Thursday 28 May 2020

Pandemic cycling and bicycle selection, going forward

Changed; 28/10/2022 - 25/10/2022

You never forget how to ride a bike. 

Measures to improve routes for cyclists and revisions to the Highway Code,  
How to ride a bike for the first time or after a long time,  
Comparison of bicycles,  
Positive social aspects of the Covid 19 lock-downs,  
TV manipulation using health fear, Covid, walking and cycling to get away from it, 
Air quality, climate change and challenging green-wash, 
Bicycle maintenance including hub gear maintenance,  
Epicyclical gears,
Links and references. 
Preview of Ethical Consumer, Issue 197, July/August 2022 (bicycles and transportation - view in Firefox)

 Thank you, Nicholas Bates (Facebook) for allowing me to use your photo

Nicholas's grandad said his bike was made by Colson - he referred to it as 'The Fairy Bike'.   I have previously heard of a "Fairy cycle" as a general term for a child's first bicycle.  "Hi  Andrew.  It's black and white with added colour by me - I did a few for VE day to chart my Granddad from being a lad in the village through to the day he landed on the Normandy beaches and beyond.  The colour somehow made it more real - and more relatable for my own children.  Of course, you can use it for your blog. That'd be fantastic." 

That awful meaningless phrase "Going forward", has subsequently gone out of fashion in 2021.  This blog intends to discuss different types of bicycles, and share sources of tips and recommendations about bicycles, repairs and cycling.  The blog also shows how to carry out some repairs and maintenance.  The page also discusses changes that might come about as a consequence of the pandemic where people are cycling more but people are also worried about their financial security and the old hated being kept in.  Although the environment is very damaged by human activity species died and the climate changed but even in this short period big improvement in air quality is being enjoyed all over the world.  People enjoyed their own better health and time with their children more whilst working at home or on the government furlong scheme (partly paid whilst employed but not working or not working all your normal hours).

Look over your bike, check for loose parts and low-pressure tires, pressing your thumb
into the tire you should hardly be able to indent the tire as a quick guide before you start.
Listen for rattles, rubbing noises and other changes, work out what they are and fix them on your bike.
Test the brakes soon after you first move off and if it starts to rain, the braking improves after the first few uses.

Experimental cycle lanes segregation on the A26 Tunbridge Wells.  This solution addresses the 
concerns new cyclists have about road safety following the lifting of the national lockdown.  
Update although criticised by some car users the temporary plastic bollards also reminded car users not to cross into the lanes.  New cyclists reported they felt safer and personally I find that road better than it was 40 years ago, by the measures introduced over the past two decades anyway and improved by new measures.  The bollards were replaced with cats-eyes in late 2020, cyclists use the road and the lane discipline has been maintained a year later (September 2021). 

Tunbridge Wells had become very congested with traffic 30 years ago so that vehicles could not travel through the town easily but for the past 20 years, there have been restrictions so that fewer vehicles move through the town but the town is less congested so cars move more quickly and air quality, though bad, is improved.  The government under Covid air quality and health measures have speeded up the measures and in some towns, those measures were poorly designed or lobbied against and have been undone.  It is the nature of roads and towns that traffic management has always required planning studying and change continually as road culture changes and the planners are often not listened to first due to public and interested parties' pressure. 

In recent years more and more 20 miles-an-hour schemes have been introduced.  They calm the roads, reduce pollution by 25% or more and are popular.  Not that an internal combustion engine is any more efficient at the lower speed, they are not, but drivers accelerate much less reducing emissions. 



Riding an adult bike for the first time;
Sit on the saddle don't pedal but scoot along using your feet on the ground. Some small children's bikes don't have pedals and are similar to 18th-century bone-shakers in which the rider sits on and scoots the bike along. 
  • Avoid dérailleur gears, or ask someone to select a gear for you then don't change gear they are very distracting.  Select a middle sprocket that should be about right or a higher gear if it is a mountain bike.
  • Choosing either a single-speed bike or a hub-gear bike is good.  Select 1st or 2nd gear if it is a three-speed or four-speed Sturmey-Archer hub move the pedal backwards whilst stationary while moving the lever.  When moving, move the pedals without applying pressure to the pedals,  there is enough movement with your feet on the pedals for the gear to change.  It is very easy, but do not change gear until you are confident cycling. 
  • A short-wheelbase bike is easiest to balance at low speeds, such as mountain and children's bikes.  The long wheelbase and sports frame bikes need more space to turn in and you need to be moving a little faster.  Folding bikes are more difficult to lean on I am advised.  First, start off on the flat. 
  • The Video; Put the pedal and pedal arms back on the bike (if you removed them) and carry on scooting then transfer your feet to the pedals and pedal.  Finally set the saddle higher when you feel secure otherwise the bike will be hard to pedal.   The saddle height should be set so that sitting on the saddle, one leg straight and your instep resting on the pedal and furthest away. Push the pedals with the balls of your big toes mostly when cycling. 
  • Alternatively, someone can hold the saddle or the back of your coat to steady you briefly whilst running with you.  I understand a cycle trainer may also hold the handlebars with their other hand to help an adult learner balance.  As far as I recall the helper only needs to do this once and the learning is off, my father recalled turning around as an infant and seeing his parents a long way behind him. 
The important point is that you balance with the handlebars and you steer by letting your body do what leaning is necessary to go the way you wish.  That is you look and lean slightly towards the direction you are going sub cautiously.  You notice at low speeds you wobble more so you noticeably move the handlebars by bigger amounts to correct your balance.
  • Your brakes should be applied progressively increasing with the front brake doing most of the braking but bicycle braking is usually not so powerful that a bike is likely to skid.  In any case, avoid skidding, by reducing pressure on the brakes, skidding makes the bike uncontrollable and reduces the rate of deceleration.  Although you can signal before stopping by waving your right arm up and down you have less control of your bike and it is usually better to keep holding the handlebars.  Look behind you before moving off or stopping and stop slowly except in an emergency. 
    • In stunt car driving the rear braking used to turn sharply is called a 'handbrake turn'.  A front-wheel skid is never done intentionally, takes longer to stop and stops in an uncontrolled way but has the advantage of tending to stop in a straight line.  When braking the weight of the vehicle transfers to the front which is why more braking is applied to the front.  Some fast motorbikes and some sports bicycles have brakes powerful enough to cause the biker to go over the handlebars and be severely injured.
  • All road users should not brake or not brake hard when cornering or when road conditions are poor.  Roads are particularly slippery when it rains after a very hot period. 

As easy as riding a bike -  Starting and stopping;

  • The simplest way,  lean the bikes over then step over to form a wide triangle seated. Lift your pedal ready.  Push down on the pedal whilst pushing off with the other foot. 
  • The method in the left video works well with a step-through bike use the pedal to start moving and seat yourself.   The method does not work so well with a small frame crossbar bike and I reposition myself on the saddle whilst I apply pressure to the pedal after I move off. 
  • Put your outside foot on the pedal scooting off with your inside foot then swing your leg over, I have never used this method.  The postman in this video on the right uses this method.
  • Observe that the postman is with the time choosing to get a new bike every two years, many people like new things and like the postman chose not to repair and reuse in his case as he would have been brought up to do.  Bikes during his working life were all made to last much longer than the postman has chosen to run his bikes.  
  • Another postman anecdote from a bike shop in an earlier time, I have read, was of a postman who had his bike serviced for 50 years, 75 miles a day and when any non-consumable part broke Raleigh replaced the part at no cost but for bike shop's fitting charge. 
As easy as falling off a bike,  When stopping and dismounting it is better to put your foot out wide and avoid putting your foot into a pothole.  I only step off as I am finishing braking in some circumstances and on some bikes otherwise I put my foot on a curb if that is convenient but it is a useful strategy to learn as well.  

Riding a bike again after a long time; 

The next hurdle is to get your cycling strength up - just cycle up and down a road on a quiet day.  Do no more than 200m then rest then repeat 200m, and build up to 1Km over a number of weeks after that progress as you feel fit to.  I spoke to an older guy, like myself, who did not pace his build-up and was in pain for a few days after his first ride.  It gets a lot easier once you get cycling again to cycle further.  Do cycle further at first if you are under 50 or 60 and choose to. 
  • When you start a new exercise and are older first your muscles ache but after a few days' rest if you did too much you will be okay again and you soon start getting stronger.  Then as your muscles get stronger your joints may ache and you may need at least a few weeks to rest.  As this is occurring your breathing might be uncomfortable at first but gets easier and you feel better for exercising harder at all other times.  I found my ankles ache less for walking less but exercising more. 
  • You should make up your mind in advance and start to manoeuvre early so that if you don't see what is behind you or don't manage to signal others on the road will see what you are doing in plenty of time.  Don't take your hands off the handlebars if doing so would make you unstable, such as if the road has a bad surface ahead.  It may be better to push the bike on the pavement across a road junction or around a parked vehicle on a busy road with limited width. 
  • Cycling on the pavement is fine if you take care and don't get caught.  The serious point is to put your foot down and stop or dismount if you think you might worry pedestrians.  Cycle slowly on the pavement even if you don't see anyone.  Policing mostly does not apply rules unless you could cause harm. 
  • Cyclists need to take their position on the road just the same as a motorbike user would be taught to or they/we will be driven into the kerb, broken glass or knocked off their bike.  Take corners fairly wide so that you are seen and can be seen and have room to take evasive action. 
  • If unsure dismount and cross a road junction on foot.  There are many situations when cycling were using a hand signal is unsafe such as before, turning on a hill, the road surface is poor but signal when turning right on a flat road with a good surface if you feel stable.  Similarly, speak to or acknowledge with a wave a road or pedestrian, only if you feel stable on your bike.  These things will come in time concentrate on stability first and start to manoeuvre early so other road users see what you are going to do in enough time.  Be aware of what is behind, and around you and plan ahead.  You do not see much looking behind but doing that also indicates to other road users that you are there, maybe stopping, changing lanes or turning soon.  The hand signal for slowing down or in a car turning left looks the same so a car driver should just try to wave his arm about.  Do not rely on other road users signalling but to repeat the point, start making your manoeuvre early so that your intention is clear. 

Keep looking forward.  Looking confident helps you feel confident and makes you safer.  Give yourself plenty of space on the road don't cycle close to cars or the curb. 

