Urban Adventures…

5 03 2013
The Selkirk Trestle...

The Selkirk Trestle…

Being banged up means I have to give the dirt a miss for a while, but it’s not so bad when you have a road bike you like to ride.

Ducks were MIA from the pond...

Ducks were MIA from the pond…

Luckily Victoria in winter offers some great urban riding options. Not only is the scenery nice, but there is excellent coffee along most routes… 🙂

Urban art...

Urban art…

We got caffeinated, did our errands and got some riding done. Another good day in the books.

Sharon looking Surly...

Sharon looking Surly…

New Look…

26 02 2013
Gratuitous LHT porn...

Gratuitous LHT porn…

Update: looks like the old theme Freshly is working again so back we go.

The old blog theme on WordPress went all wonky on me so I grabbed a new one. I’m not sure this one will stick, but it’s working for now. My main complaint is that posts containing just a Vimeo or Youtube video don’t show any visual preview on the main page of the blog. So you have to click through to the post to see them – not ideal.

If anyone has any cunning ideas how to fix that let me know. I like the rest of the Oxygen Theme. 🙂

Feeling Surly…

19 11 2012

High five!

I got out for two rides on my Surly LHT this weekend. Sharon came with me for a ride into town on Sunday. She injured her knee playing squash and has been laying low while the inflammation subsided. She needs to see a doctor next week and will need 1 or 2 operations to repair the damage. Happily her physio said biking was okay as long as her knee wasn’t in pain. Sharon did great so she’ll resume her daily bike commutes.

I’m leaving town Wednesday so these were probably my last Trucker rides of 2012. I miss my LHT already! 😉

Just couldn’t do it…

12 07 2012

My Surly LHT…

My garage is pretty cluttered with gear. The worst offenders are the bikes loitering in there. 😉 For various reasons I’m not ready to sell any bikes at the moment, but I did have what seemed like a cunning plan to pull out 2 bikes and put them into medium/long-term storage eslewhere. One of those bikes was my 700c Surly LHT. My thought was to strip it down of parts which would either get reused or put into my spares bin. The frame would be stored for the foreseeable future. To be revived at a later date when I had a need for it and the original LHT would be an even more classic bike to ride. In the meantime I’d just ride the 26″ wheeled LHT as I was keen to keep testing out that wheel size.

Tweaked LHT cockpit…

I hauled the 700c LHT from where it was hanging in the garage and clamped it into my repair stand for the tear down. Not surprisingly I procrastinated for a while. It’s summer so there are lots of things on the go eating up my free time. At some point I realized I had time to work on the LHT, but was just not happy about taking it apart. Not only it is my oldest bike with which I have had some great cycling memories, but it’s setup really well other than the cockpit that needed tweaking. I think if it was all beat up and in need of a major overhaul the process would have been easier.

A closer look at the cockpit…

I was fine with keeping the LHT in service, but if I was going to do that I had to get the saddle & bars adjusted so I was comfortable on the bike again. I can’t explain how my preferred riding position changed so much, but it did. I ended up raising the saddle a touch and dropping the bars 1.5″ which also moved them forward 0.5″. I rotated the bars forward a bit and moved the brake levers forward on the drops. It’s actually a pretty radical adjustment given that the LHT’s previous setup had worked for me for many years.

What’s important is that when I climb aboard this bike now my body immediately feels at home. I’m not going to cut the steerer tube until I’ve ridden the bike a while just to be sure I am confident of the change.

Loving my other Long Haul Trucker…

21 04 2012

Click on image for more info on custom Buddy Flaps for your fenders...

I recently posted that I was not loving my oldest bike a 700c Surly LHT. Having just installed some Retroshift brake levers on my 26″ wheeled Long Haul Trucker it has seen a bunch of saddle time and I must say I love it. The saddle, pedals and bars are exactly where I want them and the big balloon tires roll along like I’m on cloud. I’ll eventually take some measurements of the cockpit so I can adjust my 700c LHT to the same fit, but for now I’ll just ride the fat tire trucker and smile.

Profile shot...

This LHT is setup with:

  • Schwalbe 2.15″ Big Apple tires
  • Velo Orange fenders with some sweet Buddy Flaps
  • Old Man Mountain Sherpa rack [new version]
  • Velo Orange double crank
  • XTR derailleurs and MTB cassette
  • Shimano bar end shifters mounted on Retroshift levers
  • Tektro 720 canti brakes
  • Brooks B17
  • Velo Orange stem & bell
  • Salsa drop bars
  • franken wheels I pulled out of the garage of which we shall not speak!

Protected light placement...

If you read this blog regularly you’ll know that my preference for bike tires has slowly move towards wider and wider rubber over the years. There was a time where I had a road bike on 23mm rubber and a city MTB on 25mm rubber. Today I wouldn’t ride those same bikes if you offered them to me for free! My performance road bike runs on 42mm wide rubber for example – yet it’s fast and comfortable enough to hammer out a 300K even with my pathetic engine.

So it’s not shocking to me that I am enjoying the 55mm rubber on this LHT more than the ~35mm rubber on the 700c LHT. For urban environments as well as the gravel/dirt around Victoria big fat rubber makes life better. There is no real downside at a utility ride pace to this big rubber and there are wide performance rubber options [26 x 2.0″ Schwalbe Kojaks] if I wanted to improve the speed/range of this bike.

Those are some Big Apples...

