Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Ding! A proper bike shop

Occasionally, as one rides along, little noises can be heard along with feedback from the road felt through the bike. The variety becomes familiar and gives clues to the maintenance needs of the bike. The noises might be squeaks or rattles indicating lubrication required or something needing tightening. In the ideal world, the ideal ride would be silent, but then, the roads would also be smooth and free from potholes.

I've given my old commuting bike more attention of late since it has been used more and I've gone further afield outside of the daily commute. I've never considered it a risk to do so since it has been so reliable. Even so, chain cleaning, brake adjusting and lubrication need performing to keep things safe and make the ride more enjoyable. This old bike has been great. It replaced an old Puch road bike that I used. A colleague and friend had a spare Raleigh road bike and donated it to me thus consigning the Puch to the scrapheap. I got the impression the 'new bike' was well maintained when I received it.

The Raleigh isn't now in quite as good condition because, three years later, it is starting to show the ravages of winter road salt, grit, rain, snow and standing outside during the day. Nevertheless the mechanicals are fine even if the paintwork is not pristine. The idea of using an old bike is purely for the reason that having a good/expensive machine to commute and leave outside the office seems nonsensical. I'm not the only one to think along these lines - check out Bike of Doom for a stories of similar bikes. The pedigree of my old Raleigh is probably a lot better than a $99 supermarket model, though the principle is the same.

Last week riding home, I heard an unfamilar ding of a noise that sounded something between a stone being flipped by the tyres and a puncture. I continued riding when everything seemed OK. It was only at the weekend, whilst doing some routine lubrication and cleaning, that I noticed two broken spokes. This could be a sign of some damage or just fatigue. As the spokes sheared at the hub end, I fear it's fatigue, so I'll be on the lookout for further problems.

I've been calling it an old 10-speed but I forgot it has 6 sprockets on the rear free-wheel. I don't know how old the bike is, though today, I got a clue from the bike shop. The frame is a Raleigh 10 speed but the 6 sprocket hub is squeezed in the frame, suggesting the frame may be older than the wheels. Being an old machine, I know spares aren't that easy to come by and that bike shops, although keen to have servicing work, are also keen to sell new cycles.

The local hardware shop has bits for bikes, so I tried there first. No luck. Moving down the road to the nearest bike shop, I got the usual story, the spares are kept at the Burnley shop. The remaining shops are over the other side of town, so I ventured to Halfords first, since they tend to cater for the cheaper end of the market. The helpful assistant informed me they don't carry spokes - maybe I should try a proper bike shop. Hehe - the chap next to me buying a bike nearly went somewhere else as well!. That left Ewood Bikes, which, as the girl in Halfords pointed out, is probably the only proper bike shop in Blackburn. It's with some reluctance I take in old gear because I always get a comment about it being a relic, an antique or scrap iron. Today was no exception, but despite pointing out my old 27in wheel was 27 years old and obsolete, a solution was forthcoming and the shop gained more kudos. Whilst I won't have made the owner rich, I'll recommend them so I or others can another day.

There must be loads of people who have old bikes in their garages and sheds. When they do get round to riding them it must be a shock to find the best place for them is the local tip.

Anyway for now, the Raleigh rides again.

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