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No Broadband for a month 

We have had no Broadband for a month. Almost. It comes and goes, and we pay Telecom $50 for it to come and go, and our consolation prize has been telephoning 0800 289 987 and talking to Sam, Shane, Janette, Paula and David in Auckland who have variously spent fruitless hours having me check and uncheck various boxes on my antivirus software before finally admitting that the fault is likely to be the Migration which has affected 490 Motueka customers. The Migration is, I gather, an Upgrade. In the meantime we got occasional glimpses of our emails. We do not know what a Migration might be, other than that everything was suddenly to improve a fortnight ago at 6.30 when the Migration was completed and our Broadband restored. The Migration was but the Broadband wasn't.

I looked up Migration in the dictionary and it didn't say Munt Your Broadband For Weeks While We Change Cables, but then it is a very old dictionary. In the end they sent us a new modem and now it works.

Having no Broadband meant listening to the radio for glimmers of news, and I have learnt all sorts of new words as the journalists keep me abreast of the current crop of neologisms in Corporate Speak. I heard that they have removed the procedure from her heart. A procedure is now a thing rather than an activity, and you can make one in a procedure factory and insert it into peoples' hearts and remove it afterwards. I already knew that Telecom underground their cables but from a report about the airline Quantas I have learnt that you can hub the passengers through Brisbane, which implies that hub has also become a verb. I hub, you hub, he she or it hubs. I underground, you underground, he she or it undergrounds. - At least, I presume he she or it undergrounds, though it could be an irregular verb. We have not been told. We hub, you (pl.) hub, they hub. I have been hubbed through Brisbane.

Personally I think verbing our nouns ought to be confined to Shakespeare but after the Arab Spring and the UKUncut demonstrations and the Occupy pepper sprayings I suspect there is a global corporate conspiracy to destroy communication and since undergrounding the cables and migrating the broadband hasn't been wholly successful, they are going to upfuck the language. Anything to stop any more Twitter riots.

Anyway nothing of bicycling note happened here until two days ago when I saw a Bike Friday tandem in Motueka. The last Bike Friday tandem in Motueka belonged to the production engineer of Bike Friday who it will be recalled is none other than our own Mr English, of our colony of Oregon, obv., because that's where Bike Fridays get built. Mr English, it will also be recalled, popped me on the back and because he is such a slow and pathetic rider he was delighted to find that we rode my daily circuit in 46 mins rather than the 56 mins I take on the recumbent or the 64 mins I take on my delicate little Peugeot racing bike. Which I have just noticed has developed a crack in the brazing at the top of the seat stay, so I will have to get out the oxy-acetylene and whitepaint it afterwards. (I whitepaint, you whitepaint, he she or it whitepaints.)



A cracked Peugeot, yesterday

Cracks are easiliest noticed when the paintwork is white because they show up as black lines. I like white paint. If you were as rubbish a welder as I am you'd like it too. Mr English isn't a rubbish welder but it appears he abruptly ran out of steel tubing, a case, perhaps, of carboning his seat tube.

Mr English's latest. Other pics are here

He sent me a pickture and I enquired further.

*Very* pretty. - If y'like that sort of thing. - If y'like to have y'neck twisted off and are prepared to substitute a scalpel for a seat. - Okay okay okay. - So what's it weigh? 'Ere, - also, - how d'you specify how to wind carbon? What calculations are involved? I've never done any composite stuff, ever, incl. not-repairing the knackered canoe that still clutters the sheds. And - and and and - is that seat post contiguous with the seat tube? They appear in my spectacles to have the same diameter. And - and and and and  *and*  - what is the advantage of mixing steel with carbon? Just weight? Or is there some fiendishly clever engineering reason for retaining steel in the stays and crossbar and downtube?
R

In due course he replied:

Hi Richard,

So..... frame is 1200g, projected bike weight is 10.8lbs, hopefully! Specifying the carbon was fairly unsophisticated - I told them what diameter I wanted and what I was using it for, and they picked their nearest mandrel to give an appropriate wall thickness. In theory they can tune the stiffness through the layup - I asked for it to have a bit of flex for comfort - nope, it is a very stiff bit of tubing (with the old 'bend it across the knee' trick). If I do this again I'll talk to them a bit more about quantifying the stiffness so it does what I want it to do.

