Back in November 2014 I had posted a photo of me cycling to Active Essex on twitter as they had requested followers to do so with Essex County Council to promote cycling & I do like posting pics to help promote cycling.
So I was surprised to get this tweet as I didn't realise it was actually a competition & no clue on the prize...
So obviously I was gobsmacked to read that & it turned out the prize was a new bike of my choice. So I decided to go for a folding bike as I haven't got one & could be useful when travelling across the country by train, bus & underground. So went for a Bickerton as it was within their prize budget.
Unfortunately Active Essex decided to buy the bike from Halfords & things didn't go well. It took weeks to get Halfords to get the bike in after it was ordered & told it'll be a few days & it wasn't until January 2015 before I was told it was ready to collect from Active Essex which they wanted a photo of me collecting it. So I popped over on my lunch break to get a photo taken as I collect it & that's when I first saw the bike & knew something wasn't right.
Unfortunately Active Essex team weren't experienced in buying cycles & didn't notice the bike was damaged & missing the rack, wheel reflectors & bell, something Halfords meant to make sure was there & I spent months trying to get Halfords to get the missing parts & thus soured the experience of winning the wonderful prize which I wasn't able to use until it was complete.
So after months I finally got the missing parts & fitted it all myself as I will never let Halfords touch it or any other bike of mine ever, only to find the rack was damaged but usable & looked like it was the rack to this bike in the first place. So I put my panniers on the rack & found a problem, rack was too low & panniers were catching on the gears as well as my heels & this was the smaller pair of panniers I've got.
Thankfully I knew how to sort this as I have got a Axiom Streamliner Disc rack on other bikes which would do the job so started making the first of a few changes to make the bike better for me & easier to use my panniers on this bike by raising the panniers from the ground & further back from the pedals like this rack had done for Roadrunner when I had fitted one.
But even after sorting out the bike, it still didn't cycle right with the new build being a mess thanks to Halfords & after trying it out for a run to Brightlingsea in February & getting it on & off the bus proved it's worth it was put away in the corner. I did pull it out now & then to try get the bike to work right but in the end it didn't get used for another year as didn't need to & had other working bikes which were working OK.
So mid 2016 I needed to get to Hampshire & lil Foldie was now needed, so it was pulled out from its corner, dusted down & I got on with trying to get the bike to work correctly. And despite the bike still refusing to go into 7th gear, the bike was ready to travel with me on the train & underground.
And lil Foldie did OK, still didn't feel right but better than before & starting to wonder if I just can't get on with it coz it's been messed up by Halfords... Also found wheeling the bike across platforms & using the escalators on the underground with full panniers to be really difficult with seat post down as it is used to hold bike upright. So I had a look around to find a way around this & I discovered folding centre stand which I bought & fitted & also a new leather saddle for lil Foldie too.
It however did take a few months to find the right centre stand that folds & an affordable Brooks type leather saddle but it was worth the search, eventually I got the chance to take lil Foldie out for another trip to Hampshire via train & the underground at the beginning of 2017 with the new stand & saddle.
And this time it was a joy to ride lil Foldie, the centre stand & saddle was definitely something this lil bike needed & it was a joy to ride for the first time in 2yrs with the additions & gears that now finally work properly. The mess Halfords had done was slowly being eradicated & since then I have now added new brake levers onto the bike with built in bell so to declutter the handlebars & make easier to fold without the bell getting in the way.
So for now lil Foldie is how I like the bike atm, there are a few tweaks I still like to do but that's more coz of my preferences than issues with the bike. So next on the list it to get twist grip gear selector replaced with a rapidfire gear selector as I hate twist grip shifters & at the same time get some better grips which will be required when shifter is replaced.
So what started as a nightmare bike that was built badly by Halfords, lil Foldie has now grown into a lovely folding bike with the additions & fixing what was done by Halfords & no doubt will improve with more tweaks & improvements. And I have wondered why Bickerton haven't put racks & stands on their bikes like I have as it has made the bike even better.