unloveable

 

I should say right away, this music video is a little bit… challenging. Probably not suitable for work, certainly not suitable for children and is likely to cause offence.

But hey, it’s my blog and it’s a great song so it’s staying up.

Last time we were doing science, maths, Latin and generally making up new words. Tonight’s post contains graphic images of engineering, detailed descriptions of science and flagrant use of mathematics. Oh and that scary video. You have been warned.

BEHOLD: The Roadgre.

Surly Ogre 1Or, some of it at least. No sooner had I got the frame home from the shop and I was already throwing the wheels on to get an idea of how the finished article might look.

PDW payload pannier rackThe swoopy looking pannier rack was a bit of an impulse buy as I handed over an envelope stuffed with cash for the frameset. It’s a Portland Design Works (PDW) Payload and it comes complete with a rather fetching bamboo deck to appeal to your inner hipster. Time will tell how well it performs in the cargo carrying stakes (it’s rated to an impressive 35kg / 77lbs) and I’m most interested to see how the double-ply bamboo will stand up to Manchester’s wet and grimy back streets. In the meantime, the cool factor is off the scale and you’ll be unsurprised to learn I’ve been scouring the interwebs for matching bamboo mudguards ever since I first laid eyes on it.

The wheels are Shimano WH-S500, 700c diameter and 17mm wide; quite a bit narrower than the usual 29er offering you’ll find on most Ogres out there but still recommended for tyres up to 37c wide. Until the ice starts settling in, I’ll be running a set of Halo Twin Rail dual compound tyres (700×38) which fit perfectly. In fact, I’ll wager those skinny hoops would quite happily carry a much wider tyre without any problems. When the temperature really starts to drop, I’ll swap over to a set of Schwalbe ice spike tyres (also 700×38); I’ve never ridden with spikes before so that’ll be an interesting experiment.

The front hub comes equipped with a Shimano dynamo hub which I’ll be tying into front and rear lamps with built in standlights just as soon as I’ve settled on a pair with a good balance of features, affordability and lack of ugliness.

The rear hub is the real reason I ended up splurging on these wheels in the first place, it is of course a Shimano Alfine 8 speed internal gear hub (IGH). The IGH is by no means a new thing, in fact just about everyone (whether they cycle or not) has probably heard of the legendary Sturmey Archer 3 speed IGH. When looked after well, those old beauties will probably outlast the frames they’re attached to and even some of the people riding the bikes – it’s no surprise that even today the really good ones from the 1960s and 1970s can be found all over the world, turning out mile after mile of weather-proof, tickticktickticktickticktick commuting.

Surly Ogre Shimano Alfine 8 20t cogDo a little research and you’ll discover the woes of the 1980s and 1990s Sturmey hubs when it’s fair to say the company wasn’t exactly at the top of its game. Happily (and with considerable help from Sunrace) modern Sturmey Archer hubs are as good as, if not better than, the classic originals. Essentially, the Alfine 8 speed I settled on is cut from the same cloth; the internal gearing is based on the same basic yet horribly complicated looking principles and, unlike a traditional cassette & derailleur setup, most of the important moving parts are safely sealed away inside the hub, happily swimming around in grease, shielded from the elements.

Front and rear hubs are both compatible with Shimano’s Centrelock disc brake system which is previously unseen and untested here at lifeinthecyclelane so keep an eye out for a report on how they compare to the more common 6 bolt mounting most systems use these days.

Shimano Alfine chainsetAs with all Shimano gear, the wheels, cassette mounting kit and cog all come with excellent instructions in a variety of languages; there are even easy to follow pictures if you get tired of searching for the English section.

A word to the wise however: the neatly assembled hub you see above didn’t come about by accident. Nu-uh. First, there is mention of installing a dust cover which, as it turns out, I didn’t need to fit at all but I only realised this after far too many minutes of trying to make something fit that simply was never going to. Happily, once I’d realised the error of my ways and thrown the stupid mangled piece of plastic in the bin, the cog slipped beautifully into place and was held in place with a thumb-torturingly tight snap ring. A real pain to get seated but once it’s on, the cog is firmly snugged up against the hub body. Next comes the weird, cheap plastic feeling cassette joint which requires a little bit of lining up before a so-simple-it-seems-wrong lockring is clicked into place with whatever remains of your bleeding stumps and hey presto it’s all ready to go!

