Friday, October 30, 2015

When Good Service met Bad Service met No Service

Bad FreeHub

Subtitle: Bicycle still not prepared for Winter :-(

This story is not yet complete, but this week my attempts to retrofit Marcus' custom build road bicycle with fatter, more puncture proof tyres for trail and even off road use, has come up against some problems.

In the process as the title suggests I've come across 3 different service grades.  Read on

Good Service - Wiggle
I bought the Shimano Ultegra 6800 wheels that I plan to use from Wiggle

Initial investigations found a problem with a wobble on or around the Freehub.  See part1 part2 part3

Because of the difficulty in sending wheels back to England, Wiggle offered to pay for reparation  locally

I was unable to obtain this (see below!) but managed to 
show that the supplied wheels were defective using these professional tools such as shown below

Wiggle and I are now co-operating to send the wheels back by Courier.

Then I need to battle with Swiss customs to try and reclaim the Import charges already paid, and reorder.

So we are there yet!  But Wiggle's good service is shining through.

Bad  Service - Debrunner

The local DIY store Jumbo told me they did not carry the more specialist tools I needed to check the Shimano freebub on the Ultegra wheel and they advised me to visit  Debrunner

This is a trade shop, and whilst I did arrive not dressed in /overalls, smoking a cigarette etc/ but "only" in pro cycling gear I did not expect ...

Eventually I found the parts I needed

I waited 10 minutes at the "caisse" cash point.  4 staff, 2 working together to check something for a customer, the other 2 energetically chatting.

After standing around right in front of the cash desk and having waited for 10 minutes, I decided to say something.

I asked several times "Could I pay"

On the last occasion one man said "You need to take a ticket".

He did not mention this earlier.  I found a ticket machine.  It had 4 categories: Information, etc.  None of the categories included  "Want to pay for items I picked up in your store"

I went back with ticket, category Information.  I waited a further 5 minutes. 

Eventually somebody took my items, but did not look at my ticket.

Despite bar-coding, the salesman looked up price manually in a paper book (!)  and for one 14mm hex end and 1 socket, they charged me 54 CHF (36 GBP).

Yes, welcome to Switzerland.

No Service - xxx
Being terribly polite, I won't list names here.  Marcus will just say that I went to a high end bicycle shop in Lausanne.   I asked them for maintenance on my Road Wheels. 

They asked me if I had bought them at the shop.

No, I said they had been bought from Wiggle.

They told me to goto Wiggle for Service.

We are getting there, but oh so slowly.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I'm on a break

Subtitle: Rob takes a long break

On my recent trip to the UK I had reason to pack a suit.  At my time of life this can usually mean two things:

- I am attending a funeral

- I am attending a retirement party.

I am happy to say it is more of the latter with my good friend Rob  (and Hilary) both deciding that enough of the work for now, it is time for "break"

Getting to Ilkley was a bit problematic.  Small roads and then a herd of cows trying to slow us down.

The final destination was the Yorke Arms for a relaxed celebration Lunch.    I can't thank Rob and Hilary enough for including us in on the big day.   We hope that we provided some added value.

With joint cycling interests we took a detour home to look at some new sculptures.  Wow.

Time for a visit to the adjacent quarry

We contributed to the Rob and Hilary retirement ideas board of course

I notice Rob has treated himself to one of those new fangled iPhone 6S'. Very nice.

It was an all too brief a stay but we hope to see more of each other now that our timeframes are relaxed.

We were on a break

The 14mm wrench

Ultegra wobble part3

Subtitle:  Where is a 14mm Hex wrench when you need one?

This October I laid out the cunning plan to fit fatter, more puncture resistant tyres on Marcus' road bike.

This strategy involved the purchase of a new set of Shimano Ultegra wheels and then waiting for the back ordered Continental 4 season tyres.

And the final plan is later to try the Tubeless Easy standard because the Ultegra rims are already tubeless compatible, but the Tubeless Easy Tyres are not yet shipping (anywhere).

Tyres Arrive BUT

The tyres arrived this Monday and I started the assembly.  It should be easy right?

