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Archive for May, 2007

Making impossible possible.

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

As some of you already noticed, Sinclair A-bike’s seatpost clamp screw is one of the most troublesome screws of all. The clamp is a quick release all right, but it isn’t a quick adjuster by any means — —- In order to gain access to the screw, we need to unscrew another screw! If we want to tighten or loosen the seatpost clamp on the street… this is… complicated. Some solutions were posted here in A-bike Central Forum in last year. Now, here comes another method.

Bikehut ‘Ball ended hex key set’ £9.99 from Halfords. This Hex key (a.k.a. Allen key) set canbe gripped as the photo below, clever.

But No, that’s not the point. What really clever about this tool is its ‘ball ended’ part.

This allows us to turn the anoying screw from angle position without removing the other screw!!!

This ‘ball-ended hex key’ is not a rare tool, so you should be able to find it in decent tool ( or Automobile tool) retailer near you and of course also on the web. When you use this tool to adjust the seatpost clamp, please note the following points.

1. Use 3mm hex key.
2. You turn the screw by ‘swinging the hex key’, and not by ‘rotating hex key’s axis’
3. Adjust the screw with the quick release lever ‘loosen (opened)’.

The price and the quality of this tool vary, so make your choice as you please. For example, Halfords also offers similar ball-ended hex key set in their superior professional range (car-tool section) and it costs £19.99. Then somewhere like Maplin sells ball-ended 7-Piece Allen Key Set for just £2.99!!

You can also refer this topic on tools for A-bike maintenance.

Highlander vol.2

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

(continued from vol.1)

It looks like just an ordinary lake… but, and it’s a big but, this lake well-maybe the most exploited lake in the world. Impressive.

After about an hour of flight, we arrived at Inverness Airport. The first thing I did after collecting the check-in baggage was taking out A-bikes from bags to check their condition and pump-up the tyres. There wasn’t anything I should be worried about. After all, easyJet did everything right, and precious A-bikes were in good shape.

Ah, pumping six A-bike tyres was quite a tough work, I tell you. I have done weekly ‘refill’ pumping many times for mine and my girlfriend’s A-bike and it’s fine. but six at a time and pumping all of them from 0psi to 90psi by hand… it’s not. Then I was also struggling a bit with the tyre’s bulb coordination. — probably I looked so pathetic — a kind passer-by cyclist offered me his air pump!
(of course there was nothing wrong with my A-bike shock-pump, so I didn’t take his though.)

“The monster of Loch Ness” a.k.a. “Nessie” was the main interest of our trip, so we had to skip sight seeing at Inverness and just took a cab from airport to Drumnadrochit, where accommodates all the goodness of the Nessie business. It took about 40minutes to get the village, and we had a great time in the cab, ‘cos our friendly cab driver, Bob, used to drive Loch Ness sight-seeing bus for many years, so he told us all the history about Inverness, the Loch, the monster, and everything else around there. Our hotel was about 3miles past the center of the village, so Bob told us “so, this is how far you have to walk.” He was really amazed when we revealed we got three bicycles in his car-boot!!

A-bike trio at Drumnadrochit.

After leaving our luggage at the hotel, we took out our A-bikes and were about to ride off to the village. Then, it started to rain!! but since it wasn’t heavy rain, amd we carried the bikes all the way from London, we decided to give a go. It took about 25minutes and by the time we get to the village, all of us (including my girlfriend who was reluctant about the idea at first) were glad we had A-bikes with us.

My new (but secondhand) gears from eBay — Shimano Gore Tex SH-MT90 and Crank brothers Egg-beater S pedals on test.

I had just installed Crank brothers Egg-beater Stainless clipless pedals to my A-bike and also Shimano SH-MT90 shoes for myself on the day before. They perform very well in the wet weather condition. My feet never slipped off the pedal and stayed dry. (Detailed review will posted some other day.)

(Left) This tiny shed held the largest number of A-bikes in Drumnadrochit on that day. (Right) In search of the monster.