With the wheels finally put together and mounted on the frame, I turned my attention to mouting the matching Shimano Alfine S500 chainset. The external bottom bracket cups went in like a dream and, as I admired the beautiful mirrored black finish and slid the bottom bracket axle through, that horrible realisation washed over me…

Here’s an experiment for you. Head over to Google Images (other high quality search engines are available) and type in “Surly Ogre Alfine 8” and you’ll find loads of ’em out there with the same rear hub as mine. Now, try “Surly Ogre Alfine Chainset” and you won’t find a single one. I didn’t think much of it at the time but I now know why you don’t see the S500 chainset on the Ogre…

Surly Ogre Shimano Alfine ChainsetSurly Ogre Shimano Alfine Chainset Bottom BracketThe Ogre has a 73mm wide bottom bracket shell and it turns out the Alfine S500 chainset is only suitable for 68mm bottom bracket shells… that’ll explain why the chainring is about to foul the chainstay and there’s still a good 5mm of axle yet to install.

So yeah, whilst fatties might fit fine, what would appear to be a completely logical choice of chainset simply won’t.

Normally, I’d chalk this down to my not doing enough research before buying the parts but at no point in the product description or the multi-lingual instruction pamphlet does it say the chainset is only suitable for 68mm shells. What’s even more strange is that all other Shimano chainsets I’ve come across with external bottom bracket cups are suitable for both 68mm and 73mm shells, you just use or discard a 5mm spacer accordingly.

So. If you have a 68mm wide bottom bracket shell and you’re looking for a 39tooth single speed chainset, drop me a line at jimmy.phoenix@yahoo.co.uk

For now, it’s back to the drawing board for me as I try to figure out which chainset I now want to use and I’m still waiting for my Jtek bar end shifter to arrive.

In the meantime, I’m sorry to say that the surprisingly disappointing Shimano S500 single speed chainset will be the first entry into the ‘kit I hate’ section.

mr postman

 

There’s a rather exciting development waiting in the wings here at lifeinthecyclelane HQ… I’m bursting to tell you all about it but it’s not all finalised yet so you’ll just have to remain on the edge of your seats holding your breath for a little while longer…

You will be familiar with the equation for working out the appropriate number of bikes to own:

n + 1
(where n = the number of bikes you currently own)

In the last few weeks, n has been in steady decline. Now, I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking this is a bad thing. You’re thinking several things must be wrong. You’re thinking “why are we doing maths?”. You’re thinking Karen’s finally had enough of all these bikes, killed me dead, given my collection away and taken over my blog.

Fear ye not. I am alive and well (a bit sniffly, but generally OK) and the only thing being killed off is my collection of bikes. This, believe it or not, is a good thing.

You thought the maths was bad? Prepare yourselves for some science!

“Horror vacui (Nature abhors a vacuum)”

Interestingly enough, I abhor a vacuum too. I’m sure we’ve got one in the cupboard somewhere but it’s far from my favourite household appliance.

Nature contains no vacuums because the denser surrounding material continuum would immediately fill the rarity of an incipient void. Or, if there is a space with nothin’ in it, somethin’ will fill it.

Here at the HQ, the void has appeared as a result of several projects finally making their way off to new homes:

425348_10150673432819863_784234862_8829403_132888241_nFirst, it was my beloved Falcon Panther 10 speed road bike which I rescued from the scrapheap. 27″ wheels, bullhorn bars, a Selle San Marco Regal saddle and full friction downtube shifters. That was a fun bike to ride! It’s currently somewhere in London being ridden around by a guy who always wanted one when he was a kid.

Raleigh Compact 3 speed folding bikeNext up was this quirky little Raleigh Shopper 3 speed folding bike. A major diversion from the usual things you see roll out of the workshop but it was heaps of fun all the same. All she needed was a fresh set of tyres, a bit of adjustment of the brakes & gears and she was off to Merseyside. No more sitting about in a dusty old shed, she can now been found pootling up and down the docks, transporting the lady who bought her back to her childhood.

