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Keep It Simple, Stupid


Christmas is a time for fun, frivolity and on the flipside, one of reflection and I am increasingly of the persuasion there must be a BSC in applied stupidity. The fuel for this hypothesis arises from the recent purchase by my former father in law of a bicycle for my son. Now, at one level who am I to be so churlish and so scathing of an elderly man wishing to bestow kindness upon his Grandchildren at this time of year. However, this is the same man who by his own admission, passed  a South London motorcycle dealership in the early 1960s insistent with the proprietor that he could simply hop aboard a 650cc four stroke sat gleaming in the corner and roar off into the sunset without ever having sat on a machine!

Excuse me while I exhale slowly and deliberately… He has bought a new bike for his grandson, several sizes too large with multiple, nay derailleur gears, disc brakes and suspension. The latter wouldn’t raise an eyebrow were it not for the fact my son is six years old and not fully confident on his fully rigid singlespeed. Twist grip three speed hub transmission would’ve been fine- a sensible compromise but I’ve lost count of the times I’ve whizzed past small children struggling with machines that would give me a hernia, the audible twang of mal adjusted rear mechs snaffling spokes. My greatest concern is that such an abundance of gearing at this tentative stage will muddy the waters and possibly discourage the love of cycling we seek to cultivate in our offspring. By the same token, perhaps it is I in the wrong, same said moto-crosser sans engine might spur him on….

I like to chug along through the holiday season, striking a happy medium between productivity and rest. My neighbours on one side have had so little to occupy themselves that they’ve taken particular interest in my activities- most notably the Univega’s refit- experienced it all it’s glory from the comfort of their bedroom courtesy of binoculars! Determined to finally get things moving on the Teenage Dream’s revamp, headset and fork installation were outsourced to a very accommodating local shop while I tended to other matters- I like to at least begin the year with a fully functional fleet!

So, after a couple of days chasing through the wintry lanes aboard the newly modified Univega, I turned my attention to the Teenage dream, stripping bars, quill stem, threaded fork and headset ready for said shop to work their magic. Sometimes, just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best use of time/other resources…. Besides I had been hoping to spend some of the holidays tending to some short fiction.

To my surprise, Alan at Riverside Cycle Centre very kindly performed the op while I waited but into every life must fall a little rain….Being one of those race frames with mudguard eyes that small scale/bespoke builders were so fond of back in the early nineties, there wasn’t sufficient clearance for the Maplewood guards and 23mm tyres!

Therefore, it remains sans guards until some Salmon/similar types come under my radar. However, the new carbon fork and Woodman components have certainly transformed the front end, bringing handling bang up to date. We’ve had some serious playtime this past day or so but given the severe weather warnings touted by the media, I suspect the year will begin on the ultra dependable and much-improved Univega.

Happy New Year Folks!





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)

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