Tofino Girl’s Surf Weekend…

30 11 2010

Sharon and Tanya wet, but stoked!

I took Sharon and Tanya up to Tofino to kick off their surf careers with some professional instruction.  I think they had second thoughts as we climbed over the mountains in a full on snowstorm before reaching the coast.  Surfing and snow…hmmmmm!  As it turned out we had two sunny and relatively warm days in Tofino which for this time of year is a score.

Surf Sisters School & Shop...

Sharon booked two days of lessons with Surf Sisters, a surf school that specializes in teaching the ladies – although men are welcome as well.  Each 3hr lesson began with 1hr of inside classroom instruction.  For someone who knows nothing this is useful, but if you have done some basic reading about surfing you may find that losing 33% of your lesson to talking isn’t productive.  For the girls this format was good and 3hrs in the water might have been too much to start with.

Signing waivers...

The first day’s lesson was with Lisa and there were two other people in their group lesson [$75/person for a group lesson vs. $150/person for a private lesson].  They worked on the basics of catching a whitewater water near shore and popping up on the board.  Everyone had fun and Lisa was a great instructor.  I was happy that Sharon didn’t get cold in her wetsuit. She has some circulatory issues that often causes her problems.  The North Pacific Ocean in winter seemed like it could freeze her hands and feet, but through the magic of her 6/4mm neoprene wetsuit from Promotion she was comfortable the whole lesson.

Scoping the nightlife options...

After the first day’s lessons we got showered and changed into warm clothes before heading out to eat a well deserved dinner at The Shelter Restaurant.  They have a very cozy upscale vibe going on that isn’t cheap, but the quality of the service and food was worth the cost.  The girls had ambitious plans for the evening that ended up falling apart as we were all asleep by 930pm!  I guess we aren’t rockstar material…=-)

Our room with a view...

We stayed at the Tofino Motel.  At $65+taxes/night it was reasonably priced and had large clean rooms centrally located for walking around town.  I’ve stayed here twice and it will likely be my choice for future trips as well.  We ate breakfast each day at the Sea Shanty Restaurant.  They’ve got a great view of the ocean and large portions of freshly made food to fuel your surf adventures. Another great place for food is the Wildside Grill located across from Live to Surf near Chesterman’s Beach.  They have great fish and awesome tacos.  We tried the Dockside Pub, but it was a bit below average and we won’t be heading back.  For a just a bit more $$ the Shelter Restaurant is a better value for food and drink.

Looks like recess at super hero school...

Day two of lessons with Surf Sister featured a different instructor and a smaller class with just Sharon and Tanya.  That ratio should have resulted in a better experience than the previous day, but unfortunately this instructor [I won’t name names in case she was having a rare off day] wasn’t very interested in teaching them.  She took off and surfed on her own while they struggled and she didn’t even notice when one of them had a problem and had to go back to the beach to regroup. Lesson learnt!  If you are booking lessons with Surf Sister I’d request Lisa specifically. I can also highly recommend Adam at the Pacific Surf School for quality instruction. The good news is the excellent instruction on day 1 gave them lots to work on so the time wasn’t wasted.  Sharon did great paddling out past the breaking waves 3 times and then working on catching waves on the way back in.

Dreaming of the surf!

Despite the poor instruction on day 2.  The girls were so stoked by the beauty of the Tofino area and the fun they had in the surf that they were already scheming about the next trip to catch some waves.  I’d call that mission accomplished…=-)

Long Beach...

You can blame the lack of action shots on my poor preparation.  I pulled out my waterproof Pentax camera only to find not one, but two dead batteries – of course I didn’t have the charger with me…*sigh*  Being the “gear guy” this was more than a bit embarrassing! Oh well.  I assured them that next trip I’d have a functional waterproof camera and they’d be more skilled so the shots would look more impressive!




29 11 2010

I must have been thinking ahead to 2011!

Every year I have at least one project bike and try out some new gear that’s been on my mind.  My main focus for 2011 will be to upgrade and improve my existing rides.  Here is what I am thinking of for 2011:

  • I’m going to put some energy into learning to unicycle.  Paul lent me a couple unis to try out.  I haven’t got to the point where I’m for sure going to take this up, but I should know by the end of 2010.  If I do I’ll score a uni for myself.
  • Sharon has realized that although her cruiser/city bike is nice to look at she needs a more efficient ride if she is to cover a lot of kms riding to work and for errands.  So I’m going to build her a Surly Cross Check [in Robin’s Egg Blue] using the main parts from her cruiser.  The more aggressive riding position and option to go with drops should be useful while still ending up with a nice looking ride.  Assuming she loves it I’m thinking of adding a dynohub wheel and headlight in the fall of 2011 for her birthday as her commutes to work start getting darker.
  • We’ll save Sharon’s city bike frame and any parts we don’t swap over to build up a SS Burning Man bike for 2012 when we head to the playa again.
  • My trusty Surly LHT is going to get a dynohub and dyno headlight for 24/7 light action.  I’ve really enjoyed the dyno setup on my Bike Friday NWT and it’s time to give my LHT the same treatment.  I’ll use a Shimano dynohub, but haven’t settled on a headlight yet.  My LHT will also get some smooth fast rolling Grand Bois Cypres tires.  I’ve been waiting until the existing Marathon  XRs wear out, but that is taking forever so I’ll pull them and save them for when I need a heavier tire on a tour.  If I get really into it I’d like a bigger/longer mudflap on my LHT, but that would be a luxury…the existing one is adequate.
  • My Surly Big Dummy will get a dynohub [a 26″ Shimano dynohub wheel I used on my Thorn Nomad] as well as a dyno headlight. Not sure about the headlight yet.  I’m thinking I’ll probably get an uber nice one for the LHT and a nice, but reasonably priced one for the Dummy. I can always swap them if I need a killer light on the Dummy.  I’ll probably swap the Jones Loop H-bar into the Dummy to test it out.
  • My CETMA cargo bike will get a hydraulic disc brake on the front wheel to address the spongy brake action caused the long convoluted cable run. I still haven’t mounted fenders so that has to happen and I think, given the short rides I do with it, I’ll mount a less expensive SDG saddle and save the Selle Anatomica for a rig that sees bigger distances.  I’m considering pulling the Rohloff hub from the CETMA and replacing it with a cheaper Nuvinci IGH.  I feel like the Rohloff is kind of wasted in that bike and I’ve been interested in the Nuvinci so this would be a good opporttunity to try one out in an application where the smaller gear range and higher weight isn’t an issue.
  • My Bike Friday NWT will get some full coverage Planet Bike Fenders and some fresh white bar tape. If Solidlights is still doing the XB2 light upgrade I may send my Solidlights dyno light back to the UK to get the upgrade from brighter LEDs and a focused optic.
  • My Pugsley needs a saddle [I stole the Selle Anatomica for the CETMA from my Pug].  Rather than put the SA back on I’ll replace it with SDG plastic saddle unless I take it on tour where the SA would be appreciated.  I’d also like to swap in some MTB riser bars from my spare parts bin for the Titec H-bars to get a better relationship between the brake levers and the shifter/grips.  Right now I can’t have my hand on the grips fully while braking which is a problem in technical terrain.  I have a set of Surly Larry knobby 4″ tires I will be installing on the Pugsely in 2011 to improve traction in the wet.
  • My Bike Friday 8spd Tikit has a new stem riser waiting on installation.  The new one piece unit replaces the previous separate stem and steering riser combo.  I’ve got to replace the whole drivetrain on this bike since it hasn’t seen any love since new.  It also needs a new set of Greenspeed Scorcher TRs.
  • I’d like to get a tour of Vancouver Island in this spring…from Port Hardy back down to Victoria.
  • I’d like to fit in more mountain biking.  Kiteboarding dominates my summer weekends, but I can fit more mountain bike rides in during the week.

There is also some stuff that I’m less certain about that is bouncing around my brain.  These items may not happen, but who knows?

