Thursday, 29 September 2011

GOT A UKULELE ...Uke guidance for the beginner: Nice reviews for my ukulele book

GOT A UKULELE ...Uke guidance for the beginner: Nice reviews for my ukulele book: Well, my ukulele ebook, What Ukulele Players Really Want To Know has been for sale for some months now, and it has performed really well (us...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Caring for a Brooks Leather saddle with Proofide

If you have recently bought a bike with a genuine Brooks leather saddle (or any other leather saddle for that matter) you need to know about treating it for a long life.

I personally recommend the Brooks product called Proofide which is pretty cheap and does a good job.  It's basically just Tallow, and you may find alternatives out there that do the same thing.  This is not just a leather polish or cream, its an animal based treatment to deeply feed leather to proof it and stop it drying out and cracking.

To apply proofide, get a clean, lint free cloth and follow my instructions below (these are for a NEW saddle)

1. For a brand new saddle - remove it from the stem of the bike and bring it in the house - it will be easier as the first coat will be rather heavy.  Using a finger underneath the cloth, apply a thin-ish coating to the outer of the seat paying particular attention to the edges, the breathing holes and around the Brooks badge.  The final finish should look shiny and almost wet.

2. Turn the saddle over and apply a LIBERAL coating of proofide to any exposed leather under the saddle. This is not essential but will not do the seat any harm.  You may find areas that you cannot reach, but do your best - this coating is to protect the unfinished leather from rain spray.

3. Leave the saddle overnight to dry, refit to the bike, and buff off the outer of the seat (you need not worry about proofide applied under the seat unless it is likely to drop off or get on your clothes).  You need to polish the outer away until there is no greasy-ness on the saddle.

4. The best advice is to repeat this outer treatment after one week, then after one month, then after two months.  Thereafter, think about an application before the onset of each winter or if your saddle is looking dry.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Pashley - post winter maintenance

Well, our Pashley bikes are approaching only 4 months old and whilst they have not been ridden in anger in terrible weather, as we approach spring and summer it is worth giving them a once over.

I knew however, when I bought them, that they are almost maintenance free.  The sealed hub gears, drum brakes and enclosed chain covers really need to be left alone until they are a year old (at least).

That said, a couple of perfectly normal niggles had developed.

First one was cable stretch on the Sturmey Archer hub - perfectly normal, so those were adjusted at the weekend.  Back to running (and tick tick ticking) smoothly!

Second, was my wifes saddle needed a dab of oil on the springs as they were creaking!  (I am saying nothing more!!)

And finally, a clean and wipe down and another treatment of Proofide for the leather saddle.  In fact this time, following a tip from a fellow Pashley rider, I also put a thin coating on the brooks leather handlebar grips to help protect them.

All looking good, and both bikes looking as sparkly and stunning as they did from day one.  They still turn heads when they are ridden through town.  We are no posers, but its hard not to crack a smile when you see it happen!

Am now on the hunt for some vintage styled panniers for my bike, and will promise a review of my wifes princess sovereign soon!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ukulele book

I know there are some classic bike riders out there who play the ukulele ( I think they really go together well), so you may be interested in my ebook (its only a couple of pounds!)

 "What Ukulele Players REALLY want to know" is published in ebook format.

what ukulele players really want to know ebook

I have been toying with this idea for a while now, and for the past few weeks have been collating, expanding and re-writing a host of beginners guides for people to download and read on their ebooks.  It's a book aimed at absolute beginners that tries to break away from the rigid rules of the normal tuition books and answers questions those guides just dont deal with.

The idea is that it becomes a resource that is always available, when the internet is not around.

I have also added a useful glossary section and reference guide.

For those of you with an Amazon Kindle:

if you dont have a Kindle, its available for other e-readers, pdf etc at SMASHWORDS

Reviews appreciated!


Monday, 10 January 2011

Brooks leather grips - a review

Its been a few weeks now since I fitted the Brooks leather grips to my Pashley - sadly we have had nothing but bad weather which has curtailed many planned road trips.  Happy to now report that I have put these grips through their paces

The first thing I would say is that I think these grips look the absolute business - they are formed out of a row of leather discs held together via spokes that run through them, and capped at each end with very classy looking aluminium ends.  The aluminium is stamped "Brooks", and there is also a leather end label with the Brooks logo too.

They come in a range of colours, but as my Pashley is in black, I went for black grips (though they look more grey)

After removing the nasty stock plastic grips that come on the Pashley, fitting is as simple as sliding them on and tightening both aluminium end caps with an allen key.  These grips are longer than the standard grips, so I did need to move my brake levers along a little, and in the case of the left hand grip, move the bell too.  No biggie though.

