Sunday, 14 October 2012

The new workshop is now open!

Its been a really busy and exciting couple of months which has seen us move to our new premises in earlsdon. we're all really tired because its been a bit of a slog, but finally its all coming together.

Its gone from this....

To this!.....

There's lots going on, we're still busy fixing up old bikes, running the referal scheme and offering advice and training to all who'll listen. We have met some fantastic people already and had a great day saturday at bike club where I got to eat cake, drink coffee and chat about bikes...brilliant! As always we always need more bikes, so if you have a bike which no longer need please get in touch.

Coventry Recycled Cycles
The Bike workshop
10b Kensington Court
Kensington rd
07788 673632

Monday, 27 August 2012

A family of bikes...

Most of the bikes we pick up have a tale to tell or bear the marks of an experience or some adventure... I think children's bikes must bear more marks than most. The other day I was lucky enough to meet with a family of six who had asked me to recycle some of their bikes. Looking at them I was struck immediately by how clearly the bikes reflected the growth of their children, from first wheels (and the removal of stabilisers) to the independance of the big wheeled mountain bikes...brilliant

I thought this was great, I can still remember attempting my cycling proficiency- wobbling around the cones in the school playground...come to think of it I can't remember whether I passed or not!

Friday, 17 August 2012

How does he do that?.. Danny MacAskill

When I was alot younger my friends and I would gather on our bikes in the little park at the back of our houses. We'd construct ramps out of old bricks and bits of board that we'd found lying around and spend the afternoon taking turns to race off the end...hoping that we wouldn't be the one to fall off and embed six tons of gravel in our knees (which, with a sinkfull of dettol, our mums would have to carefully pick out later). Jumping off the top of that ramp felt like a real achievement, particularly on my mates grifter, which had 3 gears and weighed as much as a car. It's summers spent in the park falling off my bike that make me appreciate how amazing guys like Danny MacAskill are, someone showed me this video the other day and its blown me away- have a look and see what you think

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Knitting bikes

I think its fair to say that my partner is as passionate about knitting as I am about bikes. Living with a knitter means that I'm never short of a jumper or two, living with a bike addict means that my partner is forever bored to death with endless conversations about small bits of bicycle. The other day when talking about a couple of bikes that had come in with nasty saddles we got to talking about what the possibilites might be. Up until that point damaged seats were removed and stored in a dark corner of the workshop...until some remedy could be found for their decrepid state. She disappeared and returned a couple of hours later with this solution...

 A fabulous knitted seat cover!

...and in her other hand was this, a bike sock to protect the frame from nasty boots and heavy locks....thanks chicken!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Recycled saddlebag

Sometimes its nice to get away on the bike with no more than a puncture kit and a drink. I used to have a lovely leather brooks tool bag that sat under my seat for exactly this purpose, but age got the better of it and after making a few repairs to the straps i've decided to retire it. Sitting there instead now is my tetrapack saddle bag- made from a recycled milk carton, its cheap, easy to make and less likely to be stolen. Here's how to make your own...

Your going to need, an old drinks container, a couple of old spokes, some gaffa/ duct tape, a pair of pliers, a holepunch and a sharp knife/ scalpel.

using the scalpel, cut into the side of the carton across the two shorter edges and ONE of the longer edges

This should leave you with a flap which (hopefully) will still be attached to the carton, if its not- find another carton and start again!

Next up you'll need to make yourself some buckles, take your pliers and your spoke and bend it into a buckle

Buckle making takes a little practice but is really easy to do, they should look like this (look left) when they're done

Your buckles should be the same width as the straps you're going to make. Using a length of duct tape attach your buckle to one end. I never realised how difficult it was to cut a length of duct tape- after several aborted attempts I ended up asking for help to hold one end.

With the buckle attached and at the top, begin to wrap the length of duct tape around the back of your carton- at the front trim the tape to meet the edge of your carton.

You will now have your buckle attached to the back of your carton. In order for the saddlebag to attach to the seat you'll need another length of duct tape which is attached in line with the first buckle on the underside of your flap.  Stick this around the flap and onto the outside face until the second piece of tape has reached the buckle. 