Yup, integrated seatmast, no saddle height adjustment (I can get away with this on my bikes!)

Why to do it? The initial idea had been to use the tuneability of the carbon to build in some passive suspension from the cantilevered seatmast. I guess now I could argue that it is to get a stiffer seatmast.... It saves 100g over an otherwise equivalent all-steel frame, and I really like the look. Otherwise no good reason really, it's fun to try new things though. I will be interested to see how it rides once it is all assembled.

Cheers,
Rob.

It is to be hoped he doesn't suddenly undergo a Growth Spurt.

Anyway this morning I popped John on the back of our tandem and he and I rode the daily circuit and it was like having a motor on board. So I think I now know the answer to the question my wife sometimes asks when she's on the back, which question is 'Why are we going so slowly?' although I've yet to think of a tactful way of telling her what this answer might be.

Right, s'nuff of that. Now we've got some Broadband I'll just nip over & see how Mr Knight's getting on with all the seasoned applewood he nicked off me. He usually blogs on a Wednesday.

 

Saturday, December 10, 2011 6:46:00 AM Categories: engineering problems Rob English tandem

Prodigal Bikes 

Mr Knight is such a lying git. He fibs like a fibber and he lies like a liar and he tells untruths like a person spreading disinformation and rumour and innuendo and stuff like that. He is a lying, untruthful, fibbing, dishonest, dissembling git and he's a neighbour who bears false witness and he departs from facts and he misleads parliament and makes fraudulent statements and is Generally Bad. He has completely fabricated that wholly false and incorrect and malicious story. I would never, ever suggest he ride the giraffe on the orchard path. (We now call it a giraffe. It isn't a giraffe, obv., but that's the name it ended up with.) Never, ever in a hundred million years would I encourage my son to sprint along next to him in a wild and exuberant pell-mell race along a dry, dusty, pot-holed orchard path on a very high bicycle with a very short wheelbase, because natch what would happen in a Pothole Sitchuwation is the big front wheel would leave it at the same time as the small back wheel entered it and then instantly afterwards the back wheel would be flicked upwards out of the hole and he would fly through the air describing a parabola and land on his bonce shouting 'ow ow ow'.

It is all His Fault.

It is none of it My Fault.

He is an evil, bad, wicked, malevolent, deceitful, libellous influence on the Diaspora and not one of my Followers should believe him for an instant.

What actually happened was this.

Mr Knight saw the giraffe and instantly said 'Please, oh Please may I have a go on that exquisitely designed and perfectly crafted machine with its superb welded joints and meticulously fitted front wheel bearings and faultless paint job and Whatton bars' and I (very reluctantly) said 'Oh well okay but you must treat it with consummate care because so short a wheelbase may lead to pitching and you have so little experience riding penny farthings or other front drivers and I cannot have you jeopardise yourself the very day before your birthday when I have such a large pile of absolutely brand new hand-picked books carefully gift-wrapped for the morrow.' (I hadn't. I had a heap of crumbling old volumes picked up at the local book fair incl. the inevitable child's colour picture book of fire engines that we give him each year because we happen to know that Mr Knight used to be a volunteer fireman, going out along the M4 with a large hose to extinguish the smouldering remains of someone who thought they could text-and-drive at the same time. And we give him old books purely because we happen to know he c'llects old books and wouldn't know what a new one looks like, and not because they only cost us fifty cents each.)

So off he went and I caught no glimpse of him till I was scything the long grass next to the dustbin and I glanced up and there in the distance sat my son on the penny trike gazing forlornly on the corpse of the giraffe and the other corpse of Mr Knight. I was overcome, as you may imagine, with regret, because if I had chanced to glance up a moment earlier I would have seen him fly over the handlebars, and I was overcome with even more regret because if adequately forewarned I could have nipped inside and got a camera out and recorded the event for the entertainment of the Internet. Huh! Whatever you thought Youtube was for was inc'rrect. It's not for that at all. It's so we can watch members of the Diaspora falling off at speed.

