Away Kit

Right then. With the arrival of a Lizard Skin in the post today, I’ve managed to sort a bike out.

As I’ve decided to raise money for Re~Cycle I thought I should at least consider doing the ride on a recycled cycle. My current bikes don’t have the lugs for the fitting of either rear or front panniers, so that was also something that motivated the search for a Christmas project.

Two weeks ago, after a bit of a trawl on eBay I found an old Carrera Instinct for sale nearby and managed to win and collect it for the huge cost of £6.50. The Instinct was originally an STX RC/Altus equipped rigid mountain bike that I think retailed for about £200. Steel framed, centrepull brakes, 21 gears through paired brake/gear levers. And it was one of the bikes I used to sell when working in Halfords twenty years ago… A nice bit of synergy there… I deliberately went for something without suspension in order to save weight and reduce cost, and steel was the sensible choice of frame material as it has at least a bit of give in it.


The frame and forks were dinged up a little bit. The wheels, tires, brakes, chain, headset bearings (which literally fell apart in my hands), cables, cranks and pedals were (technical term) shagged and would need replacing. The first thing to do was strip it down, check out the frame and forks and see just how bad the rust was. Good news here, not bad at all, so after a quick sand back to bare metal and a respray it was ok to start putting back together. I say “quick” sand, it took the best part of two days.

I had to get everything back to at least the primer and anywhere there were old decals that was not an easy thing to do. Then any area that was chipped and rusty needed to be taken back to clean metal. The repaint wasn’t a speedy process either. Everything had to be cleaned, primed, painted and lacquered – in several coats, with plenty of drying time in between. The inside of the bottom bracket was masked off so the thread didn’t fill up with paint, and so were the brake mounting pins as they needed to allow the free movement of the new brakes, and any paint on them would make them thicker than they needed to be. So all told about 5 days were given over to sanding and painting.

And coughing.

Then I had to work out what I could reuse. The bottom bracket was ok, front derailleur cleaned up and worked alright, some of the cable outer was still in good condition… oh, and the seat post clamp bolt was good. Luckily I’d also managed to stockpile some bits from other bikes, a stem, pedals, handlebars, chain, rim tape. The rest would have to be bought. Brakes were replaced with V Brakes (as actually being able to stop is a distinct advantage), wheels, tires, innertubes and the rear sprocket were all Christmas pressies, handlebar grips, cheap and cheerful (but mechanically sound, reliable and simple) thumb shifters, a Suntour XCT chainset, modern Altus rear derailleur and a new seat post and saddle. So in all honesty there’s not much original bike left… the last thing was to resticker it (because otherwise it would just look like it had been stolen…).


I’ve had a brief test ride and it all seems to work ok, the gears are indexed perfectly well and there’s no worrying rattles or creaks. The Twisty Ride mount has been installed and I’m digging out some reflectors to go on – back one is already on in the photo.

So the bike is nearly finished, just the racks and panniers to source and fit. And the rest of the kit is coming together as well. I managed to get a brand new, single skin, two man tent for £15 (which I’ve set up in the living room and it’s easy and quick), I’ve got the solar power bar, first aid kit, waterproof jacket, tools, spares, half of the clothes… then I’ll just need to work out how to get everything else and how to fit it all onto a bike…

You can donate to the John O’Groats to Lands End ride by following this linkall the money raised is going to Re-Cycle.


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