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