Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Free Cycle

My bike has now officially paid for itself. Since I bought it I've saved over three hundred quid on Tube tickets, which easily covers the cost of the bike (£80 second hand off eBay) plus all the bits and bobs like locks, saddles, panniers and servicing - and even little MMVII's child seat (a Leco, which is worth a blog entry in itself).

So the obvious thought crossed my mind... does that mean I'm allowed a new bike then? Now don't get me wrong, my bike's pretty good in many ways, but it is a bit old and creaky. For example, while I don't think I need 24 gears to cross Waterloo Bridge, only having 3 does make it hard work for an old duffer sometimes. The dynamo is truly terrible. The back brake ain't all that. And so on.

My ideal bike would still be a Dutch-style 'Town Bike' - I do regularly use all the features, even the built in lock. Just maybe slightly better all round than I have at present. So let me fantasise a bit... I want:

  • A good strong frame with absolutely no sporting pretensions whatsoever
  • For riding comfort, the largest frame I can actually get astride (in my case that's about 21")
  • Also for comfort: traditional large wheels - 26" or maybe even 28"
  • Full mudguards - and I quite like the look of those 'coat guards'
  • A men's (high) or unisex (medium) top tube to bolt MMVII's saddle to
  • High swept-back handlebars for a proper sit-up-and-beg riding position
  • Comfortable saddle (I hear good things about Brooks leather saddles, once you've worn them in)
  • Built in rear wheel lock - ideally also with an extending cable. Great while dropping MMVII off at nursery
  • Hub gears still, but more than 3. They come with up to 14 gears now, which is getting a bit unnecessary I think: 5 to 8 would be plenty.
  • I'd also love a 'coaster' brake at the back, where you pedal backwards to slow down
  • A hub brake at the front as well - plus a built in hub dynamo
  • LED dynamo lights with capacitor 'stand' light, so they stay on even when you're stopped at a junction
  • A kickstand
  • A proper traditional bell - or possibly even a horn
  • Fully enclosed chain guard (why on earth would you leave oily mechanical bits like that exposed to the weather?)
  • Rear carrier, ideally with luggage which doesn't look like a bike pannier
  • Maybe a front carrier too
I genuinely drew up the above list before I stumbled across this, which - apart from the chain not being completely enclosed - is pretty much perfect:

Yum. It's a Velorbis Churchill Classic 21", it's Danish designed, German made, and it costs about 6 months' worth of not going on the Tube. Tempting! Darling MCMLXX, can I get one if I PROMISE to keep riding it through the winter...?

Friday, August 13, 2010


After spending quite a lot of time cycling behind other people, I’ve concluded that there are three distinct categories of jiggle:

The No Jiggle
The hard-bodied lycra brigade do not have an ounce of fat on them, so when they go over a bump... absolutely nothing happens. This is mildly upsetting. They should get out less.

The Full Body Jiggle
Conversely, people like me who are cycling ‘to get back in trim’ (i.e. fat buggers) have a very visible response to a bump or pothole. Firstly minor tremors radiate out from the epicentre. Then there is the Full Body Jiggle: while most of the body follows the movement of the bicycle, large soft bits round the middle follow a couple of seconds behind. This looks slightly amazing actually, as if suspension were involved - but also mildly upsetting, mainly because I know that’s what other people see when I go over a bump.

The Just A Little Jiggle
I’ve only ever really noticed this on women. It’s.. um.. very nice. Do you mind if I follow you down this cobbled street?