Monday, 29 December 2014

Getting inspired for the New Year

After posting a couple of Youtube videos yesterday, I did some further reading on 'LESS CAR MORE GO'  which is a documentary project about cargo bikes in America and around the world which you can read about here.

The site is full of inspirational ideas for cargo carrying bikes and some great images including the one below

The facebook page is equally packed with good stuff and can be found here

Speaking of good bike films I came across an article in the Guardian about Bike film festivals and what the best bike films were.  One the comes up again and again is 'A Sunday in Hell' which follows the French Paris-Roubaix spring classic over the paves.  I future Spindles Film?

Lastly this Channel 4 Equinox documentary from 1989 may also be worth a look.  I vaguely remember seeing it at the time and being inspired to start cycle touring.  It contains footage of Jack Taylor brothers building frames as well as Cinelli and Raleigh workshops, Alex Moulton, Columbus tubing and Condor.  The list is extensive and the commentary is familiarly resonant to today.  

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Bicycles for Life: Mark Martin on TEDx

Nice little presentation by a 'bloke with funny beard'  who has some interesting things to say about the benefits of cycling.

Less Car More Go: Birth of an American Cargo Bike

This is a great short documentary about how cargo bikes came to be in America.  Very inspiring story and worth watching because it as much about community and social change as it is about technology

Monday, 17 November 2014

Film Review BICYCLE and thoughts on money for cycling infrastructure

The Ride

A bunch of us cycled from Corsham to Bradford-on-Avon last Saturday night to see the film Bicycle which was being shown as part of the Bath film festival. The ride was great with no rain and plenty of lights to illuminate our way.  We had an early evening meal in the Lock Inn which was very appropriate before trotting off to the newly refurbished St Margarets Hall to see the film. It was a good thing Edgar was there as none of us knew where the venue was situated.

The Film

On to the film which is a documentary on 3 aspects of cycling, the history including the technical development and social implications, the resurgence of cycling since the 1970s  that includes how the sporting success was achieved in the Olympics and Tour de France and where cycling goes from here in the UK.  The film was really well done being interspersed with short animations, brief portraits of ordinary cyclists, an in depth focus on the development of the Lotus Superbike (Chris Baordman) and the story of Dannielle Khan who won the sprint and 500m TT events at the Juniors world championships in 2013, as well as the silver medal in the Keirin.
The film contains some facts that I was not aware of

  1. It was Ernest Marples, Harold Macmillan’s minister of transport, a businessman who came from the roads construction industry who hired Dr Beeching to 'look at the Rail industry'.  His report closed 2363 stations (including Corsham) and scrapped a third of the track.  It also paved the way for more road, cars and the congestion mess that we are in today.
  2. The people who founded Sustrans UK (Cycle Bag) leased the recently decommissioned track between Bristol and Bath for £1 a year to build the first dedicated cycle track in the country.
  3. £70+ per head of population is spent on the roads each year in this country. Just £2 is spent on cycling.  The Dutch spend £20 a head and the Danes spend £30 a head on cycling provision.

The Question

The real question that the film poses is what happens to cycling here in the UK, does it continue to develop or does it get wiped by the weight of traffic.  The are scenes of cycling in Holland and Denmark which had the same levels of cycling as the UK in the 1970's however they made a conscience choice to invest and to continue to invest in cycling.  The Film asks for £10 per head of population to be spent in the UK year on Year.

After the film there was a question and answer session with reps from Aardman Animations, Sustrans and Moulton Bikes which was chaired by John of John's Bikes in Bath.  There was a point raised from a local councillor who said that Wiltshire council budgets will be reduced by £30M year on year and the cycling budget comes from the 'discretionary fund'  that can be spend on anything so its really important to hassle local councillors to spend the money on cycling infrastructure.

Car Park Tax

This got me thinking about imaginative ways of raising money for cycling infrastructure.  How about a car parking tax that would especially target large car parks which are ugly and only encourage large volumes of cars to clog up the streets?  Then I did some calculations:
  Lets assume that a parking space at for example Sainsburys is used 8 times a day for 300 days a year where each individual using that space spends about £30 which is £72,000 a year for that space.  The profit on that (7%) is about £5,000 a year.  How about imposing a tax of £1000 a year for each parking space above 100 spaces.  So for Sainsburys in Chippenham which has 580 standard parking spaces, 50 disabled and 20 parent and child spaces, lets be really generous and exclude the disabled and parent and child, leaving 480 spaces to be taxed giving £2.4 million a year.  Just think of all those big car parks in Wiltshire, big companies, supermarkets, big chain stores.  A cycling infrastructure in waiting.
The scheme would have other advantages:

  1. Wiltshire currently charge for the use of their car parks that are usually near to high street shops.  The Tax would help put local shops on a level playing field with the big supermarkets.
  2. It would not hit small and medium sized companies.
  3. It could be brought in gradually so that for the first year its applicable to car parks with more than 300 spaces. then reduce over time given companies time to adapt. 
  4. Its really a tax on space so a company like Sainsburys could elect to change the use of their current parking spaces and do something more imaginative with them, perhaps more community based.
  5. They could provide better bus services to bring people in or do more on-line.  One big van/bus driving around is better that 30+ cars.
  6. They could offer a store discount to those who do not come by car.
  7. They could charge for a parking space or put their prices up to compensate.
I would construct the legislation so that it did not matter who owned the car park.  If a reasonable person would judge that the parking space was for the use of adjacent company then the Tax would be payable.

