Can I Swytch Back to Cycling in 2022 / 2023?

On 17th September 2022 while watching YouTube the latest funding campaign from Swytch Bikes was advertised.

I had not thought about cycling for a considerable time. I re-awoke this website from it’s slumber and reflected upon what has occurred in the last 3 years. Let me catch you up on a few key points in my life.

My cycling cessation

I used to work for a Charity, whose office was based within a local council library building. My daily commute took 23 min when cycling. I had space to store my bike and a staff toilet large enough to comfortably change clothes.

Then while working late one evening the office’s ceiling fell down, due to water damage. Thankfully I wasn’t injured physically but the shock caused me great anxiety. The building was considered unsafe and I had to relocate to a different temporary office. I eventually was relocated to a lovely office in a larger library, however my habit of cycling daily had been broken.

I put on weight, my work related stress increased and the unpleasant public transport system in Greater Manchester, which was inefficient, crowded, uncomfortable and expensive was my daily reality.

The Covid-19 Pandemic resulted in me working from home for the best part of 18 months. I put on more weight, I no longer fit into my cycling clothes. My bicycles sat outside getting rusty chains and faded handlebar grips and tape.

New Job / New City Center Office

In January 2021 I started a new job. I can’t recommend enough that if you are unhappy in your current work situation, then get a new job. Life’s too short to be unhappy.

My work life happiness has dramatically improved throughout 2021 and the first 3/4 of 2022. I have been back in the office 3 days a week for about the last 12 months. My work colleagues are great and my current employer is considerate of my safety and well-being. I feel supported and appreciated in equal measure.

Drunken Assault

A few weeks ago I invited a work colleague to come for a drink after work on Friday. I work in Manchester and we visited a pub I used to attend for pub quizzes pre-pandemic. We chatted about ways to improve the world for about an hour and after a pint I headed home.

I was waiting at a quieter bus stop than usual. A stranger came up to me and while standing a few inches from my face insulted me and attempted to provoke a hate crime against a young lady waiting at the same bus stop.

I am over forty, the attacker was a young and very drunk builder in his early 20’s. I stood up for myself and criticized the attacker for his behavior. This lead to a few ‘bluff chargers’ from the attacker and then escalated to him throwing his bag, coat and High Viz vest into the road.

The attacker was very drunk. After I had used my brain to manipulate the situation and the attackers actions, and the attacker had almost been hit by cars on two occasions. I was able to de-escalate the situation.

I hadn’t received any physical injury (thank god). I learnt that my attacker was called Paul, he worked in construction near my city center office, I know the company he worked for and where he lived. I learnt how long he had been drinking to get into the state he was and why he had ‘abused alcohol’ at the end of his working week.

I felt a lot of sympathy for Paul, but despite the way things ended with Paul’s profuse apologies and his promising to return home without causing any more trouble. I was left with even less desire to waste my time using buses as my primary form of transport.

Options for the future

If I move away from public transport for my commute to work then an electric bike might help me get back into the habit of cycling.

Reasons to choose Swytch

  • The Max battery range is enough for my daily commute without needing to recharge at work.
The higher capacity battery is only ~ 1kg (Max 1100g / Air 700g)
  • The price with the ‘pre-order’ discount of 60% is competitive with other conversion kits on eBay, but more pragmatic and elegant.
NB A £50 delivery charge is not included in these prices.
  • I would save £4 per day in bus fares and the cost of recharging the ‘Max’ battery pack would be relatively cheap.

    Bus fare savings per year
    (2.5 days / week) x (47 weeks / year) x £4 = £470 / year

    Electricity Cost of Daily Commute (Max Battery)

    Electricity Cost per kWh (~£0.50 estimate for 2022 – 2024)

    Max has capacity of 0.18 kWh

    Cost per 30 km full recharge = £0.09 / charge

    My commute is about 16 km per day

    Cost per day is (16 km / 30 km) x £0.09 / full charge = £0.048 / day
NB Both the Air and Max batteries are 36V
  • The battery has a relatively small capacity and given it’s suggested Max range of 30 km I can only assume it’s delivering an average power of ‘assist’ to the cyclist of ~ 100 – 200 W. Therefore there is still a lot of ‘exercise’ the rider is getting from the commute. So I expect my health and muscle mass would increase over time.

    What do you think, should I order a Switch Kit for delivery early in 2023?

How to choose flat pedals under £20 which can be cheaply repaired

Are you looking for a cheap, reliable pair of flat pedals?

I’ve been on a mission to find a pair of bicycle pedals which can survive our wet weather and never-ending winters!

I’ll share my insights into what features to look out for and which you’d be wise to avoid. So you can buy a pedal for your winter bike that should last.

