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.

Drivetrain Efficiency…

11 12 2010


This interesting article was posted over at BROL.  It discusses some measurements of various drivetrain efficiencies.   Click on the image to read the PDF – article starts at pg 3.

One question I have is that they note that efficiencies are worst at lower input power.  Since cyclists have a short peak of power twice per crank revolution followed by 2 lows and the majority of the power stroke is between the low and high values I wonder what the measured efficiencies would be with a variable power input that simulated how a cyclist’s legs worked?

Nexus/Alfine Brifter!

25 05 2009 is reviewing a new road bike by Dynamic Bicycles which features the cunning Nexus/Alfine brifter shown above….awesome!  So finally you can use one of these hubs and enjoy the brifter experience.  Between this shifter and the JTEK bar end shifter I reported about earlier the options for Shimano IGH setups has just increased dramatically.

It seems that at this early prototype stage Dynamic has not confirmed it will sell these components separately from their bikes, but given the potential demand I have to believe that will happen.

Read the post here.

Update [from Austin on Two Wheels]:

“Well, good news if you want to convert your old road bike with horizontal dropouts or track bike to Shimano internally geared hubs. Dynamic sent us an e-mail this week letting us know they will be the U.S. distributor for the Versa shifters as well as the Versa cranksets. The shifters will retail for $229 and the cranksets will come in two versions, the VCS46-EX with external bottom bracket included ($139) and the VCS46-SQ for square tapered BB ($39). Both cranks come with a single 46T chain ring.

Beginning in mid June, you should be able to order these through your local bike shop. In the meantime, Dynamic is offering a limited number of shifters and cranksets directly to the public at the introductory price of $199 for the shifters, $109 for the crank with external BB, and $29 for the standard crank. Anyone wanting to order these directly for this limited time can call Dynamic at 1-800-935-9553 to place an order.”

NWT Update

22 04 2009
My NWT resting by Nose Creek in Calgary.

My NWT resting by Nose Creek in Calgary.

With the weather finally solidly dry and warm-ish I got the NWT out for a 15km bike ride to drop off a car in the NW part of Calgary and then ride back downtown.  The NWT folds up easily and makes throwing in the trunk a breeze.  This was my first longer ride with the new gearing, Greenspeed Scorcher tires and JTEK Nexus 8 bar end shifter.  I must say they all worked fabulously.  In fact it feels like a whole new bike – faster and easier to ride than previously. I could have used one more gear at the top end, but it wasn’t much of an issue and I want to keep this bike setup for loaded touring.

My final upgrade/modification will be to install some Planet Bike full coverage fenders this week.

What lock?

What lock?


31 03 2009
My NWT as it rolls at the moment...

My NWT as it rolls at the moment...

I’ve made a few more changes to my NWT getting it ready for spring and the start of touring season.  It’s a sharp looking bike…=-)

How long will the tape stay white?

How long will the tape stay white?

I removed the Shimano Nexus 8 twistshifter and replaced it with a JTEK bar-end shifter designed for the Nexus8/Alfine IGHs.  It seems like a very well made product and the shifting is precise and positive.  I’ll report more about this shifter in another post.  I messed up the bar tape when I installed the JTEK shifter so I threw caution to the wind and went bling with some white bar tape.  It may not stay white that long, but it looks sweet for the moment!

Greenspeed Scorchers 40mm-406

Greenspeed Scorchers 40mm-406

I love the Greenspeed Scorcher tires on my Tikit so I got a set for the NWT.  I’m hopeful they provide the same fast and comfortable ride in this size.  I picked up the TR version which is supposed to resist flats well.  I haven’t had a single flat on my Tikit which is running TRs so it seems to be working.

Sugino 46T ring

Sugino 46T ring

I’ve been adjusting the gear range on my NWT trying to get it just right so I can tour with only a single ring up front.  A Sugino 46T ring gives me a warranty legal 2:1 ratio with my 23T cog at the back and *fingers crossed* gives me a nice blend of low end and top speed.  Only time will tell and it’s really sloppy out at the moment as spring tries to arrive so the NWT is grounded until roads are dry.

In-line barrel adjuster.

In-line barrel adjuster.

The JTEK shifter has no cable tension adjustment so I added an in-line barrel adjuster near the hub.

NWT Gearing Redux

26 03 2009
The search continues...

The search continues...

In aid of my dream to run my NWT with a single chainring and a Nexus 8 IGH I’ve tried using a 23T cog at the back with a 43T ring up front.  The resulting gear range was too low so I tried a 21T cog in the back.  Unfortunately that cog is too small to work with my Surly Singlenatortensioner chain in the push up mode [pictured below with the 23T cog].

