LHT 26″ Wheeled Build PT4…

30 06 2011

It's starting to look like a bike...

I decided to install my bars and stem next since it makes the frame look like a bike sooner than if I worked on the BB cranks.

Velo Orange Chris' Rando bars...

When I saw the VO Grand Cru Chris’ Rando Handlebar on their website a while back I made a mental note to try one on my next build. It’s got an interesting shape with lots of bends that look like they’ll be quite comfortable. I got the 44cm width which means the tops are about 38cm apart centre to centre. The finsh quality is great and at $50 they seem like a great option to consider for a long distance bike.

VO Product shot...

The VO product shot above shows some of the curves better than my photos.

VO stem...

Continuing the theme of nicely finished functional parts that don’t cost a lot I attached the bar to the fork with  a VO 4 bolt threadless stem [26mm clamp, 90mm length and 6 deg rise]. It looks sweet and at $35 it’s priced well. I need to track down some silver 1 1/8″ headset spacers and ditch the black ones I have on the bike right now as they look goofy with the silver stem/bars.

VO stem product shot...

Here is a VO product shot that does the attractiveness of this stem justice. I’ve mounted it will a 6 deg negative rise so that I have the option of turning it upwards on a tour if I need some ergonomic relief. I’ll set the tops of the bars level with the saddle once I get its position finalized.

My next move will have to be the BB/cranks/pedals!

Surly Cross Check Nexus 8 Shifter Update

29 06 2011

Sharon checking out the new control setup...

Sharon has really been enjoying the Titec H-bars on her Surly Cross Check daily commuter. The only point of dissatisfaction was the Nexus 8 twist-shifter took up too much room on the bar necessitating a hacked Ergon Grip that was too short to be comfortable. The solution was either a Jeff Jones Loop H-bar [with a longer grip area] for $120+ shipping or a Alfine 8 speed trigger shifter for ~$50. In the interests of cost we went with the later.

The problem is that hacked right Ergon Grip...

The comfort issue is pretty obvious looking at the photo above.

The new setup with Alfine 8 trigger shifter and a decent sized Ergon Grip...

Swapping out the Nexus 8 twist shifter was a breeze. I love how easy the Shimano IGHs are to work on…=-) I still had to hack a small bit off a stock Ergon Grip to make it fit, but this time that left a reasonable amount of hand space on the grip and a smooth transition to the controls.

Sharon tries the new grip/control setup...

Sharon’s initial reaction was positive to the new configuration. I’ll let her commute on it a few days and then we’ll tweak the position of the components as needed.

The blue beast ready for more commuter action...

Since I had the bike in my work stand I took the opportunity to check the brakes, chain tension and fenders. I lubed the chain and added some air to the rear tire. Because of the IGH and quality parts this bike sees daily use and doesn’t need much maintenance.

Sharon is really enjoying the Donkey Boxx and it’s performed solidly for her. She gets lots of positive comments on it and questions about how she built it…lol…she has to let people know it’s a manufactured product not a DIY project.

Sharon hearts her Bike Wrappers...

We have so much daylight at the moment in Canada that Sharon hasn’t had a chance to use the reflective side of her Bike Wrappers yet. However, she’s digging the heart print on the “fashion” side and would be happy with them even if they didn’t have a reflective option underneath.

LHT 26″ Wheeled Build PT3…

28 06 2011

Velo Orange Grand Cru 1 1/8" threadless mirror finish headset...

When I was young and foolish I used to buy premium headsets for my bikes because I thought they had to be superior given the exorbitant cost. Then as my fleet grew I was forced to buy some lower cost headsets and was surprised to find no difference at all in using or maintaining them. Ever since I’ve been buying quality mid-grade headsets at a reasonable price and been totally satisfied.

Exploded view of the internals...

When it came to my 26″ LHT build I wanted something that would look nice with the mostly silver parts build I was using, that was high quality and was not expensive. Velo Orange has become a regular stop for me when looking for parts for a bike build and I ended up with a Grand Cru 1 1/8″ threadless headset. It’s got a lovely mirrored finish and uses high quality sealed bearings at a reasonable price of $52.

VO headset install in my 58cm 26" wheeled LHT...

I took the headset down to Cycles West [my new LBS] a few blocks from my house so they could install the headset for me. Now that I am home for a few weeks I hope to get this project rolling again and finish of the build.

