Unhappy trails, ninjwaz!

First, some trivia with photos. It appears my beard sticks out of the breathing holes in my balaclava.




Fidel just after Elly collected him

Next, Elly’s bike has been made over. Fidel now sports a hub dynamo powering new front and rear lights and a USB-werk to convert the dynamo’s AC output to USB-friendly DC. He also has straight handlebars with ergonomic grips, so Elly can alter her hand positions without losing touch with the brake-levers.

Here’s how Fidel used to look: with butterfly handlebars and without dynamo lights.


2012 version of Revolution Country Premier


stock photo of Revolution Country Premier

But these are digressions – last week’s main event as far as preparing for the ICT was assembling and testing the bike trailer. It turns out to be a dismal failure. As reported here, last week I assembled the trailer, attaching it to extra stays linking the rear mudguard and pannier rack, then briefly tested it with no payload.

The no-payload test went OK, so on Thursday I loaded the trailer with my normal Napier kit: laptop, cable bag, waterproofs, personal hygiene and medication kit, pouch containing personal essentials. These were in a pannier which I held in the trailer with a bungie, in case I gave up on the trailer – some prescience, I guess.

The route to Napier wasn’t fun. It took 26 minutes, bumping over potholes and feeling very slow, and feeling quite nervous about routine lane-changes. With just a slight load, the trailer felt very top-heavy, so I didn’t look forward to carrying it with a full load. Anyway, we arrived intact, and I locked Lev and the trailer in the main quad. To lock the trailer to Lev using an extender cable, the two were in a jack-knife position.

That evening, I tried to move Lev and the trailer out of their parked position, but they were stuck in jack-knifed position due to the extender cable – it had jammed the hinge connecting the bike-mount and the front of the trailer. I dismounted the trailer, propped Lev against a wall and then tried remounting the trailer. This was slow and fiddly – I’d get one arm attached only to find the other arm miles from its mount-point. Eventually, I got both arms attached to Lev, only for him and the trailer to fall over. This put a tension on the mudguard mount-point which ripped the mudguard and moved the mount-points down the pannier rack so that the trailer couldn’t be attached.

I abandoned the trailer in Napier’s bike-shed and put the pannier on Lev. What a change! Lev felt nippy but controllable. The weight of the trailer is not justified by its extra payload volume, and I certainly wouldn’t want to cycle with it fully laden. So I’ve wasted £40 and a few hours assembling, mounting and testing the trailer. I’m just glad I tested a cheap trailer rather than spending £200 on a good trailer only to decide it wasn’t for me.

A final note of thanks to Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op for not selling me a set of replacement mudguards, instead pointing out that I can cut off the hanging flap of mudguard below the break, then re-affix the stays myself. They didn’t want to take money that they felt I didn’t need to spend. I’m now about to find out whether they are right!


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