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I rode a friends bike with disc brakes and was very impressed with the performance of them. Unfortunately as my frame and forks did not have the relevant mounting points things were not looking good for upgrading my bike. Then I found the Magura HS33 Hydraulic Rim Brakes. These brakes work in a similar way to conventional brakes but are hydraulic rather than cable driven. I searched the Internet and found a complete set for a little under £100. I paid my money and waited a few days for the package to arrive. The set included everything required (except the tools) to fit both front and read brakes in one box and even include brake boosters to stop your frame bending (they are so powerful that can see the frame flexing if you don’t use the booster). They are straightforward to fit as long as you follow the instructions. The most difficult stage is the shortening of the pipes from the levers to the brake pistons. Even this is fairly straightforward with a sharp knife. (just be careful not to operate the brake lever until you have reassembled everything). Once all the components are attached it is necessary to set up the brakes. This can be a little tricky but is not too difficult. Then off you go (or actually stop!). The brakes are much better than cable brakes, and although not as good as disc brakes, are still extremely effective. The manual warns you that you will experience increased wear on the wheel rims, although I haven’t noticed this to be a problem (well not yet). As the pads wear down you can adjust the brakes using the thumb wheels on the levers, these move the pads inwards to reduce the amount of travel in the lever before the brakes start to operate so you can keep them feeling great without fiddling around. The brakes require much less effort to operate and are far more controllable than cable brakes. One downside is that you will get through your tyres much more quickly if you aren't careful! As they o
perate on the rim rather than a disc you will still suffer from problems associated with mud on the rims when riding off road. However there a number of different pads available: Black - Standard pads Grey - Standard pads designed to work better on anodised or ceramic rims Kool stop – Better stopping power in dry conditions. Green Frog – Better stopping power particularly in wet conditions. All in all a good buy, shop around and you should get them for under £100 – try www.chainreactioncycles.com and they even deliver for free!
A few minor problems - Advantages: Easy to use, Cheap - Disadvantages: Battery life decreases after a year or so, Keep ringing 999 in my pocket - you can do this even with the keypad locked. If you have one check your call register to see if you have rung 999 accidentally., Buttons starting to get a bit unreliable - probably time for a new phone
I have 2 of these cycle carriers and have used them a fair bit in the last couple of years. Once you are used to fitting them it really doesn't take long to fit them to the roof bars (fitting the bars takes longer). I have had no real problems with them, although the first time of using them took a while to work out the best combination of mounting for the 2 bikes (one has a womans frame). The best solution I have found was to mount one in the normal way and one backwards, so that the arms are both on the inside, this makes putting the bikes on easier and just happens to provide suitable positions for each if the bikes (even with bottle cages). I always use the use the straps to hold the front wheel straight as this makes putting the bikes on much less prone to problems. I have never tried fitting more than 2 but can understand why in would be difficult if not impossible! The pivot point in the middle, whilst making them easier to store, is a bit of weakpoint in the design. Both carriers have cracks in the plastic, although neither has broken (not yet anyway!). Also be careful not to overtighten the wheel straps as the metal bits at the ends are not that strong. They are lockable, both to the roof bars and to the bikes, however I wouldn't like to rely on the locks stopping a determined thief, although they are likely to be more secure than on a boot mounted carrier. Personally I prefer roof mounter carriers as they avoid any problems with lights/number plates being obscured and still allow access to the boot while the bikes are on the car. I am sure there is an increase in fuel consumption when driving with the bikes on the car but have not found it to be that noticeable. All on all, not a bad cycle carrier, but if you can, try them out with your bike(s) first and wait until Halfords reduce them (which they seem to do once a year) before buying.
Nearly a year ago our 15 year old Hotpoint Washer finally gave up, despite some rather unflattering ops on this website about certain models we decided to stick with Hotpoint. After several trips round various electrical stores we were seduced by the rather gadgety Machines at the top end of the range - these are fairly easy to spot with the LED displays and multitude of buttons. We opted for the 1600 spinspeed WMA66 Ultima Extra in Zircon silver and ordered from Direct Electricals, in less than a week it turned up. The delivery guy was a star, even ringing us at 8:50 to make sure we were up before he arrived at 9am! On unpacking the machine certainly looks impressive and is straightforward to install, with rollers to help you slide the machine backwards. The leveling is achieved using easily adjustable feet. The instructions were clear but despite the large number of buttons, the machine really is easy to use. Simply select How Dirty the clothes are, Spin Speed, Rinse and Temperature and press start. You can also set a favorite program that loads your own default settings. You can also select all the usual options - Prewash, miniload, Reduce creases, rinse hold. There are some other great ideas too, e.g the time left display (although this does jump around a bit depending on the incoming hot water temperature) and the child lock (although this would be better if set on any push of the button instead of having to hold it for 3 seconds). It appears to get most washing clean, removing all reasonable dirt and the spin certainly gets a fair amount of water out. Reliability has been excellent so far, and there are even gadgets to improve this, e.g. the unbalanced load detector that should stop the machine destroying itself. I have some doubts over the long term reliability of the electronics compared to an old fashioned dial type but so far I have no regrets in splashing out that bit extra.