Then I found this news item on Nottingham council that levied a tax on employee parking space.  This shows that it is possible but why not hit the big retail outlets and why put the threshold so low that it hits smaller companies?  Over to you...

Monday, 10 November 2014

The cheapest Carbon Fibre bike to date.

Just how cheap can a Carbon fibre bike be sold for new?  The advert below is currently on Argos see (the stack it high shop not the venerable Bristol frame builders).  OK there is a discount but I would imagine that they are still making a profit at £500 sale price.  This post goes back to the previous post of Bike Economics which highlighted the trend for bike manufacturers to make bikes that 'tick boxes' (light frame, STI gears, dual pivot brakes etc) at a specific price.  The quality is secondary as the price is pitched at what is affordable.  It's almost worth buying one to find out just how rubbish it is. The joke is that you could buy this bike for £500 then take it apart and sell the bits as new for accumulatively more on Ebay.  Wheels £70,  frame £150 shifters £70, then there the brakes, cranks, cassette, saddle etc. it all mounts up.  I have included the specification below which is directly from the argos site.  This shows that the bike has 'rigid suspension' which is a baffling term to put in a specification.   To me it has 'no suspension'  and I suppose it also has 'no engine', 'no electric windows and definitely no powered steering!   


This Ventura aims to give its rider a blend of comfort and performance by bringing together the high performance aspects of a lightweight Carbon Race Bike and the design features of an all-day rider.
  • Carbon fibre frame.
  • 18 gears with Shimano shifters.
  • Shimano gears.
  • Shimano Sora rear derailleur.
  • Front calliper and rear calliper brakes.
  • Rigid suspension.
  • Carbon fibre forks.
  • Weight fully assembled 8.82kg.
  • 23 inch frame size.
  • 27 inch wheel size.
  • 24 to 29 inch inside leg measurements.
  • Kenda tyres.
  • Shimano R500 rims.
  • Quick-release front wheel.
  • Minimal assembly.
  • EAN: 3324525.

Spindles in India

Most things in India can be repaired cost effectively. The streets of Poona are lined with traders who will fix a shoe, a ceiling fan, food processor, motor scooter or bicycle. Walking home from lunch one day I happened upon Spindles and Sprockets in a parallel universe. They seemed content with their small roadside
workshop, which like ours, specialised in minor repairs like punctures and dodgy brakes.
Despite the massive growth in car ownership, the disappearance of bullock and cart, the highest number of scooters and motorcycles in any Indian city and a vast number of three-wheeled ‘tuk-tuk’ rickshaws – some people do still cycle in Poona. Cycling is the practical transport for the poorest.
It’s not uncommon to see a bicycle laden with so much cargo that the person peddling cannot be seen from behind. Most of the bicycles in India are the heavy single speed Hero or Hurcules complete with mattress saddle and rod brakes.
There are now importers of Far Eastern brands such as Giant setting up showroom type shops as the interest in ‘sports’ cycling increases. Many people recognise that 21st century bikes could offer part of a much-needed solution to the problems of congestion and air pollution. 
Most young motorcyclists wear a mask over their nose and mouth when crossing the busy parts of town.  In the near future expect to see India’s trend-setting, hipster middle classes on lightweight bikes with slim tyres and many gears; even perhaps in Lycra!

Spindles in India 'Spindia'

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Bike Film: One Mile Above

"One Mile Above" is a Chinese Film with English subtitles about a young Taiwanese man called Shuhao who decides to fulfil his brother's plans to cycle to Lhasa in Tibet after he is killed in an accident.  His journey includes learning to ride a bike, enduring the hardships of cold, altitude, snow, steep terrain, wild animals and through the experience come to terms with loss.
I watched this film yesterday and its was brilliant with the story being unpredictable and thoroughly engaging.  The cinematography is superb providing a sense of movement to the cycling scenes that I've not come across before in other bike related films.  Some of the cutting techniques used are reminiscent of European films such as "The Name of the Rose". There is also real sense of journey coupled with believable characters and convincing acting.  The result is a portrayal of the emotions that an epic journey can bring and the connections that can be made with strangers.
There is fantastic Tibetan scenery and it's sympathetic to Tibetan culture.  The only negatives are the overly dramatic depiction riding up one of the long 5000m passes, done for effect but are definitely preposterous,  and the speed of the subtitles.
A recommend this film and you can watch it here on YouTube in poor quality.  I've ordered the DVD and I'm looking forward to seeing it projected onto a screen. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Bicycle films and other news

Its been over a month since the last post so this one is well overdue.  Firstly the regular Spindles Rides are going well with 6 rides done in the last 8 weeks.  We usually meet at Corsham bookshop around 9:30 on a Saturday morning and ride out for a couple of hours with a tea stop at a cafe.  Please email us if you are interested in joining.
Secondly  we have an offer of a place which I have not seen yet.  It's not much but it could mean that Spindles may have a new home and may also need to be reinvented so that it will fit into that new home.
Lastly the new film "Bicycle" is being shown in Bradford on Avon on the 15th November and I though it would be a great idea to cycle over there from Corsham and watch it.  The more the merrier as combined lights etc would make it easy to cycle in the dark.  Here is some detail about the film. 

