Monday, 19 November 2007


First snow of the season. It is not even winter yet in my book. We could be in for a cold one!

Snowey Bins!

You may have noticed, as I have, that I only write on this blog when I actually have nothing to say.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


I've found Paddington. Hiding in Liz's house, and definately not eating marmite, but insted feasting on Mr Herricks marmalade.

A very brave bear.

What I am listening to...

Anything by The Go Team!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Damp Park

Bored day off ... again, so it was a quick trip to the skate park now that the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Mind you - by the time I had got there via the "scenic" route I was covered in so much mud that the park residents would have just laughed.

I don't mind the occupants of my local park - they are pikeys. But cool pikeys. Just like with every social class, there are exceptions to the rules. These are the exception. Accomodating and willing to impart their extensive BMX knowledge. It is also quite nice to not be shuned for having 26" wheels. They simplly see MTB's for what they are in skate parks - not as good as a BMX or 24 incher.

Noth that any of this mattered, because no one was there on such a cold and damp day. The boxes were wet and the ramps sketchey. But i've always thought that difficult conditions are the best to learn in. Deep end styley.

The plan was to hone my technique. I did a little. I can now drop in from allmost all the ramps and can jump the fun-box a little. Not great, but I was never a BMX'er. This is juat to hone my skills out of season. With some practice, I should be closer to Grant 'Chopper' Fielder by the spring and hopefully it will show when I get back to proper riding.

Not quite to Chopper's standard yet!!!

Thursday, 8 November 2007


Right. After lots of kit abuse, lots of disacussion and plenty of comments I think it is time for a definitive list of whats hot and whats not in terms of bike kit manufacturers. So here goes.

NB: Most of this is based on personal experiance, but there is alot taken from popular opinion in the MTB community.

FramesetsCarreraGiant (STP)
ForksMarzocchiRockShoxKinesis Rigid
Front BrakesShimano hydraulicAvid MechaicalShimano 'Vee'
Rear BrakesShimano hydraulic or 'Vee'Avid Mechaical or Shimano 'Vee'Shimano 'Vee'
CranksShimano Deore (HT1 Octalink)Shimano HT2
Bottom BracketsShimano HT1 OctalinkShimano
Seat PostsThompsonThompson
HeadsetsChris King or Hope(for internal)Chris King of FSA(for budget)
Gripspersonal preferencelock-ons - personal preference
CassettesSRAMSRAM or On-One(for single-speed)
Front MechsShimano Deorenone - e.thirteen chainguide
Rear MechsShimano LXShimano
ShiftersSRAM TriggerSRAM Trigger

Monday, 5 November 2007

Halfords Bikehut rant.

As you may be aware by now. I have recently taken on a full time job working in my local Halfords Bikehut store as a bike mechanic / sales assistant and to be honest, i'm dissapointed by the way some people view me.

I'm always hearing things relating to how bikehut mechanics are monkeys with no sense of professional competance. Lots of the customer problems i've encountered are relating to poor products rather than poor staff and we just happen to be in the firing line. People simplly don't seem to understand that a £60 bike won't stand up to what the average kid has to offer it. A half decent BMX on the other hand - will (just by keeping it out of the rain and purchasing a bike care plan costing just £30 for three years!) Everyone moans about the Vibe's and Shockwave's but the kids bikes are the worst. Anything under a 20" wheel and the brakes are next-to-usesless and the rubbish that goes on them is unnecessary and pointless. Things like stabalisers just undermine axel security and don't actually allow children to learn as they rely on the stabalisers*; and things like chain guards make cleaning very difficult. In my opinion if a child can't be trusted to keep his fingers away from a moving chainring or attempt to learn balance then they shouldn't be allowed near a bike. But if they can do these things, they shouldn't need such stupid ancillary items. Which is why I tend to point the parents towards the above-'vibe'-quality BMX's. But that leads me to another point...

On a slight tangent, when I become King of the world (and it's going to happen) the first thing I shall do is outlaw semi-horizontal dropouts and gyros. Then I will make it law for all horizontal dropout frames to come with chain-tugs as standard.

Anyways, i'm not sure about my colleagues but whenever I serve a customer I just try and be as helpfull as possible. What more can you ask?! And it really bugs me when people think I don't know how to service a headset, tap a bottom bracket thread or bleed hydraulics. Mainly we are limited only by the lack of tools at our disposal, which is irritating in itself.

However, after just completely slagging-off childrens bikes. I was refeshed to see on the new 'Pingu' bike out there is a lovely 'seal of approval' stamped to the headtube. ... Well it amused me anyways. :) Check it out next time your near halfords.

Anyways, i've now convinced my manager to get me CyTech level 2 trained. So I should be able to rub that in the face of anyone who questions my professionalism once I get it.

* - I never had stabilisers on any of my childrens bikes. Right from 16" wheels at about 4 years old on my first bike.

