Archive for the ‘Cargobikes’ Category

I started having an issue with my cargo bike where the chain would come off of the chainring when I pushed hard on the pedals. This was especially inconvenient when I would be doing something like a Toronto Bike Brigade delivery,

or hauling a 7 foot Ikea bookcase.

One thought that I had was that the chainring was getting pretty shark toothed. Time to replace the chainring. When you don’t have a pin wrench, you improvise.

Digging through my toolbox, I was pleased to find my old crank remover.

Interestingly enough, the wear on the chainring was most severe at 90° out of phase with the crank arms, i.e. pulling on the chain with the cranks in the horizontal position.

Here is where things went wrong. I had the took to prevent the chainring bolt nuts from turning

but much as I tried, I could not get 3 of the five chainring bolts undone. This is what multiple winters of salt does to a crankset.

Plan B: I happened to have a spare Alfine crankset with integral BB. Perfect since I noticed that my current BB had a bit of play.

Not having all the right tools to deal with the BB, I had master mechanic Geoffrey do the BB replacement and crankset installation.

Very nice.

As a bonus, this particular crankset has a double sided chain guard.

I can’t really complain. Today was ride #1200 on the Haul a Day, with over 12K km, so it was high time that I gave it a little TLC.

Also nice to spend some time with Geoffrey while not on a ghost bike ride.

Keep on trucking’ folks.

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The Errandonnee is a fun biking based activity that has been running for a couple of years. Basically you have to do 12 errands over a 12 day period, using the following categories: (from the website)


Below are the 9 Errandonnee categories in order for you to plan your Errandonnee:

  1. Discovery (See something new while you’re out and about!)
  2. Helping Hand (This can be however you define it – helping a person, helping the environment, you get the idea)
  3. History Lesson
  4. Non-Store Errand
  5. Personal Business
  6. Personal Care
  7. Public Art
  8. You carried WHAT?!
  9. Wild Card (Any trip that does not fall into any of the above categories. Surprise me!)

There are a couple of other rules. You are also encouraged to document your activities on social media, and you can also apply for a prize that will be mailed to you for a fee. There is a facebook page if you want to see what others are doing.

I decided to start yesterday. On day one, I did a loop around Etobicoke, and on the way back I realized that I was close to Sandown Market which is our go to place for Japanese groceries, so I dropped by to pick up a few items. Granted my handlebar bag didn’t fit too much more stuff so I limited what I bought. The proprietor was amused that I had arrived by bike. I put this activity in category #5: personal business.

On the way home, I also decided to drop by High Park and sure enough the cherry blossoms had been fenced off already. I counted this as #4 (non-store errand).

Today I wanted to pack a few more errands in. Here is public art (#7).

This is right across the street from Robarts, and you can see that the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

I also did some deliveries for the Bike Brigade, so I counted that as a combination of #2 (helping hand) and #8 (you carried what?)

Finally I picked up some new glasses which I counted as #6 (personal care).

That makes a total of six errands thus far, over two days and 75 km. Ten days to go.

I’m not allowed to use any of the categories more than twice so I’ll have to do some planning over the next week.

This is a fun way to promote utility cycling. I’d encourage everyone to visit the website to find out all of the details. You can choose any 12 day period until the end of June. A heck of a lot easier than a Randonnée.

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What better way to close out a year of biking than doing another delivery with the Bike Brigade? This one was a bit different for me. The pick up point was a church on Roncesvalles, and we were to travel as a convoy to deliver 18 food hampers to a food bank storage unit in Parkdale. Here we are at the start point.

Two Bike Friday Haul a Days on this ride.

Off we go.

Waiting to cross Lansdowne at Seaforth.

Phoning to see exactly where the drop off point is.

Mission accomplished.

Nice to see some of the usual suspects, along with some new friends.

For me, that makes 14 deliveries for the Bike Brigade for the year. I don’t have an exact count of the number of boxes, but my loads varied from 3 to 7 boxes, with the average probably a little over four per trip. The Bike Brigade supports many worthy causes, and for me these rides are also a nice opportunity to meet like minded utility cyclists.