While we took a Loch Ness monster hunt cruise, our A-bikes couldn’t be on board. A shop lady told us A-bikes cannot be stolen around there, ‘cos the bike is too unusual, but we demanded some extra security, then A-bikes ended up in a tiny shed behind the shop. The cruise boat equipped with gadget for searching the nessie didn’t have any other guests besides us, thanks to the bad weather, but as soon as we got on board, the rain stopped and we could enjoy the cruise on outside deck. I felt even only the view of the loch from the boat was really worthwhile — there were many rainbows over the loch and it was beautiful.

(Left) A-bikes back in action. (Right) The center of Drumnadrochit.

We spent rest of the day exploring Drumnadrochit with A-bikes and leaving all the museum sort of atruction for the next day. Thanks to the longer daytime in highland, when we headed back to the hotel around 21:00, it was still pretty bright to ride back without any lights. The center of the village isn’t a big place at all, but riding A-bikes there made our move very swift and saved a lot of time and effort.

(Left) The one and only post office/corner shop in the village.
(Right) “Hey! isn’t she floating too much?” “Yeah, that one must be an impostor.”

My sister doesn’t like my modified A-bike. Well, It maynot be a cutie any longer as she said, but it still fits into a wardrobe in just the same way as her normal A-bike.

To Be Continued…

A-bike goes Georgian.

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Gentleman “Hm, I’m certain my stable has a space for this little one.”
Lady “(Oh, dear… What have you brought, people from the future!!)”

-click the image to enlarge-

On 18th May, I was near Spitalfields Market to give a hand with my friend’s photoshooting.

The location was at “Dennis Severs’ House” London E1 6BX. The house is no ordinary house. Inside of it is completely in the style of the early 18th century. When I write ‘completely’, I mean it. From the condition of the house itself to the mess made on the dinner table, everthing is so real, so you would even feel it quite uncanny being there.

The house is really like a time capsule.

-click the image to enlarge-

The place does not have any living person wearing a period costume to go with it, but this time my friend hired some actors and actresses for the shoot. It’s ovbious, but mind you just in case, it wasn’t a photoshoot for A-bike! Okay? The 1st photo is just a fun shot I managed to take for this blog.

It’s a pity I literally had 20secs for the A-bike shot. I wanted to have more fun!! (*translation: I wanted to take the shot properly!!!)

Anyway, the serious photographs, which my friend (Wai Lau from Hong Kong) took on the day, will be shown at my old turf, Goldsmiths Colledge, University of London, BA Fine Art Degree Show in this June, so go there and have a look at her work. Who knows, you might be able to find an A-bike on the background!!

Highlander. vol.1

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

It looks pretty packed, but still has space for another A-bike. Serious.

I, my girlfriend and my sister, three of us visited a particular part of scottland last weekend (12, 13th May 2007) and guess what. We brought our A-bikes with us! Have you ever seen two bikes in a suitcase? Here is one. Look at the pic above!

My samsonite suitcase is virtually indestructible, but heavy, so even though it could take another A-bike, the weight restriction doesn’t allow me to do so. My sister’s A-bike was fit into not-so-reliable A-bike bag with alot of cushions and towels.

Ah, I deflated all the tyres before pack them in as talked at A-bike Central Forum. (this topic here)

At the airport, my suitcase was checked in as usual baggage, however, my sister’s A-bike bag had to go to “outsize baggage” channel. A-bike isn’t big at all, but the desk also takes fragile stuff, so I guess this is the way to go for A-bike when we flight with it. Since I had two different kinds of packaging, this trip incidentally became a sort of testing field for transporting A-bike.-)

Outsize Baggage check-in desk at London Luton Airport.

Cheap flight. Can they handle A-bike with care?

We took an easyjet flight — renowned for its minimal fare and minimal service, but so far, we had no trouble with them on checking-in A-bikes. To be frank, I was a bit worried about the bikes until I saw them again on the other side though. haha.

So where was I heading to? It was to Invarness Airport, Scottland.

Hey, is that….

To Be Continued….

Setting Thudbuster LT

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

(Left) Thudbuster LT. (Right) Masking tape.

I have been experiencing a bit of dull pain in my waist and I suspected it was something to do with A-bike… or I’d better say Cane Creek Thudbuster LT. I shall write a detailed review on this suspension seatpost for A-bike some another time, but anyway, I decided to change its setting.

