After spending much of the weekend arsing around with my rear bike wheel and turning it somewhat oval I gave in and handed it over to the professionals at Rusholme’s Bicycle Doctor. Within a few hours I returned to pick up a fabulously circular wheel with lots of beautifully tight spokes. I then struggled to fit the thing and although it went into position nicely and no longer fouled the mudguard, on reconnecting the cables to the in-hub brakes and gears a horrible grinding noise occurred on back pedaling. I took it off and put it back on again a few times but to no avail. The bike was designed to be "maintenance free" ie leave it to a mechanic on the rare occasion it goes wrong, and I accept that with the mileage I do it needs to be serviced regularly, but you should be able to remove and replace a wheel without all hell breaking loose. I had deliberately put heavy duty tyres on it to avoid removing the wheels at all but the wheel truing attempt had lead me to disturb things. With hindsight (and if I knew it would cost so little) I should have taken the whole bike to the Bicycle Doctor to have the wheel trued. The grinding was due to the drum brake being partially locked and a 2nd visit to the Doctor in 3 days resolved the problem
At the end of the day I have to be a little forgiving of the Carrera Subway 8 as when it works it’s very good. I rode my old spare bike earlier in the week as a friend who had borrowed it for a month returned just as it was needed. This made me appreciate the Subway 8 more. The Claude Butler has 24 gears but the 8 on the Subway 8 give sufficient range and are spaced wider so I am less likely to jump through gears. Even when that occurs, jumping 2 or 3 gears with the Nexus 8 mechanism is easier and more reliable than stepping through several gears on the CB using indexed shifters. The riding position is better on the Subway 8 and without the unnecessary front and rear suspension the handling and manoeuvrability is much better.
I was looking wistfully at a Trek 7.3 in the Bicycle Doctor as maybe the bike I should have bought instead of the Subway 8. It’s much lighter, no doubt better built and with better components on it costing £350 against the £280 I spent on my Subway. However to get a commuting Trek bike with the Nexus 8 hub would cost double that and really at £280 the Subway 8 was a snip. I should have budgeted £100 to upgrade tyres and wheels and to have the "maintenance free" bike serviced. In all honesty for the mileage I have done, and will do, I should have spent over £500 on a bike.