The Return of the Genesis Day01 Alfine

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I have mentioned several times in several places that I’ve had issues with the bike I bought for commuting, the Genesis Day01 Alfine. I thought I was buying a bike which would be easy to maintain, it had hub gears and a thick chain which would be easy to clean and disc brakes for better braking in the wet and they don’t need much tweaking.

It turned out that the bike didn’t quite live up to expectations. I tried to work around the issues, fix them my self and on several occasions took the bike to a bicycle shop for them to fix it.

Unfortunately the bike turned out to be a nightmare. The issues continued and seemed to be unfixable. Or at least it would appear to be so after 7 visits to a bike store in less than 6 months.

The main issues where with the brakes. They needed constant adjustment, every 50 miles, to be kept at a point where i could actually stop if i needed to. The rear brake had an issue where the caliper would make a clicking sound and then the pads would release from the rotor and I would not be able to brake any more. Very disconcerting and I would not want that to happen to the front brake!

I had a few niggles with the Versa shifter as well. The barrel adjuster is very easy to flick without you noticing. Do it several times and the gears are all messed up. Which means when you set off the gear might change and the freewheel will basically be on for a few nanosecond whilst the gear changes, this however is not good when you are setting off and putting nearly all your body weight onto one pedal. It resulted in a few sprained ankles!!
Unlike other drop bar gear changing system I have used, it isn’t possible to change down a gear whilst braking. There is a very small lever which you change down with but it’s not possible to hit that whilst braking. Not a massive deal as you can change gear when stopped but add that to the issue with the barrel adjuster and it’s just a pain!

So a few weeks ago I wrote a letter to the Evans store I bought it from, explaining the issues I had and what had been done about them and what hadn’t worked etc. I put in the letter that I would like to return the bicycle to them because the bicycle is not fit for purpose under the sales of goods act. I also copied in the head office, the letter was passed onto customer services the same day and I got an e-mail from them, letting me know they where looking into it.

A few days letter I had booked one of my other bicycles in for a service at Evans West End and normally when the bicycle is ready to be picked up they give me a ring. But this time they e-mailed me. I had never given that store or any of the others my e-mail address. I had put it in my letter. So clearly they have a database of your details, and every time you make a purchase in store over £50 they ask for your postcode and name.
I didn’t think it would be easy for them to decide on whether to take the bike back from me and refund me the money. But a few days later I got an e-mail from customer services explaining to me that they would refund me the full amount paid (including accessories like;  pedals, mudguards and tyres) and they would send the bike off for inspection.
I suspect that them being able to see how much I have spent with them in the past had something to do with it. Evans is a chain of shops I use regularly out of connivence, I’ve always had good service and I suspect the issues I have had have been down to a fault which is unexplainable.

I’ve been without the bike for a week now. And when I spoke to the manager of the store that I bought it from, he said that they (Evans) tried to contact Genesis about the issues. I laughed as I suspected what was coming. He said that they where completely uninterested in the issue and wouldn’t even look at it. It’s supposedly being sent to Madison (which owns Genesis) for them to review.

I’m aware that others have had issues with the brakes on the Genesis Day01 Alfine, I think that most of those have been reports of the front fork shuddering whilst braking which can be fixed with some spacers on the caliper to position the pad over the rotor properly. But if anyone has an issue like mine, I strongly suggest thinking about following a similar line of action.

I’m not going to let this affect my ‘relationship’ with Evans, I will certainly continue to use them but I won’t recommend getting a bike made by Genesis, their customer service is poor! Which is a real shame for a British company!

I am now looking for a new bike. A single speed / fixed wheel bike with the ability to take full guards and a rack. Currently got my eyes on the Pearson Touche and the Condor Tempo. I did ask on twitter if anyone had any ideas about a frame which meets my requirements and the following were suggested by several people; Cotic Roadrat, On-One Pompino and Kinesis Decade Convert 2. Unfortunately they didn’t quite meet my requirements or the frame isn’t geometry isn’t what I’m looking for but thanks to those who suggested some bikes 🙂

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Delays at crossings in the United Kingdom

This is a response to David Hembrow’s post ‘Delays at traffic light controlled crossings’

Crossing roads in the UK as a pedestrian or as a cyclist is generally a pain! The roads really are aimed at the traffic traveling along it. Pedestrians are often forced to wait a substantial amount of time after they have pushed the button to cross the road and even then, you might not have much time to cross.

For example, the video below shows the traffic light sequence at hyde park corner, plenty of cyclists and pedestrians use this daily.

