Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Kickstand Dilemma + Gear update

Many people will make the argument that kickstands are just extra weight. Most people will just lean their bikes up against a pole, parking meter, tree, or whatever is around. Touring cyclists often just lay their bikes down. However I didn't want to go that route of having to lay my expensive Arkel GT-54 down in the mud and dirt. So I opted to get the Pletscher 2-legged kickstand.

A lot of people swear by this kickstand, I've read many rave reviews about it. However, despite my anticipation, I was disappointed as soon as I got it installed. The default bracket that comes with the kickstand was troubling. After reading the warnings of others about the installation of the stand on the Surly LHT I was being pretty careful. I wrapped the chain stays in inner tube and tried to mount it.

I had trouble getting it tight enough that the stand wouldn't move around, yet I was being careful not to over-tighten it and ruin my bike frame. I took it off temporarily and opted to order the "Deluxe Top Plate Bracket" from ThorUSA. This Bracket has rubber grommets and an anti-slip design. After I got this (which cost $10 and $17 to ship, blech) I tried to install it again. The bolt that came with it was not long enough, and the mounting system was clumsy. I took the lock washer off and the bolt was just long enough, and managed to get it on there. After fiddling with it I noticed this had happened to the inner tube.

The bottom part of the kickstand mount started cutting through the inner tube and zip-tie. And after removing the tube and ties I saw that it had started scratching into the powder coat (but luckily not all the way through).

I have two concerns: 1) That I won't tighted it enough and the kickstand will flick into my spokes causing disaster, 2) that I will tighten it too much and ruin my bike causing disaster. Because of these two things I have opted to get rid of the Pletscher 2-Legged kickstand and extra deluxe top plate. If anyone wants to buy it, comment and I'll shoot you an email. Just because I don't feel comfortable with it doesn't mean it's not a good stand, lots of people use it and are happy with it.

I have now decided to go with a much less intrusive, less heavy, more useful, and neater stand! The Click-Stand (ignore "touch for a close-up" stole from Click-Stand website).

It is made out of expedition quality aluminum tubing connected via elastic cord, much like tent poles. There are 4 different varieties made of 3 different tube diameters and each click-stand is custom made to fit your bike! The stand folds up to about 10" for the big one and about 6" for the smallest, and it holds your bike via the rubber coated cradle under your top tube, near your seat tube, and it only weighs about 100g.

People who own them rave about them. I'm planning on getting one as soon as I can sell the Pletscher. Along with the side mount that mounts the stand along side one of your water bottle cages.

I recently received some packages in the mail!
The first one I'll talk about is a DVD I ordered. The Cross Canada Project is a documentary made by and about Mike Beauchamp as he rode his bicycle across the country. It was a great watch! I highly recommend anybody who is thinking of touring for the first time to buy it, support a fellow cyclist and indie film maker.
I also recieved my Planet Bike HardCore Touring/Hybrid 45mm Fenders, 3 Topeak water bottle cages, and my 2 27oz and 1 18oz wide mouth Klean Kanteen bottles, all from REI is kind of like MEC but housed in the USA. They have a better selection than their Canadian counterpart, but the shipping to Canada is crazy expensive.

Here is the bike all decked out with it's new toys, overlooking Conception Bay South and Kelly's Island, as well as Little Bell Island.

I also have my Black Brooks B17 saddle on the way, along with a very ineteresting mini pump that is only 100g, the entire body is CNC machined aluminum, and it has a detachable hose that hides in the handle and actually screws onto presta and schrader valves.

Lots more stuff to buy for touring/camping, and I'll talk about it more when I get more stuff!

Don't forget if anyone is interested in buying a brand new, only used once outside Pletscher 2-legged kickstand, let me know! I would love to sell it.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First day of spring: Group Ride

Yesterday, I packed my Surly Long Haul Trucker in the trunk of my car, along with the Maviv CXP22 rims off of my Giant FCR2. Went to Harold's bike shop in the morning for my first attempt at wheel truing. After2.5 hours, I had one wheeled trued (probably needs to be checked by Harold too) and the second one started, however I had an event to attend at 3pm so I headed out.