Surly Singlenator just works with a 23T cog

Surly Singlenator just works with a 23T cog

So I put the 23T cog back on and I’ve ordered up a 46T front ring which will hopefully get the gear range where I want it. I’m pretty close!

Speaking of gearing I rec’d my JTEK Alfine/Nexus bar end shifter and I have installed it on the NWT.  I’ll post details separately.  It seems to work great, but since my NWT drivetrain is in pieces at the moment I haven’t road tested it yet.

NWT Upgrades

3 02 2009
406 Shimano Dynohub Wheel

406 Shimano Dynohub Wheel

I had this wheel built up for my Challenge Fujin SL recumbent, but I’m not riding that beast much at the moment so I stole it and installed it on my NWT.  It’s a Velocity Razor 32H 406 rim and a Shimano dynohub.  I took the Schwalbe Marathon off the stock NWT front wheel and mounted it here.  It’s dark in the AM and gets dark early in the PM still so having a dynohub equipped bike will be nice.  The drag is slightly noticeable on a 300km brevet riding a high performance recumbent.  On the NWT I don’t notice a thing.

Solidlights 1203D dual LED dyno head light

Solidlights 1203D dual LED dyno headlight

This Solidlights 1203D dual LED headlight is also from my Fujin.  It’s not as bright as the latest Euro dyno headlights [although I may take advantage of their upgrade offer once winter’s darkness has passed], but it still casts lots of light in a wide beam that is very user friendly.  I’ve been mainly using Dinotte 200L-AA headlights on my city rides and they work quite well, but my rechargeable batteries are getting old so even on flashing mode I’ve had them die early or not work at all several times in the recent past.  I’ll be buying new batteries for them soon, but it will be nice to have a light that will always work no matter what.  I’ll leave it on during the day as well for extra visibility.

Shimano 105 cranks & BB with a single 43T ring

Shimano 105 cranks & BB with a single 43T ring

I had this 105 crank and BB in my parts bin so I threw it on to add to the Zebra colour scheme I seem to have on the go!  I removed the 59T big ring and will just run the 43T smaller ring.  I left the front derailleur, cable and shifter in place in case I find a single chain ring insufficient.  The swap back will be much easier.  If all goes well I’ll pull the unused parts.

Surly Singlenator in "Push Up" mode

Surly Singlenator in "Push Up" mode

I got a Surly Singlenator and installed it in “push up” mode to tension the chain.  This provides a bit more chain wrap, but mostly I just prefer the cleaner looking drivetrain since nothing is hanging down.  Note that I do have to drop the chain off the front chain ring to fold the bike, but that seems like a reasonable price to pay for a slick drivetrain.  More importantly if I forget to do so the chain just comes taught, but the chain tensioner has enough flex that it cannot be damaged.

I swapped the 16T cog for a 23T

I swapped the 16T cog for a 23T

I had a 23T Nexus cog in parts bin so I threw in on in place of the 16T that came with my NWT.  It will provide lower gears that I need for climbing mountains with a loaded bike.  Will a 43T x 23T give me a high enough top gear to keep me happy?  I think the answer is a definite maybe!…hahaha…I’ll need to ride it a bit more to be sure.  I could easily setup my chain with 2 SRAM powerlinks and run a higher gear for unloaded riding around town.  For a tour it would a simple matter of swapping a bigger rear cog and adding a few links of chain.

Salsa 80mm 115 deg stem

Salsa 80mm 115 deg stem

I swapped in a Salsa 80mm 115 deg rise Moto Ace SUL stem.  It will give me a slightly higher bar position, but primarily it’s job is simply to Zebra-fy the NWT a touch more…lol…I’m a fashion victim!

This bell keeps the NWT legal on the Calgary bike paths.

This bell keeps the NWT legal on the Calgary bike paths.

I threw on a bell so the By-Law officers can’t bust me on the Calgary bike paths.  I was stopped, but not ticketed recently riding through the Stephan Avenue pedestrian mall downtown.  I figured my luck may not hold so best to be prepared – besides I might run into someone on the paths that needs a stern bell ringing…=-)

Blackburn Mirror

Blackburn Mirror

I use this model of Blackburn mirror on all my drop bar bikes.  If I can see behind me easily I am able to ride much more aggressively.  I like the fact it removes with little effort and can survive a bit of abuse without breaking.

an old Trek Seat bag

an old Trek Seat bag

After trying several seat bags in my parts bin this old Trek model fits the Brooks B-17 on my NWT best and is just big enough to hold everything I need to fix a flat or make a minor adjustment.  It has a tab for a LED light which is nice, but these tabs never allow you to aim your LED properly which is critical for effective performance.  Because of this I use these tabs for a secondary rear light to compliment a properly aimed primary LED.  If you have any doubt about this turn on your bike’s rear LED and try viewing it from a variety of angles. Your light will be much brighter in a narrow range of angles and much dimmer when viewed beyond this range.

