Sunday, 16 December 2012
Building bikes and bodging brakes . . .
Mechanical engineering has never held much appeal . . .
I can just about tell one end of a spanner from the other. But figuring out anything that is much more advanced than that tends to leave me baffled.
Had I realised that I'd need such skills to assemble the bikes that Dr Z and I have bought The B&G for Christmas, I'd have tried harder to steer them towards alternative gift choices.
Using the Ikea-style (that is, bewildering) instructions provided, I managed to attach the wheels to the frames without too much difficulty. The handlebars slotted in quite easily, whilst the seats didn't cause me too much trouble.
I figured at that point that I'd almost cracked it . . .
Big mistake. I had failed to factor in the brakes.
One of the few parts of the bikes that the manufacturers had bothered to assemble, I'd just assumed that the brakes would work. In hindsight, that assumption seems naive.
Mechanically, the brakes were operational in all aspects other than their ability to slow the wheels. This being chief amongst their duties, it left me facing a sizeable problem.
I spent quite some time fiddling with them (loosening and tightening random nuts and bolts, stretching cables and, as the instructions advised, hitting things with a hammer (this I am quite good at)) before I started to make progress.
The end result is that the brakes are better than before, but they're still not perfect.
In order to address this issue, I intend to advise The B&G to avoid steep hills and hope for the best. Beyond that, there's not a lot more that I can do.
The next challenge is to gift-wrap The B&G's bikes in time for Christmas. In this field, I also have limited skills. On reflection, I think it might be best to leave it to Dr Z now . . .