I drove to Alanna's house where I parked my car and took out the Surly. I rode down to the lower Duck Pond of Bowring Park where a group of people from Ordinary Spokes were meeting up for a group ride. Only 7 people showed up, most likely due to the 1 degree celcius temperature and forecast of snow/rain mix we were supposed to get. Luckily the weather held off.

We rode from the duck pond at Bowring Park, to the top of Fort Amherst and back. It was my first group ride. I've went with one person before, but never with a group. It was interesting to see peoples different takes on cycling. Some that were way different than mine, and others that were not so much. Prime example: I was the only person with a pump and multi-tool on hand, not to mention one of the few with gears.

View First of Spring Group Ride in a larger map

Matt took some pretty nice pics of my Surly Long Haul Trucker at the old Fort, with Signal Hill in the background. Thanks Matt!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Night on the Town

I took the front rack off for now. Good thing is it's all set up for the right height, I just have to throw it back on with 4 bolts when I'm ready to tour. Also my camera sucks and I should probably try and use some sort of tripod.

I wanted to get a shot of her in the sunset over Conception Bay South (CBS) but was a little late getting on the road. Then I thought the city in the background lit up would be nice, but my camera always likes to give me a "Low Light" warning unless it's bright as mid day out.

Should be warm enough (and no more salt on the roads) for me to start commuting on the Surly LHT next week. I've been riding my folding bike on the hardpack and ice covered trail around a pond next to the University after my lunch break. Interesting experience in underbiking that is for sure. Good way to get 5 km in during the day. But decided to take the LHT out for an extra spin tonight when I got home.

I'm attending a group ride to ring in spring on Sunday, organized by a local bike collective, Ordinary Spokes.

Spring is in the air.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Addition! Welcome to folders.

I see a lot of people talking about folding bikes in the blogosphere. I've never saw a real use for myself personally. I have a fair amount of storage at my parents house to keep all bikes in sheds, or garages or stuffed in my room closet. I also have a big basement office to myself, a luxury few grad students have. I think it's just cause they forgot I'm down there alone. This leaves lots of room for me to bring my bike in there instead of locking it outside for 8 hours unattended on a big campus.

While recently perusing looking at bikes for a friend I cam across a crappy tire folding bike. I drove him to a store to get some bookshelves and we checked out the bike section. Just for giggles I asked to look at the folder. What a piece of junk. Especially for $200 or whatever it was. A drum brake in the rear? really?

Furthering my search for a cheap (but ideally decent bike) for my friend who is thinking of getting into cycling this summer I came across an ad.

FS: 20 in 6 speed folding bikes. $60 each.
(note he had the other one there too but has removed it since my purcahse).

"Is that a price tag?" I thought. So I called him up and went and looked at them this evening. They are Wal-mart or equivalent bikes but I figured, what the hell.

The gold one was kind of heavy and cheap feeling. Shifter, grips, quick releases all felt and looks like garbage.
The red one however... well, lets just say she is part of the fleet now.

The "Campus" folding bike. Couldn't find anything about it online. It had a Shimano Revo grip shifter, shimano cheap-o 6 speed derailleur and the rest it pretty no name. I spent the evening adjusting the brakes, the derailleur, and making sure everything was snug and comfortable. These bikes were BRAND NEW! He said he got them from some clearance sale at walmart or something. All I know is the cardboard price thingy was still inside the wheel and the thing looked like it had never been ridden.

$60 for a $189 bike ain't bad in my books (not to mention I managed to talk him into letting me take the rack off the other bike).

Coming full circle, I still don't see a "real" purpose for myself. For the sake of $60 I figured it would be neat to try a different type of bike. What I think I might do is keep this one in my office at university. If I ride into school on my Surly LHT or Giant FCR2 and want to leave and go out for the night. I wouldn't take either one of those out and leave it locked up around town for too long, so I can take the folder bring it inside with me where I go, so lock it up outside somewhere and if it gets stolen, meh it's only a cheap-o. Same thing if I get a drive in, bike is ready to buzz around town.

