Commuter Bike Crisis!

For many years I have commuted on my beloved Dawes Galaxy. When I first moved to Edinburgh I rode to work on a road bike, the first one I ever bought. After sitting unused for many years, that bike was finally donated to the BikeStation for recycling. There was one winter when I defected to a mountain bike, and one year when I rode ‘The Tank’. More on that later.

I had bought the Dawes in 2000 for doing a tour in Wales – the Sustrans national route 8 from Cardiff to Holyhead. Here you can see me modelling it! Since then it had done one other small scale tour in Fife. But it proved the most versatile I bike I owned for carrying all my luggage round town, being relatively fast, and withstanding everything me and the weather threw at it on a daily basis.

Me and the Dawes, leaving a campsite in Merthyr Tydfil

The highest point on the Taff Trail

Sometime last year, it started making funny noises. I sort of ignored it. Then I turned it upside down to fix a puncture and noticed the paint was peeling. Eek! A couple of months later I decided it really was time for a trip to the bike shop for some TLC. But first it needed a really good clean. That’s when I noticed this:

Frame damage 😦

Very bad news! The frame has cracked and has more than one hole in it. It does not seem safe to ride any more. A new downtube might cost £100. Not so bad, until you add in the cost of labour to strip the frame and then put all the parts back on again, the new bits it needed anyway, possible frame re-spray and getting the frame to someone to do the job. A new bike might cost about the same. But I didn’t intend to buy a new bike this year and I am sentimentally attached, however much Andy might say ‘the geometry isn’t right’!

In the meantime, I had to get a bike sorted to ride to work on. I need to be able to carry Italian books and recorders and work clothes and running kit and my lunch. I briefly glanced at my winter road bike, but with all that stuff on my back and on dropped handlebars, it didn’t seem too sensible. Then my eyes alighted on a (literally) very dusty bike in the corner. The Tank.

Gazelle Impala aka The Tank


Equipped with a rack for panniers, dynamo front light, mudguards, chainguard, hub gears and integrated lock. The ultimate in Dutch practicality. You’ll note I rode this for a year before. Why did I stop? Well, it needed a bit of work doing on it and it has one massive downside. It is really, really heavy! I can hardly get it up and down the stairs.


Anyway, needs must, so the Bicycleworks got the basics sorted out, fitted some tubes with normal valves and I was on my way. Something’s still up with the dynamo as it won’t work in the rain, and there is a new funny rattle coming from the front. But it is getting me to work and the shops and carrying my gear. I cruise around like I own the street. And I expect to have legs of steel by the time I decide what to do in the long-term!

* Incidentally – the rear panniers in the first two photos also got heavy use and were only just outlasted by the bike. This is why the new ones being modelled by The Tank are the same make – Carradice.

Posted on 29/01/2012, in Kit, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. i love the tank! looks pretty much indestructible which is what you want from a commuter. just think of the stair carry as a bit of extra core work 😉

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