Well, as all the other reviews so far have mentioned reliability is not the 306 GTi's stongest feature. But then if you wanted reliability you wouldn't be looking at a Peugeot in the first place! 3 years on and I have had: - Broken Speed sensor (unfortunately the engine management system detected this and kindly switched the engine off for me, and only 12 hours after I bought the car!) - Oil leak (although possibly caused by the repair to the speed sensor) - Broken power steering ram - Water leak from the ventilation system somewhere - Air bag sensor fault (annoying problem that required a complaint to head office to resolve) - Air conditioning pipe failure (plus an ongoing unidentified air con problem) - Radiator failure (although possibly caused by the air pipe replacement as the hole was next to a clip holding the new air con pipe......... I have changed to a different peugeot dealer) The biggest problem with the poor reliability is the fact that the engine (and some other parts) is completely different to others in the 306 series, this means that the Haynes manual does not cover the GTi and your local garage may well take some time to get certain parts in and most parts cost more than on a standard 306. Ring a garage and ask for a price on a part and they usually say '£xx as long as it is not a GTi'. Before buying one find out how good your local Peugeot dealer is, you will get to know soon after buying one if not! I can also confirm some of the other comments made so far: - Black shows the dirt but does look great when clean - The turning circle to the right is abismal (due to the size of the 6 speed box I am told), however turning to the left is the same (or least similar) to a standard GTi, - Rear speakers are good, front speakers are average - Performance is fantastic for the price of the car - Insurance is expensive but shop around and you can save £100'
s - Ride is a bit harsh on bumpy roads but seats are comfortable enough - Handling is excellent The car is well equiped safety wise with 4 air bags, 2 front and 2 side (although the side ones destroy the seats if activated, better than the driver being destroyed I suppose), disc brakes all round with ABS and wide tyres to help keep you on the road. That said, it still has a ability to bring a smile to your face every time you press the accelerator. If you want a reliable family car buy something else, if you want a cheap(ish) fast car buy a 306 GTi.
Amerada is now part of Powergen, and therefore also has Powergen's higher prices :-( I have been a customer of Amerada for several years and have been happy with their service and especially the prices. Powergen will cost me approx 15-20% more. Yes, it does cost a quid a minute to ring them, but then how often do you ring your utility company? I have used the e-mail query system and always had a prompt (or promptish) reply from them. Their esimated billing service was amazingly accurate in my experience and my only slight complaint would be that they initially set the direct debits up a little on the low side (possibly to appear more attractive to a potential customer) which meant I underpaid for the first year or so. Still I would rather owe them money than them overcharge me. As regards service, apart from billing, you get the same gas/electricity through the same meters and the same pipes/cables with the same meter readers (it doesn't matter who you are with the same people will read your meter). So why pay more? I will be sad to see them (and their low prices) go.
Well I have now had 5 years as an NTL customer and I have to say, everytime I don't think they can get any worse - they only go and achieve it! Their latest change? The fault reporting centre is no longer open 24 hours, I think it is 8am to 8pm and they insist that you have the equipment available when you call. So if you suffer a failure of either your TV or Phone after 8pm at night, you cannot report it that night and if you have to go to work, you can't report it until you get home the following day! They do have a message saying that if you have a complete loss of telephone service and consider it an emergency, press #, unfortunately pressing # just repeats the message and pressing it again cuts you off! Other gripes with them -Constant price rises/package changes (that inevitably mean you end up paying more for the channels you want!). -Offering/promising things then failing to deliver or removing them. Perhaps the best (or worst!) example of this was the completely free internet offer. Which having waited over a year for (something to do with problems with ex cable and wireless areas) was suddenly discontinued after I'd only had it for 3 months. -Poor installation, my first 18 months were plagued with problems on both the phone line and the cable TV this was all due to an incorrectly installed cable (damaged when putting it under the paving flags). -Poor technical staff, the prize has to go the technician who claimed the Signal to Noise Ratio was too high and that he would have to fit an adapter to introduce noise into the circuit! (apologies to the non technical people out there) Where do they get these people? All in all, I really don't know why I have stayed with them so long. Perhaps it is because there is always too much junk on the TV..........