As we can see from the video, pedestrians and cyclists have 6 seconds on green to cross, 8 seconds of no light and 82 seconds of red light. Pushing the button actually has no effect at this junction as the phase is designated and is based on the traffic light sequence on constitution hill.

David Hembrow shows us what it could be like!

As David says in his post. The delay caused to motorists for this ‘priority’ to pedestrians and cyclists is actually very minimal.

I cycled the route for the up coming Barclays Cycle Superhighway Route 8 that will be launched in July. Work is being done on the route at the moment but it takes advantage of some already in place facilities. These facilities include several traffic light controlled crossings and the time you have to wait at these is very different to what cyclists and pedestrians expect in the Netherlands.

The first crossing is a 24 second wait. No so bad but could be better. The second crossing however is appalling, we waited nearly 50 seconds but nothing. And we both decided it was best if we cycled across the junction whilst no traffic was coming.

This act of crossing whilst traffic isn’t coming is actually very common in the United Kingdom. Because pedestrians are often forced to wait a large amount of time to wait. This actually has a repercussion on the traffic using the road. As the crossing request from the pedestrian is not cancelled, the lights will change at some point and there may not be anyone there to cross, so vehicles have to stop for nothing.

This also has an effect on cyclists when these types of crossings are involved with building off-road routes, they become a pain to use as they can take several times longer to travel a set distance when comparing it to using the road.

For example the Vauxhall Gyratory has an off-road cycle path that goes all the way round, but again pedestrians and cyclists are forced to wait long traffic light phases. I can cycle around the gyratory and leave the exit i want in under 30 seconds but using the off-road route takes over 5 minutes in the test run I did! [The video is 1min 47 seconds long and is sped up by a factor of 4.]

With crossings like these, off-road cycling routes are hardly appealing to cyclists. I personally know that I would, and do, prefer to cycle on the road where I can get to my destination in a reasonable time!

The AA Blunder!

On Friday the 15th of April the AA (Automobile Association) gave out 5,000 branded helmets and 5,000 branded high visibility vests to cyclists in London. The cycling community was outraged by this and watching the twitter comments was quite funny. Especially afterI had already tweeted this the following day to the AA President, Edmund King.

why is the @aapresident giving free helmets to cyclists? So drivers can drive more dangerously around us?

The AA President was kind enough to reply to me to let me know that the AA does give out free training for dangerous young & older drivers and campaigns against drink/drug drivers. Which is fantastic!

What I don’t get is why a motoring group is getting involved in handing out ‘safety’ equipment to cyclists. Are they trying to make the motorists think that cycling is dangerous? Or that motorists can drive around us in a more dangerous manner because we now have helmets to protect our heads.

The AA’s basis for this free advertising gift where 2 polls. Around 16,000 AA members were asked if they think cyclists should wear helmets. 97% think we should. And a spot check done by the AA suggested that only 5% of Barclays Cycle Hire users wear helmets.

The AA president, Edmund King, said

You see some people on Boris bikes who are not proper cyclists. They need a helmet more than most. They’re weaving all over the place.

The helmet is a hot topic among cyclists, at the end of the day they are designed to reduce acceleration to the head at low speeds. Wikipedia states

A typical helmet is designed to absorb the energy of a head falling from a bicycle, hence an impact speed of around 12 mph or 20 km/h. This will only reduce the energy of a 30 mph or 50 km/h impact to the equivalent of 27.5 mph or 45 km/h, and even this will be compromised if the helmet fails.

Basically the helmet is only designed to protect a cyclist that falls over by them selves. Anyone that has cycled for a reasonable amount of time can manage to balance and is unlikely to fall over. The addition of a cycle helmet in a crash with a vehicle is debatable. It may or may not help you.

Is weaving a bad thing? I and many other cyclists do a little wobble or weave as a vehicle is approaching us, it gives the driver the perception that we are not in control and they are more likely to give us the space we require.

High visibility vests are also a hot topic. My personal opinion is they are next to useless in the city environment. So many people wear hi-viz that it doesn’t have the same effect that it used to. Out in the suburbs and the country side it’s a different story. But in the city where you can’t see much further than the rear of the car in front of you, hi viz isn’t going to help.

The CTC’s response was fantastic.

We believe that far bigger road safety gains can be made by tackling instances of bad driving.

And that is how most cyclists felt about it. The CTC turned up at the same locations as the AA and handed out copies of the highway code to drivers.

The AA have said they will repeat this branded give way in other UK cities but I suspect that this may do more damage than good to them, especially with regards to the cycling community.

Are we being sold a fairytale?

It’s approaching the time of year where another set of Barclays Cycle Superhighway routes are going to be opened. Work has already been underway for several weeks, with the roads being re-surfaced and blue paint being laid. In some places it has even meant a remodel of the road design, reducing 2 lane sections of road into one.