Update: according to their stats, I delivered 63 boxes, placing me at #7 on their volunteer list for 2020.

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It’s Tuesday evening, and what better thing to do before the first Presidential debate than to deliver some food boxes. Here is David, Majordomo of the Bike Brigade beside my payload for the evening.

Nice to see Derek Chadbourne. I should have asked him to pose with eyes open.

On my way.

One of the things that I like about doing these deliveries is that I get to discover parts of downtown that I’ve never seen before. Tonight I went to some social housing tucked in close to Queen’s Quay, as well as a condo with a concierge. The last deliveries gave me a bit of a taste of what it is like to try to maintain social distancing in a high rise with a microscopic foyer.

It’ll be interesting to see how much longer the Bike Brigade will continue this season. With the shorter days, my ride home was in the dark. On the other hand, it is always peaceful to ride the city at night.

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Yesterday, I passed 10,000 km logged on the Haul a Day. Appropriately enough, I passed this milestone while doing some more deliveries as part of the Toronto Bike Brigade. Here I am loading up last night, along with first time rider Todd who managed to cram 5 boxes of food into his Wike trailer.

(Update: Todd’s account of the evening’s deliveries is here.)

photo credit: the Biking Lawyer

Mine was an early model that was released during the kickstarter campaign. I took delivery of it in April 2015, so it has been a little over five years. About 1600 rides which makes it my second most ridden bike, behind my regular (non winter) commuter. It was a replacement for my xtracycle, and the timing was such that my kid hauling days were mostly over, the girls having outgrown riding on the back of dad’s bike.

photo: D. Guthrie.

On the other hand, our dog Lucy still loves to go on rides.

Did I mention that the two of us were once in a music video?

The Haul a Day is now my default grocery getter.

I’ve also used it to tow other bikes around

to do a little political advertising

to provide ride support at the Ride for Heart

photo: T. Potter

and to haul a ghost bike.

In all that time, the bike has held up pretty well. I’ve replaced a couple of things that were severely corroded (since I still use it for shopping in the winter), such as the kickstand, and the rear disc brake. A few other items fall into the realm of routine maintenance, such as a new chain. I also added front dynamo lighting. Also I should mention the carsick bags.

My latest addition has been a soft bottle holder by Revelate Designs which has been essential for the hot weather we’ve been having.

You can find cheaper equivalents elsewhere, but I am a fan of supporting vendors in Canada or the US whenever possible. I have a similar bag by Randi Jo Fabrications on my Brompton.

Is the Haul a Day still the best longtail out there? Well there are certainly a lot of alternatives out there now. Still, it is one of the lightest longtails out there, and there is the bonus that you are supporting a small company that builds their bikes in the US. You can count me as a very satisfied customer.

Cargobikes rock.

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A 52 year old female cyclist was struck and killed on Tuesday, June 23 while crossing an onramp to the QEW from Third Line in Oakville. She has subsequently been identified as Helen Xiang.

Today we installed a ghost bike at the crash site.

The ride starts at Bronte GO station.

Joey and I start the short ride to the Third Line overpass.

Lots of high speed traffic at the crash site.

Others had already placed flowers here.

Joey holding the lock.

I’ve installed flowers on the bike.

photo: J. Schwartz

We decided to place the bike off to the side of the offramp. It would definitely have been more visible just underneath the large green sign, but there was some concern about it being removed by the city as a potential obstruction for people trying to cross the very onramp where the cyclist was killed.

During COVID-19 it is difficult to do a regular memorial ride with social distancing. ARC has been installing ghost bikes without prior notice, but with the permission of the families when it can be obtained.

Many thanks to Geoffrey Becarich for providing the ghost bike, and to Joey for being very patient with me during the long ride back from Oakville. Of course we had headwinds all the way back.

