N+1 – Part 4 – Keileigh

So, with said cheque…

Enter Keileigh, my DMR Sidekick.



My favourite bike. There. I’ve said it. *sigh*

Tiggy was transferred to another owner and no doubt enjoyed transporting her new owner to and from her lectures in Cambridge!

“Other” factors had come on the scene since I bought Dizzy (4 wheeled, alcoholic and Tiggy’s new owner) so Keileigh cost less than Dizzy. She also weighed a lot more. Steel instead of Aluminium, Heavier duty parts all round and with a bit of Hacksaw Magic, a 2 speed set up, using a freehub spacer kit and an STS tensioner! Perfect and reliable! We made magic together. So did Keileigh and I!! XD


This is me! The only thing changed is the colour!! Hyde Park skate park in Leeds, circa…2006? …this is actually a still from a video we made, which has such a low frame rate there are 6 frames from the bottom of the hip, up and back down! Obviously this is the best one…

Anyway, due to excessive cycling abuse, I finally cracked the head tube on the frame. This was a very sad day. Poor Keileigh.

beloved old frame

Stripped down and heading back to DMR.

AND Merry Christmas to you all!

Part 5 – 11:59, 26/12/18, Boxing Day

Chris out.

N+1 – Part 3 – Tiggy

Enter Tiggy…



Tiggy is a Scott Tigua – One previous careless owner (a riding friend).

For a couple of months I had Tiggy to get to lectures, but then, lo and behold the insurance cheque! I think this alone proves my devotion to cycling.

A student, with no money, receives a cheque for £1,600, parents miles away, recently introduced to alcohol…

Part 4 – 11:59, 25/12/18, Christmas Day

Chris out.

N+1 – Part 2 – Dizzy

Following on from Cora…

May I present – my very first full bike build, my Azonic DS-1 – Dizzy!



Like mug shots! For those of you who know, Hope hadn’t yet released O2s, X-Lite had just released a seat QR with a removable lever, 9 speed had just come on the scene and Roger Musson still sold Wheelpro wheels (so technically not my first full build!) Sorry Martha!



A skate park, somewhere…

Quarry Mark-Jump

The old quarry on the chase, jumping off the top over my friend… as you do…


This bike was surely all I needed? It could do Dual Slalom (DS-1), trails, trials, street, dirt jumps, skateparks and pretty much anything I could throw at it, right? As a 16 year old with indestructible wrists and boundless energy there was nothing this bike couldn’t do.


This seriously blurry photo is a jump we were temporarily allowed to build in the back garden… It started as a tree stump and had an uphill run up on a gravel lane before turning into the garden at the last minute!


She had been hard fought for, Birthdays, Christmases, paper round, pocket money, all ended up going towards Dizzy.

Anyway, she got stolen. Not something I want to dwell on. Locks are only ever a deterrent.

So I was back on my Mum’s green drop frame Raleigh, doing my paper round, pooling my money together…still trying to dirt jump… Fortunately, she was insured, but these things take time and when I went off to uni, I couldn’t take Mum’s bike, so instead…

Part 3 – 11:59, 24/12/18, Christmas Eve

Chris out.

N+1 – Part 1 – Cora

I had a trip down memory lane last night. I was going through some old photos stuck in some dark recess of an old hard drive (as you do…) and found photos i’d completely forgotten about.

As I was on a roll, I thought i’d drag out some really old photos i’d recently re-discovered and finally get them scanned into the computer.

Then I wondered if you good people would be interested in the bikes I’ve had over the years? Probably not, but as purely egotistic, borderline narcissistic self indulgence, i’m going to do it anyway!

Starting with the first ever bike – a BMX style bike with 5 spoked plastic wheels and foam padding for the handlebars – and also my introduction to the faceplant…

Following on from that, my (younger) brother Robin got a new bike, a 26″ “proper” bike. But, it was too big for him, so I got an early birthday present! I already had the bug, so saved up and then bought and bodged STX-RC V-brakes onto it. It wasn’t quite up to the abuse I dished out, but was a good start!

At some point it died and there was a brief period with a really old BMX frame and the old 26″ bikes front fork and wheel… we called it the mini-freak…

And then along came a Scott Yecora…. Cora.

What…you don’t name your bikes? (I can’t remember the names of the first two).

