Tag Archives: Bullitt

Bullitt Cargobike Photo Gallery

All the photos of my Bullitt Cargobike in one place.

New Bullitt Cargobox

I now have a new cargobox on my Bullitt cargobike. Photos on Flickr.

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It is from Convoy cargobikes and is made of Aluminium with a waterproof lid and good lock.

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Mine is the first from them with a side opening lid. The key advantage is that in 5 seconds, with no tools, I can undo the gas strut. Then the box lid can open all the way and hang alongside the box. This means that if I happen to buy too much shopping for the lid to close it is no problem, it can just stick out of the open top.

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Obviously I need something to stop the fully open lid banging around. I am wondering if old inner tubes might be the best for this.

I also plan to line the inside with either foam or rubber so that things I am carrying don’t bang around – just using a rug at the moment.

I am very pleased with this!

 

A day for cycling progress

Lots of nice cycling things today.

Some good maintenance/upgrades progress and a nice ride with Jane on her new bike.

The ride first.

We drove over to Rutland to kill lots of birds with one stone. This included a nice ride with lunch.

Or view on Strava.

As proof here is Jane on her new bike (with new helmet from Rutland Cycling as well):

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For anyone interested that is a Ortlieb Front Roller Plus pannier which is a great size for carrying just a few things on a day out. Sorry for the lack of colour coordinated water bottle 🙂

We had both lunch and a after ride coffee at the Harbour View Cafe 🙂

Anyway, we had a nice ride with only one idiot driver who decided to beep us as he zoomed past on a very minor road.

Maintenance stuff

There were a couple of other reasons for going to Rutland.

First, I had dropped off my Shand Stoater, Bike for Life at Rutland Cycling yesterday. I have had trouble properly bleeding the rear brake. Turns out the hose had got damaged and so was leaking slightly. They are going to replace that and bleed it for me.

Second, I have also been having trouble with the brakes on my Bullitt Cargobike, they have been getting less powerful, more squeaky and hard to bleed. So we took the Bullitt with us, for the first time finding it is possible to fit it in the car:

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That is handy to know 🙂

Anyway the main problem is with the rear calliper which is leaking badly (the front going the same way). I decided to tackle the problem with an upgrade. I don’t particularly like the Shimano disk brakes. They use a very expensive mineral oil and I would appreciate more power when hurtling downhill fully loaded.

So Rutland Cycling are fitting Hope Tech M4 brakes to match my Bike for Life, only on the Bullitt they are going to use Braided Hose which should provide a further improvement.

This means both bikes will need the same replacement seals and use the same brake fluid which is DOT 5.1, available from any garage.

So it looks like my problems with bleeding the brakes are due to hose or calliper problems, future maintenance easier for me to do myself.

Anyway for perspective. We have 3 bikes with hydraulic disk brakes that have done 1,000’s of miles in all kinds of weather. These are the first replacement parts and the 1st professional service ever needed. Still absolutely my favourite type of brake (for power, controllability, reliability and maintenance), especially as it is possible to buy excellent British made hydraulic brakes from Hope Tech.

 

Bikes and lights as it gets darker

It is that season of the year when bike magazines and websites are full of articles about bike lights.

It is that season of the year when I go out forgetting that it will be dark when I come home, as today for the evening service at Syston Methodist Church.

So here is how I prepare my Bullitt Clockwork Cargobike for the dark.

Nothing.

In fact nothing at all.

My front Schmidt dynamo light has been on the bike all summer and continues with it’s automatic mode. So I continue to occasionally wipe the lens clean but otherwise don’t have to touch it in anyway. It just works. Actually that is really unfair because it is not just working but continues to be the best bike front light I have ever used (our Exposure Joystick is still fantastic but does have to be charged and it does not have the shaped beam cut off to avoid blinding oncoming traffic).

My standard rear light on the Bullitt is a PDW Fenderbot which is attached to my rear mudguard. It has stayed on the bike all summer. The battery is still fine and so whenever I need a rear light it is there and ready to go.

So I confess I find all these articles about bike lights slightly amusing. It is very rare to read tests of dynamo lights, especially hub dynamos yet these lights work fantastically and keep working for years without any maintenance.

These lights are not cheap but neither are top quality battery lights. Dynamo lights have significant benefits in being so reliable and always available.

Bike packing

I am just sorting out the stuff to carry tomorrow on my mini solo camping tour.

The Bullitt is running beautifully, the new brake pads have worn in well and the padding around the box parts means that I am back to silence as I ride along.