Ideally I’d like to see 650B wheels and Grand Bois Hetres on this bike as I love how they feel, but I’ve got a limited bike budget so replacing some perfectly good wheels/tires isn’t a top priority. I’ve got some nice shiny Velo Orange 650B rims hanging in my garage so I’ll keep my eyes open for a deal on some disc hubs. That way when I do have a 650B wheel set I’ll be able to use it with both rim brakes and disc brakes.

Old Man Mountain - that's how I roll!

Retroshift Install and Initial Review

20 04 2012

Retroshift brake lever w/ Shimano bar end shifter...


Retroshift Two brake levers are simple to install. Just slide the mounting bracket onto the bar. Move into position. Lightly bolt lever on and fine tune your lever position then tighten. Once you get the levers onto the bars your bar end shifters just bolt on. Retroshift provides a few small washers to take out any play that you may experience depending on the levers you are using.

My 26" wheeled LHT - Black Beauty...

The cable routing is a bit funky, but I actually like how it looks and it’s less in the way of a bar bag than my usual bar end shifter cable routing.

The whole installation process is painless. I thought it was weird that Retroshift didn’t provide a step by step set of installation instructions, but it really is so simple that you don’t need any.

Keeping the cables neat...

On The Road

  • The bar end shifters mounted to the Retroshift levers fall to hand very easily.
  • Shifting is fast and positive. The position of the levers tells you what gear you are in by feel.
  • You can dump multiple gears on the rear with a swipe of your hand.
  • The shifters don’t interfere with braking from the hoods or the drops.
  • You can only shift from the hoods so if you are on the drops you have to move your hand.
  • Due to the shift mount you can’t use the cable release feature at the lever to generate extra cable slack.
  • The ergonomics are not as refined as brifters, but it’s way easy to dump a lot of gears or operate Retoshift bar cons with heavy gloves on.
  • Using bar end shifters the front derailleur is always in friction mode and the rear derailleur can be run in indexed or friction modes. That means it will keep shifting in challenging environments.
  • Current version will work with road bike specific mechanical disc brakes, but not MTB disc brakes.

Another look...

I like Shimano bar end shifters. I’ve used them mounted on the ends of drop bars and on flat bars using Paul Thumbies. Retroshift levers just give you a 3rd option for a mounting location. Which one you would prefer is simply a matter of taste.

I spend a lot of time with my hands just behind the hoods on drop bar bikes so I am used to moving my hands to brake or shift. I’m also not an uber frequent shifter so this doesn’t present a problem for me. In fact I find moving my hands to brake and shift is helpful to prevent circulation related problems on long rides. I don’t race so I don’t need a dozen lightening fast shifts each minute.

More cable routing porn...

What about Brifters?

I’ve used several sets of integrated brake & shift levers that came OEM on my bikes. They work fine when they are clean. I don’t want to mess with them for any challenging applications like bike touring and I would never pay the retail cost for a set if I was building up a frame. I’d rather go the Retroshift route myself or stick with bar end shifters.

Tektro 720 cantilever brakes...

The Downsides

  • need to buy new brake levers
  • current version not compatible with v-brakes/MTB mechanical discs [a compatible version being released later in 2012]
  • can’t shift from drops
  • looks a bit unusual

Some fresh bar tape...

You can read my initial impressions of the Retroshift levers when they were unpacked here.

What happened to my Long Haul Trucker?

11 04 2012

My Surly LHT with the Selkirk Trestle in the background...

I’ve been out of town a lot so far this year and have mostly been riding my MTBs and Bike Friday Tikit when I am home. So the other night I grabbed my oldest bike and jumped on it for a ride into town to meet a friend. My sage green LHT has been one of those bikes I’ve used to size other bikes I was buying because it fit so well and it was definitely in that category of “bikes I would never get rid of”. So it came as a huge shock that I was both uncomfortable on my LHT and didn’t enjoy how she felt to ride…=-(

Now logically I know our bodies and our preferences change, but emotionally I was just so totally unprepared to not be smiling as I pedalled this bike into Victoria.

Some of the issues are reasonably easy to fix. I need to move the saddle to get my butt/knees and BB into the position that’s comfortable and efficient. Then I may or may not have to swap in a different stem to get the bars positioned where I want them and I definitely will need to rotate the bars and reposition the brake levers. This is a bit of a pain, but nothing overly challenging. Give me a warm sunny afternoon and 3 beers! =-)

I wasn’t loving the skinny 35mm Marathon XR touring tires either which is also a shock as these have been one of my favourite for a long long time. Tires are easily replaced so other than feeling bad for not enjoying an old friend’s company I can get over this issue. Now I know 35mm isn’t skinny for a road tire, but keep in mind my MTBs run on 2.4″-3.7″ tires and my go fast road bike runs on 42mm tires – plus the XRs measure a bit on the narrow side so they aren’t a true 35mm width.

I actually came home after the ride in question and said to myself “I could sell this bike and be fine about it.”

Now I’m fortunate in that I have a 26″ wheeled LHT in my work stand getting Retroshift brake levers + bar end shifters installed. I just setup the bars/levers and saddle position to be comfortable/efficient so that’s not a problem and it’s running on Schwalbe Big Apple 2.15″ balloon tires. This should address all my concerns about my 700c LHT. I’m keen to get the 26″ LHT back on the road and ride both of them [after adjusting the 700c bike’s cockpit]. A always assumed the 26″ wheeled LHT would be a bike I’d keep for 2-3yrs to compare wheel sizes after which I’d sell it, but now I’m really not sure which LHT will get sold.

If I do end up keeping the 26″ wheeled LHT I may forge ahead with the 650B conversion I had been pondering and perhaps even get the fork re-raked to lower the trail. That seems to be where my bikey preferences are headed.

Life is always full of surprises!