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When life gets a little stressful, I often find it therapeutic to set aside a little time to work on bikes. This afternoon, I took advantage of a break in the cold weather to do a little cleaning of the two bikes I have been riding this winter. I’m going to be overly optimistic in calling this a “mid winter thaw”, as it was a brutally cold couple of weeks from about Xmas up to a couple of weeks ago, and it’s not quite the end of January.

I put studded tires on the Haul a Day for the first time this winter, with a little assist from buddy Tim. You can see that it’s looking a little rough now.

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The chain looks especially bad, even though a quick wipe shows that it is not as rusted as it appears.

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My Norco doesn’t look nearly as bad, even though it is my regular winter ride.

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In particular, you can see that the stainless chain I put on it two seasons ago is doing well.

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Before I put a coat of Chain L on it,

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I wipe off some of the grime.

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You can see the strings of oil after application, while running the chain backwards.

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and here’s a video. This stuff is tenacious.

 

Back to the Haul a Day. Here it is after a little clean up. I also wanted to make sure that I cleaned up the rear disc brake caliper as I’ve gone through two avid units that have seized due to corrosion due to being on the rear of long tails where they are out of sight, out of mind. The rear caliper on the HaD was replaced this summer after about two years.

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The other odd thing about the HaD was that in the two weeks after I put on the studded tires, I got a flat on both the front and the rear on two separate days.

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The second flat was particularly bad as I was out and about, and it was bitterly cold. The picture above was the only one that I got since my hands were freezing, and my phone was almost dead from the cold.

There was a little chatter on the internet claiming that the 406 size of Schwalbe Winter Marathons can be prone to flats due to the studs coming through the inner surface of the tire. I don’t know why I got those flats. It could have been a combination of using very wide tubes, and inflating the tires to 45 psi (which is still below what I would use with the summer tires).  Just in case, I decided to install some Mr Tuffy tire liners.

Here you can see that there is no evidence of the studs coming through the casing.

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Mr. Tuffy installed.

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The final touch was to replace the well worn seat cover that I got from Bike Law.

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I brought over the waxed canvas seat cover from the pink bike, made by Randi Jo Fabrications. It was the last of the Tarik Saleh editions.  The seat cover is great since it has a flap that protects the underside of the seat as well. (not necessary with fenders, but a nice touch nonetheless.)

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All set for the rest of winter. It’s not going to snow anymore is it?

 

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So we’ve been dealing with unseasonably cold weather for the past couple of weeks, just like most of North America. This has been an opportunity for me to reevaluate some of my clothing choices for bike commuting, when the nominal temps have been between -15°C and -20°C. My commute is about 9 km, meaning about 30 minutes in normal weather, and 40 minutes when it is colder.

Last week, I used ski goggles while biking for the first time ever, even though it was only about -20°C.

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The googles were definitely overkill in the morning (at -20°C), but they were great the same evening, when I was biking into a bitterly cold headwind. Another plus was that they reduced the amount of fogging that I typically get when I have the balaclava covering my mouth. However, I didn’t like the tinted lenses reducing my night vision. I’ll probably only be using them when it is very cold and windy.

My more typical headgear for winter riding is this, without the goggles:

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Wool balaclava.

My favourite is now the one by Trew, which is constructed so that it is easy to pull down the lower half when I don’t want my face covered. It also is made of what they call Nuyarn, which has a synthetic core covered by wool, and I think that it is holding up to washing better than my pure wool balaclavas.

Earflaps

They look a bit puffy right now because I am actually using them to stretch over a pair of Cat ears.

Visor

the velcro taps on the helmet are for a velcro mounted visor.

In terms of clothing, I’ve been wearing the following:

Top:

wool T shirt, then a specialized thermal jersey, and my Proviz jersey.IMG_7672

Bottom:

Either my Makers and Riders winter pants, or my new Swvre blue pants. I think that the M&R pants are marginally warmer, probably because they seem to block the wind better. Note that the M&R pants would be way too warm if it is -10°C or above.

Footwear:

thick wool socks and light winter boots on flat pedals.

Hands:

Here is where it seems like my past winning combination of ski gloves and pogies just isn’t hacking it this year. Perhaps this is because the insulation in the gloves has gone downhill after about six years of use. Perhaps it is because I’m getting old.

Inspired by someone on the Toronto Cycling FB page, I broke down and got a pair of snowmobile mitts from Canadian Tire.IMG_7678 $33 after tax. Nothing fancy, but the kept my hands toasty warm for about 40 minutes of riding. At the end of my ride, the tips of my thumbs were a bit cold, but my fingers were fine. No problems braking or shifting. I could see my hands getting very sweaty in these above -10°C.

One last thing: the shock cord that holds up the kickstand on my Haul a Day is sagging in the cold, and I’ve had to effectively shorten it by moving the actor hook. This picture will only make sense to HaD owners.

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Note to self: must clean up all the salt off this bike in the spring.

Now that I’m all set for the bitter cold, of course it’s going to warm up this week.

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After my recent acquisition of a Brompton, I started to think that perhaps I had too many folding bikes. Here are three of them, not counting the Dahon that I have stashed in Vancouver.