So what are they like in use?  Well they are large and substantial, that is the first thing I noticed - you really feel you are gripping the bike.  On my first rides with them, I must say they felt a little rough, but having now used them lots, the leather is smoothing out and conforming to my hands  They feel just great.

The real bonus (in the weather we are currently having) is that without gloves on these things get nice and warm - they are actually a joy to hold in cold weather!

I really cant complain, think they look great and feel great.  Well done Brooks

Friday, 3 December 2010

Pashley Roadster Sovereign - full review

About time I gave this wonderful bike a proper introductory review with pictures. Apologies for the untidy state of my garage! (click the pictures for large hi res images!

pashley roadster sovereign
Pashley Roadster Sovereign

The Roadster Sovereign is the flagship model in the Pashley range, with a handbuilt frame, hand assembled in Stratford Upon Avon, UK.  Pashley are one of only two remaining hand made frame builders in the UK and were founded in 1926.

Its a sit up and beg style bike, very solidly built and gorgeous to look at.  Its a traditionally lugged and brazed frame painted in Buckingham black.  The quality of the frame is clear to see as is the deep tough paint finish - this is a bike built to stand up to the elements.  You will notice that it is a large bike - this is a 22.5" frame but it has a characteristically high bottom crank, so when you ride it you really are quite a way up in the air!

As you will see from the picture, it has a fully enclosed chain case, integral stand and rear pannier rack all included and again, all hand brazed by Pashley.  It has front and rear metal mudguards, nicely finished and tripped with chrome detailing at the front.  The pedals are alloy with rubber grips.

pashley roadster brooks b33 saddle
Brooks B33 saddle

As you will see it comes with an enormous Brooks B33 saddle in black leather, which is sprung at the front, and also at the back with hand coiled springs.  I think the saddle sets the bike of wonderfully and is very comfortable (and should last a lifetime)

pashley roadster handlebar
Chrome handlebar

On to steering, the Roadster Sovereign has a high chrome plated handlebar with swept back grips mounted to an alloy stem.  It comes with standard brake levers, the gear lever for the Sturmey Archer gearbox, and a Pashley bell.  (incidentally, about the bell - it aint a girly bell - this is a big loud ding dong bell, not a tinkle - I use it regularly, it really makes people jump and know you are there!)  You will note that I have changed the grips on the bike - the only thing that lets the Pashley down in my book is the cheap plastic grips they come with - I find them uncomfortable, and in the winter, cold.  I have replaced them with Brooks leather and alloy grips which are supremely comfortable and look great.

Those brake levers (front and back) operate internal Sturmey Archer drum brakes - no maintenance at all and no ugly brake calipers messing with the look of the bike.

The gear lever operates the 5 speed Sturmey Archer gearbox mounted in the rear wheel - again, maintenance free gears and no external derailleur to ruin the look of the bike.

pashley roadster front hub
Front hub and wheel

That front hub, as well as housing the front drum brake, also houses an internal dynamo which powers the halogen front light.  The tyres as you can see are Schwalbe Marathon Plus puncture resistant tyres - they are also huge - this bike 28" rims!

pashley roadster rear rack
Rear of bike, coatguard, lights and rack

At the back of the bike is the integral stand and pannier rack.  You will also note the rear wheel has a coat guard to add further protection from spray on a longer coat.  Fitted to the back of the rack is an LED rear light - this one however is operated by battery not dynamo for obvious reasons.  You will see my pack on the rear of the bike - its a Carradice Barley and I will be doing a review on that in due course - suits the bike well I think.

Lock and pump

Other extras include an aluminium vintage looking pump and an integral lock.  The lock is very clever, and when closed makes the rear wheel inoperable.  The key lives in the lock, only coming out when you close it - meaning you always have a lock and key with you.  I dont recommend relying on this lock for long periods, but its fine for a quick trip into a shop for a few minutes.

So those are the features - but what is it like to ride?

Well, its sublime.  The size of the bike is the first thing you notice - its huge and that really gives you an imposing feel on the road.  The sit up and beg nature gives you a really really comfortable position, no bent backs, no aches and pains.  Its a lovely way to ride a bike, and you really feel like you are gliding along.

Its a heavy bike, and certainly no speed bike.  Severe hills can be a challenge with only 5 gears, but honestly, they would need to be very severe to be a problem.  The brakes will take a bit of bedding in, though these sort of brakes will never stop you dead (its not the kind of bike to be going fast enough to worry about stopping dead) - rather they glide you to a stop.  And I think that really sums the bike up - its a bike for cruising, for pootling, for posing.

I think its absolutely gorgeous and am delighted with it.  Highly recommended.