 Fold over this length of duct tape so that you now have a strip of tape which is joined by its two sticky edges and forms a strip which will fit into the buckle

Your carton saddlebag should look something like this. You now have a saddlebag which is perfectly functional- you can hold the flap closed with a piece of string or innertube tied around the outside.  I use a tag to hold mine closed- if you'd like to do the same read on...

 To hold the flap down (to keep the weather out) you're going to need a leftover piece of spoke, a piece of inner tube, some pliers and some scissors....and some more duct tape!

Stick a piece of Duct tape onto the flap in the middle of your saddlebag

Make a hole in the new piece of tape on the flap. With the flap held closed mark on the main carton where the hole sits, reinforce with more duct tape and make a hole which should then line up with the hole on the flap.

From the piece of spoke cut off two short pieces from which you are going to make a treasury tag, using the piece of inner tube

It should look like this, either snip a small hole 1/3 of the way down each end of the inner tube and thread the bits of spoke through or simply snip the ends and tie a knot.

Here it is, finished and attached to the bike. Due to its un-environmentally friendly plasticied in/ outside, these cartons are remarkably weather is the duct tape.

As with most things, its easy to make if you know how- if you get stuck making yours drop me a line and i'll try to help.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Coventry Cyclist August update

There's very few good guides to what is going on locally. The best that I know of is the Coventry Cyclist put together by George Riches. It offers a monthly summary of everything cycling going on in and around Coventry. George has agreed to let me share a few bits on the Blog, but if you'd like your own full copy send him an email to:

Coventry Cyclist- August 2012

WANTED! Volunteers for a 20's Plenty campaign for Coventry


Are you interested in contributing time to a campaign on 20mph speed limits without road humps? The 20's Plenty for Us campaign is the UK leader and is free to join. They have 146 Campaign groups across the country and support anyone who wants 20mph limits for their community.

Click on the links above for more information or ring/ email Anna Semlyen with any questions. 07572 120439

Job in Bike Shop


Trek Bikes are opening a shop in North Coventry (Gallagher Business Park).

Sky Rides


"Sky Ride City" Traffic-free rides (closed roads, no traffic) at Birmingham & Leicester (other cities also). Birmingham Sunday 19th August, Leicester Sunday 26th August 2012. Website
It's a pity that we don't have one in Coventry!

Connect2Kenilworth Cycle/Pedestrian path


Coventy Sport Survey


Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de France and Gold at the Olympics. Will this bring a change in attitudes to cycling in Britain? Or are sports things you pay money to do in buildings?
See the council's Sports and Leisure Survey 2012 Why not a cycle path along the Sowe Valley? So that everyone can get a bit of cycling in and the sporty types can access the lanes of Warwickshire without braving heavy traffic.
Please complete the questionnaire no later than Friday 24 August 2012.

Happy Cycling!

George Riches,

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Pedals to Medals

To coincide with the 2012 Olympics the Coventry Transport Museum have collected together a brilliant group of Bikes and memorabelia which represent Coventry's contribution to competition cycling. For those that aren't familiar with the Museum- it's a fantastic cycling resource which has an extensive collection and offers a free opportunity to get up close to lots of our cycling, motorcycling and motoring history. Alongside the cycle collection, they've a great collection of motorbikes which include Ted Simons (round the world) Triumph and (last time I checked) one of the bikes from Long Way Round .

 I've been itching to get there and finally managed to spend an afternoon there today, here's a few of my favourites.

First up was this lovely 1952 bike made by R.O Harrison, assembled by Tom Bromwich and ridden by Edith Atkins- a brilliant amateur cyclist with a whole raft of records

Next up was a section looking at John Atkins, I'm a massive fan of John Atkins bikes and have yet to find another bike which rides as well as the 1970's John Atkins tourer which I ride most days. Prior to his days in the bike shops (s) he was 12 times (1961-1978) national cycle- cross champion

This is one of the Carlton Cycles which he competed on

 A little further along was the Falcon of Ernie Crutchlow which he'd won the 1980 British Sprint Championship. Ernie did a great interview for the exhibition which you can find here 

What I was most excited about seeing was the Hercules of Eileen Sheridan, who for lots of years has been has been a real personal inspiration. Back when I'd started planning my (currently postponed) two week LEJOG I'd read in wonderment of her own 1954 journey which had taken a little more than 2 days!