”Bicycle” a 90 minute documentary, asks the question why is cycling and the bicycle back in fashion? The film, which is directed by BAFTA winning director and keen cyclist Michael B.Clifford tells the story of cycling in the land that invented the modern bicycle, it’s birth, decline and re birth from Victorian origins to today. The film weaves bicycle design, sport and transport through the retelling of some iconic stories and features interviews with notable contributors Sir Dave Brailsford, Gary Fisher, Chris Boardman, Ned Boulting, Sir Chris Hoy, Tracy Moseley, Mike Burrows and many more plus great archive, animation and music.  “Bicycle” is a humorous, lyrical and warm reflection on the bicycle and cycling and its place in the British national psyche.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A shift in bicycle ecomonics

I friend of mine was after a racing bike and some weeks told me about some bike deals at Halfords which are indicative of an interesting trend in bike economics.  Take the Carrera below which is currently on at just under £250 new.


  • Exact Frame Size: 51cm
  • Frame Material: Alloy
  • Brakes: Tektro R312 Dual pivot
  • Number of Gears: 14
  • Chainset: PROWHEEL, AE-221C, STEEL 50/34T - 170mm
  • Frame: 7005 Alloy
  • Gear Shifters: Shimano Tourney, 14 speed

Its not going to win any awards for quality but there is something interesting here.  First is an alloy frame road bike with STI shifters, compact chain set and dual pivot brakes.  A few years ago the price tag on a 105 STI 9 speed shifters was about £250 however the 10 speed incarnations are now £130.  OK the shifters on the bike above are 7 speed and not nine speed but the interesting thing is that they decided what the entry level road bike price should be, what the spec should be and then created the components to fit the brief.  I don't know how it rides or how durable it is but its a challenge to a renovated bike for the same price.
The second thing is the 7 speed STI Shimano Tourney shifters provides opportunities to retro fit STI shifters to classic road bikes for those who do not want the L'Eroica gear shifting experience.  These shifters retail at around £60 and are probably better than the original 7 speed that occasionally crop up.  Its difficult to understand what the market would be for this,  any takers?
The bike industry will continue to push the price down for the standard entry level offering as long as cycling increases in popularity which I'm sure it will.  The quality will reduce but not significant to the occasional user.  Its the magic trinity of STI shifters, dual pivot brakes and compact chain set that people will be attracted to.  

Monday, 15 September 2014

Spindles Bike Recycling Project Corsham

What We Do

We provide skilled bicycle maintenance and sell high quality reconditioned bikes and vintage bikes. We have a good reputation in the town a for reliable and affordable service. We do not buy bicycles to protect us from handling stolen goods but we do accept donations.  The project is open for anyone whose interested to get involved and learn the skills of cycle mechanic. 
We have a number of volunteer helpers including, Robin, (aged 71),  Josh and Alistair, who are A-level students with a keen interest in bikes.  For the last 3 years we have been working with the charity Sustrans to provide 'Dr Bike' free maintenance in local schools as part of the NHS Healthy Schools initiative.
Over the years Spindles has saved 100s of bikes from going into scrap/landfill and has provided cost effective transport alternative for local people. 

What We Need

We currently do not have a location and so are looking for a small room/building that would serve as a community bike shop that would be open on Saturdays.  It would need to be secure at it would store tools and stock during the week.

Benefits for Community

Corsham and the surrounding area has experienced a visible growth in the popularity of cycling, which is helped in part by the well signposted and maintained Sustrans route 254 which passes through the town. There is currently no bike shop and so Spindles can meet this need.
Spindles and Sprockets Bike project ('Spindles' for short) is a Not For Profit community project set up in 2009 in Corsham by three cycle enthusiasts when the town’s bike shop owner retired. We (Nicholas Brakspear, Richard Moulton, Tim Lammin and Edgar Stringer) provide convenient, reliable and cost effective bicycle maintenance to Corsham and the surrounding towns and villages on Saturday mornings.
Spindles was initially launched at Corsham’s Pound Arts Centre where it was based for over 2 years.  During that time it attracted a range of people to the Arts Centre. It became a social focal point for local cyclists: from serious lycra-clad sports riders, stopping for coffee and pit stop repairs, to local school children needing a BMX puncture fixed. The Saturday morning workshop was a year round success.
During our tenure at the Pound Arts Centre, staff recorded an increase not only in cafĂ© trade but also increased interest in its other events and services.  At the end of 2011 the Pound Arts Centre obtained the long awaited funds needed to develop the building spindles occupied and thus Spindles and Sprockets moved to the Corsham Community Centre where we were for over 2 years.  Unfortunately our move to the community centre came after the plans for the new community campus had been put in place so we were unable to secure a position in the new campus.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Rides and other meditations

Spindles Ride
About 9 of us went for a ride this morning from the centre of Corsham to Marshfield and then finishing up in Slaughterford Fayre.  The morning was moody and grey with a hint of rain but we found our way through Biddestone, West Yatton, Yatton Keynell, Summer Lane, The Gibb, Burton, Marshfield to Sweetapples Cafe for locally roasted coffee when the sun came out. Colerne and Thickwood brought us to Slaughterford and the annual fayre.
Tim told us about the bike maintenance course that he is on in London which consisted of mending lots of punctures in the first day and fixing brakes in the second.  Tim is an experienced mechanic but needs the qualification and hence the course.  It's interesting that all the students are given new bikes to work on.  We all know that used bikes are a different proposition.  

