Never underestimate the power of one wheel drive!


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Friday, 28 September 2012

The Marathon Plus has been fitted!

The only issue I had was a minute or two of Laurel and Hardy inspired comedy gold. The tyre I removed was a 700x28 Continental Contact. I replaced it with a 700x32 M+. The carcass on this tyre is quite stiff so, the problem was getting the first bead to stay inside the rim at the start of fitting the second bead. It kept popping out in the manner of the comedy films of old where Stan Laurel would be trying to close drawers of a cabinet and every time he closed one, a second would pop open. In the end I resorted to a couple of toe straps postioned at ten to two around the rim just to cinch the bead in place. The rest of the bead rolled in with little effort and no profanity.

Here's to many miles of trouble free riding on that new baby!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Fitting tight tyres (how not to dislocate your thumbs)

For some reason, certain tyres can be very difficult to fit. Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres have a certain noteriety for this but they are not alone. Sometimes it is not the tyre but the rim that can cuase problems- one particular tyre may fall on and off rim a but will need much heaving and puffing and gnashing of teeth to get the damn thing on rim b.

This is advice from Bryn, my LBS workshop manager (when did workshop managers start looking younger than coppers) on fitting BTFT’s (Bastard Tight Fit Tyres) such as Marathon Plus as a replacement (i.e. when you are at home, not mending visitations at the road side).

Work from the non drive side.

Get the first bead on and insert the tube (partially inflate if you need to but only very partially).

Starting adjacent to the valve, get the second bead started- push the valve deeper into the tyre to give room. Work around the rim, keeping the area you are working on away from you until the bead starts to get tight. Make sure the valve is still pushed deeper into the tyre and then squeeze the inserted beads together so they sit in the middle (deeper part) of the box section.
If you have access to a work bench, place the wheel flat on the bench with the cassette/ QR against the edge of the bench to give you something to lean into and roll the bead into the rim using the heel of your hands/ base of your thumbs.
Job should be a good un’ (I’ll let you know tomorrow after I have fettled a new Marathon Plus on to my commuter steed back wheel tonight).

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Two police officers murderd in Manchester

As I sit here in my nice safe office, officers in Manchester are commencing an investigation into the murder of two apparently unarmed police women.

I cannot begin to guess how they are feeling right now.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Cry Freedom! A boys love for his Raleigh Jeep

Inspired by a thread on my forum YACF here, I got to thinking about my first bikes.

My first bike that I remember was a small wheeled, fat tyred step through unisex thingy in metallic green. I remember neither it’s make or model but, it was this steed upon which I learned the art of riding without stabilisers (training wheels for you furriners).

My first ‘proper’ bike was a Raleigh Jeep, exactly like the one in this thread from my forum.

It was on this bike that I found the freedom of youth. It was this bike that grew as I grew. I received it as a present from my parents when I was 8 or 9 years old and, as is the way with bikes bought for offspring, it was too big for me but who cared. It was new, it was shiny and it was all mine. It went through many incarnations including workhorse after I fitted a rear rack to put my bag on for my paper round, stunt bike in the Evel Knievel hey day after removal of the mudguards (fenders for you furriners) and swapping the handlebars for a set of ‘cow horns’ to combat steed after hand painting the frame a crappy khaki green colour.

Through the years of our partnership my Jeep and I did things that would have curdled my parents blood.

Of a weekend or school holiday I would grab a backpack, fill it with food and pop and hit the roads on the Jeep, meeting my friends and heading for the hills where we would spend hours exploring abandoned chalk quarries and derelict factories. We would be gone all day, arriving home just as it got dark and Mum was about to throw my dinner in the cat.

One year my Mum, who was a toy shop manageress got complimentary tickets to see Evel Knievel try to jump 13 London busses at Wembley Stadium (proper Twin Towers Wembley, not the pale shadow of a replacement). On my return to home, That is when the cow horns were fitted. Ramps were built from whatever bit of discarded timber we could find propped on bricks, boxes- anything. Flying on my Jeep was awesome. Occasionally it went a bit wrong. I don’t think I ever got killed though.

Through the years of our partnership, my Jeep and I became many things. One day I would be Jesse James fleeing the law on horseback, the next I was a Battle of Britain pilot swooping through the skies. Another day I might be Luke Skywalker fighting the evils of the Empire or I could be Giacomo Agostini or Barry Sheen getting my knee down at Brands Hatch. One thing was unchanging though. My Jeep and I were inseparable.

One day however, fate caught up with us. In it’s Combat Bike guise, I was leading a raid against the enemy and had to leap into their stronghold launching off a dirt mound. Mid takeoff the handlebars snapped and we crashed and burned. Being young and pliable I bounced. My Jeep didn’t. It was the end of a beautiful friendship.

A little while later I progressed to my first multi geared bike, a red Carlton 5 speed road bike which saw me from childhood to adulthood. This is the first form of transport I used to get to work in the grown up world and it lasted me until a) a colleague borrowed it and put the rear mech into the spokes shearing off the integral gear hanger and b) I passed my driving test and got a car.

My Carlton was a great bike but it is my Raleigh Jeep that holds all the good memories.

Marc Bolan may have been a ‘Jeepster for your love’ but I had a Love for my Jeep.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Last night I was reminded of a very important lesson-

Whilst loading the washing machine I had to go commando as I needed my underwear to complete the load.

The lesson was that I need to take more care when in commando mode, when undoing my fly.

Ouch indeed!