Thursday, 28 May 2020

Pandemic cycling and bicycle selection, going forward

Changed; 27/09/2021 - 25/09/2021

You never forget how to ride a bike. 

 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 Grandad 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."  
------------------ 

Scope;
That awful meaningless phrase "Going forward", has subsequently gone out of fashion in 2021.  This blog intends to discuss different types of bicycles, share sources of tips and recommendations about bicycles and cycling.  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, 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 government furlong scheme (partly paid whilst employed but not working).

Look over your bike, check for loose parts and low-pressure tires, pressing your thumb into 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 lock-down.  
 
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 the 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 are restrictions so that fewer vehicles move through the town but the town is less congested so cars move more quickly and air quality which is bad though 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 that the planners are often not listened to first due to public and interested party's pressure. 
---------------------------

Introduction;

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 boneshakers in which the rider sits on and scoots the bike along. 
  • Avoid derailleur gears, or ask someone to select a gear for you then don't change gear they are very distracting.  Select the middle sprockets should be about right.
  • Chose 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 hub whilst moving the pedal a little backwards or forwards without applying pressure to the pedals, the bike can be moving or stationary, it is very easy. 
  • A short wheelbase bike is easiest to balance at low speed, such as a mountain, folding 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.  But no bike is difficult if you 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 and pedal.  Finally set the saddle higher when you feel secure otherwise the bike will be hard to pedal. 
  • 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 is used to turn sharply is called a 'handbrake turn'.  A front-wheel skid is never done intensionally, takes longer to stop and stops in an uncontrolled roughly 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 moving 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 breaking in some circumstances and 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.  Doing no more than 200m then rest then repeat 200m, 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, but he 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 chose to. 
  • 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 to do so would make you unstable, such as 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.  For example, the fire brigade break into builds but the laws against break and entry are not applied.  Weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons, are against international law but the UK have them. 
  • 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 crossing a road junction on foot.  There are many situations when cycling that 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 starting 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. 
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/signals-to-other-road-users  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 consultation on green, road and cycling.  Local groups that discuss between themselves, other road users 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 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, reverse out of parking spaces and drives particularly on to major roads, chase cyclists who can not get out the way because of parked cars.  Squeeze gaps without allowing a cyclist 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 derailleur gear bike is a risk and inefficient choice for town use and requiring 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 derailleur 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 heyday's of cycling 1890 to 1950 but started to decline after 1960.  The epicyclic gear is particularly efficient and there is no reluctance to stopping switching gear and going 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, are required and be policed but considered and changing answers for other situations as they arise is the way of nature. 

     

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 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.

TARDIS might be of indeterminate age but the way it travels no doubt billions of years old rather than millions of years old.   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.
-------------------------------------

Bicycle selection;
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 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 bikes 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 the lowest speeds.  Modern derailleur gear bikes can go up any hill it is said! 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Raleigh, Urban 2, - is a modern road bike,
  • 8x3 derailleur gears, 24 combinations, amounts to at least 10 speeds.  The control trigger levers operate easily for a derailleur.  The gears changed easily with gentle pedal movement as they should.  The derailleur changes easily under severe cross chaining and the rear derailleur changes easily under heavy load although doing those will shorten the chains life.  The front derailleur changes easily provided you pedal lightly for a brief period as you should.  Unlike the bike above I don't think the chain will come off. 
  • The bike is in good order and a very nice bike, aluminium alloys 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 less feeling of momentum in the frame tends to make me inclined to change speed a little more.
  • It has road bike optimum 32mm wide 700x32c (28x1.25") tires that hold air. With the close spacing of the derailleur, 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 but I prefer to leave it that way rather than adjust the setting and risk damaging the outer plastic guard.
  • The braking is unusually powerful for a bicycle but fortunately, it is also progressive. So the cyclist needs to take care to avoid skidding.
  • The brakes squeal loudly.  This was resolved by loosening one brake pad bolt then placing a penny under the front and squeezing the brake leaver 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 pedals are nice and your feet probably won't slip when it is wet.
  • The saddle squeaks but is fairly comfortable.
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, turn the pedal 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.