  • Getting a tandem.  I’m continuing to do research and will hopefully get some test rides in over the next few months to confirm our interest in riding on the same bike. I’ve got a few possibilities on paper right now, but nothing that is so compelling I’d rule out other options.
  • Alfine 11 – I’d like to try one out, but I haven’t got a solid idea of where I might use one.
  • Carbon belt – I’d like to try out a carbon belt drive at some point.  I’m not 100% sold on them, but without trying one it’s hard to speak about the benefits vs. a chain.
  • Trying out a BQ approved 650B rando style bike.  I’m curious if I’ll come to the same conclusions as Jan Heine and the only way to know is to try one. I’m not ready to spend top of the line custom $$ on one so I’d be looking at something that’s in production like the Boulder Cycles Randonneur.
  • I’m contemplating riding some more brevets this year…if I do it will be just the shorter ones [100K, 200K and 300K].  I’ve got to find my love of long solo training road rides.   I’ve also done all my previous brevets on a recumbent.  I don’t own a bent and I don’t see one in my immediate future so I’d probably press my Surly LHT or BBC 24 into service.
  • I’m considering building a bike storage area in my yard to free up garage space.  It would be a concrete pad with eye bolts sunken into the pad for locking points.  It would have a roof, but not be fully enclosed.  I’d lock up my more sturdy bikes there [like my Surly Big Dummy] giving me more room in the garage and also making getting rolling on these bikes faster.
  • I may get rid of one of my two fixed gear bikes to free up some space.  I love the fixed gear experience, but one bike would meet all my needs.

Michael W’s Speeding Tikit

26 11 2010

What a lovely Speeding Tikit...

The contrasting paint is a nice touch...

Fold detail...

Front derailleur...

Impulse fold in action...

Bike Locking Case #3

25 11 2010

Surly LHT secured for a few hours...

Here I have locked up my Surly LHT while I had dinner downtown.  Chain lock secures frame to bike rack and a mid-grade cable secures both wheels to the chain.  I’ve pulled my lights and covered my Brooks with a saddle condom due to rain.  I realized afterwards I’d be better off with a plastic shopping bag on the saddle so it looked more ghetto. I was away from the bike for several hours while I ate and then went to a pub.  My trusty steed was right where I left her when I got back…=-)

This is my medium security setup.  The next step up would be a heavier chain and/or two separate chain locks to really discourage a thief.  It helps that this bike is relatively unremarkable looking so as to not attract too much attention in the first place.

MEC Borderline Hoodie

24 11 2010

MEC Borderline Hoodie

I’ve been wearing a MEC Borderline Hoodie for a couple years now. It’s one of my favourite things to put on regardless of where I am heading.  It’s water resistant and wind resistant…without being waterproof or windproof.  It’s durable and looks as good today as it did two years ago.  I’m on my 3rd one…I managed to lose the one [photo of me on a bike below] in the colour/pattern I liked most…=-( I have one in medium that fits perfectly over a t-shirt or LS base layer and I have a large I can wear over another fleece.  When I’m feeling wild I layer both Borderline hoodies one on top of the other.

Looking at the tech specs there is nothing radical about this hoodie yet in my closet of gear it jumps out and gets worn a ton more than other similar items.  It always seems to be dry and warm without getting hot.  It doesn’t absorb sweat or light rain much and always looks good even after being crammed into the bottom of a pack.  The outer fabric doesn’t pick up snow, slides easily when layering on top of or under other pieces and it doesn’t snag on velcro.

This hoodie is MIA if you see it tell it to come home!

MEC Spew:

Designed to ward off cold on the slopes, this casual full-zip hoodie has been treated with a polyurethane coating that steps up abrasion resistance, water repellency, and wind resistance. It works well as a mid-layer; the looser fit allows layering underneath and the smooth face fabric allows easy over-layering. You can also wear it alone in friendlier conditions, as it will shed snow and light rain.

  • Made of 88% polyester and 12% spandex jersey fabric with a Hardface® polyurethane coating that offers some moisture shedding ability.
  • Subtle print treatment.
  • Generous-sized hood.
  • Cinch toggles keep the hood in place while you’re moving.
  • Two handwarmer pockets with an internal headphone wire slit.
  • Slim fit
  • Weight 390grams
  • Price $105cdn

Fabric close up...

I liked the 2009 patterns better than the 2010’s.  The blue and the green colours look the best this year.  MEC is selling selected colours for $45cdn at the moment..unfortunately they are a bit hideous.  This is a great product I just wish MEC would offer a better selection of colours and patterns….each year has several options that just make you shake your head…how about basic black?  The other thing I would love is 1 or 2 two zippered pockets inside the kangaroo pockets for items you can’t afford to lose when jumping around outside like your keys or camera.

Porcelain Rocket

23 11 2010

Photo: Cass Gilbert

Scott from Porcelain Rocket has been busy riding his bike down in the Southern US with Cass Gilbert recently.  The trip must have really fired up his creative engine because he came back with all sorts of great bike bag ideas.  I hope to get my hands on 3 new custom bags for my Big Dummy, my Santa Cruz Nomad and for Kurt’s Nomad. I’m excited!

Scott's personal bike all tricked out to bikepack...

I’ve been using the bag Scott made for my Surly Big Dummy on every trip I take with it.  It adds a lot of useful storage for small items that I can get to even if my Dummy is fully loaded and has survived all my abuse without problems.  Scott is gearing up for a busy winter so if you need any bikepacking bags for winter racing or for a tour down south of the equator drop Scott a msg through this website.

My new Porcelain Rocket Big Dummy bag...

Here is a sneak peek at my new Big Dummy frame bag.  I won’t say much more at this point, but it will be another nice addition to one of my favourite bikes…=-)

My first Porcelain Rocket frame bag...

Installing NSI Clear Grip

23 11 2010

8 sheet package of Clear Grip...

One of the things I was not looking forward to when it comes to surfing is applying, removing and generally dealing with surf wax. It’s a PITA and it’s messy so I figured I’d see what other options were out there.  The obvious one was using an EVA deck pad.  EVA foam is very grippy and I know it works because I use it on my SUPs.  I was all set to get a SUP deck pad and trim it down to size for my 9’2″ longboard when I came across NSI’s Clear Grip.

Like wax just easier...

Clear Grip is a very thin [1/16″ = 1.6mm] textured translucent deck traction product that can be used on any water sports board or paddle that needs more grip with minimal visual or physical impact on the surface.  Unlike EVA foam, which is springy and changes how a board feels under foot, Clear Grip allows for the same board feel as with wax.  It comes in 18″ x 10.75″ sheets.  I grabbed an 8 sheet pack [~$72usd] for my 9″2″ x 22.25″ longboard.

First sheet of Clear Grip installed...

I’m not a great surfer and I have no experience with surf wax so I won’t attempt to evaluate and compare this product, but you can read this review that states Clear Grip worked great and is equivalent to a medium coat of surf wax. However, unlike surf wax you don’t have to reapply Clear Grip and it won’t melt off and get onto your car seats or furniture.  If you want to you can add some wax on top of the Clear Grip for more traction, but my goal is ride wax free if at all possible.


I mostly ignored the instructions.  I did clean and dry the board throughly where I wanted to apply Clear Grip.  Working from the tail I used a pattern of sheets that required minimum trimming.  I used faint marks on the sheets and the centreline of the board to get the sheets laid down in the right spots [more or less!].  I started at the bottom edge of each sheet and pressed down along the whole width moving towards the tip ensuring there were no bubbles forming.  I paid special attention to the edges and corners of each sheet pressing them down firmly into the board.

My board all Clear Gripped...

I only went as far up the board as I needed to to ensure I’d have a grippy surface for my hands when popping up.  I’m not about to nose ride so I’ll worry about the last 3rd of the board later.  I used 7 sheets of my 8 sheet pack leaving me with some spare material.  I’d probably need about 3 or 4 more sheets to fully cover this board.  Clear Grip is easy to work with.  It cuts fine with s sharp knife and you can pull it up and start again [at least for a while] if your eye hand coordination isn’t stellar.

Clear Grip is translucent - not clear...

