In contrast to my previous post, I thought I’d post about some of my more pleasant recent experiences whilst out and about on the DL-1. After my appointment with the Rozzers this morning, I went into town to continue my search for a pair of nice wool gloves. When I returned to my bike I bumped into a lady I had met at Critical Mass some months back. I recognised her bike and asked if I had seen her at CM and she complimented my bike and asked if I was the person who wrote this blog.

Later on I overtook a man on a mountain bike. He caught me at the next set of lights and proceeded to ask about and pay compliments to the DL-1. He said he used to work in The Netherlands and remembers seeing similar bikes there.

Over Xmas whilst I was travelling to Rochdale on the canal, an man walking his dog seemed very pleased to see an old-looking asked me if the bike had previously belonged to my grandfather. He seemed surprised when I told him the bike was less than 2 years old (it was pretty filthy at the time).

When I got off the bike and pushed it along the pavement once outside a church on Oxford Road, I was approached by one of the punters who remembered the days when bicycles like the DL-1 were a common sight in this country. He told me about the very similar bike he once owned.

On several occasions I have been engaged in conversation about the DL-1 by train guards whilst transporting the bike on the train, many of whom remember similar bikes from their youths.

This is one of the best parts of cycling, you don’t interact with people and your surroundings in the same way in a car. These are the kind of experiences which give me hope for the cause of taking back and re-humanising our streets.


Cycling Embassy of Great Britain

As many of you may remember, Cycling England is to be axed in the bonfire of the Quangos. Cycling England was not particularly effective at what it was supposed to do (obviously), but its closure means that the existing meagre cycling funding will be reduced further by being made into a “Sustainable Travel” fund whose use is allocated by local authorities. I expect that much of this money will be used for things like road widening and pot-hole filling justified by some ridiculous environmental spin.

Some expect that the CTC will move in to fill the void left by Cycling England. This comes with problems too, the CTC is committed to vehicular cycling and promotion of a sport-centric view of cycling which is destructive to mass cycling. Thankfully, Jim from the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club is championing a new organisation:

“An Embassy, free from the burden of history, legacy and ties, created to work in partnership with fellow organisations and charities in Great Britain, mainland Europe and around the World trading ideas and experiences in how to promote cycling and make cycling infrastructure work in urban and rural contexts.”

Unlike the existing cycling organisations, The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain is not committed to vehicular cycling, sport-cycling and the status quo but aims to represent the interests of everyday citizen cyclists like many of you who read this blog, including Dutch-style infrastructure. The site is currently very new but I urge all of you to sign up and spread the word.


Pepsi Run

In my lunch hour I decided to go to Lidl in Longsight to buy some cheap special-offer Pepsi Max to stockpile. Naturally I took the Yuba. At the end of Plymouth Grove there is a (pathetic) cycle lane at the traffic lights. I was sadly unsurprised to see that it was blocked by queuing traffic. I was more surprised to see that two of those vehicles in the mandatory cycle lane were an ambulance and a Police van. At the next set of lights, the Police van jumped the red just as it changed. It is no wonder that the behaviour of other motorists is so very very poor when those who are supposed to enforce the law flout it so openly.

The rest of the ride was fairly pleasant, even with 64 litres of Pepsi Max on the back of the Yuba. For you imperial dinosaurs out there, that would weigh over 10 stone (143 lbs for those of you in the USA).

Yuba Weekend

Friday the 29th was Halloween Critical Mass.  This time I decided to take a good friend with me on the back of the Yuba.  This was easier than I expected, but meant I couldn’t realistically take any pictures.  Luckily, as one of the biggest Masses of the year, there were plenty of other people taking pictures:



Both pictures courtesy of Papergirl Manchester, an art project using Massers as a means to deliver art to the public.  There was also a performance by the Spokes dance troupe.

I also managed to find a picture of our group at the starting point, courtesy of Spinneyhead:


Sadly the Yuba isn’t actually visible, but the group of us can be seen in the foreground.

The ride was longer than usual and ended in Platt Fields for drinks and a BBQ.

The next day, I attended an interesting Halloween/bonfire night amalgamation.  Basically costumes, drinks and fire.  I decided to use the Yuba and the availability of firewood on the Fallowfield Loop to contribute towards the bonfire.



Yuba Mundo loaded with brittle, long-dead wood.


The fire lasted long into the night.


