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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Stolen Bike Stories

These are cautionary tales. Bikes are highly transportable and can be quite profitable to steal for that shady character who wants to buy a few cartons of beer, or whatever other substance they are addicted to.

We shall start with my story.

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Kermit – my first vintage bike

My (now retired) boss gave me this bike. He had stripped it, had it powdercoated, and put it all back together. I foolishly was keeping it in our car port unsecured. One Saturday night I got home at about 3am, noted the bike was there as I made my way to bed. When I next went outside at 7am it was gone. It was never to be seen again. Easy come, easy go, I guess.

Now for some friend’s stories. The first one involves a Schwinn Le Tour Legacy and an old Giant ATX. They were stolen from a car port one night. They were locked to each other, I think, and someone would have had to pick them up and carry them away.

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The beloved Mr. Le Tour

Both bikes had been gone for months when, by chance, I got a lead. I had been googling at work, looking for a road bike that had rack mounts. The Schwinn Le Tour series of bikes have rack mounts, so I started looking for second hand ones. By chance I stumbled across a Schwinn Le Tour Legacy listed for sale at a Cash Converters store.

I sent the link to my friend and he went to check it out. It was his bike. It had quite a few distinguishing features; upgraded brake pads, better tyres, certain scratches, stickers that had been removed. He knew it was his.

I celebrated too soon though. He called the cops, and the cops interviewed the guy who sold the bike to Cashies. The guy admitted to buying the bike from a guy at a market stall for a suspiciously low price (I think it was $200). The problem was that even though the bike had many distinguishing features, my friend didn’t have the serial number of the frame. The cops wouldn’t seize it because they were not convinced that he could prove ownership to a Magistrate.

He couldn’t bare to see his bike languishing in a hock shop, so he bought it back from them for a fairly low price. It was just so crap that he had to buy his own bike back!

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A well loved Giant ATX

The ATX has not been recovered. I figure it is sitting in someone’s shed somewhere. We will keep looking though, it was quite distinctive because of the way the paint had faded to an awesome burnt orange.

The lesson here is always record your serial numbers, and always report your stolen bikes to the Police. Even if the Police seem uninterested, if you find your bike later (even months later) the Police will investigate. Just make sure you have that magic number written down somewhere.

 

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Owner Review: Schwinn Le Tour Sport

I need to update my ‘bikes’ page because for the last few months I have been riding a new commuter. I decided that my flat bar Giant CRX2 was not as comfortable as it should be, especially when pushing into a headwind, so I had a look for an affordable drop bar alloy bike to ride every day.

Lunch time!

For more go to the review on my new blog…perthcyclist.net (Schwinn Le Tour Sport Owner Review)

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Perth Cycling Infrastructure: UPDATE on Bike Parking at St John of God Hospital Subiaco

After I wrote this post, I shot an email to SJOG Subiaco via their website about securing the bike racks near the main entrance of the hospital.

This was my e-mail:

Firstly I want to say, good on you for providing a bike rack right near the main entrance. I found it very valuable while visiting my partner during her stay with you.
 
I just wanted to provide some feedback, in that the bike rack, while a great rack, isnt secured to anything. During my time at Murdoch University a similar rack was stolen complete with 5 bicycles by some people in a ute who simply drove up, loaded it on and drove away. The rack that you have is also quite lightweight itself and tends to slide around a bit on the pavers, as its location had changed slightly the few times I visited it. As this is the main pickup/dropoff area for the hospital vehicle access is very easy in this location, so I would suggest securing the rack is important.
 
I noticed there were other bikes in the vicinity which were chained to drain pipes and signage. It could be that the riders of these bikes didn’t feel secure using the unanchored bike rack.

I received a follow up response  from them today as follows:

Thank you for your email of 5 July 2012 regarding your recent visit to St John of God Subiaco Hospital.

Your feedback regarding the securing of the bicycle rack has been forwarded to the Manager of Security & Grounds who has completed his review of the issues you raised.

Please be assured that the Engineering Department has confirmed that they are arranging for the bicycle rack to be secured in the next couple of weeks.

I again thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. Feedback is a valuable way for us to review our processes and procedures to identify areas for improvement and therefore always very welcome.

This is excellent stuff and even though it seemed to take a long time for the information and action to flow through, I am very happy with the outcome.