Stuff arrives part 1

There is a problem part2

At first I thought it was the fit of the cassette to the Freebody hub. But I changed cassettes and established that the cassette was good.

So the Freebody diameter might be too thin causing any cassette to be loose?  I tried packing between the Freehub body and cassette with thin shims.  But still there was rocking.

Then I found that without any cassette I could also rock the free hub.  So it must be the free hub itself that is in error

I read the Shimano Road Wheel Manual  and this shows how the Freehub body might attach.  It could be that it is simply loose, so a remove and re-attach plan is the first debug.

From the manual it was not clear to me if I  I needed either a 10mm or 14mm hex wrench.

So Wednesday I cruised all the local tool shops that I know and came back only with a 10mm and a 12mm hex wrenches

Guess what?  Yes, I need a 14mm hex wrench

Screwed Again

In England there would be no end of Auto or DIY shops retailing these parts.  But in Switzerland, not so fast!  Well not in my area.  Perhaps it is too prosperous here.  These tasks should just be taken to the bicycle repair shop like normal Swiss people do.

(NB: last time I asked for 2 front wheels to have bearings adjusted the bill was 100 CHF  aka 60 GBP, and afterwards they are no better.)

So tomorrow I will start a further wander because waiting about two weeks for a part to come from eBay china will just be a pain, given that I ordered the wheels in late September and we are just about to enter November.


To be continued.


Shimano Dealer Manual Road Wheel Set
(Instructions re hub removal)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lenovo U430 takes a fall

Marcus hangs his head shame.   We only have one laptop in the house and when it fell from almost 2 metres onto a solid wooden floor in a vehicle travelling about 50 Km/h my heart sank.

You idiot I thought,  and although  this might have been the views of people with me they were silent because they saw my angst.

My wonderful, powerful, economical, pimped and turbocharged, Lenovo U430

Damage was on the outside a crushed HDMI port and a dented case.  Screen did not shatter.

Since I was travelling and I did not have any 'Watchmakers' screwdrivers with me   (I know, shocking) the repair was only attempted this last weekend.

Opening UP
Once opened I checked that both internal hard drives are still fixed correctly and that the memory DIMM is secure.

Note to Apple Computer users:  Yes, we have something called Philips screws on the back of our computers allowing us to easily remove the case.

Also, the 2 hard disks, networking and memory is socketed so we can upgrade as desired.
End. Note.

I bent the metal case back and straightened the HDMI screen support.  Then using a spare cable end that I chamfered inwards I eased the shell of the HDMI socket back into shape.

Baby is back 
Indeed, my baby Lenovo is back, I felt parting coming right now, would be premature.

Remind me again > 10MB/sec networking speeds.  Byte not bits remember.  Nice.

To Conclude

Wait just a moment!  I feel a song coming on ...

Player: Baby Come Back

Monday, October 26, 2015

NEC Motorhome Show Report

This is a summary review of the 2015 Birmingham UK NEC Motorhome Show.  Since Marcus also attended the Berne Switzerland show  I hope (time permitting) to make individual detailed posts of new vehicles that we found

Note, that in advance videos will be uploaded to our YouTube channel

3 Big Shows
Living in Switzerland we are aware of 3 large Motorhome shows yearly

Dusseldorf Caravan Salon - Start September
NEC Motorhome Show - Mid October
Swiss Caravan Salon Berne - Late October

Dusseldorf is the first and largest of the shows.  From our experience there in 2014  it's not exactly overflowing with things to do around town, so if you just focus on the show and don't mind the brochures all being in German then this is the best show to attend.

For us with English being are best languages then the NEC show is preferable even though it's a lot smaller.

How was it
Arrival was a little hit and miss.  After a lot of queueing to get off the motorway into a large jam we headed following signs for the temporary motorhome car park.

And then the signs ran out and we got lost, leading to a chat with a Policeman who eventually figured out where it was and gave us an escort there!

We plan to attend the show for 2 days, and Marcus starts off the day with a glass of wine to get things moving

It's a chilly 9 degrees outside

Agata and Marcus finally arrive

At least one of the exhibitors had something new to show us

After a few hours droves of tired customers were found at restaurants.  Meanwhile we had of course a packed prepared in our motorhome earlier.

