With a few days turfing under my belt while riding the Harley Quinn single speed bicycle, I’ve come to various interesting conclusions. The first concerns bicycle weight. And what a difference not having a heavy bike makes to the day, and my poor back afterwards. Not only is it less effort to cycle (well, sort of, if you know what I mean) but also to manhandle up steps or stairs, or even swing about in a narrow back alley as well. A joy compared to my previous, and heavy, bike builds. In the past, I always used the bicycle to carry any stuff I was needing for the day, using frame and handlebars bags. Now, I use the smallest (15 litre) rucksack I have and keep the contents to an absolute minimum.
And that brings me to my second point, carrying stuff. Now using a small rucksack, I’ve reduced the weight and number of items I carry to bare essentials. My bicycle tool kit is now a small multi tool, one spare TPU inner tube, plastic tyres levers and a very-mini mini pump. Add a water bottle and some food and that’s about it. I now use the mobile phone as my main camera, no longer carrying another camera. The quality is not great but adequate for the blog pages.
Next, having a bicycle without gears, or rather, just the one gear. I must say I’m actually totally amazed that I don’t miss having gears, at all. Yes, there have been one of two occasions where I was unable to ride up a hill, and those were mostly off-road, and few and far between. Surprisingly, I’m pretty sure I’m climbing hills quicker than I did when I had gears. Back in the day – well, actually before the 2nd of June this year – I’d approach a hill, change down a gear, or two, then pedal slowly up. Now, the combination of planning ahead, building up some momentum and maintaining that momentum, are what get me up those same hills quicker.
Tyres are another topic I’ve been looking at. Having been riding the Harley Quinn fitted with 35 mm touring tyres and finding she copes just fine taking zones in all manner of locations, both on tarmac and off-road, albeit more slowly than when using larger tyres, I’m wondering if I should stick to skinnier tyres for the Surly Ogre. Do I really need 50 mm wide tyres, and all that additional weight?
Reminds me of my youth, the days when the Raleigh Chopper was all the fashion and you used whatever bike you had to ride off-road, usually breaking something or the other. And if you were really lucky, you just might have managed to beg, steal or borrow as set of cyclo-cross knobby tyres. And that was it. Yet you managed just fine. Yes, you were slower but what’s the hurry? So, I’m trying Schwalbe Marathon Racer 700 x 30c tyres on the Harley Quinn, which will be my general purpose everyday urban steed. The Surly Ogre will get a set of Continental Terra Trail 40 mm wide, so-called gravel tyres, for all off-road turfing. Had actually decided on 35 mm wide but found the 40 mm for half price. I really like the idea of keeping things simple and as minimal as practical.
Still on the subject of tyres. Was looking online for the above tyres and came across them on a website for £21.50 each, reduced from £43.00. So, I added them to the shopping basket but didn’t actually purchase them. Went back later on that evening to find they were now £28.50 each, for the exact same tyre, on the same website. Hmm, something not right here. So, cleared the browser cache and by the power of Castle Grayscull, price was £21.50 again. Bought them. Just goes to show how Google, cookies and God knows what else is keeping track of your activities.
And to finish, time for Harley Quinn to step on to those scales for the final time. Now with the lighter Schwalbe Marathon Racer 700 x 30c tyres and featherlight Turbolito TPU inner tubes fitted (including air!) she now tops the scales at a respectable 10.60 kg, just shy of that 10.00 kg figure I was aiming for. That 10.60 kg is for Harley Quinn* totally naked (oops, cold shower time again!), i.e., no mobile phone mount, lights or mudguards. These would take her over the 11.00 kg, but I’m happy with that. Back soon.
*The lovely Margot Robbie plays the DC Comics character Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
Copyright ©2023 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.