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Archive for June, 2007

A-bike in Currys.

Friday, June 29th, 2007

A-bike made its debut to London’s high street at Selfridge’s department store and Hamleys toy store sometime ago. These venues provided A-bike to have good amount of exposures to shoppers who had never heard of the fantastic bike before. The downside of these bigshot stores is their premium price tag. It’s £10 to £30 more than the A-bike distributer, Mayhem UK. And now, another bigshot joins the club. It’s UK’s major electrical appliance retailer Currys (and Currys digital). Surprisingly, they don’t ask for the premium. It sounds a good deal. Well, at least from consumer’s point of view.

If you look at Currys online shop, it says we cannot reserve and collect at your local store, and A-bike is only available for home deliverly. However, some Currys stores actually do have stock in store. I heard a report from a Japanese girl bought her A-bike at Currys (digital) near Bank tube station. So, why don’t you give a call to Currys branch near you to find out? You might get lucky and be able to bring one back home on the day, who knows? (Oh, don’t forget to buy shock-pump with meter.)

If you are ordering your A-bike online, by combinig those cashback services (e.g. quidco), you can get it even cheaper.

While real A-bike slowly spreading its market in UK, Asian fake counterparts never waste any moment. For example, A-Ride, one of the biggest players in chinese fake A-bike market, manages to infiltrate Japanese Amazon before real one does.(see above pic.) By the way, In the photograph in the amazon dipicting a pair with A-Rides in a train (pic below), can you see the girl is carrying the bike naked? Um…. It’s not allowed in Japan. Over there, folding bike has to be carried in a bag when the rider takes public transport with it. The boy’s doing alright in that sense. (I’m not sure about the thing in his bag though.)

Not sure about authenticity of the A-bike your saw in online shops and eBay listings? Ask in A-bike Central Forum. A-bike owners from all over the world will help you to figure it out!!

Blazing Saddles.

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Difference in philosophy. Bigger the better and Smaller the better.

If you are happy with the original saddle comes with your A-bike, you are blessed. Well, I’m not. The day, I went for 30mins ride for the first time with A-bike, became the last day I sat on the tiny saddle. It knocked my bottom so good, I couldn’t properly sit on any sort of chair for two days afterwards. This made me to get my Cane Creek Thudbuster LT, but let’s look at more generic saddle upgrade this time.

My girlfriend asked me to change her A-bike saddle to more comfortable one. she is a casual A-bike rider and mostly each riding time wouldn’t exceed 10mins. According to her, the saddle was not very comfortable, but not too uncomfortable either for her use. In fact, she never strongly complain about the saddle until we went to Lock Ness Trip, where we rode reasonably long distance.

The clamp and the rail.

A-bike’s original saddle and seatpost are not in any standardised format, which is used by conventional bicycle. If we want maximum flexibility with saddle, it’s best to go for a saddle with ‘two rail system’ and seatpost with ‘seat-rail clamp’ and the clamp better be ‘micro-adjustable’ to get the comfortable saddle angle and position.

The A-bike’s seatpost size is 25.0mm diameter according to official data, but it is actually around 25.2mm to 25.4mm. Since the seat-tube (=where seatpost goes in) is made of thin metal tube, a little difference in diameter can be forgiven by tightening seatpost clamp (=the silver alminium clamp on top of the seat-tube), but anything more than 25.4mm would not even goes into the seat-tube. So, I would say seatpost diameters compatible to A-bike are: 25.0mm, 25.2mm, and 25.4mm. 25.4mm is the most common size among these.

I bought a saddle and a seatpost off eBay UK. The saddle was Velo Plush branded soft comfort saddle with center hole (£8 including postage) , and the seatpost was 25.4mm unnamed black colour seatpost (£10 include postage). Then I found I made a mistake. They didn’t fit together!!

Too bad he was 9mm. I liked him, you know?

The reason was simple. There are two different size for seat-rail. one is 8mm and the other is 9mm. Most of saddles (including the velo) in the market uses 8mm, whereas 9mm is used by some BMX saddle system. Yap, the seatpost was for 9mm and the eBay listing clearly stated “for BMX”. Well, it was a good lesson.

I bought 8mm seatpost again from eBay for less than £10. This time was Kalloy alminium seatpost 25.4mm, the common product we can find it on eBay all the time. As above picture shows, it did fit to the velo saddle nicely…. but my trouble continued. It was fat…

Look at how much dust I had to bite for doing this ‘supporsed to be a simple’ job. haha.

It seems that cheap seatpost often miss its supporsed size. This is why these are cheap. My kalloy was slightly more than 25.4mm. I could put the seatpost into A-bike’s seat-tube, but it was very tight and it was obvious once it goes in, it would never come out again. It needed a bit of sanding with sanding paper to slim it down.

Sanding process was straightfoward. Wrap a bit of sanding paper around the seatpost and rub, then sometimes wash the paper and the post with water. (This should prevent heating up and clogging of the paper.) Phew, it was tiresome, but if I could save £20 or so by going through this, it’s not too bad, is it?

Tube Cutter in action.

Can you see what happened to the cut section?

The kalloy seatpost got right size, but this isn’t the end of the story. I still had to cut the length of the seatpost. My girlfriend is about 155cm (5foot 2″), and she demanded the seat to be positioned as low as possible.So, I had to cut the seatpost shorter.