The cycle superhighways are meant to make it easier and safer for cyclists to commute into and out of London via direct and continuous cycle route . But CS7 and CS3 haven’t exactly done that.

CS3 is pretty much a nightmare. The shared pavement sections on Cable Street and the A13 aren’t continuous and aren’t exactly what i would call safe. Pedestrians walking onto the cycle route, plenty of roads crossing the path where they have priority. And due to how narrow it is, it makes it very hard to pass slower cyclists if it’s busy.
Due to the on road bits being built on sections of road which are quite narrow, then there is lots of conflict with drivers as you are forced to take a primary road position at plenty of points to keep safe. Not exactly what a novice cyclist wants to be doing on their dream cycle path to work.

CS7 is much the similar, i use it near daily for my commute to and from work and anyone that watches my videos will know that it certainly comes with issues. At certain sections you have to take a primary position to avoid dangerous overtakes and to keep your self safe.

Most of the cycle lanes along both routes only meet the minimum requirements set by the DfT (1.5m in width). With less than 1 mile of both of them being any greater. Even less of them are mandatory, and thus you will often find that other vehicles are driving in them and it’s not uncommon for it to actually be completely blocked.

Re-design of the road structure has been kept to a minimum. Sections of road have been re-designed to attempt to keep traffic flow and cycling flow constant but key issues like left hooks have not been addressed.

TFL boast about the increase in ASL size and quantity. Which is pointless considering they aren’t even enforced and more often than not they are full with other kinds of vehicles or you can’t get to them!

The main problem I see with these cycle lanes is the mentality of cyclists. I witness on a near daily basis cyclists filtering in the blue cycle lane in an unsafe position. Be it through a small gap or up the inside of a left turning TP flat-bed lorry. When these blue cycle lanes of death are laid down on the road, it gives cyclists the feeling that they are safe because they have their own designated area but in reality we are still at risk from the motorists that care not for our safety.

These cycle lanes are meant to aid in the cycling revolution that is happening in London. An increase of 70% of cycle journeys was recorded on CS3 and CS7. But the cycle lanes do not meet the demands of commuters, more often that not they are overflowing with cyclists overtaking each other and conflicts with drivers are not dropping.

Will the new cycle superhighway routes be an improvement over what has been given to us?

On a side note, don’t even try to use the superhighways on a weekend. It’s like cycling down Oxford street!

How to do digital overlays

There has been a boom of cyclists that have started to take to the roads with video cameras. As one of them, I try to come up with and promote ways that we as a group can make our videos better. One thing that is missing from the videos is speed, and with wide-angle lenses it can often be very difficult to judge from a video just how fast a cyclist is actually traveling.

I’ve made a few videos where I have digital read outs on the video and I often get questions asking about these when I make them.

A cyclists who goes by the name VeryMadMart has made a java application that takes the files recorded by a ContourHD and the TCX files recorded by a Garmin GPS unit and puts the data on the video frame by frame with some nice graphics.

Essentially the application just needs a .mov file and a GPX file to make the overlay, so you don’t have to use a ContourHD and Garmin device.

The hardest part of doing this is trimming the video and editing the TCX XML file to match. Essentially most of the time the video and data will be slightly out of sync. I have found the best way is to use the latitude and longitude found in the XML and search that on google maps, it gives me an idea of where I’m looking at and I usually cut the start of the video to a side road or similar where I can easily match it up ‘exactly’ on the google maps. This minimises the delay from video to data to within a second in most cases.

This isn’t the only way cyclists can do this. Vholdr, the owners of the Contour brand, have released a version of their camera with GPS inbuilt to it. This makes for another way to get some information about your ride and match it up to your camera. How this works with a site like youtube I don’t know. But upload the footage on to the Contour website and it looks like the whole thing is automatic and a nice map and data is displayed next to the video.

Digital overlays and speed readouts isn’t just a gimmick, in the case of a collision the information will be vital. GPS positioning will back up what your camera says and gives you an accurate speed just before impact! No more ‘I was doing about 15mph officer’
How many motorists can do this? I bet less than 1% can!

For more detailed information on the steps involved and to download a copy of the java file, please visit VeryMadMarts website.

Silly Cyclists – Episode 24

The 24th Episode of silly cyclists is out.
There are a few new things, a website for silly cyclists and a twitter feed, subscribe for updates.

This weeks episode looks at brakes, filtering, red light jumping and general bad cycling.

I got lots of submissions this week but unfortunately couldn’t use them all. This video features CyclingMikeySkrzypczykBass and tommikomulainen.