27/03/2017

I asked for your help & with many thanks you did!

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog asking for help "I need your help & hopefully you can" to help me get an eBike to try start cycling to work & with many many thanks a fair few of you did.

And with being so busy with life, work etc (the usual life stuff we all have to put up with). I have been neglectful in thanking everyone & updating as to what is happening so this blog is for you & anyone interested in how it all went & what is happening.

Well with all your help we raised £750 & with help of Cycling Made Easy in Coulsdon who had a customer selling a secondhand one in good condition & with warranty with the shop themselves, it was enough to go buy it.


And as soon as I got it home I used the remainder of the funds (& a bit more) to kit it out with new comfy Brooks saddle, mudguards, etc...



And I did try it out & rode it to work tho found the automatic gears a hindrance on the hills, so upgraded them to a nice Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub.

 


And this proved to help the bike & extend the battery life as not fighting the automatic gears. And I have ridden the bike to work a few times now but the route has been worked on in the time I was working on getting an ebike & Highway England made a right hash of it & made the route more awful than ever (A12 survey report of the incomplete & shoddy works between Witham & Marks Tey) which I am trying to get sorted. Anyway despite this I am using the ebike to get to work every now & then, unfortunately not as often as I like.


But I am using it when I would normally get the bus to town when not feeling up to cycling, to carry heavier loads & to do larger amount of shopping & proving an asset to get to work on bank holidays & other seasonal holidays where there is no bus available & trains are a mess.

 


Even used her to do a lovely 20 mile cycle ride on Christmas day to explore areas I haven't been around Colchester.


So the ebike is proving more useful even if the original idea was to use it to cycle to work hasn't gone quite to plan, which I have not given up on doing. And here is my ebike in her glory now after all the changes & now I call her Dutchess. And it's thanks to all of you who helped that made this possible.


But I have plans to still cycle to work & with my disability getting worse, I am now planning ahead by looking at building my own ebike using a similar bike to my Electra Townie which is quite comfortable to ride. So be looking at getting an Electra Cruiser with an additional 11 gear Hub Gear to replace what's supplied on the bike.


And I have already acquired the gear hub in the sales recently so need to get the bike next. Then I will sell Dutchess to cover the costs of the ebike Conversion kit & installation of it as I feel it be unfair to ask for help again.


I'm undetermined where to get the conversion kit from atm but likely go with Cyclotricity as the mechanic I use fits them on other bikes with no issues & would be good to use him for the warranty side of things. Then I will have a bike more suited to my needs & try again to cycle to work. 

It hasn't been as straightforward as I hoped it could be but it's been a learning curve & very productive. And again I like to thank everyone for their support in this goal, it may not gone quite how I wanted it but we knew it was a chance it wouldn't work but it is getting there & learning from it.

03/03/2017

Meet my lil Foldie...

As I have already done a blog about my Roadrunner & how it evolved from an idea to reality (Project: Roadrunner, the evolution of a personal bike). I thought I should introduce my other bikes, so here is 'lil Foldie' & her story...

Back in November 2014 I had posted a photo of me cycling to Active Essex on twitter as they had requested followers to do so with Essex County Council to promote cycling & I do like posting pics to help promote cycling.


So I was surprised to get this tweet as I didn't realise it was actually a competition & no clue on the prize...


So obviously I was gobsmacked to read that & it turned out the prize was a new bike of my choice. So I decided to go for a folding bike as I haven't got one & could be useful when travelling across the country by train, bus & underground. So went for a Bickerton as it was within their prize budget.

 

Unfortunately  Active Essex decided to buy the bike from Halfords & things didn't go well. It took weeks to get Halfords to get the bike in after it was ordered & told it'll be a few days & it wasn't until January 2015 before I was told it was ready to collect from Active Essex which they wanted a photo of me collecting it. So I popped over on my lunch break to get a photo taken as I collect it & that's when I first saw the bike & knew something wasn't right.


Unfortunately Active Essex team weren't experienced in buying cycles & didn't notice the bike was damaged & missing the rack, wheel reflectors & bell, something Halfords meant to make sure was there & I spent months trying to get Halfords to get the missing parts & thus soured the experience of winning the wonderful prize which I wasn't able to use until it was complete.

 


So after months I finally got the missing parts & fitted it all myself as I will never let Halfords touch it or any other bike of mine ever, only to find the rack was damaged but usable & looked like it was the rack to this bike in the first place. So I put my panniers on the rack & found a problem, rack was too low & panniers were catching on the gears as well as my heels & this was the smaller pair of panniers I've got.

 

Thankfully I knew how to sort this as I have got a Axiom Streamliner Disc rack on other bikes which would do the job so started making the first of a few changes to make the bike better for me & easier to use my panniers on this bike by raising the panniers from the ground & further back from the pedals like this rack had done for Roadrunner when I had fitted one.


But even after sorting out the bike, it still didn't cycle right with the new build being a mess thanks to Halfords & after trying it out for a run to Brightlingsea in February & getting it on & off the bus proved it's worth it was put away in the corner. I did pull it out now & then to try get the bike to work right but in the end it didn't get used for another year as didn't need to & had other working bikes which were working OK.


So mid 2016 I needed to get to Hampshire & lil Foldie was now needed, so it was pulled out from its corner, dusted down & I got on with trying to get the bike to work correctly. And despite the bike still refusing to go into 7th gear, the bike was ready to travel with me on the train & underground.



And lil Foldie did OK, still didn't feel right but better than before & starting to wonder if I just can't get on with it coz it's been messed up by Halfords... Also found wheeling the bike across platforms & using the escalators on the underground with full panniers to be really difficult with seat post down as it is used to hold bike upright. So I had a look around to find a way around this & I discovered folding centre stand which I bought & fitted & also a new leather saddle for lil Foldie too.

 


It however did take a few months to find the right centre stand that folds & an affordable Brooks type leather saddle but it was worth the search, eventually I got the chance to take lil Foldie out for another trip to Hampshire via train & the underground at the beginning of 2017 with the new stand & saddle.



And this time it was a joy to ride lil Foldie, the centre stand & saddle was definitely something this lil bike needed & it was a joy to ride for the first time in 2yrs with the additions & gears that now finally work properly. The mess Halfords had done was slowly being eradicated & since then I have now added new brake levers onto the bike with built in bell so to declutter the handlebars & make easier to fold without the bell getting in the way.


So for now lil Foldie is how I like the bike atm, there are a few tweaks I still like to do but that's more coz of my preferences than issues with the bike. So next on the list it to get twist grip gear selector replaced with a rapidfire gear selector as I hate twist grip shifters & at the same time get some better grips which will be required when shifter is replaced.

So what started as a nightmare bike that was built badly by Halfords, lil Foldie has now grown into a lovely folding bike with the additions & fixing what was done by Halfords & no doubt will improve with more tweaks & improvements. And I have wondered why Bickerton haven't put racks & stands on their bikes like I have as it has made the bike even better.