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Posts Tagged ‘italian’

Africa Bike Usefulness Enhancement Project Update

Monday, June 27th, 2011 by Mick Allan

africa happy camping

I think we can call it done. At the time of writing, after many months, a few tweaks and the addition of a Carry Freedom trailer the Africa Bike is capable of hauling two bales of straw, a small boy, a medium sized girl and four panniers.

All at the same time!

The Italian languishes in the garage with soft tyres. The useful bike has become my daily driver. It ain’t fast (and it ain’t pretty to anyone but me) but my efforts to make it comfy and bullet-proof reliable mean that it’s invariably the bike I pull from the heap in the morning. The aim was to prove something with it – to myself as well as everyone else – that it’s easy to use a bicycle to do transportation of the kind for which most people will turn to the car. To recap: Kona gave me an Africa Bike. I removed all the heavy OE components and then set about adapting it to make it more useful. Upgrades have included a Van Andell frame mounted front luggage rack, a Leco frame mounted front child seat, a pair of Blackburn racks and a Hebie steering spring which stops the front wheel flopping about. The use of  puncture resistant tyres in combination with Stan’s No-Tubes tubeless sealant has made the bike totally flat free. Aside from the lack of a kick-stand which I have yet to resolve (the one it came with fell off) my only reservations about the bike were centred around the lack of gears. Three just ain’t enough in the Vale of Headwinds.

And so the next phase was to be a new wheel – but what to choose? In addition to twos and threes there are  geared hubs available in four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, er… eleven, probably. From SRAM, Shimano and a resurgent Sturmey Archer. And then there’s The Daddy Of Them All, the legendary Rohloff 14. What to choose? Well it’s obvious. I went for the Fallbrook Industries NuVici CVT from Warland’s Cycles. The hub arrived in September and sat in the office awaiting the return of the World’s Greatest Wheelbuilder, Christian Schumacher. He went away home to Germany and that was the last we heard. Ho hum. Eventually I gave up waiting for him and had it built by Cycle Heaven. It’s ready to collect right now.

Meanwhile… I hear that this is up for sale:

'Skip-bike'

Oh lordy. This changes everything. Short of converting it to a long-tail I’ve reached the end of what is possible with the Africa Bike. And those three speeds weren’t so bad…

So the latest wheeze is this; Sign off the Africa Bike as finished. Sell The Italian. Buy the ‘Skip-Bike’. Yay!

I never dreamed I’d get so excited by utility…. but then I’ve also recently traded a 16v VW Corrado for a Volvo Estate with a tow bar. Here I am again selling a racer to buy a wagon. Must be an age thing.

But you don’t have to give it all up – Volvo’s got a Turbo….

‘Skip-Bike’s gonna have a Continuously Variable Transmission.

Oh yes.

The Italian

Friday, October 29th, 2010 by Mick Allan

My Colnago is back on the road.

Woo.

It’s a long story. The Teenager was running late for work one day, jumped onto his bike without properly securing his load and promptly stuffed the carrier bag containing his sandwiches into the front wheel. It totally destroyed the wheel, ripping the eyelets from the very rim. A few days later I (generously < > foolishly) allowed him to borrow the front wheel from my bike to keep his on the road. Shortly therafter The Teenager’s Girlfriend borrowed his bike, was running late for work, jumped onto The Teenager’s bike without properly securing her load and promptly stuffed her handbag containing God Knows What into the (now my) front wheel. The incident removed precisely 16 of the 32 spokes by shearing each spoke nipple off at the rim. I’d never seen anything like it but what was particularly freaky was that the wheel, though unrideable, remained perfectly true. She was sufficiently remorseful. Luckily The Teenager is now a fully qualified Cytech level 2 trained mechanic so it only took him four months to rebuild the wheel ….

So finally the Italian is back on the road. It’s a Colnago but don’t let that fool you, it really is a hack of the hackest sort. I ride it through every winter. The wheels don’t match, actually nothing matches. The rims are different colours. The only thing that the parts have in common is that they are Campagnolo but they are all from different groupsets; Centaur, Veloce, Athena, Xenon. And not just from different years, they represent four different decades of production! Mix ‘n match. The rear wheel bearings are shot and the nipples don’t turn. The decals are scratched and flakey and the paint is tired. But you know what? The thing flies. A recumbent might be faster but nothing beats the simple pleasure of going fast on a road bike. Even a tired and rattley one.

I rode it to work last Monday, into a cold, miserable, wet headwind, and when I got to the turn-off I just wanted to keep on riding. I just didn’t want to stop.

But the best thing about my Colnago is the colour. Girls shout; ‘Nice bike!’ as I roll past. I wheeled it into Argos frame finishers in Bristol last year to enquire about tidying it up.  Unfortunately it’s simply impossible with today’s paints and pigments to acheive a paint match.

Pink ColnagoAnd that’s the decider. If I can’t get the colour replicated I aint getting it fixed. The flakey decals will just have to stay.

It’s the most lurid mid eighties glam….

Pink!

And I’m not changing that for all the Shimano in Taiwan.