Next up is the BB, crank and pedals. Then stem and bars. It’s almost a bicycle…=-)

Sunday at Hartland…

27 06 2011

Sharon ready to rumble...

A lovely sunny Sunday...

Hartland has gone all green with water and sunshine...

Sharon is getting more confident about riding dirt...

We love the bridges...

Sharon's a blurr...

We ran into only a handful of other bikers on a perfect riding day!

She's starting to try more daring lines...

Before leaving we messed around in the trials area...

Proof I was there as well!


Another great day at Hartland Mountain Bike Park!....=-)

My first touring bike…

26 06 2011

My lovely blue Cycle Tech XTC...

When I was a kid my parents bought me a few bikes over the years. At 17 I went to university on a military officer training program scholarship I got paid to study which meant I had some $$$ to buy my own stuff for the first time. The first bike I purchased was a Fiore mountain bike that was bright red and pretty mediocre, but it got me around town just fine and gave me a taste of the trails around Kingston, Ontario where I was studying. I lent it to a friend who crashed it into a car wrecking the front wheel and fork. I used the money he gave me to buy a eye-searing orange entry level Cycle Tech mountain bike. I was more into trail riding at this point so the bike saw a lot of abuse and like most entry level bikes didn’t hold up as well as you wanted them to. After a year of use I sold it to a friend and bought the blue Cycle Tech XTC shown in the photo above.

That bike was well equipped for the time. Not that I can recall what the parts were, but it seems to me it would be the equivalent to a full Shimano XT setup today. High quality and functional without being as expensive or as blinged out as XTR. For the last two years or university that bike was my mountain bike in the summer and my daily transport in the winter when my motorcycle was in storage. I rode to and from school everyday in 4th year in the snow/rain/sleet of winter so I could see my GF at night and attend classes in the day. Back then we didn’t know that canti brakes didn’t work in the winter and we didn’t realize we needed special tires and IGHs to commute in horrible conditions. I was too broke after buying this bike to do much more than simply ride it and get on with things. Interestingly I don’t recall having any problems beyond my GF’s roommates getting annoyed by the mess the melting snow left in their hallway!

After graduation I was sent out to Chilliwack BC [45mins east of Vancouver] for a couple years to finish my training. There was great mountain biking in BC and I started to get interested in bike touring since the BC rainforest is so much fun to explore. I was getting paid a bit more so I invested in racks/panniers and a tent then I hit the road. My touring adventures were all pretty modest, but I had fun and it has been an interest that has stuck with me all these years.

After BC I was sent back to Kingston for 2 more years and would commute to work most days year round on this bike. I really enjoyed my winter commutes because I was one of the few bikers out on the roads and it felt kind of epic! I continued to mountain bike in the summer and loved my trusty blue Cycle Tech. It amazes me that given the abuse it was receiving I never had any serious problems with it. I didn’t do my own maintenance so I would generally take it by a LBS in the spring and get stuff replaced/tuned up before trying to break it for the next year! That bike taught me that buying quality upfront wasn’t necessarily as expensive in the long run as buying a cheap bike and having to continually fix stuff.

Eventually I was sent to Alberta by the army and my XTC came with me of course. I had the Rocky Mountains to play in and was introduced to a new scale of mountain bike trails. Sadly my XTC was stolen during this time…=-( But, I was insured and was stoked to find out my policy allowed me to get a brand new equivalent bike. So I ended up riding a Cannondale Killer-V shown below. I was starting to make some decent $$$ by this point and was single with no dependants so I added a suspension fork to the rigid Killer-V, then v-brakes and new tires. I moved to Calgary and this bike was my only bike for a long time. I was really into mountain biking for the first few years of living in Alberta. Eventually I got a full suspension Cannondale MTB and the rest is history…

I had a thing for blue bikes!

Although my CycleTech XTC wasn’t my first bike or the nicest bike I ever owned it was my trusted ride during an important phase of my life where I might have given up cycling and embraced the slothful car-centric life most people do when they become an adult. That XTC was such a great bike that it kept me rolling through my young adult years until I got to the point where I was wise enough to appreciate that biking was more than just a fun thing to do – it would end up being a key factor in keeping me healthy all my life…=-)

I guess it’s appropriate that I’ll end this post and head out on my current mountain bike to ride the trails at Hartland Mountain Bike Park!

I love pulling that cart!

25 06 2011

....okay not really, but it pays for all the bike bling...=-)

So true…

25 06 2011

My GF wishes this was just a joke...=-)

My cat is in charge…!

