Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

Yesterday was my first ride of the year with TBN. With Easter being earlier than last year, the Good Friday ride was a bit earlier than my first TBN ride last year. On a sunny but blustery day, we had 11 riders at the start.


There was a fairly strong and steady wind out of the north the whole ride which made the first part of the ride a bit of a grind. Just like last year’s Good Friday ride, I elect to go for the shortest (60km) route that turns right at 19th Ave. Joey and the faster riders are going straight ahead.


Every year, development inches further north. This sign on 19th Ave. was one of many new ones I saw in the area.


Headed back south with the benefit of going downhill with a tailwind, you can see the effect on my speed.


Given that I was first to Unionville, I chose to skip the brunch stop, and rode back to Finch. Joey’s ride report is here.

Just to vary things a bit, I elected to ride partway back to downtown along the Finch hydro corridor, incidentally collecting a few tiles along the way, and also connecting the Finch start point to some of my previous rides on my personal heat map.


This section west of Yonge St. has crossings of major streets with lights.


Not that this made any difference to Edouard Le Blanc who was killed at a very similar crossing on the Gatineau trail at Warden by a driver who ran the red light.

This section of trail branches north and south at a dam in G Ross Lord Park. I elect to take the southbound branch that leads to some streets that make it easy to bike down to Wilson, at which point I took the subway the rest of the way downtown.


I tracked this ride with both the Cyclemeter App, and my Garmin. I had seen before that Cyclemeter is much more generous is assessing average speed than the Garmin. Cyclemeter says:

IMG_E8117However, the curious thing was that when I uploaded both the Cyclemeter and the Garmin data to Strava, the stats were much closer:

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You can see that the average speeds now almost agree, which means that Cyclemeter interprets the GPS data differently than what Strava does. I think from this point, whenever I use the Garmin, I’ll use that data for Strava, rather than the Cyclemeter upload.

Two other geeky points on gear. One thing was that my right shoe wasn’t clipping in for the entire ride. A quick look afterwards reveals that my cleat was broken. I found one last spare in the garage, but since Bebops are no longer made, I might have to switch to another type of clipless pedal.


The other thing is cycling caps. I always thought that they were a bit of an affectation, especially when you wear one under a helmet. However, after using a kayak visor and having the velcro come unstuck from my helmet, and then trying and failing to use epoxy to stick the velcro onto my helmet (polycarbonate is not easy to glue to, and using a solvent based adhesive seemed like a bad idea), I finally broke down and tried out the hat under helmet thing.


Voila, I find that the cap visor is perfectly shaped to shade my eyes from several angles while not blocking forward vision, even when I’m leaning forward on the drops. And note that my helmet has a raised bottom edge just wide enough to clear the visor.

You learn something new every day…..




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So I’ve been collecting some more tiles with Veloviewer and it is definitely addictive. For example, this morning, my rides looked like this:

and you can see the annoying little gap in South Etobicoke. Thus, with a little more time on hand this afternoon, I took a somewhat circuitous route home.


(normal route purple, this afternoon, blue).

Now my tiles look like this:

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and to add to the fun, I got to discover some new territory like this bridge.


I’ve added a few rides from the last couple of years to my Strava account, and now if I zoom out on my personal heat map, the tiles look like this.

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Most of my riding is downtown, and some of the rides further afield are with TBN. You can clearly see one or two rides starting from Finch station going north that are not connected to downtown. Sadly, the longer rides that come from downtown are all ghost bike rides from the past year or two.

One more note: I’ve given up on the Strava phone app. Many people were reporting problems with iPhones not recording properly from about the middle of February. I’ve switched back to tracking rides with the Cyclemeter App, and then uploading to my free Strava account, which seems to work out fine. I’ll be tracking rides with my Garmin as well when I get back to doing those longer rides.


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Mini mini pumps review

Seeing that the  (non commuting) cycling season is about to start, I wanted to replace an old Serfas mini pump with something a bit more compact. As it turns out, I ended up buying two new pumps, with the main criterion that they had to be as short as possible to make them easy to stow. Left to right we have the Lezyne Sport Drive HP, my older Serfas, and the Topeak Micro Rocket AL.  Why did I buy two new pumps?  Well I got the Micro Rocket first, but I did not realize when ordering it that it was presta only.IMG_7986

The Lezyne pump is going to accompany my regular commuter (which is Schrader).


It comes with a hose that accommodates both types of valves.


I was concerned that it would be a pain to use since you have to screw the hose onto the pump, and then to rotate both pump and hose to screw it onto the valve. However in practice this didn’t seem to be too much of a pain.


Weight stats with and without mounting clip

What is more important to me is that it is short (a bit under 7.5″) so that it fits into a seat bag. This way I don’t have to store it in the bottom of my commuting pannier like the Serfas.



Next up: the Topeak mini pump. This thing is both short and light.

It has a pretty sturdy almost all metal construction and seems to work pretty well. I can tell that it is going to take a bajillion pumps to inflate a tire from flat, but I’m not a believer in CO2 cartridge inflators.


Here it is mounted on the Tamarack.


