Not “No Maintenance”, But “Low Maintenance”! Roller Brakes, An Idiots Guide!

Roller brakes are fitted to most Dutch and European city bikes, why is this, and why haven’t you heard of them (if you have, nice work, you have your finger on the pulse of modern city bikes). Roller brakes are good at working the same in all weathers, not needed much attention, not wearing the rim, looking neat, not really having any consumable parts to replace (new unit £38 if you need one (you probably won’t for your bikes lifetime) and just generally being good as slowing you down without fuss or bother. They have their weak points, maximum power is not as good as rim brakes or discs, …eeeeerrrr well that’s about it..for hilly areas you need to keep the lubrication grease topped up (it can dry out with lots of hot decents) and for a cargo bike + hills + a speedy rider you might want to think about disc brakes.

But roller brakes (and Sturmey archer older trad design of drum brakes) are pretty useful bits of kit for a bike that is used for riding, rather than a hobby. Fit a roller brake (particularly the IM80)  and you won’t need to look at the glossy brochure for next years model cos these are about function not flash. (in fact there isn’t a glossy roller brake brochure, shimano keep these brake units close to their chest, V brake pads are good business).

So how do i look after a Roller brake?

here are some pics of the inside of an IM80 shimano roller brake. Service schedule says grease every 6 months, if the brake squeaks or ‘grabs’ or just feels ‘not as good as it was’ then a few squirts of grease should put it right. The greasing hole is covered by a little rubber bung that you pick put with your finger nail. (if you lose it , we have more) early IM30 rear brakes are a pain because you have to rotate the brake to access the hole, (seat stay in the way)
but newer IM45 and 80 grease holes are easily accessible.

You can buy some roller brake grease here.…/shimano-roller-brake-…/

We can service your roller brakes (and your whole Dutch bike) if you bring it in, it won’t break the bank, but you can do it yourself.

Thats the great thing about a dutch bike (and Gazelles in particular) you pay good money once for a good machine, and you don’t have to spend out later.

happy riding.

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It’s a new year….let’s think forward…

The New Year is definitely here, time has flown in a way that it never used to and i am back on my mission to bring quality, usable transport bikes to the south west.
Last year was a tricky time latterly, with a hand affected by an undiagnosed condition that rendered it painful and useless, it was difficult to make headway. Never the less some improvements to the Dairy were made, aesthetically and practically its now better and improving all the time..making the dairy a stimulating place to visit is a constant challenge but with some interesting reading material, a kettle handy and as many of the better bicycle products here as i can manage, i think i have something alternative to the usual bicycle shop.
This year should be an exciting one, there are more cargo bikes of the box forward variety available this year. In addition to the relatively difficult to import (read expensive) USA models, the Cetma cargo and Metrofiets with which i have dealings with from time to time, there are more bikes now available from Europe. With Urban Arrow bringing out a purpose built electric boxbike, from Germany an aluminium box bike with trailer option , + a long Harry, Denmark have their bullitt and the original long john is also still available, in fact we can build you a custom cargo bike using a long john frame here at Really Useful Bikes. We have the contacts and the skills to get and/or make you what you want….
We plan to make more of these available from Really Useful Bikes…R.U.B is a small non profit making concern, so all the money made, goes back into bringing new product to the people that need them . We have our own projects here too that involve recycling mountain bikes and turning them into affordable load carrying bicycles. Cargo bikes should not just be for the more affluent amongst us, bikes that can carry stuff are society changers, freedom givers and just plain good fun.
In addition to good practical products we can service and repair any bicycle including hub gear and dynamo equipped steeds. Our workshop has cytech2 qualified technicians and is capable of most jobs including the repair of aluminium frames. We have a stock of the better lights and can fit and wire them for you…It’s not just about cargo bikes though, Gazelle Dutch bikes are stocked too, some of the more suited models are here for test ride and we can or course give advice and obtain any bike from the wonderful Gazelle range of bicycles.
So that’s a little bit from me, i hope you have a great Year and i hope to see you either here at the dairy or about town. Happy Riding…

Trailers! this weeks feature….

