Bikes past and present, in some sort of order of ‘current-ness’:
The first bike that I can only justify acquiring on the grounds that it’s gorgeous and it’s my hobby. Another from CRC which I spotted on the shop floor at £50 but unserviced so not ready for sale. Am hoping to exchange it for 25 m of white brake cable (minus what I need). I’m taking the opportunity to give it a thorough going over in time that is additional to my normal Saturday shift so it’s taking a while.
Current status: fitted new Raleigh Record tyres, serviced front hub and headset. Removed cotter pins (vice required) and crankset. New cables, feels like rear hub needs a service. It’s come home now and been ridden a little on the way; feels so nice to be sitting up, love it.
My ‘good’ bike; tourer and audax machine. Bought in 2013 for my John o’Groats trip, the only change to the standard spec was a dymano hub and B&M Cyo N Plus front light. I fitted a rear B&M 4D-Lite Plus myself later on. I already had the front and rear racks that had been used on my Trek, and it’s been through a few saddles. I changed to a short stem pretty quickly. It did about 1400 km that year camping.
Original spec: Hewitt wheels, SONdelux dynamo and rear hub Shimano Deore, Continental Touring Plus tyres, SKS guards.
My first audax was later that year. At the time of writing (September 2018) it’s slowly evolved and done 9000 km of audax rides; first I changed the tyres and more recently the wheels, and a number of luggage options have been tried with my favourite being a Carradice Super C rack bag. Some audaxes have involved camping and having the rack permanently attached makes sense.
Current status: Hewitt original wheels are reserved for proper touring, and need new rims (certainly the rear). Audax wheels are Mavic Open Pro rims, DT Competition double-butted spokes, front hub Shimano DH-3N80 dynamo, rear Shimano LX FH-T670, built by me and Roger Musson’s Wheelbuilding book; Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard tyres. New mudguards are Gilles Berthoud bling after going through too many rear SKS plastic ones. A nightmare to fit but hopefully they’ll last a bit longer. Following a bike fit I have a Thomson in-line seat post and a Fabric Cell saddle.
After the theft of the Grater I needed a new commuter/utility/hack bike, and I thought a tatty old rigid mountain bike would nice and practical but also less desirable to thieves. I had a look at a few in Cycle ReCycle (CRC, where I volunteer); rigid adult MTBs are usually around £50 but this was £70 as it is relatively light and has decent components (Shimano LX), although they let me have it for free. The frame is completely black but the bars say Scott AT2 on, and the wisdom of the internet as identified it as a Boulder of around 1995. It has a few little bits of rust which add to the anti-theft nature of it but are superficial.
I changed the knobbly tyres before leaving the shop, to some used slicks that we had lying about (rear a Schwalbe City Jet and the front a Tioga City Slicker which looks almost identical), and found an old rack which needed some bending to fit. The top tube height is fine but the reach was ridiculous, so I changed to an in-line seat post and a shorter stem, being able to swap both for used components from CRC. It needed new bar tape and I’ve changed the saddle to one of my collection. I fitted emergency mudguards made of Aldi water bottles (17p), the rear isn’t too ineffective but the front, being down-tube mounted, only protects when travelling in a straight line. Still it’s better than nothing. A new chain was required after the existing one snapped in a busy-junction scenario (always the way). I love the fat tyres, they are really comfortable, but I’m not sure that they leave enough clearance for proper mudguards, which I do need. Longer term I’d like to fit a hub dynamo and lights.
Current status: daily commuting and shopping.
This was an eBay bargain…when my Trek needed new rims I started thinking about other changes that I would make for a fantasy commuter, started looking for a hub gear, and ended up finding one that came with this bike for about the price of a new hub. Hence the Trek was retired. I thought the Grater was a small size when I bought it but it actually was an extra small, and I think the small would have been a better fit for me, but it was nice and comfortable for pootling to the shops and going to work. The 8 speed gear range was fine for getting up the hills in Leeds, with the added bonus of being able to change gear when stationary. I fitted my Brooks saddle and On-One Mary handlebars (which I love), fitted a rack and changed the pedals.
