How to…start an argument with a cyclist

Simple. Explain your method of affixing handlebar tape and watch the sparks fly as your method is dissed.

Here’s the latest ‘how to’ video from the bicycle maintenance series:

Naturally, as one man’s meat is another man’s poison, there’s already a contrary opinion from a YouTube commenter.

Getplaning says: “Wrapping from the end up to the top lasts longer and is more comfortable on the hands.”

Yep, that’s a good method, too. Each to his own. The method employed in the video is one used by an experienced bike shop mechanic but there are lots of other methods out there.

Bush gifted bowl, Bible and bike


Watch out on eBay for the first translation of the Bible into Slovenian, a crystal bowl studded with Euro-style stars, and an XTR-equipped Cult hardtail.

Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa gave the prezzies to President George W. Bush during his visit to Slovenia.

According to a press release from the Protocol of the Republic of Slovenia, Bush received the bike from Sportna Vizija, “one of the most renowned bicycle brands in Slovenia.” One of?

The largesse wasn’t all one-sided. Tuerk received from Bush a Collection of Works by our Country’s Founding Fathers. Watch out for that one on Slovenian eBay.

The bike gift was the choice of Jansa, a cyclist (yet another world leader who cycles).

“Selection of the bicycle for the present was obvious since both politicians are cyclists,” said a press release.

“We are sure that the new bike will serve President George W. Bush well, our only hope is that he will take some time and ride his new bike while in Slovenia and experience it from behind the handlebar.”


Designing a better manhole cover


Manhole covers are an irrelevance to motorists. Make ‘em as slippy as you like, with four wheels a car just ain’t gonna slide.

But for two-wheelers, slippy manhole covers are a real problem. In the wet, motorcyclists and cyclists need to avoid manhole covers, if they value their lives.

Intelligent design to the rescue. On 24th June there will be the official launch of a non-slip manhole cover, a product cooked-up by Saint-Gobain Pipelines.

“This Saint-Gobain Pipelines’ innovation has been specifically developed to tackle one of the major problems facing road users on two wheels – metal access covers, worn smooth by decades of traffic, which become slippery and offer minimal grip. It has been extensively trialled by Bristol City Council in consultation with local road users and is set to make life safer for motorcyclists and cyclists across the UK.”

Every little helps.

Ride the Atomic Bicycle. Boom, boom.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has offered to give bike-mad President Bush of the USA one of the very first ‘atomic bicycles’ when it rolls off production lines.

According to the US, the factory Iran is building for Venezuela in the state of Cojedes is a nuclear plant and not a bicycle factory, said Chavez at the factory’s inauguration ceremony. He said the bikes produced at the Iranian-Venezuelan factory will be “atomic bicycles.”

“What a bicycle! This Atomic bicycle.. does it have brakes?” joked Chavez.

“My dear friend, president of the United States, I offer you this bicycle, see the bomb. See it… you think that is a bottle of water, no, that’s the bomb.”

Twig stops play


Josh, my ten year old, shot off on his bike to school today. He and my daughters were racing to be the first of the Reidlets into the playground. Five minutes after they’d left I was still loading up the trailer. Tuesday is music day at school so I was being packhorse, carting in all the bags, lunches, guitars and violins.

As I was about to leave, Josh came round the corner, sheepishly, his rear mech trailing on the ground.

“A twig got stuck,” he said.

We’re a multiple-bikes-per-child family so there was no drama, Josh just took one of his other bikes (a rather fine 24-inch Kona CX bike shod with road tyres) and pedalled off up the hill.

It’s at times like these you’re glad you’re going to be repairing a bike with a replaceable dropout. The frame isn’t trashed, just the dropout.

Do you know how many different replaceable dropout shapes there are? I don’t, does anybody? I’m now going to have to traipse around, dropout bits in hand, trying to find a bike shop that just so happens to stock the right shaped widget.

Bicycle Anatomy for Beginners from on Vimeo.

Vietnamese teens go wild over home-grown scraper-bikes

According to the AFP news agency, Hanoi in Vietnam has spawned a home-grown scraper-bike sensation:

An exotic and colourful new urban species has invaded Vietnam’s crowded city streets, turning heads, slowing traffic and making a lot of noise — the feather-boa bicycle bandit.