So far the big stuff and the kitchen stuff is ready. It reminds me that I am not good at travelling light (for example I always want to take my big study Bible rather than a small light one) so it is handy to have a bike with plenty of capacity. On Friday we found a camping shop in Loughborough and I decided to go with a thicker (5cm) self-inflating camping mat rather than a camp bed  as it is lighter and I won’t fall out.

I have packed porridge and one instant meal (that is more for emergencies than anything else). Otherwise I plan to buy food locally and do “proper” cooking although one of the challenges is to buy small enough quantities for one person without ending up with lots of extra bits to carry.

I usually find the pile of big stuff somewhat intimidating (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, chair, tent porch), however, a quick check has shown them all fitting neatly in the box (tent goes on top due to it’s width as it is a pop-up tent) with plenty of space left.

One of the interesting (to me anyway) differences between touring with a cargobike and a “normal” bike is the packing. It seems pointless to pack everything into bags and then put the bags into the box with it’s waterproof cover. So things are mostly going in separately which I hope will be more convenient when out.

One alternative with a Bullitt would be to use a 100% waterproof bag such as the ones for a Bob Trailer instead of the box. That would have one key advantage in that all your gear can be removed from the bike for security. However, I don’t expect to leave the bike put of sight for many seconds when on the road. For example I plan to go to the campsite, pitch up and then go out for shopping etc. It seems to me that the waterproof bag option has disadvantages when you go for comfy camping with the larger items such as a a chair, I couldn’t easily pick everything up at once in a bag and where could I put such a big bag anyway.

It seems to me that a more interesting option would be a reasonably secure cargobox. Rather than the aluminium ones favoured by couriers I am thinking of something that uses the lightweight honeycomb deck and so is essentially just sides with a solid lid that can be locked on. Made of thin marine ply it might be a reasonable compromise between weight, capacity and security. For this trip the fabric cover will be fine and means I can see how well the overall concept works.

I have not seen much about people doing cycle touring combining a cargobike and camping. In fact all the examples seem to be using the the long-tail style of cargobike where the load is carried in large panniers behind the rider. Those bikes can handle more like a mountain bike and so open up more off-road possibilities than a Bullitt will allow (which are also capabilities that are irrelevant between Syston and Mablethorpe). Also until recently the front loading cargobikes have really only been available in the Dutch Bakfiets style which are fantastic transporters for kids and groceries but not ideal for hills. The newer style of “long-john” bikes (such as the Bullitt) offer more loading flexibility, lighter weight, more gearing options and so make touring where there are hills more practicable.

All in all I am looking forward to discovering just how well the Bullitt works for touring.

Getting a saddle that fits

In years gone by I have bought more than one Body Geometry saddle from Specialized. These are available in different width, to find out which width is right for you they have a pad that you sit on. When you get up you have to quickly measure the dents your sit bones left in the pad before they disappear. The width of the dents is the width of the saddle that should fit you.

One of the problems with this is that you have to get up and measure really quickly which is tricky and makes you look daft.

So today I noticed a better way of measuring your sit bones so you can get a Specialized Body Geometry saddle that will fit.

I noticed today that my Brooks Flyer on my Bullitt is now clearly and visibly moulded to the shape of my backside. So if I ever want a new Specialized Body Geometry saddle all I need to do is measures the dents in my Brooks saddle and there will be no need to embarrass myself sitting on and jumping off a pad in a shop.

The only problem with this superb technique is that having ridden a Brooks saddle for several thousand miles I don’t imagine buying any other saddle ever again.

First pass tour route

I have started planning my tour route (see Quarter Day Tour to the sea by Bullitt). This is what I have so far. Looks nice.

Note there is a bug in Google Maps it won’t allow a route between Rearsby and Thrussington.

I have now found a way of getting an elevation profile for a Google maps route. So thanks to GPSVisualizer here it is:

Quarter Day Tour to the sea by Bullitt

I am just planning a mini tour for the week after next.

This week at a planning meeting my kind boss pointed out that I have not used up a very nice feature of the Methodist Church – quarter days. These are a bit of an oddity, but Methodist Ministers are given one day off per month which for some reason are called quarter days (the naming doesn’t make much sense to me). We are strongly encouraged to go away from the manse for these days so that they provide a proper break from work for refreshment.

When I looked at my diary I realised that I had only one week without many things booked up in it. So I am taking 4 quarter days starting Monday 16th May and adding them to my day off on Friday 20th to give me a five day tour.