One obvious thing about Clear Grip is that it’s translucent not clear.  The pics above and below show the worst case and best case situations.  Depending on the light and if your board is wet or dry the Clear Grip stands out a lot or a little.  You’ll stil be able to see the graphics under the Clear Grip, but it’s not like you are looking at a board’s surface directly.

Not bad looking IMO...

Compared to a board covered in surf wax it looks great – see photo below taken from a few feet away.

Can you spot the Clear Grip?

I’ve had the board out a few times now…what do I think?

  • how grippy Clear Grip is depends entirely on what you are touching it with.  The bottoms of my booties and the backs of my gloves stick to the Clear Grip really well.  The palms of my gloves are a different material that doesn’t grip as well.  The body of my wetsuit doesn’t slide around when laying or sitting on the board, but when I want to I am move around on it easily.
  • so far I am happy with the Clear Grip…I’m going to try sanding the area where my hands are during a pop up and if that’s not enough I’ll use a bit of wax on top of the Clear Grip on just that part of the board.
  • I haven’t had any issues slipping during my pop ups, but I feel like I want more traction there.  Time will tell if I need it or I’m just talking myself into having a problem where none exists.
  • I’m not doing any radical turns at this point so I’m not testing the foot traction terribly.  It seems good so far.

Sooke Potholes Tour

22 11 2010

Aaron pumping up a slow leak...

I was getting a little twitchy that I hadn’t done a bike tour this year.  Not that I can complain…I’ve done lots of bike riding and lots of camping this year…just no bike camping! Aaron is a local LHR rider that I’ve met up with a few times for coffee and to chat bikes.  We discussed a quick overnight tour out to the Sooke Potholes campground. The weather forecast was a bit gnarly, but we decided to go for it…a decision I was later to regret somewhat.

Our tour started ~430pm when Aaron rode from his job at the Rus Hays Bike Shop. He was riding his 700c LHT and I was on my 20″ wheeled Bike Friday New World Tourist…Aaron dubbed it the Laurel and Hardy Tour because our bikes looked quite mismatched.

Our awesome rain shelter...

First off I should advise you that the pics in this post are not going to match the text very well as most of the ride was at night or in the pouring rain so I didn’t take many photos.  Especially since I’m sure this ride will happen many times as it is so conveniently located to my house and I’ll photograph it when I’m less wet!

We rolled out of my driveway and jumped on the Galloping Goose MUP which is very near my house.  I usually ride this MUP into town so going the other way was new to me.  My first surprise was the fact the pavement ended within a few kms from my house.  Most of the 110km round trip was dirt, rock or gravel.  I had selected my NWT because it had a dynohub and light which are useful when your first day is actually a night ride.  This bike runs 40mm Greenspeed Scorcher slicks which I’ve used on some short dry dirt sections, but never on a dirt tour and never on a dirt tour in what was to be pouring rain.

Sooke River...

The night ride was a lot of fun.  We stopped early at about KM 10 in the town of Langford for some asian noodles and beer to fortify us for the more remote sections of the trip.  From Victoria to Langford the MUP rides through some fairly developed areas and crosses roads frequently.  However, once you are done with this necessary hassle the Galloping Goose is a very quite forest track the rest of the way to Sooke.  There had been a big wind storm the night before our ride so there were lots of leaves and branches on the ground as well as 4 or 5 large blow downs closer to Sooke that we had to lift our bikes over.

Aaron used two high power battery lights and I had my dyno light as well as one of my Dinotte 200L-AA battery lights blazing.  As we rode side by side chatting we illuminated a nice swath through the forest.  After Langford we had the MUP to ourselves which made for a very quiet peaceful ride.  Being able to roll along at a comfortable pace without traffic or other cyclists and pedestrians to contend with was very relaxing and I was really pleased this trail was right at my door step.

Clean fresh water is not scarce on Vancouver Island...

Aaron had a slow leak to contend with on the ride out.  We decided to just pump it up and keep rolling.  He was able to ride several kms before more pumping was required and that was fine since we took the chance to snack.  The ground was damp from the previous night’s storm with many puddles.  I was pleasantly surprised how well my Scorchers handled the less than ideal traction situation…especially on steep downhills or steep climbs.  I didn’t lose traction once or have to worry.

When we got to Sooke we had a tough choice to make…ride an extra 3kms uphill [and then back] to a pub for a few pints and nachos or keep going and finish off the last 10-15kms to the campground?  Aaron repaired his flat while we pondered these options.  Eventually we decided to skip the pub and keep riding.

I'm not functional in the AM until the 3rd cup of tea...

The last section from town of Sooke to the campground was the roughest and most remote part of the trail.  I really enjoyed it and was impressed how well my smalled wheeled Bike Friday was handling things.  I pretty much forgot I was riding a folding bike and enjoyed a very beautiful night ride to the campground.  When we got there the whole place was empty and may in fact have been closed.  We found a huge shelter to set our tent underneath and tried to start a campfire.  The damp wood was not cooperating and I was sleepy so we settled for a hot cup of tea before crashing soundly in our sleeping bags.

Aaron loading up his trucker...

I woke up several times during the night to heavy rain and fell back asleep hoping it would abate by the AM.  When I woke it wasn’t raining which made me happy!  We had a quick breakfast and many cups of tea before loading up our rigs.  Sadly just as we were ready to get rolling the rain started coming down in earnest again…=-(  Not much we could do so we pt on our rain gear and headed back down the trail.

I don’t love riding in the rain.  Riding on a rough gravel and dirt trail in the rain is less fun…especially with poor drainage that results in huge deep puddles across the whole trail.  I was trying some new rain gear out which worked okay except for my feet.  My NWT has these funky travel fenders that work okay for light rain on a paved road, but were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of water I was riding through and they dumped a bunch of it into my poorly chosen footwear.

The silly thing was I had a pair of waterproof Keen light hikers that would have been ideal for this mission, but somehow I had overlooked my feet and the likelihood for rain.  I won’t make that mistake again!

Small, but powerful...=-)

I also made another dumb mistake in under estimating my need for food and forgetting a bag of apples on my kitchen counter when I packed.  Being cold and splashing through water and soft ground on the way back I plowed through all the food on my bike very quickly.  Aaron was better prepared so I started in on his snacks!  One thing that made me very happy was that even in these sopping wet conditions the slick 20″ tires on my NWT were giving me lots of grip.  On the 55km ride how there were two or three muddy spots were I slide a bit, but the rest of the time I was rolling along like it was dry.!

Not shockingly as we neared Langford we started homing in on a warm dry restaurant that would serve us copious amounts of food.  We ate, we laughed and we dried off a bit.

Aaron enjoy the last few kms and our first sunshine of the day...

The sun finally made an appearance on our last few kms so we broke out the camera for a few pics.

The might Bike Friday nearing home...

Notice we are smiling like fools?  Food and sunshine will do that to a bike tourist.

This is my turn off...

Aaron offered me a fine post ride beer at my turn off on the Galloping Goose before he headed further into town.

The Horror! The Horror! The Horror!

All in all I had a lot of fun riding bikes and hanging out with Aaron.  I re-learned some valuable lessons.  Had I been wearing waterproof boots and had twice as many snacks I would have had a lot more fun.  I’m also now highly motivated to install the full coverage Planet Bike fenders I bought for my NWT over a year ago! We’ll be doing more tours this winter, but we’ll be sticking to paved roads when there is rain in the forecast…=-)

Promotion Women’s Surf Wetsuit Sale

21 11 2010

It's superhero season on Vancouver Island...

Sharon and Tanya wanted to take up surfing this winter on Vancouver Island.  Sharon tried with her summer kiteboarding wetsuit at Jordan River and was too cold. Looking at new winter wetsuits in town the prices were $550+.  Then we noticed that Promotion had women’s winter surf wetsuits on sale for $216USD. All of our kiteboarding wetsuits are from Promotion, a small company in Hood River OR, and we are very happy with the fit, quality and functionality of them – plus they have great customer service.  So they ordered a couple up.  With the strong Canadian Dollar the price for both was less than the cost of 1 comparable new suit locally.  After try them on the girls were happy with the fit and are now scheming up a plan to take surfing lessons at Tofino BC with a girl’s surf school called Surf Sisters.

