Byocycle City Speed Review (storing, keys and punctures)

During the summer I finally used the bike for what I first intended, which is to cycle from home to the boat, rig the boat, sail, and de-rig the boat and cycle home. I had hoped the electric bike would save my energy to do all this, as I was having trouble on my normal bike.

On a couple of occasions I cycled to the boat and folded it down, carrying it onto the boat and placing it into one of the side berths. The boat is 20ft, she has a cabin and although small it is enough to sleep and cook and store things. I strapped down the wheels and handle bars to the frame so it would not come undone (I wish the design would allow this to happen, there is no fixings to hold her fast once folded down), then strapped her to the boat so the bike would not fall over. There the bike sat until I had finished sailing. When finished I took the bike back to shore and assembled it again and cycled back. This time I used the throttle power more to give my legs a rest.

On one occasion I lost the key to the battery. I could not find it anywhere. All I could do was to cycle home using the gears. It was not so bad, taking it easy I did not notice the added weight too much. But another question arose “where to get another key cut?” When I asked in the shops in Carlisle they asked me what sort of key it is used for. So they were not used to its size or thickness. One shop quoted me more as it was an “electric bike”; finally I found a replacement for 6 pounds for 1 key. The bike came with 2 keys, and another fault (?) with the design is that once you have taken the key out of the battery where do you put it? You have to leave the key in the battery while riding so to have a key ring dangling is not good due to it catching on something. To have it with other keys is not practical as you have to remove it each time from the bunch. It would be better to have it on the bike attached to the seat (?) as you have to remove the seat to get the battery out. I am sure I lost the key in this process as I had to dismantle the seat and battery from the bike, therefore leaving the key loose.

Another question which arose recently was that I got a puncture in my back wheel. I am not sure if it was a puncture from the hedge cutting on the country roads, or if it was a fault in the inner tube as the back wheel was always going flat if I left it a couple of days. Perhaps over the weeks the pressure had made the hole big enough to cause the bike to go down quicker. Half way home I noticed the bike to be sluggish, I used the throttle more than normal and it got me home with 3 lights showing (normally I get home with 4 lights on the battery). The bike also felt unsteady due to the lack of pressure in the tire. I thought I had to take the back wheel off and realized what to do about the motor and its wiring? I mailed the shop where I had ordered it and their response was very helpful, offering to ring me back and offer assistance. In short I had to unplug the wiring on the back wheel and then take the wheel off as normal. In the end I did not take the back wheel off, I disconnected the brakes and slipped the inner tube out, found the hole and repaired it. So there is 2 puncture patches on the back wheel so far.

On many of my trips to the boat I have been taking lots of extra gear and food, the panniers where full and heavy. The bike handled well with the added weight, so no problems there.


The Summer is Over…Long live the Autumn

One could say the “summer is over” all activities seem to have stopped and I find myself being “back at work” which for me is making small-pipes and busking. But I can still write about the various activities I have done over a month or so, some of which were a welcome change: a travel to Orkney (a birthday present to myself); sailing once more after a period of 3 years; going to Piping Live 2015 in Glasgow; and a trip to the Isle of Arran (my last visit was when I was 21, a few moons ago!), and where my small laptop got a wash in seawater and decided not to work again (the laptop I had used on many of my previous blog entries R.I.P.)

There was a new insight into my electric bike which I will add to the review blog. I will be reworking my Dinghy Cruising Association articles for the blog, as I think they could be of some use to those who wish to cruise the Solway Estuary.

Over the next few days/weeks I will be writing several blogs on these topics and others too, such as: folk sessions; a new Small-pipe workshop which will be in October; and unintentionally learning an old instrument, the recorder! An instrument I hated when I was at school, but I find myself starting again.

So the summer might be over but let’s look forward to the autumn!

Byocycle City Speed Review (update)

It’s been about 9 months since I got the electric bike and I have learned a few things from riding it. The first is not to treat it like a normal bike, it is not. The weight and size of its wheels make it a very poor bike compared to a full size racer or touring bike with 700 wheels. But it is a great bike and if you use it in a certain way it is just as good.

I use the different systems as gears; I use the systems for different tasks:

The gears can be used as normal, but I rarely go onto the 1st or 6th gear. I use gears on the flat, on the top of a hill, on the descent, when I am climbing using the pedal system, but I do not use gears all the time, the bike is too heavy for that.