21 06 2011

The brains behind this operation...=-)

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. After being away all last week in SoCal for a full moon gathering in the desert I came home and had to leave the next day for a project. I’ve been working non-stop with breaks only to eat and sleep so I haven’t had time to do anything with my blog. I left Midnight [my cat] in charge back home, but she’s even lazier than I am!!!

I should be home this weekend and be back to posting next week.

The Trail Collector

19 06 2011


18 06 2011

What is mountain biking?

17 06 2011

90 mins until work…

16 06 2011

Naish Cult

15 06 2011

I’m starting to plan my winter trip to Baja.  I came across this video and it got me super stoked to get out on the water with my kiteboard.  I want to get more skilled with my kiteboarding and learn how to ride a surfboard with my kite.  I’m not sure why, but surfing holds an almost mythological significance in our culture.  I’m keen to find out why.

Bootleg Canyon

14 06 2011

Another day at the Chinatown office…

12 06 2011

Amazing strapless kiteboarding video. Definitely worth watching in HD and full screen with the volume jacked!…=-)

Ticino Switzerland…

11 06 2011

Grabbed from Pinkbike...

I’ll be on the road to California for he next week so I’ll going to repost some of the better bike/kite videos I’ve posted over the last few years during my absence. Jump over to my Bow Blog to see this uber sweet video. You can never have to much bike/kite porn…=-)

Bike Wrapper Pre-view

9 06 2011

Sharon Surly Cross Check Bike Wrapped!

Bike Wrappers are a set of 3 velcro attached cloth sleeves for your bike’s frame. They have two sides: fashion [shown above] and reflective silver. The fashion side dresses up your bike and also protects the frame from leaning up against poles, bike racks or walls. The reflective side offers some extra visibility when you are out at night.


Switching between the fashion and the reflective sides takes a few seconds. You can also swap a set of Bike Wrappers between two different bikes very quickly.

Naked Cross Check at night...

Bike Wrappers are well made and pretty snazzy in fashion mode, but do they add a lot of visibility to your bike at night?

Bike Wrappers fashion mode at night...

I’ll be away a fair bit for the next couple weeks so I didn’t have time for any elaborate testing. I just setup the bike in my yard and shoot some flash photos from various angles to get an idea of what the bike would look like at night.

Reflective side of Bike Wrappers on frame...

So far the results are promising. You definitely get some addition pop from the Bike Wrappers when the reflective side is installed and you hit it with some light.

Fashion side installed from rear at an angle...

In general I don’t think having reflectors on the side of your bike is that useful because by the time they are in a car’s headlights you are either about to be hit or you are fine.

Reflective side out from an angle to the rear...

So I tried some shots from the rear at an angle and then from almost directly behind the bike.

Fashion side out from almost directly to the rear...

I didn’t bother from to shoot any photos from directly behind the bike as the Bike Wrappers wouldn’t be visible and the bike’s rear reflectors would cover that angle of approach well.

Almost directly from the rear with reflective side out...

In all these test the Bike Wrappers add significantly to your night time visibility when installed with the reflective side out, but of course there was no rider on the bike to obscure the Bike Wrappers. I suspect the rider’s body/legs will generate a strobe effect as the bike moves through a driver’s line of sight.

When I get back from my travels I’ll setup a more realistic experiment with my F150 and a video camera where I ride past the F150 and we’ll see how effective the Bike Wrappers are in that test.

Looking good...=-)

For now Sharon is pretty stoked about her jazzed up Cross Check and she’ll be using her Bike Wrappers on her daily commute to test how they stand up to regular use. I’ve got a set of more manly black/white/silver Bike Wrappers I’ll install on my 26″ Surly LHT build. We’ll provide some additional review comments later in the summer.

1000+ Photos!

9 06 2011

I'm camera crazy...=-)

In less than 3yrs I filled WordPress’ 3GB of free memory allotment. I’m guessing that’s a bit over 1000 images. I could have fit a lot more photos in that space if I had resized each one to best fit the blog, but I also upload my pics to Flickr and I like having the highest resolution for that site. I’m a big believer in lots of photos for a blog. I have a hard time reading blogs that are mostly text.

I paid for another 5GB of hard drive space so I should be good for another 3-4yrs…=-)

Brynne’s Rando/Commuter…

8 06 2011

Freshly installed Velo Orange metal fenders...