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. The derailleur operates slowly but you can make a bigger step by changing both derailleurs together whilst pedalling lightly. It is good that the derailleur 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.

I will have to get used to waiting a long time for the gear to change. The front brake is on the right with the rear up-down derailleur trigger was confusing for a while and after some weeks I am still getting it wrong. I found the long trigger lever push to derail to a larger sprocket a bit difficult. Derailleur 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 derailleur had not completed the change but the bike had been pushed in and out of my shed.  I found I put more effort into cycling rather than get off and push including going up a curb in the lowest gear so I became more exhausted and my wrists soon ached as well.
  • 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 loosen 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.  The adjustment is to tighten the top blot but not 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 looked as if there was space for one more ball.   Because bike judders at very low speed when braking I then needed to add another ball bearing to minimise this juddering, fortunately, this did not cause the bearing to seize.  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 regrease it.  The top bearing was cleaner so I avoided taking it apart as far as removing the ball race. 
  • The bottom bracket does not look serviceable without a specialist tool to replace it, unlike a traditional crank.  But all the bearings run freely.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Hub versus Derailleur gear bikes;
With the derailleur 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 anticipate may arise on the road.  E-bikes also resolve the issue with derailleur gears of not being able to start moving again if you stop in high gear. 

Do not operate the derailleur 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?  Look down at the chain and the sprockets and make a judgement?

I found the close spacing of the gears and lower speeds meant the with some extra effort pedalling fast but moving slowly or get off and walking 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 bikes momentum is used.  So I move faster and slow or stop promptly without any distraction with hub gears.  But I say again I like the Urban 2 bicycle and enjoy the extra driving skill managing the 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.  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 below;
  • 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 and having a poor reputation for quality 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 nice and easy 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.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Good modern sports bike's 
  • 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 weighs 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 no good on a gravel track. 
The bike is similar to this;  https://www.rutlandcycling.com/dpt/pgr/raleigh-airlite-100-limited-edition-road-bike__150814 and cost about £500 at the time.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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, Harryhillys 
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.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Astra (Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia about 1985), 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, fully serviced and the bike cost so far has been about £90.  The Astra imported from Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia badged England and sold in 1985 (the date on the Sturmey-Archer, England, 3-speed hub).  The tires have perished and are poor quality Yogosalvian, 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.  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 braking is okay with new Fibrax, 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 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 have been running it for 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 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 have opened the hub a few years later and found the hub wet with oil but not in a puddle of oil, 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 clear 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 louder and I can hear that it is working still after a test ride.  Significantly also I was able to clean and re-grease the water-repelling seals which is a circular grove just around each of the two smaller outer bearings. 

    I got this bike in summer 2019.  This may be equivalent to one of the lighter frame modern Pashley bicycles which cost £1,500?  I do not know, some say Pashley are heavy, others say they ride well at a 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 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 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, 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 bike's, 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.  Others also say bikes made before 1970 are better.
    --------------------------------------------------------

    • Universal, La Riviera, 3-speed 26", step-thru, hub date 1997. (pictures below)
     
    • 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 and there are other labels that also say Hove but are unreadable may be the original supplier? 
    • 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.  One brake lever has bent for example and the pedals are a little broken but is fine, I drip a little oil down the shaft to lubricate the pedal bearings.
    • Steel frame, the seat adjusted easily but the handlebar adjustment is seized 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.  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. 
    • All bearings are stiff and the chain needs lubricating.  It turns 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 closes to a point where no further adjustment is possible when the pad is worn by 50%. 
    • Universal Cycles Ltd. establish in 1977 in Basildon, Essex, UK.  Acquired Muddy Fox.  Is now the major subsidiary partner in Sports Direct. (Wikipedia)
    • Part of some of the cable runs are unsheathed and there is a nylon slide for the gear cable under the crank.
    • The bike weighs 16.5-17Kg.
    • 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.  Similar incandescent lamp type plastic rear light.
    • The gear change is smoother probably because more of the cable is unsheathed.  That is despite the hub being newer and having a poor reputation for quality is good (see photo below).
      The bike does not seem to have been designed to wear out and the ride is smooth and light to pedal even though the chain were are stiff 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 no high tensile steel 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 the 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. https://herculesmuseum.wordpress.com/

      The bike is lighter and small frame 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 the Astra above and is made to last.  By comparison, the Astra is strong but is designed to wear out but has lasted and will last for a long time.

