Tag Archives: Commuting

Dark so early? Time to buy new lights #cycling @bike24net

In the UK we’ve just lost British Summer Time daylight saving and my gosh did I notice the loss of daylight, that hour really did change my commute home. I love riding in the dark provided I’ve got adequate lighting, but my main light is no longer good enough and my spare is just about usable, so it was time to replace them.

Most of the lights I looked at were massively expensive, powerful and put more light on the sky than on the road.

In September 2012 I bought a hub dynamo and a Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ Fly RT front light from bike24.com. I like the light, it’s courteous to other road users and efficiently puts light on the road while still making me very visible, so I wanted something similar but with a bit more power.

Fortunately Busch & Müller now have a more powerful dynamo light and a very good battery light that don’t break the bank, even with the awful pound to euro exchange rate.

So I’ve ordered them from bike24.com:

Busch + Müller Lumotec IQ-X LED Front Light – 164RTSNDI-01
(http://en.bumm.de/products/dynamo-headlights/lumotec-iq-x.html)

Busch + Müller IXON IQ Premium LED Front Light Set – 1922QMLA
(http://en.bumm.de/produkte/akku-scheinwerfer/ixon-iq.html)

There aren’t such good reviews of the IXON IQ, apparently it breaks easily, well, I’ll just have to be careful with it 🙂

Fingers crossed they both arrive safely and work as well as I hope they do, it’d be nice to have something that lasts another 4 years without any issues, the cheap lights on Amazon etc won’t that’s for sure.

The weather has also become cold too, it’s only the start of November and I’m already in my winter jacket and gloves!

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Time for a change of setup #cycling

For a long time now I’ve commuted with a pannier (office) bag and a bar bag. These have worked really well, especially on 18.5 miles commutes verses a rucksack on my back which put too much pressure on my body. The bar bag was a useful place to keep keys and valuables as well as my front light battery pack. I also didn’t like a sweaty-rucksack-back on hot days.

I see a lot of commuters with rucksacks and my bags are starting to show their age, so I decided to try a rucksack for a week before investing in new ones. My commute for some time has been a lot less than when I started with this setup, but I kept the same setup. Currently my commute is only 12.5 miles and the weather was hot, so it felt like a good time to try.

After a couple of weeks at 12.5 miles I can confirm:

  • One bag is better than two; carrying two bags around is more hassle
  • A rucksack is an easy bag to carry
  • Clipping bags on and off wastes time
  • A bar bag makes it difficult to fit a front light (or a second in my case), I have to have an accessory bar hanging the light below the bag
  • Luggage on the bike does seem to weigh the rear end down
  • On hot days you get a very sweaty back with or without a rucksack, so it doesn’t make much of a difference
  • A rucksack is lighter, no rack is required either
  • A rucksack is cheaper
  • A rucksack doesn’t require fitting stuff to my bike or replacing it once it is worn out or breaks

The flip side is that for longer commutes I’d still probably want to mount the bag on the bike, but I think I’d try and wean myself off the bar bag. Besides, I’m not looking to commute any more than 12.5 miles 🙂

My chain was getting worn, so I cleaned up bluebell, removed the rack, bar bag mount and accessory bar and set her up:

She’s a little more lively but still heavy, the rucksack is working well and I can always put the rack back on, it’s only 4 hex socket cap bolts after all. (Yes, that is a ~960g rear tyre, well spotted – once worn out I will replace with something a little lighter)

One day I might even fit the drop bars that my first Thorn Raven came with, but there’s other maintenance I need to do on here at some point before then.

Happy riding.

New job means a new route #cycling #work

Today I celebrated the New Year with a test ride to the office I will be working at from Monday.

From the main roads there’s a choice of lanes or the horse poo covered tracks that take you over a lovely little bridge:

  

Which is over a little river that winds its way around the office, underneath the access road and another office:

  
From the road you go over the access bridge:

  
Around the back of the office:

  
And into the rack  

   
Notice the map (google maps print out) on top of my bar bag, no fancy gadgets for Christmas, not even a proper map!

Bluebell has a nice view from her parking space:

  
Much nicer than an underground car park.

The new route is 12.5 miles, longer than my previous normal route which was 8 miles, but less than the crazy mileage I did before that.

Blown it all #cycling

Though it is windy outside, I am not talking about the weather this time.

2015 was a controlled year so far, very little spending (buying my wife a cheap bike in the summer does not count), then… Black Friday happened.