This contrasts wildly with the response that I had from Coles Supermarkets regarding my emails to get a bike rack installed at their stand-alone store in Maylands. I understand that Coles is a behemoth, and getting something to happen with them is like trying to turn the Titanic, but after being referred to the ‘National Property Team’ my email went nowhere. The SJOG experience has encouraged me to try again with Coles. Stay tuned for developments!

 

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Owner Review: RAW scooter (Rebel Sport)

Cycling infrastructure is good for other forms of human powered transport too! While most people walk or ride bicycles on it, there are a few skaters, and then there are tools like me who still think they are teenagers, and ride things like this sometimes.

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I bought this for $20 – I think it was a Christmas return because the box was all taped up and mashed. I have ridden it to and from work about 4 times, it’s a 8.7km trip, and according to Strava my average speed was around 12 kilometres per hour. It’s slower than riding and faster than walking. It makes for a good change of pace every now and then.

The Good

The 145 mm wheels roll over all the nasty city pavement, even the tactile stuff that is a bunch of raised concrete lumps.

The fibreglass flex deck takes some of the painful edges out of the lumps.

It’s maximum weight load is 100 kilograms – which is great for the price. I have seen them for sale for $50 at Rebel Sport, though I haven’t seen any marked down to $20 since I got mine.

The Bad

The folding mechanism is a bit flimsy, and mine doesn’t like to fold up.

The foam grips are gross, especially if you get a bit sweaty, they just absorb heaps of water and then end up really soggy.

The headset has come loose twice, so you have to keep an eye on it.

The rear brake doesn’t really work, but you don’t really need it, you can just stop skater style.

Overall

I wouldn’t pay more than $50 for one but it’s been a fun addition to my human powered transport armoury! It is awesome for those trips where you want to catch the train but can’t be bothered walking all the way to the station because there are no restrictions like there are with bikes. You can also take it on a bus with you!

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Commuting, Reviews

 

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Opinion: eight reasons not to buy a cheap Huffy bike

OK, so don’t buy a cheap bike. Why not? Every day it is the same, I am riding home in peak hour and there is a long stream of people overtaking one very slow cyclist. As it’s my turn to overtake, I can see why this person is having so much trouble propelling themselves along a perfectly flat path. They are riding a horrible bicycle. Usually I see this person once or twice, and then they vanish, never to be seen on the bike path again.

1. It’s HEAVY

The worst type of Big W or K-mart bike is the type with suspension, but the others aren’t much better. I didn’t realise how much heavier these bikes are until my dad showed me one that he had gotten from the tip shop. I tried to lift it and I almost couldn’t! His was a dual suspension Huffy model. Then I was given a couple of old Cyclops bikes that were in someone’s backyard for parts. I usually salvage them for brake levers, and that’s about it. They are all heavy.

Now imagine that you have to push this heavy bike along with the power of your legs alone. The dual suspension Huffy my dad had in his backyard was close to 25 kilos. An entry level Giant bike from a bike shop might weigh 15 kgs, or even a little less these days. That 10 kilograms makes a huge difference, especially if you hit anything that looks like a hill.

2. You have to put it together yourself

The Big W bike comes in a box and is usually partially assembled. The problem is that you need to put it together. Even if you have experience assembling bikes it can be a frustrating experience. If you don’t know what you are doing then you could assemble yourself quite a dangerous contraption. For example, when I was staying with friends in Byron Bay I noticed that there was a Huffy bike sitting at the back of their house, leaning against the wall. The fork was on backwards. I asked who the bike outside belonged to, and they said their housemate, who wasn’t around at the time. I asked them if it rode OK. They said that he didn’t ride it much and said it felt like it was going to fall apart. Hm. I wonder why.

3. It’s got the worst tyres on it imaginable

When you first start out riding, you may just think that the road is bumpy. I’ve got news for you, it’s not the road that is causing those uncomfortable vibrations – it is the cheap, heavy, knobbly tyres on the bike. Not only do they slow you down due to their weight and rolling resistance, but they will also still pick up glass and you will still get punctures. If that is not a lose-lose situation, I don’t know what is.

4. You’ve ridden it twice and it’s already falling apart

For a bike to be that cheap, it has to have cheap components. It may say ‘Shimano’ but that could relate to only one part of the gears. There are a lot of horrible cheap gear components out there that Shimano wouldn’t even spit on. Those will be on your bike from Big W or K-mart.

