Pannier Plus…

27 03 2013
Couldn't get it all in the Ortlieb...

Couldn’t get it all in the Ortlieb…

I frequently head out on an errand run with a single pannier. It’s actually a smaller Ortlieb front pannier that I keep loaded with tools/pump and locks. More often than I would like I collect enough stuff on my ride that I can’t fit it into my single pannier so I have to get creative.

A jacket and some bungees...

A jacket and some bungees…

On this particular day it was getting warm so I took off my extra jacket that was necessary when I headed out into the chilly morning air hours earlier. I wrapped it around my extra items and used a couple small bungees to strap it to the top of my rack.

It wasn’t the most secure way to carry cargo, but it held together for the bumpy ride home.

I really should start out with 2 panniers, but then I have to carry them around when I lock up my bike which is a drag. My ad hock cargo solution may not be elegant, but it’s low hassle!





Ortlieb Repair…

6 03 2013
Buckle tear...

Buckle tear…

I had my first real Ortlieb failure. The buckles that close the roll top on my rear Ortlieb panniers both started to tear. I noticed it at home so it didn’t cause a problem.

Fresh buckle...

Fresh buckle…

I emailed Wayne at The Touring Store where I buy all my Ortlieb panniers and he mailed me some replacement parts for free. Thanks Wayne! :)

It's an easy fix with 2 bolts holing the buckle...

It’s an easy fix with 2 bolts holing the buckle…

Swapping in new buckles took a few minutes with a multi-tool. I checked the edges of the plastic frame to make sure they weren’t sharp. These are from the set of Ortliebs I lend to folks I tour with so it’s possible one of my friends got overly enthusiastic about tightening the buckles.

Ready to roll...

Ready to roll…

My Orlieb products have been virtually trouble free which is great, but it’s also nice to know that when stuff does go wrong I have a solid dealer to support me and that the product is designed to be easy to repair in the field.





Ortlieb Repair…

14 11 2012

A slight tear in the buckle strap…

I’ve been using Ortlieb products for 15yrs+ and never had a failure until one of the buckles that closes my roll top panniers started to tear.

Getting a set of spare buckles was easy…

I bought all my Ortlieb panniers from Wayne at the Touring Store so I emailed him and he sent me a set of brand new buckles.

Fresh buckle installed…

Ortlieb products are easy to work on so it only took two screws per pannier to remove and reinstall the new buckle. I did both panniers since I had two fresh buckles on hand. The whole process took about mins to complete.

Ortlieb repaired and ready to rumble…

Now these panniers are 100% I’m packing them for my Baja trip. There is a lot of beer and ice to be hauled! ;)





Sharon’s Bike Commuter Update

25 04 2012

Sharon and her Surly Cross Check commuter bicycle...

Sharon’s bike commuting skills have been steadily improving since we moved to Victoria. At first she rode a few days a week. Then she rode every warm dry day. Then she started riding when it was dry and cold. Finally she’s now riding even with some rain in the forecast – which means far more days on the bike.

I’ve been careful not to push her or to say much about her bike commuting other than to give her a high five after she comes home on a particularly gnarly day and help with some bike maintenance.

Ortlieb Downtown - click for info...

Part of the process of riding in more demanding weather conditions and more often in general has been the addition of some new biking gear to Sharon’s quiver. Although I have helped narrow down the options and discussed the pros/cons of each choice she’s been the one to pick what she wants. She’s made some very smart choices such as:

I took the photo at the top of this post yesterday. As you can see Sharon is still rocking her Shower Pass Portland jacket. It’s ideal for days when there is some chance of rain, but it’s not likely to pour. She likes it because it fits well, is comfortable for a wide range of weather conditions at a moderate exertion level. She appreciates that it doesn’t make her look like a traffic cone when she’s riding or has to walk to her office. If the forecast is more on the rainy side she just bought a Gore Bike Wear shell which she uses instead as it’s more appropriate for those conditions.

The Ortlieb Downtown Bag attaches to her bike like a normal pannier, but when you pull it off the pannier frame stays on the bike and you just have a reasonably stylish bag to take with you to your meeting. It’s waterproof which is essential around here and holds enough to be useful for a bike commuter without looking like you are going on an expedition.

Thumbs up for Donkey Boxx...

We are coming up on a year with Sharon using a Donkey Boxx on her bike. It stays on there 24/7 and is her main pannier. She then adds a second soft pannier on the left side of the bike for additional capacity. The Donkey Boxx has survived a serious bike wrecking crash with minimal abrasion marks as well as being generally banged around and bumped over our rough roads. Not only is the Donkey Boxx trucking along just fine, but Sharon really digs it. I took it off her bike after the crash to get repairs done and as soon as it was ready to ride again she wanted the Donkey Boxx reinstalled immediately.

Overall the Surly Cross Check itself has been working great since we repaired it from Sharon’s crash last summer. It’s comfortable, speedy and with fenders and bags can carry Sharon to work with her stuff in most weather conditions. The Nexus 8 IGH means that the only maintenance has been adding some air to the tires and lubing the chain. I think it’s about time that I put the CC in my workstand and give it a once over just to make sure the fenders are tight and nothing needs fixing before the summer. I know she wants new bar tape as she is over the pink and it’s getting pretty grubby looking.