As a fairly regular traveller on Virgin Trains I thought I would share a few tips that I have picked up: 1) Pick up a copy of the passengers charter and carry it with you on the train. It is full of useful information for example, did you know: - delayed for more than one hour waiting for a train at a station, Virgin will (where possible) provide you with vouchers for free drinks (unfortunately only non-alcoholic ones!). - if you are delayed by more than 30mins on a train you can ask for complimentary tea/coffee or soft drinks (only the really small cans though) - If your train is cancelled and you have to wait for more than 2 hours at a station alternative transport will be provided - a one hour delay (45 mins on some services) entitles you to a 25% refund (or 12.5% in the case of a return ticket) - a two hour delay entitles you to a 100% refund (or 50% on a return ticket) 2) Pick up a copy of the National Rail Conditions of Carriage: The most condition is 37b which while not sounding very exciting at first states 'if you have a Standard Class ticket (other than a season ticket) and no Standard Class accommodation is available, with the prior permission of the ticket staff on that train you may travel in First Class accommodation (or the equivalent) without extra charge.' So next time you are on a train with no seats in standard class, just ask the staff and providing there is space, you can sit in first for free! Of course this assumes that you managed to squash your way onto the train in the first place! NOTE: You must ASK FIRST or you are liable to pay the difference between the fare you have paid and the First class fare. This applies to all train operators, not just Virgin. In my experience most staff are aware of these publications and if you ask you will normally get what you are entitled to, but occasionally when staff don't know the rules (or pretend not to) having a copy with you can
I am a regular traveller on FNW's trains and whilst I consider them good value and generally better than driving, I think they could improve somewhat. Regular travellers will be aware that over the last year passengers have suffered a number of strikes, reduced timetables due to industrial action and complete closures of some sections of line (for weeks at a time). FNW use various excuses for not counting these in the passenger charter figures (e.g pre advertised etc..) however the bottom line is the trains didn't run, the replacement buses were ever non existant or double the normal journey time. And to cap it all FNW's charter figures show an improvement (less trains running mean less are delayed!) so although passengers suffer reduced service, they get no compensation. (climb down off soap box..) I do find the service provided at stations and on trains variable, although the vast majority of staff are friendly and helpful. The biggest area they need to address is helping passengers in times of disruption (something Virgin Trains are much better at, although they probably get more practice!). It is not acceptable to just say the train is delayed and not give any advice about the likely delay, cause of delay or alternative routes. The freephone train running line is usually good and will give precise details on the whereabouts of any FNW train (0800 528 0200) but when things go wrong over a large area you cannot get through to them. What would also make a difference is train running displays at all stations (Cheshire County Council are installing displays at most bus stops, surely we could fit most stations!). This is particularly important at stations with multiple routes and may even help trains run on time as there wouldn't be a queue of people asking the guard if it is the right train. Finally it is worth mentioning the travel assitance service, this is fantastic for elderly people travelling alone and needing to chang
e trains, but must be prebooked with FNW. I have booked the service for my Nan several times. Obviously it is not available at all stations, but it most useful at the major stations in any case.
I would not use Countrywide surveyors again. The survey I had done included the following: 'The electric shower appears satisfactory...' The shower was a mixer shower not an electric shower! 'The plastic water storage tank, which can be found in the loft space, is completely covered in insulation and we are unable to comment on it's condition.' There was no insulation on the tank at all! They went on 'A plastic feed and expansion tank in the loft space serves the central heating system.' The tank was in fact redundant. 'There are no inspection chambers within the curtilage of the property..' I assume the surveyor ignored the the one in the middle of the patio! 'The property was furnished with fully fitted floor coverings in most rooms except the kitchen and main bedroom. This restricted our inspection....' The majority of the carpets were not fastened down in any way (hardly restrictive!). 'The internal partions appear to be constructed in a mixture of solid masonry and lightweight timber studwork.' They are in fact all timber studwork. I could go on but I think you get the picture..... STOP PRESS! Latest update... I am in the process of selling my house and the buyers survey was done today - yes you guessed it, by Countrywide, and yes, the exact same surveyor. Just so you know what you get for your money, he spent less than 20 minutes in the house, asked a few questions but didn't check any of the answers were genuine, I await the results with interest - wonder what the internal walls will be made of this time?!