There's lots more to see and lots of bits and bikes to ponder over- the exhibition gives a real insight into the contribution local cyclists and manufacturers have made to cycling. The exhibition is on until 14th October 2012 and is well worth the trip, pop down if you get the chance.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Tools you can make...

Like most cyclists, I've a growing collection of tools- some useful, some not, some that rarely get used and others that never seem to leave my hand.

The best of these is my chain retainer- which I use when taking the chain off and stops the chain from springing back when you pop the rivit out with your chain-breaker. It was completely free and made out of an old spoke- why not make your's how

Find a spare spoke and a pair of sturdy pliers

Snip off the end and then bend the spoke, using the pliers into this (look left!) shape. Once you've done this, do the same at the other end. Make sure you tidy up the ends 'cause they'll be a bit sharp.

Thats it, all finished- all you need now is a reason to take your chain off! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How long does it take for your bike to stop working?...UPDATE

Back in January I cruelly abandoned my bike to the elements to see how long it would take for it all to stop working. Since then its been sitting in a damp, partly sheltered spot in the garden feeling really sorry for itself.

So, here it is. I dug it out today and was a bit surprised at how much of its no longer working, even with a quick glance I could see that the chain was going to be a bit of an issue. It was completely frozen in place, there was no movement at all in any of the links. Had the chain been properly oiled before it was left this shouldn't have been such an issue- but just prior to leaving it there had been a spell of weather which had resulted in a whole load of rocksalt being out on the road. This along with a few months of being exposed to our glorious weather had ruined it.

I've removed this now, but had to cut it off- if you return to your own bike and the chain looks like this, be careful not to damage the derailleur when you remove the chain.

Because of the state of the chain I've made sure that I've doubly checked every aspect of the bike ( if your not too sure what to do you could you this guide). Aside from replacing the chain, I've checked and re-greased the wheel/ pedal and bottom bracket bearings; as they've been standing I've checked the tyres for any perishing; I've also had to strip down the rear brake as it was sticking and have checked and oiled the gear and brake cables.

I think what i was most surprised by was the headset which was completely frozen- I've not had the chance to fix this yet but will be stripping it down this weekend to try and figure out why.

So what did I learn? In order to put the bike back on the road again its going to take a couple of hours and quite a few pounds for bits and pieces- if it had been cleaned, oiled and stored well it probably would have only needed a check and a wipe over with an old rag. What I really did underestimate was how much damage salt can do to your bike, I was really surprised at how ruined my chain was. So next year I'll be investing in a good cleaner and lots of oil, I'd advise you to do the same.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Bike wheel fence update....

Last year, in an effort to stop our determined pooch from pooping on everything, we put together a quick fence out of a few bike wheels we had lying around ( click here for the original post). As you can see it still there, the dog hasn't yet managed to find a way through and as a result we've had a bumper crop of gooseberries, strawberries and a few raspberries...Brilliant.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Bikes I wish i'd never sold

Over the years I think I've probably had just about every kind of bike, I've been lucky enough to have had most of the bikes that I'd have ever want to have ridden. Unfortunately I've not always been able to hang on to the bikes that I've bought, usually due to poverty or arrival of Christmas. At one point I had been due to move away and sold the bikes I couldn't justify taking with me...only for the 'Big move' to fall apart at the last minute leaving me with no new adventure and a greatly diminished bike collection. I guess this must be my top 5 bikes that I wish I still had and am unlikely to see again

This was my Sun Supalite, made in Birmingham prior to Raleigh taking it over and ruining it. Not sure of what it was made of but nice and light. Bluemels mudguards, brooks saddle, 5 speed. I still have the wheels and am currently using them on my John Atkins.