Teens have beautified small two-wheelers with glitter and plastic flowers, giant silk butterflies and teddy bears, Christmas tinsel and paper parasols and, yes, feather boas, in an anything-goes creative arms race.

Youngsters have rigged blinking lights, MP3 players and batteries to the frames to blast techno and hip-hop down previously tranquil tree-lined streets, earning them both amused smiles and reproachful looks from their elders.

Californian artist Bradford Edwards, resident in Hanoi, said:

“It reminds me of rococo decorative architecture — but mobile and with a rockin’ sound system.

“I’ve seen lots of kitsch in Vietnam, but what I like about this is that it’s young, home-grown and wholesome. It’s third-generation kitsch, handed down from grandpa to dad to the kids, who’ve taken it and blended it with Western street culture, but with this heavy-glitter Vietnamese thing.”

Pix and longer story here.

Wanna a 24ct gold-plated bike?

And not just any old 24ct gold-plated bike, a 24-ct gold-plated bike from the trendy-as-fcuk micro-brand, Charge Bikes.

A one off Charge Plug – worth a bit more than the usual £399 – is being given away in a competition over at a UK site flogging cycle insurance.

Chain Gang vids now on YouTube

In 1994 I was the (young, fresh-faced) presenter of ‘Chain Gang’, a six part magazine programme on cycling by Tyne Tees.

I’ve been given permission to re-broadcast some of the best bits from this series. They are billed as ‘From the archive’ and the series is brought to you in association with Muc-Off.

The higher res versions went on iTunes last week. Here are the YouTube versions. Click on ‘play in higher quality’ for the best playback performance.

I won’t embed all the videos here as it would take up an awful lot of space. But here’s one of them: a bicycle tour in Malawi.

The other videos are:

Jason McRoy and the Reebok Eliminator, Mammoth Mountain 1993

Behind the scenes on ‘Chain Gang’

Bike v car commuter challenge
(Trivia: the car park at the start of this extract is the famous one featured in Michael Caine’s classic 1960’s gangster flick, ‘Get Carter’).

Wax or shave?

Mass v custom build, Raleigh v Dave Yates

If you like these sort of things, here’s a YouTube player with all the vids in place:

Boardman launches elite range

Full story over on Here are the first pix.


Bigger one here.


Bigger one here.

(L to R) Alan Ingarfield, CEO, Boardman Bikes; Chris Boardman MBE; Dimitris Katsanis, Director of Engineering Designer

Ah, Velib, I think I love you


On Saturday I was in Paris at the invitation of cycle tyre manufacturer Hutchinson. I had two hours to kill before being shuttled the 90kms to the Hutchinson factory. Hmm, two hours in Paris, what to do? As I’ve written lots of articles about Velib for and I had an easy decision.

However, it was a beautiful Spring day and I was not the only person to have the same idea. In fact, it was tough to locate an available bike, such was the heavy demand. A lone Velib was spotted, though, and hastily hired.

So, what was it like to ride ‘velo liberation’? Surprisingly good. The bikes are heavy and I wouldn’t want to do an Etape du Tour with one but for a city runaround they’re reassuringly robust.

It was startling to see so many Velibs being used. They’re truly ubiquitous. Tourists were on them but so were plenty of locals, taking their shopping home. The bikes are free for the first half-hour so are perfect for short trips.

Thomas from Hutchinson lives in Paris and is a keen cyclist. Despite owning and riding bikes in Paris he still maintains a Velib account for the odd occasion he may be bike-less but in need of a quick transit through the congested streets.

The current mayor of Paris was re-elected largely on the popularity of Velib. And seeing it in action for the first time I can well understand why. If I was on foot only with two hours to kill I’d have traipsed to the nearest tourist hotspot and then people-watched in a cafe. With an easy-to-rent hire bike I was able to do a much more ambitious city tour.

It’s no surprise that Paris is extending the scheme, adding another 7000 bikes. Even this won’t be enough. There are supposed to be plans for London to get 80,000 Velib-style bikes. This is more like it.

Here’s a selection of my pix of Saturday’s two hour sojourn in Paris (the full Flickr set is here):