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So the obvious thing was to put the Tikit up for sale (and I will still do that), but in the meantime there was some chatter on FB about someone with their apartment eliminating indoor bike parking, and so needing a folding bike……and ideally one with disc brakes.  Suddenly I had an opportunity to give my PBW a good home.

Here it is, packed up and ready to be hauled downtown. A few extra parts, like the fenders, a wheel with a spare Alfine 8 spd hub, and a 24h 406 rim to match.

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Amusingly, on the way in, I catch the tail end of the Santa Claus parade. Santa actually saw me, and said “now THAT’s a bike!”.

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On a separate trip I also took in the suitcase that I used with it, bearing stickers from some of the adventures that I had with the PBW. The Illini sticker was from a trip where I was riding in past some corn fields in Hawkins IN Urbana IL, and four kids rode by on their BMX’s and said “cool bike!”.

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I’ve had some good rides with the PBW. It was custom made for me about sixteen years ago by Hugh in Chico California. He no longer builds, and is now a recumbent dealer. The long term plan was to rebuild it with the Alfine hub, but now both the bike and the rebuild project has been passed onto the new proud owner: Victor ex-Aerovelo, ex-HPVDT and all around good guy (and mad scientist).

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I’m glad I found a good home for the bike.

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Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 3.04.23 AMThe Bloor bike lane pilot project was installed last summer to some fanfare. This fall, City Council will consider whether or not to make them permanent. It has been stated from the beginning by the Mayor that the decision on whether to keep them will be data driven, and indeed there has been an unprecedented amount of study done on the bike lanes, including traffic counts, and various measures of economic impact. The first hurdle for the bike lanes is the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) meeting on October 18, and as that date approaches, both advocates and opponents of the bike lane are gearing up.

Yesterday’s CBC news had an article that mentioned some of the lobbying for and against. One of the issues that is always brought up is the question of how many cyclists are using the bike lane. Councillor Mammolitti was quoted as saying he wants a list of names of those riding in the lanes.

“I think that it’s the same people that just keep going in a circle just to be counted,” he said at the Sept. 19 public works meeting.

In addition, Denzil Minnan-Wong tweeted the following:

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in response to an article in the Toronto Star that said that the Bloor bike lanes are increasing the number of cyclists.  Unfortunately, both Minnan-Wong and Mammolitti are on PWIC. (Correction: D M-W is no longer on PWIC, but one can anticipate that Stephen Holiday will vote the same way that D M-W would.)

The city has cited a number of 4500 cyclists a day using the bike lanes, whereas various counts done by citizen groups such as Bells on Bloor and Cycle Toronto have come up with higher numbers.

Over the last week, 20 Bells on Bloor volunteers analyzed a video record of cyclists on Bloor at about Brunswick Ave, and for the first time, a full 24 hour count was done over five consecutive weekdays.

The results are in and the data show that over 6000 cyclists use the Bloor Bike Lanes on weekdays. A slightly deeper dive into the data shows some interesting trends. Here is a chart of the hourly variation, averaged over the five days.

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You can see that at the peak periods, there are over 600 cyclists an hour that pass by this point. Additionally during the entire daylight period, the minimum number of cyclists is over 200 an hour.

As one of the volunteers in the video analysis, I was assigned 6 am to 10 am on one of the days, and I was amused to see myself pass by during my commute. ( I was running a bit late that morning).

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The other things I noticed during the four hours:

  • I saw 12 total cargo bikes or bikes with trailers (including myself) (out of about 1400 bikes)
  • I only saw 5 sidewalk cyclists. I don’t have any data on whether this is a decrease from before the bike lanes were installed, but the number was lower than I expected.

The complete press release is here

BellsonBloor Bike Count Media Release FINAL Sept 28, 2017

and here is a sample video segment.

Metro News Coverage

Update: a great piece on iBikeTO by fellow blogger Herb.

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It’s been two years and four months since I got my Bike Friday Haul a Day. In that time, it has been my second most used bike, with just over 5000 km logged in just over 800 separate rides. It was time to tweak things a bit since two things were starting to annoy me.

First, the rubber feet that I put on the kickstand were worn out. I had put some Tygon tubing on the kickstand a while back (any 5/8″ ID tubing will do) and it lasted a surprisingly long time.

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I replaced it with thicker wall tubing with some kind of woven reinforcement. Thick rubber tubing would have been even better, but I’m stuck with what I can find at the local hardware.

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Note that it is better to leave a bit of the tubing extending past the kickstand feet. The tubing has less of a tendency to slide up the leg that way. In any case, any kind of tubing lasts way longer than any of the rubber end caps that I’ve tried.

The second more serious issue is that with the front rack and basket combination, over time there has been some stress on the brake cables by having the rear part of the basket pushing on them, and they have been bent just where they exit the lever. This hasn’t been a problem functionally, but it could lead to a problem in the long run.

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Here is the front brake cable housing.

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I decided to use V brake noodles to have the brake cables make a clean 90° bend just after the lever. Note that I figured out that it was better to reverse the way the cable goes through the noodle (this entails reversing the internal plastic sleeve).

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Front lever done.

