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Archive for May, 2014

The Politics of Print

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Boneshaker came into being partly because its founder, James Lucas, was so inspired by the stories arising from and connected to The Bristol Bike Project, which he also founded. Recently, he’s been involved in establishing The Letterpress Collective – a secret workshop that  is ‘bringing slumbering presses back to life to engage with artists, writers and community projects’  and ‘helping a new generation ‘understand the thrill of working a small press and seeing your creation in ink on paper’.

In many ways, Boneshaker is the natural mid-point between these two projects – the wonder of life on two wheels meets the thrill of tactile, tangible, beautiful print.

So many of our actions are political, whether we realise it or not. Committing words to print and thrusting them out into the world has always been an act ripe with political possibilities. Most cycling magazines are pretty apolitical, but at Boneshaker we’ve always been happy to let a certain gently revolutionary tang permeate what we do, from the meticulous research of Roads Were Not Built for Cars author Carlton Reid to round-the-worlder Julian Sayarer’s thoughtful spleen-venting.

So we were delighted to see the Letterpress Collective’s fabulous show The Politics of Print this week – an exhibition celebrating the power of words in letterpress printing at the wonderful Centrespace Gallery. Boneshaker pal and anarchocyclist Dennis Gould was very much in evidence, alongside work from celebrated printers including Stanley Donwood and Ken Campbell, and some brilliantly direct art politik fresh from the Collective’s presses. If this one was anything to go by, their future shows will definitely be worth a gander.

In the meantime, you can find out more about the the Letterpress Collective here. They’ll be announcing a new series of workshops soon…

MONTAGE


Stasis report

Lack of convenient bike storage is one of the biggest excuses cited by those who don’t cycle regularly. The bike’s in the shed, or in the garage, behind a rusty barbecue, a broken swing-ball and a spidery lawnmower. Worse still, many people decide not to own a bike at all because they’ve nowhere to put it. I hang my bikes on the walls, mostly. But then I’m lucky enough to have a spare room for bikes. It also contains a piano and a cat litter tray, but mostly it’s bikes.

A n y w a y…

If we could all keep a bike conveniently to hand, more of us might ride everyday. There are some great bike parking solutions out there – like the Cycloc, or the simple wall-hanging hook, available for under a tenner. Around Boneshaker’s neck of east Bristol, home-made, green-roofed front garden bike-boxes are a common sight.

But if space and spondooliks are no object – and you want something altogether more beautiful – you might like this: the Stasis.

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Its creators at Method Studio say “a beautiful bicycle is a work of art, and just as every artist needs a canvas, every work of art needs a frame.” The Stasis frame is basically copper boiler pipe, artfully bent and bolted by a chap named Keith. There’s also a bit of Scottish oak in there to give it some heft. The first edition was built for Condor cycles.

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As Method Studios explain, “the copper – which took over 30 hours just to polish and wax – was carefully cut, manually bent (a process which actually stress-hardens the copper bends) and meticulously soldered together at our workshop.

This elegant frame was then bolted to the oiled solid oak cabinet with chemically-blackened solid brass munsen rings (we even added hand-cut leather washers to give the powder coated steel drip tray a waterproof seal).”

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The unit also features three custom made solid copper coat hooks (for all your solid copper coats), solid, antiqued brass fittings, hand-stitched leather bike resting arms, a powder-coated steel drip tray and handmade steamed willow storage basket.

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It sure looks lovely, as you’d expect for the better part of five grand. The finished piece can now be seen gracing the window of bespoke tailors Spencer Hart (just opposite Claridges, in London) and if your wallet’s well-stuffed, you can have your very own Stasis custom-made to order. Each one is unique, built to fit the lucky bicycle that will finally hang in it. It comes in a very large box, but fear not – P&P is included in the £4800 price tag. After all, for your absolute favourite bicycle, only the very best will do.

It’s not clear whether these will encourage anyone to cycle though, or just to stand and admire their bike and its gleaming new home for hours on end…


Arc de Triomphe

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Strange how a simple a beam of light can make life seem safer. Whistling down a darkened road outside Bristol last weekend, I noticed a car preparing to pull out of a side road up ahead. Then he caught sight of the appropriately-named Knog Blinder Arc 5.5 scorching a white-lit path towards him, and changed his mind.

I like that. With a decent front light, approaching cars give you more space, potholes and errant badgers are easier to spot.

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The 5.5 is the top torch in Knog’s new Blinder Arc series, pumping out 550 lumens from a single Cree XM-L2 LED, curved into focus by an elliptical reflector. The beam’s wide and rounded, consistently bright to road-width for a good distance ahead. There’s a satisfying heft to the unit, which attaches to most handlebar sizes with a choice of two stretchy quick release straps, designed for 25-30mm and 30-35mm bars. As other reviewers have reported, I found even the smaller strap a bit too stretchy, meaning that after a few bumpy miles the light ends up angled skywards or dangerously pitched at oncoming road users’ eyes. Knog do supply a foam strip to fit underneath the stretchy clip – an inelegant but functional fix. I like to move my favourite lights between bikes, so had to improvise a spare strip from a bit of old inner tube – again, inelegant but functional. That small gripe aside, the Arc 5.5 performs very pleasingly – the spread of light is good, and even the ‘economy’ mode is adequate for most urban riding. There’s also a helmet-mount included in the box, which would side-step the handlebar fit problems, assuming you wear a skid lid.

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Burn time seems to match up to the manufacturer’s promises – I got a shade under 2 hours on the brightest setting and 3.5 hours on medium, so I’ve no reason to doubt  Knog’s claimed 8 hours on low and 17 hours flashing.

The 5.5 is USB rechargeable, with a built-in USB plug, plus a rubbery USB adaptor to make mating with your laptop a bit easier.

After three thorough drenchings, the light’s claims of waterproofness remain unchallenged, and it feels solid and sturdily built – the front half metal, the rear end a rubbery black.

It’s not cheap (RRP is £89.99 / $120) but for a dependable,  impressively bright front light, the Blinder Arc 5.5 ticks a lot of boxes. It’s just a shame that spring has finally arrived and the evenings are getting lighter again…


City Cycling Article

The Bristol Bike Project from The Bristol Bike Project on Vimeo.

Interesting article on the guardian website about city cycling here. Nice to see pals of ours, The Bristol Bike Project & Roll for the Soul get a mention too 🙂

Talking of which, there’s a great new short film about The Bristol Bike Project, embedded above!