--- RANT ENDS ---

Thursday, 1 November 2007


I have recently discovered a group called Hybrid. On the advice of Mr David Keller from some months ago now I eventually got round to procluring some material by this group and have to report it is rather pleasurable. I've also just rediscovered Air.

So... What i'm listening to...

Hybrid - Hearts Desire
Air - All I Need
Feist - 1 2 3 4

Four In One

OK, you havn't had a blog in a while. So here they are all at once.

A fine desktop...

Mmmmmm ... pikey. :)

And so yet to another BMXC ride on bored days off.

I rekon I did about 20k in less than 4 hours on a single-speed jump bike, which I think is pretty good going on an improvised route of towns, skate-parks, suburbs, bridleways, footpaths, fields and country parks in and around Kettering. Twas a lovely day. Blue skies, pretty flowers, fun riding etc.

To sumarise my BMXC philosophy if you missed it, BMXC is a form of mountain biking with a jump bike - preferablly single-speed and very little pedaling up steep hills. The object is exploration and adventure riding anything you think (or don't think!) you can along the way styling it up. Basically, its about messing around with your bike in the sunshine. What more could you want??

Anyways, as asid a lovely ride. However, unique for me in that I left my house with one bike and came home with two. This was completely random for me as I was riding along by the river Ise down a footpath and after some serious Ms Isle thrashing I stopped for a rest by the river. I spied what I believed to be a childs bike in the river, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be a Haro BMX with a 3-piece crank, 14mm axels, gyro and 'sun' rims. So, I retreived it from its watery haunt and upon being picked up from Twywell I returned post haste to collect the bike. Will probabbly see if I can repair it and sell it eBay styley. Will keep you updated anyways!

I am now seriously considerting 'downgrading' my saint brakes for Avid BB7's. I have come to the conclusion after maximum fettling with both hydraulic and cable disc breaks that cables are simpler and equally powerful if the overall design is good.

So, some of these bad boys for the Ms Isle... replace the saints. On paper the saint brakes are awesome, however the rear has never been right due to the fact that I obviously can't bleed them properly. And if you can't make them work properly then whats the point???

So Avid BB7's - 185mm up front with the traditional 160mm out back. Should be good, if a little contraversial.

I built this beast some time ago now.

Yes, I know I should grow up. But, come on. It's pretty good, isn't it? :) However, before completion it was desatroyed by a rather annoying man in a tractor. And so it becomes clear. My mission is to find a suitable location for stealth-jumps. I miss dirt jumping. It may have just been down at sandy ramps or Trisnant and I couldn't do any tricks, but it was still a good giraffe. So I need a good reasonably local spot to build before the frost lays in for the winter. The story continues.

Its arrived! New wheel ahoy! My new wheel is a Hope Pro II Single-Speed hub built with 36 plain-gauge balck DT-Swiss spokes onto a Mavic EX721 rim with velux cloth rim tape. It is the sex.

The design is excellent and if you're against having 9 gears on your bike then this will run up to six sprockets (prob about five with normal 8-speed sprockets and a 3/32" chain) although I havn't worked out how to get round the issue of locking your rear mech out to just 5 sprockets yet, appart from using an old-school 5-speed SIS mech! Also, this hub has the added bonus of a steel cassette hub body as standard, which is a far more sensible idea than the aluminium on the standard ProII and comes here without the extra weight of a full-size 8/9spd shimano cassette hub set-up. Also, bolt-up axels are a good idea. 6mm allen key and you can whip them out really easily, yet its like having a bolt-through out back in terms of stiffness and general hub immobility. No less than five swiss-made sealed bearing units keep the hub spinning smoothly and four pawls in two offset pairs seem to make the hub a little quieter than the standard ProII. This is probabbly due to the distribution of sound through the hubs rotation creating an illusion of a quieter hub when infact the noise is just as loud, but closer to a 'buzz' and less of a 'clack'. The other benefit to this wheel over the standard ProII is the increased flange distance due to the shortened cassette hub. This means that there needent be as much tension in the drive side spokes to compensate for the wheel dish and consequently makes for a much stronger wheel.

In terms of single-speed, i've never tried a Chris King hub, but I can't imagine you wanting anything more from a hub. This is one absolutely bob-on piece of kit!! This has to be my favourite rear hub ever - including my other standard ProII.

At first I was suspicious of getting a new Mavic EX721 as the graphics looked a little bit questionable asthetically, but on the bike they look the business and - despite what you may have seen on the internet, are completely readable if you stand further away. I deliberately got a non-disc rim so as to leave possibility open for a trialsy future for the build.

Wheel build from Chain Reaction Cycles is, as usual, exempliary. My other hoops have taken a severe beating for about a year now and are still as true as a nun on a polygraph.

I will have to give the new hoop a bit of a thrashing before being able to give any reasonable feeback, but initial indications and previous experiance suggest that this should be one-hell-of-a-piece-of-kit!