If you are a lady looking for a warm 6mm/4mm hooded surf wetsuit check out Promotion’s sale.  They actually have the same suit in men’s XL if you are a bigger guy and want one.  You’ll notice I’m wearing a hooded surf wetsuit in my last few surf related posts.  I got a Xcel 6/5/4mm suit used for $150 at a surf school in Tofino. If you are in the area the Tofino surf schools are clearing out their 2010 wetsuits and boards to make room for the new 2011 stuff and deals can be had.

The beauty of being prepared…

21 11 2010

Ready to roll...

I would love to tell you I never drive when I could bike, but that’s not true.  I do bike a lot, but there are times like last night when I’m tired, it’s dark and cold out, rain is likely and I need to run out to get something from the grocery store.  Do I jump into my truck or do I ride?

It was a close call.  I ended up riding my Bike Friday NWT because:

  • it’s a bike I am stoked about
  • it fits me well
  • I can wear any shoes with it
  • it has fenders and racks
  • it has a dynohub and light that never needs charging
  • it has two tailights on it that rarely need batteries so one will always be working
  • it gets ridden enough that I know it’s tuned well and the tires have enough air
  • I keep grocery panniers by the door
  • I keep bike locks by the door
  • I keep all my bike/outdoor clothing organized so that grabbing the right gear takes little though and is fast
  • I have spares so that when two pairs of fleece gloves are in the laundry from a wet bike tour I can pull out a ratty 6yr old pair and keep rolling
  • I have bike friendly routes planned to all my usual destinations
  • I have safe spots to lock my bikes at all my usual destinations
  • I remind myself that biking is good for me and I’ll be glad I rode

When you look at that list it starts to become obvious that you don’t end up riding a bike by accident.  If I had to look for some charged batteries and swap a light over from another bike then look for my SPD bike shoes and search for a pair of gloves to wear and then I couldn’t remember where the grocery panniers got put away I might just say screw it and drive.  However, because at every turn when I have to make something happen it’s easy then I don’t get deflected from my goal to ride.

If you want to ride your bike next week you need to start putting the pieces together today.

NuVinci N360 Review

20 11 2010


Tom's rig...

Note: This isn’t my review.  Tom posted it to’s IGH Forum and I reposted it here with his permission since I figured some folks would be interested to hear what he has to say about this hub.

DISCLAIMER: I am not by any means an expert rider and I have not tried every piece of equipment out there or ridden every type of trail. The premise of this review is to provide observations of the real-world performance of the NuVinci N360 hub with as much detail as possible. It is not meant to be an endorsement or advertisement, just data for people to draw from, with a few of my personal opinions along with it. Yes, the hub is heavy. No, it’s not for everyone. Just don’t give me crap because I write way, way too much or have stupid opinions.

BACKGROUND: I’m 6’3″, 215 lbs and like to break things. My singletrack bike is a large Surly Karate Monkey with a Fisher Rig build kit and a Fox F29 80mm fork. It’s been set up mostly as single speed, but also ridden with a 1×9 setup for a while. As a SS it weighed in at just under 30 lbs. I built up the N360 hub to a Stan’s ZTR Flow rim with a way-fatter-than-2.35 Bontrager FR3 tire. The whole setup brought the complete bike weight up to 33.6 lbs. There really isn’t a single part of this bike chosen for weight reduction or speed, more for comfort and durability.

WHEEL BUILD: A friend at my LBS helped me string up the wheel. I’ll spare the details except for one anecdote: every time my friend lifted it out of the truing stand he kept thinking it was stuck, only to realize that it’s just way heavier than an average cassette hub. Listen to the NuVinci recommendations and lace 2x at most (for 36h), because the diameter of the flange is so large it will be even stronger than a 3x Alfine, in fact because you end up with shorter spokes it’s a lot like a 26″ wheel laced 3x-4x on a standard hub. Otherwise, it builds up really easily. I noticed that the wheel has a significant amount of extra drag on the truing stand compared to a basic freewheel hub, but it is not really noticeable on the bike and that resistance drops as the hub goes through it’s “break-in.”

BIKE SET-UP: Installing on the bike is straight-forward. Make sure the yellow marking on the hub are lined up, put the shifter mechanism in full overdrive, and line up the slots. There are manufacturer recommendations for the length of cable that needs to be showing out the end of the housing when the ends are installed (this is a two-cable set-up) with simple instructions that will get you in the ball park…follow those directions. Once everything is routed and (likely zip-tied) in place, shift the hub to full overdrive and check for cable slack, then do the same for full underdrive. Cable slack WILL screw up the shifter (more on that below).

TEST RIDE: After installation and cable tensioning, a quick trip around the parking lot is a good idea to make sure the shifter is working properly and you’re getting the full range of motion. I had some slack in both cables at first, which will cause the grip shifter to click and make noise and not behave properly. After adjusting the stops at the end of the cables, then tightening up the barrel adjusters on the shifter, all the clicks went away and everything works flawlessly. I recommend checking for cable slack after the first several rides, especially if you get any noise from the shifter, that will likely solve any problems.

FIRST RIDE: I took a loop that would involve about 10 miles of speed road riding, with about 2.5 miles of flowy singletrack in the middle at Lake Crabtree. Nothing crazy, just wanted to see how the gear range felt, and how it felt on the road and on the trail. Mine is set up with a 32T front ring and 18T cog, making for a total range equivalent to 32:36 up to 32:10. On downhills I could spin out the top gear, but never needed to go any faster than I was going, then on the trails I ride regularly there aren’t any climbs that I need a lower gear for. This is all the range I need for what I ride, but you can figure out if that’s enough range for you.

RIDE IMPRESSIONS: I’ll say this first: after letting about 10 other people tool around on my bike and play with it, the first two words without fail they use to describe it are “weird” and “smooth.” It’s very appropriate. First, shifting is as you would expect (except that twisting forward shifts to a lower gear), you twist and it shifts. There is no grinding, crunching, or clicking…you’re pedaling cadence just changes, making for a surreal feel over even the other IGHs. There is zero noise, no jerking forces on your legs, no missed shifts, no out-of-gear or ghost shifting sensation…it just shifts, is always in gear and works. My friend commented, “it’s weird riding with you and being able to hear you shift gears.”

The added resistance of the hub is barely noticeable, but it is there. The added weight is only majorly obvious when you pick the bike up (remember, that’s from my perspective, I’m not a weight weenie). During the first couple rides, the only odd feeling I noticed was when the bike was in full underdrive (32:36) and I was mashing up hill, I could “feel” the fluid in the hub. It wasn’t a grinding, more of a swishing feeling that has since faded, as I suspect it is some break-in related symptom (note: there is no malfunction or slippage in this condition, just and odd feeling at first). I did put markings on the tire and test for slippage by checking rotation ratio under no load by just rotating the cranks freely with the bike in a stand, then did the same with extreme torque, mashing scenario. RESULT: there is zero slippage in this hub. You may perceive something as slipping, but I assure you that is not the case. Inefficiency via drag, sure, but you will not make it slip.

This specific feature is one of the reasons I wanted to be an early adopter. It really is never out of gear, no jerking or sharp forces during shifting, you just pedal along so no matter what when you step on the pedal, you know what to expect. Already my knees feel better riding on this than they did on the 1×9. Of course, this is personal preference, so I’ll leave it at that.

So far, this bike has ridden like a SS. No drivetrain or chain tensioning issues, I can just spray it down after a ride if I want, no maintenance. I wail on wheels, not because I’m so skilled, but because I’m big and lack finesse. The point is, you’ll break something else before you ever break anything in this hub. The next test is to go outside the NuVinci recommended gearing range and put a 22T cog on the back and start piling on the torque on the steepest climbs I can find (they say it should be at least 1.8:1 chainwheel/cog ratio as a very generic guideline). From my testing so far I am fairly confident in saying the hub is plenty stout for any type of riding you would do.

