Reliability is not boring!

So without any comment or fanfare I passed the one year ownership milestone for my Bike For Life earlier this month.

I am as much in love with my Shand Stoater+ as I hoped to be when I was planning it and as I was when I collected it a year ago.
PB160002

Low maintenance with reliability was at the heart of my plans, however, I was determined that would not be at the expense of enjoyment and delight. Nor was it to be achieved by not buying local – so I did achieve another goal with 50% of the total cost being British made.

So over the first 12 months my bike has proved to be all that I hoped for it. It is a beautiful bike to ride, tempting me to go further and more often. Yet it does this while still being available and practical whatever the weather and whatever the task.

  • It can’t carry as much as my Bullitt Cargobike, but it can carry a lot

20130511_152836

  • It might not be as fast as my Trek road bike was, but it is more comfortable on a long ride.
  • It might not be quite as capable off road as my full suspension mountain bike, but it copes with everywhere I have needed to go
  • It might not be as simple as my fixie, but it has proved to be lower maintenance (thanks to the belt drive and hydraulic disk brakes – much less maintenance than any chain or rim brake).

I can rely on it being available at any time day or night. I can use it certain that it will get me to where I need to go without drama. I can wear normal clothes in almost any weather without them getting ruined.

At the beginning of each day all I need to do is unlock it and hop on. No checks needed.

At the end of each ride all I need to do is park it and it will be ready for the next ride.

In 12 months I have ridden it over 3,500 miles and have only had 4 problems:

  • The most significant was that the kickstand plate fell off. Fortunately, I had bought the frame from a fantastic small (but growing fast which is no surprise) British company. They fixed it for free (new super strong version) and included a full respray. See

P4190100

  • Secondly, the Gates Carbon Belt developed a couple of cracks. I was sent a free replacement before it failed completely and it is a newer design which has given zero problems.
  • Thirdly, I had too many punctures with the original Continental City Plus tyres so I changed them to Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres for the winter and then moved to Schwalbe Duranos for the summer. The Marathon Plus were totally reliable but a bit heavy and slow in better weather (also a bit of tight fit in the mudguards). The Duranos have been excellent but now have a few cuts in them after about 2,000 miles which means I have had a couple of flats. Sadly many cycle tracks around Leicester are paved with broken glass so are very hard on tyres.
  • Fourth, on a particularly horrid day my front brake started binding and wore through the brake pads. I still rode over 50 miles that day and new pads and a bit of a wash solved the problem.

In the 3,500 miles of course I haven’t had to oil or clean the drivetrain. I have only touched the brakes to bleed them after I took them off for the frame to be resprayed and then to replace one set of worn pads. Everything else has just worked all year long with just a couple of quick wash downs (just for vanity really).

So in terms of reliability it has been a pretty quiet year for my lovely bike for life. But never boring, always a delight!

What I love is that I can take for granted jumping on a bike that is comfortable to ride, can cope with almost any surface, load or distance without needing to wonder if I properly prepared it or serviced it after the last use. A bike where the lights are always there and will come on automatically. A bike that won’t get my clothes dirty. A bike that will keep nearly all surface water off me. A bike that will make me smile on every ride.

Everyone should have a bike for life although maybe you should also consider having a cargobike, a fast road bike, a mountain bike, a fixie, a folding bike, a tandem and a recumbent trike as a bit of variety is good for us all :-)

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  1. What a great machine. I’ve been looking for the “ideal” (for me) bicycle , and now have some good ideas from yours. For which, thanks.

  2. The traditional formula can now be rewritten, so that
    if h = happiness
    and bfl = bike for life
    and n = number of other bikes owned
    then h = bfl + n + 1.

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