Wiggle.co.uk had (still have at time of writing) £40 off when you spend £200 on clothing and helmets. I had no intention of buying:

  • 2 long sleeve jerseys
  • 2 pairs of long fingered gloves
  • 2 pairs of mitts
  • 2 summer jerseys
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • cycle shoes and cleats

I did intend on buying

  • 1 long sleeve jersey (only if the price was right)
  • 1 pair of long fingered gloves
  • 1 pair of winter gloves

The long sleeve jerseys were half the price of my original, which I paid £45 for in January 2011. Sure I never bought a second because it wasn’t worth that money, I’ve been using a gilet and arm warmers when the jersey is in the wash. But at half the price I bought two and the gilet and arm warmer faff will be over.

The summer jerseys and shorts were cheap, my shorts are a bit hole-ridden (LOL) so I couldn’t turn them down.

Shoes? Yeah! I will be a proper cyclist now, no more tramp shoes for me baby! Sure, I used to look at tramps (who always wore better shoes than my cycling shoes) and wondered if they cycled.

So anyway, I easily spent over £200 and I never did get the winter gloves.

It has still been a free hobby (offset by commuting), cheaper than running a second car, cheaper than any other way of getting to work and good for my health. No, I won’t mention the dog poo fiasco of last week, I’m only going to blog about the good things, not about getting covered in it.

After weeks of waiting, I finally fix up bluebell #cycling

For this I needed a new crank puller (a.k.a. extractor, Park Tool CCP-22):20130511-105542.jpg
And a new crankset (unbranded):20130511-105612.jpg
The crankset was recommended as the current replacement by SJS. Replacing the chainrings with the single chainring I already had on the old crankset.
The crank puller seems OK, though I don’t rate it above my last one, maybe equal to it. Anyway it worked twice which is all I needed. Important is to always remember to grease both threads and the tip of it, since the tip will be grinding against metal.
Here’s one side done, baby started crying that was all I managed that evening:20130511-151649.jpg
It’s also worth noting that I grease the bottom bracket axle before putting the new crank on, grease the crank bolt and give it a good tighten if you want it to remain in place. Greasing the axle is meant to decrease the corrosion that can happen between the steel axle and the alloy crank. Similarly greasing pedal threads is a must, which i forgot last time, hence the beginning of the problems I had. There are those that disagree which bits to grease, I sometimes change my mind, but I’ve had more problems by not greasing than by greasing.
After removing the RHS crank I need to swap the chainrings from new to old:20130511-153459.jpg
He’s the finished result:20130511-153521.jpg
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The hawk eyed reader will note that my chainring is not reversible and is getting on in age (miles), when the teeth are like razor blades I’ll swap it, a derailleur setup would need this replacing already, my chain is 1% worn according to my chain wear indicator, I’ll replace that at nearer 2% probably, again derailleur owners would need to replace now.
The finished RHS:20130511-154408.jpg
While I was shopping for the above I also bought a saddle, Maddison Prime:20130511-154815.jpg
Here’s it fitted, note the road profile of it and the fancy ruler for elite setup:20130511-154824.jpg
I just stick it in the middle, angle the nose up a tiny fraction and that’s fine. Maybe I’ll fiddle with it in future, but I tend not to notice much difference. It’s definitely harder than my last saddle, but doesn’t seem to bother me yet as my cycling distances are tiny now I work closer to home and have a baby that takes up my cycling time.
That was that for that night, the next evening I did an oil change and tightened my mudguard bolts (Surrey roads rattle them loose). Next morning I’m all set for commuting again:
20130511-155642.jpg20130511-155659.jpg
What a lovely steel machine she is.

More #snow on the ride home #cycling

The brakes got clogged (still worked though!):
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Good job there’s no room for my mudguards on Bluebell with the winter tyres.

The Rohloff was unaffected (as you’d expect):
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This round of snow is the wet kind, last Friday’s snow was the dry powdery kind. So I was pretty damn when I got in, but I love it.

Back to the Nexus for a while #cycling

My rear wheel has been feeling a bit wobbily recently as the spokes needed retuning, the rim was very worn so I was already in the process of getting quotes for a rebuild when I noticed this:
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Without the flash if this is any better?
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So that split has forced my hand, I’ve cut 32 spokes and boxed up the Rohloff for postage to SJS cycles to rebuild it. Evans wheel builder hasn’t heard of Rohloff, what??? Local bike shop builder was going to source parts from SJS anyway and would cost more! Anyway that aside, man is it difficult to cut 32 plain gauge spokes, my hands were really sore by the end of it.
With no other option, I kitted out the Nexus bike
20121109-220737.jpg
Nearly forgot the mirror….
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No time to transfer the Ergon grips, they will have to wait till tonight.