Earlier in the week AM and I cycled to Bristol on the bike path.  It is a great source of inspiration to see what seems like the world on their bikes going at all different speeds and riding styles.  We stopped at Walmley for tea and to see the newly erected Dr Who 'Toilet' Tardis.  I was disappointed to see that Au Temps Perdu (old church reclamation/Bike Shack) has been knocked down.  An iconic end to the cycle way has been lost but I think Bike Shack is still going.  At Temple Meads there are now bars and cafes built out of yurts and shipping containers.  The yurt offering has good organic food and beers.

Next Week Tetbury    

Monday, 18 August 2014

Severn Bridge Sportive 24th August

We would just like to publicise the sportive starting at Castle Combe racing circuit.  There is also a Family cycling event.

The event will offer riders the choice of a 100km route or a 100 mile route through some of the best countryside the area has to offer - and you won't need to decide on the route you're taking until you get to the split point on the day!

Castle Combe Family Cycling Day
The plan for 2013 was to make the event as inclusive as possible offering cycling activities for all our visitors be they 2yrs or 102yrs and according to the feedback we received, we hit our target spot on!

The same challenge has therefore been set for 2014 as we work towards an even more exciting and full day of cycling activity for all the family! For 2014 you just need to turn up on the day and register to ride.

Download the Route

The .gpx files of the routes for the 100km and 100 mile Severn Bridge Sportive are now available to download! Please click on the link below...

Route Signage

The route will be clearly and comprehensively marked, with direction arrows at each turning and road junction. We will make sure that you are in no doubt as to where you should be heading so, if there is a long time between turnings, we'll put up some confirmation arrows to give you some reassurance that you haven't missed a turn. However, in the unlikely event that you take a wrong turn at any point or if signs have been dislodged, we will give each rider a route card as a fallback, which will also include emergency contact information.

Route Summary

The ride will start and finish at Castle Combe Circuit with the route taking riders down the Cotswold escarpment to the North of Bath and Bristol before taking in the Classic Severn Bridge crossing.Sportive (copyright Phil O'Connor)

The half-way point for the short ride and the first stop for the longer route uses Bulwark Community Centre on the outskirts of Chepstow close to the Severn Bridge crossing.

The long route then climbs through Wentwood used for the UCI Ladies World Cup race in 2005 prior to dropping into Usk and Raglan then tackling the steep Star Hill before dropping back to the original feedstop for more refreshment. The long route then joins the short route home with the Hawkesbury Upton climb and Badminton Village also featuring before dropping back to Castle Combe Circuit.

Route Maps

Route maps and emergency contact numbers will be provided at the time of signing in on the event morning itself.

More Details

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Support the Chepstow to Tintern cycle path

While renewing my CTC membership I found this worthy cause:  proposed Wye Valley Shared Use path from Chepstow to Tintern along the disused railway line.

Why is this important?
The permission was granted by the Forest of Dean District Council for their ownership, but the Monmouthshire Council have been making excuses for the last few years since the original proposal. All over the UK county after county's citizens have been benefiting from these valuable resources for leisure and transport purposes. Why are we waiting and consistently fobbed off with trivial excuses all the time? There are no cycle paths through Chepstow while everywhere else benefits. Despite all the Bills, Papers, and Consultations you pass and now 'The Wales we Want' campaign, we are ignored. This path would enable less able bodied people to access the beauty of the Wye Valley, it would provide business and opportunities locally, and hold these opportunities within Chepstow and surrounding villages where presently people go further afield for leisure facilities. Also it would encourage forms of sustainable transport such as cycling and walking, enabling many people to leave their cars at home. The already established paths in the UK are used by thousands everyday for multiple purpose. Why are we denied this resource, is it because our Council is blind to the future?

This would be a great alternative to the main road which is hilly and busy.  If you want to support it then use the link below

Thank you!

Monday, 11 August 2014

What's happened to Spindles - A bike shop in the Bardo

You may be wondering where Spindles Bikes have gone and why we didn't set up at Corsham School.  Well it turns out that the school had done a deal previously with Wiltshire Council where the land that we would have set up on was given to the council in exchange for building the all weather pitch.  A Good Deal but bad for Spindles since the council have now said that we will need to apply for planning permission to site a container on their land.  We are back to the drawing board.
We have applied to the Pound Arts to host a pop-up bike shop which is where we were originally.  As the Pound Arts is under new management who want to take it in a different direction, there my not be the scope for Spindles.  There may be a double garage coming up for sale near the centre of town which may be an opportunity.
We can set up out of town and do some 'project' based work but we would loose the sustainable transport ethos which started us going in the first place.
Meanwhile the new community centre is open with the cafe, Library and gym.  I went in there last Saturday, it all looks very new and clean with pine panelling.  It's early days for the new campus, things have to bed-in, the car park has to be finished and the modifications to the existing Springfield centre need to be completed before the potential can be appreciated.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Spindles at the Tour De France

I just had to go to see the Tour in Yorkshire so my brother-in-law and I hatched a plan to cycle from Kirkby Stevens to Muker.  I went up the day before in the rain to by sisters house in Ings, but the next day (Saturday) was warm sunshine.  Before we got to Kirkby Stevens we were seeing bikes heading towards the tour and after getting provisions for the day at Kirkby we turned off onto the B6270 which ascends a 1600ft pass before descending  into Muker.  I've never seem so many bikes go over a 1600ft pass and as the roads were closed they were almost traffic free.  As we got closer there were more yellow bikes, campsites and car parks as evidence of the numbers of people.