The pedal system is the most used while riding. It adds to the cycling, the motor and the cycling leave the legs without stress or tiredness. While going uphill I have it on and it is like being pushed, on a long flat piece of road I use it to make the head wind a little easier to cycle against. I rarely have it on ‘medium’ or ‘high’, I use it in ‘low’ mostly. I use the gears 2-4 depending on the hill, if it is a long hill I use a lower gear.

The throttle system, I use sparingly, I get bored sitting there not doing anything. I use it on flats, when my legs are tired, when I am peddling and I want a bit of help. I use it to get over busy roads fast, or to get passed a bit of road which I do not want to be on. I use it to coast along, to move but not to speed.

All these systems are used in a cycle of about 25 miles round trip; sometimes I get off and walk up the bigger hills to use different muscles in my legs. The battery is still on ‘3 lights’ when I am finished.

I can pack it into my boat, and I intend to use it on some camping holidays later this year.

Of course there are disadvantages, one being the size of the wheels makes you pedal faster, but this can be solved by better technique. My tires keep on deflating I am not sure if this is due to the weight or a leaking valve, but I am blowing the tires up every other day. I do not know how to change the back inner tube due to all the electrics or where to oil the motor parts… there were no instructions for this.

Lake District on my 50th Birthday


My 50th birthday was turning out to be a depressing day. I had not found anyone to spend it with and I was seeing that as a reflection of my current position in life. “50, alone, friendless…” not a good beginning. I had decided to go off to the Lake District to walk to Watlendeth and have a coffee at the farm house coffee shop; the walk is always nice if you get off at Rothswaite walk over the tops into the valley of Watlendeth. A bus to Keswick then another to Rothswaite by using the North West Explorer Ticket is still good value.

My walk was still in a negative mood, the weather was not brilliant and the people I met were all coupled. Having my coffee was not much better; everyone seemed to be with someone and all talking about children, relations, and friends. I decided it is better to be alone than to spend it with others as one can feel lonely in a crowd.

I changed my route and retraced my steps not choosing the easier flatter option to Ashness Bridge and Surprise View. When I got to the top of the pass I decided to change my route again and go off the path into the hills. It was a little like a fairy story of going into the “magical forest” my mood began to change, I began to be happier, I began to take pleasure in getting my boots dirty, in noticing the beauty around me, I was alone but not lonely.

I took videos and photos I sank into the bog; I slipped over long grass and scrambled over rocks. The view was different; no longer the same route I often take, my perspective was changing.

Later, I regained the path and descended to Rosthwaite, but then I took another path one I had not been on before. A less used path through trees and high ferns.

I video emptiness, the magical forest was indeed magical a stillness and beauty with the richness of the colour. I was heading back to Keswick but it felt like in a different country.

I got to the road but then I decided to go another route again this time I did not know where I was going. I climbed, and when I fork came, on the disused track, I took the higher path.

It ascended sharply, was it an old shepherds track or a sheep path, it was certainly unused. I walked through high ferns, often the path disappeared underneath the grasses. It went higher, steeper; the flowers became wilder, colorful.

I thought to turn back as I had to get back for the bus, but again I found myself continuing higher, further way from the road. Sweat was pouring down my face, no water and feeling a little tired, the heat was intense. I was enjoying myself immensely.

the path went up the mountain

I got to a stone wall and saw the path going higher but this was my limit, I knew it. So I turned back and descended the same way. It took me a fraction of the time, soon I found myself by the road and then I detoured off the road to the river. Standing in the cold water splashing myself with water I felt very good, not lonely, not depressed, and only content. I did not need people, I needed to find myself and I had found it that day from going to new places, new routes, and new journeys, it had engaged and interested me.

Bowness on Solway Folk Session

A nice evening last night, at the pub session in Bowness on Solway, a reduced crowd due to holidays I guess, but a nice mixture of songs and melodies between the 3 of us.

The young girl who played violin and who also sang border ballads was very good. A guitarist sang songs about Haaf netting and accompanied each of us. I left the pipes at home due to work on the boat, and took my English concertina and played some melodies from Mallorca, Ireland and Northumbria.

There was an audience too that clapped after every tune or song… something which is unusual for us!! A nice session. It starts about 8pm, Sunday evening 2nd Sunday of the month.