Mike C swung by with his lovely wife Brynne’s rando/commuter rig for some fender love. We installed a set of Velo Orange smooth metal fenders on her Soma Double Cross.

Beautifully smoooooth....=-)

Like my previous VO fender installs they went on pretty easily. We had to scrounge some scrap metal and DIY a rear bracket to get the rear fender low enough on the wheel for a nice fender line. The front fender went on pretty well, but next time I have a moment I’ll DIY up a bracket to lower it down a just a tad.

Next up some mudflaps!

I’d also like to fabricate some mudflaps and get them installed when I get a chance. Mike was mentioning that this bike will be seeing some other upgrades like: a new dynolight, new stem and new bars. This a pretty sweet ride and with a bit of new bling will be even nicer…=-)

Zermat Switzerland

7 06 2011

I’m glad folks take the time and trouble to document their rides like this and I’m stoked we are able to easily share HD video online…=-)

Sharon’s a Kiteboarder!

6 06 2011

Sharon's ripping it up...

Kiteboarding is a hard sport to learn – very hard!

Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever tried and I honestly felt like giving up part way through my lessons because I felt like I would never get the hang of it.

Sharon didn’t have the luxury of non-stop lessons like I did so she’s had a more challenging time trying to keep her progression going between lessons that might be months apart. She’s had some high points during the process that kept her going and some low points where I could tell she was questioning whether all the cost and effort was worth it. Having felt the same way when I started I could sympathize with her and tried to keep her enthusiasm alive.

So this weekend Sharon figured out the last few details that she needed in order to be an independent kiteboarder. She was super stoked each day after her lessons to feel all her hard work come to fruition. Awesome!

Now that the work has been done it’s time to have fun and fly across the water and through the air…=-)

I kinda like not knowing…

5 06 2011

Time to fly!

The summer kiteboarding season has just started on Vancouver Island. With 3 months of consistently good winds and fun lakeside camping adventures ahead I find myself facing the possibility of missing a good chunk of the action due to a few out of town projects on my radar. Now I’d rather be at home all summer so I could ride my bikes and fly my kites during our ever so brief Canadian summer, but I do have to work to pay for all the toys and travels so what must be must be!

Interestingly the uncertainty about my summer work commitments has had a positive impact on my kite and bike activities. Typically knowing I had a whole summer of good times ahead I might not get too excited about any one day in particular – especially early season when conditions are not at their best. But, at the moment facing the risk I may well be away for 50%+ of the summer, I’m taking advantage of each opportunity to recreate and savouring the moment without much thought for the next time since I have no idea when the next time might be.

Speaking of which I’m spending the weekend up at Nitnaht Lake getting my kiteboard on and loving every moment!…=-)

Making Progress!

4 06 2011

Floor space at last!

For the last year my garage has been filled with tools, clutter and bikes leaned up against everything including each other. I had a hard time accessing my gear and more than once I rode a bike simply because it was closest to the door as opposed to the one I really wanted that was way at the back. With better weather here and some projects completed that allowed me to empty out some of the unneeded tools/supplies I experienced what can only be described as a dominio effect of organization.

Starting with a 4′ x 4′ area of clear space I was able to organize another corner which bought me a few more feet of real estate and so on. I’m not nearly done my work, but now that I have the ability to move around and some space to open boxes and organize them I hope to tackle one area of the garage at a time thinning out the unused stuff and storing the rest more efficiently.

Room to maneuver!

The key for me is to break a big job like this into smaller manageable chunks that I can tackle in an hour or two. That makes starting less daunting and ensures I get something tangible accomplished each time.

I’m planning on getting rid of two bikes that are in the garage over the summer and removing about 25% of the stuff in boxes. Some of the stuff that leaves will get stored in the crawlspace of my house and the rest will be sold/given away/recycled/etc…

Phase 1 – making some room to move around is accomplished!

Phase 2 – getting rid of stuff that I rarely/never use is next.

Phase 3 – organizing what’s left really well is a late summer project.

Gregory Reactor 4yr Update

3 06 2011

Gregory Reactor hydration pack...

You can read my 2yr review here.

This Gregory Reactor hydration pack is my dedicated MTB pack. I keep it loaded with a shock pump and used to carry my tools/spares in it until I moved them to my Porcelain Rocket frame bag. This pack is modest sized at 11L, but even with a full bladder I have room to stuff food for a long ride and a spare jacket inside. In a pinch I can use two bladders for maximum hydration on an uber long desert ride.

