Posts Tagged ‘hack’

Busted chainring

Definitely one for the broken archives.

This happened back in February. It actually all started in December last year, when I needed to change the dinged chainring (I feel the irony too) on my hack bike, and discovered that the bolts were simply turning in their washers as opposed to unscrewing normally. Out came the drill – wired from my kitchen, out of the window, through my neighbour’s garden, to my work bench. Four hours of heavy hand-tooling later, I succeeded in dismantling the bastard.

The saga continued when I replaced the drilled-out bolts with fresh ones, but didn’t tighten them up properly. 3 days of commuting later, I was pulling away from the lights at the Atkins Road crossroads, and my pedal stroke turned to butter. Looking down, I could see that the force of my downstroke had warped the chainring into the shape of a crisp. Cue an emergency call to Jas, who drove out to rescue me.

I’m now on my third chainring, but so far so normal.

Commuting: dawn of a new era

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Box fresh: the Edinburgh Bicycle Revolution Courier Race.

I have a new hack. Soak it up.

For the last 5 or so years of living in London, I’ve got by on a motley crew of unreliable commute bikes, piecing together old broken frames with hand-me-down componentry and bottom-dollar bits. I’ve only ever ridden nice, smooth bikes on the weekend. No longer.

I bought the Edinburgh Bicycle Revolution Courier Race in a hurry following the sudden demise of the Ballistic. Slightly gutting was today’s realisation that had I waited 2 days I could have cashed in on the EB sale, saving £50 (15% off). F@*K.

Anyhow, I’ve now ridden the bike home. First impressions:

  • it’s heavy (frankly)
  • pretty wishy-washy steering BUT
  • it’s sturdy
  • it’s fast
  • the brakes are solid
  • it fits

The steering issue is probably more to do with my having ridden a bike with bent forks for 18 months, and I’ll get used to it over time. I’ve now fitted mudguards, SPDs and light mounts – bring on the autumn!

Now it’s broken

No explanation needed. This was the end of the gradual disintegration that began back in June. Check out some close-ups.

Kona Lava Dome wanted

If this is your bike, we need to talk.

If this is your bike, we need to talk.

I passed this bike chained to a railing on Mortimer Street today. It was a near-mint condition 1995 Kona Lava Dome in midnight blue, the exact same bike I received for Christmas in 1995. This was the rig that truly launched my lifelong love of bikes and biking.

I’m just going to pause a moment to remember this bike, and how great it was (for me, and probably a generation of others):

  • the Lava Dome was – up until 2007, when it was mysteriously retired – the classic entry-level MTB in the Kona stable, RRP £500.
  • the 1995 version had stunning understated good looks (IMHO Kona’s paint jobs have just got gaudier – check out the offensive 2006 version, perhaps the reason why it didn’t sell and Kona withdrew it?).
  • the Tange Infinity cromoly double butted frame, with its signature sloping top tube and tight rear triangle, rode like a dream – it climbed well, it loved singletrack.

I had this bike for 11 years. A few highlights from its rise and fall:

  • 1996: upgrade to Pace RC35 suspension forks
  • 1996: 6 days bike touring in the Scottish highlands
  • 1997: flew with me to Vancouver, Canada for a year of north shore trail-riding
  • 1998: 24 hours of Adrenalin, Whistler, B.C.
  • 1998: big bike tour down the west coast of the US, hitting some classic singletrack in Washington and Oregon
Riding Mount St Helens in 1998 - has there ever been a better advert for this bike?

Riding Mount St Helens in 1998 - has there ever been a better advert for this bike?

  • 1998: frame bent on the flight back to UK, cannibalised for bits
  • 1998-2001: frame hangs in my shed in Stoke
  • 2002: the Lava Dome returns as a singlespeed hack for the streets of Edinburgh
  • 2003-06: the hack moves to London
  • 2006: after weeks of cracking, the frame snaps at the rear drive-side drop-out. The broken frame is deposited in a skip near Brick Lane.
Surveying the damage up close in 2006.

Surveying the damage up close in 2006.

You can imagine the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced on seeing this bike in the street. Frankly, I was on the phone to somebody and had to hang up. I realised that I would pay over the odds to ride this bike again. If it’s yours, leave a comment!

Update @24-8-09

Andy Booth has alerted me to this retro bikes site, and in particular to this beautifully restored 1993 Lava Dome. Sweet.

Downtime

Ride to drink.

Ride to drink.

Post-Marmotte, I’ve enjoyed a month of downtime. I’ve found this period invaluable in recovering both physically and mentally, not so much from the event itself, but from the six-month build-up to it.

January to June of this year, I organised my life around the bike. Now clearly, I like cycling; but, in the weeks after achieving the biggest goal I’ve (so far) set myself on the bike, being free from the mental focus of preparing for the event has been a serious load off. Just having the option of riding, if I feel like it, is a luxury. Being able to drink to excess is, once again, a guilt-free pleasure. The gratuitous eating of cake at office parties – a delirious indulgence.

Predictably, since I returned from France, I’ve been on excellent form, so I’ve certainly been out on the bike – but not mid-week, and not if I didn’t feel like it. Mainly, I’ve been hammering my busted commute bike (nope, still haven’t broken it yet) around town at high speeds. I’ve also been out for a couple of rides with Millsy (who’s heading to the Pyrenees this week following a strong performance in the London Triathlon).

I went out yesterday for a 5-hour solo mission, and again, felt strong. I’ve been refusing all requests to enter further sportives this year, but now I’m not so sure…

Listen to the sound… of my rig

Just days, yes days, after I sold the Muni-Mula frame, this happens. Loud creaking suddenly developed while riding my hack from work to Fulham last Tuesday. Dismounting, I discovered a big crack in the frame where the top tube joins the seat tube. 

I’m still riding it – but how long will it last?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Snow sucks

This weather is busting me up. My bike’s still dirty from the Ashdown, my commute hack’s dying on its legs, all I want to do is ride in the sun.

The hack

My hack bike is the one I commute on. Here she is, the Ballistic, in all her filthy glory (and in high-contrast black and white to emphasise her gritty street credentials). Robust and uncomplaining, the Ballistic has seen me through two years of hardcore inner-London riding. She’s caked in dirt and oil, the grips are worn out, the forks are bent (a slight late-night mishap, I’m not going into it), the rear hub rattles and the saddle always slips back on the seatpost. But she’s light, nimble, and capable of serious speed when properly worked.