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.
April 24th - It never ceases to amaze me, the state of bikes some people ride. But this is also an argument about rubbish components.
This is a Real ladies step through (Real is a brand unique to Halfords) - a cheap, functional, popular utility bike. It’s mostly OK quality, like the majority of Halfords cycles, but the brakes are rubbish. V-brakes like this crept in on cheap bikes about 10 years ago, and replaced superior cantilever versions. They replaced them not because they offer mechanical or user benefits, but because they’re much easier to fit in production. They are a benefit not to the customer, but to the manufacturer. To put it bluntly, unless you’ve got a really good, high end set, they’re shit.
Their ease of assembly tends to make them likely to disassemble, as the arms and cable pop apart easily when snagged - for instance when getting on and off a train.
The chap(!) riding this bike - spotted on a morning train into Birmingham - is riding with no front brake, and has been for a while. I’ve seen him a few times, and doesn’t seem bothered about it.
I wouldn’t dream of riding a bike without a decent braking system… mystifying.
March 2nd - Erdington Bike Jumble. A regular fixture every year - loads of buried treasure and junk, and the chance to meet old friends and acquaintances and shoot the breeze. Most of the cycling tribes are here - tourers, city cyclists, vintage buffs, fixie kids, even bike polo guys. Busier than ever before, it was nice to see lots of youngsters here for a change, and it’s also nice to check out other folk’s steeds. I was particularly taken with the lovely refurb of the Carlton, parked out front.
February 20th - An interesting bike spotted on the way to work. Think there’s a bit of a hipster thing going on here - an aluminium road bike frame, carbon-looking forks, titchy short flat bars, and oddly, full derailleur gears. The frame colour wasn’t original and looked to be a good quality powder coat. The rider had good tyres, with no guards and it looked well loved.
An interesting steed. I would have liked to have chatted to the owner, but he was talking on his phone. I love what some people do with otherwise ordinary bikes, to make them their own.
February 12th - Lunchtime, just in front of New Street Station in Birmingham. I keep seeing this lady and her pastel blue Dawes step-trrough framed bike. The front basket (only just visible in this hurried shot) is always full of shopping.
That’s some rake on those forks. Bet it’s a nice bike to ride.
January 16th - Other people’s bicycles. As I came out of New Street Station this morning, stamping and puffing in the cold whilst waiting for the lights, my gaze turned to the crush railings on the junction. I don’t normally see bikes chained here for some reason, but today, there were two - both nice steeds. A minimalist, no nonsense, Carlton-based homebrew fixie, with beautiful Brooks saddle, and also a veritable behemoth of a tourer. The tourer put me in mind of a Dutch roadster, but had derailleur gears, cantilever brakes and the frame wasn’t right - although the dutch lock and improvised loop to the similar Brooks bum-comforter did make me wonder if the two owners were connected. I found the butterfly handlebars - the cycling equivalent of ape hangers - made for a monster cockpit. Both bikes were clearly well loved and ridden. When I returned 8 hours later, the Carlton had gone, so I guess the owners weren’t together, after all. Interesting steeds.
December 8th - I was stuck in doing paperwork most of the day, but skipped out late to do some shopping and take the air. Stopping at the dreaded Tesco in Brownhills for my fix of posh doughnuts, I noted I wasn’t the only occupant of the bike rack. There was a rather fine Mongoose hybrid parked up, with traditional Caradice long flap saddlebag and a rather splendid Brooks B33 fully sprung saddle. Man, that thing is the equivalent of a sofa. That really is being kind to your bum. Whoever owns this steed is very fond of it and loves traditional British cycling gear. And to whoever they are, I doff my hat… Chapeau, sir!
September 9th - I’d attended the Bandstand Marathon event in Walsall Arboretum, and had a great time. What made the occasion wonderful was it’s relaxed nature, with people drifting in and out and from place to place within Walsall Arboretum as the mood took them. Also wonderful was the fact that bikes were allowed. This led to a good bit of bike watching on my part, as I always welcome the chance to eye up another rider’s steed. It was late in the afternoon when I spotted this fine tandem. I didn’t get to see who owned it, but what a fine thing it is… there simply aren’t enough tandems being ridden these days.