Postscript: off for another Tuesday night delivery run with the Toronto Bike Brigade, on behalf of #FoodshareTO and in support of #notanotherblacklife.

photo: D. Shellnutt

I must say that the cargo bike just flies after I finish dropping off the seven boxes of produce. I did get myself a little reward on the way home.

On the other hand, this last stop brought home to me the income disparity between parts of Alexandra Park, and just a short bike ride away, Trinity Bellwoods.

Ride safe everyone!

Update: the victim has been identified as Helen Xiang.

Update #2: no charges will be laid in this case.

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The beautiful weather brings out lots of cyclists. I was running a few deliveries tonight for the Toronto Bike Brigade, in support of #foodshareTO and #notanotherblacklife. Here is the pickup point at the Biking Lawyer’s office.

All loaded up.

Off I go.

On Dundas St, I run into this nattily dressed gentleman, and couldn’t resist stopping for a chat. Martin was riding a Bridgestone Moulton, which is a pretty rare bike.

On the way home, I also saw someone riding a Pedersen, but I didn’t get a picture. Can’t be too many of those in town either.

Thanks to David Shellnut and FoodshareTO for organizing the food drop offs.

Ride safe everyone!

Update: David posted some photos here.

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It’s been almost exactly five years since I first got my Haul a Day. In that time, it has logged over 1500 rides, and just shy of 9,500 km, making it one of my most used bikes, second only to my regular commuter bike. Over the past winter, I noticed that the kickstand was in pretty bad shape, so I took the precaution of ordering a replacement from Bike Friday. I installed it late last week.

Here is a picture of the old kickstand. Note that I should be better at keeping my bikes clean, especially those that I ride in the winter. You can see that two of the mounting bolts have sheared off, which accounts for why it is so wobbly now.

All of the hardware was in pretty bad shape.

Here is the shiny new kickstand.

Some facebook chatter indicated that the kickstand design was improved, but I didn’t see much difference between the old and the new. Perhaps the arms on the new one are a bit longer. Also, my first kickstand was very early, and so the rubber stop was a retrofit item.

While I had the kickstand off, I decided to replace the plastic that I was using to extend the front of the rear fender.

I replaced it with a wide mudflap from SKS. This was a trick I learned from fellow Toronto HaD owner Boris. You can order these from ThorUSA.

Here it is after installation. I had to trim one side of it to clear the chain.

I also decided not to reuse the stainless steel legs that I had made for the old kickstand, since they were a bit shorter than the replacement legs.

All done

From experience, I knew that the silly rubber caps on the legs wouldn’t last very long, and sure enough, one of them was gone after a couple of rides.

Nothing that a bit of 5/8″ ID tubing can’t fix.

I’ll try to keep a better eye on the underside of my bike so that the kickstand will last longer than the last one.

Under new guidelines from the province, we are now advised to consolidate our grocery shopping to one weekly trip. This is what one week’s groceries looks like. I’m grateful for the stability of the new kickstand.

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As a prelude to RSVP, I had to make my way to Seattle. The plan was to fly into Vancouver, and then to take a bus down to Seattle. The Brompton would fly in a hard case, and then I would take it on the bus with a soft bag from Radical Designs. Here I am waiting for the UP Express on the way to Pearson.

Skipping a few steps, here is the Brompton on the way to the airport on the Canada Line.

Even though the Radical bag has a shoulder strap, I found that the easiest way to carry the bike was to put the regular handles over my shoulder, drape my arm over the bag, and to support the bike from underneath by grabbing the rack.

I’ve arrived in Seattle. Bike unfolded. The last time I was here, there were green Lime e-bikes all over the place. This time, these Jump e-bikes were very common. Although the indicator light showed that this one was dead. A postcard in the basket revealed that UBER is behind these bikes, which to me is not a selling point.

I noticed before I left, that my favourite bike shop in Seattle was between where I was going to stay and downtown. So off I went, while checking out some of the local bike infra. Here I am on 8th Ave headed north.

