building a bike

This morning I saw a great article on the BBC News website: How to build a bike: The revival of a British craft. Thanks to Mark Fairhurst for the heads-up. Go check his website out, he does some brilliant cycling art.

The Beeb article is well worth a read, as is Robert Penn‘s excellent book It’s All About the Bike.

I’d *love* a custom-built bike, but sadly it’s probably always going to be out of my price range (lottery win notwithstanding).I keep toying with the idea of going on a frame building or wheel buliding course. Maybe one day. I think I’ll stick to tinkering with the bikes I’ve got for now. 

I mentioned the other day that I’d like to do up my old MTB and get it up and running again. I’ve done a bit of poking around and reckon that it won’t take much for it to happen. Ebay seems to be a great (cheap) resource for bike bits – I definitely need a new front derailleur, probably some new gear cables. Maybe swap out the whole drivetrain.

I also want to pick up some new bar-ends – I swapped the battered old ones from my MTB onto the Boardman last year, leaving the MTB with horrible cut-off grips. This is despite being (wrongly) informed by Halfords guy that I’d need new handlebar grips to do so! They’re a bit old and battered, but match the MTB nicely. New bar-ends for the Boardman then.

New bikes? Pah. Who needs ’em? 🙂



I dug my old mountain bike out of the garage this weekend to give it a once-over prior to a long weekend away. I love this bike. I bought it probably fifteen years ago, and used it most days for my commute to work from Rothwell into Leeds, a trip of just over 5 miles. It was quicker than the bus most days and the place I worked had a secure parking garage and, more importantly, nice hot showers and lockers for kit. I’ve also taken it on a cycling tour of Ireland with my friend Rob – a memorable trip from Dublin to Cork and back again over the course of a week. More of that another day.

In all, this bike has probably done about 3,000 miles or so. I no longer commute by bike since we moved to Wakefield, as the journey is now more like 15 miles and isn’t really compatible with dropping kids off and picking them up on the school run. The bike owes me nothing, but sits unused in favour of it’s newer brother, a Boardman Hybrid, which is very shiny and lovely, but not really made for off-road.

When I had a look, the Ridgeback is still in fairly good nick, considering its age. The gears are borked – the front derailleur is frozen so you’ve only got use of the big cog, and the rear will only give me four gears, but it’ll do for the weekend away as it’s pretty flat on the holiday park where we’re going. The brakes still work and the freewheel spins better than my newer bike!

I’m contemplating stripping it down and getting it sandblasterd and resprayed – maybe a nice new powdercoat, then rebuild with some new bits. I reckon it’d need new front/rear gears, new brakes, new wheels (the old ones are a little corroded from years of commuting in all weathers) and maybe a new saddle to finish it off.

Yes, it’d probably be cheaper to buy a new bike. But where would the fun in that be?

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