Episode 163. Torpedo Flyer ZX 3000. (Part 5).

 A little over a month ago I rescued this thing from a skip beside the road.

Actually, that last sentence would probably be better if it read, a little over a month ago I inflicted this thing on myself when I saw it languishing in a skip beside the road. I knew that the very best thing I could do for it, and for myself would be to leave the damn thing there. But no, what I decided to do was to take it away, and see what having a full suspension bike was like for a month. I must admit that during my month of trying it out I have improved it slightly from where I started by fettling, riding, and fettling some more. I think that it's now at a point where it's just about as good as it will get, and that's still not actually all that good!

Last Sunday I decided that I would take it on its final ride. I tightened up that rear spring so it was as tight as it could be, but even so, it still has a bit of a bounce in its ride. But with that done I set off. I'm not sure how far I rode, but my little ride took me about two hours, which to be honest was long enough. To be fair to it, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be, although this isn't to say it was good either. But despite the weight of the thing when I arrived home I didn't feel too bad, and I even managed to ride the whole route without getting off once to push it up a hill. That being said, I was glad my ride was over, and to be honest, I'm pretty glad that my experience with the Torpedo Flyer has come to an end as well!

So you may well be asking yourselves what it was like, and was there anything that I particularly liked about it? Well, I am pleased to say that there is something I like about it, two things infact. The first thing is that I quite like the colour. I know it's not exactly the manliest of colours, but the pictures don't do it justice as it's sort of a pearlescent metallic pink. I'm not sure what I'd like to paint that colour, but I do quite like it. Secondly, I like that I won't ever have to ride this thing again! I do actually think that it could be improved further by removing the rear spring all together, and replacing it with a solid piece of tube instead, and it would probably also benefit from some ridged front forks. but this would make it just a ridged bike, and while I am in no doubt that this would improve it to ride no end, it would still be extremely heavy! So why would you bother?

Out of curiousity I did actually weigh it, and it weighed in at 2 stone and 4 pounds, which is about 14.5 kilograms, which surprisingly to me doesn't make it the heaviest bike in my collection. However it still feels like the heaviest bike when I ride it. My feeling is that the bouncing, even though it's nowhere near as bouncy as it was when I first got it, is what makes it feel heavy to ride. Somehow fighting that bounce drains your energy, and my feeling is that pretty much any full suspension bike will do this, but the cheap ones, like this one are probably worse because they're heavy. I get more tired riding this that I do riding the Falcon Long Beach which is a stone in weight heavier.

With my long ride over, I decided to invite some of my cycling friends to have a go on it, all of them were reluctant, but I said that they didn't need to go far, just to the end of the street and back. I just wanted to know what they thought of it. The response was unanimous, like me they all felt that this is a dreadful dreadful bike to ride, one of them felt that this was the worst example of a mountain bike that they'd ever ridden, and to be fair to them, I've got to echo that sentiment! This is bad, because frankly when you ride the kind of junk I do, then to be the worst example of a mountain bike it really must be pretty damn bad. I then decided that my kids needed to be punished, so I dragged them out of the house so that they too could experience the joy of the Torpedo Flyer. They weren't happy, partly because I'd dragged them out of the house, but mostly because I'd made them ride this thing. One of them, the littlest one, asked me why I would make them ride such an awful machine!? I said it was because I wanted to know what they thought of it? The eldest one, the goth in the making spoke up and said that it was a shocking colour, too heavy, and just abysmal to ride. The the littlest one chipped in with, yeah, and it's just shi... I stopped her, I knew what she was getting at! They told me that no matter how bad they'd been in the week, not to make them ride anything this bad ever again, and wandered off inside.

I thought about what they'd said, what my friends said, and what I thought, and despite us pretty much all thinking that this is a truely awful thing to ride, the ride is not the worst thing about this bike. The worst thing about this bike is that parents would've bought these for their children believing that they were doing something good for them, and getting them something they'll love to ride. Imagine being a parent who isn't into cycling or bikes, and seeing this shiny full suspension bike for sale in your local supermarket at Christmas or something. Because you're not into bikes you'll look at it and think, that bikes got suspension, my child is going to love riding this thing. You spend your hard earned cash, take it home, and wrap it up ready to delight your child when they unwrap it. Christmas morning comes, your child unwraps this bike, and indeed they are delighted, a brand new bike... Fantastic! They take it for a ride, and it's just awful, and they barely ever touch it again. So you ask them why they don't ride their new bike? And they tell you that it's the worst bike they've ever ridden. Now, I don't know about you, but if you're not into cycling, you're probably not going to take this thing for a ride yourself, instead you're going to be thinking that your child is pretty ungrateful for the bike that you'd spent your hard earned cash on, and this is the worst thing about it. My feeling is that this is exactly why it looked like it's barely been ridden, and was in the skip by the side of the road. infact, down at the tip I see this type of bike quite often, and more often than not they look like they've not seen a lot of action. I can't help but feel that these cheap full suspension supermarket bikes have a lot of dissappointed children, and parents to answer to.

So is this the end of the Torpedo Flyer? Is it going back to the skip where it belongs?..

Not exactly, you see the main problem with the whole bike is the frame, it's just junk and I've persevered with it long enough. The rest of the components, despite being from the cheap end of the scale are perfectly fine, and so to my mind it would be a waste to just dump the whole bike when the frame is at fault. Especially when in the same skip I found a frame called a BH Quassar Q673, and so, as this is also a full suspension mountain bike from what looks like the eighties I thought that I might just build it up from parts of the Torpedo Flyer, and see how that one rides too. My feeling is, as the BH Quassar Q673 is an older design that looks to be better made, and has a more traditional frame it might ride better. The frame its self certainly feels lighter, but wether or not this will make it better to ride only time will tell. So for the moment my adventure into full suspesnion mountain bikes continues. I must be a glutton for punishment! To be continued...