The Howgill fells are a stunning part of the country, with quiet roads with the occasional 'arrow' to indicate steep gradients

After arriving into Muker we found a spot on the wall and waited for helicopters to appear which indicated the first rider was about to come through.   But the Tour De France is about advertising

With the advertising safely through the helicopters arrived, then disappeared and re-emerged along with the first rider  

Soon after the Peloton came through

What was really good to see was the number of people to had ridden on bikes to get their spot.  Not only middle aged blokes on new racers but families with their dogs, old and young, shopping bikes, MTBS the list is endless.

Heading Back home

The sides of the road became a temporary bike park

Cycling Shoes you can walk in.

This is one of my pet hates. I've lost count of the number of cycling shoes I have gone through in the last ten years. OK I do a lot of walking in them as well but what tends to happen is that the sole wears through to the air pocket allowing water to get in making my feet wet. This happens within about 2 years and is all the more galling because the uppers are in perfect condition. I think its a technique employed by shoe manufacturers to make the sole so flimsy that buying a new pair within two years is inevitable. 

I've taken my latest pair to several cobblers who scratch their heads and then say no because of the hard sole. I then struck upon the idea that I could glue some old bike tyre to the bottom of the sole thus fixing the problem. And here is the result.

I used a specialist rubber glue and some old 700c tyre. OK it not brilliant and after a couple of weeks the tyre tread had worn through.  Don't get me wrong these Exustar shoes are great but like most cycling shoes they are not designed to be resoled. Next I will try mountain bike shoes.

Anybody know of a good cycling shoe that will stand up to a bit of walking?

Truvative Bottom Bracket acts as Sonar

A few weeks ago my day bike developed a strange intermittent 'ping' noise that emanated from the bottom bracket/ pedals area. The next few days the ping got louder and more annoying so as the good weather had arrived, I dusted off the summer bike and started using that, hoping that ignoring the problem would make it go away.

Sooner or later I needed to use the day bike again as that's the bike set up to take the trailer. By this time the ping had developed into something that was akin to a submarine sonar searching for oncoming traffic. I determined that the ping was created on the down stroke of the left crank. The pedals were good quality Velo Orange which left the bottom bracket as the suspect which was confirmed as the culprit when I changed the pedals and the same noise persisted.

One Chain Reaction purchase later provided a replacement Shimano UN55. When I took the existing Truvative sealed unit Bottom Bracket out I found that the sealed bearing assembly had come apart from the rest of the housing. The rather cheap construction method employed by Truvative is a disappointment since its almost bound to go wrong. The unit had only been in place for about 2 years and I can only assume that the load of pulling a trailer was too great. The Shimano construction is much better since the bearings are an integral part of the housing and not a 'bolt on'.

You can see that the Truvative uses a separate baring whereas the Shimano baring is integral

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Great news, we have a location

We have an agreement with Corsham School to site a container on their premises near the Springfield centre.  All we need to do now is to get a 20-30ft container transported to the school, get our stuff out of storage and into the container and we are back up and running.  It's probably a lot harder than it sounds but I think that sometime in June we should be back on line - just in time for the Tour de France.
We will probably have an art project to paint the container so that it blends in with the surroundings.  I have also thought of erecting solar panels to charge batteries (and electric bikes) that would provide lighting and mains power via an inverter.  Edgar thought of installing a wood burner for the winter months however, a recent meeting with the Community Campus liaison officer has provided the opportunity to work in the Campus during the winter months using the container for Storage.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Music, rides and thoughts of Spindles to come

An email on Friday from the Pound Arts asked us whether we could service some bikes that belonged to that nights performer, Richard Durrant and his mate Sean.  By chance we had tickets for that nights show as seeing a world class classical guitarist who cycles to his gigs is not to be missed.  I dropped in at the pound and arranged a bike service that would be done on the Saturday.  The performance was great.
The following morning we found a couple of broken spokes on Richard's bike.  He is towing a trailer with all the stage gear on it (40kg+) and the bike wheels were not made for that kind of punishment.  We fitted some new spokes and tuned the gears and brakes on both bikes.  Good to go. You can watch Richard's blog below where we get a credit.

or follow him on facebook at

That day we went for a ride and stopped at Holt cafe for a meal.  It was rather an unusual way to spend a Saturday for us.  In fact its been years since I've sat in the sun on a Saturday drinking lattes as Spindles is always busy.  We returned to the Pound which was hosting a repair cafe and a bike had been brought in to be brought back to life. Just keeping our hand in.