I’ll show you a few I’ve tried and explain why I don’t use them anymore, and I’ll explain my current pedal of choice, how to make it last longer and repair it when the bearings or bushings wear out.

The Wellgo Lightweight Let Down

Wellgo KC001 Flat Pedal
Wellgo KC001 Flat Pedal

My Wellgo KC001 Flat Pedal lasted ages and stayed looking good. when their bearings broke I planned to buy a second pair. But on closer inspection I saw their thin aluminium  bodies were riddled with fractures!

Even worse, both axles  were  seized in my crankarms and I ended up hating those pedals as I had to throw away the whole crankset.

Avoid pedals without wrench flats

Park Tool HT6 - 6mm Hex tool
Park Tool HT6 – 6mm Hex tool

I bought the Park Tool HT6 Hex Wrench to remove the seized pedals. Trying to apply enough torque to break the galvanic corrosion bond, I ended up damaging the socket.

Anodise Pedals Stay looking Pretty

The wellgo pedals had aluminium body but were anodized and despite some scuffing they kept their colour. This wasn’t the case for the WAKE Y0304 flat pedal.

Comfy feet on long rides

WAKE flat pedal Y0304

The WAKE pedals were very comfortable but looked awful after 6 months because their paint had flaked off.

I tried a second pair but the same thing happen.

I’ve written a review of the WAKE pedal which shows you just how bad they ended up looking. Prepare to recoil in disgust!

I’d only recommend the WAKE pedals if you live in a dry and salt-free part of the world.

Worst Pedal Ever

The most disappointing pedal I’ve used recently was the SMS 5.10 XC-pedal (CS395).

SMS 5.10 XC-Pedal (CS395)

I was looking for reliability so having 3 sealed bearings convinced me to try the SMS pedals.

Firstly they have a uncomfortable lump, which forced my feet into unnatural positions. It look several days to get used to this new riding stance and made cornering unnerving.

The final straw was after just a month, while commuting the left axle broke in half.

Broken SMS 5.10 XC pedal axle

It’s a horrid feeling setting off from Traffic Lights and have your foot plunge further than expected as your pedal body fall to the floor.

It’s no fun pushing your bike home for repairs before your first coffee of the day. I was late for work and very peeved.

Nylon Fibre Pedal Perfection

SCUDGOOD SG-1512B Flat Pedal

Now I use a Nylon Fibre pedals, the SCUDGOOD SG-1512B.

I’d avoided plastic pedals until reading a review of the Race Face Chester composite pedal which convinced me to give them a go.

The SCUDGOOD’s shape was slightly more appealing than the Chester and they are under £20.

Grease makes your pedal last longer

The SCUDGOOD pedals were not the most durable pedal I’ve tried. The bearing failed after 4 winter months in the United Kingdom.

Before installing new bearings, I washed the pedal body down and I was impressed to see them looking brand new.

Upon disassembly I realised there was substantial corrosion in just the one pedal that had failed. They would have lasted substantially longer if I had just put some extra grease around the seal before installing them.

Axle with DU Bushing and 686ZZ bearing

Their axle has a bushing and a 686ZZ bearing. Bearing ending in ZZ are less waterproof as they don’t have rubber seals. Once water got inside the 686ZZ bearing was doomed!

How to replacing damaged pedal bearings

Screw extractors are also useful for Bearing race and bushing removal

The 686ZZ bearings had collapsed and it’s inner bearing race just fell out when I removed the axle’s lock nut.

The outer bearing race was much harder to remove and required a screw extractor and brute force to hammer the extractor / outer race out.

Buying new pedal bushings and bearing

I’ve orders a new pair of the SCUDGOOD pedals and loads of bushings and some generic ABEC-3 bearings with rubber seals.

While searching for a precision bearing manufacturer of bottom bracket bearings for my Hope Threaded Bottom Bracket I got talking to the Lily Bearing Manufacturing Company in Shanghai.

They describe themselves as the ‘WORLD’S BEST BALL BEARINGS MANUFACTURER’ on their homepage. A bold claim! Are they the best? Time will tell…

686-2RS Pedal Bearings

I was really impressed with the high specification of their ABEC-5 hybrid ceramic bearings I need for my Hope threaded bottom bracket.

Lily bearings are new to me, so I was reluctant to buy in bulk from a new bearing supplier without testing their quality for myself.

But Lily Bearings were so confident with their bearings they offered to send me a pair of MR2437-2RS hybrid ceramic bearings for product testing.

When I suggested they include a  high quality pedal bearing to put up against my generic 686-2RS bearing they jumped at the chance to prove their reputation.

Assuming the bearings and my replacement DU bushing arrive soon I’ll be able to do a 6 month review on them before Christmas 2018, but the real test will be how they are coping after a British winter.