Regulation and policing or personal responsibility with calming measures;
Do take part in government and local government consultations on green, road and cycling.  Local groups that discuss themselves, other road user groups and the general public problems and improvements then propose changes and campaigns.  
  • Pedestrians need to take care to not step off the pavement in front of a bike, there is no easy way for a cyclist to avoid falling off the bike or swerving in front of a vehicle.
  • Cyclists should proceed with care when they are moving in a lane next to slow-moving or stopped vehicles, particularly for vehicles turning into or out of entrances and side roads, I am ready to stop or do stop when the cars stop or have left a gap. 
  • But the list of things some car drivers do, reversing out of parking spaces and particularly onto major roads, intimidating cyclists who can not get out of the way because of parked cars.  Squeeze gaps without allowing a cyclist's room to wobble. 
  • Anyone on the road squeezing or walking through a gap where something is happening that others on the road have stopped for.  The lack of patience and empathy for the heavy vehicle driver manoeuvring, the bus driver because he has to reverse at a badly designed terminus. 
  • On starting a manoeuvre when a car appears in sight.  There is then doubt about halting and wobbling or continuing.  This is a situation where there is no fault but both road users have to take care. 
In cycling, the dérailleur gear bike is risky because it is distracting and inefficient choice for town use and requires more effort to cycle in a low gear ready to stop and start consequently the cyclist feels more reluctance to stop suddenly.  But vintage hub gears were designed to cover all cycling needs of their time, with close, medium or wide spacing, fixed or freewheel on bikes with more efficient frame and transmission design.  Kits for hybrid wide hub and dérailleur and a kit to bring out the 5th speed and improve the gear change on a four-speed early-type FW hub were available in the heydays of cycling from 1890 to 1950 but started to decline after 1960.  The epicyclic gear is particularly efficient and there is no reluctance to stop, switch gears and go again.  But the derailleur is a good cheap choice for a long easy ride on a clear road or cycleway whether hilly or flat and a good steel frame bicycle will tend to encourage you to cycle fast so take care they are so easy and get easier and smoother the faster you travel. 

The question of regulation and policing or personal responsibility with calming measures.  Ideology, have some basic rules, such as do no harm, but cycling on the pavement slowly and stopping for people in my opinion is okay.  The police don't apply rules arbitrarily necessarily but can do.  


Bicycle selection;
Vintage means over 25 years old, Veteran means over 100 years old or if it is a Raleigh bike just out of guarantee.  

Many modern hubs or crank gears sacrifice efficiency, for spec. points such as lots of speeds. By comparison, the old bikes were made for a very long life, very serviceable, efficient and light to pedal because they have a good frame. Those particularly old bikes are comfortable and fast. Buying a modern bicycle is a bit of a minefield but there has always been a need to ask the sellers advice on suitability which then becomes part of the contract you have with the seller. Hopefully, this blog should help you select a nice old bike but in all cases, a sports bike may be unsuitable for road use either in the case of a 1940s/50s custom Raleigh Record Ace having a 1" higher crank, and maybe high geared, and be more difficult to start going on or a modern bike having just 23mm wide tires that do not suit on a gravel cycle path.

Dr Who's TARDIS might be of indeterminate age but the way it travels no doubt billions of years of wear rather than millions of years old and more like life on Earth that has been running continually for 3.77 billion years or more, than a machine.  Surely the fiction in early BBCTV series like Dr Who inspired by British made machines made in the 20th century could more and more be made to be reliable and last a very long time.  When The Time Machine was published in 1895 the Victorians were striving to make machines with good function and reliable, and one man could know all the known science, it was said.  Both these fictional time machines were constructed of very hard materials or used very strong forces to make very robust and highly functional machines.

Picture right; The Oxford electric bell has been operating since 1840; 

Volk's electric railway, Brighton, East Sussex, opened in  1883 
Similarly, the older London buses known as the Routemaster would last indefinitely because they were easy to maintain and they were dismantled and refitted about every 5 years.  All the Routemaster and single-deck type buses that required a driver and a conductor were over 40 years old when they were taken out of regular service.

TAKE CARE WITH ALUMINIUM FRAME BIKES OR PARTS NOT TO STRIP THE THREADS BY OVER-TIGHTENING BOLTS OR CROSSING THE THREADS SO SCREW IN GENTLY AT FIRST AND UNSCREW START AGAIN IF NECESSARY.   Aluminium threads bind when crossed more easily and started badly but you stand a chance of correcting it, whatever the parts are made of, if you unscrew back until you feel the thread go past the start then start screwing in again ensuring you keep the parts aligned.  Using the appropriate tool a ring spanner rather than an open spanner for example. 


Differences between types of the bicycle;
Blue track rider, A-frame, Special DS, Bazani, "18 gear", 26"
  • Short wheelbase bicycle - mountain bikes very noticeably go in and out of all the bumps and take pedalling effort doing that.  You can turn sharply and move and manoeuvre at very low speeds.  A fun bike but more work to pedal and have a range of low to very low-speed gearing.  Starting from stationery you can almost lift both feet off the ground at the same time and start pedalling.
  • The cheap mountain bike pictured has [3 x 6] 18 gear derailleur which provides about 8 speeds or three mostly overlapping ranges of six speeds.  The gears change by twist grip micro-clicks. You move two clicks for a one-speed change.  The chain came off a lot and I carried a rag with me because it was dirty, the metal thin and sharp. 
The front dérailleur outer plastic guard is damaged as a consequence of trying to adjust the setting so that the gear can be changed from the smallest to the second front sprocket reliably. I now prefer to leave it so that the second front sprocket be reached by using the hand control to push the chain too far and then bring the control back.
  • After fixing the front disk brake is very good, progressive and works in the rain.  The rear brake is poor.
  • A tube kept on puncturing and I was advised to run my fingers around the inside of the tire until I found something sharp.  It turned out to be a piece of thin stiff wire.
  • The bike is lightweight and sprung will protect the frame from being fractured. This bike is not suitable for a heavy person. 
  • I am advised not to yank the handlebars to help you bump up a curb with such a bike because the suspension will cause the wheel to drop and hit the curb knocking you off the bike.
  • I got the bike in January 2019.  Probably equivalent to a £200 bike and was available in new old stock for £160 at the time I was running the bike.
Because the bike's highest gear is quite low I found I had no reluctance to stop when cycling in town because I could start moving again easily enough in any gear, except at the lowest speeds.  Modern dérailleur gear bikes can go up any hill! 


Raleigh, Urban 2, - is a modern road bike,
  • 8x3 dérailleur gears, 24 combinations, amounts to at least 10 speeds.  The front dérailleur provides a little greater gear spacing.  The control trigger levers operate easily for a dérailleur.  The gears changed easily with gentle pedal movement as they should.  The dérailleur changes easily under severe cross-chaining and the rear dérailleur changes easily under heavy load although doing those will shorten the chain's life.  The front dérailleur changes easily provided you pedal lightly and hold the up-a-sprocket lever for a brief period whilst the chain hooks onto the larger sprocket.  Unlike the bike above I don't think the chain will come off. 
  • The bike is in good order and is a very nice bike, aluminium alloy frame and wheels.  Light to pedal but the frame is stiff causing a little road vibration in the hands of the rider but a nice bike.  That is more vibration in the handlebars than an old 1970s steel bike, so it will be a little tiring on a long ride.  Other people had said to expect that of other makes of good modern bikes.  The bike turns in a fairly small circle and is easy to get started on provided gears are set suitably.
  • The bike is much heavier than I expected at 15Kg, which is similar to a good high-tensile steel frame bike. The front forks are steel, though this is not mentioned in the spec, giving the bike some springiness and the pedal effort lighter.  The bike feels lighter than its weight but also feels dead, unlike a good steel-frame sports bike. That deadness and little feeling of momentum in the frame tends to make me inclined to change speed more.
  • It has road bike optimum 32mm wide 700x32c (28x1.25") tires that hold air. With the close spacing of the dérailleur, you can go down a gear on cut grass where you would not with 41mm wide tires.  Changing from the smallest to the second front sprocket does not work reliably unless you are pedalling lightly and holding the lever until the chain has caught the bigger sprocket but I prefer to leave it that way rather than adjust the setting and risk damaging the outer plastic guard on the front sprocket. In any case, the dérailleurs are correctly set up. I rotated the handlebar a little to improve the comfort of gear operation.
  • The braking is unusually powerful for a bicycle but fortunately, it is also progressive.  The brakes also work well in the rain.  So the cyclist needs to take care to avoid skidding. The brake pads will wear off cause but I understand that the aluminium wheel rims will wear as well.
  • The brakes squeal loudly.  This was resolved by loosening one brake pad bolt then placing a penny under the front and squeezing the brake lever whilst tightening the bolt. Then do the same on the other side but put the penny at the back of the brake pad. The brakes have started squeaking a little again as the pads have worn down.
  • The front rim is okay but the rear wheel rim is worn close to its limit. There is a groove cut in the braking surface to indicate wear when the alloy is worn down to the point that the wheel rim should be replaced.
  • The pedals are nice and your feet probably won't slip when it is wet.
  • The saddle squeaks but is fairly comfortable.  The squeak was resolved by repositioning the saddle back to front more centrally and tightening the bolts. 
  • Raleigh started making some frames using aluminium alloy with steel forks rather than all steel from 1960, I understand.  The forks steel gives some spring so that the bike ride is smooth and light to pedal.  Apparently, these aluminium frame bikes remained branded ALL STEEL for some years.  No doubt there is a cost-saving in welding the aluminium alloy frame, instead of brazing and lapping steel tubing.  There are parts that are stiff with corrosion due to electric reaction (cathodic reaction) between dissimilar metals, aluminium and steel, electrolyte water and salts.  There are many plastic insulators fitted to break the electrical circuit and minimise corroding electrical current flow, due to electrolytic (battery) action but temperature gradients are less likely to be significant because the thermoelectric effect would produce much smaller voltages.   
I got the bike in August 2021, put the chain back on, carried out some lubricating, tightened some bolts, slacked a brake cable and set the saddle height. I have been able to go up and down through all the dérailleur speeds reliably and without the chain coming off. The bike has been kept lubricated and there is very little rust but the transmission parts are coated in a protecting-lubricating carbon black as if 3-in-one oil had been used, which is a good choice of oil.

The bike can be ridden at low speeds and reasonably fast, is fairly easy to lift the rear wheel and turn the pedal in a forward direction with your foot or hand in order to change gear. At the lowest speed, it is necessary to pedal fast which is more tiring than just pushing the bike uphill. I could just start off on a steep hill in the lowest gear after a few tries because it is difficult to balance at first but turns out to be practical on a less steep hill.

The speeds are often too close together, although that is nice on an easy road where you won't be stopping and starting to just change gear as the road inclination changes. You can make a bigger change by changing both dérailleurs together whilst pedalling lightly. It is good that the dérailleur control is sprung so that the required speed is preselected and the change occurs when the cyclist starts pedalling but this does not work well and is not a good strategy.

Because it is necessary to wait a long time for the gear to complete the change it is necessary to change down ahead. The front brake is on the right with the rear up-down dérailleur trigger, up and down is top and bottom but the left trigger is up-down is bottom and the top trigger so I still get it wrong. I found the long trigger lever push to derail to a larger sprocket a bit difficult but rotating the handlebar resolved that. Dérailleur gears are nicely implemented on this bike.

This bike like most general road bike's handling is not affected by carrying a heavy item on the rack.  You can turn in a smaller space but not as easily as the mountain bike further above.  The only time when the chain came off was when the front dérailleur had not completed the change but the bike had been pushed in and out of my shed.  Generally, with this bike like all modern bikes, I understand, such as the Astra (below) there is more vibration in the frame and my wrists soon ached as well.

