14 Jun 2014

Nice rack and girly handbags!

While my trike was with Geoff he also built me one of his beautiful, made-to-measure, stainless steel racks. My horizontally challenged saddlebags and essential sports bags have never enjoyed proper support in the past. There was always the risk of the sports bag swinging into the wheels on sharp or rough corners. And it did! All too often!

The Carradice Camper Longflap saddlebag was always slumped to one side from the weight of the Abus U-lock stored in one pocket. I have to lock my trike so often that it would be hopeless to keep the lock in the bag under the last load of shopping.

The new rack provides excellent support for my Carradice saddlebag. The original, basic crossbar, which I had been using for the last year, is still used for the largest [girly] saddlebag to get a high enough hanging point. The rear triangle is too short to provide a suitably high crossbar at the top. I cannot use the Brooks saddle loops because then I cannot hang my essential sports bag over the saddle pin. Geoff made some stand-off spacers for the crossbar to keep the saddlebag clear of the backs of my legs when I straighten them. Fortunately this close proximity does not affect my pedalling.

My usual, large sports bag still rests on top of the saddlebag, when loaded, but there was never anywhere to attach it safely in the past. The cloth handles were simply hooked over the saddle pin. Often with a double loop to lift the bag as high as possible.

I have occasionally sawn  slots in the bottom of brand new sports bags with the bottom gear sprocket! This has twice resulted in a litre carton of milk being sawn open and resulted in quite a mess! Not to mention the criticism from the higher domestic authorities! Or SWMBO, as she prefers to be known.

The Camper Longflap's form has now changed considerably. Going from being a limp, floppy, rather slim, one handled, but strongly attached shopping handbag. It is now much squarer and deeper from front to back. Though still not even remotely to the dimensions quoted by Carradice. If I had the skills and a suitable sewing machine I'd put them out of business overnight with a real saddlebag. I'd probably have to call it Bag-zilla. Or something equally silly. Only suitable for men with hairy chests and fine calf muscle definition. [Hairy legs optional.]

My Camper Longflap will just take five [litre] cartons of organic milk or yoghurt side by side. With only room for a something thin in front. Not even normal packs of butter will fit comfortably in front of a row of litre cartons. It is already full to its olive drab, canvas brim!

The nearly empty Carradice Camper Longflap resting comfortably on its new, Trykit rack.

Anything else has to go on top. Under the 'Longflap' and inside the sleeve. To be retained by the sleeve's drawstring and the patented "long flap" and its extended straps. Great for soft things which can be safely squashed. Like spare clothes and camping gear. Not so for fragile shopping!

Don't even think of putting a bag of  rolls or a loaf or eggs or anything boxed, like frozen stuff, on top, under the flap. It will become horribly flattened. Squashed beyond recognition and very likely unusable or inedible, or both. Hence the endless collection of, now deceased, sports bags for my additional shopping. The light and fragile stuff goes in the sports bag. To be draped over the Camper saddlebag full of the relatively indestructible. Though I have squashed plenty of milk cartons over the last couple of years! A real saddlebag wants to be at least 10" (25cm) deep from front to back. Anything less is just a little girl's pretend handbag!

The rack has changed the way the saddlebag bag lies too. It is no longer approximately vertical but leaning well back. In its empty, relaxed state, the closure straps are now too long. I shall have to punch new holes to take up the slack.

The Trykit rack is individually made to measure in stainless steel. So it will never look tatty or rust. Every joint is carefully shaped before being brazed. It fits, via stainless steel socket head screws,  to brazed-on, screwed bosses on the trike's seat stays. The weight is an incredibly light 20 oz! Only 567 grams. About the same as a full water bottle.

The nice thing is that the bag is far easier to load. It no longer tries to flatten itself against the seat stays as soon as any weight is put in there. Which always tended to close the mouth tight. Requiring two hands to put anything in. One to hold the bag open and the other to load.

The Abus U-lock still hangs heavily on the left but I may be able to find a better position for it. One which will still allow instant access at the next supermarket. And the next. Hanging it from the trike frame proved to be impossible. Because the damned lock rattles like the devil! I have tried it a couple of times, when the bag was stuffed full. But quickly gave up just to stop the infernal racket! They could hang Abus locks from the wire netting at Guantanamo and save an oil prince's ransom on water.

Amazing. isn't it? They could send a man to the Moon decades ago but they still can't make a decent, lightweight, foolproof, bike lock. Not at any price! The more we spend on lightweight bikes, just to lose a niggling few grammes, the heavier the lock needs to be to keep the scum of the earth from pinching the bløødy bike! The Abus U-lock alone weighs 2lbs 4oz despite being a shorty. 1,020g! 1.02kg! Nuts! Obscene! Daylight robbery! Why don't they make the U-bar hollow and pressurise it with a sticky coloured dye. Then when the thieving scum try to cut the lock they and the stolen bike end up covered in permanent dye!

Pretty as a picture? Or just gilding the lily? Half-timbered thatch, Poppies and Cornflowers struggle to compete with my Trykit's unashamed bling. Does my bum-bag look big on this trike?

The penalties for bike theft are obviously completely inadequate. The total cost of bike theft per nation is absolutely horrendous measured over a year. What a shame it isn't possible to cut a thief off at the knees with a booby trapped bike lock. Then leave them bleeding against the railings as a warning to others!

Perhaps technology will find a way to make it completely pointless to steal a bike. With live GPS tracking via 'phone apps and password keypad protection for the machine. Making it useless without the owner's express authority. Though I still prefer the booby trap idea. It appeals to my desire for revenge for losing my Jack Taylor racing bike back in my teens. Fifty years is still not long enough to soften the pain of that loss! That theft changed my life.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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