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After getting its fifteen minutes of fame a couple of weeks ago, the Bakfiets is now back doing the usual job, carrying 20kg of seed potatoes, 1 kilo of onions, some shopping bags for shopping in the next village, several pieces of very beautiful wood that is apparently uneconomical to work with and therefore fit only for burning unless I took it out of the workshop, three bags of rather smelly compost, a candle and a ‘rubble bucket’ How long before the poor thing gets as filthy as before? I reckon a week.
For those interested the seed potatoes are half earlies and half lates, we are supposed to plant after May the 20th here because the climate can still throw a wobbly and freeze before then, so I’m not too late this year. As usual I read the label showing the variety very carefully and promptly forgot it before I’d left the shop.
The Bakfiets spent the weekend being a “Fair Trade” shop at our local church. The shop was part of a general ecological information stand, so it made sense to show people an alternative form of transport as part of the display, and it got us noticed.
As the Bakfiets usually spends its weekends being used as a sort of farm truck, I spent a large part of Friday afternoon scraping the mud and cow poo off so it would be fit to be used for selling foodstuffs: I don’t think it has been this clean since the day I rode it out of Amsterdam. More people asked about the price of the bike than the contents. One or two people made sarcastic comments when they heard the price, then went off muttering when I pointed out it was the same as a car costs in about four months.
We got far more positive comments though, and a special mention in the announcements just for the Bakfiets
And I was allowed to ride my bike into the church hall, so it was worth it for that alone.
*This is a blatant ripoff of this post by Kim Harding.
It turns out that riding the Bakfiets in all weathers as a family car/removal van/pickup truck/farm tractor, on and off-road in some very hilly places does make an occasional bit of maintenance necessary. Last week the brakes began to protest at my callous lack of attention to their needs by making a high-pitched squeal that caused dogs to howl, horses to bolt and cows to go off milking every time we tried to slow the bike down.
Not having any real experience with roller brakes I sent off an email to the nice people at Workcycles, who as usual responded extremely fast with the advice that the brakes need greasing now and again, preferably about every six months: the Bakfiets is nearly five years old so it was probably a good time to start, once I’d worked out how.
A quick search with the mighty Internet returned lots of advice, mostly with pictures of people dismantling entire hubs and rebuilding them, which was a bit beyond my capabilities, but the Shimano website helpfully showed an exploded diagram of the hub with two little holes which were apparently there for the purpose of adding the grease, but not just any grease, oh, no: this job called for the super-duper Shimano wonder goo which costs the same as molten gold but obviously absolutely essential as with a normal inferior grease the whole brake system would be destroyed. If I hadn’t managed this already.
I rode the Bakfiets over to my friendly bike shop for advice, and after the owners’ ears had finished bleeding from the noise he confirmed that grease was needed. I asked tentatively how much the whole operation would cost, given that the brakes were badly abused in the first place, possible removal and replacement of the hub, and the liquid gold that would be needed to avoid disaster.
He got out a syringe and squirted normal gearbox grease into the two holes. Sorted.
I showered his tips jar with gold, bought two brake levers for the Xtracycle (another story I’ll bore you with sometime) and cycled home. Not a squeak from the brakes.
Shifting stuff down to the garden would be a logistical nightmare if it wasn’t for the Bakfiets. I got hold of a load of used wood and had to take it to store under the roof of the shed.
It isn’t obvious from the picture but the wood does hang over the front by quite a bit. Perfectly safe but a bit lively on bumps. I’m also glad I didn’t have to explain this method to any representatives of the civil authority.
Youngest son had a birthday party a while back so Papa had to transport supplies (To make Minions, if you are wondering)
Notice glorious cycling weather.
I haven’t written much about using bicycles lately, especially considering how much use our bikes get.
The Bakfiets spends much of its time being a tractor, as seen above delivering compost and a load of wood to the garden for making the Mighty Steppe. Without the Bakfiets we’d probably not be able to keep our crazy hippy lifestyle going, as it is the main way of transporting stuff back and forth to the Very Smallholding. I could probably fill one of these if I had one, which would remove almost all need for a car except for the occasional long trip, but I always end up deciding I’m better off with what I’ve got.
I may make a flat bed for the Bakfiets as soon as The Boys are too big to ride in it (that’s if I don’t make a coffee bar instead).
Meanwhile the Xtracycle remains my vehicle of choice for going to the next town and beyond, visiting friends and running errands, not least because it means I can combine trips.
This of course means it is out in all weather, and I’m going to have to get myself into gear and replace the wooden deck at some point: it is made for sunny California, not cold damp Germany.
People still shake their heads and tell me it is much more convenient to have car, but when I hear stories like this I’m not so sure…