All in all I'm pretty pleased with it. Cheap, comfortable, compact, the front end is not real solid feeling but what can you do. Might even take it out for a buzz on my lunch break tomorrow.

What do you guys think? Good purchase? Or waste of money?

[EDIT:] All ready for commuting!

Lights, air horn, tool roll and bungies!
Also turns out my headset was loose. Tightened it and the front end feels MUCH better. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Homemade Retro Denim Tool Kit!

So after seeing my first Brooks B-17 saddle in person at Harold's (my LBS) the other day and seeing how funny my seat bag wedge looked on my Surly LHT, I started looking at alternative.

The brooks has two loops on the backside of it for old style English canvas bags. I've seen Jerome's Surly LHT a MILLION times. I asked him what the bag on the back of his seat was. His response started with "Glad you like it. You're gonna like's a tool roll." It is simply a piece of canvas with tools rolled into it and held on with old leather toe straps!

A while ago I cleaned out my pants drawer of old jeans with holes worn in the crotch or other places. I put them away so that I could recycle them into bags, or whatever I could think of! Perfect opportunity to try out my beginner sewing skills!

Just cut out a leg and sewed the edges to prevent raveling. I then cut off the read pocket and sewed it to the center of the tool wrap and that's it! I just took off the toe straps from my old toe clips and I'm done!

All I need now is my Brooks B-17...

Thanks Jerome!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Adventure on My Surly LHT

I couldn't stand it any longer.

I've been in a rotten funk at work/school. I've spent the last two months on cell design and construction... It's very tedious, lots of waiting around, and it is a general pain in the ass. This coupled with my regular winter blues, and not being able to ride my brand new sweet sweet Surly Long Haul Trucker due to road salt.

It has been raining here for the past couple of days. After a frustrating morning at work I decided that not only would I go for a bike ride, but I'm taking out the LHT. It's still fairly cold but today it was 4 degrees with low wind and I went up to see my LBS, Harold to grab a seat post I've been waiting on for my "winter beater" (aka my sit-in-the-garage bike). I bought a cheap pair of Giant cold weather gloves and chatted to him about various things for 2 hours or so.

At 3pm I came home and immediately started getting ready. The bike had not been ridden,and I haven't rode in while so all my accessories were all over the place. It was a foggy day so I definitely wanted my horn and lights on. After swapping over the lights, horn, a water bottle cage, and getting all my clothes on I was off!

I around my old elementary school and up a new fancy housing development on top of Topsail Mountain. Even though my camera is junk I think I got a couple of neat shots! I didn't want to bother with taking my fenders off of my Giant FCR 2 due to how long it would take me to swap them. I also wasn't sure if they would fit the wider 37mm tires on the LHT. Anyway needless to say I and my steed got wet!

I tried to go further on the bluff, but it turned to a dirt road. I attempted it, very willing to get dirty, however that dirt road is a mud road right now due to all the run off. Needless to say I didn't get very far.

I turned back down the hill and got back to the main drag. Left to go home, right to go home THE LONG WAY. I choose the latter. Went out to Topsail Road and up Paradise Road back to the main drag and all the way downhill to home. Until my street of course which is a huge steep hill which I live at the top of.

After reaching home, took her out back and ran her under lots of water, rinsing off mud and any possible salt that might have been left on the roads. She is currently drying off in the basement.

Well, first impressions:
The guy from Palm Beach Bike Tours is right, the Surly Long Haul Trucker is a Peterbilt not a Ferrari . It's not a fast bike, but I don't think it is as slow as everyone says it is. If you want a fast bike go buy a $5000 carbon bike. This thing just took the road. I didn't have to work overly hard, it just kept on trucking (pun intended). I had to climb some serious hills and with the low gearing of the LHT they were a piece of cake. I was a little concerned how I would adapt to the drop bars and bar-end shifting (especially the friction shifting of the front derailleur). However the down tubes were okay, I might need to adjust them a little. The bar-end shifters worked like a charm I didn't have to fiddle with them at all!

All in all, I'm SUPER stoked for the summer to put some serious miles on this bike. I'm glad I got to work out my frustrations and finally get to test my trucker all in one day....ahhhhhhhh that feels better.