The lowest position with conventional saddle has to be higher than the one with A-bike’s original saddle. It is because conventional saddles has ‘nose’ and the point this meets A-bike’s top frame is the lowest it could go. (see pics) If we want saddle to go even lower, we have to get one of those ‘noseless saddle’.

Cutting seatpost can be done simply with metalwork saw, or tube cutter, which I used this time. I bought a tube cutter (for tube up to 30mm) for £8 from UK’s big DIY store, B&Q. Cutting was easy. Just clamp on the seatpost with the tube cutter, and rotate it as tightening the black screw at the bottom little by little. However, the thickness of the seatpost and the capability of the tube cutter probably didn’t match — A strange bump appeared around the cut section. Yes. It grew fat once again!! This time I used mini rotary kit to grind down the grown edge. I guess this extra work could be avoided if I’ve used the cutter to only mark and used metalwork saw for the rest.

I refer this A-bike as ‘Hip-Heavy’. My girl isn’t happy with the nickname though.

Anyway, as you can see in these pics, it’s all set and done!! Don’t you think the velo saddle goes well with A-bike?

The ‘Velo plush’ name is used by several different product actually. They have more slim and sporty looking one named same and also in same colouring (other colour also available) too. (pic below.)

My Velo Plush is comfort model and weight about 520g. The Kalloy seatpost weight about 200g after cutting it down, so it makes 720g in total. The A-bike original seat assy is only 330g, so it’s good 390g weight gain. Adding to that, the shape of the conventional saddle doesn’t fit with A-bike’s folding mechanism and spoiles its portability. This is a shame.

Having said that, this saddle upgrade does gain A-bike’s mobility so much by providing comfort to its rider. In my opinion, this is worth sacrificing size and weight for. A-bike is smaller and lighter than any other folding bike even after the modification in the end of the day. I also tried her A-bike with the new saddle for short while. Obviously it was too low for me, but besides that I couldn’t feel any bump of the street at all! It feels even smoother than my Thudbuster. haha. The velo saddle might not be a looker, but this is the power of puffy comfort saddle.

If my words aren’t enough to convince you, hear what the girl said.

“I cannot believe your reaction was so calm when you changed your saddle! This is almost like a different world!! Now I feel like I’m riding a conventional leisure bike. It’s sooo comfortable!!!! Ah, I won’t go back to the tiny saddle anymore.”

Hear that? It’s good.

I heard the stories of A-bike owners gave up A-bike because of their bottom compatibility issue with the saddle. Before you give up, try changing the saddle and think again! It’s not difficult to do! (well, I just went to bothersome path by accident, so don’t take my case as a model.)

There are many other ways of make your A-bike ride comfy. We shall feature them some other time.

Check out saddle/seatpost related topics in A-bike Central Forum for more info!


A-bike came into my heart

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

A-bike model(KR), Lynna

Angel-House Party for Strida owners

Monday, June 25th, 2007

There was a Strida owners’ meeting in KR on 23rd June 2007. About 60 Stridas and 3 A-bikes were there. We ran 25km at average speed of 17km/h. To follow Stridas, I had to pedal madly. That was agony to me.

After the group riding, Angel-House Party began !!  A beautiful Strider, Ms. Angel thankfully invited me to her house. We were very happy together ;)

  1. YouTube video (Click below picture to see the memorial video)
  2. Photo collection (click below picture to see all photos)

Spiral Jetty.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

My A-bike’s rear wheel has a strange spiral scrape on its right hand side. It was a minor scratch at first, but it seemed growing bigger day by day. It was an unsolved mystery until this morning.

A topic talking about loose chain inspired me to do a little checkout on secondary (lower) chain when I was pumping tyres (I do pump A-bike’s tyre every weekend). Then I found the tyre scraper. It was the secondary chain!! To be more precise, it was chain-connecter-pins!!

The chain has gotten loose to compare to its first state, but it’s not loose enough to set chain tensioner to “H”. I’m not sure why this is happening. Could it be my rear tyre was bigger than usual? No, I don’t think so. Maybe the chain I got was a rough one? mmm… Since A-bike’s gear box has a very simple fool proof (well, more or less) structure, it seems more puzzling. Anyway, the chain pins gave the initial bite on tyre for sure.

Current state of the scraped tyre suggests I’d better get a new tyre and maybe another #25 chain just in case. I shall e-mail Mayhem to seek some advice on this. They may know what’s going on here.

I setup a new topic on this, so if you have same experience, please share it there!

Seoul get-together for A-bike owners

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

There was a get-together for A-bike owners in Seoul, KR on 17th June 2007. At the day, two A-bike racers participated in the 3rd Seoul bicycle rally and overtook many MTBs on an uphill road.

  1. Youtube video (click below picture to see a video)
  2. Photo collection (click below picture to see all photos)

A model for A-bike

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

There is a model for A-bike in KR. As writing a new post, this people made a joke, “Look at my picture! How beautiful !! I want to be an A-bike model !!!”. That was the big mistake because the other members agreed readily.

In fact, we were surprised two times. First, the joke asked for trouble. Second, the fresh model was not a girl !! We believed that Lynna is a girl and maybe she is beautiful like her nickname until we looked at the picture.

This is the model for A-bike, Lynna.

(Lynna has a custom-built bag for A-bike but more expensive than his A-bike.)