SHIFTER: I’m putting a whole separate section for the shifter because in many ways it’s the most used and most critical part of this whole set up. If not set up properly as discussed earlier and cable slack is not eliminated from both cables, then you will have shifter issues. For argument’s sake, let’s say anyone that has this hub will know how to turn a barrel adjuster and it will be set up properly. What I was interested in was how it shifted in different riding conditions. The gear indicator with the little cartoon dude on the hill is pretty awesome if you’re goofy like me (I almost never look at it while actually riding anyways).

First, you can shift at a dead stop. This can be handy for obvious reasons and it’s very light pressure to shift, however if you are completely stopped then it will only shift through about half of its range before you’re met with a ton of resistance. NOTE: do not wrench on it to try to get it to shift the rest of the way through, you will just stretch the cables. If you just rotate the rear wheel at all (i.e.- start moving) then you can just as easily shift through the rest of the range. Not a performance issue, just something to be aware of. Where I find the shift-anytime feature most useful is when descending, knowing I’m about to hit a steep climb and I need to be a lower gear to maintain my momentum. I can be standing up, focusing on the descent, just twist the shifter a quarter turn, and when I start pedaling I’m already in that gear, period. Once I got used to doing this and how far to turn the shifter for an approximate gear change, it became super easy and comfortable (and it can bail you out of sloppy riding with immediate shift response).

Normal riding and shifting is extremely easy. There really isn’t a better word for it than “smooth.” It just works, try one and you’ll get it, instantly. Now, what people are more concerned about is shifting under load. The best way I can describe it is that there is a limit to how quickly you can shift under a really high load. If you’re loading the pedals to the maximum you will be met with a ton of shifter resistance, so you don’t want to be really cranking on the pedals and the shifter at the same time, but it will work. If you let off for even just the top/bottom of your pedal stroke for just a fraction of a second, the shifter will loosen up and change gears easily. I found that it’s easy to shift while climbing, particularly if shifting to a lower gear, but you do have to use more force on the shifter to get it to obey you. That will likely be another personal preference thing, because for me I’d trade a little extra wrist force for continuous, uninterrupted power transfer/gear change, instead having the crank slip a 1/8 turn while shifting or the sudden change jerking on my legs (again, this is a personal preference).

OVERALL OPINION: Yes, that says opinion, because this is how I feel about this hub:

If you have a chance to ride one, DO IT.

Chances are you won’t love it. It’s not meant for everyone, but it is totally cool. The majority of riders, particularly trail riders, aren’t even going to be able to get past the additional 3-4 lbs of weight. Obviously, it’s aimed at recreational riding, not performance/racing and as my riding buddy says, “you’d have to be nuts to think I’m adding weight to my race bike.” Granted, but that’s not the point of this hub from a mountain/trail bike perspective.

I love this hub because it’s: (A) easy to use (2) unbelievably predictable, (d) 100% reliable, and 4) I’m a big dude. I am the opposite of a weight weenie and am not a racer, so my bike is outfitted to be bullet-proof and fun, while allowing me to get a workout. Adding 2% to my total rider + bike weight? Not a problem to me. What I always hated was the way that derailers shift, the effect it has on your legs and pedal stroke, and the risk of damage to cages, chain slap, ghost shifting, adjustment and maintenance, etc. If you don’t have a problem with derailers and prefer race-ready components, you likely will not be a huge fan of this hub. If you hate derailers, you’ll probably fall in love with it instantly. Either way, it’s completely fun and totally different from any other gear system out there.

Hopefully the length of this post hasn’t deterred people from bothering, I tend to ramble, I just figured that someone out there might actually appreciate knowing some of this stuff if they can’t actually test one for themselves. If you’re in the Raleigh, NC area I tend to ride at Lake Crabtree during lunch whenever I can, I’m always happy to talk about bikes and let you check it out. Pictures of my bike are attached below.


Rohloff Teardown…

19 11 2010

For obvious reasons I don’t recommend you try this at home.  Just change the oil in your Rohloff and be happy!

If you are more of a still pictures person click here.

Jeff Jones Loop H-Bars

18 11 2010

Titec H-bar top - Jeff Jone Loop H-Bar bottom...

I love my Titec H-bars.  I own three. Right now my Surly Big Dummy and Surly Pugsley are rocking H-bars.  I’m considering swapping in my 3rd H-bar [freed up when I sold my Thorn Nomad] to my Surly 1×1.  The one issue with H-bars is that they have a limited amount of space below the crossbar of the “H” to mount a shifter and grip.  This means you end up with your brake lever above the crossbar and some compromises to your control setup.

Grip portion of Loop H-bar is nice and long...

I’ve figured out a couple setups that work for me through trial and error, but they are not ideal. Jeff Jones [designer of the H-bar that Titec builds under license] makes a variety of sweet bar options that would be perfect for me, but they cost $400+ and for that kind of $$$ I’m okay with what I have.  So I was pretty stoked to see this Loop H-bar option on Jeff’s website fabricated out of aluminum for $120 – about twice what I paid for my Titec H-bars, but within the realm of sanity for me.  Stock was limited so I ordered up one.

Grip area comparison...

The photos in this post show the main differences between the Titec H-bar and the Jones Loop H-bar:

  1. grip area below the crossbar is much longer on the Loop H-Bar
  2. overall grip is a bit narrower on the Loop H-bar
  3. minimal rise on the Loop H-bar
  4. crossbar on Loop H-bar curves away from rider significantly
  5. Loop area allows mounting accessories up front and adds aero grip area, but no controls can be mounted forward of crossbar now

Loop H-bar is a bit narrower...

So what does this all mean?  Well I should be able to mount my Rohloff shifter, brake lever and a full Ergon Grip on the Loop H-bar without having to hack away at the Ergon Grip.  This should be better from a comfort perspective and allow easier reach to the brakes which will allow for more control in a technical downhill section.  Of course it is really hard to evaluate the rest of the more subtle differences that exist between these bars.  I’ll have to mount the Loop H-bars up and see what I think after a few months.  I would have waited until I had more info and had some test kms under my belt, but I was too stoked to wait…plus I figured somebody out there might want a head’s up so they can get in on the last few bars left from this production run.

Thanks Jeff Jones for making some lower cost bars – that rocks!…=-)

Vik’s Tikit Picks

17 11 2010

Sharon on a roll...

I get asked a lot about Tikit purchases so here is what I’d buy for a few different Bike Friday Tikit purchases:

Tikit on a Budget

  • stock black 8 speed derailleur Tikit
  • Schwalbe Marathons [replace when worn out with Greenspeed Scorcher TR tires]
  • fenders
  • rear standard rack
  • Ergon Grips
  • hyperfold [fast fold option] if the budget is big enough if not impulse fold saving $200
  • black colour because that’s what colour stock Tikits come in!
  • buy in Dec/Jan to take advantage of any slow season deals from Bike Friday

Stylie Simple Commuter Tikit

  • fixed gear One Way Tikit
  • Greenspeed Scorcher TR tires
  • fenders
  • rear standard rack
  • showercap
  • Ergon Grips
  • Brooks B17
  • heavy rider upgrade
  • hyperfold [fast fold option]
  • MKS metal QR pedals with half toe clips
  • pull rear v-brake
  • wasabi green colour is no longer available my bad!
  • Of the available colours I’d go for Racing Green or Princess Pink if I’m feeling sassy.

All Weather Commuter Tikit

  • IGH Season Tikit w/ Alfine 11
  • Greenspeed Scorcher TR tires
  • fenders
  • front 2 sided pannier rack
  • folding touring rack
  • showercap
  • Ergon Grips
  • Brook B17
  • heavy rider upgrade
  • hyperfold [fast fold option]
  • if $$ is no object add Gates carbon belt drive
  • white colour


16 11 2010

Walden Magic Model by GSI

15 11 2010

Ignore the chubby superhero and focus on the board...

