Using the box and running out of power

Friday, April 27th, 2007 at 8:47 pm

Today was the first time that I used one of the new bicycle lockers to store my bicycle at work instead of keeping it at one of the empty desks inside.

My first issue was that, technically, my bicycle does not fit. When my handlebars come in contact with the sides of the locker my front wheel protrudes about ten centimetres which gets in the way of the door. Fortunately the walls are only thin sheet steel and flex enough for me to push it back enough to close the door. This is an interesting aspect of the design as my handlebars are the same width as the bars on most mountain bikes that are sold these days.

My other issue is a logistical one. Originally I toyed with getting the locker near the powerpoint so I could just continue to charge the batteries for my lights while still on the bike. I decided against that for two reasons; first because the access to that locker isn’t the best due to a pillar and second because that is where the smokers congregate.

Based on one days experience I’m thinking that the hassle of taking the batteries off in the morning and putting them back on at the end of the day is greater than the hassle of working around the support pillar. But then there is also the risk that my lights would not get charged if the single powerpoint was needed for something else, for example the builders that were using it for their saw the other day.

None of this matters in light of what I discovered fifteen minutes into my ride home. Even with a full charge the batteries for my lights now only last fifteen minutes, down from the fifty minutes when they were brand new three and a half years ago. I estimate that these batteries have gone through around 700 charge/discharge cycles plus four periods of stitting idle (and self-discharged) for a few months.

This means that I will need to do something with the batteries and I am leaning towards making a new battery pack instead of replacing the current cells. This is because I could make a new battery pack that is quick and easy to remove. It was a real fiddle getting my current batteries back on the bike as, along with a rubber strap, there is a loop of velcro that runs through a slot in one battery, between the frame and the drink bottle holder, through a slot in the second battery, under the frame back to the first battery. This is a pain to reattach as it must be thread under the drink bottle holder every time.

However my immediate concern is to, over the coming weekend, mount the addtional LED based front light that I have. Mounting the new rear light is less critical as I do have a working rear light.

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