Also, I didn't give him a single Campagnolo part. He nicked 'em all. He snuck in and snuck out again and immediately the entire shed was empty, cleaned out completely, and as he drove off his car was packed to the gunn'ls with shards of bicycle that I was saving to keep in a glass case labelled 'Exquisite Italian bicycle jewels that Mr Knight Hasn't Got and I Have Got so nur nur ne-nur nur'. (I have the Campagnolo Super Record rear mech that Walter Haenni used to win the Austrian road championships twenty or thirty years ago. Each year I get it out gloatingly and show it to him, enjoying his misery at the fact that he does not own it and I do.)


Walter Haenni's rear mech


However the good news is that the police rang on Thursday to say they'd recovered the rain bike near the high school, minus its panniers but otherwise intact and they phoned at lunchtime yesterday with the joyful news that Frankenbike has been found. It had been standing outside the Warehouse for a fortnight. - It will be deduced that we do not frequent the Warehouse, a shop rather like Walmart, but bicycle stealers do. - Some rust from all the rain, and the tools had gone from the little saddlebag, but otherwise everything there was intact too. 'A perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle' is what P.C. Morris of Barrow upon Soar would have said, but P.C. Morris doesn't live here and the officer who hauled it out of the police lock-up confined himself to the cryptic remark 'Unusual looking bike?' with which observation it was impossible to argue.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:30:00 AM Categories: bike crash front wheel drive penny farthing Rob English Stolen Bikes

Recumbent Invisibility 

Mr Knight has been nagging me.

How is John's bike coming along? come on chop chop.

Bob

I had to tell him, with some reluctance, that John's high racer sits in a few partly-welded-up pieces on the workshop floor gen'rally getting in the way and annoying me. I have lots to do on it but have made no progress on account of house painting and broken lawn mowers (under guarantee, but I'm left mowing the lawn with the hand-push-mower, which is *much* harder work after three days' heavy rain and frenetic spring growth, but at least it saved me going for my bike ride yesterday to get my hour's hot and pungent exercise) and a desperate need to completely re-organise the workshop so I can put my drawing-board somewhere that I can actually see the pencil-marks.

And then Ron popped in with a couple of bikes for me to repair for him for free. I don't mind doing it for Ron. He's a dead nice bloke is Ron, always volunteering to do stuff for everyone else for free, and he's a Green, and he's a Transition Towns Movement person, and a Community Gardens person, and he's married to Edith a Swiss lady with a fantastic head of hair, all fuzzy and standing six inches up round her head like a halo, who has given up the violin in favour of gardening but who used to practice for 6 hours a day which immediately tells me she was of professional concert standard. Blimey! I didn't know that. - I thought when Herbert said 'a violinist' she would be as bad as me. - Ron rides a Healing Commuter, a 1968 mild steel affair with 27 and a quarter inch wheels, a Shimano 3-speed hub that was out of adjustment and a chain which, on measurement, was 12.5 inches long for 24 links. He needed an entire new drive train. His front fork is bent and among all my spares I don't have one that will fit, so I'm going to have to bend it straight for him. He rides his bike everywhere and hates using his car. Herbert once told me he used to be a Catholic priest, but I don't know if that's true. He's such a nice bloke I can't imagine him molesting children. Herbert was my source of all sorts of goss, some of it even true. Herbert trained world-class cyclists and pulled everyone's leg, but checking his stories was always easier before he died.

Herbert. This is him with Karen Holliday whom he coached. It was taken 20 years ago after she had just become New Zealand's first ever cycling world champion

Last week I nearly died myself, or so I was informed by the lady who almost effected my death. I was riding home at speed and a nondescript grey BMW ("The Ultimate Driving Machine") had stopped on the wrong side of the Motueka Valley Highway and a lady stood astride the road with arms out flagging me down. We then had an Invisible Recumbent conversation.

'Do you know you are almost invisible down there? I nearly didn't see you.'