I can't even find a proper picture of this bike- I only have this picture taken just after the previous owner had pulled it out of his dad's garage to sell it.

Made (or sold by) 'Two Wheels Good', a bike shop (now closed) up north somewhere (Leeds?) I think. Came with a 531 frame and reasonable bits and bobs- this bike took me to uni and back for 3 years without a whimper.

This is a brillant piece of kit which I bought when I was commuting  alot- its a Rudge Bi-frame. Definitely one of the best full sized folding bikes i've ever ridden. Made under licence from Montague
who I think make bikes for the US military, so proven technology.

(copyright Adhiyara)

15 years ago old Moultons didn't seem to command the massive prices that they do now, I never really understood why at time because they are fantastic.

I managed to buy a Moulton Speed and a Moulton Standard for £30 from a guy locally who was clearing out his garage. Brilliant in the city, good for carrying loads of stuff (I moved house with mine) and fast. They've chalked up countless records and achievements- have a look here.

Everyone should own a Pashley at least once. There is nothing quite like riding a Pashley, always comfortable, endlessly reliable and easy to fix.

 I managed to pick up this retired Royal Mail Pashley for £26 in a bit of a sorry state. After a day of cleaning, oiling and puncture fixing it was back on the road again. You can carry a huge amount of stuff on these- I used to use mine to take parcels to the post office once a week- stacked so high that I'd just be able to see over the basket at the front.

Writing this has reminded me of all the other bikes that I wish I'd kept, Tandems, Bromptons, cool MTB's, choppers, racers and the odd 80's BMX. I suppose the reality is though, that if I had kept them I'd be very short of space and probably very lonely because my family certainly wouldn't want to live with them!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Is it safe to listen to music whilst cycling?

Basic kit for a trip out on the bike usually includes something to eat, a drink, probably a small tool kit and my mp3 player for music along the way. Until a year or so ago I'd never really questioned whether it was safe or not to cycle, with a mix of The Lemonheads and Johnny Cash accompanying me along the road, but a discussion with a friend who'd had a near miss prompted me to think a bit more about whether its was a risk worth taking. When I thought back, there had been a couple of times where near misses have been a little too near- and probably a little nearer than they might have been if I'd not been plugged in.

 I've never had a 'serious' cycling accident, but as I'm getting older and more aware of my fragile existence I'd rather not take the chance. I think there must be a difference between the daily commute (where i would tend to wear headphones) and weekends leisure rides where I'm quite often going somewhere new and want to take in my surroundings. Listening to music helps to pace the journey and to some extent breaks up the repetitive nature of the commute to work and for me its probably this aspect- the need to distract myself from a boring commute- that might result in an accident.

 I guess the choices are clear, you can do as i did and take the risk and wear earphones, you could cycle without earphones-which is what i tend to do if I'm off on a leisure ride or you could compromise and either just use one of your headphones (leaving one ear free) or make use of one of the growing bunch of cycling friendly headsets. I've seen a couple of posts about earphones recently and mentioned most often seem to be those offered by Chilli Air ...check out the video

These are quite pricey at £40ish so at the moment I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new piece of kit from the guys at OneGoodBud. Its basically a single earphone which still offers the stereo sound that you don't get when you only use one earphone from a conventional earphone set. Its only £15 so affordable- I'll review it when it gets here.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Sun Supalite

Living in the midlands means that I'm always stumbling on really nice local bikes, i'm never going to see all of them but those that I do I try to take a few pictures of. This is my Sun Supalite, which until recently I was riding around the lanes of rugby on and sadly has now found a new home.

Based in Birmingham, Sun were (along with many other manufacturers) absorbed by Raleigh in the 1960's- this marked the decline of Sun. Fortunately the Supalite was built shortly before this so still had the feel of a quality cycle. You can find out more about them here


Showing off its Birmingham badge and its Cyclo gear shifter.

 The frame came with lovely hand painted lugwork, alloy mudguards and originally chrome tipped forks.

Stripped down prior to its rebuild.

If  you have a Sun or know anything more about them I'd love to hear from you.