Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I'd say that most people are riding around on the wrong type of bicycle for them. Today's choices are basically the Road Bicycle, The suspension mountain bike or the hybrid/comfort bike. Whilst they can be adapted for use by ordinary people, they are not really ideal for the purposes of commuting and utility cycling.

Some of you reading this might remember a time when bicycles had swept back "north road" handlebars and a 3-speed hub, typically made by Sturmey-Archer. Today, hundreds of these old bicycles are being rescued from garbage clean-ups, tips, old folk's garages, etc because people have started to come to their senses and realise that they are practical and comfortable old machines.

Most people have been duped into buying a bicycle that they don’t really need or want to ride. Your classic roadster can only be given a few modern innovations and is otherwise perfect. There are only 5 major changes in design that would make them absolutely perfect for today:

1.) Alloy wheels with stainless spokes, kevlar Tyres
2.) 7 or 8 speed hub (wider range of gears)
3.) Integrated LED-based lighting system with dynamo hub
4.) Alloy stem, handlebars, seat-post and carry rack.
5.) Lighter-weight CRMO Steel frame.

But the bicycle industry has gone through the fads of 10-speed, BMX, MTB, and now they are just being re-invented with the suspension MTB, aluminium road bicycle and different styles of BMX.

Then we have the variations such as the flat-bar road bike and the hybrid bike. All they are really doing is going back to a few of the good old roadster’s features.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Raleigh Twenty!

Check out my new website: RaleighTwenty.webs.com

I have been harbouring a desire to own a Raleigh Twenty. I did research and found that they were in production from 1968 to 1984 (folding version introduced in 1971).

The late Sheldon "Capt. Bike" Brown owned a number of them http://sheldonbrown.org/raleigh-twenty.html including one which had built as a fixed gear version. His fixed-gear Twenty later received an 8-speed Sturmey-Archer hub which a gear range of something like 33 to 101 gear inches - better than most 80's mountain bikes!

I managed to score one off the trading section of a bicycle forums I lurk around and it is currently in the post on it's way to my doorstep. I can't wait for it!

Anyway, here is a picture of it taken by the seller:


I have most of what I'll need to get it back on the road. I scored a set of alloy 20" wheels off council clean-up just around the corner from my house (an extremely lucky find!) and a while ago I bought a cheap folding bike for $20 off the internet, which is going to give up it's alloy stem and handlebars. I also have a Dahon Classic III with a damaged frame, so that may also yield some useful odds and ends.

A major advantage of owning this will be that Cityrail is running a trial where folding bicycles are not required to have a child ticket during peak periods any more. There are also a number of technical advantages, but I'll wait until I have completely road-tested them before reporting those here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Macquarie University's Sustainability Fair

MQ-BUG has a stand at the Macquarie University Sustainability Fair today and tomorrow. It runs from 10am to 2pm (I think). Anyway, we had a Xtracycle fitted with a blender attachment and made banana smoothies today, and here is yours truly pedalling. (The smoothies are free, it's just that you have to pedal the bike blender if you want one).

For those who are going to point out the lack of Tweed, I am wearing a Tweed cycling cap (courtesy of rocketfuel) and am wearing argyle socks. I still don't have the wool jersey or proper wool plus-4's that I want, but I'll get there eventually.

Marty, the blender cyclist - am I technically parked?

A well-posed picture of us showing a potential commuter cyclist the cycle-routes around the area. (That is an 80% wool jumper I am wearing)