Another new bike!

October 15, 2009 at 22:45 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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Well, as you may have seen elsewhere, I bought another bike. I did something that I would probably never recommend to anyone; that is I bought a bike from a supermarket, in a box, sight unseen. I was given some confidence, however, by the positive vibes given on some internet forums. And for $200, well, I reckoned I could justify it simply as a toy.

So I popped out at lunchtime today and bought one from the Aldi in North Sydney; they had perhaps 12 of them in stock. People seemed interested in it as I took it form the pile and to the checkout; several people asked me whether it was any good, and mentioned they were interested in a bike.

This theme continued; I took it back to the office, and took it out of the box. Lots of people cam over to see it; and were very interested, Much more interested than they have ever been in any of my other beautiful bikes. Several people wanted to take it for a ride, including the CEO, who rode around the office on it, barking out pretend orders to people as he sailed past their desks.

It’s an interesting thing. My road bikes look, I suppose, a bit scary to non-cyclists. Something rather serious that you need to know what you are doing; all those levers, dropped handlebars, narrow saddle and such like. This bike positively encouraged people to have a go on it; everyone wanted to sit on it, ding the bell, go for a ride. It just seemed like fun; this kind of reinforces a feeling that I have that people are put off cycling (or even see it as dangerous) because it requires all this special equipment. Show them a bike that can just be hopped on, in normal clothes, with a comfy saddle, that doesn’t look like you need to ride fast, and it brings out the inner child in people – ‘wow, that’s so cute and fun!’

Anyway, ‘what’s it like to ride?’ I hear you all clamour. In a word, small. I’m not especially tall (about 175cm), but even with the saddle as high as it would go, it felt like my knees were round my ears. And the handlebars seem very close too. Whilst this is fine for riding round the office, it gets very tiring riding over the SHB into a headwind…

The steering is also quite twitchy, but I soon got used to that. Getting out of the saddle to climb a hill (man, Anzac Bridge was hard work) is a bit difficult; the twichyness is amplified, and you have to work quite hard to keep the bike stable.

Gears (6 speed Shimano, bottom of the range jobs) are so-so; they don’t seem to be adjusted perfectly (no surprise there), and they also mis-shifted a few times. But they work, and are set at pretty low ratios for low-speed cruising. Brakes work quite well, although they grab somewhat; you go from ‘gentle slowing’ to ‘locking up the wheel’ rather quickly.

But all in all, not too bad for $200. It seems solid; it has mudguards (yay!) and a rack which are quite sturdy, and the build quality is actually quite OK. Cheap tyres, of course, but they are standard 20″ size, so it would be easy to change them – Schwalbe make most of their puncture-resist tyres in 20″ size, for example. It’s a bit tricky to fold up; I haven’t yet got the knack of knowing what angle to put the pedals at to fold it; get the angle wrong and the pedals catch on the brake levers or cables.

Riding home was hilarious. I rode with a friend (who has a rather beautiful Masi), and he just couldn’t stop laughing. I just looked so ridiculous. Especially as I as all dressed up in my best roadie spandex. And it was hard work – it’s about 12km, but when I got home my legs were dead; my knees also felt it a bit because of the low saddle. Still, no-one overtook me, and I did manage to drop a few roadie-types on the way…

Once I got home, I had to admit to Mrs Chillikebab that I’d bought a new bike. ‘When are you going to use that?’ she asked. When i suggested that it might be suitable for her, she snorted ‘ah, you bought it for me, I see…’. The look she gave me, coupled with the fact that she is nearly six months pregnant told me that I wasn’t getting anywhere with that angle. Then she just shook her head in a resigned way.

So the only decision left is whether to ride it to work tomorrow. I left my Salsa at work in order to ride this one home, but I do have another road bike in the shed I could ride in with. Or I can take the Aldi special. The ride to work is much more uphill. Hmmmmm.

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  1. […] People want to have a go on it. It’s a bit similar to what happened when I bought the Aldi bike, and people wanted to try it out. It makes me reflect on some of the things Mike Rubbo talks about […]


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