The cogs on the back and the chain are made of such low-grade steel that they just have to see moisture a kilometre away and they will start to rust. A rusty chain will cease up, and you won’t be able to change gears well. It will make a lot of noise. People will look at you funny as they ride past you.

5. There’s no post sales support

If your cheap bike breaks, then you will be lucky if you can get a refund from Big W/K-mart. At least if you buy something from a bike shop they will fix any problems that come up when you start using the bike.

6. No bike shops will work on it

You realise that there are problems with your new $100 Huffy the second time you ride it. The problem is you aren’t sure about how to fix it (and K-mart/Big W certainly aren’t going to fix it for you). You take it to your local bike shop for some help, and they prod it a little and say “well I could try, but it really isn’t worth working on, it will cost more than you paid for it in the first place.”

You better get handy with youtube and some tools.

7. The whole ownership experience is horrible and you decide riding is not for you, or that you hate bikes!

Please, please don’t let this happen. Cycling is an awesome, cheap way to get around and you can get your exercise at the same time. If you mistakenly purchased a Huffy/Cyclops/Repco/Kent bike and you are not enjoying cycling, think for a minute – is it just the bike that is making this experience such a bad one? Go and test ride some nicer bikes at a bike shop.

8. In order to get some money back on your mistake you try to sell your $100 bike on gumtree or craigslist and end up accruing a lot of bad karma

Please, don’t do this either. Don’t inflict it on anyone else, it was bad enough when it was new, imagine how unridable it will be when it’s been left unused in the shed for a year or two.

Also, please don’t try to list it for it’s original purchase price because its ‘never been ridden’ – it was never ridden because it was a crap bike, just face up to it and move on.

A cheap department store bike might be useful in certain situations but there are a lot of qualifications:

IF you ALREADY HAVE A GOOD BIKE, IF you have an interest in doing your own maintenance, IF you are only riding a short distance, IF the bike is cheap, IF it is not too heavy for you to handle, IF it has no suspension, and IF you only intend on riding it to some high-risk location where it might be stolen, then yes it may be acceptable to buy a cheap bike from Big W/K-mart.

Though your purposes may be better suited by getting a second hand ‘good’ bike, at the right price.

 

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Perth Cycling Infrastructure: Bike Parking, St John of God Hospital Subiaco

I recently had reason to visit the St John of God Hospital in Subiaco. It is conveniently located near a bike path, so I assumed that there was going to be bike parking. Just in case, I took my biggest U-lock which would fit comfortably around the light poles I saw last time I was there.

Bike racks near the front entrance of SJOG Subiaco

It turns out there are bike racks right at the entrance. There are 3 U-rails which are connected to a common base plate. Unfortunately they are not bolted down, so susceptible to someone rocking up with a ute, chucking the whole thing in the back, and driving off. Don’t laugh, this happened at Murdoch University in the early 2000s – in an area where vehicle access was much more difficult than it is here!

While I didn’t hesitate to leave the Surly there for the hour or so I would be inside, I would not want to lock an expensive bike there, or even a moderately priced bike on a regular basis, just in case someone scoped it out and then came back for it later.

There were bikes chained to other poles in the immediate vicinity, so I guess I was not the only one concerned about the portability of the bike rack.

SJOG Subiaco actually has publicly available information on the measures it takes to encourage it’s staff to use ‘green’ transport, including public transport, walking and cycling, so I am going to send them an email and ask them to consider securing the bike rack properly.

All in all, SJOG has at least tried to provide bike parking for visitors. There’s always room for improvement though!

 

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Training: Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer, 1000ks in June

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I didn’t quite make my lofty goal, but managed to get 948 kilometres under my tyres for June. Well, I aimed for the stars, and I hit the moon, breaking my record for the most kilometres ever ridden in a month. In amongst it all was one metric century and six rides which fell into the 50 – 100 kilometre bracket.

It was quite a worthwhile exercise in pushing myself, now I can ride 60 or 70 kilometres on the flat and barely feel it the next day. That is a big improvement from where I was at at the end of May. I haven’t really increased my average speeds but I feel like that will come.

I have been thinking about my official goals for July though I haven’t completely settled on them yet.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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