Although I found I put more effort into cycling rather than getting off and pushing including going up a curb in the lowest gear so I became more exhausted. But when managed properly this bike is particularly good on varied terrain and easy road conditions I have found the bike less tiring than some other bikes. The bike is not a good town bike whereas the hub gear bikes are also very good town bikes.
  • I have added more reflectors and have fixed the bell by adding a spring with a screw as a hammer for the bell. 
  • There is little handlebar adjustment you can raise and move the handlebars toward the cyclist by loosening the Allen key bolt at the side, then loosening the four bolts and rotating the handlebars to suit.  The top Allen key bolt can be removed and an extension kit fitted, or the three shims can be moved to lower the handlebars this bolt sets the bearing pressure, retains the shims and has a seal to keep the water out.  The bearing runs smoothly but the stem had some corrosion making it difficult to take apart to service the bearings.  One of two O-rings and a flat plastic washer seal the top bearing, need to be replaced.  The rust had made the shims tight and spilt the plastic wedge washer which I reused because the split has not harmed its function.  I used emery paper to clean off the rust, then painted that section of the fork, unsuccessfully because the car primer paint can be scraped off which I cleaned and repainted.  The adjustment is to tighten the top blot a bit too tight then tighten the side clamp bolt.  The bottom bearing is similar but the top of the fork is wedge-shaped instead of the plastic wedge used with the top bearing. 
    • The bearing shell is pressed into the frame the bearing assembly was difficult to take apart;  The balls are held in a cage, which I distorted a little and could not put back so I added more balls, ensuring that it looks as if there was space for one more ball.  Because the bike judders at a very low speed when braking I then needed to tighten the bearing more than normal in order to minimise this juddering, without making the bearing stiff and the bike feel wobbly at low speed.  The steel cone washer forms the bearing.  The following hard plastic washer was difficult to push back into the grove in the bearing shell.  The bottom bearing had rusty grease so I was able to clean and re-grease it.  The top bearing was cleaner so I avoided taking it apart as far as removing the ball race but I added grease.  This is an exception to not setting any slack in this bearing and the video is very useful. 
    • Before painting the fork stem I degreased it with a solution of water and 5% vinegar. 
  • The front hub bearing was lubricated and clean and I added a little more grease too - The front wheel has a quick-release mechanism, remove the wheel by pulling the fork apart slightly.  
    • Remove the quick-release mechanism, which slides through the shaft easily.
    • The shaft is conventional with a cone nut and lock nut on each side but with an additional rubber seal over it.  I used two spanners to loosen the bearing working on the side that came free then push the shaft through to inspect both sides and grease the other side.  Push the shaft back and grease the first side.
    • To reassemble, screw the cone nut back with your fingers then loosen by half a turn.  Hold the cone nut with a thin spanner (14mm) and tighten the lock nut.  Finally, put the sealing rubber washer back by stretching it over the lock nut.
  • The bottom bracket does not look serviceable without a specialist tool that does not come with the bike, unlike a traditional crank.  But all the bearings run freely. 

Hub versus Dérailleur gear bikes;
With the dérailleur gear bike, I have to keep changing down, slowing my ride a lot in anticipation of needing to stop. That is I prepared myself to feel reluctant to stop when cycling in town because I would not be able to start moving again easily in a higher gear, or in the lowest gear.  I have nearly got stuck in a high gear not able to move but nearly falling off having changed up a speed or two instead of down two speeds.  I found I was pedalling a lot more just to get the right gearing and be ready for what I anticipated may arise on the road.  E-bikes also resolve the issue with dérailleur gears of not being able to start moving again if you stop in high gear. 

Do not operate the dérailleur just before you stop.  It might be worthwhile operating the trigger to return the guide back to where the chain is if you do stop and the gear change has not completed.  The front dérailleur being in the wrong place when you stop seems to be more of an issue.  Look down at the chain and the sprockets and make a judgement? 

If you stop in high gear it is best to get off and deal with it.  Operate the dérailleur, lift the back wheel or push the bike whilst pushing the pedal around in a forward direction with a foot or hand to make the gear changes.
  • But you may be able to move again by; 
  • Lifting the pedal ready to move off,
  • Select a lower gear with both dérailleurs,  The rear dérailleur has a smaller gearing change per speed change,
  • Push off with one foot and start pedalling with the other.  
  • I wobbled but if I managed to stay on the bike I could then go down more speeds and get going.  
I found the close spacing of the gears and lower speeds meant that with some extra effort pedalling fast but moving slowly I could go uphill further but it is easier to get off and walk slowly pushing the bike uphill.  Still, I have cycled up hills that I may not have on another bike but getting more out of breath consequently.  Whereas with a hub gear bike I go uphill in a high gear switching down a speed when I need to, which is later so more of the rider and bike momentum is used.  So I move faster and slow or stop promptly without any distraction from the hub gears.  But I say again I like the Urban 2 bicycle and enjoy the extra driving skill managing the dérailleur gears over the lazy easy switch speed when I like the way of the hub gear, which I prefer.

The gear cable run is mostly unsheathed on this 3-speed bike made by Universal (see below).  The same 
strategy of running much of the gear cable unsheathed was normal with bikes made until about 1960. 

The gear change is much easier on the hub gear bikes.  This is my experience with them;
  • The Astra is notchy but is fine and as it should be,  this bike has had very little use and the spring in the sector is tight.
  • This Universal is smoother probably because the bike has been used more but also much of the cable is unsheathed. That is despite the hub being newer (1997 light greased type) when they had a poor reputation for quality but is good (see photo above),
  • The Hercules is older and nicer, the cable is sheathed for its whole length.
  • But the Lenton sports the gear change very nicely and easily except for bottom gear (1 of 4) which needs a strong pull, it now has a lighter spring but one of the speeds B or N does not work depending on how the cable is set.  This gear hub and the bike has four perfectly placed speeds with N being the most efficient direct drive speed placed perfectly for resting but at a good speed.
Operation of the gear hub ensures that the speed can not be changed whilst there is forward pressure on the pedals.  You can observe this feature by applying pressure to the pedal and moving the selector up one or two speeds, the cable will go slack until you take the pressure off the pedal you may then hear the click as the gears change.  Some hub gears have no slip between speeds but nearly all British-made hubs do not incorporate this feature and there is a neutral between each speed where the pedal will turn but not drive the wheel.  If you find a gear that does not select and the pedals turn freely then the cable needs to be adjusted which is very easy to do. 

Back pedal-operated 2-speed hub gear - I have never ridden one of these.
Sturmey-Archer S2 Duomatic hub.

Gear hub with a back-pedal brake - I have never ridden such a bike Sachs is one of the makers of these hubs.  They sound convenient but I understand you can not raise the pedal ready to start moving, you have to get used to that.  I am told makes the bike fairly anti-theft as a thief would probably abandon the bike after a few metres.

Vintage bikes gears;
There were more variants of hub gears for vintage bicycles although generally, only three or four speeds were available with either hub gears or the cheaper dérailleur gears.  Wide spacing hub gears are for general use but medium or closer spacing gears are liked for sporting use so the cyclist can maintain his cadence.  Both vintage epicyclic (hub) gears and dérailleur gears have comparable efficiency but the hub gear is much more robust.  
      • Some modern mountain bicycles have gears in the crank (bottom bracket) with helical cut cogs for quietness and efficiency otherwise these are not new and here is a link to a 1937 Helvetica bicycle.  All the power is transferred by cogs to a lay shaft and then back to the main shaft using cogs.  By comparison, only a fraction of the power is carried through the cogs in epicyclic gears achieving good efficiency, consequently.  There have been a number of bottom-bracket epicyclic gears such as Dana USA but I don't know of a modern equivalent?  These are mostly heavier, less robust or less efficient than British-made Sturmey-Archer type hub gears. 
      • Generally, dérailleur gears are close or medium spaced but the wide spacing is not possible many gears can be had (Up to about 15% spacing compared to an AW 3-speed hub which has 33% or as close as 6% with an FC hub).  But it is possible to have widely-spaced dérailleur gears but with poorer shifting.  Note that dérailleur gears are also called Disraeli gears. 

    Good modern sports bikes 
    • I am told and read that a bike with 23mm wide tires is okay on the road but is unusable on gravel.  I spoke to a friend with a good low-cost alloy Raleigh sports that weigh 14Kg.  He has had the bike since new in 2014 and tells me the chain has never come off.
    • Unfortunately, that bike can not take tires wider than 25mm but the bike is good for long distances but not good on a gravel track consequently.  But it is also configured for trekking, with fittings for saddles but the steering becomes wobbly at 30MPH he tells me.
    Peugeot Course - steel frame sports bike;
    Peugeot Course sports bicycle - I have moved the brake levers to make using them easier.  The bike handles easily at low speeds ~2 MPH but feels wobbly at all speeds, reaching down and changing gears is difficult but okay after some weeks.  The gears change easily and fairly reliably but reaching operating and turning the pedals is hard, but you can change many speeds at a time but you hardly have to wait you can just about wobble about not moving change down and go again sometimes.  The bike is easier to start in high gear because I can stay on the bike moving at a very low speed without falling off.  The front dérailleur can come off so ensure the friction adjuster on the leaver is tight enough and that you fully complete the chain transfer before applying power or stopping.  The bike has been greased and oiled and is straightforward to work on. 
    • The bike was purchased in about 2000, Mangalloy (HLE) steel is but-brazed apparently, is magnetic and has some spots of rust weighs 12Kgs,
    • 6 x 2 Shimano dérailleur gears, 
    • Aluminium wheels and other parts, 22x622 22mm tires at a pressure of 7 bar, the frame can take up to 32mm wide tires but the wheels do not need to be changed.  The tire width is limited by the dimensions of the front fork.  I found that with 32mm wide alternatively known as 700c tires the rear tire has to be let down to fit or remove it.
    • Light on smooth roads, fast or slow.  Faster on the smoothest roads but harder work on rougher roads.  Road vibration in the saddle and handlebars is hard on the cyclist under all conditions.  The flexible steel frame is nicer but still loses momentum in preparing the dérailleur for a hill.
    • I have set the brake leavers - old style but the bike would suit me better with straight handlebars.
    • I have added a rack pictured which can make the bike a little less stable but okay.
    • With tires increased from 22mm to 32mm wide fitted the bicycle is much more comfortable, less easy to pedal on a smooth road and easier to pedal on a rough road.  The tire pressure is similar to 6.5 bar maximum with 32 mm tires reducing the pressure to 75 back and 65 PSI front is okay I am advised but with the narrower tires, they should be pumped to a high pressure to protect the rims.
    • I have changed the handlebars for a not drop-type aluminium which are fittingly lightweight and has made the bike more comfortable, even the seating is better though still uncomfortable.  The gear change is less easy though and I wobbled from one side of the road to the other the first time with the new bars.  So I might fit the twist grip for the front or both dérailleurs, but the lever is good for the rear dérailleur.
    French bicycle part sizes; I plan to change the pedals to non-clip type these are French size 14mm I am advised.   This makes the bike good for travelling off-peak on a train, though it does not fold it is smaller.


