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Archive for the ‘first impressions’ Category

in the court of the crimson king

And so it was, dear readers, on one of those humid summer days when sweat and sunscreen sting in your eyes, that the Recycling Jester and the Crimson Road King set off on a grand journey via the highways and byways of Lake Land carrying only a song, water, and a basket of tools…

highway underpass, swansea

I am glad that I left the gearing as it was because this bike is a breeze to pedal in higher gears, unlike some of my other rides. It likes to accelerate and travel quickly on the flat and I found myself using the upper gears frequently. The saddle is not as uncomfortable as I thought, and will be OK while I save for a Brooks B17 (or maybe sprung Flyer) in honey colour. Well I never, is that blasphemy for a bike that has “Wool worths” stamped into the rear drop out? I found some faux-cork grips for it – and they’re not bad either.

The gear train is a little clunky and I had to pull up a few times to adjust the FD stop screw as the chain kept getting caught between the large ring and the chrome guard – yuk! more greasy fingers … and still getting used to these stem shifters.

The good side is that the bike’s responsiveness means that gears don’t need much changing. The steel rims mean that braking is on the casual side, but no worse than the roller brakes on my Gazelle – in the dry at least. It’s manoeuverable at low speed and balances well with a slight leaning forward ride position that’s a good compromise between crouched (ouched?) and upright.

the king...

I think it looks rather nice without mudguards, but I know if I don’t get them I’ll be sorry when it rains and I’m riding with a wet bum on the Fernleigh Track!

OK that’s the first test ride, and I do think this one’s a keeper if you haven’t guessed already …

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The Cabby in blue.

I had a chance to check out the Gazelle Cabby at the Living Smart festival last weekend. It’s a variation of the Dutch “bakfiets” cargo or box-bike, fitted with hub gears and a collapsible cargo “soft box” with child seating. It is non-electric assist (there’s an idea !) and has a linkage from the handlebar fitted steering column to the steering head for the small front wheel. The great advantage of this arrangement is the low centre of gravity and high capacity for the load. Also the rider can keep an eye on the kids and/or cargo.

I thought it would feel strange to ride but I acclimatised to it in a few seconds and found it both enjoyable and easy to balance during a short ride unloaded. It also has a very wide and stable centre stand for parking.

Hail Cabby ! The rider's view.

The little front wheel looks strangely detached, and I found myself watching it in fascination as I rode along.

The hypnotic front wheel ...and a roller brake with cooling fins.

With a load, the Cabby feels a bit like riding a tandem with its long wheelbase and the feel of the extra weight. If you live near Newcastle, this bike is normally displayed at Civic Bikes in Hunter Street West for those who would like a closer look.

On the centre stand.

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Dutch ID on a test ride (not me).

One of the interesting bikes I came across at the Living Smart festival was this hub geared cargo bike by DutchID – though I only took it on a very brief ride courtesy of the owner, I really enjoyed the concept and the ride. The most intriguing thing for me was the rigid front cargo rack that is attached to the frame, including curved front down tube extensions that support the weight of cargo.

The extended curved down tube.

This bike was fitted with Basil crates front and rear by the Newcastle owner. I would not even think of writing a review on such a brief encounter, though I came away very impressed with the concept. It was a strange feeling to turn the bars and have the rack and crate remain dead centre. The bike would surely be more stable when loaded than similar bikes with fork mounted racks. I found it a very easy bike to ride and really loved the upright handlebars, functional appearance and high riding position.

Plenty of carrying capacity here.

Thanks to the owner for the ride, it’s one that’s really worth investigating !

Love those 'bars !

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