I love how it hugs my body and is basically invisible to me while I ride, but offers lots of useful storage for its size. I especially love the two wing/belt pockets at the waist where I keep a camera handy and a snack. I also love the mesh pockets that I can stuff any extra gear – particularly wet gear – quickly and then get back to my ride.

Clearly I am colour blind!...=-)

I was a bit concerned when I first got this lightweight pack that the materials used [sil nylon and mesh] might not stand up well to repeated hard use. So far everything has been solid for me. I do take care not to abuse the pack since I know it’s not crazy rugged, but at the same time I frequently crash and fall with the pack on and end up rolling on the ground like a drunken monkey! I run into brush at the sides of the trail and the pack gets bounced around in the back of my pick up truck on my travels to the dirt.

If you regularly thrash your gear you’ll want something more robust like the hydration packs from Camelbak or Dakine.

Personally I like the many pockets and streamlined lightweight design of the Reactor. Of course it’s been a while since I got this pack – the Gregory model that is closest to the Reactor is the Wastach at 12L. If my Reactor was stolen I’d go buy a Wasatch tomorrow.

A better bladder?

The Reactor didn’t come with a bladder. I used to use Camelbak bladders, but thought I would try a bladder from Nalgene when my older bladders got a bit smeggy. The Nalgene bladder shown has been used on all my long mountain bike rides the last few years and on my recumbent brevets. It doesn’t leak. The opening is large and easy to use when filling with water/ice. The valve has a closed position [shown above] for leak free transport. The plastic doesn’t taste of anything and I get enough flow from the valve to be useful on a hot day.

Valve turns left or right to open position...

I find I get less water flow with this valve than I did with my Camelbak bladder, but the Nalgene valve is less prone to shoot/dribble water out when I didn’t intend it to. On the whole it’s a good trade off. I tend to pressurize my bladder by blowing air into it as I ride so when I want a big drink I just arch my back and open the valve to get a strong jet of water. Using that technique the Nalgene valve offers sufficient flow. The Nalgene valve has a built in magnet you can use to keep the hose from flopping around when not in use. I haven’t found that necessary and I’ve since lost the other bit of the magnet that would attach to my pack. It’s a feature some folks might enjoy.

After use I rinse out the bladder and hose then store in the freezer until the next use. So far after many freeze/thaw cycles the Nalgene bladder/hose/valve hasn’t complained about this process. I can’t be bothered to clean and dry my bladders so it’s essential that whatever I use can handle being repeatedly frozen.


TdeF Podium Analysis…

2 06 2011

The boys!

I thought this analysis of the riders who stood on the podium at the Tour de France over the last few years was interesting. Definitely makes me feel less guilty about that mid-brevet tripple espresso!…=-)

Bike Friday Tikit Wiki

2 06 2011

Sharon on a roll...

Sean Luke has kindly put in the time and effort to develop a Bike Friday Tikit folding bike Wiki. A Wiki is a user updated body of knowledge about a topic. This means you’ll have a great spot to learn lots about the Bike Friday Tikit and you can add stuff to the Wiki based on your own experiences with the bike.

To edit the Wiki you’ll need a password which you can get by emailing Sean Luke from the Wiki site.


Outer Bike 2011 – Moab

1 06 2011

Outer Bike 2011...

Sean turned me on to Outer Bike which is happening in Moab around the time I wanted to head down for some trail riding action. I’ve never heard of this event before so it was great to get pointed to it. I’m not sure how much I’ll participate, but at least having the option to join in on the festivities is cool. I’ll take a closer look at the Outer Bike website and see what interests me. I’d be down for a skills clinic as I can always stand to improve in that area. I’d also be keen on a group ride or three.

I’ll probably skip the demo days part of the event as I’m very satisfied with my Santa Cruz Nomad MK2 and nothing good for my wallet will come from demoing the lastest greatest 2012 mountain bikes!..=-)

Although I’ve been talking mainly about Moab my plan is to spend some time in Moab and then head south to Sedona AZ for more trail riding action and to get Dave at The Fat Tire Bike Shop to tune up my Nomad’s suspension. He did such a great job for me last time that I figure my trusty steed deserves another tweak to her squishy bits.

I’ve gotta be in the SoCal desert for a full moon party with friends on 12 October so 6 days in Moab and 4 days in Sedona is probably in the cards before I head to LA and then back home.