    Small wheel unisex, shopper and commuter bicycles;
    • These are also short wheelbase and generally heavier, to pedal if you try to travel at the speeds you would be more comfortable with a long wheelbase bike. I guess you can balance easily at a lower speed than an old long-wheelbase bike so if you have one of those bikes and my guess is that you should not need to or expect to go anywhere quickly. You can carry lots of shopping.  The Bickerton used to be quite a poor ride, I understand, but was one of the first lightest weight folding bikes.  Molton originally claimed the ride to be as good as a full-size bike and the bike had rubber suspension parts like the Mini car but not all models of the Molton had that better suspension. 

    The Moulton F frame bike holds the road well at speed and has a speed record, Cardiff to London, I am told 
    tells me. The video above shows a Moulton with a number of nicely added modifications and a good fix for 
    the FW gear hub that also turns it into a five-speed hub.  That makes all speeds operate more easily.

    I briefly tried cycling a new Raleigh Shopper in the 1970s but found the bike heavy to lift and heavy to pedal.   I am advised that the Raleigh RSW with the small fat tires was more comfortable than the top-of-the-range Moulton.  These were heavy little bikes the folding version weighing 18Kg and said to fold larger than when unfolded.


      Astra (Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia about 1985), Imported by a subsidiary of the former Elswick Hopper bicycle maker. 
      • This Astra bike (pictured below right), which I purchased locally cheaply in 2019,  now has lights and reflectors.  It also has new tires, all re-greased and running nicely.  The bike is easy to maintain, and fully serviced and the bike cost so far has been about £90.  The Astra of Scunthorpe was imported from Hungary,  Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia assembled and badged Barton, Humber, England and sold in 1985 (the date on the Sturmey-Archer, England, 3-speed hub).  The tires have perished and are poor quality Yugoslavian, the rims are German and the frame is a lightweight Soviet high tensile strength steel is strong but poor because it is a very stiff frame.  I have fitted pieces of rubber tire to the front basket to make it quieter with less rattle and squeak.
        • The step-thru bicycle pictured is a good all-around bicycle.   Particularly because you can mount and dismount easily.   These bicycles have a longer wheelbase which makes them a lot lighter to pedal than the mountain bike above.  This Soviet-era high tensile steel frame bike is lighter weight than a conventional steel frame bike at 15.5Kg.  The frame is stiff, unlike a sports bike frame.  The forks are stiff making the bike tiring on the hands and the ride heavier to pedal than it could be.  
        • The braking is okay with new Fibrax, and Raincheater brake blocks.  But there is virtually no braking in the rain until the leather within the brake blocks gets wet.  This is a problem with chromed wheels until the chrome wears away, or rust comes through the chrome.  Some brake pads that have a sticky soft texture but not the leather insert are also used.
        • The bike is not fast and you can find yourself going too fast for the bike that it does not feel stable cornering, over bumps and metal water or drain covers, compared to a good sports frame bike.  On the other hand, you can load the rack with lots of weight and the bike's handling does not change.  There is a lot of vibration transmitted to the frame and the handlebars of the bike.  All the same, I do like the bike and ran it for over two years.
      Modern town bicycles - these also have greased bearings like the other modern bicycles. The hub gears make gear changing very easy when stationary or moving so they are not a distraction when cycling on roads. (The Astra pictured has a thin oil lubricated, 3-speed Sturmey-Archer AW hub made in England which is renowned for its robustness). 

      The hub had not been oiled adequately and the gear change was poorer when I got the bike.  I oiled the hub a lot and eventually, a lot of black muck came out of the hub onto the chain and the gear change became good.  This is a satisfactory fix.  I opened the hub a few years later and found the hub wet with oil but not in a puddle of oil and clean as it should be, but one of the pawl springs needed replacing.  Apparently, the gears and other parts made from the 1970s, I understand, were made using a sintering process which creates some sediment in the oil.  It has been recommended to me that the hub be opened and cleaned out once a year but I have found that when properly oiled the hub will clean up or stay clean internally without being dismantled annually.  I made a replacement Pawl spring from a strand of brake cable wire, it is the same gauge of wire but with more tension, which makes the free-wheel click louder, as it should be, so I can hear that it is working still after a test ride but I recommend that you obtain the correct spring.  Significantly also I was able to clean and re-grease the water-repelling seals (labyrinth) which is a circular grove just around each of the two smaller outer bearings. 

      I got this bike in the summer of 2019.  This may be equivalent to one of the lighter frame modern Pashley bicycles which cost £700 - £1,500?  The cheaper, Pashley bikes are heavier at over 20Kg and do rust but some say they ride well when they get up to speed which this Astra does not.


      Older adult bikes are lighter to pedal than children's and modern bikes.  I recall that big difference going from a 24" children's bicycle to the Lenton sports.  I was pleased to confirm that the 1975 Hercules Balmoral also moves ever so freely.  

      There is a little on bike frame geometry in this video - the flexibility 
      of the frame and the springiness in the forks count for a lot. 

      Bikes made before the late 1970s (I am advised) may have a longer wheelbase, flexible frame and long curve springy forks that make the bike seem to fly over the bumps rather than go in or out of them.  The increased length of the bike is small but the benefit is amazing (it is said).  You see a bump, feel the bump in your arms and have a moment to transfer your weight from the saddle to the pedals if you chose to.  The flexibility in the Reynolds 531 steel frame in the Lenton pictured further down the page also contributes to the lightness, and smoothness of the ride and as well as giving the bike a very liked "alive" feel and light to pedal.  The wheel hubs are also thin-oil lubricated making these bikes, made before 1961, transmission very efficient and at least as good as any modern superbike.  -- Longer Wheelbase bikes are starting to come back again, I am advised.  


      Universal, La Riviera, 3-speed 26", step-thru, hub date 1997. 

      • Labels on the bike; 
        • Universal bikes, Rayleigh, Essex (2 labels).
        • Model; A267Y, 
        • Decoration on the seat post is; Tour De Assique,  3 speed, Sturmey-Archer.
        • South coast cycles, Hove, East Sussex and website so this looks like subsequent maintenance there are other labels that also say Hove but are unreadable may be the original supplier?
      • Universal Cycles Ltd. establish in 1977 in Basildon, Essex, UK.  Acquired Muddy Fox.  Is now the major subsidiary partner of Sports Direct. (Wikipedia). 
      • The bike weighs 16.5-17Kg.  Is the heaviest bike I have ridden but is not so heavy to pedal.
      • I was given the bike in August 2021. 
      • I am told that cheap parts were fitted on this make of bike are about 1978 and that is about what I thought.  The pedals are a little broken but are fine.  I drip a little oil down the shaft to lubricate the pedal bearings.   The bike is basically a good bike but also poorly assembled and with the wrong parts like many of the 1970s British Leyland car models.
      • Steel frame, the seat adjusted easily but the handlebar adjustment is seized and rusted but adjusted the day after pouring oil down the steering tube. The spokes are cheap unprotected and rusty, which I have treated with Hammerite, but the wheel rims and other chrome have rust spots.  The paint is missing but rust has not eaten into the metal. 
      • Spokes are tight and even so the bicycle has not done many miles although brake cables have been replaced with newer cables with smaller barrel nipples. 
      • The bike was stiff to pedal because the chain needed lubricating.  It turned out that all the bearings are in good order and have been lubricated.  The bicycle has been serviced regularly by a bicycle shop. 
      • The front wheel is narrower than the width of the forks so a shim is fitted on one side.  It is a good idea to not turn the wheel around when refitting it or you will need to adjust the brake calliper which because of the offset is fiddly.
      • The brake callipers appear to be for wider wheels and close to a point where no further adjustment is possible when the pad is worn by 50%.   I found that the pivot hole in the calliper levers was larger than the bolt and have inserted a washer to reduce the hole diameter.   This will probably mean that the calliper will close up completely just before the brake pad scrapes the rim?  The washers used were anti-shake split washers filed to fit and pressed into the holes.
      • Part of some of the cable runs are unsheathed and there is a nylon slide for the gear cable under the crank. 
      • The saddle is uncomfortable and I have fitted a new saddle.
      • The hooter did not work but rubbing Yoho glue into the tears and cracks has patched it for now and it works.
      • 1970s Eveready front light and a  similar incandescent lamp-type plastic rear light. Which have been retained but LED lighting has been added and is used.
      • The gear change is smoother probably because more of the cable is unsheathed but also trigger has had more use.  That is despite the hub being newer and having a poor reputation for quality but is good.
        The bike does not seem to have been designed to wear out and the ride is smooth and light to pedal but at first, the chain was stiff with rust and the brakes rub.  The gears work, but then after being ridden a little needed to be set properly. 


        Hercules Balmoral - approximately 1975
        • 3-speed AW hub dated January 1975.
        • I purchased it, not running, in May 2021. 
        Wikipedia says that the bikes were cheap steel bikes with no high tensile steel in their sports bikes.  Made by non-unionised workers who had to be more productive were paid more or lost their job.  That is before the company became part of Tube Investments in the 1950s.  The company started in 1910 out of a business selling second-hand bikes at auctions.  The production quantities grow to match Raleigh at times.  My mother tells me children tended to have Hercules bikes but an adult bike cost the same as a Raleigh bike.
        The Hercules brand went into making sports bikes and competition soon after TI acquired the company.

        The bike is a lighter and small frame and shorter wheelbase than I expected, has a nice sprung saddle, with a brand name label broken off, but was originally made by Terry (maker of Terry Clips), otherwise, the saddle is the same as my Lenton Sports but the covering material is synthetic.  The bike does not seem to have a water trap unlike more modern bikes and is made to last. 

        The bike may be made with high tensile steel and is a lightweight frame bike at 15Kg.  Many parts are Raleigh parts, saddle, brakes, and crank.  But it is a flexible frame and forks, unlike many modern bikes, making it lighter to pedal and a smoother ride.  So the frame is somewhat like a sports bike frame as I had been told was the case of bikes made up until the 1970s. 

        The previous owner planned to renovate the bike but is now moving.  The brakes did not work, the hub gear needs a toggle chain but screwing a spoke in the hole, and pulling it, it looks like the hub operates.  All bearings needed greasing.  The chrome is in poor shape and I have painted the front wheel rim with Hammerite which makes it black.  The bike evidently has done a low mileage because the spokes are not stretched and loose.  
        • The bike feels like a mountain bike, low speed, stable and can turn in a small space.  Unlike sports bikes, these sorts of bikes are more stable at low speeds and carry a lot of weight on the rack. 
        • The bearings were dry with a little surface rust on some of the balls. The cotter pin needed penetrating oil on it and was pressed with so much force to remove it that it was not reusable.  A bearing with loose balls should look like one ball is missing but if you fit another ball the bearing will tend to seize (I did not see there was one more ball bearing obscured by grease).  When servicing the steering bearings I usually manage to drop some balls but find some of them with a magnet.  A solution suggested is to spread an old bed sheet out and work on that.
        • The 3-speed hub is running smoothly but I needed to get a toggle chain for it. After oiling the hub it leaks rusty oil, like all things on the bike including the wheel rims the rust and deterioration have been stopped in time.  The bike has much more life left in It than a new bike. 
        • The seat and handlebars were raised easily, there is no built-in water trap in the handlebars adjustment, unlike the Astra bike. The era when so many things were designed to wear out, become obsolete and not supported after a short period of time had not affected the design of this bike.
        • There is no lock-nut with the front wheel bearing so take care with putting the wheel back to ensure that there is correct freeness in the wheel. Turning the adjusting nut till it is finger tight and then turning it back 1/4 to 1/2 a turn is not so easy to do because the wheel clips into the forks tightly. The correct amount of slack is 1/2 a turn but it may be necessary to set less slack.
        • The brakes are very good and that seems to be due to rust on one of the rim surfaces. That surface will wear out brake blocks and is best replaced with old hard blocks, and then put softer new blocks on another side.
        Right above - The bell, Harrods of Knightsbridge after de-rusting by soaking in vinegar for 24 hours.