We had a metting with Corsham school this week which is keen to host Spindles.  We surveyed a good site that they had identified which is outside of the school perimeter fence but on school grounds near the Springfield centre.  All we need is a container and an art project to turn it into thing of beauty.  This is the kind of situation that is made for Kevin McCloud or a least Corsham's answer to Kevin.

We have also been contacted my Wiltshire Council's community support who would like to see us and an other school in Corsham that would like to borrow our delivery bike.  We have never been so popular.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Spindles moved into Storage, appearance at Repair Cafe At the Pound, what's next?

Packing away was not easy 
It has been a sad experience over the last few days to pack spindles stuff away into boxes and put it into storage.  All the bikes bar two were sold thanks mostly to ebay and the customer bikes were picked up.  The stock can neatly be stacked while the work benches fold and the shelving comes apart.

It was an opportunity to rationalise and a lot of the old reclaimed stock was re-evaluated and scrapped. Even the obligatory soft porn free calendar from our wholesaler, an object of ironic mirth,  was surplus to requirements especially since it was left under a leaking roof.
An empty room replaces Spindles Bike shop

 There was nobody around today , the wind whipped through the open doors pushing the curtains around, finding its way through the condemned building.  The knitting group was meeting for the last time as were the retired dancers.
What remains are empty rooms.  What will be in June is rubble, ground down to make a base for the car park.  

Next week Spindles will be at the Repair Cafe at the Pound Arts Centre.  It will be a kind of reunion as we spent 2 years at the Pound.  We may resume our spot at the back through the peacock gates and keep our hand in.  

We are currently considering a number of options, some of which include erecting temporary buildings.  This will take time to evaluate the respective potential of each opportunity and fully understand the pros and cons.  We want to get a more permanent place so that we can do more interesting activities.  For now, Spindles is safely packed away.

Spindles In Storage
Bikes ready to return

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Spindles Film

Here's our film that shows a little of what we do including our Saturday workshop, the work we do for Sustrans and our occasional rides.  I would like to do some evening rides when the world cup is on as the roads should be clear.

The sound track is great. See also for a write up on the last day.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spindles in the Papers

The Gazette and Herald photographer came around the other week to take some photos and a feature article resulted which you can read using the following link.
The boys could not get into the community centre as the combination lock had been changed hence the lack of photo of the workshop.  The spindles publicity machine has limped into action over the past few weeks and we have had a number of enquiries about new accommodation for Spindles.  The G&H article is as good as it gets.
We are winding down the stock at the moment so if you want to get yourself a bargin bike or tyre, wheel etc then now is the time to do it.  We hope to move in the next two weeks and are current playing with various options which include doing some long awaited projects.  The options for working on the High Street are complex,  potentially expensive and include setting up/down time which is not attractive.  Nearly all of the options are out of town so Spindles will be leaving Corsham.

Folding bikes to Weymouth and other stories

AM and I went to a wedding reception in Weymouth over the holidays which meant that we had to get the train from Bradford-on-Avon to Weymouth which is a journey that only the brave take with bicycles. Anyone who has done this journey by bike will know that sometimes you are refused entry onto that particular train.  This happened to us last year when we ended up getting a taxi to Yeovil which cost £70.

We decided to try folding bikes as I've had my Moulton for a couple of years now and AM can borrow Edgar's Brompton. The journey went smoothly with bikes being disassembled and reassembled accordingly.

Constructing the Moulton takes 5 minutes - The Brompton takes seconds

The Brompton was a bit of a special with 5 speed hub gear coupled with a Shlumpf 2 speed bottom bracket making 10 gears.  The Brompton fold takes seconds however for the uninitiated, its ingenious origami styled magic trick that takes some thinking.  The Moulton is a game of two halves which takes one bolt and a set of cable breakers to achieve a bicycle.

The wedding reception went well helped by an endless supply of cocktails and champagne.

After the main  event we travelled to Southampton for a family visit.  This consisted of getting the train to Wareham and then cycling to Poole, Bournmouth, Christchurch, New Forest and then getting the replacement bus service from Brockenhurst to Southampton.  Our folding bikes were accepted on all the services.   The cycle along the sea front was car free if a little crowded but the New Forest was sublime.  Please note avoid the main roads in his area because they are narrow and busy beyond belief.
New Forest - The only danger is the horses 
The replacement bus service at Brockenhurst accepted our folding bikes which were placed on the seats and as no conductor was available, we had a free ride into Southampton.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bike Party

I came across these videos that show just what is possible on a road bike.  Martyn Ashton and Danny MacAskill on a £15,000 Colnago bike

Good Disc brakes help

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Still no sign of a new place