With a helmet height of 48.5 inches, I discovered that among the misfortunes of middle age is the lack of desire to be brutally rude and point out to her that I sit higher than a child cyclist, am bigger than a sheep or a labrador or a traffic cone, and that if she really has trouble seeing me then perhaps now is the time to relinquish her driving licence. But of course there was no point. She meant well. I did however discuss the matter with a member of the Diaspora living in our colony of Oregon who chanced to be online, and he replied

Yeah, the  'I can't see you cos you are too low and not glowing like a radioactive fallout victim'  does get a little irritating. Funny how drivers don't seem to have a problem seeing the lines painted on the road, at a height, of oh, about 0 inches..... Maybe we should hurry up and burn all the oil to get these people off the road?

Rob.

Right, must go and mitre some tubes for the seat frame or Mr Knight will think I'm slacking.

Thursday, October 6, 2011 9:36:00 AM Categories: Bob Knight's fairing maintenance Rob English stupidity

Rain Bike 

We return to our topick of front-driver cycles this week, though I don't know why I trouble myself to say "this week" since my blog entries are stunningly irregular and undisciplined, rather like their author.

I had to go to Richmond recently to a citizenship ceremony to watch some people pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second (sic.) of New Zealand. I have been unable to find out who Queen Elizabeth the First of New Zealand was. 'A high standard of dress' was required. National costume of country of origin was encouraged. All the participants turned out to be English chavs and dressed accordingly, with a high standard of gelled spiked hair. They looked like they'd all escaped from the Shelthorpe Road housing estate in Loughborough where bus drivers are shot at with airguns.

However my wife then went off to the shops and I called on Jim Matthews at Village cycles and he let me have a go on his 36er penny farthing.

It was brill.

 

It has 36 very thick spokes, a cheap chromed steel hub and steel rim, poxy welding, a thin backbone (guess: 38mm OD) and longish cranks, perhaps 165s. The fork was a bit feeble, methought, but obviously adequate for a plaything. Plain straight chromed steel cheap handlebar. It has a partic'ly narsty sprung foam-cushioned plastic saddle and a back brake on a 12 inch wheel. The front tyre is industrial strength and looks like it'll never, ever need replacing. Think Honda 90 robustness.

 

While I was there I bought John a unicycle for his birthday. I thought in due course he can convert it. It too has 36 spokes. (As a matter of fact he's forever riding up and down the drive on it. It took him 2 days to learn, we having rigged a horizontal pole at waist height to hang onto. I decline to state whether I can ride it or not.)

 

Which brings us back to our topick of front-driver cycles because we've been having a lot of weather in April but then so has everybody, what with wildfires in the parish of Scotland and tornadoes in the parish of Auckland. In Motueka's case it meant a month of solid rain, if you can have solid rain. In fact it's all been a bit exciting. I used to keep a climate scientist (Cambridge, PhD, did sums in his office for me all day) at the Met Office and when grilled annually, he gen'rally reported that their best prediction as the planet warmed was of random wild weather events. So it's all most pleasing that the predictions are now coming true. Unfortunately, though, it means we're forced to think about bicycles that you can ride with impunity in the wet. My wife has been nicking the Official Rain Bike which is a Dutch roadster with enclosed chaincase 3 gears and hub brakes and reminds me of Heinz Stueke, so I have been devoting thought to No Chains or Brakes, which rust after a rainstorm. Unf. to make a 36er penny farthing I should need spokes and a rim and a tyre and an inner-tube, which would cost $305, and I am Mr Mean-Pants when it comes to $305.

So I had recourse to Mr Schroder's short cranks that he kindly drilled & tapped for me, and Mr English's 5/8 bearings that he kindly brought from the parish of America for me, and I was dismayed to find the bearings would not slip over a knackered old BB axle that I hauled out of a tin where I had been keeping it along with a lot of other junk. Now BB axles are case-hardened, and my lathe doesn't like case-hardening, so I took it to the bench grinder and with frequent checks with a Vernier, allowed it to spin against the grinding wheel and to my vast delight brought it to a tolerable sliding fit. And thence to a sawn-up hub for the flanges, and behold! with the help of a couple of spacers because the cones on t'axle weren't quite big enough to fit inside the flanges, and a little weldery, a penny farthing hub.