        Carbon-Fibre frame bicycle.

        The owner of a Holsworth Bicycle allowed me to lift the bike and feel how light it is.  I am advised that the bike is from a British manufacturer that closed and the name has been revived and is made again in Britain.  The bicycle is very lightweight.  The forks are straight so I asked about the bike's flexibility, it depends on the way the carbon fibre is built up more thickness for less flexibility. 

        The carbon-fibre bike's frame does crack, and you need to check the frame for any part that has become flexible and therefore fractured.  I am advised to avoid 1980s frames as they were more prone to fracturing. 

        There is no disputing that good steel-frame bikes are the most reliable, long-lasting and very comfortable and make the bike light to pedal.  Steel frame bikes have brazed lapped joints to minimise the chances of a joint fracturing and the frame can be repaired.  Alloy is good and fairly repairable but repairing a carbon fibre bike frame is difficult. 

        Tube Investments promotional film explains sports bicycle steel tubing in 1982 the 
        company also was the biggest bicycle maker in the world with brands such as Raleigh. 

        The criticism of many modern sports bikes is that wider tires and wheel rims, ideally 32mm wide, can not be fitted to the bike.   Tires and wheels 32mm wide tires are more suitable for road use and work okay on track and cut grass.  41mm wide tires work well on roads and better over cut grass, and are fitted to town bikes. 


        Lenton sports - purchased new in early 1946, for £19 and a number of shillings.  Top of the range bicycle in its time.
        • The bicycle has always felt remarkably light to peddle and is fast.  The transmission including the crank is lubricated with thin oil but the crank can be greased.  In addition, the wheelbase is a little longer, a very lively springy frame and the curved forks make these bikes feel that it is helping me go along but hills are hills and spokes also break occasionally; The bike has a lot of momentum and goes a long way up hills is high gears changing down as the bike slows.  1946 Raleigh Lenton sports pictured cleaned with linseed oil, patched such as the bottle top for a pedal cap that I had crossed the thread on as a boy.  I have since fitted another cap.  The low left-hand side lamp shines into the curb so you to see hazards in the kerb when cycling in the dark. 
        The gearing on the bike, flexible high tensile steel frame, long curved forks and long wheelbase make the bike lighter, and smoother as you go up the gears and go faster.  The frame is evidently more highly tuned than most bikes.  The bike is very stable and has very good road holding but those things would be effect adversely by adding a front basket or carrying a lot of weight on the rack also adversely affects the ride more than they would on a regular bicycle.  Old sports bikes are not suited to very low speeds and need a larger turning circle than modern regular and mountain bikes. 
        • Modern superbikes -  many people have an old lightweight high tensile steel frame sports bike and a modern lightweight such as a carbon fibre frame bicycle.  These superbikes and old bikes also have low friction ceramic comparable to the old thin-oil lubricated bearings on bikes made before 1961.  Many people like both, many others say the much older bike is lighter to pedal, more comfortable and better others say the newer bike will be 3-5Km/Hr. faster.  Bikes made after 1890, that had shaft drive or chain drive and may have hub gears were a major improvement.  Metals improved after each of the two world wars so bikes from 1920 to 1961, with cable and calliper or hub brakes at the height of bicycling, were the best bikes and best value for money ever made but were still excellent until at least 1975.  These bikes and sports bikes are low and long and Raleigh's engineering was excellent during these periods.  In comparison, a competitive sports cyclist may start the day with a hearty fried breakfast, and smoke tobacco before competing in the past but that is unlikely now, it was a pipe that Reg Harris OBE was photographed smoking with the Lenton before training for example for the 1948 Olympic games. 
        • Generally, the rack and the rear and panniers are good but do not carry so much weight without causing a little instability, with a sports frame bike.  It is best to avoid carrying any weight in a front basket again that depends on the bike's geometry, I understand.  Alternatively, a front basket that is mounted so that it does not turn as you steer is more stable, I am advised. 
        • Pedals - metal types are good because they don't slip as easily as rubber pedals.  I have not ridden a bike with toe clips they scare me and I am advised that people do fall over with them.  My father used toe clips and a cycling cape that clipped onto the handlebars with the Lenton sports pictured. 

        British promoted cars and motorways but the Dutch continued to like bikes from the 1950s.   In Britain trains became more popular than ever despite a badly handled de-nationalisation in the 1990's and everyday use step-thru, low crossbar and hub-gear bikes remain popular.  But the off-road mountain and out-of-town sportbikes, with derailleurs, no mudguards and less comfort seem a little mis-sold for ordinary daily use.


        The Raleigh bicycle brand is still a very good brand and is now dutch owned for light to pedal bikes the Gazelle is good particularly withstands salty sea air very well compared to other steel frames makes of otherwise, not cheap bicycles.  The Gazelle has a long wheelbase making it very comfortable and light on a rough cycle track.  

        Velocipedium posts gentle cycle rides talking about the features of the bike he is riding and technical videos.


        Covid-19 a cartoon below circulating at the time that the lock-down started to be lifted in May 2020;

        Picture left Southborough 4th July 2020; 
        The first day that cafes and pubs can serve sit-down, eat-and-drink food since 20th March. 

        It looks like Government thought the NHS was fine despite a decade of austerity then people in government got ill themselves and got scared.   The less important old and ill were kept out of hospitals and sent home in case the more important people got ill.  Now people can visit a hospital but many have been scared or are staying away.  That was until autumn 2021. 

        By comparison, Germany and northern parts of Europe had capacity in their health systems but took a varying degree of cautious approach and have coped better.  Sweden informed properly and trusted their people but brought in measures as they became necessary in a measured way.  Sweden and all these countries will probably come through with the best outcome, that is that the people feel most satisfied that the best was done. 

        USA's health systems only look after those who can pay and ill people who don't have money would die anyway.  Of cause, southern and northern states are quite different and each state has there own policies. 

        The cartoon expresses the sort of concerns people have about the lifting of locked-down.  The government is managing the lifting of the lockdown by manipulation and retraction thereby creating annoyance but as required slower return to normal or a new normal.  Unfortunately "Social distancing" laws were applied to old people but otherwise, people did and are talking to each other and enjoying their families at a safe distance. 

        In May 2021 a year or so on Britain did create the money which the government borrowed and used to purchase a lot of things that did not deliver but vaccines have come through.  We are now where it was thought a year ago that is approaching herd immunity.  The pandemic is passed in the UK but Covid is an epidemic, but fewer will die of it but people are suffering because of an even more overstretched NHS than usual, with many urgent medical things that will not be addressed for quite a long time.  The overall UK has not done particularly well, it seems climate and air quality are big factors but also countries with better health systems have all done better what has been of great luck for the UK has been to have been the EU's health approval centre in London prior to leaving the EU and to have two of the first developers of experimental vaccine located here.  Time will tell why but China has looked after its own people the best and despite the rhetoric, the world was warned by the UN.  The rich world ignored the UN secretary generals' call for a world cease-fire to concentrate on dealing with coronavirus in early 2020.  The UK has 1/3 number of hospital beds that it had in 1948 and half the number of hospital beds it had 30 years ago whilst military spending and business is one of the highest of the high spender in the world. 
        • AstraZeneca is a British/Swedish company that has chosen to sell Covid Vaccine at cost but not for profit.  In September 2021 AZ's scientist who created the vaccine said that only two doses were required and a boost dose was not required.  That is repeating a point made many times previously about all the vaccines, which Is that the protection is very good and the outcome for those infected much better.
        • Cuba though very small gives the world some health care without cost. 
        • USA under new president Biden is legislating to share their vaccine intellectual property freely to poor countries.  But he is rightly criticised for letting the war makers provoke war in Europe and is called Sleepy Joe (Biden).
        • Even under President Trump's rhetoric of scepticism of the virus, that country looked after its own health supplies redirecting things being shipped from the far east to the EU to the USA instead. 
        • There is a lot of commercial resistance to those things but if the poor countries who supplied most of our wants and needs suffer surely we all suffer.   In India for example, hospitals are now overstretched but the UK chose not to enforce the export of vaccines made in India but let that country look after their own.
        • Like the bikes, people mostly don't care about them, each other or harm to the environment but vary politically as to whether they admit that or just give lip service to those good things. 
        • People feel we should not criticise Covid measures so few express fear of being led toward relying on a commercial medical industry to just live.  Waiting for the next technical fix rather than stepping back from the intensity of daily commute and non-recyclable waste created.  As if only the BBC are allowed to interview concerned people but they also play people one way and then the opposite way, rather than seek for consensus showing variations.
          • Do those wearing masks out in open spaces risking their health also spread more disease?  
          • Wearing masks when driving alone just risks causing a crash? 
          • Discard masks and rubbish on the ground.
          • Discard rather than compost vegetable waste and put oil-contaminated paper in the recycling.  You can often take your own china mug and reused wooden cutlery and you may get a discount for doing that.
          • Shops supermarkets and cafes that have bakery uncovers, and cutlery on the table are handled and breathed over by many customers.
        Significantly people who needed a hospital operation quickly to survive a car crash say would get that quick intervention and may have survived 40 years ago, this would not happen now.  That is even though better ambulance medics deal with things before moving people, leading to better outcomes. But overall still worse than it used to be that is the NHS has been cut back more than the gains developed.  Where the difference between first-class health care and NHS was once whether you got cherry cake on Sunday or it was offered every day, now it is whether you leave with the correct medicines or only some of the medicines you should have and so many agencies with poor communication between them do not apply the remedy prescribed, necessarily.  The appropriate home-visiting care agency is not necessarily a contractor that can give eye drops or allow their staff to remind an old person to take medicine, one agency is informed of these things clearly but then in an assessment then they do not tell the agency continues the visits leading to a repeated ambulance call out.  These things that would have occurred anyway have arisen now rather than later because the old lady has been chastised for going out when she was supposed to stay in.  But even in the 1990s ageism had become bad in hospitals and an over 65-year-old retired person could be abandoned untreated by 2008 New Labour left the NHS covering every area of health and preventative medicine better and better value for money than any other country. 

        Waitrose stands out for taking precautions to avoid cross-infection including wrapping all bakery products whereas most other shops notably do not do that.  Many small bakery shops still keep a traditional distance between the bakery and their customers.  For example, Lidl has unwrapped bakery which people handle, drop and put back, this could also happen at Tesco.  Whereas a Waitrose partner will quickly take something dropped away. 

