainguard (one to properly keep the chain away from your clothes and water/dirt off the chain).

Happy to collect suggestions for alternatives.

BBC News – ‘Most dangerous’ UK roads named by safety group

From BBC News – 'Most dangerous' UK roads named by safety group we have a very sensible suggestion. Target money at the roads where the most accidents happen. It seems simple changes would be cheap and immediately save lives.

Surely it seems obvious to allocate an amount of money each year to be spent on the most dangerous roads from the previous year – duh! Why has this not been done every year for the past n years? It is so obvious. I guess most people think this would be common sense and be standard practice.

Of course exactly the same should be done to look at the dangers for cyclists and pedestrians. We already know a hugely disproportionate amount of the cyclists killed in London are killed by HGV's during the morning rush hour. We know that these often happen when the HGV is turning left and squashes the cyclist against fixed railings.

Somebody should have a pot of money with the simple task of working from road death and injury records to systematically target the most common causes. They need the power for solutions such as to extend the time restrictions on HGV's, demolish railings, put in proper segregated Dutch style cycle facilities. All so that the worst causes have serious resources allocated every year.

Note that blame the victim activities (helmet enforcement, luminous jackets, cycle training) do NOT count. This resources must be used on engineering solutions on the ground (and is restricted to ones that encourage cycling and walking by tackling the ones that do the killing & injuring).

Packing started

Making progress. The removal company has been chosen and one of the jobs yesterday was to collect a load of boxes from them so we can start packing.

So today some good progress was made. The first boxes are packed (2 boxes of candles were first, then several boxes of bike bits). More importantly we are making significant progress on reducing stuff. We have 2.5 boxes of books waiting to go to a local charity shop. We have taken loads of stuff for recycling. 

It looks like a trike (Stein Road Shark) and bike (Kingcycle) have new owners and will leave soon. We are passing on 3 children's bikes that our boys have grown out of while we have been here. Would still like to sell the Challenge Fujin (well like not the best word as it is a wonderful bike that it will be painful to lose but space will not easily allow me to keep it).

Anyway I had a big sort out of all the bike related stuff. Now in neat boxes so can be used while taking less space (one for racks, one for mudguards, one for pedals, one for computers and lights, one for chain, one for tubes and repair kits, …)

The goal is to continue to reduce the stuff we have and need to move by drastic amounts as we process things. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks we will clear the garage so that it can be used to store packed boxes rather than try to live around them.

Anyway no more progress will be made this week/weekend due to rather crazy work schedule while also supposedly helping to clear out Mum's bungalow.

Kingcycle for sale

[Update] Sold! [end update] In 42: Recumbent bikes and trike for sale I gave very few details of the Kingcycle that I am selling. I was asked for some pictures so here they are (all on flickr as well). Also some detailed notes below the images.

Kingcycle01
Kingcycle02
Kingcycle03
Kingcycle04
Kingcycle05
Kingcycle06
Kingcycle07
Kingcycle08
Kingcycle09
Kingcycle10
Also here are some notes about the specification as it is quite different from the original.

Classic Kingcycle, size long.

  • Webbing for seat was renewed by D.Tek when we bought this in Spring 2004 complete with tailbox. 

Changes since then

Wheels:

  • New 20" front wheel with Shimano Deore Hydraulic Disc Brake. Rim Sun Cr18, Hub DMR Revolver. Tyre is Schwalbe Marathon Slick 35-406. Disc brake mounting is welded to the original front fork.
  • New 26" rear wheel. Shiman Deore Hydraulic Disc Brake. Hope Hub (came with this bike), Keba rim 559-17, Tyre Panaracer 32-559. Disc brake mounting is on the end of the chainstay
  • Clearance for tyres front and rear is tight. Smaller tyres would increase this but personally my preference is for as much air in the tyres as possible for ride quality

Drivetrain:

  • Front chainrings 54&40
  • Stronglight cranks
  • Rear 8 speed 28×11
  • Front dérailleur Shimano RX100
  • Rear dérailleur Shimano 105
  • Twistgrip style gear changers

Misc:

  • Includes a basic Halfords computer
  • Cateye wing mirror
  • One water bottle holder (space for two)
  • Water deflector fitted between seat and stem
  • I have the original 2 rear lights for the tail fairing but currently they are not fitted.

Earlier changes:

When I bought the bike the gears did not work and the brakes were useless. The original brakes had been replaced with a useless side pull brake on the front and a tandem drag brake on the rear (the alignment was poor so it either dragged all the time or barely functioned).

The rear wheel had a heavy steel rim combined with a lovely Hope hub. The front wheel also had a steel rim and a Moulton tyre.

I was unable to find compatible Magura hydraulic rim brakes so decided to switch to disc brakes. The work was done by Andy Duffin of A.D. Cycles in Horsham

Also I could not find any 24" rims so switched to the 26" rim at the back. The choice of 406 tyres was so much better that I went for the larger front rim as well. Ideally you would swap to smaller chainrings to compensate for the larger rear wheel but I have not done so yet. 

Blogging:

I wrote a few blog posts about the Kingcycle at the time. See 

3 more great urban bikes

In 42: Great City Bikes I looked at two options if you want bikes to carry lots and lots of stuff.

