With the anticipated arrival now imminent, I need to make some space in the Bradbury bicycle stable. The n+1 rule assumes a sufficiently-large space in which to store the bikes. Ours is a single garage which already contains boat spares, a pushchair and several bicycles. So one of the bikes has to go, but which one?

I don’t want to part with my Marin San Anselmo hybrid with which I crossed Australia in 2000. It’s still an excellent city commuting bike, capable of carrying some luggage or even Sasha in a child seat. The tandem almost feels like one of the family and has plenty of family outings, fun events and touring in its future.

Yes, it is parked in a urinal.
Interesting parking somewhere in Ireland.

Which leaves the Emmelle Radical 18 speed. A red HiTens steel MTB which was probably less than £100 new circa 1993. It weighs nearly 15kg. I can’t find any reference to it on the web, not even in BikePedia. I think my Dad got it along with several others as part of some special offer.

It must’ve been my first adult bike and I’ve certainly got some good use out of it. I spent much of my teenage years on this bike, exploring South Bucks and learning my way around without a map. I rarely went more than 20 miles, but it gave me a sense of freedom and a love of cycling. In 1998 I fitted some slick tyres and took it around the Republic of Ireland, a task the Emmelle handled admirably in spite of the sometimes interesting parking.

In 2010, after several years of neglect I added MTB mudguards, new brake blocks and a D-lock bracket making a handy all-weather commuter bike. It’s still not a desirable machine – the paint is chipped, it’s nearly impossible to shift into the smallest chainring and the bottom bracket creaks and clunks under pressure. But despite its ageing looks and worn components, it made a comfortable and reliable bike that was fast enough when I was running late for the train, which was often.

Emmelle MTB
Reliable commuter ready for retirement.

Perhaps against the odds, I enjoyed riding it. One of the main reasons for this, I believe, is that it fits me. One thing I’ve learnt in my recent research for my new road bike is that bicycle fit can make all the difference in comfort and efficiency.

So today I donated the Emmelle MTB to The Bath Bike Workshop, which services, refurbishes and sells bikes with all proceeds going to Bath’s Julian House homeless charity.

So I’ll be sorry to see it go, but I hope that it will be reincarnated in some form and enjoyed by someone else.


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