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Archive for June, 2007

A-Bike programme on TV tonight!

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

badger.jpgWow, that was interesting! One of those incredibly serendipitous events. Firstly I rarely watch television at all, and secondly it was an obscure television programme on an obscure channel, neither of which I’d heard of before!

I was in the kitchen and just happened to turn the television on. As usual there was nothing interesting so I decided to flip through a few channels on this new digital TV box, and suddenly found myself looking at an A-Bike Smile The programme turned out not to be about A-Bike itself, but was in fact far more interesting than that.

The programme was called “Badger or Bust” and it was on Sky Three (Sky 3) at 8pm-9pm. I was very lucky, I only missed about the first 10 minutes.

Basically, it’s one of those increasingly common reality TV programmes. This one seems to be about a management consultant (or just sales consultant?) named Ruth Badger, and her attempts to save failing companies. In this episode she was at Mayhem UK, distributors of the A-Bike.

The programme was set in November/December 2006 with the company in a very precarious state. At the start they’d apprantly only sold a few hundred A-Bikes in total since the launch and were deeply in debt! This was described as due to a dithering boss and a clueless sales team. I wouldn’t like to comment myself on that description except to say that they were very friendly and helpful when I visited them.

Ruth Badger managed to instill some changes and motivate the sales, so that they met their target of 5000 bikes by Christmas, and they got into several new shops including Hamleys and obtained a distributor in Eastern Europe. They met their deadlines for bank repayments and the company was saved. I’m sure that’s a slightly simplified version of the story for TV, but I really enjoyed it and even learned a few things about sales that I will try to implement in my own companies. I’ll even try to watch the programme again next week Smile

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any past episodes on YouTube, which means it’s unlikely we’ll find this one uploaded, but if anyone else saw it, please let us have your impressions. There’s a topic about it in the forum.
Here’s a couple of links I found about the programme:

It looks like the programme might be repeated tonight on Sky 1 at 11:25pm, although I think that’s subscription only. A-Bike fans please watch out for it!

Going button head.

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Stainless steel Button head bolts and Spring washers from eBay.

Ever since I installed clipless pedals to my A-bike, my trousers often gets catched by A-bike’s top-tube bolts around my thighs. It wasn’t anything fatal — Each catch only lasts for just a fiction of a second. However, it was utterly annoying!!

One of the causes for this nuisance is A-bike’s wide top-tube. While conventional bicycle (including MTB) has less than 5cm width for their top-tube (including outer cable), A-bike’s top-tube width is vast 7cm+!! The socket head bolts sticking out from the side of the tube definitely contributes here.

If you pay attention to your pedaling next time you ride A-bike, you may notice either the bolts scratching your thighs or your feet are on rather outer side of the pedals to avoid the bolts. As long as we use normal pedals, our feet are free, so the wide top-tube isn’t much of a problem. That’s why I never realised this until I went clipless.

Clipless pedals force our feet to be positioned right in the center of the pedals all the time. Thus, it’s more difficult for our thigh to pull out evasive maneuvre.

Anyway, I didn’t want to give up my Eggbeater pedals over this, so I replaced some of the top-tube bolts (edgy socket head), which interfere with my thigh movement, to smoother button head bolts .

Well, I replaced only 3 of 4 bolts so far…. I cannot remove the last one!! I’ve been applying Acetone to the stiff bit, hoping it would break the seal. Soaking the bit in acetone for overnight does extract some brown stuff (grease? Threadlock?), but the bolt is still as hard as a rock. Oh, A-bike factory, what have you done to it!!
I still seek advice on this at this topic in the forum.

At the moment, even though the mod isn’t completed, minimized top-tube width and smoothness of the button head works great. 95% less chance of my thighs get catched!!
(the 5% is the remaining bolt of course.)

The replacement parts for this modification are;

4 x “M5″ size “0.8” pitch button head bolts (2 x 16mm length and 2 x 8mm length)
4 x “M5″ size Spring washers
4 x “M5″ large washers (ext. diameter 15mm)

(I chose rust resistant stainless steel.)
*’Bolts’ are sometimes labeled as ‘Machine screws’ in some shops.
*10mm length M5 bolt canbe used instead of 8mm M5.
*Be careful not to mistake ‘large washer’ as ‘penny washer’. They are different.

Please note, button head bolts have somewhat weaker tightning strength than the socket head bolts of the same size, due to the size of the hex-key they use and the depth of their socket. I would not recommend to this bolt replacement mod. for other part of A-bike at the moment.

(Left) New button head bolt and A-bike original socket head bolt. (Right) Short bolt assembly for top-tube/seat-tube joint.

While A-bike original bolts are for 4mm Hex-key, button head bolts need smaller 3mm hex-key.

The screw assy. here is glued, but still manageable.

(Left) My A-bike with 3 bolts replaced on the left and normal A-bike on the right.
(Right) Soaking in acetone… please! get unscrewed!!

Alone in the Dark.

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Prams. There were countless of them tried to fool me at Trafalgar SQ. They may look like A-bikes, but I knew they aren’t!! You know, they got way many wheels than A-bike.

Actually, it’s not dark at all and no ‘horror’ involved here — just some horrible double-deckers. But I was alone for real though.

On 2nd June, I went out to see some art in London in the morning and unexpectedly had a good time with it (especially, Antony Gormley at The Hayward Galley and Joachim Schmid at The Photographers’ Gallery).

Then, for the afternoon, I was at Trafalgar Square to do a small scale try-out for coming London A-bike meeting. It would be nice to have some other A-bikers to join me, but nobody turned up for this time. However, the try-out gave me some ideas, like where the meeting point better be and which route we should take to get Hyde Park from the Square, sort of stuff.

(Left) A-bike meets Gormley. (Right) Orderly chaos at Trafalgar Sq.

It was a nice sunny day, and I enjoyed riding A-bike to do the test-run. I enjoyed it so much, I rode ‘the Sq. to the Park and in the park then back to Sq’ for three laps for over two hours!! Three different routes were tested; One was via Charing Cross Rd.-Oxford St.-Marble Arch, then the other was via Buckingham Palace, and the last one was via Piccadilly.

The first two were either too many double-deckers blocking the way or with rather rough road surface (a.k.a. a ticket to hell for those A-bikers with A-bike original saddle). So, the Piccadilly route would me my choice — wide spacious path, smooth road surface, and reasonable traffic. I could keep riding at really good speed in comfort through out there.

I never thought the sculptures at the Sq. could be this cool.

(Left) A nice day at Sq. and one of the impostors on the mid-background.
(Right) This may not be the way to go…

Thanks to Egg beater pedals and my new little screw modification, high speed pedaling is now possible with my A-bike. (Although the mod isn’t completed yet. Pls. read this topic in the forum.)

Speeding is quite fun, but we need to be carefull. There was a moment I thought I was a goner during the test-run.

When I passed near Wellington Arch, Suddenly I heard big BANG!! then loud car break sound followed.

It was the car behind me dropped its entire tail lump cover and a black cab right behind it crushed to the unit and nothing to do with me and my A-bike. However the sound shocked me a bit and I lost a bit of control for the moment the bang happened. Luckily I didn’t get crushed into nearby pavement!!!

London A-bike meeting is planed in this topic in the forum. The detail is not set yet, so please feel free to give us suggestions and participate the event!!