Carrera Epic flat barsMore recently, I shocked the world with the pink & green madness that was the Carrera Epic flat bar road bike build. Deliberately different, deliberately challenging, I wanted this bike to turn heads and turn heads it did! Selling it proved to be quite the challenge in the end and when it finally did go, the guy buying it for his girlfriend asked me to include the original black saddle… Shame, I liked it with the pink one! Anyway, if you see it being ridden around London, do drop me a line and let me know which one it’s got on.

994151_10151707854699863_1000163482_nSince then, I ended up adopting Penelope here. Since taking this photo, I’ve swapped out the saddle, given her flat bars, new brake levers, new cables all around and fitted 2.2″ DMR Moto RT tyres. She loves hitting the back streets of Salford for a quick, hard ride but I just can’t devote enough attention to her since setting the Troll up as a mountain bike. Earlier today, I sold her to another guy in London (seems to be a dangerous shortage of cool bikes down there) so she’ll be off in search of new adventures down there in a few days’ time.

1236615_10151932228879863_88922407_nA little while ago, I bagged a Pashley Millenium workhorse, formerly spending its days delivering post around Manchester. I had all sorts of plans… I was going to have it blasted and powdercoated, I was going to give it a set of moustache bars, a top tube mounted 3 speed shifter, some vintage lamps and it was going to be my new winter commuter. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get on with the uber relaxed geometry so, I put it up for sale. A mere couple of hours ago, I was lifting it into the car boot of its proud new owner. And the best part? Ey, when he were a lad, it were all fields around St Helens and all his mates got racers but his parents couldn’t afford one so they bought him a £10 ex-postie bike from a 2nd hand shop. When he saw this one on eBay, he just had to have it because it reminds him of the one he had all those years ago.

Sure, I make a little bit of money on these bikes every now and again but there’s just nothing like the smile people get when they pick up something cool and it’s always nice to know it’ll be ridden and appreciated.

The resulting vacuum in the lifeinthecyclelane HQ workshop will soon be filled, have no fear. This next one is gonna be all kinds of cool… I CAN’T WAIT!!!

for what it’s worth

 

You can’t keep them all.

Correction: I can’t keep them all.

380924_10150419503169863_784234862_8039982_959727584_nMy girlfriend is quite patient with me and my bike obsession, bless her. But, patient as she may be, there was no mistaking the “Seriously, you’re actually paying money for that thing???” look she got on her face when I dragged her to an obscure corner of Oldham to pick up this beautiful old Falcon Panther.

425348_10150673432819863_784234862_8829403_132888241_nYou may even have read about the restoration of said bike here; like almost all of the bikes that enter my life, I pretty much fell completely in love with it and it’s been my ride of choice on only the warmest, driest days (except for those few emergencies where I needed to commute on it on grimy, rainy, horrible and / or icy days – an interesting experience, let me tell you!).

You will of course be familiar with the mathematical equation for working out the appropriate number of bikes to own:

n + 1
(where n = the number of bikes you currently own)

For me, that meant:

  1. Surly Troll touring / commuting / monster cross / fully rigid mountain / go-anywhere-do-anything bike
  2. Falcon Panther 10 speed warm weather hipster bike
  3. Carrera Epic flat bar road bike project (I haven’t told you about this one yet)
  4. Elswick Hopper Safeway 3 speed town bike project (Karen hasn’t realised I still have this one yet)
  5. Surly Krampus ridiculous dream bike (I haven’t convinced Karen to let me buy this one yet)

Kinesis Crosslight 4t NCN route 55So, when I examined n, realised I was running dangerously low on bikes and built myself my Kinesis Crosslight cyclocross / road(ish) bike, you can only imagine the look she got on her face… A word to the wise: No amount of pretending that bike frame shaped package the neighbours took in is actually a pair of diamond earrings is going to get that look off her face. I suspect an actual pair of diamond earrings might but we’ll never know because I’d just spent all my money on a new bike. Durr.

Before being struck down with a severe case of Man Flu, I gave the Kinesis a 100+ mile, week long shakedown of commuting, single track and high speed, Salford based madness on the roads. Somewhat unsurprisingly, I have a new love in my life.

All of this made me realise just how little I’ve actually ridden the Falcon. And, now I have the Kinesis, the chance of me wheeling it out of the garage have been cut in half (at least). So, it had to go up for sale.

