Flippin eck – 3 years??

Well, umm.. sorry to anyone who’s interested in my ‘adventures’.  It seems I’ve neglected this blog a little, but I have got a good excuse; my liver died, so I got a second-hand one, then that died, and then I got another one.  That one hasn’t died yet!

So, all that has kind’ve put me out of action for the past couple of years. My last major illness was back in September last year, which resulted in 4 months in hospital, and the loss of almost all my muscle mass.  It took 3 months of protein supplements and physio to get me on my feet again, and another 2 months to be able to walk normally.

After a few local rides to the supermarket, I finally managed a proper ride on the Middlewood Way in February.  I only had a small amount of time, and I’m pretty slow at the moment, so I only managed about 7 miles in total.  I’ve ridden there a few times previously, and it’s a nice place for a pootle.  Just watch out for the horses!

ooh – the Muddy Fox is complete!  I actually completed the build back in 2015, and the Kili’s been out of action due to setup issues, so I’ve used it quite a lot since then.


There’s also been another addition to the fleet, which I bought *just* before my liver keeled over; a Lynx Parrilla.  If you google the name, you get motorbikes and barbeques, and practically nothing about the bike (except my own posts to retrobike).  Info on the bike is rarer than it was for my Courier, so I have no idea how many exist, or what their spec is supposed to be.  Luckily, the frame under the branding is not so rare; it’s an early Roberts Genesis!


So that means it needs a decent spec, but as I’m a cheapskate, XT is about as far as I’m willing to go.  I’ve got the crank and mechs so far, and I bought some Project 2 forks.  I just need to get some brakes and put it all together! Once I’ve built up the strength to hammer in the headset, that is.

I just noticed that I never posted an update about the Kili Racer, or the ALX89 for that matter.  Shameful!  The Kili worked for a little while, but after the ride down south, it was clear that I’d set it up badly, and I never quite got around to finishing it properly.  I’m gonna finish it soon, though – honest!  Here’s how it looked just before heading south:


Not bad, eh? Since then, I’ve put on some silver chainrings, swapped the front brakes for some that work, put on a black handlebar with some Yeti grips, and the tyres are now Panaracer Smoke and Dart.  The brakes are Suntour SE XC self-energising brakes, which are spring loaded to pull the brake in as they grip the wheel.  Only the rear are spring loaded, but the front brakes are a lot more expensive, despite being basic brakes.  Originally, I had rear brakes on the back and the front (they’re reversed, so the spring does nothing on the front), but the shape of the brake meant the fork got in the way when trying to adjust them.  In the end, I bought proper front SE XCs, but now I’m pondering fitting some Maguras that I’ve got…

As for the ALX89; I sold it.  It was just too small!  Shame, though.. that bike was ace in every other respect.

And that’s everything up to date!  Except for my most recent ride, which I’m gonna stick in the next post.  It’s gonna be a lot sooner than 3 years!  🙂


Going Retro

People who glance at my blog may have noticed that I’ve gone full on retro with my bikes. The oldest bike I own is from 2004, and that’s been dismantled for storage because I consider it too modern. 😛

To be honest, I’m a bit of a retro nut generally.. I’d much rather have a car from the 70s than my Honda Jazz (the wife’s not averse to this plan – we just can’t afford it). I have a small collection of VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) calculators from the late 70s/early 80s. I’ve still got an old Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a Commodore 64 in the loft. My main buying criteria for my phone was how well it’d adapt to playing emulated 80s computer games (slide out keyboard – pretty good!). My music taste is currently EBM, which is a genre that never really progressed since the 80s..

Other than just being old and funky, retro stuff also carries vague memories of the year of their construction. A 2010 bike is just a bike. A 1981 bike is a bike which carries 1981 with it!

So, today I’ve been looking up exactly what was going on in film and music when my bikes were constructed. I’m not going to list everything – I’m just going to list what’s interesting to me, because it’s my blog and I can do what I like! 🙂

1977 (Carlton Cobra)
I was 3 years old in 1977, so you might be able to forgive me for not remembering this year from my own memory. Presumably some of it must’ve filtered into my brain, affecting my tastes in later life.

Punk and disco were just starting to become popular in 77. I’ve never been a huge fan of punk, so I’ve chosen I Feel Love by Donna Summer, which was released that year. Bob Marley also released Exodus, and Kraftwerk released Trans-Europe Express.

1977 was the year of Star Wars, and I don’t think you can beat that. 🙂

1981 (Raleigh Twenty)
I was 7 in 1981. I had a vague taste in music, but not very well developed. My mum liked the new romantic stuff, however, and it definitely filtered in.  I think I was probably riding a Raleigh Striker at this point!

The New Romantic stuff was just starting to take off in 1981, with Vienna and Fade to Grey both being released that year. Depeche Mode released their first album, Speak & Spell (the only one with Vince Clarke), and Kraftwerk released one of the best albums of all time; Computer World! This was also the year that DAF released Der Musollini.

A really good year for films! Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman II, Escape from New York, Evil Dead, Mad Max 2..

1988 (Reflex ALX89)
I was 14 in 1988, and my musical taste was just starting to form properly, thanks to Cold Cut and Bomb the Bass. I remember one of my friends from school being heavily into hip hop, taking pride in owning lots of albums that were imported or having the ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on them.