One thing that’s pretty clear to me is the only way to get good at surfing is to spend lots of time in the water.  The other thing that’s pretty clear to me is that my swimming fitness is awful which means I can only put in a couple hours of surfing practice before I’m beat.  So I need to go to the waves often for shortish sessions.  This logic found me at the Coastline Surf Shop in Victoria, BC browsing their board selection and realizing I had no idea what I was looking for.   One of the helpful staff, Dan, showed me a couple longboards including this 9′ 2″ Walden Magic Model made by GSI.  I went home and did some research and it seemed like everyone loved their Magic Model.  It didn’t hurt that the same design had been successful for nearly 30 years.

As a beginner I won’t bother trying to review this board.  I couldn’t do it justice so I’ll let the designer speak for himself in the video above.  What I can say to any other new surfers out there is that this board is easy to paddle, catches waves nicely and is plenty stable when you stand up.  Based on what I’ve read it should offer lots of performance as your skills grow. So you’ll be stoked with it in 5 years.

GSI Magic Model Brochure - click to DL'd...

GSI marketing spew:

“The unbelievable Magic Model was developed nearly thirty years ago and remains one of the most widely distributed and popular Longboards ever designed. When Steve designed he first board in 1981 it was deemed “Magic” by everyone that tried it and the legacy began. From a distance the board looks fairly conventional but as soon as you grab the rail, you know this is not a conventional board! From the nose the rail is tucked and blends into a rail chine all the way back to a hard release off the tail. The concave on the bottom is set from single, to double combined with a generous vee that you can feel when you initiate a turn on these boards. These features are blended to create an acceleration and release that feels like no other design. And the Magic Model accelerates with only the slightest pump. Remarkably stable, anyone can ride the Magic Model, from beginners in knee high dribblers to professional contestants in heavy conditions (and they do). One of the design features that allow this amazing versatility is the moderate template combined with a highly defined tucked rail chine. The board is stable, yet when you get on it, whether you are pumping down the line or jamming a cutback, the board will instantly respond. You’ve got to love it! Did we mention that it noserides incredibly? It’s a one board quiver that does EVERYTHING well!”

Be prepared…

14 11 2010

Getting a little carried away...

One of the first things I do with most of my bikes is to fit front and rear racks.  When you have a couple dedicated cargo bikes it may seem excessive to have dual racks on so many bikes.  The thing is I tend to get carried away when I run my errands and with racks on your bikes as well as a few straps you can turn any bike into a hauler on short notice.

Small wheel - big load...

I also take a perverse pleasure collecting things along my ride and having people exclaim “…you can’t carry that on your little bike…” just to have me prove them wrong…=-)

Heading down the line…

13 11 2010

Sombrio Beach, Vancouver Island BC...

Jordan River…

13 11 2010

Happy after a productive day...

Since we had the day off on Nov 11th and I was in the army for 10yrs I didn’t feel any need to participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony so we cruised up to Jordan River.  We started the day on SUPs and I can’t say I mind how easy it is to cruise around on those boards.  You can move anywhere you think is a good idea with about 20% of the energy drain that paddling on your stomach would entail.  However, the downside is I’m finding it harder to spin around quickly and get ready to catch a wave that’s near me.  On a prone surfboard it’s pretty simple to spin around on a dime and get ready to paddle into the wave.  So they both have pros and cons.  It’s cool to have both options because when my arms are worn out from prone paddling I’ve still got lots of energy in the rest of my body and I can hop on a SUP for a while.

The bad news is I’m still not surfing as well as I’d like.  The good news is I was for sure the best of the 4 or 5 beginners in the water and I’m definitely making progress every time I go out.  If there is one thing my long hard road to learning to kiteboard has taught me it’s – as long as you are making progress each day you’ll get to your goal.  I was pleased that I caught 75% of the waves I tried for.  I’m standing up and riding them better although I need to be more fluid and more precise about my pop up.

My weakest point is my arm strength. I don’t do any other sport that requires a swimming motion so it doesn’t take long before my arms are lead and I can’t paddle to save my life.  It’s very humbling to literally not be able to use your arms they are so tired.  Of course this has the obvious benefit that I am gaining fitness in an area where I can really use it.  I just need to stick with it and surfing will be a great addition to my quiver of sports and make me more balanced.  Kurt is an advanced swimmer so I’m going to get him to give some tips and I may even hit the pool a few times to get my swimming fitness to a basic level.

I found out Sharon ate the last muffin while I was in the water!

I still have that lingering cold, but I don’t feel so weak and I’m pretty much determined to ignore it.  Life is too short to be sick!

BTW – I’ve decided that surfing and SUPing are the perfect rainy day sports.  It was raining moderately to heavily all day and frankly it made zero difference inside my wetsuit.  Victoria hasn’t been half as rainy as I thought it might be, but it’s nice to know that when it does rain we have an arrow in the quiver…=-)

Bike Locking Case #2

12 11 2010

Locked up while I get my java on...

With my gearing newly sorted out I’ve been stoked to ride my Bike Friday NWT lately.  Wednesday I rode with Sharon to her office at the hospital and then killed an hour before my morning meeting getting caffeinated at Discovery Coffee in Oak Bay.  I’m an espresso snob and I’m happy to report their offering is above average.  I locked my bike with a chain around a post.  Since I could see my bike from my table I didn’t bother with an additional cable I had nor did I remove any lights.

Kryptonite chain lock...

I like this lock because it’s light and seems robust enough to survive a fast attack.  I don’t expect it to be enough for a determined thief, but I don’t leave my bikes unattended all day nor do they get locked in the same spot day after day.

Keeping an eye on the old girl...

The best security accessory is a good vantage point.

Time for a pint...

After my morning meeting [where my bike was safely parked in a backyard] I met up with local Long Haul Trucker Aaron at the Penny Farthing Pub in Oak Bay.  Sadly this pub with a bike-ish name has no bike rack in front of it.  It does have this really thick post though. My little chain lock couldn’t get around the post so I used my extension cable through the wheels and the chain around just the frame.  That cable isn’t great security, but it’s something and I placed the chain with the hope it might look like it was around the post.  Not all thieves graduate at the top of their class!

I see you!

Given my less than perfect locking situation I chose a table with a view and I took the lights off my bike because my back was to the window so I couldn’t keep an eye on her as well as I would have liked.


Cold Surfing…

11 11 2010

North Chesterham @ Tofino BC...

I’ve had a lingering cold for longer than I want to even mention.  I rarely get sick, but it seems when I do it’s hard for me to shake the virus completely. I tried all the sensible things like taking it easy, vitamins, eating well, sleeping lots, etc…  Nothing seemed to be working so I decided I need to try a different form of cold therapy.

That found me last week encased in a thick wetsuit standing on the South Chesterham Beach near Tofino BC with a surfboard.  The waves were big and chaotic with not a surfer in sight [these photo were taken later at North Chesterham].  It was cold and rainy with enough fog that it was hard to see very far. I was starting to doubt the sensibility of my plan, but figured what the heck.  So I wade in to the water with my board.  Being totally alone and in bigger conditions than my lessons [same beach] was a bit of a head trip.  I revised my plan from working on my surfing to just getting out past the shore break safely.

The challenge is dealing with each wave that hits you efficiently so that you can sprint as far as possible before the next wave is upon you.  If you do it poorly you get pushed back almost as far by the wave as you managed to paddle forwards before it hit you.  That leads to being hit by a lot of waves and being very tired by the time you get out past the breaking waves.  Although it was still pretty hard work I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to handle each wave pretty well which meant I could cover a lot of ground between waves.  That got me out where I needed to be more easily than I had expected.  Sweet!

Unfortunately my cold left me feeling really tired and drained of energy so although it wasn’t as much work to paddle out as it could have been I was worn out before I even tried to catch a wave.  Happily I wasn’t actually cold.  If you had told me a few months ago I’d be warm and toasty in the North Pacific in November I’d look at you like you were nuts, but the combination of a decent wetsuit + hood and some exertion kept me well insulated from the water.  So I bobbed around for a while enjoying the moment in a beautiful spot.

