Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Beta Basics

Appropriately I met Mark while riding to work. We started to ride together regularly both to and from work and at weekends. We became good friends. Conversations often went over what would make the best commuter bike. A workhorse that could be used daily with minimum maintenance but still be a bike that you would love to ride and would become a reliable friend.
At the time I was riding my winter training bike. This was a steel framed racer that my dad built for me 20 years ago as my then racing bike. The bike was taking a beating being ridden every day and I was replacing the rims every 18 months. Before Mark decided to go ahead with Milk Bikes our conversations had inspired me to build a more dedicated commute bike that could be taken out of the shed everyday and ridden. I looked around at hybrid bikes because they had disc brakes but they all had flat bars and being an old road rider I ideally wanted drop bars. It did not seem possible to buy just the frames so I decided to make may own commuting mongrel which became the Beta.
The basis was a steel MTB frame so that I had the disc mounts. The forks came from a friend who had tried them on his MTB for the winter but had not got on with them. The rest of the parts came out of the spares bin in the shed. Originally it had flat bars as this was what I had spares for and I was keeping my eye out for a cheap set of levers on the bay. I rode it like this for a few weeks and then Mark found a set of levers in his spares bin and the bike was complete.
The Beta has been great. While the fat tyres originally felt very slow, still do, they have the advantage that you don’t have to concentrate to hard on the road surface as they are very forgiving. This is brilliant when it is dark and the roads are wet and even the best lights don’t illuminate all the holes in the road. The beta has not been maintenance free as it still has a chain that needs oiling and occasionally cleaning but I have needed to do way less than on the training bike and the training bike has remained in good condition. The few things that don’t work on the beta; the swinging saddle bag (as I could not fit a rack because of the disc brake caliper); the frame geometry being slightly wrong for the road and the chain maintenance are all designed out of the Milk Bike design so I am really excited about getting my hands on the prototype. (as long as it does not get sold before I’ve had a chance to ride it…)

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