It’s Alive!

It might have taken the best part of 14 hours to put together, but my new ‘home’ for the next three to four years has finally been built, well mostly. There are still a few more adds-ons lined up, like a rear derailleur cage and mirror, but for the large part, it’s finished.

Considering a number of parts and the fiddly nature of some of them, the whole build went very smoothly. In all, we only had two setbacks. The first was the fact that the two lugs on the side of the frame designed to hold the gear lever wires were missing, although we quickly sourced a set from the local bike shop. What had stumped us for a few hours was someone had stuck a sticker on the wrong way.

That particular sticker was on the bottom bracket, which itself sits inside the frame and joins the two pedals up. The sticker denotes how to insert the bracket into the frame as one end protrudes slightly further out from the frame than the other. Putting it in the wrong way, as the sticker told us, meant when it came to fitting the front derailleur, we couldn’t get the gears to shift up to the top outermost ring. It was out by only a millimetre or so but no matter how many different positions and tweaks we gave the derailleur, it just wouldn’t shift up. After hours of scratching our heads and even modifying the derailleur (by modifying, I mean ‘encouraging’ with the help of a hammer), we realised the problem must be because the bottom bracket was too long. So, after stripping half the bike back down again and taking another look at the bracket, we realised the sticker was wrong. Now it’s inserted properly, the gears glide over the rings no problem.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have a huge history with bicycles. As a kid, I went through a few bikes but I have never owned anything like this. For one, the ride is amazing for a bike with no suspension; it’s really is very smooth, even off of the tarmac. The gears change up or down with a light flick of the lever without hardly a sound and although I was slightly worried when I first saw the saddle, it really is very comfortable. It weighs less than I thought it would too, at a guess, around 7kgs although I’m still going to weigh it properly. On the whole, it really is a joy to ride. (How long will I be able to say that for without lying, I wonder?)

Now that it’s actually here, and no longer just a series of photos online, it makes the whole expedition feel a bit more real. I can’t wait to see what it feels like when it’s fully loaded. So, what do you think? It looks pretty and shiny now but I reckon this is about the only time it ever will. I wonder what it will look like after 52,000km?

A massive thanks to Mark Davies for his expert knowledge of bikes and his patience and precision with putting the bike together. I couldn’t have done it without you. Also, a big thanks must go to John and the boys at Kent Volkswagen for letting me use their garage and giving me all the tools a man could want.

Edited by – Emer Garry


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