        Publicly people have never campaigned or rarely even spoken of cutting the health services although there is some overcharging of supplies to the NHS but nothing like, the overt degree of military spending grows buying equipment that does not work or is not delivered.  There is clearly private lobbying for the channels that deliver less service and a more lucrative path to the already wealthiest.  Health in the UK can be profitable but is not so plagued with corruption so what is contracted does work by comparison so the NHS is deliberately starved of cash.  2020 was the year of lucrative contracts and 2021 is the year of dealing with the pandemic.   2021 started with a longer lockdown, continued with employees leaving health, lorry drivers due to poor working conditions among other workers not so highlighted, which demonstrates the flaws in having no slack in the system, just in time failing but having considerable financial wealth amount fewer people.  That is as if the past 30 years of opposition to the EU was to break the systems and the quantitative easing of 2008 had postponed that, a struggle between liberals and the right with the left isolated by both.

        Picture left; Barnett's Wood Nature Reserve, April to July 2020 - 
        People enjoy nature, home cooking, cycling, social media, and their children instead of working, in cafes, high consumption and shopping. 

        Lastly, for example, if the track and trace app does not work on an older tablet the Hungry Horse group alternatively offer a text number for track and trace which fails to send.   Staff checked that you tried and failed to send the text then showed you to a table.

        Momentum Labour at the last General Election, in December 2019, offered a path of social responsibility.  That government would have promoted peace in the world, the environment and toward each other.  Different from both New Labour and Old Labour, in not promoting self-interest.  I was very surprised that Momentum Labour captured so much support.  Momentum Labour's modernised 1945 Manifesto was very inspiring and I expect that Coronavirus would have been handled differently. 

        The Iconic CND symbol - Designed for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament can 
        be used freely and is made up of the semaphore for "N" and "D" (Nuclear, Disarm). 

        The Victorians built a sanitation system in order to protect the rich from catching a disease from the poor.  Cricket and sport encouraged the health of all.  But I doubt that the vastly rich will impose health, better food, air, and cycling on us, this time but in order to save the planet from the adverse consequences of human activity. 

        Scientists' point of view

        Government promotes cleaner air, better health and bicycling
        The new draft of highway code 2020 - is now published.

        There are others who promote zero movements and zero international 
        transport and forced isolation in China style, I believe?
        And people are sceptical of business interests, the Gates foundation's motives in the 3rd world.

        I have had enough of being played by the media (called politics), people set against each other - I'm going to ride a bike; 

        Time will tell but I hope people do not become reliant on big pharma and disinfectant for a sort of living instead I wish we all learn to like good health and much less waste as a way of life.  There is less reliance on factory-farmed meat and more plant-based food.  A high correlation between poor air quality (such as in cities) and Covid-19 fatalities but vehicle emissions and crashes is the major cost to the National Health Service.  I hope people change their minds about cars. 

        During this Covid-19 pandemic, people have been cycling more and enjoying better health due to the better air quality whilst road traffic has been greatly reduced.  Poor air quality in cities has been strongly linked to poor respiratory health long before the clean air act of 1956 and poorer survival to Covid-19.


        Maintenance and repairs;
          Pictured right; Bike stand  - for adjusting dérailleur gears can be made from a second-hand car bike rack. 
          • Where most modern bikes score is that they require less week-to-week maintenance but the cost is that they don't last long.  But modern bikes have much more major maintenance.  They cost more to purchase or are so cheap and poorly made that they disappoint the cyclist.  Many new bicycles get very little use in any case. 
          • Although vintage bikes are easier to work on bikes made before 1970 are generally said to be a delight to work on.  The quality of the parts was so high for example stainless steel rather than chrome-plated gear hub casing was used.  
          • The recommended oil for bike variable gear hub used to be a thin 20 SAE but probably changed in the 1960s to a not-so-thin 30 SAE oil.  Other bearings are greased unless they have oil ports then it is optional, which you use but if you do oil then oil will flow through those bearings keeping them clean and at least as efficient as any bike or superbike with ceramic bearings. Oil the bike every 100 miles or two weeks.
          • Any engine oil although thicker is suitable such as 5W30 is a good oil to use in a bike variable gear hub.   Don't use 3-in-one oil in a gear hub it is okay on other things, but the black residue it leaves on everything stops the hub from operating properly.  Grease is not used in vintage gear hubs except to repel water and in the steering bearings but there is a very thin grease used on modern gear hubs such as Sturmey-Archer made since 1988. 
          • Engine oil is rated at high temperatures and is a thicker oil at room temperature and the SAE number is confusing.  Alternatively thin oil such as barber's clippers oil is a suitable oil.
          Tire levers right - The plastic levers on the left are best for modern tires.  Be careful that old metal bicycle levers and tools with levers damage modern tires.   The adjustable spanner is better than many adjustable spanners because, although it is lose it does not flex because it has a long firm slide but does not use its tire lever on a bicycle.   An adjustable spanner can be to hold the brake pad level whilst tightening it.

          Lenton-sports-bicycle - blog page has advice and tips
          • 26" x 1 1/4" tires are difficult to find and fit there is a note on tires and adjusting spokes. 
          • Describes how epicyclic gear hubs work.  Are efficient because, the direction of movement is unchanged, the planet assembly mostly turn the wheel but the cogs which are least efficient, particularly because they have straight-cut teeth, only carry a fraction of the power to the wheel. 
          • Oiling your Bike.
          • More rust treatment and cleaning tips. Oily rag is a very good way to protect a bike I use linseed oil.

          Pedal crank maintenance;

          After removing the pedal arm loosen the lock ring on the non-chain side, this should allow you to unscrew the bearing cap with your fingers, inspect and clean.  Old bikes are oiled but can be greased and have no bearing cages so you need a little grease to hold the ball bearings in place whilst you reassemble the crank.  Modern bikes are called the bottom bracket is designed to wear out and the bearing is a replaceable assembly. 

          Picture;  C-spanner and a bent cotter pin caused by using a hammer to remove it and thread stripped over-tightening it.  

          You do not need to remove the right bearing cup but it may be useful to remove the right pedal arm and sprocket called the chain wheel.  If you do need to remove the right bearing cap it is screwed and wedged in tight, use the special spanner or a good adjustable spanner with long fingers. The left-hand ball cup is finger tight then loosen 1/4 to 1/2 a turn and the locking ring is put back and tightened up with a c-spanner.

          In the video above;  A press tool like the one shown is also the best way to remove and put back the cotter pin.  It is not just needed for a bike in poor condition.  I've used a vice and a socket or ring spanner successfully.  Don't hammer a cotter pin or tighten the nut too much but use the press because the metal is soft.


          Wheels and chain tension; 
          Hub gear or fixed speed but there are differences for dérailleur. 

          The dérailleur mechanism must not clash with the sprockets or the chain become too slack with both extremes of using the smallest sprockets and using the largest sprockets.

          Hercules Balmoral
          • Set the chain tension and lock the drive-side nut.  Then ensure the wheel is central aligned in the frame and tighten the other nut.  Finish off by tightening both nuts.  Finally, screw the toggle chain guide nut back and screw them in-gear toggle chain leaving it slightly loose so that that chain is not twisted.  The slack in the chain should be 12mm but 25mm is fine, that is the amount you can move the chain up and down mid-way. 
          • Front-wheel does not have a locknut on the bearing cone-nut on this and many bikes.  Ensure that the cone nut is finger tight then slacken the nut by 1/2 a turn.  To make a modern magnetic coupled rev-counter work I guess you need to set much less slack perhaps 1/8th turn but do not expect the bike to do the very high mileages that vintage bikes do.
          • Tighten the no-adjustment side nut then use a thin spanner to hold the bearing nut still whilst tightening the wheel nut with a ring spanner.  The rear variable-gear hub, pictured to show the same thinner cone nut spanner is also used if the variable-gear hub were to be serviced. 
          • The front-wheel clips in on modern bikes, so you need to slightly pull the forks apart to take them out and put the wheel back. 
          Turn the bike over and put it back on its wheels then check the function of the hub gears.  The pedal should not turn freely in a forward direction in any gear.  The procedure for adjusting the gears depends on the type of gear hub.
          See below for adjusting some vintage Sturmey-Archer hubs.
          Taking the tire off and putting it on - In both cases take care to avoid pinching and puncturing the tube.  If the tube was punctured feel inside the tire for anything sharp stuck into it.  Partly inflate the tube before refitting it.  You can put the tire back on one side then the tube then the other side but if you put the tube into the tube and put the tire onto the wheel the risk of pinching the tube is reduced.  With modern tires, it is best to use plastic levers.
          Variable gear hubs and Dynohubs;

          The variable gear hub is an inspired and highly refined design that makes it equal to the most efficient bicycle transmissions by modern or any standard.  Although complicated is straightforward to maintain and is robust.  I was fortunate to be given the working AG Dynohub pictured right.  If you live in the Tunbridge Wells area and would like to borrow it to practice before maintaining your own please leave a comment for me below.  Take care to not de-magnetise the dynohub I can give you some mu-metal to make a keeper. 

          If you were to return a Dynohub under guarantee but with the magnet demagnetised you were warned that you could be charged by Sturmey-Archer for re-magnetising the magnet.  I doubt that those old forever guarantees are honoured anymore now though? 

          Bicycle variable-gear hub, Dynohub and variable-gear Dynohub maintenance including magnet keeper and theory on how to re-magnetise the magnet.

  Tony Hadland has written a number of books on the technical detail and history of Raleigh and  Sturmey-Archer.
          Hub Gears adjustment;

          The cables, leavers and selectors should be oiled or greased, and the toggle chain (linkage entering the hub) should be greased periodically.
          Old hubs with an indicator rod - This should be checked for tightness occasionally but the rod should not be tightened much it has a fine pinch thin threaded section that does not need much force.  Even though I have only ever tightened with a fine pitch screw-drive one broke on my bike I had also broken a gear cable over-tightening it decades ago.  I have not experienced the indicator rod come loose except before the rod stretched and broke but I am told they do and then they spring out and are lost.
          Picture right - broken indicator rod and toggle chain.  Observe the step below the end of the indicator rod to mark 3rd gear to the left of the picture.
          • If the toggle chain is not aligned, such as when you put the wheel back on, loosen the indicator rod whilst you align the chain and gear cable.
          There are two setting marks on a four-speed FW gear hub indicator rod;
          • The end of the rod level with the end of the hub shaft in speed 2 of 4 was viewed through the inspection hole in the wheel nut. Alternatively, the newer hub-type method using the shoulder of the toggle chain works. 
          • Align the notch in the rod level with the end of the hub shaft in speed 3 of 4 viewed through the inspection hole in the wheel nut. I prefer the first method. 
          • With a four-speed FW hub, most people fiddle with the adjuster until it works. This is similar to what I do. 
          The most common AW hub - does not have an indicator rod but you check the adjustment by looking at the shoulder of the toggle chain through the inspection hole. When replacing a rear-wheel screw the toggle chain back into the hub then loosen it up to half a turn to prevent twisting the toggle chain. 