I wasn’t much into hip hop at this point, preferring the slightly more genteel sounds of Bomb the Bass, Stakker, and MARRS/Cold Cut. A super-special mention has to go to The Timelords (aka The KLF), who ripped off Cold Cut to make Doctorin’ The Tardis. This was also the year that the Pixies released Surfer Rosa, which is a phenomenal album.  Despite all that, I’m going to stick up a video of Eighty Eight by Public Relation, which was released that year, but has only recently come to my attention.  It is awesome.


1995 (Saracen Tufftrax)
Poor old Tufftrax.. it’s not been liking all the wet weather, and has been leaking orange water from the dropouts and headset. I really need to do something about that. Anyway, I was 21 in 1995, and I’d just started university. It was a year of heavy drinking and heavy partying, so I don’t really remember much about it. 😛 I do remember lots of nights of watching Chill Out Zone on MTV when I came home.

I was heavily into IDM at this point, and I was buying albums and singles by the shedload. Autechre, Aphex Twin, Seefeel, Black Dog, Spooky, Scanner, Panasonic.. the list goes on and on! I reckon the best album was Vakio by Panasonic.

Some good ones this year.. Twelve Monkeys, Strange Days, The City of Lost Children, and.. er.. Judge Dredd! If you try to blot out the main characters, and concentrate on the scenery, it’s a pretty good film!

Okay.. maybe just two more bikes…

I really do have a problem, and that problem is mainly my saved search on ebay!  All it does is list cheap local bikes, in case any cheap donor bikes turn up.  Most of them are dross, but last month it picked up something really good – a Reflex ALX89!

The ALX89 is an earlier iteration of the Peugeot Grisley, made in 1988.  It has a similar bonded frame, but has a steel rear triangle, rather than aluminium.  It was actually constructed by Raleigh USA, using their Technium bonding process, so in a way it’s actually a Raleigh, which is nice!

Anyway, enough waffle – if you want some of the historical details, it’s in an article scan that’s here.

Now, feast your eyes on this:

Reflex ALX89

Anodized logos – phwoar!!

That was how I bought it (for £35!), but I’ve had the bike for over a month now, and have made a few modifications.  It’s a 17″ frame, so I needed to increase the extension of the stem, and get a longer seatpost. The steel handlebar was ENORMOUS, and rusty (and heavy!), so that went, the cage pedals had to go, the tyres were knackered, so they went, the headset had cracks in the bottom race, so that went, and I can’t stand quick releases, so they’ve got to go.

It’s now got a long seatpost in a Guinness can shim, a 150mm Tioga T-Bone stem, a Kalloy Uno handlebar, black DMR V8 pedals, Charge Splashback tyres, a black Ritchey Logic headset, and black Halo hex key skewers.  I still need to get a bolt for the seatpost.

It’s not on the road at the moment, because the bolt that holds the brake cable onto the rear U brake disappeared somewhere, and the brake really isn’t designed to be attached without a brake cable to keep it tensioned.  Also, I’m paranoid about someone scratching up the paintwork on the train or in the bike racks!  It’s a lovely bike though – definitely my favourite!

I said two bikes, didn’t I?  Well, the other bike isn’t here yet, but it’s all very exciting!  😀

As we get closer to the end of the year, people are starting to fling their germs about, and I’ve already started looking like a Simpsons character as my liver starts complaining.  There will be rough days ahead, where I’ll be too ill to commute.  That means the dreaded train!  I don’t mind trains – I like them!  The problem is that Northern Rail have some of the oldest trains that’re still in use, and they break down a lot.  Waiting for the next train is never an option, as the next train is full up on normal days, so a breakdown means waiting an hour for the next next train, or getting a train to Stockport and getting a ludicrously overpriced bus.  I like buses, but I don’t like the cost of bus fares.  I thought they were expensive down south, but Manchester is really taking the P155!

So, my plan was to get a folding bike.  I can cycle to and from the stations, and if my train gets cancelled, I can just get on a train to Stockport and cycle the remaining 3 miles.  Even when ill, I can manage that.  🙂

I say was, because my original plan was to get a proper folder.  Not cheap crud, but summat like a Bickerton, which was pretty much the first ever proper folding bike.  The trouble is, I think someone on ebay is buying them all up.  Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but every Bickerton that has a postage option is going for insane prices.  More than I’m willing to pay.

Well, never mind.  I’ve heard they’re too flexy anyway.  😛  Maybe a proper folder wasn’t quite the answer.  Maybe I needed a hybrid folder.  Something that sacrifices folding size for better structural integrity.  Something cheap.  Something liiiiiike…

A Raleigh Twenty!

Yeah, that’s right – I now own a folding ‘shopper’ bike!  Maybe it’s my winter madness coming on again (I’m already pondering making it a singlespeed!), but at the moment it seems like the perfect choice for squeezing onto trains and travelling short distances.  Most of the time, I probably won’t even need to fold it.

If you’ve got a memory of these bikes being unattractive clunkers, then you probably haven’t seen one that’s been modernized (mostly by taking off all the guards).  Have a look at this:


That doesn’t look like the sort of thing a granny or nun would ride, does it?  🙂

Being built by Raleigh, these bikes have quite a few quirks, but there’s a lot of Raleigh Twenty fans out there, so there’s a lot of information about.  The bike I have incoming is a metallic blue Triumph branded folding Twenty.  The plan is to strip it down, service it, replace the wheels, seat post, saddle, and pedals, not put the mudguards and chain guard on, and then see how it rides with it’s standard handlebars and headset.  The original headsets have a nylon bushing where the top race should be, and the resulting ride quality is apparently a matter of taste.

Should be a fun little project!