Now for three options for general purpose city bikes that combine

  • Clean easy cycling in ordinary clothes
  • Very low maintenance
  • Good load carrying capacity

In other words for fast, hassle free transport around a city these are great.

Techno geeks will be interested that these three share a fairly recent innovation. None of them use a chain, instead they use a Gates Carbon Belt Drive. This has two key advantages for city bikes as it has no oil or grease to get on clothes and it will not rust or become less efficient if left out in the rain.

All these bikes will offer better performance than a typical Dutch style bike which is usually of interest in less cycle friendly cities or in hillier areas. On the other hand they may also be more desirable to thieves in cities where there is a lot of cycle theft.

In order of price they are

Trek Bikes: Soho.

Soho_rainygray  As the cheapest of these options, the most obvious cost saving is the brakes. Roller brakes one of the lowest maintenance brakes available (rear coaster brake being the only lower maintenance option). 

It comes complete with mudguards but no rack (it does have full mounting points for a rear rack and also for a rack for front panniers).

I have ridden one for a while around Cambridge thanks to Ben Hayward Cycles. In that ride it was very pleasant and easy to ride. I was unable to subject the brakes to any severe testing, in that simple ride they were absolutely fine. 

If you look for  reviews on the internet you will find a number of complaints that the brakes are poor and not very ineffective. My suggestion would be that if you live in a hilly area or are going to carry heavy loads that you test the bike carefully. My suspicion is that they will take a bit of bedding in so will not be at their best on a brand new bike, also they will need the brake levers to be squeezed harder than either rim or disc brakes and they will not provide very precise feel.

I like this a lot, sadly no step through frame available. For all but enthusiastic cyclists wanting to hammer along and be able to stop in an instant it seems like a good modern city bike that is somewhat higher performance than a typical city bike (more rigid, lower handlebars, more gears, lighter) while still being very low maintenance.

UK Cost around £800

Globe Bicycles: Live 3.

Globe-live-3-2010-city-bike This is a very interesting bike (from a spin off company from Specialized) that is sadly not yet available in the UK, but might be during autumn 2010. I have ridden the single speed version at the cycle show last year.

Compared to the Trek Soho the most obvious difference is the front basket which can carry 25kg. It still has all the mountings for a rear rack to balance the load (or simply carry more).

It also has Hydraulic disc brakes providing far greater stopping power for slightly more maintenance (changing the pads every few 1,000 miles, occasional cleaning and/or adjustment to avoid rubbing/squealing).

Globe-live-3-mixte-womens-2010-city-bike Unlike the Trek it is also available with a mixte frame style, a so called women's frame. Actually such frames are very practical for anyone who does not wish to swing a leg over the saddle to get on. Makes it so much easier to get on and off, particularly if heavily loaded (at a cost in rigidity).

As with the Trek there is a minimalist chain guard (but no chain, this is protecting the belt). This is not to stop the chain going rusty nor to stop you getting oil on your clothes (the belt does not rust and does not have any oil or grease on it). Instead it simply stops trousers/laces getting caught in the drive and if the belt picks up dirt should keep that away from you.

The mudguards wrap around much more than the Trek which is better for keeping you dry but you will need to be more careful of branches getting caught in them. A two leg stand is included.

The seating position is more upright with more swept back handlebars so it will be more relaxed to ride but a little slower. A test ride is recommended as a number of reviews on the internet mention that the steering is quite sharp/sensitive.

Current USA price converted to UK is approx £1,000

Tout Terrain: Metropolitan.

Metropolitan In this mini comparison the Tout Terrain Metropolitan stands out in many ways, not just the price.

First, the rear rack is an integrated part of the main frame, not bolted on. This is a standard feature of all the bikes from Tout Terrain. It means the load can be carried lower and the weight capacity is greater (40kg in this case).

Second, there are a number of super practical details such as the handlebar stop which prevents the handlebars from turning more than 90 degrees (less impact on actual cycling than the spring on the Globe Live 3).

The Metropolitan comes with 50mm tyres compared to the 32mm of the Trek and Globe that is going to be better on poor surfaces providing a more comfy ride and being more robust (more protection to the wheel and will also be less prone to punctures especially pinch flats). Thus a better choice for any off road riding (or cobbles for that matter).

There is support for front panniers and so this has the greatest potential load capacity (although still less than half that of either the bikes I mentioned in 42: Great City Bikes).

Like the Globe Live the Metropolitan comes with Hydraulic disc brakes (although these are Shimano rather than Tektro) so great braking performance with little maintenance.

Sadly no chain guard (well belt guard given that this is also a Gates Carbon Belt Drive bike), pity that as it will mean you will want to use cycle clips or tuck your trousers in which is a hassle on a city bike.

This is available both with the same hub gear as the others (Shimano Alfine 8 speed) but also with the ultimate hub gear which is a Rohloff 14 speed. That will last you for ever and has a much better gear range but at a high price.

There are many other options for the Metropolitan including dynamo lights with concealed cables. Also a choice of handlebars (swept back or more "sporty") and front suspension.

There are other models in the range from Tout Terrain such as the Boulevard which is essentially a chain version of the Metropolitan.

Priced in Euros which is approximately £1,300