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.