"The Beautiful and the Damned", by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1)

I started this book by F. Scot Fitzgerald after reading “Tender is the Night” partly as I did not want to lose the author’s style once I had tapped into it. But I am struggling with it (but I was saying this also over “Tender is the Night” in the beginning).

The main character “Anthony” is the bored intellectual of his day. Nothing happens in his life, he moves along it without touching the sides. The little I have read about the “flapper” period shows such a character, the superficiality, the benign empty chatter, the need to not be serious (except for a serious light heartedness).

But since the suggested introduction of the heroine (or should I say anti-heroine) the story suddenly has a life, a purpose… it becomes interesting. Why? Her (Gloria’s) character is just as superficial as Anthony’s. Her talk of her legs, the light-hearted chatter, the superficiality, is suggested. There is a similarity between the modernist man and modernist woman. There is no romance indicated, no sex, no love, a few kisses in the back of a car, the relationship between the sexes is empty-headed, occasionally fueled with helium.

Whatever the reason the book suddenly becomes readable. The woman gives it a new life, which is strange as she has not even enter the dialogue yet, except in the 3rd person narrative. Perhaps the dullness of the book was the boredom (and boring) life style of the man, yet the suggested happy-go-lucky life style of the woman creates a picture of fun (to the reader – a man) and a novelty.

Let’s see how the book (and my interest) develops.

"Tender is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have been reading the book for a couple of weeks, not going at it diligently but when the mood took me. I found it hard going at first, I could not see where it was going, the main story line, like with so many modernist writers it touches upon subjects in a realistic way while the brain still expects a Victorian plot.

But it grew on me, more his style of writing, his use of a sentence, detached from the plot yet a part of it, a double meaning speaking to a past time of the 20s, between the wars. The character Dick, grew into an anti-hero character. His decline from popularity, good job, prospects, money, career, charisma… into a vulgar, argumentative, drunk, abusive, violent, adulterer. He controlled his wife, yet saved her from mental illness….

If we are to believe the end where he says something like “the doctor has cured the patient”. Was he married to her to save her? Was it a plot of his to cure her of herself? He went from mental illness into an independent woman…free to have an affair of her own… so just as morally corrupt as him.

I found the end sad, really sad. He became liberated yet his existence was one of obscurity, failed jobs, failed relationships living in a small town in the US, money troubles, where as Nicole married the lover (who seemed to me also controlling.. “Out of the drying pan into the fire!”). if it was true that he did all this to save her, not love her, but to use her as a patient, maybe an easy option, maybe to hide behind her money… money which paralyzed him, stopped him from striving, creating… and left him impotent; and what eventually led to their marriage failure, breakdown and separation.

Did she love him? Can a mentally ill person really love another as a wife could? Was not her love an illness, an infatuation? She latched on to him and took over the money side of things in a monologue. It was done and dusted in a paragraph. Money took away the strife which created happiness.

Byocycle City Speed Review


I do not normally do reviews of things I buy, but I chose this electric bike after a lot of research, but there was a lot of info I could not find online or via the shop, so I thought to add to the reviews that are currently on line.

I bought this electric bike online, I did not see it or try it out before hand, a risk? Yes, as to send it back would cost… but the reviews were promising. 
I was looking at two bikes the Byocycle City Speed and the Wayfarer, both had similar spec and both had good reviews. There was very little in the way of videos, the Byocycle Cameleon had a few videos but the city speed was poorly documented. The Wayfarer had a couple of good videos which showed durability. The Cameleon looks the same as the City Speed, in fact only a few of the components are different if you compare them, but there is a big difference in price. 

