Everyone loves a bargain. Advancing years have seen my adoption of the cost benefit analysis business model to consumer purchases and cycling is no exception. That said there’s always room for fun-afterall a bit of what we fancy prevents us becoming dull boys and girls.
Duplication is a double-edged sword, often useful but two trailers couldn’t be justified so I sold the older and arguably better quality Bob Yak, retaining the newer shop branded copy. Twisted logic? Possibly, but swings and roundabouts spring to mind.
While the Yaks are fashioned from aircraft grade 4130 Cro-moly, mine was the earlier model with the more vulnerable grenade pin hitch assembly. By contrast the pattern model (or Lookie- Likey as Tony sometimes refers to copies) has a more robust, less temperamental swing arm and hitch. Cro-moly has better strength to weight ratio but given both tip the scales around 17lb, there’s no obvious handicap. Hi tensile steel is much easier to weld in the event of (unlikely) failure using MIG and gas equipment commonly used at roadside garages.
Winter bikes are another case in point. While undoubtedly a craftsperson’s mastery will translate into a frameset both of beauty and lasting engineering excellence, there’s a very good rationale behind a less exotic but still frisky off the peg machine or frameset wearing components relegated from the best mount(s). I certainly wouldn’t subject the Holdsworth to the ravages of gloop, grime and the dreaded salt-monster. Mercifully, there’s a wealth of worthy production fixer packages and here, I tend to look not at decals-save for those denoting tubing type and grade but rather standards of construction and detailing.
At the heart of some of my favourite bikes lie Taiwanese built 4130/ Reynolds 631 frames giving change from £100-new. Sure, I’m not overly taken by the glut of no-name Chinese frames floating around cyberspace and mass-produced TIG welded chassis might lack the outright magic of the tailor made, fillet (or indeed lugged) and brazed variety but nonetheless, I have a love and appreciation for both. Then again, I’ve always found people’s working bikes more interesting, providing greater insight into rider character than best or indeed race mounts. For some, myself included prone to seasonal lows, choice of winter bike is crucial not only from a technical perspective but for keeping us cheerful.
Casting critical eyes over the Teenage Dream, £200 of modernisation (including new paint and carbon fork) was cost effective. Sure the cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing but exceeding £300 would border on uneconomic given objectively it’s a good but not great frame outclassed by shop branded Audax bikes sporting £550/600 price tags.
Maximum bang for minimum buck is another Audane mantra and provides further explanation of my passion for pattern products and comparison with the real Mcoy. Pedals are particular favourites-many I have tested over the years might lack the major brands' spares availability but typically enjoy reassuring build quality and charm for considerably less outlay.
The demands of expedition/wilderness touring aside, some budget priced alloy racks are readily on par with premium brands. True, there’s no quibble free lifetime warrantee of the sort softening the demise of a renowned brand along the Romford Rd E7 at midnight some ten odd years back. However such are only useful after the event- my favourite of the clones is still going strong after fifteen years and swapping between bikes. The cost? £15-a pound for every year's service- money well spent…
On the subject of bargains, some things are just seasonal. These illuminations might not be adorning the trailer beyond photographic illustration but I’m confident they’ll bring a young boy’s face alive come October’s end. Now, you’ll excuse me while I get all excited about some high pressure knobbly tyres soon to be gracing the Univega…Complete with trailer we’re gonna have us some old school off-road fun!
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)