Building a bike

Hand-built Condor Fratello

There are several reasons why you might want to build your own bike. I wanted to learn how it all fits together and I wanted to be able to choose all the parts. My aim was for an elegant looking, swift steel frame bike and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

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Notes on notebooks

Notebook

As a stationery geek and end-product control freak, I’ve made my own notebooks for a few years*. The design has evolved a bit over time. The steps involved are shown below.

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Around the M25 in a day on my Brompton

Once in a blue moon, and occasionally under the reaches of a white one, I get the urge to escape the magnetic pull of the armchair and go on a micro-adventure in promotion of the liberty of the individual. Such as it was that last Saturday I rode a 259 km (approx. 160 mile) lap around London on my Brompton bike on a route that took me on roads and tracks close to the path of London’s orbital motorway. I started pedalling about 6.30am and arrived back at the starting point at 5am the following morning. It was dangerous and hard work and I would recommend this ride to no-one. Having said that, I’m very glad I did it.

Around the M25 on a bike - route

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New lease of life for my first electric guitar

Hohner Rockwood Seymour Duncan

 

My first electric guitar, a Hohner Rockwood purchased 20 years ago, remains one of the nicest guitar I’ve ever played despite its low cost. It’s ideal as a practice guitar, but the pickup switch was temperamental, the pots were scratchy, and the jack input was loose. I decided to give it a new lease of life by replacing the pickups and all electronics.

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Coast 2 Coast on a Brompton

Last year I challenged myself to a short bicycle camping tour – West coast of England to East coast of England on my Brompton along the Coast 2 Coast cycle route. I planned to do it in three days in late September – I figured this was about as late in the year that I’d want to be sleeping out in a tent up North.

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Sturmey weather

The rear gear hub on my bicycle hadn’t been running smoothly – it was noisy and would not turn freely when I back-pedalled, causing the chain to go slack with a good chance of coming off. I think either some dirt had made its way into the hub or some over-zealous cleaning had de-greased the grease. I decided to have a go at getting it running smoothly again myself. 

The bike is a six-speed Brompton. It has a standard three-speed Sturmey Archer BWR hub gear, combined with two derailleur-adjusted cogs on the back wheel:

Sturmey Archer BWR hub

Sturmey Archer BWR hub

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Paris marathon 2013

Trainers

I put my name down for the Paris marathon at the end of December. I enjoy running. I like a challenge, and I also like to have something to motivate me. Signing up was the easy bit. The next three months were hard work, but I had a plan and stuck to it, and managed to run the marathon and by doing so I was able to tick off something that has been on my to-do list for years.

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