          Adjustment - As you screw up the adjuster you will tend to wind up the cable. Don't worry too much about this until after you have set and locked the adjustment. Then select top gear so that the cable is slack and the spinner assembly can then be helped to unwind the wound-up cable or else the adjuster is likely to come loose when you are cycling.

          An alternative method for setting a hub gear;
          • Put the gear lever into the second gear. 
          • Undo the barrel adjuster on the toggle chain until the hub goes into the no-gear position. Now turn the opposite way until the hub engages second gear again. 
          • At this point, turn the barrel another full circle and a half. Lock off the barrel.
          • Put the hub into first gear. Ensure the gear lever will select first without the cable being very tight. You should be able to pull a tiny amount of the toggle chain out of the axle by hand.
          • If you can't, turn the barrel back half a turn.
          The simplest method is;  
          Move the selector to high gear and adjust the cable to leave it just slack. 

          Do check elsewhere for the correct way to set up your hub. - if it is not a Sturmey-Archer AG, FG, AW or FW hub gear.



          Chrome rims are poor but aluminium rims are recommended and drum brakes or disk brakes are good.  Chrome rims have no braking in the rain unless suitable brake blocks are fitted.  Fibrax and Raincheater blocks give some braking in the rain.  The leather within the block needs to get wet before the braking is effective, so they are particularly poor when it starts to rain.  I am told that Kool-Stop and Cane Creek Grey Matters are also good with Chrome wheel rims, these have to be purchased from the USA.  These East German rims (Astra above) have a pattern of punched indentions perhaps to trap moisture under the brake block and therefore quickly cause the leather in the Raincheater blocks to become wet sooner. 

          Very powerful braking is also dangerous and some motorbicycles have always had a reputation for killing some riders soon after the bike has been purchased.  Similarly, race cyclists have gone over the handlebars using cork on carbon rims.  My father would say motorbikes are silly, he was a biker for a while and did silly things on his motorbikes.

          I discuss cable and calliper-operated brakes, but not stirrup (rod) brakes as far as I can recall of the bike I had when I was a boy with stirrup brakes, are more fiddly to adjust and the wheel rims can form a puddle of rainwater making the braking poorer.  When setting the brake blocks ensure that the blocks do not jam into the spokes because that can be dangerous.

          I recommend the amateur videos made by Velocipedium on YouTube.  They take care to show you how to maintain and enjoy a bicycle.  Even if you are not a starter do watch the videos anyway.  I had a bike with Stirrup brakes when I was a boy and I replaced the brake blocks on the bike in the 1960s, I don't think you could still buy just the rubber part?  I have also bent the calliper slightly as shown on my Lenton Sports cable and calliper-type brakes to align the brake block that had always been slightly out of alignment tending to wear one block on one end more than the other.

          Cable and calliper brakes
          • You only need to replace one brake block at a time when required with much older bikes.  If one rim wears blocks quickly, because of corrosion on the rim, move or fit an old hard block to that rim side.  Swapping brake blocks to use all the pad is fine they work as well doing that.
          • Set the brakes to apply fully before the leaver touches the handlebars then you will have enough play in the braking to cope with the required slack in the bearings, some wobble in the wheel and the difference in brake block wear, as any corrosion on the rims, may not be even.
          • If necessary, use an adjustable spanner to hold the brake pad in alignment whilst tightening the nut.
          • I had one brake block wear unevenly front-to-back until I slightly bent the calliper where the block mounts using an adjustable spanner. So that issue that the bike has had for over 70 years is now resolved.
          • To set the callipers -  fit identically new or worn brake blocks,  Loosen the nut and bolt, apply the brakes fully and hold the pressure, which will centre the spring, whilst re-tighten the nut and bolt.  This should not arise unless the bolt has been loosened for some reason, such as to replace the mudguards. 
          The front rims have had an even polished rust surface for more than the 50 years I have used the bike. This might be the best combination you can have on a bike, rubber and steel or rust.   But I believe stainless steel rims are good and aluminium rims are good but wear out. 


          Vintage brake cable

          The brake cable pictured above - has a little oiler port at the barrel nipple end that attaches to the lever.  It looks like Sturmey-Archer but the inner cable is longer and is not suitable for a 1940s-type calliper.  The cable oiler terminated with the pear nipple but the adjuster is a plainer type.  I do not know how old this cable assembly is but it has had very little use? 

          The lever end of my Lenton sports front cable broke in about 1980, the rear cable is okay, they are very strong cables.  I re-soldered the front cable but not very well as I did not capture all the stands of wire properly.  It broke again about two years ago and I have done a better job, hopefully, of re-soldering it. 

          The pear nipple end is different on the 1946 Lenton sports bike brake cable and the adjuster part of the assembly can not be removed.  Picture right - The brake cable adjuster on the bike after repair and cleaning (2021) still has residue from oiling.   The Knurled adjuster and the locking nut are much more elegant and practical than the one fitted on the cable above; 
          • To remove the broken end of the wires from the nipple, if necessary apply flux or fluxed solder to the iron when the soldering iron is hot, to tin the bit.  Use long-nose pliers to remove the strands of wire from the nipple, the nipple needs to have flux or fluxed solder applied before and whilst holding the nipple with a second pair of long-nose pliers. Keep applying flux and heat until all the wires are removed and the hole passes light through, tap the pliers on a hard surface to shake the solder out of the hole. 
          Soldering needs to be carried out fairly quickly but not so quickly that the metals are not thoroughly wetted.  The soldered joint will be bright silver, not dull oxidised grey.  The solder forms a ball if it has not been properly wetted but may form a meniscus if it is properly wetted.  It takes an electronics technician or a plumber years to become proficient in soldering. 
          • The outer sheath shortened one end where the insulator had cracked.  When the assembly was complete the length of the cable was corrected, after soldering, by shortening the other end of the outer sheath where the insulator had also cracked. 
          • That gave me more cable to push through the de-soldered and scrapped-out hole barrel nipple. 
          • The cable was cut back so that all strands are used and those strands had gone through the hole in the barrel nipple. 
          • The straightened and cleaned the wire strands but some of the carbon from past oiling remained and it bubbled black when I soldered the assembly. 
          • The ends of each strand were then turned over left or right. 
          • Finally, the cable was pulled back into the end as it was re-soldered using electrical solder (60/40 Tin-lead) and more flux as necessary.  The correct solder to use is silver solder because it is less poisonous.
          • I used a soldering iron to start but it was not satisfactorily heating and I used a gas hob flame.  The wire wetted well to the solder, which I was not sure would happen, leaving a bright silver finish with a nice meniscus on the brass and steel wire. 
          In retrospect, soldering the cable entering the brass barrel nipple may have been a mistake as it has caused the cable to be stiff and brittle but I do not see that that will be a problem in this case? 

          The pear nipple on the 75-year-old bike is different,  After re-soldering the barrel nipple has some residual flux and black from the oil residual that was left on the cable,  The rear cable has not been repaired and you can see the brass cap at the end of the cable as well as the cup washer that guides the cable into the lever but I have lost the cup washer on repaired cable, unfortunately.  I had the now missing cup washer (I do not know what it should be called) in the pictures further up this blog where I had a red cable cut to fit. 

          The assembly pictured has a lot of parts and materials that if it had been replaced at the time it was made up until the 1960s at least would have been recycled.  Recycling and reusing was the normal way of life and the rag and bone man who would come down your street every fortnight may give children a small token such as a goldfish or real cash for a reasonable amount of recyclables.  By 1980 it could be recycled but most likely would be put in the bin to go to the landfill, in the UK.

          Rust remover

          Hammerite is a good protector that leaves steel black, which can look okay.

          The bicycle bell is like the rest of the bike rusty.  In bike groups, some people recommend soaking for 24 hours in citric acid or vinegar (Acetic acid).  I soaked the bell in the vinegar and the rust could be wiped off and the vinegar was full of pieces of rust. 

          Nice little Harrods of Knightsbridge Bell. Screwed the bell part back on and tapped the bell with a mallet to straighten it and it rings nicely.

          Rust remover or metal restorers;  
          From a bike group discussion on Facebook - I have not tried these recommendations.

          Get rid of rust: Coca-Cola will eat away at the rust for you if you have any rust stains or tools covered in rust. Leave the rusty object submerged in Coke for an hour or overnight and then scrub off the rust.

          Vinegar also works you find rust sediment in the bottom of a dish you put the item in. Apparently, there is a stronger gardening vinegar at 30% acetic acid rather than the 10% strength food type. I have not tried the latter type!

          Dilute Citric acid works better than all of them. I’m a recent convert to Citric Acid after using Oxalic for a while. Still can’t believe how the rust just seems to wash away after some time in this solution. Maybe an image of text that says "Wilko ORIGINAL CITRIC ACID a natural but powerful limescale remover for many appliances around your home great for descaling your kettle clean as a whistle! AROA 250g 12131415161718192025 6171819202122"

          As does oxalic acid aka wood bleach. I have used it on a few frames that needed a bath. Put it in a kiddie pool. I think that is one of the traditional rust removers.

          Just about any weak acid will work as a rust converter. 


          A rose, The De-La-Warr Pavillion, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.  Built by the Socialist Town Mayor, Earl De-La-Warr in 1935
          This building is one of the most beautiful architectures anywhere.  I can not be captured on film and I have not seen a picture
          that captures the impression that the building has now or had before its renovation.

          The pictures above were taken on a Canon AE1, using Fuji Slide film which is a good fine-grain slide film in which the colours are not saturated.  The best amateur camera of its time, 1976.  The film is characteristic of richer colours when underexposed by half a stop.  The rose was photographed on a damp day.  The pictures were taken in the winter of 2015 - 2016.

          The pleasure of owning an old bicycle;

          Many people run an old bicycles those bikes were made to work hard for a very long time and must be maintained regularly.  This bike has been nicely kept and has a secret conversion to E-bike.  A lot of bikes run and look lovely just as they are but for being maintained and the frame cleaned with an oily rag or linseed oil.  Other bikes are brought back to almost new with detail restored and artisan touches put back. 

          Raleigh bicycle maker of Britain was once the biggest manufacturer of bicycles in the world, representing the best in engineering.  British engineering, textiles and the film industry were for a long time second to none.  Statutes to war leaders and heroes, slave traders, bankers and the city of London are good representations of the country.  Perhaps the most prominently placed statue should be a heron to mark 125 years (1887-2012) that Raleigh manufactured in Britain and looking forward to cycling, walking, cleaner air, better health and kindness towards each other and harmony with nature.

          Like so many things The Mallard, Pacific A4 class locomotive is distinctively beautiful because of its typically British understated design style by the British engineer Sir Nigel Gresley.  Along with the Flying Scotsman, the A3 class were the fastest surface public transport in the world.  Although by the 1920s and '30s trains could now be made to be very reliable, they were not efficient or clean.  At this time bicycles were nearly as good as they were ever going to get.