After a while I realized I wasn’t in any shape to actually surf and I was a bit worried that there were no surfers in sight.  I don’t know the area well enough to understand all the effects of currents and tides so it’s nice to see a few local faces in the water so that you know you aren’t at risk. I paddled in relatively easily and managed to catch a wave lying down on my board that pushed me most of the way to the beach.

Once I was back in near the beach I decided to bob around in the foam for a bit and enjoy the warm buoyancy of my wetsuit!

A couple more people...

After I got my wetsuit off and changed into dry clothes I wandered over to North Chesterham Beach and found a few surfers in action. Conditions were slightly better here which reminds me to do a bit more scouting before I head into the water.

On the drive home I felt worse than I had the last few days so being energetic in the cold water wasn’t an effective treatment, but I had fun and it was a nice change from sitting on couch watching Netflix while I sniffled.  I was back to my normal level of sickness the following day so it seems like it wasn’t a totally dumb move and the improvement to my morale seems worth it.

Victoria Unicycle Club?

10 11 2010


So I’m feeling the urge to try my hand at unicycling.  In the summer I saw a poster for a unicycling club here in Victoria British Columbia at a LBS.  I called the bike shop and they remember the poster, but it’s gone and nobody recalls the contact info.  I don’t want to buy a unicycle and struggle on my own so I’m hoping to connect with this local club.  I tried google and found references to it that are a bit out of date, but no contact info. So I figured I would try posting on my blog and hope that someone googling unicycling in Victoria BC might stumble across this post and be able to connect me with someone at the club.

So if you know anyone who is part of a local unicycling club in Victoria leave me a comment – I would really appreciate it!

BTW – sadly Surly appears to have killed their fat tire unicycle [the Conundrum] due to poor sales so if I do become a uni-xpert I’ll have to ride something more pedestrian.

Finding gear reviews…

10 11 2010

Flickr photo index...

If you are ever looking for gear reviews on this blog here are a few ways to navigate:

  1. Search – there is a search box on the right side of the screen [directly under the category list] where you can enter any words related to the item of interest – [ie. ortlieb pannier review]
  2. Categories – you can click on Bike & Gear Reviews from the category list at the top right of the page which will take you to all the reviews I’ve done.  You can also click on a specific category [like Folding Bikes] to see all related posts including reviews.  Both methods will involve some scrolling and jumping pages to find what you are after.
  3. Tags – you can use the tags at the bottom right of the screen the same way you did the category list to find what you are after.
  4. Photo Index – I’ve started putting photos from my reviews into one folder on Flicker that you can visually search and then click on the link provided as a caption to each photo.  Not every review is indexed this way since I only started this year.  I may go back and index previous reviews if people find this tool useful.

Big Dumb Security…

10 11 2010

Hose clamp = $1.40 front wheel security...

I followed a suggestion made in the comment section of one of my recent Surly Big Dummy posts and installed a hose clamp on the front QR of my Dummy.  Because the OMM rack [which I love] requires a really long skewer up front I couldn’t use the Pinhead locking skewer I had [it will probably find a home on the front wheel of my Surly 1×1].  Rather than get a hold of a Pinhead rear wheel locking skewer coded to the same key I already have I figured this was a reasonable alternative.  Although it can be opened it takes a lot more time/hassle than a QR and since the OMM rack requires the whole skewer be removed to take off the front wheel I think this is enough theft deterrence given the low cost of the wheel.

If you are looking for a bit more security for your wheels and don’t need a fort knox level setup this may be the best $3.00 that you spend.

Bike Friday Tikit 3yr Update

9 11 2010

My Tikit 3yrs ago...

I’ve had my Bike Friday Tikit folding bike nearly 3 years now so I thought I would provide some thoughts looking back on our years together.  The photos in this post are from Dec 2007.

  • my Tikit has become one of my favourite bikes and has seen a lot of use over these years.
  • the hyperfold is a game changer for me that allows me to use a bike for missions I would otherwise drive or take transit.
  • I have a 2010 Tikit that I can compare to this 2007 Tikit.  The newer model has some improvements for sure, but when Bike  Friday asked me if I wanted to trade in my old Tikit on a new one I said..”No way!” It just works so well and we get along too well to split up our partnership…=-)

My Tikit 2 ride...

  • this Tikit has been my winter and rain bike.  I was worried that a complex folder might get messed up by the salt, grit and wet conditions, but so far I haven’t had any rust issues at all and the bike folds as well as it did on day 1.
  • In terms of maintenance I haven’t done anything other than oil the chain occasionally.  I checked the hyperfold cable once. I have lubed the clamp at the stem hinge 2 or 3 times.  This bike has been washed twice.  After 3 years of use I need to replace the chain/cassette/chainring, but it’s still working fine so I keep putting that off, but definitely before next spring that will have to happen.  I swapped in some Greenspeed Scorchers which are looking a bit worn and will need to be replaced by next spring.  Overall not too bad for a folding bike with all sorts of hinges and cables.

Small wheels - big smile...

  • I’ve really come to depend on the mobility and flexibility of this bike.  It allows me to ride when I wouldn’t be able to on a full size bike due to security or logistical issues.  With most of my other bikes if they were stolen I’d probably take the opportunity to try out something different.  With my Tikit I’d order up a new Tikit the next day.
  • I have tried other brands of folders [Brompton, Dahon & Birdy], but nothing comes even close to the ride quality, folding ease and comfortable fit of my Bike Friday Tikit.
  • I have a habit of buying and selling bikes to try out different products so it is rare for a bike to last 3yrs in my fleet and really rare for me to turn down a chance to upgrade to a newer model.  However, one thing I have learned is when you find a bike that is 10 out of 10 awesome hang on to it.  That’s not something to be taken lightly.

More than just a bike...

  • The cool thing about buying a Tikit is that besides an amazing bike you get the support of a company that’s dedicated to customer service and that loves cycling.
  • Anytime I’ve had a question or concern they treated me very well and resolved my issue as fast as possible.
  • I like the fact that my Bike Friday was made by hand in Eugene OR and that I can call up the company and chat with them about my bike.
  • I’ve visited Bike Friday twice and really enjoyed seeing the factory and meeting the folks behind this bike.
  • It is easy to see why Bike Friday customers buy several bikes from this company as their cycling needs change and why they are so passionate about them.
  • I’m sure glad I took the chance and ordered a Tikit 3 years ago…=-)

If you want to check out my thoughts on my Bike Friday Tikit back when I first got it you can check out my Vik’s Tikit Blog and for newer Tikit posts you can check out this section of my current blog.

New World Tourist Gearing Part 4

8 11 2010

Back to the beginning...

If you have been following all the gearing changes my Bike Friday NWT has undergone you’ll recognize that my latest configuration looks a lot like its original configuration with a 23T cog and 53T chainring. Having tried the 23T x 46T setup for over a year I’ve come to the conclusion that’s just too low for everyday riding.  A 50T up front would probably be ideal, but I had a brand new 53T ring sitting around so that’s what I’ll use.  Sadly the NWT cranks don’t look as spiffy as they did with the Sugino 46T bling on them, but I’d rather have 8 gears I can use than the 3 or 4 that are currently seeing action.

Of course part of the blame in all these changes lies in the paradigm shift that has occurred since I started riding fixed gear bikes.  When you get on fine with one gear and no coasting an 8 speed IGH seems like lots of options.

The trouble with Bern helmets…

7 11 2010

They seem to be replicating...

So I did some investigating.

No wonder!

I hope there is a market for helmet porn…=-)

Black Ops!

6 11 2010

What bike?

Kurt sent me a last minute text asking if I wanted to see Inception at the IMAX last night.  I had seen it already, but figured a 6 story high screen couldn’t hurt the film and now that I know what happens I wanted to see how that changed my perception of the first portion of the film.  Trouble was it was raining and I didn’t want to lock up any of my bikes outside the theatre – I stil haven’t got a full handle on the bike theft/vandalism threat downtown at night.  Riding a Bike Friday Tikit was an obvious option except that the IMAX theatres tend to not have many good spots to leave a bike inside and the staff can get antsy about a folder being a safety hazard.

