The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

It rained and rained, and then it rained,

The daily deluge was well maintained,

And when the streets looked more like bogs,

We had a down pore of giant frogs.

The rotten weather had taken me into my workshop and as every small boy knows, once you enter that magical place, time evaporates. I have my nativity stable on the go, I just had to put up some opposition to that Santa (bloody) Clause, this year. The girls don’t start putting up the decorations until December so there is still time. It is rather large so might be better outdoors on the lawn, (at present covered in soggy autumn leaves) if permission can be granted. My neighbour wanted a little cupboard under the sink in her toilet, and the crafty girls wanted a stand, on which their hand made card could be displayed for sale, (all proceeds going to charity), so I have not been wearying.

I had decided to electrify one of my bikes and make a trailer for it so I could use it as a load carrier for shopping and the likes, and to this end I sent off to America for a rear-wheel conversion kit. It may be worth pointing out at this time that I did not spot the little American flag up on the right-hand top corner of my monitor telling me this was Amazon, in America and not Amazon, in the UK, so of course it took three months to get here. But it did finally arrive.

The instructions were simple enough to follow, the graphics were good, easy peasy, then the problems started to mount. The bottom bracket was wrong for the setup, Bafang made a unit that was comparable with their motor, but would it fit the bike? The frame was too small to hold the battery that was supposed to attach where the bottle cage would normally go, making use of the braze-on. The unit that controls all of this, was shown as being fitted behind the down-tube and in front of the rear wheel, well, there was simply not enough room for it there. Last but by no means least, the bike had an 8-speed changer and brake mechanism combined, however now the brake leaver (that came with the kit) was fitted with a safety device so that when the brakes were operated the motor would automatically cut-out, the separate changing mechanism was required. Alas, the only controlled that could be sourced as a separate unit were for 7-speed gears, ho-hum, one gear would have to be blanked off, another compromise.

With the atrocious weather and for all of the above, I have not put in many miles, but if you can’t get out on your bike, there is always your workshop.

I decided to make up a small platform to go on top of the rear carrier and bolt everything too that, and in its turn would be bolted down to the carrier. The material came from an old sign that once graced the Chinese restaurant, now closed, not sure what material it is but I believe it is made from reconstituted plastic, which fits my ethoses.

All went well until I tried to fit my rear pannier bag, ho-hum. This problem was overcome by raising the platform upon two blocks, leftover scraps of Oak from an old bar top from the Rule in South Street, then , of course, the J bolts were too short. Also, the three-pin cable that comes from the bottom bracket, now having to extend all the way up the down-tube was also too short. Drat and double drat. Both have now been ordered online and should be here in a day or two, can wait to see how it rides.

It’s all a bit, Heath Robertson, at present but I want to iron out any wee faults before I think about making a proper box to house all of this, so a work in progress. The trailer was much less of a problem, although I am still working on some way of attaching it to the bike. I may go online and see what those clever Chinese have on offer.

I have thought of an electric bike for a while now, but all the ones I had looked at were £1,000 to £15,000 this seemed like a cheap alternative, dipping my toe in the water first since I already had the bike. With everything else in place I was ready to take the next step. I had my small campervan, it had an electric supply (solar panels) so I have the means of recharging my bike (off-grid) when away on my travels. (Now what if I fitted the solar panels to the trailer – that might work ……………) Keep safe and keep dogging the undertaker.

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