          Old lessons have to be relearned by a subsequent generation of engineers; 
          There are many subtle design features in machines that are not apparent until the designers have left. A change to a design makes it apparent that there were important design features. Each telephone made until about 1985 had a low pitch bell and each bell had a different pitch.   The low-pitched telephone bell in an office made it easy to tell where the phone is and the different pitch if it was your phone.

          Electric trains started to be introduced on a substantial scale in the 1920s in South East England. This region has the highest-density rail network in the UK.  After World War two faster cleaner diesel and electric trains started to be introduced all over the country.  Electrification of the rail network is still ongoing.

          The same mistake was made when the two-tone ambulance klaxon was replaced in the 1980s.  I suppose it is possible that the shortening of bicycle's wheelbase and reducing the springiness in the front fork that occurred in the 1970s, making bikes more work to pedal happened by accident but more likely happened with arguments where the arts farts and making a market for much more expensive superbikes won?  Primarily the majority of the buying and voting public embraced discarding lots of good things.  Fortunately, another directional low-pitch klaxon was developed and restored to emergency vehicles and new strategies were adapted for using them on busier roads.

          Newer hub gear designs;
           The Rohloff hub weighs 1.7Kg, British-made Sturmey-Archer Hub gears weigh 1 to 1.4Kg but most hub gears weigh 1 to 2Kg.  But despite the long power train, good efficiency has been measured, other studies don't rate this hub's efficiency highly.  It has 14 speeds but as with bicycle epicyclic gears, only a percentage of the power is carried through the meshing cogs, which is why bicycle epicyclic gears are efficient.  The spacing between speeds (13.6%) is similar to a medium ratio Sturmey-Archer hub.  None of the speeds is high efficiency although the high ratios are surprisingly good - on paper.  By comparison, the vintage Sturmey-Archer FW is highly efficient in Normal (3 of 4), when it's most appreciated and  Bottom is the least efficient highest ratio is not heavy when hill climbing when the efficiency is not noticeable but feels surprisingly optimal. 

          Very typically German engineering design.  The design is an assembly of simpler function blocks built up.  The first part of the video shows a Sturmey-Archer hub its design is much more like a complex single-function block where parts slide and move changing many things as they move.   The Sturmey-Archer design is typical of British design being elegant robust and cost-effective.  The design is simpler also because of the limitations of the time 1902 but in 1973 the s7, 7-speed hub used a rotating operating rod in which cams operate a different section of the hub was introduced.

          The advantage of fewer speeds is that the cable operator is more reliable if higher or lower speeds were required with the old bikes you can unscrew the large sprocket or usually the small sprocket and change them and change the chain length (see picture left).  The small sprocket could be replaced with a three-sprocket cassette and the chain move by loosening the rear wheel so that the hub gear operates over a different speed range.  A complaint about modern bikes is that not all gears work and some bikes are difficult to set up.  The Rohloff Speed hub above resolves this indexing issue by placing the indexing mechanism within the hub.

          Pictures - The Riley 9
          car in the 1930s was fitted with a Wilson preselector gearbox.  This is an epicyclic gear gearbox with friction clutches that operate selectively on the ring gears.  Otherwise, this type of gearbox is different from a bicycle gear hub having just one speed for each epicyclic gear.  The gear oil should be changed every 3,000 miles but the oil-bathed friction bands need re-lining after at least 160,000 miles.  The power train includes an automatic clutch.

          The Wilson gearbox is very heavy to operate due to the effort of operating the clutches but more modern power-assisted preselector gearboxes are lighter to operate.

          Wilson pre-selector gearbox gear change can be operated stationary, moving or powered and the selector pedal can function like a clutch pedal.  I have seen a video of bicycle gearing that does that based on epicyclic gears Constantly variable planetary but the power direction is reversed and it is unlikely to be efficient.  Daff/Volvo Varomatic and Moblette moped V-belt drive automatic gearing is fairly efficient and this variation called Inception Drive probably is efficient.  With an additional no-slip between speeds feature added using a freewheel mechanism on the lowest speed, perhaps another bicycle crank gear could be developed based on a Wilson pre-selector with friction bands.  This solution is likely to be big and heavy to operate.  The variable speed epicyclic gear hub bought by Raleigh bicycle maker in 1902 is very good and the variants developed by 1960 covered all things required by cyclists at the time. 


          During the Coronavirus lockdown in 2020, there was a big reduction in vehicle movements  I first noticed that my breathing improved between mid-March to the end of May when the traffic came back on the roads.  Also that my Tinnitus diminished greatly and quickly when I stopped drinking coffee;

          I hope for more kindness in the world.  Some statues of men who profited from the slave trade have been removed from positions honoured to them.  But the UN Secretary-General's Appeal for a Global Ceasefire during this pandemic unsuccessfully;

          Cycling is a good exercise in that you can work hard and then rest on the flat, particularly so on a 4-speed hub gear bike made until the mid-1960s.  You are not pounding sore feet and ankles on the ground.   In this respect, a bike that is at least before 1980, is one of the newer long-wheelbase bikes or is a Dutch bike is probably better.  You can still get off and push and also lift the bike onto a train.  The doctor tells me you tend to have higher peaks of effort than walking or e-biking which is good for reducing high blood pressure. 

          I recommend you understand your bicycle so, therefore, carry out your own maintenance.   Cars, bikes and motorbikes all used to be easily maintainable - I have posted some pictures of some 1930s to 1950s publications below.  These are very comprehensive some have a cover price some were available on request such as Car Care from CC Wakefield Ltd. London manufactures Castrol brand oils.  Two colour lubrication diagrams for any car were also available on request, for example.



          Envisioning a post-Covid-19 transport landscape: surface travel
          Prof John Whitelegg, Liverpool John Moores University, looks at how The UK can transition to a sustainable transport system by building on some of the changes pursued during the Covid-19 ‘lockdown’. In the first of two blogs, he focuses on surface travel. 

          Fossil fuel use and overconsumption have been modelled and warned of since the 18th century with the prediction of geometric growth in corn consumption, Robert Malthus population growth, pollution and illness in water downstream of industrial processes, sport sanitation so that the richer would not get unwell from the illnesses or the poor.  Effect of the volcano, 1816, the year without a summer (picture The Scream, Edvard Munch above left).  but more recently with;
          • The 1973 Fuel Crisis, wave power and warning of an ice age to come, 
          • The 1980's rise in asthma in school children, the effect of nuclear war but and made pollution TAPPS 1985? and dia warnings of what could happen before the 21st century, 
          • Inconvenient Truth 2000's, warning that climate change is understated 2019, IPCC 2021 does not pull so many punches;
          • 1950's to present nuclear electromagnetic pulse, and sunspot activity, causing 19th-century telegraph to operate without the battery connected.  
          • Probably between 2 and 3 billion years ago life that had started by chance became able to intelligently manage the Earth's climate for the good of life and the system known as Gaia had established.  Much more recently multi-celled life eventually developed successfully and this might be unique (Professor Brian Cox) in our galaxy the Milkyway.  There is evidence of earlier forms of multicell life 2 billion years ago but the accepted figure is 600 million years ago.
 (the raw data which newspapers have used to create good graphs)
 The terrifying truth: Britain’s a hothouse, but one day 40C will seem cool

          In recent years informed sources have stopped pulling their punches, compromising with populist politics so the New Labour style Green-wash is named and ridiculed.  Here are some recent examples of autumn 2021: 
          We only have 3.3 years if everyone consumed at first world rates if consumptions:


          Presentation hosted by Ethical Consumer.  To achieve less than a 1.5'C temperature rise each one of us must limit to; No car ownership, Less than 5,000 miles of long-distance train travel a year and Less than 5,000 miles of short-distance train travel a year.  The poorer part of the world consumes at this level See;

          Kent County Council - Learn to ride, Cycle training for children or adults;

          Department of Transport - Bikeabilty

          Cyclecraft by John Franklin (ISBN: 978-0-11-708243-4) - has been recommended.

          Active Travel - package of funding announced by the Government during the Covid-19 pandemic;

          Transport and environment after the COVID lockdown
          To Tunbridge Wells Borough Council - requires login

          The Highway Code;

          The bicycling museums all over the world here are;
          Brokes Wood - Informal BMX bike track now
           closed to the public by the present landowner.

          Facebook - Disraeli Gears

          Facebook - Vintage bicycles in the UK

          Facebook - Raleigh Lenton and all the derivatives

          Facebook - Vintage Raleigh Bikes

          Facebook - The Raleigh Roadster Club. (Incorporating the Raleigh Superbe Owners Club)

          There are many other cycling groups on Facebook, but many bicycle brands were owned by Raleigh, which merged with Tube Investments.  Many of the bicycle groups on Facebook have document sections with good descriptions of how to do things.


          Reference given to me for wide the widest derailleur you will find are modern
          1x systems. E.g. SRAM 10-50 12-speed cassette.  This has a range of 500% with a spacing of about 15% between speeds.

          Sometimes it is necessary to buy a specialist tool in that case here is a US company with some useful tools (I have not used this company);

          More Bike Advice;

          Spray painting your bike;  Part 1  Part 2

          Various advice on bicycle repair
          Jobst Brandt

          Bike parts; Some bike shops can advise and supply but if you know what you want then
          SJS cycles supply parts efficiently.

          I am also told Laura Wakefield can supply parts that are not made anymore.
          Many people including can be found on many of the Facebook bike groups who paint, restore, sells head badges and hub-gear parts.  One of those members for example also dates bikes made by Raleigh.

          Recommendation of tube puncture repair, I am advised this is better than most;

           If you have not got any glue left for your patches Evo-stick works, and should be the correct glue, but not so well.

          Repairing Sturmey Archer Hubs that are at least 90 years old;

          Gear Hubs history and pictures of the internals of many vintage types, wheel rebuilding (fitting new spokes) and bicycles;

          Modern bike manual; Raleigh-Owners-Guide.pdf 

          Vintage and veteran Raleigh bike steering lock keys;

          David West says - As many of you may be aware, I used to cut all the original Wilmot Breedon NGN keys for Raleigh, at our local bike shop.

          These are still available if you have lost yours or need another. Please PM me for any details and see attached pictures for your information. These are original genuine Wilmot Breedon blanks.

          Other links;
          Story of my Lenton sports bicycle + General maintenance advice, technical and history;

          Dynamo maintenance and operation in theory

          Electronics design project - Bicycle Dynamo maximum power and battery charging manager;
          Not a home construction project although some of the suggestions can be made at home.  This is a design exercise that a business could take on and develop into a commercial product.

          I use spell checkers, grammar checkers and the web browser to check the spelling.  Grammar checkers vary in usefulness Grammatic 5 was very good over 30 years ago and Grammarly is a good one just now, I use that tool or I use;  Language Tool which is a better tool mostly so I use the one with the web browser that works best currently. I use the free version of both.  My grammar and spelling, so readability have improved but creating and refining a blog, is very a slow process.  I similarly find embedded programming a chore moving from assembler to writing in C and using pclint (lint tools) helped but I stopped doing that over a decade ago. 

          IF A=B THEN /* is bad programming because is cluttered and ambiguous */

          if  (A == B) 
              ; /* condition true but lint would give fewer warnings */ 
              A = B;