Although I have not had my bike long (a few months) I have been on long bike rides, around trip of about 25 miles to and from the boat. The trip involves quite a lot of hills and gradual climbs and the weather is not always good. Today for example I had strong icy winds in my face and heavy showers. The roads I cycle on are farm roads, tractors often produce cracks and pot holes and generally uneven surfaces, so not the ‘typical’ conditions that the info uses for getting the most out your battery. The spec say the battery will last between 20-30 miles on flat terrain with no head wind! 
I generally cycle everywhere, I do not drive a car, I have had no interested in learning to drive, and I try not to use the bus or the train if I can help it. Cycling is my chosen transportation, good for a lifestyle, fitness and low cost. The bike I was looking for had to be practical and useful to the distances I needed it for. It is not for a pleasant ride on a Sunday…
This morning the battery was fully charged and I had little luggage to carry. I learned a few years ago not to cycle up steep hills. I get off and push the bike up. This is not laziness but it saves the chain and it stops lactic acid building up in the muscles, by using other muscles it leads to a less painful experience. I only do this a few times as I cycle to 25 mile round trip, generally I cycle. 
On my way to the boat I peddle as much as I can, I use the “peddle/motor” option when I need it on gradual hills and when I get tired legs. I try and be in 3rd gear when I use this option as otherwise I am pedalling for nothing, as least in 3rd I can add to the motor.  When I am not using the peddle/motor option I knock it off. 
By the end of the 12 miles I was feeling tired… this is not because I did not use the motor enough, but I think because of the weight of the bike one is pulling the equivalent of a loaded trailer, when you come off the peddle/motor option the bike slows down, you feel the weight underneath you, and you feel your legs having to push that weight along. It is like riding through treacle! 
Coming back from the boat I try out the “motor only option”. As my legs are tired I need to rest them on certain parts of the journey. Also when you use this option you can peddle and not use the battery. I prefer this as I can have more option depending on the terrain. 
By switching from ‘peddle/motor’ option (by holding down the button on the control box) it automatically switches to the ‘motor option’, I can access the motor while peddling by slowly moving the throttle leaver next to the hand grip. This can be unsteady to achieve the right amount, so I press my thumb into the hand grip and rotate my thumb next to the throttle, I can get minute variations to suit my leg requirements.  When I release the throttle again it feels like I am cycling through treacle, the weight of the bike is apparent. You need the motor for this bike… it is too heavy to go long distances without it. 
The lights are very good, very bright and penetrating, the front light is turned on/off by the control box on the handlebars, it is connected to the battery. You need to have the control box set on ‘motor option’ mode otherwise you will be peddling all the time whether you want to or not. The back lights are not connected to the battery, but they are good lights.
I like the bike stand it is useful, I like its sturdy frame especially when I fly down the hills, there is no shaking of the frame. 
After the ride I noticed the 3 green lights indicating the battery strength was still on green (all 3) so I have not used a lot of battery to achieve my 25 miles. I will keep experimenting how to use the bike more efficiently, maybe increase the usage of motor only on this hills and give my legs more of a rest.

a bunji elastic on the folded bike will keep it together, and it is a lot easier to transport.

Inverters and Electrics on a Small Boat.


I bought a new inverter for the boat, a sign perhaps of my change in function for Sadaf, not the ocean traveler i thought i was, but more of the stay at home kind and snuggled up in a warm bunk with a few home comforts. I bought a 500w 12v inverter to charge up my rechargeable batteries for my radio and mp3 player, and to recharge the computer; I have 3 car batteries and a solar panel which used to be for an electric motor.
The worst thing about the inverter is the noise from the fan, not comfortable. When everything is plugged in the wires are everywhere, and when i recharged the computer battery it must have taken a lot of power as the inverter shut down as the battery got near to the empty mark! I think it would be ok for emergencies but as a thing if relaxation and leisure it did not pass the test. 
I think I will stay with my rechargeable batteries and my speakers, there is no much volume (no amp with them) but it does OK if, like today, it is raining heavy.

Moving the Earth

As winter is coming I was surprised to see a new mooring close by to my own. When I say “close by” it was too close for Sadaf’s comfort. The new warp and the boat would have intruded into the area of Sadaf’s swing. As Sadaf’s keels are shallow she would have lifted first with the tide and slammed right into the stern of the new boat. I had asked in the village if the new owner could move the mooring away from my own, and as it was in my line of getting away from the mooring, could be positioned quite far away. Nothing happened. So today with some very kind help from Jerry, we dug up the new mooring and positioned it some distance up-tide, still in line with my boat (so not loosing any depth) but far enough away so the boat’s stern does not leave a nasty dent in my hull. I will eventually move my boat further up-tide away from the harbour and away from our new visitor, but for now I can be at peace that I will still have a boat to go to. I am playing with the idea of sailing in the winter, Jerry also gave me 3 sails which are a lot lighter and smaller than my present ones. It is much easier to reef and easier to handle, so I might chance a winter’s season, as I have done so little sailing this summer…what summer eh?