Colonial Diaspora

Penny giraffe 

Saturday, September 24, 2011 9:25:00 AM Categories: Nigel Schroder penny farthing

I have been busy. Mr Schroder's cranks are 110mm long, and my pocket calculator tells me that if I use one of the 29er tyres which my wife doesn't know I retained from her perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle when fitting it with tubeless tyres, then these tiddly short cranks will give me the same pedal speed as a 44 inch gear. It's going to have a 406 back wheel so we're not going to call it a penny farthing. We're going to call it a one-and-six. - D'you remember pre-decimal coins? I have the last letter from the chap who designed the thruppenny bit. He signed it. The coin. - Though he signed the letter too, obv.. - He signed the twenty pence coin too. You'll need a magnifying glass but they all say WG on them. He designed all the Falkland Island coins too but I've never been there so I can't say if they have WG on them. He was called William Gardner and he died on almost the last day of the century and wrote to me a fortnight before. I shall not say why he was writing specifically to me though it happens to be true and there happens to be a reason. I like to intersperse my blog with a bit of mystery. -

The front wheel has a Campagnolo Lambda Strada aero rim and the thirty-six stainless spokes that came with it, nine of them slightly munted from an escaped chain, but now unmunted with a pair of pliers. - I said I was Mr Mean-Pants. - This is because

a) it was given to me
b) aero rims are stiff
c) the air flow will be better and I will be able to go at 8 mph instead of 7
d) the edge of the rim is gouged but this machine won't need rim brakes
e) it will annoy Mr Knight.


Mr Knight, in passing, likes all things Campagnolo and would eat his dinner off their plates if Campagnolo made plates. He owns a complete Campagnolo tool set. It is better than this tool set for making bikes but not as good for making pianos. I digress.

The back wheel has 48 spokes for no good reason other than that I found it somewhere. Can't remember where.

The penny trike had split bearing housings but when I clamped them up tight they turned the bearings into very slight ovals, so this machine has bits of tube welded to plates which screw onto welded extensions of the forks. These extensions were welded in after the wheel was built and mounted, lest the wheel ended up at a curious and vexing angle. Vexing angles often happen, I find, when I'm the welder.

Finally, the frame welded itself into existence, an exercise principally in using up odd bits of sawn-up bike frames that otherwise belitter the workshop. And then it got left outside the kitchen door where it was found, on his return from school, by someone who promptly took to riding it round and round the house, somewhat inexplicably singing there'd be blue skies over, the white cliffs of Dover.

Rain Bike 

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

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. -

In line to the Throne 

Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:37:00 AM Categories: Royal Wedding

April 28, 2011

In view of who is marrying whom today, and what their prospects are, I have been usefully checking Wikipedia to see if I am in line to the throne.

I am not.

It is, as may be imagined, a huge disappointment.

It appears that to be in line to the throne you have to be descended from the Electress Sophia of Hanover which distinction Princess Anne's grand-daughter has just achieved and, as Elizabeth still reigns in her Dominions, we are now just twelve heart-beats away from having a little Canadian as Queen of New Zealand.

This new baby bumps all the other putative Kings and Queens of England down a notch, so Alexandra, Hereditary Countess of Erbach-Erbach now has to settle for number 1074. The eager boys at Wikipedia haven't caught up yet: some homework to do, methinks.

I do like the British constitution. What other country would have the great good sense to command a family of foreigners to be head of state? It certainly beats the nonsense of having to impose upon an innocent electorate the choice between our more conceited politicians, and at least everyone knows in advance which of their taxes are going to clean out whose moat.

On inspection, there's something to be said for every country choosing its leaders from among foreign citizens. It lends a dispassionate view to proceedings, and, further, New Zealand wouldn't have had to suffer a woodwork teacher as Energy Minister, nor Australia a funeral director as prime minister. David Attenborough could be invited to take over Brazil and put a gasping throaty stop to logging the Amazon out of existence, and Andrew Ritchie could take on China and stop them throwing away all their bicycles.

Mind, were it ever necessary to replace Her Majesty (one treads with caution. One can be locked in the Tower for predicting the death of the Queen) I'm not rooting for Prince Wilhelm (number 1176 until a few weeks ago) because of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld is even worse a surname than Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's. The House of Phillips does sound Englisher, though one hesitates over the prospect of a Queen Savannah the First.