By changing its two elastomer, Thudbuster LT sets its softness etc. and the instruction manual suggests Blue/Gray combination for my weight (about 67kg + luggage). However it seemed the setting was too soft, and it failed to support steady riding position and gave me the pain. I think that A-bike’s nature of hasty pedaling didn’t go well with the default setting of Thudbuster.

A few days ago I changed my Thudbuster’s hardness to two grade up (Blue/Black) and applied about 40kg of preload. I only managed to ride less than an hour in total since then, but I already can tell the difference!!
There might be a better setting to suit me, but it is certainly much better than my previous setting!! The modest hardness of the suspension keeps me in right riding position especially in hardpedaling situation (e.g. riding up hill), which the softer setting just gave me unwanted bounce everytime I pedal.

P.S. (refer here) I fear the screw to go missing again (even with threadlock) too much, so I put some blue masking tape over it (usually blue masking tape has more sticking power than white one). I know it’s tacky, but I like it and the blue color matchs with Thudbuster’s elastomer. hahaha.

Missing link…

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Last sunday (29th April 2007), I felt something wrong with my A-bike after riding about 3miles. I know I got Cane Creek Thudbuster, but it felt as if the bike has an extra mulfunctioned suspension and rear tyre slides while pedaling.

Who want to believe my bike is broken? so I convinced myself that I’m imagining things and just kept riding.(yeah, bad move.)

Then I casually examined my bike when I reached Hyde Park (see here), but I was carried away talking to my sister and failed to find out the cause. It was only when I was folding my bike in front of a cafe, I saw something I didn’t want to see…


Hey fellow A-bike owners, if you have ever disassembled your A-bike’s gear-box, I recommend you to put a bit of thread lock (e.g. LOCKLITE) to the screw there, unless you are a sinclair collector and not a A-bike rider.

I e-mailed to Mayhem UK Ltd. on that night, then I got a generous and swift reply from them next morning. Impressive!!

The replacement parts haven’t reached me yet, but meanwhile I took the needed parts from my girlfriend’s A-bike to fix mine. haha. (she doesn’t ride A-bike often.)

A-bike in the Park. vol.3

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

(continued from vol.2)

(Left) A-bike’s tiny figure is difficult to photograph…
(Right) …but the tininess is its biggest strength.

I and my sis rode for about an hour, then exit the park in search of our lunch around Kensington Road area. A French cafe on Thackeray Street served us right (see pic).

On the way back to Kensington Gardens for some more cycling, we were rolling A-bikes to pass a restaurant on a small ally. It had to be the second time we went by them, a group of ladies at the outside seating of the restaurant caught us.

“Say, Could you tell me what that thing is?”
“What? bicycle? then how does it work? ‘cos you seem only rolling it.”

Oh, this was a good one. They didn’t think A-bike was actually a functional bicycle!!

We had a nice conversation with them. I showed how to fold/unfold A-bike and one of the ladies even tried riding on my sister’s A-bike! (see pic below.)

The lady’s impression of A-bike from the test-ride was “feels bumpy and not suitable for a long ride”. She wasn’t wrong, but I had to tell her I already rode more than 10 miles (16km) on that day with my modified A-bike. She certainly seemed to be surprised by the potential of Sinclair A-bike.

London A-bike transportGREEN PARK

After a bit of cycling through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, we came out to Hyde Park Corner, then we decided to walk up Piccadilly towards Piccadilly Circus. Unexpectedly, somethng crazy was going on the route we chose. We had no idea, but we just saw a huge number of people gathering all along Piccadilly (this is a name of a big road)!!

When we got near Green Park Station, we finally figure out what all these crowd were waiting for — noisy cars.

It was Cannonball Run in London. Right, so it’s a street race. Can they really race in London’s traffic? nah… too many double-deckers blocking the way. forget it.

Having said that, it was really entertaining to see lots of heavily modified motorcars, and I know the public absolutely loved it, because it was only after the show’s over, people started asking about A-bike. haha

Photo oppotunity — the whole point of this cannonball run in London.

A-bike: “One day, I shall challenge you…”
Car: “Yeah right, whatever.”

I could only rode A-bike about 13miles or so on that day. I wanted to go more, but my A-bike experienced a hardware problem (*it’s my fault, not manufacturer’s), so I had to take a bus back to my flat… Thanks to traffic jam, it took much longer than A-bike!!