I was very excited to get a new bike, I had my eyes set on a Kona NuNu, but it was a little bit beyond the budget, so instead I got the Scott.

I don’t have a picture of Cora in her former glory (although my parents might have one somewhere in amongst all the negatives!)

Whilst a great bike, she wasn’t really designed for dirt jumping, trials, tricks, skate parks and “yoof”-ful exuberance!! Then, disaster…

Cora was stolen from the Stafford Ghetto…

Luckily, she had very specific wheels, and when the scumbag thief took the bike to get “fixed” they just happened to go to the shop i’d bought it from, (Aztec Cycles in Stafford) who recognized the wheels. They didn’t however, recognize the bike. Unluckily, this was because it had been sprayed glittery purple and blue. Not a good look.


These aren’t the specific wheels – This is Cora’s back half a few months ago – and a typical scene in our house pre-bike shop! Bike components strewn all over… Destiny I feel! As you can see above, she’s still a mismatched jumble of parts, but she rides pretty well!



I got her back, but a few months had gone by and i’d managed to fund my next bike, and in a choice between the two….well, there was no choice really (does loyalty count for nothing?!?)

Cora’s story doesn’t end there, as you can see above, but that’s for another post!

Right……at this point I’ve nearly covered all the bikes, but I’d written it in one go. The post was monstrous. Lots of pictures of lots of bikes. As one post, it would read like War and Peace, and I can’t justify inflicting that upon you. So I’m splitting it up. I thought maybe one post per bike might be short enough? Also… I’ve never read War & Peace, is it really as drawn out as I think it is, or is it just another saying with no basis in reality… I wonder what Tolstoy would say?


Part 2 – 11:59, 23/12/18

Chris out.


Lock it or Lose it!

I was writing the N+1 volumes (not yet published – due from tomorrow!) and started going off an a mad tangent (I know, shocker, right?) about locks, it got a bit wordy (who, me?) and so it’s become another post!

As an introduction, I’ve had 3 bikes stolen. my Azonic, my second Sidekick and my Scott.

At this point I think it’s important to point out that I don’t skimp on locks. Plural. I spent good money on decent brands – Even the Scott, who was the first stolen, was locked up with a couple of decent locks, to immovable objects, frame and wheels, in highly visible places. My parents think i’m cursed!

Clearly the previous locks weren’t up to scratch. So now i’ve spent a ludicrous amount on some very serious locks and security. I’ve managed to lock bikes up in London and not have them nicked so they seem to work as a deterrent. They are of course still insured!

All of our bikes have datatags and datadots, all the components are marked and we have Hexlox on all the important bits. They are also registered on BikeRegister – The national (UK) database of bikes.


Hexlox magnetically block bolt holes to defeat part stealing! ^


If someone really wants your bike, they’ll take it, no matter how many locks you’ve got on it.

I’ve been asked by a customer at a previous shop to cut off a D lock. We’d sold him the bike, he had proof of ownership of bike and lock, plus the manager knew him.

The lock was a reputable brand (rhymes with trip tonight)… but picture it. Sunday, midday, clear skies, warm weather, outside the King’s Head in York, river boats going past, with a battery powered angle grinder cutting off a lock.

I had on a navy polo shirt and black shorts and a pair of safety glasses. Did ANYBODY question me, at all? Noise, sparks, cutting off a lock. Not one person even queried it. It surprised me how fast an angle grinder will go through a lock. Less than one minute total, for both sides…

This wasn’t a diamond cutting disc, nor an industrial angle grinder. The lock wasn’t a top of the range lock, but I still expected it to hold up a little better and I certainly expected somebody – anybody – to challenge, or at least question me!

When I said serious locks for our bikes, think Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini / Abus 37/55 Padlock & Chain / Litelock / Abus Granit X-Plus 540. They all cost a lot of money and they all have a significant weight penalty (less so the Litelock but 1kg on an 8 kg bike is a lot!).

One tip is to use different styles of lock, from different manufacturers – it means a potential thief has to carry more tools to defeat them, the more types and makes, the more difficult. Sad to say, but a well secured bike often means the miscreant will pass it by…in favour of some other saps poor bike. Don’t be the poor sap!

There have been a few attempts at devising an electronic system of locking or securing bikes, but, electronics on a bike, can you imagine it?!?

