Tuesday, 21 July 2009

On the Road again - Part 6

On the Road (and off the road) and back on the road again!

The new bike arrived on the expected date. The absolutely HUGE box with the bike parts in it was sat in our dining room ready for me to build my trusty steed v2. Putting it together didn't take too long. I'm getting quite experienced at doing this now, so it only took around an hour to build.

I discovered the problems pretty quickly. First, the gears weren't set up correctly. This isn't that unusual - I've often had to "tweak" the gears to get them right with a new bike. These, however, were well out. The front gears were nearly impossible to change, the back ones were sticky, to say the least. More worrying was that the front wheel was slightly warped - giving it a distinct wobble when riding.

At this point I decided that rather than playing around with it myself I'd take it to a bike shop to make sure it was set up correctly. Twenty four hours, a couple of phone calls and £20 later and I had a fully functioning and safety tested bike with a straight front wheel. Or so I thought.

I hadn't ridden the bike too far, in fact I'd only done around six or seven miles over the following couple of days when something unexpected happened - the left crank fell off whilst I was riding to work. Luckily I was able to keep control and not fall into the oncoming traffic, but as accidents go this could easily have been very nasty.

Once I'd got my breath (and the crank arm) back I found that the nut that holds the crank onto the crank shaft had fallen off. Some safety check that turned out to be! I free-wheeled the bike home and walked to work - feeling a certain amount of animosity to bike engineers in general.

On my way home I managed to find the missing nut, so I was able to re-attach the crank before walking the bike back to the shop to have a gentle word or two about the quality of their service.

Luckily they were most apologetic (them: "that shouldn't have happened, we're very particular about checking that sort of thing", me: "no kidding!") and took the bike back in for another go. They were as good as their word and the bike was back in my hands within three hours - with the crank securely attached. At least I hope it is securely attached.

It's going to be a while before I can put my trust back in this bike.

Buying a bike from a catalogue can be a bit hit-and-miss. I've bought a couple this way and this is the first time that I've really had any problems. Paying a proper bike shop to safety check and tweak your build is a good idea, as long as you can be sure that they have actually checked everything properly. You might need to be prepared to re-check everything yourself, just in case.

I'll leave the last word to the bike shop, as the assistant said to me as I was pushing the bike out to take it home. "This is why we don't sell this kind of bike."

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