Now, it’s been ‘up for sale’ before. I was asking silly money for it in the hope that either a) somebody would actually pay me silly money for it or b) nobody would actually pay me any money for it and I’d have to keep it. So this time, I put it up with a much more reasonable price tag; the likes of which people might actually consider paying, the likes of which might actually give me some more space in the garage and score me some much needed boyfriend points.

Now, I put quite a lot of time and money into that restoration (probably more than I should have) and, like any classic car owner will tell you, the chances of recouping what you spend on a restoration (let alone making any profit) are somewhere between slim and none.

I haven’t actually done the maths, but I figure I’ve probably broken even… but, the time I spent restoring it, the time I spent riding it, the knowledge that it’s going to someone who always wanted one when he was a kid and therefore appreciates the real value of the thing… well, that all makes it worthwhile to me.

This. This is how I’ll remember it.

545507_10151216346724863_732135669_n’twas a fine day.

good enough

 

Apologies to regular readers of this blog who’ve been waiting for the latest installment; things have been a bit crazy with pesky real life recently so I haven’t had much time for playing with bikes, let alone blogging about them.

Wait. There are regular readers of my blog, right? RIGHT?

Anyhoo, whether you are a regular reader, first time visitor or figment of my imagination, the important thing is I’m back and have finally found some some time for playing with bikes so here’s what I’ve been up to:

I like vintage wine, mature cheese and the older woman… these things tend to get better with age. And, whilst it’s true that new stuff also floats my boat on occasion, I think it’s fair to say my passion with bikes is also more on the vintage side these days.

The cause of much slow, sad headshaking from she who must be obeyed, my Coventry Eagle 3 speed and Falcon Panther 10 speed are cases in point. Both were originally a bit of a steal when I bagged them on eBay but, because of my bloody perfectionism, the resoration of both was not exactly cheap.

Now, we’ve already established (by which I mean Karen has told me) that I simply can’t keep all of the bikes I’ve ever owned in some kind of magical North American style barn adorned with Mantiques. Pfft. This kind of unrelenting (albeit logical) girlishness has meant that since their restorations, both the Coventry Eagle and Falcon have been up for sale in one way or another.

And yet, methaphorically at least, I do have my barn. Or, a small corner of it anyway. You see, as much as they’re up for sale, I’ve been asking quite unreasonably silly money for them. I suppose the me that’s sitting on his cracked old leather couch, listening to the jukebox and sipping a cold beer knows deep down that nobody was ever going to pay big money for them so they’d never sell.

Don’t tell Karen, OK?

This Coventry Eagle, my first vintage restoration in the shape of a single speed rat rod with carbon fibre brake levers was taken off my hands for £350.

What’s more, the guy who bought it damn near snatched my hand off as he laughing said “Really? You only want £350 for it???”. I wonder just how much it was actually worth…

Of course, it could have just been a fluke or it could have been that the guy worked in a bike shop on the same premises that used to be the Coventry Eagle factory… I guess things like this are really only worth as much as anyone’s willing to pay for them.

And so, an experiment.

Some time ago, I bagged another eBay bargain in the shape of an Elswick Hopper Safeway; another of the late, great steel framed, Sturmey Archer geared town bikes from England’s bike building days.

Here’s the usual ‘before’ shot… not in terrible shape, really. The paintwork’s a little rough in places and the chain is literally caked in oil and grime but mostly the mechanicals are OK.

Originally, as I was metaphorically sat on my metaphorical couch drinking my metaphorical beer, the plan was the usual ground up restoration with new bearings in the bottom bracket & headset, new tyres, new chain, new brakes, new cables, new saddle and most definitely new handlebars and stem.

The experiment however, has (so far) been much, much simpler. So far, All I’ve shelled out on is a pair of new tyres & tubes and a set of handlebars. I have ended up swapping out the rear wheel for another I had lying around which didn’t need truing and I raided my parts boxes for a replacement quill stem and set of pedals but everything else is pretty much exactly as it was.

I’m happy to recover my investment plus a little bit on this one so it’ll be going up for sale at a much more reasonable price with the hope that people will be more inclined to part with their cash.

An unexpected by-product of this approach has been my complete lack of any desire to keep this bike. I guess that makes me a motivated seller and Karen a less disgruntled girlfriend!