Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

The bike friday Haul a Day comes with an integral centre stand that is quite sturdy.


However, last week I suddenly noticed that one of the legs had dropped off. How it happened without me hearing it is beyond me, but I improvised a quick replacement, using 5/8″ threaded rod, which was the only thing available at the local hardware of the appropriate diameter.


By the way, the M6 allen screws that secure the legs have special heads that have a reduced diameter, so it was not easy to find replacements. I ended up reducing the diameter of regular socket head screws with a belt sander. Bike Friday should up the price of each bike by $20 and use all stainless hardware.


After looking for a more suitable replacement, I found 12″ long SS tubing on Amazon. Here’s a picture of the tubing, along with the one remaining kickstand foot.


After a few minutes with a tubing bender:


and here is the final product.


Note that the 0.065″ wall tubing I ordered was definitely overkill. I would have been better of with the 0.049″ wall tubing instead. It would have certainly been easier to bend.



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Spurcycle Bell

I’ve been wanting a Spurcycle bell for a while, given that it is a high quality product that is made in North America by a small company. Although I’d been burned by fancy looking bells before, I had seen and heard this bell on other people’s bikes.

Recently I dropped by Curbside Cycle and saw that they had them in stock. The perfect accessory for my Brompton, whose bell integrated into the brakelever/shifter combination is quiet enough to be useless, at least in the rough and tumble of Toronto traffic.

Here is the bell mounted on the Brompton.


Here is a video comparing the two bells.

There is some kind of fancy sound level processing on the iPhone that seems to muffle the initial “ding” of the spurcycle, so it is difficult to fully appreciate how much louder it is.

The only thing remaining is to see how well it does in the rain, but for the moment, I’m very happy with it.

Update: Here is a review that compares the Spurcycle bell (good) and the Knog Oi (looks nice).

Update #2: It works just fine in the rain!

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Two years ago, I caught a brief glimpse of a Ti folding bike on STP.


This was the Burke 20 by Seattle Cycles. I finally got a chance to see it up close and personal at Montlake Bicycle Shop.


This particular build is their lowest end spec, and retails for $5500 US.

They very kindly let me take it down and to test the fold. What was very handy was that they were also a Brompton dealer. Here are the two bikes side by side.



You can see that the Burke is considerably less compact when folded, but to be fair, part of this has do with the larger wheel size.

There are elements of the fold that are similar to the Brompton, such as the hook on the front fork that goes over a member of the rear triangle, and the fact that the lowered seat tube keeps the frame in the folded position.


Here are some more close ups of the bike when unfolded.


Frame welded in the US by Lynskey.


Nice touches such as the front bag mount, and fender mounting points as well.


My impression is that it is a beautifully made bike, in particular the welds on the frame, but I found the folding process to be quite fiddly, and the clamps themselves were particularly hard to deal with. The website claims that you can fold it in 15 seconds, so perhaps with practice……

Going for a very short test ride, I found the frame and stem to be very stiff, comparable to the Brompton, and the gearing and braking to be as good as on a regular bike.

For my needs, I’d say it would not be as practical as the Brompton for city use, given the nature of the fold. For traveling with a higher performance bike in a suitcase, there are certainly less expensive options out there, and the price point gets perilously close to what a regular road bike with S&S couplers would be.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting option for those in want of the ultimate folding bike.

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Just two more part swaps for the Brompton: a better saddle, and a generic Ti seat post from eBay.

I’m going to use a slotted Brooks Cambium. We’ll give it a try on some long rides this weekend. If I have doubts, I’ll bring along the Selle Anatomic saddle that I used on STP two years ago. The Cambium is slightly lighter than the stock 2017 saddle.

The seatpost was from this vendor on eBay.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 9.59.14 PM

They didn’t have the black one in standard length in stock at the time I ordered, so I just went for the plain colour.

The weigh scale shows that I’m saving about 125 g.

Here is everything installed. I’ll update with a ride report after I’ve put some distance on the new seat and post.


One slight disappointment is that after all the part swaps, the weight of my bike went up slightly.

Here is the stock bike.


and now the bike as it is currently.


I did add a rack, ez wheels, and bar ends. The nominal weight of the rack is 458 g with the EZ wheels, so that is about a pound of weight added. I guess that coming in at just 0.4 pounds heavier is not too bad.



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Another one of the tweaks that I wanted for my Brompton was to bring the handlebar height down roughly to saddle height. I decided to fit a Joseph Kousac mid rise bar.

Here is a comparison with my 2017 M Bar. Not only does it have less rise, but the shape is subtly different.


Here is the comparison with the bars held up against the bike.


In the folded position, the larger width of the mid rise bar is not going to be a problem.


The biggest difference is the sweep back between the two bars. The 2017 M bar is not planar either: it has a slight sweep back, but I would say that the Kuosac bar has roughly double the sweep back of the stock bar.


Weight comparison: the Kuosac bar is 14 g lighter. Also, measuring with callipers reveals that the stock bar has a wall thickness of 2.1 mm, whereas the mid rise bar has walls that are 1.45 mm thick.

The bars were too wide for my taste. It is handy that they have markings to make it easy to cut the bars down symmetrically.


All done.


You can see them installed in this picture from my previous post.


So far I can’t really tell if there is an enhancement in comfort, but I do like the lower position. I can’t tell if the bars differ in stiffness from the stock ones.

Ordering was very simple from eBay.



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In about three weeks I’m due to ride Seattle to Portland, just like two years ago. I’m going to do it on a folder again, but this time on the Brompton, rather than the Tikit.

I’ve been a little concerned as I seem to be pretty slow on the Brompton, having difficulty maintaining a 20 kph pace, even on shorter rides. Of course this might been that I’m just not in as good shape as two years ago, but I still have the impression that the Brompton is a bit more sluggish.

This past weekend, I decided to tweak the Brompton in search of a little more speed. Main items on the menu: faster tires and clipless pedals.

I didn’t want to go for the Kojaks as I’ve heard that they are quite flat prone. They are also too skinny for city riding in Toronto; they wouldn’t play well with streetcar tracks or sewer grates.  I decided to move the Greenspeed Scorchers over from the Tikit.

Problem: the Scorchers are a significantly higher volume tire than the stock Marathons.

The front tire went on with no fuss. However the back tire was a different story.

Firstly, I should note that I had already put a titanium rear rack from H&E on the bike, and had to remove two of the stock fender stays in the process. This is what the rear end looked like with the H&E rack, but only one set of fender stays.


As it turns out, to get the stock fender to clear the bigger tire, I had to remove the remaining fender stay. I also had to remove the mounting plate that I used to anchor the rear of the fender.


Once I did all that, the stock fender just barely cleared the fender, and it was rideable, with just a bit of rubbing. That fender clearance is really minimal.


I decided in the interest of reliability that I should try to fit a larger fender: a 16: “Freddy Fender” from Planet Bike. Although the new fender was only minimally wider than stock, the profile of the new fender was more rounded and would fit the Scorcher better…. or so I thought.

However, there was work to do. First item was to modify the brake bridge mount so that the fender could move closer to the brake bridge, just like the stock fender (to the left)


After a little work with the Dremel.


It turns out in the end that I had to pay attention to three points to get adequate clearance. Firstly, the front of the fender had to be trimmed shorter so that it would sit above the frame.


Second, the brake bridge mounting bracket had to be bent to clear the rack mount.


Finally, the mount at the rear of the fender had to be modified. However I was able to use a stock hole on the new fender (after I removed the mudflap).


After reading various comments on the web, I was prepared to have trouble with the removal and reinstallation of the rear wheel. However, it was no problem. Just remember to put the dropout clips in the correct orientation, even when you are working on the bike upside down. IMG_9001

Also use a nice wide set of tire levers. My favourites are Pedros, or the slightly harder to find ones from Schwalbe.

With the new fender in place, I think the fatter tire makes the bike look a little more aggressive.


This is the set up that I rode Sunday night with no issues.

I also installed new clipless pedals, using the MKS EZ superior system so that it would be easy to swap in platform pedals for city riding.


A couple of weeks ago, I also swapped out the M bars for the Joseph Kousac midrise bars (I’ll write this up separately). I also installed some older Cane Creek barends that unfortunately are no longer made.


Also some Sped Dial hinge clamps. Highly recommended.


With the new bars, the stance of the bike is a little more aggressive, with the bars about level with the saddle. This is with the saddle about a finger’s width lower than the highest position for the stock length seat post, which is right height for me.


Also, last nights ride required lighting, so I picked up the Brompton specific Volt 400 light.


It was a breeze to install, and it put out a decent amount of light; you might be able to tell from this picture. That’s my headlight beam in the foreground.


For a taillight, I had picked up the Cateye taillight that clips onto the 2017 and later Brompton saddle.


However, I cannot recommend this light for one reason. Even when I bought it, I noticed that it didn’t seem to click very positively onto the saddle mount. Sure enough, it dropped off during a ride, but I noticed and picked it up. At that point I should have taped it into the mount. However, at some point in the next couple of days, it dropped off again, and so I didn’t have a taillight for Sunday.

I found an alternate solution: the Planet Bike taillight clip has the same mounting bolt spacing as the Brompton rear reflector.


I thought it would be a problem for the bottom tab on the mount to hit the rear tire.


However, this turned out not to be an issue. I bent the mount out enough to clear the tire, and it was still easy to mount and dismount the taillight.


Here you can see that the Planet Bike superflash does not interfere with the fold, at least when you have a rack with EZ wheels.

UPDATE: there is enough flex in the mount on the rack that the plastic tab can get caught in the tire so this is not an ideal solution.


I’ll be doing a few more tweaks before STP, but the main thing now is to train some more….

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Montbell Wallets

My needs for a wallet are simple but somewhat contradictory: I want it to be relatively thin, while at the same time it has to have a coin pocket that I mostly use to carry a spare key for the office. For about four years, I’ve been using a simple one from Montbell. It has three card slots to the right, one to the left, and a small pocket for coins that closes with velcro.


However, after four years of hard use, it was showing its age.


So off to Montbell I went. The updated version of the same wallet is basically the same, with two minor tweaks: the card slot under the coin pocket is gone, and each of the slots on the other side are just a little deeper. This second change addresses the one quibble I had with my old one: cards were not as secure in the outermost pocket.


Actually, since these things are not that expensive, I bought two more. One has a mesh outside which will provide a bit more friction so that it is less likely to slip out of back pocket. This version is not available on the Montbell US site.


The other one is a super light tri-fold design with a zipper pocket that I’ll keep in reserve.


Note the Montbell also makes some bigger and thicker wallets, but I was only interested in the thinner models.

Looks like I’ll be set for wallets for a while, but in the meantime, if anyone is looking for a slim wallet with a coin pocket, you know where to go.

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