A properly mounted and aimed rear LED is essential

A properly mounted and aimed rear LED is essential

Here is a well designed rear light mount that allows me to aim my LED both up/down and side to side for best results.  If you want to be even more visible use two of these mounts one aimed at close range cars and one aimed for cars that are farther away.  The Planet Bike Superflash light is my favourite at the moment for brightness, cost and functionality.  I normally run two on the back of each bike by buying extra mounts and swapping the lights as needed.

New Tikit Dropouts

30 01 2009
Walter @ BF

Photo: Walter @ BF

Walter just posted some info on his blog about new dropouts Bike Friday has developed for the Tikit.  The upshot is that one frame can be adapted from a derailleur setup to an IGH Nexus 8 to a Rohloff to a fixed gear…not to mention that you can run disc brakes if you like in some of these configurations…sweet!

Bar End Shifter for Nexus/Alfine IGH

17 01 2009
JTEK Engineering

all photos: JTEK Engineering

I’m a fan of the Nexus 8 and Alfine IGHs.  They work well and are relatively inexpensive.  One issue is that up until now your choice of shifter was a twist shifter or a trigger shifter.  I have both and they work well, but for a drop bar bike a bar end shifter is a much nicer solution.

Alan posted on EcoVelo about a new JTEK bar end shifter that is compatible with these IGHs. – sweet!

from JTEK:

“Jtek Bar-end Shifter for 8-speed
Shimano Alfine & Nexus Internal Hubs

  • Super light weight only 64 grams making it the lightest bar-end shifter on the market!
  • 24mm clamp-on design. Easy installation eliminates the need for disassembly to install
  • High quality CNC precision machined parts, 100% made in Hugo, MN.
  • 8-speed indexing

Finally a shifting solution for people who want to use Shimano internal hubs with drop-bar, road bike style handle bars. This shifters is compatible with Shimano 8-speed Alfine & Nexus hubs. It features a clamp-on mounting design which will fit standard diameter 24mm handle bars.”

jtek_bar-end-3Cost is $80.00 + shipping.  I’ll probably get one of these to try out.  It looks like an elegant solution.

JTEK’s Website.

Bike Friday Seasons Tikit First Impressions

10 12 2008

Originally posted on my Tikit Blog – July 2008.

Standard Tikit vs. Seasons Tikit

Standard Tikit vs. Seasons Tikit


Pulling the Season’s Tikit out of the box my first impression was this didn’t look like much of a prototype. The only detail that was not polished looking was the hand written “Seasons” added to the Tikit decal on the frame. The rest of the bike looked just like my Tikit except with a Nexus 8 speed hub. The ride is the same great Tikit experience just a slightly different flavour.


The Seasons Tikit is a medium frame which is about 1.5″ shorter in the main tube than my large Tikit. I adjusted the saddle and bars to match my larger Tikit with the help of a longer stem. I didn’t expect the medium frame to feel so different, but I am definitely more at home on a large Tikit. I can ride the medium, but I don’t feel as natural on it or as comfortable. This isn’t really a problem as Bike Friday will ensure you get the right size bike when you order a Tikit. My only advice would be if you are between frame sizes order the larger frame. I think the longer wheelbase will only be a good thing.

The Seasons Tikit shares the same frame as previous Tikit models which in my mind is a good thing. The only difference I noted between my older Tikit and this new model was a slightly different locking mechanism to hold the Tikit together when folded. This does away with the over latch bolt, but from a functional perspective there is no difference between how either of my Tikits fold. The hyper-fold cable operated latch system is still super easy to use and very fast.


The controls on the Seasons Tikit look the same as my Tikit with the exception that the Microshifter has been replaced with the Nexus shifter. The Tektro brake levers are functional and comfortable to use. The Seasons Tikit comes with a great bell. I love the sound and the design is low profile so it doesn’t catch on anything when folded. My only real complaints with the controls on the Seasons Tikit are the area for your hands is not very big and the foam grips are too soft. My hands just barely fit and I don’t think they are particularly large for a man. The stock grips are simply too soft – they compress when you grab them and end up putting a lot of pressure on the contact areas of your hands. I had the same issues with my Tikit and solved them by moving the controls inboard about 2cms when I installed some Egron grips.