Given we are pretty landlocked here in Leicester I have decided to go to a coastal area I don’t know well via places I also don’t know. So I’ll go to the Caravan and Camping Club site at Mablethorpe on the Lincolnshire Coast travelling via their site at Woodhall Spa.

That is around 70miles from Syston to Woodhall Spa and about 30 miles from there to Mablethorpe. I can take two days to get to the coast, have a day there and then two days back.

I think I am going to go on the Bullitt as it is so easy to carry everything and I don’t think the route is particularly hilly. Then I can use one of our “pop-up” tents, which I could not carry easily on my road bike and I’ll be able to take enough to make the camping comfortable.

Before going I want to actually do some maintenance on the Bullitt! After 1,200 miles in 2011 and at least 500 before that, the disc brake pads seem to be worn out as braking has suddenly got noisy and much less effective. I am also going to take the opportunity to have a look inside the chainglider. On a laden tour with 70 mile days I think I’ll take it off as I’ll be wearing shorts and would like as much efficiency as possible.

I am in two minds about the Chainglider, yes it does keep me clean but I want to see how well it has looked after the chain as the friction is a bit irritating. It has not eased to run as easily as I hoped which is a bit frustrating. In part I might not be using the right oil on the chain. I chose a lube for dry chains and it might be a bit thick.

I’ll probably swap to SPD pedals for the tour as they are so much more comfortable for long distances because the rigid sole means no pressure points on your feet.

Another task is to sort out the connections so I can charge my Biologic Recharge powerpack from the Schmidt Son Delux dynamo. The the Biologic can charge my Galaxy Tab. Hopefully that will give me enough juice to last all day. It is mostly a matter of getting the right spade connectors, but I also need to sort out where to mount the Galaxy Tab. I could either fit my Ortlieb handlebar bag and use the map pocket as I do on the Trek or I could make something that just holds it in place on top of the cargobox cover.

Finally I want to fit some rubber washers between the mounting brackets and the cargo box sides as it does sometimes squeak a little. I may even give the whole Bullitt another wash 🙂

#bullitt #cargobike for Guitar Hero

This week the Methodist Church in Birstall has been open for a whole range of events leading towards Easter. This afternoon and evening it was time for Wii Games.

So my Bullitt Clockwork got to carry a fair bit of stuff:

If I remember correctly the load included:

  • 3 data projectors
  • 1 x 30 watt Roland Cube Guitar Amp
  • 1 x PC 3 speaker set (with big bass speaker)
  • 2 x iPod dock speakers
  • 2 x Wii
  • 3 x reel power extension cables
  • 2 x 5 way extension cables
  • 1 x Guitar Hero (drums, 2 guitars, mike)
  • 1 x projection screen
  • 1 x cycling magazine but I never got a chance to read it 🙁
  • lots of assorted sound and video cables
  • U-Lock
Here in close-up, you can see how elegantly everything was packed for the 3 mile trip. The route starts in Syston, goes thru Thurmaston, across Watermead park using a bridleway, board walk and two bridges over the river/canal. So quite varied. The only tricky bit is when riding on narrow paths between railings as the projector screen was not centred and so made the load quite wide.
Still there were no problems in either direction.
Of course as usual one of the advantages of a cargobike is being able to unload (and then load up afterwards) it right where the stuff is needed, ie in the middle of the Church 🙂

Returning hire equipment

Following Building a shed by #bullitt #cargobike today I had to return the petrol powered vibrating plate compactor. Unfortunately it was too heavy for me to lift on my own so I enlisted help last night to get it back into my Bullitt Cargobike. Here it is this morning as I prepared to take it back:

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I have no idea how much this thing actually weighed but I was not very quick with it. An average of about 10mph over the 2 mile distance. With Jane using the car for work the Bullitt was the only way to get this done (plus who wants to put something as heavy, dirty and smelly as this in an awkward enclosed space like a car).

Once I got to the hire shop the convenience of the cargobike again showed itself as I was able to push it inside so the machine only had to be lifted out of the bike.

I then just carried on with the rest of my day, a staff meeting in Birstall followed by a pub lunch with a twitter friend:

http://twitter.com/#!/Gerrarrdus/status/54941094252785664

Before my next meeting I collected my Trek now with new handlebar tape and a more robust back wheel thanks to Cyclops in Syston. Will get a proper test ride of that tomorrow but initial impressions are good.

Also been having some interesting discussions with people about their bikes and potential future bikes, enjoyed looking around at a wide range of bikes all over the net 🙂

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