One hassle with this bike is playing the battery game with Sharon’s headlight. For her birthday this year I’ll install a dynohub and B&M light. If I am feeling very motivated I may wire in a tail light as well. That way she should have lights 24/7 without thinking about it which will be nice.

One pedal stroke at a time!





Commuter Style

24 01 2012

Leaving for work on a dark chilly winter morning...

Sharon tries hard not to look like a traffic cone when riding her bike while still being visible to other cyclists and drivers. She’s found a bunch of clothing that’s practical for cycling without being garish. That’s important because if you want more people to ride bikes you need to make them excited about the idea and for a lot of people the traffic cone chic is not an acceptable way to look when arriving at work or a social event. Luckily there are lots of cycling specific clothing and cycling adaptable clothing options these days that you can find to match your personal tastes while staying comfortable.

For visibility Sharon has two powerful rear lights, a powerful [considerately focused] headlight and some reflective trim on her clothing and bike bags.

Not only is it cool that Sharon has found a bike and gear that she is into and reflects her own tastes I think there are a bunch of other potential commuter cyclists who need to see someone dressed stylishly yet sensibly so they can get motivated to start riding to work themselves. Hopefully Sharon is setting a positive example for them as she rolls to work on her Cross Check.

Aaron taking a break after tagging a fence...=-)

Just so the guys don’t feel left out Aaron and I took some male cycling style photos. Aaron always turns up for our rides dressed super nice so I figured I should tap into his fashion wisdom. I’ll be putting up a whole post with his bike clothing tips shortly, but the image above is a taste of what’s to come.

Here I am all coned up!

To avoid a bunch of comments telling me there is nothing wrong with the traffic cone look let me say I agree there is nothing wrong with it. There is also nothing wrong with the bike commuter who dresses up in a Tour de France replica kit and rockets to work on a carbon fibre race bike. However, those two schools of cycling fashion are well represented on the streets around here and are what the general public think about when it comes to riding a bike around town. Since a lot of potential commuter cyclists wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing a traffic cone or skin tight spandex I think it’s important to show them there are other clothing options that are comfortable on the bike, will keep you warm and dry in inclement weather and would be acceptable to a wide range of fashion palates.

Seeing more people on bikes makes me happy and to make that happen we have to give people options they are stoked about.





Ortlieb my secret weapon!

17 08 2011

High visibility black...

I went to collect my mail at my UPS Store mailbox downtown yesterday. The lady who grabbed my parcels knows I usually come on a bike so she was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get two decent sized boxes home without a car. I told her it would be no problem as I shrugged off my large Ortlieb backpack and started loading it up. Once I had both boxes inside I showed her that there was plenty of room left for more!

Boxes are no problem!

The Ortlieb Messenger Bag Pro is designed for professional bike couriers and that pedigree shows when you are stuffing bulky boxes inside or trying to keep large envelopes flat and undamaged. If you are looking for a way to haul stuff on your bike without the hassle of panniers and racks this is a bag worth considering. Especially if carrying bulky items and having a waterproof enclosure are important to you.





Ortlieb Messenger Bag Pro

19 07 2011

Ortlieb Messenger Bag Pro...

I’ve been using an Ortlieb Velocity waterproof backpack for over 3yrs and love it. You can click on the image above and below to read various reviews I’ve posted over the years about this awesome backpack. It sees daily use and has become one of my mission critical bits of gear that if I ever destroyed or if it was lost/stolen I’d go buy a new one the same day without thinking about it. Even when I bough the Velocity I was keen on it’s much bigger brother the Messenger Pro. I’ve had the Messenger Pro on my wish list all these years, but it’s never climbed my priority list and made the cut to be purchased. Well that was until my birthday this year when Sharon asked me what I wanted and I thought the Messenger Bag Pro was one of those gifts I’d never buy for myself so I suggested it to Sharon who got it for me – thanks!…=-)

Ortlieb Messenger Pro details...

The Messenger Bag Pro is a 30L bag compared to the 20L capacity of the Velocity. It feels more than 1.5 times bigger though. The construction is similar with a very durable waterproof PVC body and welded seams to ensure your stuff stays dry. The Messenger Bag Pro comes with two organizer pockets and a stiffener sheet to keep large documents from getting bent/damaged. One neat feature is a clear window on the back of the bag that you can slide a large piece of paper into to act as a mini-billboard. I haven’t used it yet, but plan to – just for fun!

Ortlieb bag comparison...

I expect the Messenger Bag Pro to be as durable as the Velocity which means there is no point talking about how it is wearing after 3 months! I use the bigger bag about 25% of the time and use the smaller bag 75% of the time. If I could only keep one I’d keep the smaller bag. I like a bag being 50%-75% full most of the time because it carries better than a bag that’s under utilized and flopping around. Having both is a nice luxury so I can grab whichever fits my needs better.