Friday, 28 January 2011


Hubs are such an important part of any bike, but even more so for our bikes; the rear hub houses the gears (8 or 11) and also provides some important braking via the chainstay-mounted disc brake calliper. The front hub powers the lights so that you can see where all those gears at the back end are taking you as well as providing the majority of the stopping power... that's a lot without even mentioning their primary purpose: constantly and smooth rotating around the axles!

So far, we've been using Shimano's 8-speed wheelset with matching dynamo front hub. They've been superb, but Shimano have recently released an 11-speed version of the Alfine internal gear hub - it's a complete redesign from the 8-speed version and has had unanimously good reviews in the press. There's no matching front dynamo availabe yet, but we reckon Schmidt's Son deluxe would work really well.

We've managed to get hold of an 11-speed hub - no mean feat considering the hooooj demand! - and will be building a custom set of wheels that we feel is THE ultimate commuting wheelset: Shimano 11-speed 32-hole rear hub and a Schmidt Son front dynamo hub, laced onto Velocity DeepV rims. Both are disc-specific hubs (which works out great as the rims are coated with the same reflective coating as Ambulances and Police vehicles, and don't actually have a braking surface)

Ads from Tarty Bikes (the world's leading trials bike shop) has very kindly agreed to build the wheels for us - he has years of experience building some of the world's toughest wheels for riders like Danny Mackaskill, so they'll be well up for the riggors of daily commuting.

We'll let you know how we get on with these as soon as they're built up!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Some Pics...

... from the first ever Milk Bikes photo shoot:



Thursday, 20 January 2011

The All-Black Proto-Bike

... and there are more pics on flickr - please let us know what you think!!

The Super-Commuter!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

1 photo = 1,000 words...

... and last night we took loads! After the Saturday shoppers had all left Chelmsford and before the clubbers invaded, my trusty side-kick Rich (pictured!) and I spent a couple of hours roaming the streets looking for good spots for photos. We got kicked out of one multi-story car park, but found another not far away. A lovely fish restaurant by the River Chelmer was another good spot - great light and colouring! Will put some up on the flickr page soon - watch this space (and the twitter and facebook pages!)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Why use a belt?

Well... due to one reason or another I have not been on the prototype for the last week and have been riding, and destroying my winter training bike. I hate the sound of grit on rims as you brake....

On Tuesday morning on my way to work there was an almighty bang and gears started to be very temperamental. On closer inspection something had bent the rear deraullieur. I limped the rest of the way to work and got a lift home.

Tonight I have been in the good old shed swapping over another deraullieur so that I can ride again tomorrow. The photo shows my hands after dealing with the oily grim that had built up on my training bike...

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Russ's Review of the White Prototype

Milky Milky

Mark kindly lent me one of the prototype Milk bikes to try out for a weekend. I got the flat barred one,  medium frame, 8 speed Alfine, Avid BB 7 cable discs, front hub dynamo with Supernova lighting and one of those nice belt drive systems.

I commuted around 3000 miles last year on a Dawes Audax but that has a few limitations as a serious commuter – primarily 25c max tyre size and the normal road brakes which are poor in rain or foggy conditions. The transmission has also been completely replaced in the four years that I’ve had it, and some components more than once (ISIS BB anyone)?

I remember answering Mark’s original “perfect commuter” questionnaire a while ago so was keen to see what he’d come up with.

First Impressions:
It looks like a proper bike – slightly sloping top tube, but pretty much a traditional geometry. Not a hint of toe overlap, even with the SKS mudguards on.

The Pearl White paint is lovely, and hard wearing as it turns out. Attention to detail on cabling etc is fantastic, and the compact Tubus rack a nice detail. Easton finishing kit is the usual high standard.

It’s not the lightest bike ever, but considering it is fully equipped with lights, rack, disc brakes and a toolkit it is not overly heavy either.

On The Road:
First off it’s almost silent. The belt drive is a dream, and gives an almost Fixed feel to the transmission as there’s no backlash in the drivetrain. There’s also no chain grease or oil to glue grit to the bike or wear out the transmission.

The Alfine hub shifts instantly and can be shifted without pedalling which is great at the lights. There’s no freewheel noise either. The Alfine shifter works in reverse to a normal one which takes a slight bit of getting used to but the big Plus sign on the up shifter is a good idea.

The ride is super comfy on the 700x32 Continental Touring and pot hole avoidance becomes much less of a necessity. I chose to swap the Brooks saddle for one of my own for testing so can’t comment on that.

The flat barred version leans towards an MTB feel at the front – especially when up out of the saddle. I found the original bar position a little so high so I’d flipped the stem which suited me better. I found the initial response to steering input was sharp but the bike was never twitchy probably due to the overall wheelbase being fairly long.

There was plenty of braking performance available from the Avid BB7’s although that took a bit of a mindset change from grabbing as much as you can to stop on my normal bike. I didn’t get to try them in the wet.

Having the dynamo front light on at dusk was reassuring, as was not having to worry about the battery as I currently have to on my three hour round trip to work. The rear Fibre Flare and reflective sidewalls on the tyres are also nice details on a commuter at this time of year.

There are also three sets of bottle bosses and a set of rack bosses as standard, one of the bottles currently holding a toolkit.

I put around 30 miles on it over the weekend before an unseen patch of black ice sent me crashing down and ending the ride with an injured hand. To my relief, the only mark on the bike was a slight scuff on the rear rack!