Bike infra should be obvious to the user. WTF Seattle, apparently at Virginia St I’m supposed to bike diagonally across the intersection while dodging cars?

On the other hand I enjoyed the MUP that runs along the west side of Lake Union.

A brief pause at the Fremont lift bridge to let some rich person’s powerboat to pass.

Arriving at G&O Family Cyclery.

The last time I visited, I noted that a good deal of the stock was e-bikes, and from what I could see, this trend has continued. BTW biking up to the Greenwood neighbourhood, I was reminded of how hilly Seattle is.

Davey was busy attending to real customers, but I did have a nice chat with Robert about a few of their newer bikes. Here is the e-assisted version of the Big Dummy, the Big Easy, which is still not available in Canada, although Morgan and Stephanie have one because they are special.

Robert said that they are popular because the riding position is more aggressive than other designs, but there were some minor issues with it as a family bike. For one, the position of the optional second battery makes a centre stand impossible.

Carsick bags come in many different colours, and G&O stocks “tie dye”.

I couldn’t leave empty handed so I got one of their bottles with their new slogan.

Now a short night’s sleep before the first day of RSVP.

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Given that I was on the left coast, I managed to clear a day to head on over to Vancouver Island to visit Naked Bicycles. More precisely, I went over to Quadra Island, which is an island off the coast of Vancouver Island. I wonder if Quadra residents consider Vancouver Islanders as mainlanders?

Starting from Vancouver, two ferry rides and a drive later, you encounter these signs deep in the woods at the end of a road.

Here is builder Sam Whittingham, of WHPSC and NAHBS fame.

He took over this workshop from his dad, who was a cabinet maker.

The space is 99% given over to bike production. Here are some of his NAHBS awards piled up near the ceiling.

Tucked away in a corner, some of his racing awards, including traces of the fact that he was the world’s fastest cyclist for over a decade.

Near the center of the room: his latest build, a steel framed bike for a larger rider.

A frame welding fixture, and Ti main triangle visible to the right.

Lots of interesting stuff hung from the rafters. Here is a Ti mountain bike with belt drive and Jones bars.

A full suspension art bike with wood rims and seatpost, back from the days when Sam says he was still showing off at NAHBS.

Back in a corner, I find the cargobike that Sam used to pioneer the concept of a 20″ rear wheeled longtail cargobike. This showbike is the basis for the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and all other longtails that have gone the small rear wheel route, including my Haul a Day.

A whole wall of Naked bikes.

Sam and I have a chat about bike fit. Tip: if you are going to visit him for a bike fitting, bring your regular saddle, shoes, shorts, etc.

If you have more time that I had, then you can also arrange to go for a ride. There were some nice looking MTB trails literally meters away from the front door of the shop.

It was great to see Sam again. I don’t think we had crossed paths in Battle Mountain since about 2011 or so.

My visit was a little shorter than intended due to a three hour delay for the ferry going over to Nanaimo. If I had even more time, I would have also tried to squeeze in a trip to Gabriola Island to visit Varna Innovations as well.

As a side note, here is a picture of me in line waiting for the ferry during that delay. Fortunately, I had saved an emergency Stroopwafel (served to me as snack on a recent United Airlines flight).

What made part of the long wait fun was that I noticed a couple of interesting looking bikes mounted off the back of a car a few vehicles ahead of me.

It turns out that the owner was an avid cyclist, Morgan, who reviews bicycles for Radavist. These fat tired tourers were evolved versions of the bikes he described here. Lots of details to geek out about, including Swift Industries bags, prototype welded construction Porcelain Rocket frame bags, and bottle holders from RandiJoFab.

Here is the under bag support for the Swift Industries saddle bag.

I didn’t know that Honjo made wide fenders.

It was a pleasure talking to both Morgan and Stephanie. They were enroute to cycling on Cortes Island, with kid in tow in a one wheeled trailer of Danny MacAskill fame. If you want to run into Morgan himself, he is often on the Friday morning rides for coffee in the Vancouver area.

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