We found a Wiggins, Swift motorhome but it was all locked up.  How disappointing.

A large selection of accessory and special interest stands.  Here is Doggy Bag

Some dealers, well this VW one, presumably had not been reading the British or any international news lately

Plenty of classic VW's and also a whole area devoted to VW camper conversions

Speciality vehicles

Fiamma and other customised vehicles

A good home wine tasting service

Some Specifics
Marcus intends to do separate blog posts on the following motorhomes.  Here is a short summary

Adria Compact Plus

A compact 2.12 metre wide motor home available as a 6 metre double bed or 6.6metre twin bed configuration.  Reasonable under bed garage and Mass in Running order weight as low as 2720Kg.
Hymer introduced the 314 compact van
Granted this is a very petite 5.45m long and comparatively thin 2.22m wide motorhome, which even has room for a garage below the rear fixed double bed.

But I'm not sure I can go with the brochure's claim of /smallest and best equipped motorhome in the world/.

Hymer ML-I
For two people almost ideal in so many ways.  First it's a base Mercedes not say Fiat base, with V6 engine and Dual Clutch (7 speed) gearbox options.   Interior quality is high, and the ML-I is the integrated version of the existing ML-T, so better cab visibility. Oh and it's /only/ 222cms wide excluding some very thin mirrors.

Although the ML-I has a second bed up front this can be optioned out (for an extra cost!)

On the down side, it a relatively 3000Kg+ vehicle and it's really tall, and the price with options will probably be around 80K GBP.

Dethleffs deleted our T8 and introduced 4 travel
Dethleffs introduced the 4 travel which has 4 beds in total.  A lengthwise pull down bed at the front.  And depending on model a double, twin single, or island bed at rear.

Meanwhile the Motorhome we now own the T8 has been deleted from the GlobeBus T series range, all other models remaining. It seems that sales were not strong enough, but to us the combination of a separate shower and bathroom that makes the T8 the best.  We'll post later about the merits of this combination.

Swift Rio 325
This builds on earlier Rio members and provides a 6m long and 2.26metre wide vehicle with a modest garage.  The rear electrical dropdown bed can be raised to give enough space for bicycles or other luggage.

Wingamm City Suite
The Wingamm City suite is a pretty unique motorhome and so nearly the one we bought!

It's got so many features that we wanted:

+ small size, fits in regular parking spaces (though note height)
+ light and hence good performance
+ Not white, so can be parked inconspicuously
+ Under rear electric bed is a huge storage space, that whilst open (could be screened off), could probably accommodate 2 bicycles (may need to remove a front wheel though)
+ Quite tastefully appointed inside
+ Decent cupboard Space
-- Combined shower and washroom is not very well executed. (We only noticed this on our visit at the NEC show). No evidence of shower curtain in test van, meaning water would go everywhere over sink and toilet!
+ Decent lounge
+ Optional dropdown bed at front, but its really short (160cm or shorter people only).
+ If you could live with only the front dropdown bed, you can re purpose the rear bed as a very very large storage area.

We have a full blog post to come on this vehicle

Industry Trends - Twin beds
We did talk to a few more elderly Motorhome owners as to why on earth they would like twin beds.  No satisfactory answers were provided to us!   Our view is

a) Motorhomes are quite expensive
b) We don't want to spend all that money only to have us sleeping apart from each other.  Come on.  We want to enjoy ourselves.

To us Twin beds are complete madness.

Industry Trends - Thinner
Monster motohomes aside, most coachbuild designs are at 2.30 or 2.35 metres wide not including mirrors.  But there is increasing recognition, from the increase in popularity of Van conversions (2.00 metres wide) or VW campers (similarly thin), that wider and more luxurious is great on a site, but difficult to drive on smaller roads.

So several manufacturers have thinner product, sadly the high end is stil fat fat fat.   We would hope this could change in the next 2 years.

Industry Complaint! - 4 beds+
Unfortunately this is not a trend, but a sad comment.  Many motor homes are 4 berth yet a high proportion of sales are to middle aged or elderly couples who really only need sleeping for two.