Me? I'm supporting the former number 1451, one Sandra Morrison. If a sudden bout of Ebola virus were to wipe out a thousand or so members of the surprisingly extensive Royal Family then I would cheerfully submit on bended knee to a Queen Sandra Morrison, though I'm afraid I can't find anything out about her. She might be an estate agent in America or something. They often are. One of the world's abundant Richard Middletons is, I'm disturbed to Google.


Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:33:00 AM

No int'resting bicycling matters have cropped up recently because we're doing the bathroom. And we're doing the bathroom of necessity. Because? Because one day there was no hot water.


A frantic phone call to Eugen, who crawled underneath the house and found a catastrophically sheared off brass fitting and a very hot puddle. Our bore-water comes with its own dissolved carbon dioxide and this gradually eats the zinc out of the brass. I know this because we had it tested.


So how come we burn a tiny bit of coal to make a feeble 200 years' worth of railway track and Krupps six-inch mountain guns and my wife's toasted sandwich maker, and suddenly there's so much carbon dioxide in the air that the taps pour out carbonic acid? As-a-matter-of-fact I've had this conversation quite recently with several well-informed people and it turns out, on examination, that there isn't actually all that much air.


Roughly speaking, you can still breathe on top of Mount Everest, an altitude of five miles. A jumbo jet's wings run out of air above seven miles. Fifty miles high and you're in Space.


Nobody incl. me ever gets a grasp on how little air this means, so I'm told I have to picture the Earth not as a twelve-thousand mile planet, but as a four-foot diameter ball. And if the Earth is a four-foot globe, there's only half a millimetre of breathable air above it. That isn't a great deal of air to pollute. You can just about slide a piece of cardboard under a jumbo jet. And you're an Astronaut once you're a pathetic 5mm away from the surface.


Here's a photograph I took last time I popped out on the Space Shuttle. The total atmosphere is that skinny blue line. Don't go beyond the white line or you won't be able to breathe.

The thin white line is all the air there is

Of course the tap water is probably more to do with the limestone substrate than climate change, but the bath was chipped and the sink was cracked and the toilet seat was pink plastic, and my wife's taste is at variance with pink plastic toilet seats.


My wife wanted tiling until I said she could do it. Then she went off the idea. I had very kindly allowed her to do the tiling in her kitchen. Visitors pointedly don't comment about it. She had thought tiling was easy.

'When you see other people's tiling you think "I'll do a better job that THAT" but when you actually do it, you think, "Oh *uck it".'


So I was very brave. I had made Crazy Paving remarks to her about the kitchen tiling but I came to regret those remarks. *uuuuuck! I hate tiling. I *ucking hate tiling. I would rather have my prostate examined. I emailed Tia, who is an emergency department physician in our colony of Canada with four houses (four!) and thereby versed in both tiling and prostate examinations. Tia did not let me down:


My condolences.

I saw a man who claimed to have a paintbrush up his bum. His general comportment and gait led me to believe this was not the truth. He did not walk like a man with a paintbrush up his bum.



First you mix a slurry of silica and the bag warns you not to breathe the dust and there is no way of avoiding it, and then you smear it on your elbows wrists back of the neck thigh knee hand foot other hand forehead cheek and chin and then you drop the slurry in the new bath. You find the room is not square nor the walls flat, and you find the tiling salesman was lying when he told you to put the capping strip in afterwards - 'Just slip it in, don't try to plaster up to it' because the top line of tiles falls off. Basic physics - really basic, just the wedge principle - tells you it won't work. And it doesn't. *uuuuuck! and it's back to smearing the slurry everywhere again, dodging lumps that have fallen on the floor and aren't dried paint from yesterday's endeavours at the ceiling.


Then you're cutting the odd shaped tiles with Eugen's spare angle grinder, the one with no guard and no handle either. How come Eugen's still got all his hands? So it's off with his diamond blade and onto your own angle grinder, the safe one, and then all you have to do is not breathe in the glass dust from the front of the tiles.