 

Meanwhile my attention has been drawn to this though it's probably best reserved for one of those chaps who insists on stopping for a small snack of something nutritious every five miles. Don't be silly, of course you've met one. There's one in every group. They ride with the contents of a hamper somehow distributed about their person and every twenty minutes they stop and erect a small roadside laboratory, test their blood sugar to keep it within a percentage point of the desired level, and consume a small and delicately formed sandwich and drink from an unexpected flask of coffee. Very methodical. You have to be careful talking to them or they launch into mortgage protection insurance discussions and the ride disintegrates as everyone keels over and actually dies of actual boredom. - That's why I'm still alive. I never do group rides. -

Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:39:00 AM Categories: Nigel Schroder penny farthing Rob English

29er 


Owing to circumstances beyond my control - birthdays and that sort of thing - it was required, as the textbooks have it, to provide my wife with a brand new perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle, and natch I took her old one, wot she'd mistakenly thought I'd bought for her and wot, therefore, I'd been unable thus far to ride, up to the shop to see what would fit. Her views being irrelevant the purchase was effected, but nevertheless she was dead pleased to find herself the owner of a 29er. A rear rack and boxy thing got fitted, to the great mirth of all the young athletes who eschew such ungainly protuberances and who themselves spray bananas and energy bars and spare inner tubes out of their jersey pockets whenever the bumps are too exuberant.

If one is of a meddlesome disposition, then this sort of adventure is just an excuse for experiments, and since we were in new territory I thought I'd extend the experiment. The only person I know who does tubeless is Mr English of our colony of America. Actually he made his own 29er weighing a feeble 8.4 kg, the scamp, and here it is:


As you see, single speed and belt drive, which he tells me is silent, and which as far as I can tell is fitted to the frame by magic. - Anyway, I emailed the man:

Now then, Rob,
Mrs My Wife has got herself a Specialized somethingorother 29er mountain bike wherewith she's much pleased. It was very cheap. About a thousand dollars. New Zealand ones .The bike shop boys were babbling about tubeless tyres and how their rolling resistance would be vastly superior and whatnot, so I want an informed opinion. Easy to fit? Rubber rim liner better than plastic? Tube sealer works sealing punctures? Lower pressure equivalent to higher pressure for rolling resistance on-road? Any other issues?
Ta,
R

And the man emailed me:

I have used tubeless mtb tyres quite a lot. Sometimes I can get them to seat with very rapid use of a track pump, but sometimes it requires a compressor. But once seated with sealant in, they work very well. Unless you don't ride the bike much in which case the sealant dries up into a big puddle of latex in the bottom of the tyre. I wouldn't consider racing without them (no pinch punctures, nice low pressure (20lbs), other punctures seal up), but I don't mountain bike enough these days to bother the rest of the time. I haven't yet tried road tubeless, but reports are good so far, and in theory they should offer superior rolling resistance, but I haven't actually seen any data yet. For sealing the rims on the mtbs I just use NoTubes yellow tape - very light and does the job. Their rubber rim strips work nicely too, though a bit heavy and I also seem to eventually rip the valve stems out of them.
We did a 10 mile ride on the new tandem t'other day and it felt better and better as we went along. Drivetrain is very nice and quiet and smooth. A little bit of wag in the back, so I am going to increase the lower connector tube to 1.5" before I paint it. The titanium tubes there do really take the edge off of the bumps though.
Cheers,
Rob.

The tandem concerned is this one:


I keep meaning to build a recumbent tandem myself but unf. I'd recently secreted two cranks in the car of Mr Schroder of our colony of Stoke-or-Richmond-or- Nelson-or-somewhere, and the other day he couriered them back to me rather neatly drilled and tapped at 110mm and now I can't think of an excuse not to build a front-wheel-drive 29er of some sort, which, with these cranks, will be sort of like a 45 inch gear fixie. If I've got the sums right. Which isn't usually the case.
Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:23:00 AM Categories: mountain bike Nigel Schroder Rob English tandem
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