I delivered a birthday present to a good friend yesterday using the Yuba, and I was accompanied by another dear friend in her Raleigh Twenty.  The birthday-like nature of the event led us to going out to the pub for a few drinks, and the Yuba and Twenty were left behind at the end of the night.  Today I used my Twenty to go to work on, and went over to pick up the other two bikes.  the logical outcome was the Meta-Bike:


It wasn’t as hard to ride as I expected.
UPDATE: The blue Raleigh Twenty pictured is called Beatrix, now featuring in the new blog Beatrix and Me.

Things That Can be Carried On A Bike

This is in honour of the blog Urban Simplicity which was one of the blogs which inspired me to take the plunge and buy the Yuba.  It also is here to show that you can still get a whole load of stuff at the supermarket without needing a car.


Here is my trolley-full.


Here it is loaded onto the Yuba.


And here is the list in full, feel free to criticise my choices of goods in the comments below.  The item marked as chocolate on the bottom is actually Chocolate Weetabix.  I have high hopes for them, check my Twitter for updates.

8 Freight

I have spotted this bike and its rider around Manchester several times over the last few years, usually around the city centre.  I have never been able to get a proper look at it, until now.  It is called an 8 Freight, and it reminds me of a Madsen bucket bike, or a Bakfiets with the box at the back.  Apart from a one-off sighting of a Surly Big Dummy it is the only other cargo bike I have seen in use in the city.


I can understand the choice to use 20-inch wheels, due to their increased strength.  This is also done on the Madsen bikes.


This design choice is a little more puzzling, a single blade fork seems an odd choice for a load-carrying bike.  The bike is designed by Mike Burrows, a look at his other bikes might explain why he went for the single blade aesthetically, in addition to the rather steep head and seat-tube angles for a cargo bike. 


Drum brake on the front.  According the the spec this is a Sachs, which is now SRAM.  Oddly, SRAM state that their drum brakes are unsuitable for 20-inch wheels.  They should give a lot of stopping power on such a small wheel.



Interesting method to get the chain underneath the box.  Also note the wide kick-stand.


Again the wheel is attached to the frame at one side only.  Another Sachs drum brake and a 6-speed freewheel/cassette.  the spec shows an 8-speed cassette and the name suggests it was originally an 8-speed.  Considering the length of the gear cable, and the tolerances involved in getting reliable shifting it makes sense to convert it to a 6 speed.

Hopefully the cargo bike will continue to grow in popularity and will become a more common sight on our streets.

Why Cycling is Good for Non-Cyclists

Cycling has nothing to do with non-cyclists, so why should they care about cycling issues such as traffic law and cycling infrastructure?  This statement might make sense to someone who doesn’t cycle and cannot see themselves ever wanting to cycle, but it is flawed.  Cycling has obvious individual benefits which have been discussed here and elsewhere.  What is often overlooked are the societal benefits which result from people making the decision to cycle, rather than using buses, trains, taxis, helicopters or cars.

The estimated annual economic benefits of cycling are approximately £540-640 (at the conservative end of the scale) per cyclist.  Most of this is due to the health benefits.  Whilst my health doesn’t directly benefit someone sat on a bus, it does mean that less of the tax fund is likely to be spent on maintaining me through my eventual demise.  This frees up more funds for better treatment of other people, or at least the same level of treatment paid for with slightly lower taxes. 

The greatest increases in cycling are apparently encouraged by urban off-road projects.  The Fallowfield Loop comes to mind, but I bet a similar route from Parrs Wood to the city centre (or anywhere suburban to the city centre) would be even better, by virtue of going somewhere which is useful to a larger number of people rather than just being near to the homes of a large number of people.

Additionally, non-cyclists benefit from the environmental credentials of cycling.  Locally, people benefit from reduced particulate emissions such as those from diesel cars, buses and to a lesser extent petrol cars.  Internationally, people benefit from the reduced emissions of greenhouse gases which all forms of car and public transport produce, although in differing per-passenger volumes.

Road-users such as bus passengers and motorists benefit from the reduced congestion cycling produces.  Whilst some cyclists would be on public transport if it was not for their bicycles, with car travel currently enjoying a modal share in the 85% region, its fair to assume that most bikes really are “One Less Car,” although I’d feel better with the slogan “One Car Fewer.” I’m sure my English teacher would be proud.  What that means is less road space taken up by vehicles designed for 4, 5 or even 7 people being used to cart one guy’s arse to and from work every day, and a better time on the road for all road users.

Walking enjoys most of the same wider social advantages provided by cycling, but loses feasibility for most people on longer journeys.  Most people I know are reluctant to walk even 3 km.  However most people do walk sometimes, at least a little.  Cycling benefits those on foot too by reducing the number of road vehicles which could kill you, or a loved one as a result of driver negligence (commonly referred to as “an accident”).

