Folding bike – new toy

Posted by jerry on September 24th, 2011 — Posted in Journal


Folding bike, a set on Flickr.

At $149 I figured it was worth the experiment from Aldi.

The Crane folding bike comes with guards, bell, rack, and prop-stand fitted, and a bag so you’d have to wonder how much bike you get – well as it turns out, not too bad.

It is basic – no springs and no handlebar height adjustment [ED: Actually, thanks to Tom M’s comment below, you CAN adjust the handlebar height by opening the handlebar hinge, and loosening the allen head bolt that is revealed underneath, lifting the handlebar stem and re-tightening the allen head bolt]. But the frame is solid and the 6 speed shimano gears are positive and the bike tracks well. While rated to riders up to 105kg I reckon it would happily take someone up to 120kg without any worries. Seat height adjustment is very impressive, and even a tall person should be okay once the handlebar height is adjusted (see edit above).

The spring latches work well, and the quick release toggles hold everything solidly. It’s not the lightest bike around at 18kgs but it’s not meant to be a race bike, or an off-roader – indeed without springs you probably wouldn’t want to take it too far off a sealed surface.

From bag to bike it takes me about 30-40 seconds to ride away, but with practice I can probably get that down to around 15 seconds.

Great manual and the supplied tools – double spanner and an allen wrench – are well made. The only tool they didn’t supply was a small allen key to adjust the position of the gear change on the handlebar to enable me to adjust the brake lever position – but I had that in my own tools anyhow.

For my own preference I’d like a few more gears – the 6 speed works smoothly, but 15 gears would be better, although the harder I work the fitter I get 🙂

The fold is quite impressive – lower the seat post, hinge the handlebar stalk, then main frame and then the two pedals. There is a tie-strap to keep it together for putting in the bag.

Overall ride impression, firm, taut and fit for purpose – folded into its bag I reckon I’d get two in the car boot without putting any of the seats down.

More from London to Brighton Rally 2009

Posted by jerry on April 16th, 2010 — Posted in Journal

Here’s more footage from the 2009 London to Brighton Veteran car rally.

This one is Jim King’s 1903 Stanley driven by Jeff Theobald. It was a beautifully prepared car that ran faultlessly. Pity about the weather though.

London to Brighton Veteran Car rally 2009

Posted by jerry on January 15th, 2010 — Posted in Journal

This 1896 Salvesen steam cart featured in the London to Brighton rally – I was fortunate enough to get some footage of the cart as it pulled away on the morning of the rally, as well as the day before at the Regent Street concours line-up. There was a great opportunity to chat with the owners of these unique cars!

Cheers – And happy new year!

Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens review

Posted by jerry on October 15th, 2009 — Posted in Journal

After having some difficulty with getting low light action photos recently, I checked out the photography forums and lens reviews and realised that I needed a brighter lens to capture the action without blurring the subject.

The consensus on the forums was that what I really needed was a ‘nifty fifty’ – a 50mm lens that would open up to f1.8 instead of the f4.0 I was getting on my standard lens.

A quick phone-around saw me head off to Teds main camera store in Canberra’s Civic area and with the exchange of AU$150 I departed with a small box.

Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens

The lens fits perfectly on the Canon 1000D DSLR that I bought last year. The first thing I noticed was the plastic mount – this doesn’t look that sturdy, but the fit was fine and smooth. Some have complained at the ‘plastic’ feel to the lens, but the six element glass is optically brilliant, and for my money that suggests Canon put the expense in the right place.

Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens

The focus motor is quick and not obtrusive. Again some have suggested that the focus is a bit noisy – it is certainly quieter than the shutter click and I didn’t find it annoying. It is a fixed lens – so it means more moving around to frame the subject if you are used to a zoom, but that is a small issue if it means you actually get the shots you want.

So the big question is how it compares in terms of letting light in? Well, the f1.8 full opening lets in more than three times the amount of light that my standard 18-55mm zoom did, and that makes a big difference to the photo.

Here is a photo at 800 ISO using the 18-55mm/f4.0 lens
Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens

And here is the same photo using 800ISO 50mm/f1.8

And the brilliance and detail on a close focus subject shows excellent focus in the centre, with only minor softening at the edge.
Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens

Overall, I am very happy with this lens and think it will solve a number of problems shooting in less than optimal light. For a lens that doesn’t have pretensions beyond its key function this is excellent value for money and I would recommend that if you only buy one extra lens for your DSLR this would be the one. I give it 4.5 stars.


New flying kilometre steam record – 148.308mph

Posted by jerry on August 29th, 2009 — Posted in Journal, Steam

The British Steam Car Challenge team have broken another record. This time for the flying kilometre (or kilometer if you’re American) with a two-way run averaging 148.308mph. This time the car was driven by Don Wales, nephew of renowned speed record breaker Donald Campbell.

Having recorded the new mile record at almost 140mph with driver Charles Burnett III, it was always envisaged that test driver Don Wales would take the kilometre record, and the team pulled out a couple of the limiter valves to squeeze a little more speed from the machine, dubbed the ‘world’s fastest kettle’.

By the end of their runs, the team hope to have five speed records under their belt – the world record for the mile, the world record for teh kilometre, the US record for teh mile, the US record for teh kilometre and the Guinness world record for a steam car.

The team is an insipiration to us all, persevering over countless hurdles for ten years to make this dream a reality. And a true team they are too – not only in agreeing to take turns in the glory, but in the full support team that prepares the car and that performs the refuel and turn-around to ensure that the car can do its second run within the allocated 60 minutes. And the team battled mechanical and electrical problems that arose from just being in a desert salt pan in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere Summer in temperature well in excess of the old (Farenheit) century.

But with ingenuity and determination, the team pulled together to achieve what no-one had successfully done in 103 years – so again congratulations to Don and Charles, and all the support team, fans and financial backers who made it all possible.