I do wonder if a Shimano Di2 battery could be used to power a lightweight tracking chip…? Any inventor types listening?? SRAM etap with tracking…hmmmm?

Chris out.

The Glossary – Part 2

Picking up where I left off, continuing alphabetically…

Chainrings – The front cogs, connect to the spider on the drive side crank. Pointy…

Spider – 8 legs, right? Close. Claire does have 8 arms, i’ve got 10… this is the bit attached to the crank, that the chainrings attach to. Most common are 4 arm spiders.

Crankset – The whole lot, both cranks, chainrings, somtimes crank axle too. Not pedals.

Chain – The oily gritty thing that’s meant to be silver but is usually black or brown. Has a hard life, works hard, often gets abused, is thrown on the scrap heap once it’s worn out. (Dad?)

Front Derailleur – or Front Mech, both acceptable, latter easier to spell… usually mechanically operated “cages” where the two sides push the chain to either side to get onto different front chainrings. Also now electric and even wireless…

Rear Derailleur/Mech – Again, mechanical, wired and wireless electric versions. Pivoting parallelogram linkage body with a sprung chain guiding tensioning device attached underneath. As you change gear this moves the top jockey wheel under the right sprocket to change into that gear. The bottom jockey wheel keeps the chain tight so it doesn’t slip or come off.

So now you need…

Sprocket – a single cog at the back, part of the cassette.

Cassette – All the sprockets at the back. Attached to the hub. There are 1 to 12 different sprockets (for now!)

Jockey wheels – The little cogs in the rear mech, sit inside the jockey cage.

Jockey cage – This is the sprung bit the hangs under the derailleur, houses both top and bottom jockey wheels.

and back to the front…

Steerer tube – The part of the fork the goes up through the inside of the head tube and pokes out the top.

Crown – Where the two fork legs and the steerer tube join.

Crown race – the “seats” for bearings are races, the lower headset bearings sit on the crown race.

IMG-20181219-WA0000(Picture from Pete – our guest contributor!)

Headset – These is the assembly that allow smooth steering. They bearings sit either ends of the head tube (top and bottom) and can be inside or outside depending on design.

Spacers – These are basically rings of tube that sit underneath and/or on top of your stem. They are needed to make sure all of the steerer tube is covered so that the headset can be pre-loaded.

Pre-loading – Tightening the headset bearings so that they can deal with the forces (steering/braking/weight/bumps) without being loose.

Top cap – This is the cap that sits on the spacers, just above the steerer tube. It houses a bolt which is tightened to pre-load the bearings.

Star fangled nut – Theses are EVILLL! Very common, forced (slide hammered) inside the steerer tube, they use “fins” that gouge into the walls of the steerer to pull the fork up when pre-loading the bearings. I hate these and have banished them from all my bikes.

Headset bungs – These are ace. Becoming more common, and essential for carbon – as you don’t want to be gouging chunks out of that – these are expanding plugs that grip the steerer in a much more civilized manner. Also easier and less violent to install. The way forward! Again, used to pre-load the bearings.

Stem – The tube that sticks out forwards and connects the steerer tube to your bars.

Quil stem – Used with a totally different type of headset (strictly speaking the original method – the one we described was Aheadset). This has an expander in the bottom of the stem, which goes inside the steerer, and then sticks out forwards to hold the bars. Different pre-load method too…

Faceplate – Simply the front part of the stem, fits to the forward facing bit of the bar, then bolts to the back of the stem.

Bars – Many types, i’ve just covered the main two, the bit you hold onto. Unless your riding no handed…

Straight/Riser – Really hard to draw side on (hence our logo using drops) These are normally at the same height, or higher, than the stem. Used in mountain biking, trials, trails, bmx, some touring.

Drop bars – Curly bars that….drop (see our logo). Used for cyclocross, road and touring.

Bar tape – Used on drop bars, instead of rubber grips, a rubbery tape that is wrapped around the handlebars. There is a specific direction of wrap, it changes direction around the brifters, it starts at the bottom and works up.

Brifter – Started replacing downtube mounted shifters in 1990, now pretty much every drop bar bike has these (apart from some tourers). Brake + Shifter = Brifter. The same part used for both, squeeze the lever to work the brakes, swing the whole brake lever sideways to change down (easier gear), press the little lever at the back of the main brake lever, change up. (For Shimano.  SRAM and Campagnolo used different methods but the same integrated design.)

Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo – The three big names in gears and brakes.

Shimano – are the best recognised, Japanese and also make fishing reels. Massive innovators, forever changed cycling.

SRAM – are American, introduced gripshift and are the youngest, but now own many, many cycling component brands. My personal favourite…

Campagnolo – are the oldest and by and large only compatible with themselves! Campy chains only work with campy cassettes! Predominately used for racing, expensive and with Italian flare! Paved the way, invented quick releases, invented rear derailleurs with TWO jockey wheels (nod to Simplex), basically started gears..

Hoods – The nice grippy rubber bit on top of the brifters, where most people spend most of their time.

Shifter – For gear shifting, no integrated brake at all. clamp to the bars for mountain bikes, can be bars or downtube for touring bikes and older road bikes.

Brake levers – For braking, no gears at all! Flat bars and drop bars have different types are they’re not really compatible… it can be done, but it’s not pretty or a good idea.

Lockout levers – For “locking out” (or opening up) your suspension. (can be front or rear suspension, or both). Locking the suspension means the bike will be more efficient when pedalling on smoother trails or roads (it’s a bit more complex, but ish).

Dropper post lever – Press the lever to adjust the height of your telescopic seatpost – on the fly. Normally found on mountain bikes, but Cyclocross are coming round…

Matchmaker clamps – Now you’ve got all these levers where are they going to go? Matchmakers combine several (2 or 3) clamps into one, keeping the bars tidy and the controls close at hand.

Grips – For gripping. Hutt perch?!?!?

Bar bungs/end caps – Critical safety features, plug the ends of the bars so that if you crash, the bar doesn’t take a core sample out of you! Also holds the bar tape in place on drop bars.

Cables – Normally Bowden cables, a wire housed inside a stiff outer sheath, used to make things work. (unless you now have electric or WiFi shifters and hydraulic brakes,,,)

Inner – The smaller silver bit that usually causes the change in gear, it pulls on the mech, the mech moves. It pulls on the brake, the brakes move. There are different inners for brakes and gears. Rubbish at pushing!

Outer – The thicker black but, it takes the inner cable round bends. It is designed to be stiff and resist compression so that tension is maintained (needed for crisp gear shifts and positive braking. There are also different outers for brake and gears.

Wires – Also cables, but these are for electrical gear systems (and some suspension).

Hoses – To carry the hydraulic fluid of course?! Brakes mainly, some dropper posts, some suspension lockout.

Ferrules – The bits that go one at the ends of outer cables ensuring a good, stiff fit with derailleurs, brakes, cable stops and housing in general, whilst also keeping them tidy (and better sealed)

End caps – Appropriately timed, these are the crimp on caps that go on the end of inner cables after attachment (to brakes or derailleurs) to stop them exploding into tiny stabby wires.

So there we go, a quick sprint through the parts of a bike – not exhaustive, not covering every single bit (bearing covers, seals, crank caps, chainring bolts,  etc etc) and not scratching the surface of different iterations (hub gears, suspension, bromptons, batteries, etc etc!) but a good starting point.

Hopefully it will come in useful for someone somewhere, in which case, mission accomplished. I might come back and add pictures and diagrams at a later date, but I wanted to get the body down whilst I had some free time.

Hope you enjoyed my variant on alphabetical!

Oh, and the picture up the top – I found an old photo of my first ever full bike build, my beloved DS-1 and scanned it in! (Yes, before digital cameras and what’s a mobile phone?)

The test of this post, can you name all the parts?

Chris out.

The Glossary – Part 1

To Martha,

I’m going to do my best to explain the many bits of a bike – as not everybody out there knows about bikes (and unless they are “into” bikes why would they?) Also so that people might be able to (maybe?) understand what I’m wittering on about! I started this yesterday and quickly realised that this could quite easily be my longest ever post (It’s not as if they are ever particularly brief!) I will invariably miss things out.

The Late Great Sheldon Brown has an entire website dedicated to the many iterations of different components found on most bikes, ever. I believe the website is now maintained and updated by John Allen. Long may it continue! If you want details and history… Sheldon Brown!