      The bike may be made with high tensile steel and is a lightweight frame bike at 15Kg.  Many parts are Raleigh parts, saddle, brakes, crank.  But it is a flexible frame and forks, unlike the Astra, making it lighter to pedal, 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 lose.  
      • The bike feels like a mountain bike, low speed, stable and can turn in a small space.  Unlike a sports bike, these sorts of bikes are more stable at low speed and carrying 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 be pressed with so much force to remove it that it was not reusable.  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. 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). 
      • 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 obsolescent or just 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 then turning it back 1/4 a turn is not so easy to do because the wheel clips into the forks tightly.
      • 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 a British manufacturer that closed and the name has 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 bikes frame's do 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 they were more prone to fracturing. 

      There is no disputing that steel-frame bikes are the most reliable, long-lasting and a good frame very comfortable and makes 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. 

      The criticism of many modern sports bikes is that wider ideally 32mm wide tires or wheels rims that can take 32mm wide tires more suitable for road use will not fit within the bike frame.  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 that shines into the gutter allows 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, smoother as you go up the gears and go faster.  As if the frame were highly tuned.  The bike is very stable and has better road holding but those things would be effect adversely by adding a front basket or carrying a laptop for example 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 speed and need a larger turning circle than some 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 and is better others say the newer bike will be 3-5Km/Hr. faster.  I believe this is true of some 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 1920 to 1961 at the height of bicycling were the best bikes and best value for money ever made.  These bikes and sports bikes are low, long and Raleigh's engineering was excellent during these periods. [Comparison a competitive sports cyclist may start the day with a hearty fried breakfast, smoke tobacco before competing in the past but that is unlikely now] in the case of the Lenton sports it was a pipe that Reg Harris was photographed smoking 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 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 so 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 with the Lenton sports pictured. 
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

       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 sea air very well compared to other steel frame 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.

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      • All bicycles are helped a lot by having gears either hub gears or the cheaper derailleur gears.  Wide spacing gears for general use but medium or closer spacing gears are liked for sporting use so the cyclist can maintain his cadence.  Hub gears change speed quickly, cater to both requirements but also allow gears to be changed when the bicycle is stationary.  Both British-made epicyclic gears and derailleur gears have comparable efficiency but the hub gear is much more robust.  
      Pictured right; Bike stand  - for adjusting derailleur gears can be made from a second-hand car bike rack. 
        • 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 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.  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, derailleur gears are close or medium spaced but the wide spacing is not possible but many gears can be had (Up to about 15% spacing compared to an AW 3-speed hub which has 33% spacing).  But it is possible to have widely-spaced derailleur gears but with poorer shifting.  Note derailleur gears are also called Disraeli gears. 
      • Where the modern aluminium alloy or carbon fibre bicycles score is that they are lighter to carry and take on a train for example.  But only steel or high tensile steel and brazed lapped joint frame bikes have a reputation for not cracking or corroding. 
      • Where most modern bikes score is 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. 
      Tire levers above right - The plastic levers on the left are best for modern tires.  Be careful the old metal bicycle levers and tools with levers damage modern tires.  Despite appearances, the adjustable spanner is better than many because, although it is loose it does not flex because it has a long firm slide but do not use its tire lever on a bicycle.   An adjustable spanner is good for holding the brake pad level whilst it is tightened.

      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 pushes the bike forward but the cogs which are least efficient but only a fraction of the power to the wheels.  
      • Bike oils - 5W30 engine oil is a heavier oil than recommended but is a good oil to use in a bike variable gear hub. Don't use 3-in-one oil in a gear hub but it is okay on other things because it leaves a black coating. 
      • More rust treatment and cleaning tips. Oily rag is a very good way to protect a bike I use linseed oil.
      -----------------------------------------------------------------------

      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 ill were kept out of hospitals 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 feeling most satisfied 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 lock-down by manipulation and retraction thereby creating annoyance but as required slower return to normal or a new normal.  Fortunately "Social distancing" is not occurring but people are talking to each other and enjoying their families at a safe distance. 