Just for reference: my old Serfas. Nothing really wrong with it. It has a flip release chuck and it does work on both types of valves. However, it was forever getting lost in the bottom of my pannier, so now it is a spare that I’ll carry around on one of the other bikes.


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Just posted some pictures from the Toronto International bike show over at Dandyhorse. My two favourite bikes at the show were the Tern GSD, and this Cherubim gravel bike commissioned by Blacksmith Cycle.

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Ridiculously small fender clearance….and yes I’m wondering why the fender is crooked as well.

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Even the derailleur pulleys were personalized.DSC02088

Quite different than the last Cherubim I saw.

The Tern GSD is a compact long tail based on 406 wheels, that looks like an evolved and e-powered version of my Haul a Day.

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It stands on end, just like my Haul a Day.

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The side bags fold in nicely when empty.

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From the local dealer, it retails for $6500 CAD.

The other thing I’ll mention is this smart helmet: the Cyclevision Edge. It has front and rear 160° HD video cameras. You can check out all the features at their kickstarter page.


It will eventually retail for $660 AUS (versus $500 AUS on kickstarter). I couldn’t help comparing this to the Classon helmet, a kickstarter campaign for a similar helmet that was funded back in July 2016, with a promised delivery of April 2017, but appears to still be nowhere near production.

The big story this year seems to be e-bikes, and the prices are slowly coming down in the segment, with the cheapest bikes being of the order of $1800. Still with the recent news that local vendor BionX has just gone under, there is still a lot of shaking out that will happen before things settle down.

Head on over to Dandyhorse for many more pictures and words.





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With the weather forecast looking pretty good, it was time to switch back to the pink bike.

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However, sadly it had a flat, so I took the opportunity to swap out the rear tire as well. It had plenty of cuts, and the tread wear was a bit asymmetric.


The new tire; takeoffs from a couple of years ago when I bought my Norco winter beater.


The other thing was to replace the saddle cover, which I had put onto the Haul a Day. Just like the other one, it was waxed canvas, and made in the US by Randi Jo fabrications. When you order from them, things are wrapped in a eco friendly way.


The unique feature of these saddle cover is that it has a flap to protect the underside as well. The one that I’ve been using for a year or so doesn’t show appreciable wear.  These covers are much much better quality than the covers I’ve used from Brooks, Carradice, or Planet Bike.



Here you can see the openings for saddle loops. This cover is specifically tailored for the Selle Anatomica saddle.


Looking forward to riding in without studded tires, at least for a while.

Update: note how nicely the saddle cover conforms after a ride or two.




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Round about the middle of January, I started recording my rides in parallel on Cyclemeter and Strava. The reason was that Strava seemed to have a pretty active ecosystem, and I was particularly interested in the features offered by Veloviewer. Veloviewer offers many of the features of Strava Premium, but at minimal cost. For example, it can plot fun infographics like this:

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It can also provide a personal heat map.  Here you can easily see that my riding is dominated by my regular commute from High Park to downtown.

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In addition, there is a subculture of  veloviewer riders that collect tiles, which are squares about a mile on a side, that are a measure of how much area you have covered with your riding. It is a clever incentive to vary your riding so that you explore different areas around your home. It certainly works for me. This past weekend, I took advantage of a little more leisure time than usual to add to my tile collection. On Saturday I rode with Scarborough Cycles, and collected about six tiles in the east end of the city. They are shaded on the map below.


You can see that there are gaps in the pattern of my riding, so today I decided to take a really long detour on my way into work to fill in some of the gaps.

First up: adding a little riding on the southwest corner. Here you can see that the Humber Bay Bridge is now clear of ice, unlike last weekend.


Heading east on the MGT, I check out the ghost bike for Xavier Morgan.


Next up: checking out Trillium Park and the William Davis trail on the east side of the Ontario Place lands. One nice surprise is that the gate to the rest of Ontario Place is open, letting me get this picture of a really scenic smoking area.


On the way back to the MGT, you can see the city from a new vantage point.


Here’s a good shot of the fixed choke point on the MGT. It took several years and the cooperation of all three levels of government to get a small triangular area of pavement installed so that the sidewalk is separated from the multi use trail.


The waterfront proper had a series of art installations called Icebreakers. The easternmost installation was a giant percussion instrument.



The second was this giant gummy bear. It was covered in a lot of pink pile fabric.


The third one, Winter Fanfare, actually looked better in person than in photos.


A driftwood sign with the inevitable hashtag.


This piece was called Black Bamboo.


The final piece is a cabin made of tree roots. What was sad was the traces of clothing indicating that this was used as a makeshift homeless shelter.


Now working my way further east, I see these crazy balconies on the side of this condo; they look like diving boards.


Now that’s a pothole (Unwin Ave)


After my little ride, I see that I’ve filled in seven more tiles


and Veloviewer also tracks how many tiles I collected this weekend.

tile count

It’s a fun incentive to ride more, and to explore the city at the same time.

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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.


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


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


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


Before I put a coat of Chain L on it,


I wipe off some of the grime.


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


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.


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.


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.


Mr. Tuffy installed.


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


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.)


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


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