I generally replace stock saddles right off the bat when I get a new bike. However, on my Tikit I left the stock saddle and have been pleased with it for rides up to 25kms. I might invest in something else if I was riding further, but a 25km range is pretty much as far as I go on the Tikit. The Seasons Tikit comes with the same saddle. I recommend you give it a try before you swap it out.

The stock folding pedals on the Seasons Tikit work well when it’s dry. I do find they are slippery when wet. If you do a lot of riding in the rain/snow I’d consider something more grippy with a metal platform. I haven’t found the ideal pedal yet for my Tikit so I use the stock pedals in the summer and switch to some metal pedals in the winter when my shoes are likely to be wet most of the time.


The Seasons Tikit rolls on two 24h unbranded rims matched with a narrow unbranded front hub and the Nexus 8 speed IGH on the rear. This is similar to my Tikit and having 16″ wheels with 24 spokes makes for a very tough wheel. I have had to do zero wheel maintenance on my Tkit even though it gets ridden quite hard. With the large diameter of the Nexus IGH the rear wheel of the Seasons Tikit has short spokes and should be very strong.

The stock Schwalbe Marathon 35-349 tires work well and are quite tough making them a good choice for trouble free commuting. Compared to the Greenspeed Scorcher TRs on my Tikit the ride is not as plush. I do like the reflective stripe on the side wall of the Marathons. A detail the Scorchers do not have.


Due to a lack of time [this is the last task I have before I hit the road to the arctic!] I’m not going to be able to go into a huge amount of detail about the Nexus 8 hub. So what I’ll do is provide you my feelings riding the 8 speed geared Tikit and the Seasons Tikit. I’ll also include some links you can follow to learn more about this hub.

Let me first say I had no complaints about the 8 speed geared drivetrain on my Tikit. It works well and hasn’t need a ton of maintenance. Even when I jumped aboard the Seasons Tikit I still thought no big deal the Nexus 8 hub works very well, but my older Tikit also performs nicely. Well to my surprise after using the Nexus 8 for several days I jumped back on my Tikit because I needed to use a bike with a rear rack and the shifting is nowhere near as crisp/quick or nice to use as the Nexus 8. I was a bit shocked frankly. I haven’t checked the numbers, but the gear range on the Season’s Tikit seems comparable to my Tikit and has been suitable for all my riding around town.

So what’s better about the Nexus 8?

  • light positive action on the shifter
  • fast shifts through as much of the gear range as you want in one motion
  • shifts at a stop
  • less maintenance [great for rain/winter riding]
  • less possibility of damage when folding and transporting
  • more compact chain line keeping you and stuff around you cleaner
How much better is the Nexus 8 than my stock Tikit’s drivetrain? Well not so great that I’d sell my older Tikit. It does indeed work quite well. However, the Nexus 8 is good enough that if I was starting from scratch I wouldn’t consider any other option for gearing. The geared hub and the Tikit are a perfect combo.

Nexus 8 Links:


The Seasons Tikit uses the same Tektro V-brakes and levers as my older Tikit. I find they perform quite well and are easy to maintain & setup. I’m still running the stock pads on both Tikits, but I’ll switch to the excellent Koolstop salmon coloured pads when it comes time to replace them. My biggest pet peeve with brakes is squealing and these brakes operate silently so they get a two thumbs up in my books.


The Seasons Tikit came equipped with fenders and the shower cap cover. I find the fenders indispensable for riding in the rain and wouldn’t own a Tikit without them. The combination of the small wheels and these fenders keeps me totally clean and dry when I’m bombing around town on wet streets. Due to this I usually grab my Tikit as I’m heading out the door into the rain. I haven’t used the shower cap very often simply because I don’t get onto crowded trains/buses much or have to smuggle my Tikit into office buildings. However, the few times I’ve used it I was really gad to have the cover attached to the bike and ready for action.

One accessory I really miss with the Seasons Tikit is the lack of the rear rack I have on my older Tikit. The rear rack stablizes the folded bike very well and proves useful for carrying all manner of cargo. When I told my friend Kurt I’d loan him the Seasons Tikit to commute with while I’m away touring in the arctic his first question was does it come with the rear rack. When I said no his next question was if he could could steal the rack off my Tikit while I was gone.

Season’s Tikit Chain Tension Adjustment

5 12 2008

How to adjust the Seasons Tikit's Chain

Click on image for enlarged view.

Thanks to my photo, Bike Friday’s know how and Charles Nagle’s gumption here is an illustrated synopsis of how to adjust the chain tension on your Bike Friday Seasons Tikit.  For those that don’t know it’s just a regular Tikit folding bike setup with a Nexus 8 IGH – a very nice combo!…=-)