So if you don’t cycle, and don’t ever want to cycle make sure you still get behind initiatives which promote cycling, such as traffic law enforcement, lower speed limits, (non-crap) cycling infrastructure, increased use and length of driving bans for motoring offences and the continuation of positive measures such as the Cycle to Work scheme.  It will still benefit you in the end.

B&M Lumotec Retro Senseo Plus Test Ride

Last night I took the new dynamo light out for a spin.  It was around 8pm, so not dark but getting there, and ideal time to test out the sensing ability of the lamp.  I first put the light onto the “1” (always on) position and found that it was not coming on consistently.  I then decided to put it into the “S” (automatic) position and found that the light was still not always on, but seemed to be on more often.  At first I was concerned that I would have to go very fast to get the light to work well, seeing the beam come on and then go away was a bit worrying when I was teetering around the 20 km.h-1 mark.  I later managed to get a look at my reflection in the parked cars and realised that the light was always on, but when it was light enough it just illuminated the small “be-seen” LED portion of the lamp and when I went it was coming on full beam it was because of the dip in light level. 


The stand-light provides enough light to be seen by other road users when stationary.

I am assuming that on my (maybe all of them) lamp the “1” and “S” positions are reversed, but that even when set to always on the lamp uses the sensor to determine what level of light is needed.  I quite like this idea because it will increase the length of time between halogen bulb replacements.  Like most aspects of dynamo lighting, it would have been nice if this feature had been explained somewhere in either the instruction leaflet or on the B&M website.

Dynamo Lighting

Dynamo lights were once common in the UK and USA, but have since fallen out of favour as battery technology progressed and people started using bicycles for sport rather than transportation purposes.  In other countries where cycling continued to be a mainstream method of transportation, dynamos remained popular due to their reliability and the lack of need to purchase and rely on batteries.  In Manchester it is dark almost all of the time (or at least almost all of an average adult’s free time) from October to February making lighting essential if you want to stay mobile in those months.  In Germany in particular it is illegal to use bicycles without a dynamo powered lighting system (except lightweight racers).  This means most German bikes come with lights, which is a legal requirement in some other countries and would make sense in most.

I personally prefer hub dynamos to bottle dynamos because they are generally of  higher quality, are more discreet looking and it just seems to make sense to integrate the dynamo out-of-the-way into the hub.  Its a shame they don’t make rear hub dynamos anymore as having two dynamos would open up some interesting possibilities.

The German law requiring dynamo lights has created a market for high-end dynamo systems, many of which are available here.  Sadly information is patchy, making it off-putting to take the plunge.  With some advice from LC, I decided to invest in a Busch and Müller Lumotec Retro Senseo Plus dynamo headlamp, to be driven by my Sturmey-Archer X-FDD hub discussed previously.  The unwieldy name is in part due to the range of options available, bottle dynamo, hub dynamo, light-sensing auto-on/off, stand-light etc.  Mine has the stand-light, an off-switch (hub dynamo version) and the light-sensing auto-on/off features.


The rear of the lamp has a switch, with three positions, basically off, automatic and on.


The underside of the lamp has pins to drive a rear (0.6 W) lamp.  Modern LED lamps are available which are compatible with this arrangement.  This was not well explained in the product information I encountered, so is essentially a bonus.


These are the pinouts on the dynamo hub.  The Shimano ones are essentially the same, save for a variation in shape.  I don’t yet know about the SON or SRAM versions.  Feel free to comment if you know anything about these hubs.


This is the plastic plug which came with the hub, Shimano hubs come with a similar plug, older Sturmey Dynohubs use screws to make the connection much like older loudspeakers.


The ends of the cable attached to the lamp.  The cable is essentially cheap speaker cable.  The ends are partially stripped like with new speaker cable.  All that needs doing is to remove the wire coating, twist the wires into a single fibre and feed them through the plug and fold them over into the grooves.


Polarity is not important, as the dynamo outputs AC (making it not technically a dynamo) so just bung whichever wire in whichever side you fancy.  The reason I have posted this in such detain is that none of this information is given in either the B&M or Sturmey manuals, and so it might be useful to someone.


The light comes on at about 8 km.h-1, but this will be lower for smaller wheeled bikes.  There might be a lower limit for wheel size in order to prevent generating too much power for average dynamo lamps.  Maybe one day I’ll put one on a Twenty and find out.  The stand-light is powered by a capacitor, so won’t be available straight away when the lamp is new.  I’m going to go for a spin tonight to test it out properly.