I tend to think of Fly, my 1978 Raleigh Traveller bicycle, as being something like Miss Jean Brodie – she’s not perfect, but she’s in her Prime. In our time together she’s been serviced a few times, and I know all her creaks and groans well enough that we can make the daily communte to and from the West End in good speed and without any mishaps.
I also know that every time Fly gets serviced, her gears come back refusing to function correctly, and have since come to the conclusion that there is something about them that works better when it’s out of place. After one of these service incidents, I took myself and Fly back to Evans Cycles on Waterloo Road because my top gear was slipping, and I explained my theory that it was something that worked best when technically faulty. They took the bicycle downstairs, had a fiddle, and made her all better.
It was at this point that I was told that I should think about getting the cables replaced as they were the original ’78 cables and this might be the problem.
In the last few days of July I finally booked Fly in to get the cables replaced and see if the gear-slip issue could be laid to rest. A Stage One service at Evans Cycles on The Cut was assigned, with the specific purpose of getting some new cables on, and while I was at it, I asked them to have a look at the wheels, etc to see if they thought they were in good enough nick.
When I collected the bike, however, I was informed that the bike seemed fine, so all they had done was a “Tune Up” at a lower cost. It turns out they had also replaced the break pads, which I only discovered on later inspection of my receipt.
Needless to say, the problem persisted, and furthermore, I promptly got a flat tyre. The sales assistant I spoke to at The Cut when I took Fly back to have these problems looked at was adamant that the new pads could have nothing to do with the flat, and then went on to give me a lecture about how to change gears and told me that because I’d bought Fly second hand, and she was hardly a new bike, she might have become a lost cause.
I was then sent on my way, having paid for a puncture repair, and with gears that still slipped, as well as brakes that I then found out don’t function in the rain, which we’ve since had a lot of. Picture this: me cycling along Waterloo Road (where pedestrians infamously lunge into the road without looking), with rain smeared across my glasses, and unable to brake and so having to either dodge or shriek at pedestrians to get out of the way because I can’t stop or slow down in time to avoid them.
After my fourth visit to Evans on the Cut, I finally spoke to someone helpful; a charming mechanic named George, who asked me how I change gears (stop pedalling, change gears, glide for a bit while they settle, then start up again), assured me that I was doing it correctly and in that case the problem was probably hub-related so we should order a new hub which could then be fitted instore. I asked if I had to do this myself and he assured me that it could be done by Evans. When I went to collect it, however, the salesman thrust a phone number into my hand, with no name, and when I asked, told me that I had to do it all myself after all.
So that brings us to today, and seeing as my many dealings with Evans had been fruitless, and ordering a hub will be at further cost, plus the cost of fitting, I can safely say that I will be seeking a second opinion. And not from Evans.