And don't think those plastic cross spacer things will work. Not unless you can persuade gravity to go into abeyance. Which would mean lifting the bathroom fifty miles up and a 17,700 mph velocity.


I'll spare you the photo of my tiling, but the way Jimmy did the floor pattern was brilliant. The way it works is like this. He spreads paper on the floor with a generous gap, and then butts a ruler up to the skirting board and rules lines on the paper. Transfers the pattern to the hardboard, puts the ruler on the line and rules the other side. Why did I never think of that? - Because I'm stupid, that's why.

Jimmy, making the pattern for the lino

Finally, the battle with the carpenter over the louvered door, when you ask him to get some cedar for the surround.

'Oh, I don't know where you'd get that. Marine supplier only, cedar.'

He gets arsenic-treated radiata pine instead. He cuts this outside with the kitchen door open. He then sets about boxing in the airing cupboard so the door will fit.


Presently you go in to have a look. It is no longer possible to remove the cover of the solar panel sensor.

'D'you think we can make an allowance for that?'

'Oh. I didn't want to touch the wires so I went round it. I'll just gouge a bit out with a chisel.'

'Perhaps if we also drilled some holes for a screwdriver to get access to the corner screws.'

While he's doing this you go and inspect the boxing. One tap has been neatly boxed, so neatly that it won't undo. Or even turn in fact. You then get a mirror and a torch and peer behind his framing and find he's boxed in all the taps and pipework for the hot water cylinder and nobody will ever be able to touch any of it ever again.

'How easy is it to take that bit of wood off?'

'Oh. Er. It's just nailed. No adhesive.'

'I think if we cut this bit out - '

etc etc etc all day.



Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:32:00 AM Categories: advertising

Actually, I had quite a nice time last weekend. I wasn't going to. But luckily the damsel on the radio, as she does, concluded her programme with
'Enjoy the rest of your weekend!'
and being so commanded I was obliged to feel perky and happy. I expect all Christchurch obediently did too, shovelling silt out of their drives -
'Why, alright, Radio! I'll have a delightful weekend! Pushing pink glassfibre batts back into place.'

Everyone's infected. Cyclists ask me how I am as we pass each other at a converging speed of forty miles per hour:
'How are y..?'
How am I? I lose the last word in the wind. Kind of him to enquire at speed - I turn and at 200 yards - 300 yards - 400 -

It has to have its origins in the world of advertising. The egocentric conceit of some pompous Harvard MBA who imagines he has some great insight to bestow on the marketing world. I bet he tells his salesmen to engage their Customer Base and enhance the paradigmatic shift in the structuring principle of society from production to consumption, or something. They honestly think it works? A perfectly satisfactory visit to the greengrocers until the boy with curly hair hands me my purchases -
For *uck's sake. I hate being said Enjoy to. It's a bag of carrots and a cucumber. Enjoy. It isn't even a sentence. I drive my knee briskly into Curly's gonads and as he collapses writhing with unsought agony, I smile with a mouth full of teeth and muted hatred,

That horrid little wizened man at the filling station did it too, the one who told me I couldn't have 4c-a-litre-off because the coupon was out of date, and so was the next one and the one after that. He looked like he was a bit-part from Lord of the Rings. He was short and skinny and white-haired and wrinkly and I hated him for all of these things, but actually I only hated him because he wanted to know how my Friday had been so far.
'D'you take these coupons?'
'We certainly do. But not that one. It's out of date. You have to use them within a month. No that's out of date too. And that one. How's your Friday been so far?'
'Well it was *ucking great until some ghastly little Hobbit told me all my coupons were invalid.'

And yesterday I was fixing a Brooks Saddle. Never fix Brooks saddles. It requires more patience than an impatient person has got and I haven't even got as much patience as that. I'd bought three B73s when they were about to go extinct, and it was a bad lot. The springs have successively snapped - obv. untempered - , rivets have sprung loose, lock nuts have come adrift scattering shards of saddlebag loop over the Motueka bridge never to be seen again. Yesterday a rear frame fractured at the bolt-hole and the leather needed unriveting and unbolting and all the paint scraping off and a reinforcing bit of steel beating to shape and Mig-welding in place and wire brushing and undercoating and overcoating and re-riveting and finally bolting back onto the springs to be ignored I daresay by my wife on whose bike it is. (Deep breath.) To fix a B73 you need five co-ordinated hands with specially curved pliers and helically curved spanners, and you need an eyeball on an extensible stalk to go to the other side of the saddle while you try to locate the nut using the pliers and apply a spanner to tighten it, while simultaneously holding a multitude of washers, spacers and springs with other hands and other pliers. No human can do this. And it is a task that requires a whole new vocabulary of swearwords. Can you imagine my mood?