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Now both done. The basket now puts much less pressure on the rear brake cable, and the front cable misses it entirely.

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Note that I bought new cable housing and a tandem length brake cable from the LBS to do this, but it turns out that since I was shortening the cable housing by the length of the noodles, I ended up using both the original housings and the cables as well.

I’ll post an update if I see any downside to this new setup.

 

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Tonight was the second in a series of evening concerts put on by the Bicycle Music Festival, leading up to their main event on September 10. Cycle Toronto organized a ride from downtown to Taylor Creek Park.

Here we are in Asquith Green Park, just a block north of Bloor and Church.  Sam gets us organized.

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Here we go down Rosedale Valley Rd.

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Now north on Bayview Ave. It’s nice to have that solid guard rail between us and traffic.

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Tunnel of trees.

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Waiting for the Go Train to pass.

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A brief water break at “the elephants”.

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Caitlin of the Bicycle Music Festival provided the tunes during our ride.

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Keagan just after she called in to say that we were going to arrive a little late.

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and we’re here. Volunteers from Arts in the Parks show us where to turn.

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Tonight’s band was Yuka, who laid down smooth Motown style grooves. I really wished that we had been able to provide a bigger crowd, but my guess is that a lot of people were scared off by the weather forecast of possible afternoon thundershowers.

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Power for the sound system provided by bike, naturally. Note that the Yuba Mundo ridden by Caitlin is being put to work.

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Riders had to keep the generated voltage within a certain range, as shown by the small meter.

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A big thanks to YUKA, the Bicycle Music Festival, Cycle Toronto, and Arts in the Parks.

The next Sunset Series bike ride / concert is on August 15, with another following on August 29. All the infomation is at the Bicycle Music Festival website.

 

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This past weekend, I was able to make a return visit to G&O Family Cyclery, Seattle’s specialist cargo bike and family bike dealer. Since my visit two years ago. the shop burned to the ground, and was finally back up in a new place about a block north of the old location.

The new store is significantly more spacious than the prior location.

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In the front window, I could see the newly updated model of the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and a Reise and Muller cargobike that I didn’t recognize.

Once again, stepping inside, I’m in cargo bike heaven, with lots to gawk at. The red Bullitt with the custom wood box was being picked up by an excited customer.

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Here is a customer’s Family Tandem, just like ours, but with lots of nice additions, like a BionX motor, rear moose rack for a Burley Piccolo, double legged kickstand, a sprung Brooks saddle, and grip king pedals.

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A tern folder with the integrated Bosch e-assist, in front of a variety of Reise and Muller e-bikes.

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The latest version of the Yuba Spicy Curry, which I was told had a much better  e-assist than earlier versions.

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The frame mount for a front basket on the new Xtracycle Swoop.

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A Yuba stride bike with a front basket and very cute colour scheme.

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Carsick Design sling bags with a custom logo.

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The pièce de résistance: a Butcher and Bicycles tilting trike. I absolutely had to try it.

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Co-owner Davey Oil was very gracious and explained a couple of things about it before I took it for a test ride. This pictures shows the only time during my visit where he didn’t have a smile on his face.

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Riding the tilting trike was fascinating. I was advised that at low speed, it steers like a normal trike, where the tilting feature is almost irrelevant, but above about 15 miles an hour is where it makes a transition to the feel of a two wheeler. In truth, with my unfamiliarity with the combination of the tilting, the Bosch e-assist, and the NuVinci transmission, riding it was like ten minutes of full sensory overload. While I never got a chance to be fully comfortable with the starting, on a short downhill stretch I got the feel of the tilting, where it steered just as stably as a (two wheeled) bakfiets. Davey said that aside from its superior high speed stability, it was a bike particularly suited to parents with children with developmental difficulties, where the ease of loading passengers with the opening front panel was a big factor in its favour.

Davey was very kind letting me pick his brain about the cargo bike scene in Seattle. I noted the fact that e-assist seemed to be a much bigger part of their inventory, and he emphasized that for Seattle, not only was e-assist very helpful, but high speed stability was equally important for all the downhills. I neglected to take pictures of the one lonely Haul a Day on the shop floor, but he pointed out that it was the model with the heavy duty frame (“Haula Abdul”), and that they had a custom component spec that was much more suited to local conditions. Much of the feedback to Bike Friday in developing the heavy duty model came from G&O.

He also pointed out some of the features of the new Xtracycle Swoop, in particular the thru axle front fork that makes it much more stiff, as well as eliminating the possibility of front wheel ejection while using the disk brake.

The other bike that he spent some time discussing was the Reise and Muller Load which is the darker blue bike in the first picture. He said that the combination of the stiff frame and dual suspension was a revelation, and that the resulting high speed stability made it an ideal bike for Seattle’s hills, despite its somewhat limited cargo capacity.

Once again, I’d say that Seattleites are very fortunate to have a shop like G&O that not only has a comprehensive selection of cargo bikes, but even more importantly has the expertise to advise customers on the very best bike/trike for their needs.

Side note: on my way to and from the shop, I was able to check out the newly painted 92nd St bike lane, and I liked the fact that it had green paint at every cross street.

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