Watch this space: I’ll keep you updated!

Manchester Mini Sportive – Cross Chained Catastrophe

During the first week of April 2017, I got an email from Evans Cycles which was well targeted. I’d fancied doing a longer ride without the hills that Allez Prestwich rides entail. I was delighted that the Trafford store was hosting a 50km sportive through the lanes of Cheshire. I registered before setting off to work and it only cost £10. My spirits were lifted for the rest of the week.

Continue reading “Manchester Mini Sportive – Cross Chained Catastrophe”

First Tasting Of Stealth Juice Bar From Secret Training

Stealth Juice Bar Taste Test for Orange and Pineapple flavoured Cycling Nutrition

I used the final Allez Prestwich CC winter ride to test out a new cycling energy bar. The product is called a Stealth Juice Bar which is sold by Secret Training. Cycle 2 Health had access to a prototype batch of their orange and pineapple bars. This post gives my observations and thoughts after my first taste.

Sunday started with the obligatory porridge for breakfast, but I pushed too hard (182 bpm) on Rainsough Brow. Poor pacing left that porridge sitting heavy and me feeling queasy. That will teach me to set off earlier, so I don’t have to rush to the start of my club rides. Continue reading “First Tasting Of Stealth Juice Bar From Secret Training”

Shimano MTB Cranksets 2017

Shimano Mountain Bike Crankset Trends in 2017 and an introduction to the Hollow tech bottom bracket

The HOLLOWTECH II bottom bracket system has made changing cranksets less complicated. After a brief introduction to this system, I discuss current Shimano MTB crankset options.

HOLLOWTECH II cranksets have the bottom bracket (BB) axle fused to the drive side crankarm. While the non drive side crankarm attaches to a splined region of the axle using pinch bolts. The advantage of this system is that the BB bearings are externally mounted to the frames BB shell. Consequently the BB axle can be a larger diameter, making it stiffer and lighter and replaceable sealed bearing cartridges can be used with some bottom brackets. I use the Hope bottom bracket to avoid the one fault of some HOLLOWTECH II bottom Brackets, premature bearing failure.

Previously other bottom bracket standards such as with Square taper and OCTALINK had separate axle. Consequently, these are called three-piece crankset. Changing your crankset often needed a different bottom bracket axle length to achieve the correct chainline. This process was normally accomplished with a trip to your local bike shop.

Continue reading “Shimano MTB Cranksets 2017”

WAKE Flat Pedal Review

WAKE Best Bicyle Y0304 Flat Pedals
WAKE Best Bicycle Y0304 Sealed Bearing Flat Pedals

Does your hybrid bike need a reliable sealed bearing flat pedal that costs under £15? if so then read to the end to see if this might be the one for you. This review is a summary after 6 months use of the Y0304 sealed bearing WAKE flat pedal. These pedal’s brand is ‘WAKE best bicycle’ and throughout the autumn and winter they have not failed me yet. Continue reading “WAKE Flat Pedal Review”

Finding Shimano Specifications

Shimano specifications and component compatibility can be found quickly, if you know how. Cycle 2 Health guides you through four search methods on Shimano’s website. Reading the examples below, should make it clear as to when one search method is better than another. There is even an email competition at the end which will test your understanding and perhaps earn you a little prize. Continue reading “Finding Shimano Specifications”

Best value Shimano cassettes

Shimano HG51 8-speed cassette
Shimano HG51 8-speed cassette

When selecting an 8-speed cassette from Shimano in 2017 we have plenty of choice. This post concentrates on finding the best value Shimano cassette. Best value to me means durable and cheap. There are cycling bargains to be had after Christmas. Why not buy what you will need in the summer when it’s on sale now. Continue reading “Best value Shimano cassettes”

Cassette Compatibility Tutorial

This post looks at replacing an 8-speed cassette to down gear your bike, however, the issues discussed are equally relevant to other speed drivetrains. Down gearing a bike can make cycling up hills easier. Buying a wider range cassette is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade your bicycle.

If it’s hard to pedal, you’re in the wrong gear.

By the end of this article, you will be able to choose a compatible wide range cassette. If you want me to double check your conclusions, simply leave a comment with specifics. Continue reading “Cassette Compatibility Tutorial”

Improvers’ Plan – Week 4

As you can tell I managed to get out on a longer ride this weekend. The weather was cold, we had a little snow and I had the pleasure of seeing a few fellow cyclists I hadn’t seen since autumn 2016.

My first club ride of 2017 with Allez Prestwich was on Sunday 22nd January 2017. The GPX file is available for download from ridewithgps. The ride’s route was shortened on the day, due to the snow and ice threatening to become an issue. Continue reading “Improvers’ Plan – Week 4”