In the middle of the job one of the medical students dropped in for some bedding. - Don't ask. - He said
'What sort of a day are you having?'
What? I thought it was only shop assistants. Are they training medical students in unwanted-conversation techniques? Bizarre thought. If you're having a good day you're not going to be needing to see a medical student. - Idiot. - I killed him.

At the greengrocers late this afternoon, Curly spots me. *uck. I'm here for a retail vegetable experience, not an existentialist discussion or a health enquiry. Hah! - attack, the best form of defence. I shall ask him what sort of a day he's had. I'll wrong-foot him. But Curly's a skilled player. Just as I pay he says brightly:

'Any plans for the rest of the evening?'

Erathquake II 

Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:31:00 AM Categories: Earthquake

Because I just do, I get emails every time an earthquake happens. In the last week Christchurch got 191 of them. Norm'lly there are two or three a day, scattered about all over the country (well all under the country of course) but this last week there have been none elsewhere, just zillions of them in Christchurch and Christchurch alone. But today there was a 4.2 under the sea 800km to the north. So I, amateur earthquakeologist that I am, divine that Christchurch relieved a lot of tectonic pressure or something.

My spies send me both good and bad news. Mr Dunlop's good news is that he got a ride in a police car. His bad news he's lost all his belongings. All of them. The whole lot. Everything.

Hello Richard
On Sunday I was given permission to enter the Christchurch Central Business District exclusion zone in order to check on the flat. The police and the army are maintaining a tight control around the cordoned-off area. CBD residents, like myself, are only being let in one person at a time, and only then with a police escort. Got my very first ride in a police car.
Over the last few days, I've had growing concerns about not getting an opportunity to retrieve items from the flat. Unfortunately these concerns have turned out to be valid, as when I'd checked on my home, I'd found that it had been "red-stickered" (ie scheduled for demolition). Access to the building is strictly forbidden. Most of the material things in the house I won't particularly miss, but there were a number of personal mementos which I do regret losing.

Mr Knight's good news is that his daughter was eight yesterday. Remember that sweet little baby that Mrs Knight lugged off to the Leicester Space Centre wot my good friend Her Majesty opened back in whenever it was? And when she came back from the Space Centre with her sweet little baby there lay Mr Knight covered in bandages in the rump department, fretfully examining his Ratracer to see if it had sustained more scratches than he did when it playfully flung him into the air at thirty miles an hour on that diabolically dull track in Abbey Park in Leicester that we swore we'd never ever use again and never ever did. - 'She' refers of course to Mrs Knight, not the Queen. Mr Knight's newly skinned and bloodied rump was of limited interest to the Queen, even back then. - Well anyway now she's 8. - Miss Knight, not Her Majesty. - My this is getting confusing, so we shall resort once more to quoting other people's emails:

I spent Saturday helping Rob and Viv clear up their place. Well half of the time anyway because we'd all run outside whenever there was an aftershock. Which was all day. It is interesting to watch the waves run down a street - you can actually see them and the effect on the buildings. We all puzzled over some deep scores on the wall of the building behind Rob's place. After some investigation we found the cause - it was the steel capping on the roof of the building next to Rob's making contact with the building behind - the building is approximately 8 meters high - and it's separated from the building behind by just under 1 meter. Hard to believe that a concrete structure could flex that much I know but I'll take some photos next time I'm there if it is still standing (the engineer said it was *ucked, mate). Only two bikes downstairs were severely munted. Unfortunately only one belonged to Rob. The others have none or only superficial damage. We managed to right the big lathe but the mill is just too heavy. We'll need to get a large hoist in to do that. Its fall was broken by an office chair, a c1910 childs bicycle and two large glass storage jars. The two jars are unbroken. A large rack of small bicycle spares fell over and scattered everywhere. These all needed picking up and sorting before we could get to the machine tools. Still no water or power. Rob and Viv have been staying with us since Tuesday night when we got back from our tour.
Sunday was Claudia's birthday; she is 8 going on 16. She was 2 when we emigrated, where did that go eh? She got a new bike... We had intended to organise a baby cheetah encounter at the local zoo which she would have *loved* but all the cheetahs are undergoing counselling and don't want to play at the moment. Buying a bike in Christchurch at short notice is difficult at present and I thank the staff at Papanui Cycles for helping out enormously. Keith's bike shop (that one I took you to) is no more I'm afraid. Sadly Keith also lost his house at Redcliffs. I hope he is OK. His mother who lives with him is also a survivor of the devastating 1931 Napier quake. Claudia rode 17km on her new bike and wanted to carry on, we rode on a favourite mtb track and spent most of the time dodging large cracks, she will be an expert before long.
A new difficulty for everybody in Christchurch is dust. When the liquefaction dries out it turns to dust. We have an estimated 180,000 tonnes of dust and strong winds forecast for this afternoon. I rode to work this morning wearing a dust mask. It was truly horrible. I got snot *everywhere*. We have had a series of large aftershocks this morning that had my sphincter all puckering up in a most unseemly manner. I'm going for a walk at lunchtime, in a field.

And because this blog lacks pictures I shall direct readers to here where they may see Mr Knight's boss's house with its new rock.


Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:27:00 AM Categories: mountain bike Tubeless tyres

Frankenbike. GT LTS 1 rear, Marzocchi Bomber front, Scott Peak middle, dutch shopping bike bars, cheap flabby Phillips seat, truly fantastic Kenda Karma tyres, various other bits of junk from the Bike Heap. No back ache, no arm ache, no neck ache, not very fast.

I have now fitted tubeless tyres to Mrs My Wife's new mountain bike. You run a plastic liner round the inside of the rim to seal the spoke holes and fit the tyre with sealant inside. - Of course you don't do it yourself lest you get ucky bits of sealant on your fingers, not if the shop is kind enough to do the fitting for no charge, which my shop is, cos Josh is a Good Chap. Punctures deal with themselves until a big rip in the carcass requires an inner tube. Apparently.


The rolling resisance, as compared by rolling down tarmac road hills together, is equal to what Mr Knight has taken to calling my Frankenbike which runs exceedingly thin-wall tyres. A bit disappointing since hers is a 29er and mine's a 26er, but then Frankenbike does roll amazingly well. But subjectively on the orchard dirt road, Mrs My Wife's 29er feels a bit like riding a racing bike on tarmac, and it feels much easier to ride than Frankenbike. Much easier.

Frankenbike's tyres, for the record, are Kenda Karma. You can't get them in NZ any more. I have two pairs. We have a friend who is a perfectly good gentleman who - you will deduce - has a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle (would it be a Giant Trance?) and when he last popped in I stole it and rode it round the orchard paths. He runs or'nery but good quality tyres which I believe he may have bought for their longevity, he being a fellow notoriously tight in the wallet department, and they were truly hard work to pedal. Thick side walls. Lots of hysteresis.

After riding at the Kaiteriteri mountain bike park yesterday in her company, but without riding her bike, he had this to say about my wife's 29er:

1. She has the wrong gearing. She should have the same gearing that his MTB has.
2. She has no back suspension. She should have back suspension the same as his MTB has.
3. Those big wheels make the riding position too high. She should have the same seat height that his MTB has. (She got off and compared the seat height. It was the same as his. )
4. Those great big wheels make the bike much harder to manoeuvre in tight corners. She should have the same size wheels that his MTB has.

He then said several of his friends have 29ers and love them. As soon as I can find one I shall fit a wicker handlebar basket to Frankenbike and ride it to Kaiteriteri with him if just for the pleasure of hearing his verdict. (The mountain bike park is on Youtube, natch:


Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:23:00 AM Categories: mountain bike Nigel Schroder Rob English tandem

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?

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.

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.

