Category Archives: Tidbits

Not My Kind of Bike, not My Kind of Ride

Weekend before last there was this bicycle and travel fair at a local VW dealership. The VW people cleared most of their vast exhibition hall and made room for dozens of stalls by regional tourist offices, cycles shops, big cycle makers and some charity stalls too.

Coach companies showed off their latest bicycle trailers.

Why did I go? Looking at it with hindsight – no idea. What did I expect? The manisfestation of the return to classic bike culture? Ha.

Take these, for instance:

Electric, superfat tires, superfat frame tubes, if you can call them that, hard if not impossible to service at home, defined life expectancy, and a price tag that made me swoon:

I´m not a fan of DIY superstore bicycles, and I´ve always tried to have more expensive bicycles than cars, but this is just over the top, sorry.

And things go on. Yes, there are a few steel frames bikes, two I think, but of course they need gimmicks to induce planned obsolescence, like Pinion bottom bracket gearboxes and so on. Nothing, BTW, I saw in that fair which was praised as the dernier cri did not have some sort of precursor as far as 110 years ago, not even the bamboo bicycle with its super cheap kit.

Useful as a strong carrier rack may be, but the Belgians learned that a brazed/welded on rack does have its disadvantages as far as servicability is concerned. Now these racks seem on their way back.

What with Germany always being a bit skeptical as far as useful bicycle developments are concerned, we actually are discovering the advantages of a Dutch bakfiets (box bike) now.

One of the few occasions in the fair I had a hearty laugh also was on the bakfiets:

I think I have to administer some antidote now before it´s too late. Gimme this

and this

and this

and framebuilding like this

anytime. Please.


Bikes vs. Motors

Not wanting to make too much of it, but still I can´t help thinking sometimes that bikes and motorized transport have unequally distributed values assigned to them by the makers of record covers.

I´ve already had some bike covers on this blog. Most of them showed cheap or shoddy bicycles, while cars or motorbikes seem to receive a completely different treatment.

Here´s some more examples:

Herman van Veen, who actually is Dutch, and who really should know better than to depict a completely impossible bike. Just look at the steering head.

Ok, Ray Coniff is American – so I guess he must be forgiven for endangering a child. And for running a tandem without a front brake.

Angelo Branduardi, Italian, chose the cheapest bike components around in 1980, or, in fact, ever.

The get fit parade on this record has had an illustrator who definitively didn´t get fit on a bike. Even track bikes have the chain on the other side.

And now look at the motorbikes:

Here´s some Australians who knew what a good motorbike is.

Another great British bike chosen here – is it a Triumph?

And the cars, likewise in the focus of attention:

Skandinavians (Norwegians), so I guess a pun or two about Volvos is in order. The second pic is from inside the gatefold cover. Actually, these people make good prog music.

More Volvo, a Seine Maritime registered Amazon in this case. Little Bob Story hail from the area, Le Havre, so it all works out.

Slint seem to be great Saab fans. Again the car is in the focus, well pictured, and the label also is great.

Please, can´t anyone produce a good cover design on bicycles? Or maybe there is one I´m unaware of?


Later: Yes, there is. A reader vastly more knowledgable than me in all things rock music has written in to say that Guns N Roses´ Chinese Democracy has a bike on its cover which actually looks like one. Trust Guns N Roses to get it right, and thanks, Nikki!


… is full of bikes now, really.

blogtouristsTourists borrow them,

blograiling bloglockall sorts of railings are adorned with them,

blogcanarywthey´re tucked away in the most impossible places even in Canary Wharf.

Fixie riders zoom past that quickly that you´ve hardly got a chance to snap one. Balconies are also used to store them in an age old attempt to secure them.

Also the Powers That Be have taken note:


Half a Post

Yes, I´m still here.

After a rather un-satisfying summer, there´s not much to report – I missed nearly all of the interesting meets and rides this year, for reasons of overwork, bad luck with double booked weekends, and also a few instances of sickness.

I feel a bit like the cyclist on this record cover:


Yes, there is one. Look at the bottom left hand corner:

SAM_6624The front wheel of his bike is just visible, but he´s been relegated to the rear:

SAM_6622Turning the record over, there he is, looking none to pleased to have been left off the front cover. His bike is quite OK, equipped with what looks like Suntour gear and a Turbo saddle. And look at his Cinelli socks!

Let me add that Eros Ramazotti isn´t exactly the music I usually listen to, but the cycle on the cover affords at least some optical attraction.

As far as I´m concerned, I´m hoping for a better 2016 cycling season. Until then, and unless I can find the time and an occasion, I guess I´ll prolong my blogging break.


A High Bicycle

Here´s one more episode from the series “Bikes on Vinyl”.