With only 6 weeks to go to the 14th May  deadline there is no sign of a new place.  We arranged for an email to be sent out to the Transcoco contacts list (with thanks to Sue) and got a response from a local storage firm.  The fact that we got something straight away was encouraging and the offer of a small lockup was appreciated however the site would not be accessible at the weekend.
I investigated a garage that was for sale however the location and state were far from being ideal.  So for options:
  1. We could find a quite shed/garage/lockup somewhere and do some interesting bike projects.  We would advertise and the very keen would seek us out.  We would not be in Corsham.
  2. We arrange to have a market stall every Saturday in the centre of Corsham with a lockup close by.  We would use 'loadie' bikes to transport the spares/bikes/gazebo/kit etc.
  3. We would deploy a 'pop-up' bike shop around Corsham school/Springfield centre area. Again 'loadie bikes would be used to transport the kit.
Options (2) and (3) seem to entail a lot of set up and set down time which is frustrating.  Also the range of repairs would be limited without access to a workbench wheel jig etc.  Option (1) is tempting as it would provide the opportunity to learn how to braze or weld with the option of building better trailers and other bike related devices.
It's a shame that we haven't got a place as I think Corsham needs more bike journeys and fewer cars and parking spaces.  I notice that the space in front of the Corsham court gates are now No Parking with just about the most ugliest signs that could possibly be imagined being used.  Well done some tier of local government.
The Historic Gates to Corsham Court are now a fetching No Parking Sign

  The Guardian have also reported that cycle take up is not as strong in the rural areas as it is in the cities.  Will the 600 students who destined to make their way to Harthem (on Harthem Lane) each week contribute to the scary prospect of carmageddon occurring in Corsham.  When the old community centre is demolished it will make way for.. you guest it, a car park.  

It does not have to be like that...    

cycling to work
A bicycle park in Amsterdam. Forecasts that the UK would soon become a nation of cyclists, much like the Netherlands, have proved wildly optimistic, with lack of cycling infrastructure partly blamed. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP

Monday, 17 March 2014

It's all lies!

We were at Sheldon School in Chippenham this week where we did a Dr Bike.  The weather was cold sunny and dry which brought out Sheldon's cyclist and we had a full day of brakes and gear fixing.
Nick servicing a Bike a Sheldon School

No sign of Josh's wooden bike which he is keeping under wraps.

With this event came the news that our tenure at the Community Centre will be terminated on the 14th May.  To be comfortable we need to be out two weeks prior to that date at the start of May giving us 6 weeks to find a new place and move.
There is not much to go on however, we have made some more connections and the word is getting out.  We have embarked on bike selling programme hoping to clear the decks before the deadline.  There are three on ebay at the moment.  We seen to sell at least 5 a week to clear all bikes.  We will keep the best frames and all the components however most of the wheels will have to go.

Saturday was a good day with a steady throughput of customers.  At and end Ken came in to show us his latest build, a Reynolds 931 stainless steel bike which he has just built.  It oozes quality fitted with main Campag, Planet X and SRAM kit having given up on the dream of it being all British.  Hay even the Hope bearings are made in Japan.  Ken will be riding it up Mt Ventoux on it this year so lookout for him.

Ken's latest Build - Reynolds 931 Stainless

The was also a chap from Trowbridge to told us that Campag 9 STis work with 8 speed shimano cassette and he was riding a bike that had the arrangement to prove it.  He has been in the trade and he knew what he was talking about.  We will try this soon.

I went to see 'The Armstrong Lie' at the Pound on Saturday along with most of Chippenham Wheelers.  It was a sell out.  It's a documentary about Lance Armstrong who won and then was stripped of 7 Tour De France wins.  It reminded me of 'Breaking Bad' series where a Chemistry teacher who is hitting 50, has to supplement his lack lustre career by working at a car wash, is then diagnosed with incurable cancer and so decides to 'cook' Crystal Meth to supplement his income without telling his family including his brother-in-law policemen.
The story becomes tail of control, power and manipulation, not about money, where 'Walt' the main character, takes on a new persona as a driven gangster prepared to kill and control people in order to keep the truth from getting out.  This is also Lance's story, albeit without the guns, where in order to keep the performance enhancing drug taking a secret, he manipulates, bullies, threatens and does everything in his considerable power to exert control.  Old Friends and colleagues become the victims as it gets increasing more difficult to control events.
The film is compelling and well worth seeing,  I'll certainly see it again.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Problem with old bikes and some creative solutions

Here's our dilemma, we have sold 7 refurbished bike this year however we have received 10 bikes in the last two weeks.  The workshop is getting full of bikes that need working on and we haven't time. The problem gets more acute given that we have to leave the Community Centre by the 14th May 2014 and we don't have anywhere to go.  In practical terms we must be out in 6 weeks.

What do we do? Well some are given to Robin to strip down so that they can go into the scrap metal bin with maybe a brake adjuster or even a saddle being reclaimed.  That leaves 6, which are a Saracen road bike, GT childs bike , Raleigh ladies bike, a shockingly bad Raleigh 1980s mens racing bike, some random kids bikes and another that escapes me.
To get these up and running would take us about 2 working days which we spend on maintenance jobs.  Next week somebody else will clear out their garages and 4 more bikes will magically appear and the problem gets bigger.

