Saturday, September 30, 2006


A Folding Seat

I decided to try to replace the standard seat on my A-Bike for somthing more comfortable. I decided that the new seat should not weigh much more than the standard seat, and the folded size should not be affected very much. Ultra lightweight bike seats and seatposts are easy to obtain, but they greatly increase the folded size of the bike.

After looking around at various seat options, I decided that if the seat could fold, then it would have a minimal effect on the folded size.

I bought an ultra light-weight seatpost, an X-Lite metal matrix. This post is one of the lightest post available, being made of some exotic aluminium composite material. This post also allows the seat angle to be adjusted over a very wide range. After removing the two titanium pinch-bolts on the post, I replaced them with a pair of quick-release cams, threaded onto M6 threaded rods, cut down to size. The result is shown in the pictures below.

Here you can see the seatpost with the quick-releases, installed where the titanium pinch bolts used to be. This seat is definitely heavier than the original A-Bike seat, although a high-end carbon/titanium seat would minimize the difference. The seatpost is also heavier than the stock post, but not by much.

Here is another view. I could not get two quick-releases in the same colour!

With the quick-releases undone the seat tilts forwards very easily. However the seat rails are still held tightly, so the seat does not slide forwards or backwards - the only motion is the seat tilting. So with the quick-releases closed, the seat does not move.

Here is a view with the bike folded.
The seat sticks out about two inches (5cm) more than the original seat.

So there it is. Advantages are that you can have the seat of your choice with a longer seatpost. Disadvantages include a slight weight increase, a slight increase in folded size, and there is an extra step to folding/unfolding.

It remains to be seen whether the seat will slip in the long term. These seatposts are not designed to be regularly adjusted. This seatpost also has a 27mm setback, which makes the folded size a bit larger. Although not shown in the photos, I have since added a cable-tie under the seat. The cable-tie is adjusted in length so that it only allows the seat to tilt back to a predetermined angle. So unfolding is now easy, I do not have to manually level the seat, just unfold it until the cable-tie becomes taught.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Adjusting the brakes

Today was another nice ride to and from work in the sunshine. However, I did notice that the rear brake was making a slight metallic rubbing sound, so I adjusted the brake.

I loosened the two small bolts in front of the rear axle on the left side of the bike, jiggled the brake-band around, so it was centered over the brake hub, and then tightened the bolts. Problem fixed! Now back to work on my folding seat project - details coming soon!

Monday, September 25, 2006


Fitting rear lights

As we head into winter and the days get shorter, lights are becoming a necessity. After an enquiry from sacadoh on
I decided to look into lighting options.

Front LED battery lights look easy to fit (centre of the handlebars), but fitting a rear light is harder, since any rearward projection would interfere with the folding.

I had a spare rear LED tailight, so I tried to fit it to the A-Bike.

This first photo shows the light attached with the bike unfolded.
No problem here, just like a conventional bike.

However, this rear-facing light does cause a problem when folding the bike. So before folding, twist the light so it faces forwards. The bike can then be folded in the usual way. These plastic brackets allow you to precisely adjust the clamp tightness so the light can easily be twisted, but it should stay in place while riding.

The folded size of the bike is not affected by the light. This particular light has a mounting bracket with quite a long projection. A better bracket would keep the light as close to the seatpost as possible. The tube diamaeter is 25.4mm.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Folding while on the move.

A new discovery today.

I can fold/unfold the A-Bike while on the move!
Well, not while I'm actually riding it,
but I found that the bike is so light
and the fold so easy, that I can fold
and unfold the bike while
I'm walking along.

I often ride my bike slowly next to my
wife as she walks along. I do this because
I have a knee injury that prevents me walking
long distances. With the A-Bike I can go places
with my wife when she walks. As we near our
destination, I hop off the bike and fold it while
walking. So she never has to wait for me to fold
or unfold the bike.

The transition from riding outdoors to walking with
a folded bike indoors is totally seamless, no stopping!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


A-Bike backpack brings home the wine

This evening rode my A-Bike to the local
bottle-shop to buy some wine.

