“Bike Thief”

Not everyone has access to an indoor area at work to store your bike in, and when it comes to locking up outdoors, you tend to hope that any bicycle thieves will either find a nicer, more expensive bike to make off with (and leaves yours alone), or should anything happen, that they’ll be deterred by the general public.
This video by the Neistat Brothers was brought to my attention by a friend, along with the news feature “Nobody cares if your bike is stolen in New York”. If you live in fear of your bike being stolen, do NOT watch this video.

Evans Sagas II

Part Two: In which alliances are permanently changed and inadequacies are revealed.

If you saw the first part, you’ll be aware of the difficulty that I encountered when I tried to get Fly serviced and the unfortunate case of the slipping third gear. After five return trips to Evans Cycles on the Cut, a complaints email then yet another visit to speak with the chief mechanic at the store, I was assured that I would receive a call and the whole thing would be sorted poste-haste. At this stage the outcome was as follows:

  1. I received a £20 Evans Cycles voucher.
  2. I spoke to Raf the Workshop Manager at the Cut store who told me that a) my brakes were fine and b) he agreed that a new hub should be ordered and he would do that then call me the following day.

My observations, two months on, are that firstly, I have yet to hear anything from Evans Cycles and thus have a good idea of what I’d like to do with the voucher I really shouldn’t have settled for; and secondly, it was immediately clear that when I told them that my brake pads had been replaced against my wishes and now they were virtually useless in the rain, they tested them and told me they were fine … dry.

Indeed so close did I come to the end of my tether that I almost came to believe that (as the staff at Evans had told me)my poor bicycle had reached the end of her life span.

That said, I began to research alternatives, including the complete overhaul that I had originally budgeted for when I took Fly into Evans Cycles the Cut in August. It intrigues me that according to their staff my bicycle was both in good shape and ready for the scrapheap at the same time.

Furthermore, the brakes that I hadn’t asked for had resulted in two flats within a month on a bicycle that had never had a flat before, so in a final desperate bid, I paid a visit to The London Cyclist‘s blog, and thanks to this entry, pedaled up to Theobald’s Place one afternoon before work and checked Fly in to The London Bicycle Workshop. Needless to say, by the time I’d made it through their doors I was tired of being in bike shops and keen to just get Fly as healthy as possible, by whatever means. The shop is a comfortable size without any fussy decorations or sales strategies, when I went, it was just two guys and a sense that they really knew what they were talking about and wanted to help. I didn’t feel guilty for not being an expert on bicycle maintenance or for turning up in a summer dress and with flowers around my basket. When I said I wanted new wheels they didn’t ask me why, just checked over my original 1978 tyres and said the rims were ok so just new tyres might be more suitable.

Within minutes they had decided on a course of action: a new pair of road tyres (at my request), a new set of cables and a new chain. Both of the latter, as I had suspected, were rusted, yet Evans had pointedly disagreed and refused to replace them even when the sole purpose of my initial visit had been to get my cables replaced.

The service – both the customer service, and the service done on my bike – was impeccable, and a mere couple of hours after I had dropped Fly off, I retrieved her from the shop and found her practically good as new.

All in all, this is a veritable success story.

And yes, my top gear is now fully functional. Without fuss. And without a new hub.

Without the utter fail on behalf of Evans Cycles, I would probably never have found The London Bicycle Workshop, and those guys honestly are the real deal.

Evans Sagas. .

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.

Locks in bloom. .

You may remember the PlantLock from Flowers and D-Locks back in November, well here it is in action: brimming with pansies and daffodils and neatly placed beside a blossom tree. Having recently moved house, I’m considering getting one for the garden as a pretty, practical, and much more secure alternative to locking my bicycles onto the wooden fence, but my only gardening skill is a gift in having plants die on me….!
The PlantLock in action March 2010.