Quite why the industry is focusing such attention on 4 berth and larger homes completely baffles us. We'd identify 2 market segments

- 2 berth homes for Young couples or retired couples
- Family motorhomes with a double bed and space for 1-2 children

Bonkers Big Homes
Considering that Agata and Marcus have a focus on small and thin motorhomes for ease of driving on small roads and also for fuel economy, the prospect of driving a large bus sized motorhome, is well just never going to happen.  Still, it does seem to be for some people ..

We spent a good 2 days at the NEC exhibition and it was time very well spent.

We saw some new motorhome designs

We got English language brochures of the models we were most interested in.

We investigated many add-ons like solar and AC generators that could be useful to us in future longer term mobile expeditions.

Now as existing motorhome owners we had wished that the accessories hall was larger, so that we had more choice.

It was worth the effort to visit, certainly if I was a UK motorhome owner I'd make it a yearly calendar event.


The Polish Election Results 2015

A million voices suddenly cried out in Terror

I did not quite understand the Emergency, but throughout Poland a network of concerned individuals have been telephoning ex-pats like Agata pleading with them to vote in the 2015 Parliament and Senate elections.

The Law and Justice party has garnered much support, to the horror of most young people and all liberals.

Marcus has now done his research and the Law and Justice party known as PiS has a Wikipedia page here

- It's a right wing party
- It has some controversial views
- It opposes Gay rights
- It opposes Abortion rights for Women
- It is Euroskeptic

Our Journey to Geneva
With the hair still wet after our shower by the lake at the end of the Lausanne Marathon  we set off to drive to Geneva

 Regulations and advice

The building is just stunning, outside and in.

Oh and the result

So it was all for nothing then. 

Poland's electorate is basically

/Taking the PiS/

Poland lurches to the right

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lausanne Marathon 2015

An absolute scorcher of a day  (15 degrees plus) here in Lausanne, on Sunday October 25, and Marcus and Agata completed the local marathon .. wahoo.

 30 minutes before and nobody was on the starting grid.  Why?

Because they were all doing exercises in Parc Milan to the sounds and moves of a fitness coach on stage

This year we are also running to support the charity.  Please check it out.

Our very sporty and capable friends Carsten and Kathy are not running.   But they make excellent supporters.

 Marcus is in bloc 1

Agata is in bloc 2.  This year you get penalised for starting in the wrong bloc that you have been allocated.  Good!

It is time to start.  Now, in the 3 days prior to this Sunday when I did my training (!), well I ran in this above thermal top with lots of pockets where I'd put the phone and gels and keys.   I don't have a similar non thermal one meaning (zoom to check) that I was overheating even on the starting line  - zip already undone.

 An hour in I was still following the 03.45 balloon pace man.  It was easy at first although he was running at > 11.5 Km/h which is not good.

I checked on the practice runs and my lung/ breathing condition means I run out of oxygen at 11.4 km/h and it's more comfortable at about 10.5 km/h.

I realise these are pathetically slow speeds, but when you are sick, well what can you do?  

More great excuses: Stopping for photos makes it hard to keep up, but you have to admit it is beautiful out here.

Okay this is the 21.1 km turnaround point

I ran ahead of the 0345 balloon man to picture the team I've spent the last almost 2 hours with.

Post Km 25
Upto about km 26 I was keeping up the pace, at a too fast for today 11.6 - 12km/h.   And then I got tired, well more precisely, legs fine, but I got breathless and had to slow down to a pedestrian < 11Km/h.  I did not want a repeat of last years disaster!

Some time later across the finish line ...

Marcus has a quick sit down so that when Agata arrives he proclaims "Yes I've been here finished for ages".  In reality Agata was probably just a few minutes behind me.  At the halfway when we saw each other  it was 7 minutes and I was forever looking around on the last stages or waiting for the "Husband, get a move on" prompt I felt might be coming.

Agata arrives and we are very happy to have both finished without injury.  Due to moderate pace we think we'll be good for further exercise tomorrow (Monday) as nothing is really stiff. Well yet!

Now where are our bags so that we can go and have a nice hot shower and change at the Bellerive Swimming pool.  It has opened just for today specially for the Marathon.

Post marathon report