I decided to take the A-Bike backpack,
which I received for free with the purchase
of my A-Bike. Up until now I have
had little use for it, since the A-Bike
is so small and light (and clean, with
a protected chain).

The A-Bike backpack in its
folded state is perfect for carrying a couple
of bottles of wine! The thick shoulder strap
is perfect for carrying the bottles while riding
the bike and the padding keeps the bottles
from clunking into your back.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Three through the turnstile

I went to meet my wife at the gym
where she is a member. I don't have
a swipe-card to go through the turnstile
so I had to squeeze through with her and my A-bike.
All three of us fit through the turnstile together!

Well, you had to be there....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


A-Bike goes to the Theatre

Last night I went to the Theatre Royal in York. I rode the bike there, folded it and covered it with my jacket, which totally concealed it. I took the bike into the theatre and stashed it under my seat. No problems at all! No-one had a clue that I had a bike at a live play and it wasn't any problem walking along the aisles of seating with it. It just looked like a jacket! This is nice as I am not fond of leaving a bike locked up at nightoutside in public places.

It certainly folds small and light!

Monday, September 11, 2006


100Km mark!

Today I rode my touring bike to work instead of the A-Bike. The reason is that I wanted to measure the distance to work with my cyclecomputer. What a surprise. I thought the one-way trip was only 2 or 3Km, but the trip using the most direct route is exactly 6Km one-way.
That makes 12Km (7.5miles) a day. Adding up the days and the big 30Km ride
means that I have now done just over 100Km on the A-Bike.

So far the bike has been going well, but I
I can see some wear on the rear tire. No much, but it does not look
new anymore. I have found that a 26inch rear tire lasts about
3000Km on average. Using this as abenchmark an A-Bike rear tire should
last about 700Km or about 3 months of daily commuting.
It will be interesting to see...

Saturday, September 09, 2006


First full week of commuting

Well, I have now completed my first full week of commuting to work by A-Bike.

The bike has held up very well and I am gaining confidence in the capabilities of the bike.

Almost too much confidence though. Part of my commute involves crossing a cattle grid. The gaps between the steel bars of the grid are quite wide, almost wide enough to swallow a 6 inch wheel. I normally cycle up to the grid, jump of the bike and walk across, carrying the bike.

Well on thursday afternoon, while riding home in the warm sunshine, my mind was wandering as I followed a bunch of cyclists in front of me. Suddenly, I remembered at the last moment the cattle grid just ahead and pulled of the path. I had almost ridden over the grid!

So, be careful! After a week of commuting, the bike starts to feel so normal that you can forget that it does have some limitations...

So far I have not ridden the bike in the rain, but I have ridden it on wet roads, but not wet enough to test the brakes in wet conditions. I do wish the rear sections of the mudguards where longer, as the bike did get quite dirty - at the the bike is super-easy to clean!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Commuting to work

Another great day to bike-commute to work!

This is a really nice time of year in York, where the air is cool and the sun still shines.

Today I went for a ride around the Knavemire, which is the local racecourse. I rode past a bunch of teenagers who called out "wicked bike!" and gave me a big thumbs up!

Actually, it is amazing how little attention the bike gets. As I ride along the
shared cycleway/walkways, most people just assume I am riding a normal
bike. It is only when they look down and see the small wheels, do they
get a big smile on their faces! When the bike is noticed, the response has always
been positive. Teenagers especially take great interest in the little microbike.

Another time I got a big response was when I rode past a caravan park.
This time it wqas the retirees that showed alot of interest!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Riding long distances

After doing lots of short rides on the bike,
my wife challenged me to a longer ride
from our home in York to Elvington Air Show,
a round trip of about 30Km.

In order to avoid some busy roads
we rode along some farmers tracks...

While this is certainly not what the bike was designed for, and I did ride it slowly, the A-Bike handled it all in its stride.

Well, I completed the 30Km ride without any problems (well, maybe a slightly sore backside)!

I certainly used more energy than I would have if I had ridden a large-wheeled bike, but I did manage to keep up with my wife.

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