July 12th – I’ve spotted this apparently elderly lady before in central Walsall, near the college. She has a broken tail and a limp but she seems alert, active and very sharp on her feet.
She hasn’t previously hung about to have her photo taken, and today, as I pulled up gently on my bike, she gave me 20 seconds before she decided to up sticks and run off, glaring at me.
This is a cat with attitude…
January 21st – another one for Bob’s big book of bicycle breakdowns. These are a pair of Shimano SPD XTR clipless pedals – the mechanism on them engages with a metal piece on the bottom of special shoes that means I ‘click in’ to them and can pull the pedals up as well as push down.
These are considered a fairly high-end pedal, and have a platform – the black grooved frame – around them for additional foot support. They cost about £70 a pair, I guess and are generally good quality. This pair had done about 10,000 miles.
They are built around a cylindrical bearing held together internally by two nuts – an adjuster and a locknut, and this keeps everything adjusted and spinning without play.
Except when the threaded part snaps from fatigue, the bearing falls apart and the pedal tries to come off the spindle. The one on the right is normal, the one on the left, fatally broken.
Thankfully, it wasn’t far from home and was still ridable with care. That’s an unwanted expense in January…
November 7th – This is annoying. Just about every bike wheel has spokes of some sort, and their job is critical and load-bearing. As you ride, the spokes on the bottom of the wheel are in compression, and the ones at the top in tension, and as the wheel spins, the spokes are alternately pushed and pulled.
The do a lot of work considering they’re just 2mm diameter bits of stainless steel wire.
I carry lots of weight on my commuting bike – anything up to 20 kilos, and together with my resplendent girth, the wheels come under some stress, particularly on the pothole-strewn backroads of Walsall.
On Thursday, the bike felt odd on the back end. An inspection showed me that three spokes had broken, which need to be replaced. That’s a pig of a job, especially as they have broken at the rim end, which means removing the tyre and rim tape and replacing the nipples.
Today, I procured replacements and hoped to do the job when I got in – but it was far too wet and miserable.
I don’t know why the spokes failed; probably just excess weight and fatigue. But I’ve now lost trust in that wheel and wonder what else it has in store for me…
July 23rd – Riding back home this evening, something shiny in the road caught my eye – lying on the edge of Green Lane in Shelfield, the debris from something that really shouldn’t happen. It’s a shattered bicycle sprocket.
This would have been part of the cassette, or rear group of cogs an the back wheel of a cheap bike. It’s been used, as the teeth are worn, and the chrome coating ground through. Decent sprockets are made from high-grade alloys or steel, with some flexibility. Generally, they’re pressed or forged.
This one is low grade steel, and has been made from cast material, making it inflexible and weak. It’s a fair assumption that under load, it’s cracked, and at some point catastrophic failure has occurred, and other debris in the road suggested as much.
Cheap supermarket or discount store bikes are often fitted with this kind of cheap componentry and fail in this kind of manner. Deprending on when it failed, this kind of breakdown could be very serious, and cause the rider to be injured – imagine if this had happened when cycling up a steep hill, like Black Cock Bridge, further on?
If you need a decent bike, and haven’t got much cash, a better option is to look out for a decent secondhand steed. You’d be surprised what you can get from Gumtree or the small ads for the same money.
A very, very cheap bike really isn’t worth the risk or hassle. They’re cheap because they’re made out of cheese, bus tickets and spit…
May 7th – Ach, the sadness of things. This elderly bike – a GT – isn’t a bad steed, but is in poor condition. I noticed it this morning leaning forlornly against the bike racks at Blake Street station. The rear mechanism hanger had sheared, and something looks like it has smashed in the derailleur. The bike had clearly been abandoned for the train. Sad.
That ruined someone’s day, I bet.