Some creative solutions could be:

  • To spray paint a complete bike a primary colour, place a spindles advert on it and lock it in town.  Advertising is something we are not good at and this sounds like a good start.
  • Create a hanging basket installation out of bicycle frames.  The idea is not as mad as it seems.  Tim has the welding equipment, there are loads of frames, build a good base for it and bolt it down.  Place a community notice board on it for local events.  Oh yes and find a gardener who will supply and tend the plants.  It does need considerable artistic input which could be supplied by Bath University Arts dept. who are resident in Corsham.
  • Make a Dome out of the wheels.  It's been done before so its not very original but it uses the wheels.
  • Sell some bikes.... maybe.
 I'll let you know how we get on and what solutions we come up with.  In the mean time the Trek 850 is finished.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Just found this very inspiring piece of art work by Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei – “absent” @ Taipei Fine Arts Museum (Part II)

It's an incredible art installation based on the bicycle, well actually 1000 bicycles.  Its a triumph of aesthetics, design married to engineering.

you can see other images here

Sunday, 2 March 2014

What's up and coming

I just thought I would show this mountain bike that should be ready next week.  The frame is a great Trek 850 with GT CrMo forks.  It will make a great bike when its finished.  I've just put 6 new bikes on the main site see

Trek 850 in the making
here is the pile of kids bikes that are waiting for a new owner.  A lot of these are marked as £10
Kids bikes for sale

Saturday, 1 March 2014

1st Day of Spring

Winter is finally over and today the sun came out with a vengeance.  There were not many punters in the bike shop today but a refurbishment of a Gary Fisher MB should keep us busy till next week.  I suggested that we go for a ride as the day looked so good.  And with a couple of calls we had a group of 9 heading off to Lacock.

The ride was great despite only being 16 miles.  It was scenic, quiet and almost dramatic when 4 buzzards took off into the sky in front of us, free-wheeling on thermals.  We headed to Biddestone on Chippenham Lane where Edgar kindly made us tea and we discussed the finer points of urban development in the local area.

We have three months to find new premises.  We may need to dive into a garage or two over the summer before something permanent is found.  In the short term we have jobs at Ivy lane school and Sheldon school in Chippenham.  There is also the Bike festival in Katherine Park on 23rd  March 2014 12.45-2.45pm where we hope to have a stall.  see

I'm going to start a email list for people to want to attend our rides.  They will usually be on a Saturday afternoon and will be very sociable.  If you would like to be informed - you may not get much notice, then email me and I will put you on the list.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

First outing of the delivery bike

The delivery bike got its first outing last week adorned with Tibetan flags advertising Cafe Momo on Sunday 23rd February - they are serving soup from 12am at Church House - see here for details.  I rode it into town compete with flags and left it locked to a hanging basket frame.  

We also found out this week that we must be out of the Community centre by 31st May because the bulldozers will move in in June.  Only 3 months left at the community centre!
Today we had 4 bike donations and so despite our efforts to sell bikes on ebay we still have fifteen bikes in the workshop which is too many.  We have a pre dominance of girls bikes so if you want a cost effective bike for a young lady then get down to Spindles on a Saturday   


This is how to renovate properly - a very enjoyable video

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Spoke Key Review

I've built a number of wheels before and well as renovating used wheels and I've gained an appreciation of what makes a good spoke key.  I've been using the SW-7 standard park tool spoke key for a number of years and then I discovered the SW-20.  The SW-7 is great  for general purpose but there is a point within wheel building where the nipple gets tight on the spoke as the tension increases and that extra leverage and control is required.  This is where the SW-20 is brilliant, although it is only one size (0 on the SW-7) its very comfortable in the fingers when making adjustments.  Recommended.

The SW-10 tool is more about turning stuck nipples without destroying them.  I've only use it on one spoke which seemed to work.  There is a wheel at spindles which is waiting for the treatment,  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Renovated Dunelt Trademan's bike

We have finished the 1939 Dunelt Trademen's bike so I though I would post a few pictures.  We have put the Hero saddle on it as it has that vintage look.  The handlebars have been painted red however the rest of the bike is black.  The brakes have been renovated but they are still rubbish compared to modern brakes. The rear stand is modern and will be replaced as soon as we find something more appropriate.  It needs a stand so that it can be placed in the high street without leaning on anything.

The chain is a motorbike 1/2 by 1/4 inch which is a perfect fit for the super sized sprockets.  We have also put new chain tugs on the rear dropouts.  Look out for it over the next few weeks in Corsham High Street.

The Dunelt built in 1939

1/4 inch chain

We are now looking for a basket

No we are not starting a delivery service in Corsham!
 See original condition + tyres at

Monday, 27 January 2014

Dr Bike at Walwayne Court Primary School, Trowbridge

A couple of weeks ago we put our Dr Bike hats on to go to Walwayne Court Primary School in Trowbridge.  Dr Bike is organized by Sustrans and paid for by the NHS and allows the kids to bring their bikes in for a safety check.  We try to fix every bike that comes our way and out of the 44 bikes done there was only one that we could not fix.

Bikes waiting to be done

The day started with bright sun but ended in rain.  We had audiences at break time all trying to solve the mystery of who was Dr bike? We each had a school meal which brought back vivid memories.  Nick has seconds!
Edgar, Nick and myself working 
Thank you letters 
I few days ago we received a letter containing a batch of thank you letters from the school. They are clearly very keen on cycling as it was one of the best turnouts we have had on Dr Bike days.
Our next Dr Bike is at Wiltshire College in Chippenham on the 12th February

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Two Bikes on Ebay

The Raleigh Misty has been around for a while and needs to find a new home.  Its a 19" fame and has 6 gears.  see

The likewise for the Apollo Pulse 16" frame girls mountain bike which can be seen here

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