Found in a fleamarket recently, and sold for a little less than a Euro, this 1971 Czech gatefold sleeve shows a great supposedly Czech ordinary. Czech cycles, aero engines and cars were famous for their quality up until the forties, and even kept some of their originality in communist times (Tatra lorries and limos, for example). So the front sleeve possibly alludes to the great Czech past in producing advanced transportation technology.


Look at the nickeled centre spoking on the small pic, taken from the inside collage.

SAM_6225The rock group “Olympic” who are featured on the disc (yes, there´s something more than the bike) was founded in 1963, seems to have been very popular in Czechoslovakia and is in existence still. The album title “Jedeme, jedeme” I think means “Let´s go”, but I´m not too sure about this. Anyone who is?

Will This Work?

After a fortnight of not blogging, and no end in view of being sidetracked, here´s at least a small tidbit.

There´s loads of pictures of bicycles in children´s books or on other children´s media which really are no illustrations, but abominations and insults of young people´s perception of the world and their technical understanding. I can very well remember as a child thinking, when confronted with similar illustrations, will this really work?

Here´s one particularly strange specimen:

SAM_5137It´s on the sleeve of a 10″ double album of A.S. Pushkin´s fairy tales called “Recordings for Children”, issued in 800 copies in 1981, costing 2.10 Roubles, at the time no mean sum for people on average incomes.


Back to the bike pic: Look at the front fork, twisted and rigidly attached to the frame, the non-existant connection of the rear wheel to the rest of the bike, fittingly hidden by the leaf which must be there for the reason that the creator of the illustration probably did not know what a bike really looked like. As an excuse it must be said that in the Soviet Union there were few more unpopular pastimes than cycling.


Amazing Figures

When receiving the annual statistics the other day I thought I´d fall over backwards: Last year servers from 97 different countries tried to get at starostneradost contents. My guess is that in this day and age of encrypting and other still more cryptic things going on on the net, not all of these countries will actually have detailed readers to check on my blog, but even if there´s only people from 50 countries who were honestly interested in what I´m doing I´d be very pleased. The countries with the most readers were Germany, the US and the UK, in this order.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-12-31 um 21.56.03

My posts were viewed 19.000 times in all in 2014, which I consider to be one more amazing figure. Sure, Sinéad O´Connor´s “Nothing Compares to You” – video on youtube has had more than 123 million clicks, but then again I´m not (yet) quite as bald as her, so it´s OK. I´m content with any figures as long as at least some of you are with what I´m doing.

Until recently I thought that whenever I hit the “publish” button, at least my followers would receive and read what I´d written, but it seems that most of them are spammers – which wordpress doesn´t allow to remove from the list. It´s very strange that whenever I publish a book review there´s at least a couple new followers, none of which has an interest in bikes visible at the surface, but all of which have either books to sell or advice to give on how to write or to sell them.

So, a happy new year to all readers, visitors, followers and spammers alike, and I hope to be able to carry on blogging in a way which won´t waste your time. And hopefully see you on April 19.

A Penny What?

I hope I won´t be chastised too badly for admitting that I never liked Penny Farthings, or Ordinaries, or High Wheelers, or whatever you´d like to call them. Still, it seems I have one in my collection now:


And digging a bit deeper in my boxes, I found this one, too:

PFpfI like the cheeky little wren on the farthing, but the difference in size between the two coins isn´t too impressive.

However, did you know that at least in the thirties, the farthing wasn´t actually the smallest diameter coin in the UK?

PFp3pThe threepence was still smaller. So should it really have been the Penny Threepence? Sounds funny.

Now look at this:

PFflwptThere´s a coin like token which is valued at a penny, issued by the Flint Lead Works in 1813, when coinage was scarce (I was told). Not surprisingly, the token is made from lead. What looks like a deranged carnival procession are the sorry remains of the Flint Lead Works buildings, after much biting and gambling by previous owners.

PFpptThe penny token is still larger than a real penny from the thirties.

PFpt3pShould it be a Penny Token Threepence instead of a Penny Farthing? Size-wise we´re getting places, but the sound of the word doesn´t bear thinking about.

Now you know why I never really liked Ordinaries.

No Steel, No Bikes

Back after a few days of British and French adventures. I took some time off everything, including the family, (because my wife didn´t get time off in July) to visit friends and to do things I´ve wanted to do for ages, like visiting British plane museums and the WWI battlefields in France. I also saw a great number of old bikes; my guess is that my visit will net a handfull of further blog posts.

The “no bikes” part of the title is not quite right as the first photo shows my EB, but the whereabouts of the setting is tell-tale:

FbikeOne of our British friends told me that the Fairford Air Tattoo would be on right on the Saturday of my visit, and that he knew a place where we could be much closer to the action than official visitors with tickets. I agreed at once to go and have a look as this would be a welcome addition to my Cosford and Hendon visits. Our friend not only is a fervent cyclist but also has known his way around Fairford since when it still was an American air base. We cycled, an easy 50 kms, and so could escape all the temporary one way systems and other controls motorists were subject to on the day. BTW, we could have cleared the crash gate in a matter of seconds; I only leant my bike to the gate for the photo.

