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:
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.