Newsletter 4

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These are archived newsletters, so information, specifications and prices may be out of date or incorrect by now

Used bike finder serviceNew Service: Used Bike Finder

This month Jake's Bikes launches a new service on the website: an online tool which will find you a used bike to match your requirements.

Up until now we have suggested that anyone looking for a particular type of second hand bike just keeps an eye on the website every week or so in case we get something suitable in stock. But the new bike finder service allows you to enter your contact details and requirements, and then you will automatically receive an email as soon as a suitable bike becomes available.

The service is free, there is no obligation to buy any of the bikes whose details you receive, and you can remove yourself from the mailing list at any time.

See the used bike finder service on the website to sign up now.


The Bike Boutique

We have recently finished work on the first in a series of very exclusive limited edition hand-crafted bicycles. The unique design combines the best of the old and the new to provide a vintage Dutch-style town bike, but one as light and easy to ride as any modern hybrid bike. It is based around a beautiful reconditioned Reynolds 531 steel frame, hand-built in Britain in the 1960's, but the latest Shimano hub gears and hub brakes are fitted to make light work of Bristol's hills.

As far as we know this bike is unique in offering all the advantages of a modern hybrid (good brakes, a wide range of gears, and a low weight), all the advantages of a Dutch city bike (hub gears, hub brakes, riding position, chainguard and basket), but also using a genuine vintage frame to provide that authentic classic look and style with 40-odd years of history.

At present this bike is a one-off and is available for sale. We hope to build more in the future, and because of the nature of the design each will be different and can be customised to suit the customer. For more details see the Bike Boutique page on the website.


Jake's Bikes is two years old!

This month we celebrate our second birthday! We've been eating solid foods for a while, we're toddling along quite well now, and it probably won't be long before we start running. After that we might even learn to string together intelligible sentences of more than two words. Before we know it we'll be starting at infant school. Doesn't time fly?

Over the past two years we have:

  • Sold around 200 reconditioned used bikes

  • Built around 50 bespoke bikes

  • Serviced or repaired over 1,000 bikes

  • Run several dozen bike maintenance evening classes and tuition sessions

  • Drunk almost 2,000 cups of tea

Having started the business with less than £2,000 of personal savings, and without any bank loans, grants or external funding, cash has at times been tight. However 2010 looks like being the year when things will start to work out financially. The business is already paying a wage to part-time mechanic Pete, and from this summer onwards it looks set to be able to pay owner Jake a regular wage as well. Although it's been hard at times, the good news is that we should now be fairly financially secure thanks to being totally independent and not having any bank interest to pay. And the main thing is that we're fulfilling our original aims of providing quality used bikes and affordable servicing and repairs in order to keep cyclists on the road and get more people onto bikes.

We would like to thank everyone who has helped us along the way, especially James our first mechanic, Jon who rented us our first workshop space, everyone at Coexist who rent us our current workshop, Sally for putting up with all Jake's late evenings of work and stress levels during the early days, and of course all our customers!


Cytech level 2 accredidationPete gets Cytech accreditation

Congratulations to Pete Harding, mechanic at Jake's Bikes since June 2009, who was recently awarded Cytech level 2 having passed all the assessment criteria with flying colours. Pete has been receiving on-the-job training and assessment from ATG for several months whilst working towards the industry standard cycle mechanic qualification. He completed the course in December 2009. Pete currently works part time at Jake's Bikes but will go up to four days a week in May.


Tip of the month: loose bearings

Any turning or spinning part of a bike normally requires ball bearings for it to run smoothly. They are used in the wheels, the pedals and bottom bracket (for pedalling), the headset (for steering), and the freewheel. Ball bearings are an ingenious invention, already common on bicycles over 100 years ago, but still in use today virtually unchanged in their design. Without them, a bicycle would be slower, harder to ride and would require much more maintenance.

After a while, most types of ball bearings need adjustment and a bit of new grease. With correct maintenance of this type e.g. every 6 or 12 months, most bearings will last for years. However, if a bearing is used without grease it will wear quickly and will probably rust as well. And if a bearing is a bit loose but continues to be used, all the weight and forces are placed on only one or two balls instead of shared equally among all of them. At best this causes rapid wear and at worst can cause almost instant damage.

It is almost always cheaper to fix a bearing problem early than to leave it until later. If spotted in time, a wheel bearing rebuild costs £12, and if all it needs is a little adjustment it will be even cheaper. But if the bearing surfaces of the wheel itself are damaged from continued use with dry or loose bearings, often the only option is to replace the whole wheel for £50 or more. The same is true for headsets, bottom brackets and most other ball bearings. Now is the time to check!

Stand beside your bike, grab one of the tyres at a point where it passes through the frame or fork and pull it a little towards you, as if you were trying to pull the bike sideways. Then push the tyre in the opposite direction. Repeat this back-and-forth motion a few times in quick succession. Then check the other wheel in the same way. Is there a little click or rattle? Does either wheel move sideways a little within the frame? If so, you probably have loose wheel bearings.

Now take one of the cranks (the arm that connects the pedal to the rest of the bike) and pull it towards you as though you were trying to pull the bike sideways, and then push it away in the opposite direction. Repeat several times in quick succession. Does it rattle or feel loose? If so, you probably have loose bottom bracket bearings.

Stand over the bike, apply the front (right-hand) brake, and push the handlebars back and forth several times. Can you feel a rattle or looseness? If so, you probably have loose headset bearings.

If you have discovered any loose bearings, or if in any doubt, please consult a mechanic soon. A stitch in time saves nine!


Guest Feature: Bike Easy by Peter Andrews

Bike Easy is written as a set of 105 hot tips. It explains how to buy the right bike and how to get truly comfortable riding it. It will send you off on relaxing rides in beautiful countryside and prepare you for the more serious business of cycle commuting. It covers kids' bikes, cycling clothes, security, lights, and how to carry loads by bike. It explains the principles of cycling safely and pleasurably on today's busy roads, and it introduces you to the basics of bike maintenance. With all that under your belt you'll be a confident, skilful, knowledgeable cyclist, and the world's roads, tracks, trails and cycle paths will be your personal pleasure ground.

Written by Bristol-based Peter Andrews, Bike Easy is available to buy from all good book shops or online at for just £4.95


These are archived newsletters, so information, specifications and prices may be out of date or incorrect by now

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