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Profile for J. Voelcker > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
J. Voelcker "Jake's Bikes" (Bristol, UK)
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Vodafone Sure Signal 2 - 3G Signal Booster
Vodafone Sure Signal 2 - 3G Signal Booster

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea, but poorly executed. Cannot recommend., 10 Jan. 2016
Sure Signal does boost your signal when it's working, but it's very temperamental and has several annoyances and glitches. The biggest problem is that it relies on your broadband connection and unless that's perfect, you won't get reliable service or good quality voice calls - even if your phone shows full reception. I've also found that Sure Signal sometimes drops out or fails for no apparent reason, despite still showing full signal: sometimes I reset it and then receive several texts and voicemails that have been waiting to come through. Worst of all Vodafone will automatically email and text every time your broadband router is turned off or reset (unless you have a static IP address). These texts arrive daily at 6:00am until you manually log into the My Vodafone website and reset it! And you have to do this every time you power down your router.

Overall, I cannot recommend the Sure Signal. If you have the option to switch to any other network that has better coverage, definitely do that instead.


City Cycling
City Cycling
by Richard Ballantine
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good introduction for anyone new to cycling, 13 Dec. 2011
This review is from: City Cycling (Paperback)
An excellent introduction to practical cycling, covering topics as diverse as how to choose the right bike, bicycle theft and security, panniers and carrying luggage, safe cycling techniques, and routine maintenance and servicing. It is actually quite an entertaining read with quirky photos and a few humorous anecdotes. Its only downfall is that it possibly attempts to squeeze too much into a book barely larger than a novel.


The Bicycle Wheel
The Bicycle Wheel
by Jobst Brandt
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars The most thorough bicycle wheels book available. Simply excellent, 13 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Bicycle Wheel (Hardcover)
Quite simply the most comprehensive book available on the subject of wheel building. Whilst other wheel building manuals often rely on the author's intuition or trial-and-error methods, the first half of this book is devoted entirely to an examination of the physics behind the bicycle wheel and an explanation of why certain considerations are important whilst other oft-cited factors are simply irrelevant. Only once the scientific principles are dealt with is this theoretical base expanded upon with a clear and thorough step-by-step guide to building a good wheel. An excellent book.


Art of Wheelbuilding
Art of Wheelbuilding
by Gerd Schraner
Edition: Spiral-bound

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK as a manual, but not a rigorous engineering analysis, 13 Dec. 2011
A reasonable instruction manual for building a wheel, especially the section on spoke lacing which is clear, easy to follow and points out the common pitfalls. However, this book is let down by unclear and sometimes inaccurate explanations of the physics behind spoked wheels, for example confusing spoke alignment with stress relieving. The author is all too keen to talk about the 'art', 'craftsmanship' and 'professionalism' of wheel building but neglects to provide sufficiently rigorous scientific explanations to back up some of his claims.

It is probably an adequate guide if all you want to do is have a go at building a wheel, but if you want to learn why some wheels fail and really get to grips with the engineering principles behind spokes wheels, I suggest Jobst Brandt's excellent book The Bicycle Wheel instead.


Bicycling Science
Bicycling Science
by David Gordon Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.96

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're a serious bike techie, this will become your bible!, 13 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Bicycling Science (Paperback)
A truly excellent, well researched and fascinating guide to the scientific theory behind the bicycle. It concentrates on fundamental principles rather than discussing particular brands or fads. The bulk of the book is devoted to the engineering and physics of frame materials and construction, steering dynamics and geometry, an examination of bicycle aerodynamics and rolling drag, and the basic principles of wheel design - dispelling some common myths in doing so. However, also discussed in detail is the human physiology of the rider in terms of power transfer, respiration and heat dissipation.

There are sections on alternatives to the standard bike and possible future directions for bicycle design, but today they look a little dated and unfortunately there is a lack of more recent detail, for example on modern suspension systems or composite frame materials.

Not a book about cutting-edge technology then, but 95% of the content is still highly relevant and the underlying engineering principles are to all extents and purposes timeless.


Raleigh: Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand
Raleigh: Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand
by Tony Hadland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.75

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very thorough, but repetitive and badly edited, 11 Dec. 2011
Extremely detailed and well-researched, this book spans Raleigh's full history from 1886 to 2010. It attempts to cover not only Raleigh's factories, products, and corporate history but also includes some personal accounts from employees, details about working conditions and staff welfare, sections on special products, and plenty of photographs (albeit mostly fairly small black-and-white ones).

However, this high level of detail is arguably the book's downfall. In being so thorough it becomes somewhat repetitive, e.g. with the chapter on "Raleigh Overseas 1960-1987" sharing some of the exact same content as the chapter on "Marketing, Sales and Financial Performance 1960-1987", and others with similar overlap. Many paragraphs are barely more than lists of sales figures or the names of ex-directors, sometimes with hardly any further analysis. Perhaps this information could have better been presented as appendices, allowing a little more emphasis on continuity and narrative in the main text. For example, if you know anything about the upheaval surrounding Sturmey Archer's relocation to Taiwan, you will probably be disappointed by the lack of detail and rather bland tone of the chapter covering this topic.

It is also badly edited and proof-read. Small errors are evident in dates and details, especially in the photo captions, and there are inexplicable inconsistencies. For example, on page 271 Raleigh's workforce is claimed to have peaked at 7,000, yet on page 272 the UK workforce was claimed to have been 13,000. On pages 264-265 a whole two-paragraph quote is repeated verbatim by mistake.

A fascinating book to dip into and possibly useful as reference, but repetitive and slightly tedious if read cover-to-cover.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2012 10:04 PM GMT


Bicycle Design: The Search for the Perfect Machine (Richard's Cycle Books)
Bicycle Design: The Search for the Perfect Machine (Richard's Cycle Books)
by Mike Burrows
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some tit-bits of interest, but not very thorough or comprehensive, 21 Feb. 2009
More a coffee-table book than a serious reference manual, this small volume will suffice as a reasonable introduction to the fundamentals of bicycle design, but only for those too daunted by basic maths and physics to read the much better Bicycling Science by DG Wilson (also available on Amazon). The author's highly informal and at times slapdash style will annoy some readers, and despite the most recent edition being published in 2008 most of the content reads as though it were written in about 1995, albeit with some hastily tacked-on updates at the end of some of the chapters. The sections on aerodynamics and composite frame materials are interesting but slightly spoilt by the dogmatic and opinionated views of the author which make it difficult to know what to believe and what to treat with scepticism. An interesting if frustrating read with the odd tit-bit of useful information, but not a thorough or comprehensive work by any means.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2013 5:22 PM BST


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