Reborn Bikes: BlueBug
7th January 2021

Reborn Bikes: BlueBug

£20 was all he wanted for it, there must be a catch but I was looking for a utilitarian bike to use about town and this fitted the bill. Having skimmed through Facebook Marketplace, this bike looked like the right combination of functional form, rust free(ish) and working(ish). Allegedly a BSA bike from the head badge and chain ring (which was the icing on the cake) but probably an amalgam of a number of bikes over the years, nonetheless this rather mangy old bike had potential and I was prepare to part with a whole £20 to test my theory. So back in the days before lockdown I arranged to pick up the bike while on another trip to that area and brought it back home to survey the damage. Luckily, everything was serviceable and the bike was rideable, a bargain of a mode of transport already but it did need some TLC, and when Lockdown hit in March 2020 I made this my mini restoration project.

Cotter pins, oh cotter pins, how I hate you. Disassembling an old bike is a frustrating business requiring a great deal of patience and perseverance. Most components came apart easily enough, but the dreaded cotter pins holding the cranks remained steadfastly immovable. A cotter pin, for the younger and/or uninitiated of us, is a pin with an angled flat on one side and a thread on the smaller end that, when mated with the through hole of the crank and the matching (but non angled flat) on the axle makes a solid connection when tightened with a nut on the cotter pin end. However, with all the metal on metal surfaces and decades of corrosion and wear and tear, these pins were not moving. But to access the bottom bracket bearing and to paint the frame easily the cranks has to come off so I borrowed a small vice from my brother in law and promptly cracked it, the pins were not moving , Cotter Pin 1 : George and vice 0. In the end only a large workbench vice with considerable leverage could get them loose. I must note that every other aspect of the disassembly, painting and reassembly was simple and painless. Since the 'Battle of the Cotter' I have since removed many others without the same trauma, or broken vices.

To fit with the combined concept of personal workhorse bike and BicesterBUG social media pinup, the colour choice for the respray was self evident, blue as our logo, or the closest Halfords had at the time, namely a vintage Ford probably last seen on an 1980s Escort. Besides the new paint job, the bike was treated to the following:

  • new chain
  • new Schwalbe marathon tyres and tubes (zero punctures so far)
  • lights front and back
  • front luggage rack
  • carrier crate
  • brake pads
  • new bottom brackets ball bearings
  • everything cleaned greased and fettled into shape
  • trailer attachment and trailer

Since May the bike has been in near constant use with no issues whatsoever, not so much as a puncture (Schwalbe Marathons are worth the money). In contrast to driving a car, I can now say hi to my neighbours as I gently pass them, the number of impromptu meetings I have which would not have been possible in a car is one of the best unexpected benefits of using the bike. The more deliberate pace of riding has helped me appreciate the 'inbetween' parts of Bicester that one normally drives past, and helped me discover new interesting short cuts not accessible by car. The front crate it plenty big enough to carry a bag and a bit of shopping, or a bag of take-away, or even the odd huge delivery box full of books (photos below). Most journeys I need to make around Bicester do not involve transporting a sofa or washing machine, so more often than not I can go with this bike, often riding alongside my wife on her bike. Even a weekly shop fits in the trailer, with the added bonus during Covid that I can take the trailer into the store and use it as my own trolley, win win! All these little journeys certainly so add up though with 200km ridden since May, equivalent to 20kg of CO2 saved (based on my frugal 100g/km Fiesta Ecoboost) or about £13 in fuel not to mention the full cost of the avoided car use (wear and tear, environmental damage etc). Basically the bike, rescued from a probably imminent one way trip to the tip, has lived up to my expectations. A practical and very cheap way to cut out lots of short journeys, discover Bicester and reduce my emissions.

200km is ~ 125miles, Fiesta does ~50mpg, -> 2.5gallons of fuel -> 11.35litres @ £1.20 per litre -> £13.62 of fuel for 200km