I decided to ride my older Tikit because it was a bit messy out.  I have been riding the fixed gear One Way Tikit all summer so the old girl hasn’t seen as much action lately as usual.  All she needed was some air in the tires and some lights.  It didn’t take long to remember how much I like my black beauty.  Riding down the MUP at night in a light rain was peaceful.  It was fun to blow past folks on full sise bikes and hear then exclaim – “what kind of bike is that???”.

At the theatre I folded up my Tikit and deployed the shower cap cover for maximum stealth.  I don’t use this cover often, but I am glad to have it so that I can penetrate high scrutiny environments.  One of the senior ushers gave me the stink eye as I waited in line outside the theatre.  He was headed over to hassle me when he got a call on his radio – whew!  I had Kurt and his brother walk on either side of me while I carried my Tikit into the theatre past the other ushers and managed to find it a seat of its own in the middle of a row.  Luckily the movie wasn’t sold out so nobody tried to occupy what looked like an empty seat.

Kurt suggested I unfold the Tikit and ride it out of the theatre to freakout the ushers, but I didn’t want to burn any bridges for my next covert mission!

Thorn Nomad S&S For Sale

5 11 2010

Thorn Nomad S&S

Update: Jim bought this frame from me and loves it but determined he needs the next size down.  So he is selling this frame to finance a new frame from Thorn.  If you are interested pls leave a comment on this post and Jim will get back to you.  The frame has less than an extra 500 kind miles on it since I sold it to Jim.

Here is what Jim says:

“I bought this frame in June knowing the frame was a little large for me. I bought the frame from a man who is 180 cm (5 ft 11 inches) high with a higher standover height than I. It fit him just right. I am 174 cm (5 ft 8.5 inches) high with a stand over height of about 83 cm. The bikes reach forward (Eff Top tube of 620) is just a little too long to be able to accommodate me. I thought I could get it to work for me but nope, it is just a too big.

So, I am selling this frame to get the same frame but the CORRECT size. I am absolutely sold on this bike frame. It handles better than anything I have ever ridden. And it fits my needs perfectly. This is a heavy duty steel frame specifically designed for use with the Rohloff hub [although other IGHs will work fine] and built to carry the heaviest loads over the roughest roads in the world. The frame is oversized steel tubing made with Thorn’s proprietary 969 tubeset and features the S&S couplers for easy transport and shipping. Ideal for airline travel. The fork is the same super strong double crown design used on Thorn’s custom EXP expedition bike. The bike can fit 2.25″ tires plus full coverage fenders with room to spare. All the rack brazons are 6 mm for much stronger rack attachment – no more broken bolts. The long wheelbase frame is very stable. The frame is in nearly perfect condition with less than 850 miles of commuting and a few weekend tours on it. As Vik said (the man I bought this frame from), “I’ve had the good fortune to test a lot of touring bikes and this Thorn is burliest most thoughtfully designed touring frame I’ve laid my hands on. It would be ideal for someone planning a long tour who wants to carry the kitchen sink or a Clydesdale tourist who finds typical touring frames too flexy for them.”

Below is my orginal for sale post.  I have updated the details at the bottom [in red].  You will buying the frame directly from Jim.  I am not involved in this sale other than to help Jim get the word out.

Due to cargo bike lust, limited storage space and the fact I have no expedition tours on the books I’ve decided to sell my Thorn Nomad S&S frame so I can fund a CETMA cargo bike.  This is a heavy duty  steel frame specifically designed for use with the Rohloff hub [although other IGHs will work fine] and built to carry the heaviest loads over the roughest roads in the world.

Rohloff specific frame...

The frame is oversized steel tubing made with Thorn’s proprietary 969 tubeset features S&S couplers for easy transport and shipping.  Ideal for airline travel.  The fork is the same super strong double crown design used on Thorn’s custom EXP expedition bike. I’ve really enjoyed riding this frame, but it’s overkill for bombing around on smooth asphalt.  This bike should be ridden fully loaded over a broken road in a remote section of thew Himalyas!

The Thorn Nomad grin...

The bike can fit 2.0″ tires plus full coverage fenders with room to spare.  All the rack brazons are 7mm for much stronger rack attachment – no more broken bolts. The long wheelbase frame is very stable.

The Nomad S&S frame has disc brake tabs on the rear as well and v-brake posts.  It can be run with the included Thorn rigid fork or a short travel suspension fork.

Super clean Rohloff drivetrain...

The frame is in nearly perfect condition with less than 1000kms of commuting and a few weekend tours on it.  I’ve had the good fortune to test a lot of touring bikes and this Thorn is burliest most thoughtfully designed touring frame I’ve laid my hands on.  It would be ideal for someone planning a long tour who wants to carry the kitchen sink or a Clydesdale tourist who finds typical touring frames too flexy for them.

Read all about this frame in Thorn’s Nomad S&S brochure PDF.

I am selling the frame only with the following components [please read carefully]:

  • Thorn Nomad S&S frame and fork
  • matt military green
  • size 562L [eff TT = 620mm, standover = 795mm]
  • S&S coupler and EBB tool
  • FSA Orbit XL-II headset
  • Thorn EBB with square taper BB installed
  • Continental Travel Contact tires [26″ x 1.75″]

Cost is $1225USD

The frame will be carefully packed professionally by Free Flight Bikes in Marrietta Ga.  You will pay actual cost of shipping.

More photos of my Thorn Nomad S&S.

MEC Drencher Gloves

5 11 2010

Waterproof seam sealed goodness...

This really isn’t a review since I haven’t put these gloves to the test, but I face a dilema with clothing. Either I tell you about it way too early in the game for me to say for sure how well it works or I wait until I know how well it works and the season you need the item for is over plus the manufacturer doesn’t make the same product next year.  *sigh*  Several times this year I’ve grabbed something I love from my closest and thought I’d do a review about it on this blog only to realize you can’t buy the same product any longer.  So I wonder why spend the time and effort to tell you in detail how great something is you can’t have?

So I’ve decided to do the same thing I did with shoes earlier this year – I’m going to pre-view gear that looks promising when I get it so you know about it when the information is actually useful.  I’ll follow up with posts that discuss how it’s working for me – hopefully early enough you can still get the product.

Okay so back to the matter at hand – literally!.  I’ve struggled with waterproof gloves for many years not really being satisfied.  Until recently I had not found a pair of waterproof gloves I liked for cycling..mostly because all the gloves I have owned were not actually waterproof.  This is due to the real challenge of sealing the many seams inside a glove.  Most companies don’t even bother trying and sell you gloves made of waterproof material that have a zillion holes from all the stitching.  This results in a windproof water resistant glove that eventually gets wet inside and stays wet for a long time – not uber useful.  Since a lot of my nasty weather riding has been warm/wet or cold/dry I haven’t killed myself to find a solution.  However, I’m now face with a lot of cool and wet conditions that demand an effective solution to keeping my hands comfortable or I am not going to be able to ride my bikes.

Fortuitously I came across these waterproof [seam sealed!] lobster shells at MEC recently.  The Drencher Glove offers a nice waterproof haven for your hands and any gloves you want to wear inside.  I like this a lot since I already own several pairs of fleece gloves I like and that I can quickly switch out gloves if they do get a bit damp from sweat or when I pull my over gloves off to do something requiring dexterity.I can also use thicker or thinner gloves depending on how cold it is.

For $29cdn they seem like a good product to try.  They are fairly minimalist in design, but they do have some reflective material and a snot patch on each thumb.  The lobster design is effective at allowing you to operate your bike’s controls while keeping your fingers warmer than conventional gloves.

Glove detail...

Here is what MEC says:

These lobster style gloves are a deadly catch for any cycle commuter or randonneur. Made of waterproof, breathable fabric with fully taped seams, they transform your regular cycling gloves into all-conditions handgear.

  • Waterproof, breathable fabric with taped seams keeps water out.
  • Shingle action cuff slides under your jacket to stop water from running in.
  • Terry moss synthetic fleece sniffle patch.
  • Nylon palm with silicone print for durability and a solid grip on wet bars.
  • Reflective trim for low-light visibility.