      May 2021 a year or so on Britain did create the money to have purchased a lot of things that did not deliver but vaccines have come through.  We are now where it was thought were a year ago that is approaching herd immunity.  Pandemic is passed in the UK but Covid is 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 but what has been of great luck for the UK has been to have been the EU's heath 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 did ignore 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 a 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. 
      • 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. 
      • Even under President Trump's rhetoric 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 travel and non-recyclable waste created.  As if only the BBC are allowed to interview concerned people but they also playing people one way then the opposite way, rather 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 risk causing a crash? 
        • Discard masks and rubbish on the ground rather than compost vegetable and oil contaminated paper or recycle, or better reuse and take their china mug and reused wooden cutlery.
        • Shops supermarkets and cafes that have bakery uncovers, cutlery on the table 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.  The appropriate home visiting care agency is not necessarily a contract that can give eyedrops or remind an old person the next day that they normally take a particular medicine, one agency is informed of these things clearly but then in an assessment then they do not tell the agency who continues the visits leading to a repeated ambulance call out.  These things that would have occurred any way 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 but 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 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 in 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 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. 

      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, in consumption and shopping. 

      Lastly, for example, the track and trace app does not work on an older tablet the Hungry Horse and presumable every other text track and trace number fails to send. 

      Momentum Labour at the last General Election, in December 2019, offered a path of social responsibility.  The government offered to promote 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, 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
      New draft 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 interest, Gates foundation motives in the 3rd world.

      I have had enough of being playing 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 be 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.
      -----------------------------------------------------

      Pedal crank maintenance;

      After removing the pedal arm loosen the lock ring on the non-chain side, this should be enough to allow you to unscrew the bearing cap with your fingers, inspect and clean.  Old bikes are oiled but can be greased 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 bent cotter pin from using a hammer to remove it and 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 tighten 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; 

       
      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.  Finally, screw the toggle chain guide nut back and screw the 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. Ensure that the cone-nut is finger tight then slacken the nut by 1/2 a turn.  Modern bikes can only be slacked 1/8th turn or the brakes may rub, they also can not do the very high milages 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 out and put the wheel back. 
      --------------------------------------------------

      Brakes

      Chrome rims are poor but aluminium rims are recommended but drum brakes or disk brakes are good.  Chrome rims have no braking in the rain unless suitable brake blocks are fitted.  Fibrax, 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.  Race cyclists have gone over the handlebars using cork on carbon rims.  Powerful vintage motorbikes 1950s Vincent 1,000,  Kawaski, Motor Guazi and modern motorbikes kill their riders, for many reasons including braking, speed and acceleration.  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 but as far as I can recall of the bike I had with stirrup brakes, they are more fiddly to adjust and the wheel rims can form a puddle of rail water making the braking poorer.  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 have 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 one end more than the other.
      • You only need to replace one brake block at a time when required.  If one rim wears blocks quickly, because of corrosion on the rim, move or fit an old hard block to that rim side.
      • 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 rust. 
      --------------------------------------------------------

      Vintage brake cable - the brake cable pictured has a little oiler port at the barrel nipple end that attaches to the lever.  It is a Sturmey-Archer pre-World that seems to have a pre-War II cable, oiler terminated with the pear nipple but the adjuster is newer perhaps late 1940s as if it was assembled with old stock cable parts and oiler?  I do not know how old this cable assembly is but it has had very little use,  perhaps it is an example of make-do-and-mend, World War 2 and post-war rationing? 

      The lever end of my Lenton sports cable broke in about 1980, this is uncommon, they are very strong cables.  I re-soldered it 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 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 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 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 ends 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 for 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. 
      • 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 but 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 reuse 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 land-fill, in the UK. 
      ----------------------------------------------------

      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 contact me.  I will forgive anything but demagnetising the magnet. 

      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.


      ----------------------------------------------------
      Rust remover

      Hammerite is a good protector that leaves steel black, that 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 architecture 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.  The best amateur camera of its time, 1976.

      The pleasure of owning an old bicycle;

      Many people run an old bicycle those bikes were made to work hard for a very long time and must be maintained regularly.  This bike is 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 finishes as well. 