Trailers are not everyones cup of tea, bit more drag, bit more width, but blimey what a lot more stuff you can carry…we have several trailers here, the new Surly Ted which is super heavy duty and capable fixing a market stall on top. taking a goat to market or withstanding a drum N bass fuelled civil war, the Carry freedom trailer always a good reliable favourite with a versatile bed on which to strap, screw and build things on and then the Burley Travoy, a natty lttle trailer that is so versatile that you can carry it up to the office or the flat with out anyone even realising you have a fully laden trailer in your hand. clever… 

If you want to carry more, try a trailer.

If you want support stockings….look in the ‘lingerie’ section!

Need a commuter bike?….look in the ‘sporting goods’ section.

Summer is here… so get it while you can……

Sunday on the Bristol Bath cycle track is always a lovely affair. Yesterday Kim and i took the opportunity to support the dinotour, a joint event run by three different councils. yesterday it was lovely to see families out, sports cyclists swooshing along, old bikes dragged out of the shed and given an airing, there were even some time travellers from the 40 dressed to the nines and jiving to a jazzy beat, all these different folk with a bicycle as a common thread, all seemingly at one with the world and co- existing happily. We had a lovely day, a few chats along the way with cycle advisers and other cycle path users, a big breath of steam train and an obligatory cup of rosie lee at Warmely station, it was very nice way to get some exercise, some shopping and have the chance to purchase the most expensive pint I think I have ever bought, 4.50 for a Peroni in a fosters glass anyone…..i think the jolly sailer in Saltford is having a laugh…..

It was also the first outing for Kim’s new Rodford bicycle, freshly equipped with a new Brooks B18 lady saddle, we rode off into the summer sunshine in search of dinosaurs, Sainsbury’s and a little adventure.
Kim has been used to three speed bicycles up to now, and getting on fine, but the 7 speed shimano was a welcome upgrade, hills were less hilly and I had the new experience of getting overtaken if I dilly dallied. It is a useful thing to be able to ride with a new bike owner, to see if the gearing is fine, the seat is adjusted properly, little things that are easy to rectify if you know about them. In Kims situation, the gearing was fine, using 7th gear only once or twice and 1st gear on the steep bits was twiddly enough. Halfway around the seat post was upped by an inch and that made the hills easier too…with a bit of confidence the getting onto a higher saddle becomes easier and then riding with correct leg extension gives more power for hills and helps with comfort.

All in all a nice day, Kims is very happy with her new Rodford bicycle and I am still enjoying pelican 001. Thanks to organisers of the dinotour and just remember that the summer does not last for ever, so if you haven’t dusted off your bicycle this year, get on with it because it’s a very nice way to spend a day. (Just check the beer prices before you get a round in…….! )

Rodford bicycles are available exclusively from Really Useful Bikes and to order only.

an English European fusion for a bicycle  genuinely bespoke, uniquely yours.

Prices from £495,

Cycle City report on BBC4 this Monday at 1100.

March 2011 is the cut-off date for Bristol to turn itself into a Cycling demonstration City over three years.
Miles Warde, who surveyed the early stages of the project last year, saddles up again to find out where the money has gone, how it’s been accounted, and whether Cycling City has been a success.

BBC Bristol are also having a series of short pieces about cycle city,

next week on Ben Praters show 16.00 – 19.00

Now cycle England has been dismembered in the Bonfire of the quangos..its an interesting time.
Public support is needed for those that are left to continue the work,  obvuiously there will be a reshuffle and a shortfall, Sustrans issued a plea for financial support this week. So its all change around here…..for me it’s about route 15….a safe link into Bristol and Bath for the beleaguered town of Yate.

Anyway, have a listen and keep an eye on things, support where you can.