Current status: one day I parked it, with a decent cable lock, outside WHSmith while I popped into Cycle Surgery for a few minutes. When I came out it had disappeared, leaving no trace. I reported it and scoured eBay and Gumtree for a while; it was unique with the bits I had changed plus I had the frame number. But no luck, and after I investigating I didn’t think it was worth claiming on my home insurance.
I was able to justify buying this when living in a flat with little storage, and I’d also had a small redundancy payment. It got heavy use when I was working in Coventry, first when I was train commuting from Nuneaton and later in a house where ‘proper’ bikes had to live upstairs and I’d soon tire of carrying one up and down everyday. Since moving to Leeds it’s only had occasional use but I’d never get rid of it, it’s so handy; recently it’s been on a canal boat trip, on the train to Bradford a few times, and as an emergency spare when my commuter was nicked. Feels really odd to ride now that I’m not used to it.
Current status: it’s a proper Trigger’s broom, the rear triangle is looking rather rusty and could do with replacing.
Bought this on a bike to work scheme (back when they actually saved you money), it’s probably done the fewest miles of any of them. I’ve found that my adrenalin threshold is quite low and throwing myself down rock strewn paths isn’t my idea of fun. I’ve kept it because although it’s fairly decent I couldn’t sell it for much (it’s hardly cutting edge) and I have made use of it as a winter bike with studded tyres. Also I’d like to ride some more tame trails, like bits of the Pennine Bridleway. Because, I think, of lack of use, the disc brakes have been problematic and I’ve spent more time messing with them without actually riding the bastard.
Current status: needs a new rear brake hose.
This was my first ‘proper new’ bike, as in I did some research before buying it. I remember having a test ride and thinking how much more nimble it felt than the Purple thing. I got it in Exeter when I had my first job, it was about £370 including mudguards, rear rack and panniers. I’m still using the rack and panniers now. I didn’t know much about bikes then so it was just that, a bike. It did mostly commuting duties, but also a few longer rides and pub trips (and oh, the best pubs). It spent a while in my parents’ barn until I had use for it and space to keep it again. I used it for about a year, again commuting, from the northern reaches of Leighton Buzzard to Milton Keynes; this was about half on tow paths and I learned to love Schwable Marathons. I resurrected it when living in Coventry and doing my first tour – to Lands End (well when I set out all I knew was that I was headed to a campsite in Taunton for a few days and that after that I had a couple of weeks of leave). When I moved to Leeds I stopped using my Brompton for commuting and started using this again.
Current status: It needed new rims (originals badly worn), but with the combination of a lack of logic, an interest in an alternative commuting steed, and eBay, this led to the purchase of the Charge Grater, and the Trek was donated to Cycle Recycle in Bradford (where I help out doing mechanic stuff when I can). It was one of their more expensive ‘for sale’ bikes, but after a few months it was sold and I’m happy to think it’s out there somewhere keeping someone else happy.
Purple thing ‘Universal’?
Sadly I don’t even have a photo of this. It was the first bike I bought rather than being provided by parents as a thing that children have. I must have been about 16, my dad took me to a sale of ex-hire mountain bikes and we tried this one. It might have been about £60 at the time. I know I requested a pair of mudguards for it for my birthday. I took it to university at various points when it was more sensible than walking about (I went to university in St Andrews where it was possible to walk from one extreme end of town to the other in an hour, so a bike made short work of anything).
I used it mostly (miles-wise) to commute when I lived in Troon and worked at (as-then) SmithKline Beecham in Irvine, on a 6 month student placement. There was no other way I could get to work. I remember that first ride in: tracksuit trousers and a too-warm jacket, rucksack, totally unfit…it didn’t take long before I was loving my morning sight of Ailsa Craig, and joining Sustrans* and dreaming of touring.
Current status: I don’t know what happened to it…probably still in my parents’ barn
*Finally cancelled my direct debit a few years ago after a farcical route through my then place of work and meeting a member of their staff…