Being so close to the runway, when planes landed we thought we could touch their undercarriage wheels. It was great. That afternoon we saw the Red Arrows, the Patrouille de France, some other aerobatic teams and displays by Belgian, Swiss, Czech and British fighter planes, among others.

FREdAColour FRedAcolour2 FREdAFormThe French ended their show with this,

FPatrFHeartmaking it easy to forget that all of the show really is about giving the military a more colourful and sympathetic image. Flying skill is one thing, but a helicopter performance at the beginning of the show reminded me what it all really was about.

FhelicExplWhile I was fully aware of the fact that the world certainly would be better off without the necessity for all of the hardware displayed (there also were demonstrations by Eurofighters and modern US built warplanes), there is one thing I have to admire: The craftsmanship and ingenuity that goes into keeping 70 year old planes in the air. So when suddenly, among all the thundering noises of modern fighter planes, this veteran of the skies appeared,FLancappr there was the completely different sound of four Merlins to be heard – and my hopes of seeing a Lancaster in the air were fulfilled at long last. It was PA474, the last airworthy Lancaster in Europe (there is another one in Canada). It is kept by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight of the RAF for special occasions.

Accompanied by a Spitfire,


the Lancaster landed to take off again later in order to circle the airport a couple of times.

FLancLandFLancTxLastly, there was a C 47 stalwart too, giving only a fleeting appearance, but still.

FC47apprLater during my holidays my mixed feelings continued as I managed to pay short visits to both RAF Cosford and Hendon museums. Walking around Hendon is something not to be missed on any account when in London. The planes assembled there are just marvellous. Look at this Ju 88 for instance:

Ju88It´s as complete as it is because two of its crew of three were opposed to the Fascist régime of Germany and involved with the British Secret Service. After making their superiors wonder why they just were not able to shoot down any British bombers, they defected to the UK, managed not to be shot down by British air defense, delivered the most up to date German on-board Radar to the Allies, and even made BBC broadcasts about their deed. Germany could have done with more men like them.

The complete story can be read up on the RAF Museum website in the plane histories. What cannot be read up there is the ingenuity behind the BMW 801 aero engine units on the plane, but that´s a different story altogether.

Lastly, there is this plane, also at RAF Hendon.

LancWhat comes to mind about it, the Lancaster second on the list of the highest number of bombing sorties over Germany? The heroic crews it was flown by, volunteers all of them, the dedicated ground crew it had, the undoubted difference it made towards the outcome of the war – and the fact that it bombed every city in Germany I have lived in so far. It may have been the plane that destroyed my maternal grandmother´s house, who knows. But then it also took part in both Operation Exodus (Allied prisoners being flown out of Germany, starting even before hostilities had ended) and Operation Manna (thousands of flights supplying Dutch civilians with food during the April 1945 starvation). There´s no simple black and white, as usual.

Very British – Some Sturmey Archer Goodies

In order not to be forgotten completely I thought I might give my blog a quick blast. What´s quicker than getting at The Sturmey Box, taking a few snaps and posting them. Besides, I´m running out of complete bikes to post in the My Herd category. Also some people might say that these bits are quite nice, so I hope you´ll enjoy the photos.

Let´s start with some cute little items which are aftermarket, but I love them. Despite of them having ball ends on the levers I wouldn´t say they´re post-CPSC, but if they are, I promise to still like them. First the rear, Sturmey replacement levers, weighing far less (15g) than the original wing nuts (27g, left rear) because they´re light alloy:

GBrearrect GBversAnd, of course, there´s a matching front pair, too.


Next, something I´ve always thought was really rather rare, to use Hilary´s words, but at least the hubs bearing the same “Patent Applied For” don´t seem to be. The thing is that this trigger must be 1938/9 as no patent number had been allocated to it yet.


The trigger following this one was black, had a patent number, and – like the no patent number one – the ominous spring that stuck out of the body and was lost so easily. It is late forties/early fifties.


The third trigger in this row definitively is hen´s teeth. The ASC was the only post WWII Sturmey hub that could not take the standard triggers.


This is the hub that goes with it:


And this is the quick release toggle chain connector which allowed you to re-fit the rear wheel after repairs without having to adjust the three speed.


Lastly, there´s this triple sprocket, again aftermarket and non-Sturmey, but useful if your name is Lauterwasser or if you want to convert your three speed rear wheel to a nine speed.

Tripleft TriplerearRight, done for today. There´s going to be a book review next – I hope.