With that in mind, I’m going to split this up into two posts and I’m going to keep it brief (ish) I’m not going to go into great detail about the different types (ie. Spokes – come in different lengths, thicknesses, profiles, double/triple butted, plain gauge, aero flattened spokes, straight pull, J bend, galvanised, stainless, steel, painted, anodised, 32, 36, radial, 2/3/4 cross, steel, carbon, aluminium, even titanium, by Sapim, DT Swiss, Mavic, Fulcrum and on and on…)

So brief….ish

Let’s go alphabetically…

Noggin – A noggin is a, usually plastic, cap that goes over the end of mudguard stays to stop them poking you.

Mudguard Stays – These are the rods that attach the mudguard to the frame. They often attach to the dropouts.

Dropouts – One pair at the front, one pair at the back, these are the semi circular, down pointing  cut outs where the wheel axle goes.

Wheel axle – The hollow rod (tube?) that goes through the middle of the hub.

Hub – The middle of the wheel, has all the bearings inside it, all the spokes connect to it.

Spokes – The wires/rods that go between the hub and the rim.

Rim – The round bit of the wheel, just before the tyre.

Tyre – Probably best stop reading if needing an explanation. Tire in the U.S.

Bead – the inner edge of the tire that holds it onto the rim.

Inner tube – Rubber tube that keeps the tyre inflated.

Valve – How to get air into the tube OR into the tyre for tubeless.

Tubeless – Tyres….without a tube, instead use goo to seal.

Goo – Or sealant, Iiquid normally containing latex, sloshes around in your tubeless tyre and seals holes.

Rim tape – stops the spokes/rim/nipples poking holes in the inner tube. Stops air escaping in tubeless tyres.

Nipples – Yes, really – these connect the Rim to the Spokes (usually).

Flange – the two raised sections of the hub with holes that the spokes thread into.

Quick release skewer – Rod that goes through the hub and the dropouts and tightens using a cam to hold the wheel in place.

Through axle – Larger skewer that goes through the hub and into circular dropouts and screws up, to keep the wheel in place.

Fork – At the very front of the bike, the two legs either side of the front wheel.

Brake mounts – The brake caliper bolts onto these. (Smooth right! 😀

Caliper – The part holding the brake pads. responsible for the braking action.

Brake pads – Either work on the rim, or the disc.

Disc – Exactly that, a disc, mounted to the hub that the brake pads press on to brake.

Head tube – The tube at the front of the bike, the top tube and down tube connect to it.

Top tube – the tube at the top of the bike! Connects the head tube to the seat tube.

Seat tube – the tube the holds the seat post. Connects to the top tube and the seat stays at the top, and the bottom bracket shell at the bottom.

Down tube – the tube underneath the top tube, runs down from the head tube to the bottom bracket shell.

Bottom bracket shell – Connects the chain stays, seat tube and down tube and contains the bottom bracket.

Chain stays – run from the bottom bracket shell, to the seat stay and the dropouts at the back of the bike. There are 2 of these – one on each side.

Seat stays – run from the seat tube to the chain stay and the dropouts at the back of the bike! There are 2 of these too!

Sides – Chain stays and seat stays have both a drive side (right side of the bike if you’re sat on it) and a non-drive side (left side of the bike if you’re sat on it.)

Seat post – This is the tube that sits inside and sticks out the top of the seat tube, that your saddle is attached to.

Seat clamp – This is attached to the seat tube and clamps your seatpost in place so it can’t slip (holds your saddle at the right height and angle!)

Saddle – Butt perch.

Rails – run underneath the butt perch, allow forward and backward adjustment. Can also strap saddle bags to them.

Bottom bracket – The bearings and crank axle or spindle that live inside the bottom bracket shell.

Crank axle/spindle – A rod or tube that runs through the bottom bracket that the crank arms attach to.

Crank arms – or Cranks. Hmmm, the bits the pedals are attached to…one on each side, can be rods or tubes, pedal at one end, the other end attaches to the axle/spindle.

Pedals – Futt perch. (Couldn’t resist)

That seems about the right place to split it!

If you learned something (or were interested/amused/bored) continue to Part 2.

Oh, and the picture – my old set of Chieftain 2 Cranks – with the crank axle as part of the non-drive side (left), the 4 arm spider on the drive side and all the many washers, spacers, seals and bearings needed for the bottom bracket (plus a couple of tools)!