100kg as opposed to 68 kg 

Monday, November 1, 2010 7:16:27 AM Categories: bike crash engineering problems penny farthing trikes

Cardboard Box 

Labour Weekend, so my wife thought a good plan would be an expedition with some Danes to the top of Mount Arthur in the snow and promptly set off for the hut. Therefore I made a cardboard box and Mr McLeod, who isn't Danish, wasn't consulted and had organised a recumbent ride instead, made a tailfairing and Mr Schroder made a fork jig. To each of us our accomplishments: some climb mountains, some make tailfairings, some make fork jigs. And I make a cardboard box. - As a matter of fact I've been meaning to make the box for a while because the old one was getting worn out - it's on the back of the shopping trike and needed to be a whisker bigger because of the statutory size of New Zealand juice bottles, which prevent crisps and milk and grapes being bought at the same time. So I pinched a bike box from the shop because they're double-thickness corrugated cardboard, and set to with knife and PVA and little reinforcing sticks of willow and when it was all done, I carefully covered it inside and out with cut-up cotton shirts ostensibly to reinforce it but actually cos I fancied the idea and wanted to see if it would work.

Messrs McLeod and Schroder appeared and we went for a ride, Mr McLeod with his new tail fairing which was thin and flimsy and lightweight and insubstantial and rubbish all of which compelled me to assure him it wouldn't work, but in the event I was wrong. It worked exceedingly well. A roll-down at Ngatimoti said 38.8 kph without the fairing and 40.6 with, and whenever I followed him I found that I wasn't picking up a tow but was riding into immense turbulence which entirely validated his roll-down data. The tailbox was a single fold of corriboard, neatly sealed at the front with foam, and held in place with tiny light-weight rubberised cotton bands weighing nothing. Admittedly his drive chain was creating a series of hiccups, but nobody's interested in drive trains. They're only the means of testing the aerodynamics of single folds of corriboard. (And on the topic of hiccups the children who have decided I am to be knighted, presumably for services as yet unrendered, observed that the worst time to get hiccups is when the Queen is about to knight you. It is a prospect that doesn't fill me with alarm because I'm neither a rugby player nor a film producer and Her Majesty is not yet in the habit of knighting cardboard box makers.)

Mr Schroder had his fork jig with him which I shall probably have to nick sometime, and he tried to persuade me to ride from Rotoiti to Renwick with him but I declined because I'm pathetic and a wimp and it's a long way and he's too fast. Mr McLeod will have to go instead.
In the morning I nipped up Mount Arthur to see how they were all getting on and was much cheered to find that Dr Dane-Mollerup is another person who shaves his own head, doubtless to save having to discuss whatever in Denmark constitutes Leicester City with whoever in Denmark cuts hair. - By way of instigating stimulating conversation the barber in Barrow used to ask of each client:
'Y'suppor' Leicester City, er wha?'
Naturally I did not support Leicester City nor indeed any other team but I did not disclose this to the man because he had sharp implements and my throat to hand. Instead I bought a BaByliss and proceeded to shave my head with a Number 4, deeming that however ragged a mess I made in the mirror it would be preferable to a bimonthly discourse on association football. If you see a man with hair exactly half an inch long you'll know he has a BaByliss, and if there's a diagonal intrusive pathway mown out of the back of his neck only an eighth of an inch long, you'll know his wife declines to shave the last few bits for him with a Number 1.

Up the mountain was a Troll. He had appeared long after dark outside the hut, hopping about with a torch on his forehead and waking everyone up shuffling through his pack, and in the morning he set about advising people what not to do. Not to wear cotton shirts, not to wear cotton jeans, to choose different boots from the ones they had and to go on routes other than those they proposed. In short, to do what he was doing. Everyone ignored the Troll so he had to accompany them all day to give further advice, suddenly rushing ahead with his mountain sticks, randomly announcing which of the range is named Gordon's Pyramid and which Billy's Knob, and surprising people who hadn't ever seen him in their lives before by gratuitously pointing out the route to Salisbury Hut. He was most odd. He was covered in tattoos, very probably inflicted by mountaineers who had tired of his advice. I have a feeling he lives on the mountain, so when I next go up there I'm taking my cardboard box and I'm going to spend quality time advising him how to make one using inappropriate materials like cotton and we'll see who can be the most annoying and I bet it'll be me.

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