      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 existed 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, but they were not efficient or clean.  At this time bicycles were nearly as good as they were ever going to get.

      https://www.focustransport.org/2015/10/sir-nigel-gresley.html

      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 pitch 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 bicycles wheelbase that occurred in the 1970s, making bikes more work to pedal happened by accident but more likely happened with arguments where the arts farts case won?


      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 but also 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 the least efficient highest ratio is not heavy when hill climbing when the efficiency is least noticed. 

      Very typically German engineering design.  The design is an assembly of simpler functions 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 the small sprocket and change them and change the chain length (see picture left).  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 the indexing issue by placing the indexing mechanism within the hub.


      Pictures - The Riley 9 car (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 Wilson gearbox is very heavy to operate due to the effort 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.  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 patented 118 years is very good and the variants developed by 1960 covered most things required.

      Conclusion;
      During the Coronavirus lock-down 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; https://www.tinnitus.org.uk

      I hope for more kindness in the world.  UN Secretary-General's Appeal for Global Ceasefire during this pandemic;
      https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2020-03-23/secretary-generals-appeal-for-global-ceasefire

      Cycling is a good exercise in that you can work hard then rest on the flat, particularly so on a 4-speed hub gear bike made before 1961.  You are not pounding sore feet and ankles on the ground.   In this respect, a bike that is at least 45 years old or is one of the newer long wheelbase bikes, with ceramic bearings coming is probably better.  You can still get off and push and also lift the bike onto a train.  Also, 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.



      Links;

      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. 
      https://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/envisioning-post-covid-19-transport-landscape-surface-travel?fbclid=IwAR0nGALHiyVPgNsPQG3xlMSHKrIe7TY97ZTw8l1tzkGSa9e1GnlbDguf4Ho
      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, effect on 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, sunspot activity, causing 19th-century telegraph to operate without the battery connected.  
      https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ (the raw data which newspapers have used to create good graphs)

      Department of Transport - Bikeabilty

      https://bikeability.org.uk/

      Cyclecraft by John Franklin (ISBN: 978-0-11-708243-4) - has been recommended.
      http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/index.html

      Active Travel - package of funding announced by Government during the Covid-19 pandemic;
      https://www.gov.uk/government/news/2-billion-package-to-create-new-era-for-cycling-and-walking

      Transport and environment after the COVID lockdown
      To Tunbridge Wells Borough Council - requires login
      https://democracy.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/meetings/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=50000024

      The Highway Code;
      https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/motoring/cars/enjoying/the-rights-you-didnt-know-cyclists-have
      https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/changes-and-answers/highway-code-for-cyclists#


      The bicycling museums all over the world here are a few;

      Facebook - Disraeli Gears
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/disraeligearsgroup/

      Facebook - Vintage bicycles the UK
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/vintagebicyclesuk

      Facebook - Raleigh Lenton and all the derivatives
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/257921141694994

      Facebook - Vintage Raleigh Bikes
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/1257223330991838

      Facebook - The Raleigh Roadster Club. (Incorporating the Raleigh Superbe Owners Club)
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/441689006265328

      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.
      Picture; Brokes Wood - Informal BMX bike track
      now closed to the public by the present landowner.
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      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.
      https://www.sram.com/en/sram/models/cs-xg-1275-a1?fbclid=IwAR3E0nIlhp3KgGoXShuNkZMrndrXmepSiX3l50IaYXBUYEB1AGChwZNCkbM


      TOOLS;
      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);
      http://bikesmithdesign.com/

      More Bike Advice;

      Spray painting your bike;  Part 1  Part 2

      Various advice on bicycle repair
      Jobst Brandt
      https://yarchive.net/bike/index.html?fbclid=IwAR0qgTpTfu0OUe7vEannu7FXohHhgwlou8qkJPxOb7ZnWyZCG0DAG5cOtys

      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;

      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.

      https://m.facebook.com/groups/441689006265328/permalink/1066549750445914/?m_entstream_source=group


      Other links;
      Story of my Lenton sports bicycle + General maintenance advice, technical and history;
      https://blog.andrew-lohmann.me.uk/2018/10/lenton-sports-bicycle.html

      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.

      1 comment: