Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

A while back I installed a non standard fender on the rear of the Brompton in order to accommodate wider tires. However, I soon found that the mudflap was too long, and tended to get caught on the pavement whenever I folded the bike. As a result, it got bent, and started to look rather unattractive .

So I decided to see if I could install an SKS mudflap. The one I used was ordered from Thorusa, and it was the narrow version.

Widthwise it fit the Planet Bike fender perfectly, but it look a bit of hacking to get the fender mount to fit with the new setup. Fortunately, the tabs on the Ti rack were easily bendable.

However, the new mudflap extended quite far out, and thus was in danger of having the same problem as the previous one.

I trimmed it back so that it barely touched the ground when the tire and rear ez wheels were on the ground.

Here’s the finished installation.

Also note that the mounting tabs for the rear EZ wheels turned out to be easily bent, and as a result the bike was no longer rolling straight when folded. I straightened out the tabs, and remounted the wheels on the rack inboard of the mounting tabs. We’ll see if they hold up a little better.

All things considered, I can’t completely recommend the H&E Ti rear rack because of the issue of the EZ wheel mounts being easily bent. If I had to do it over, I would have gone with an aluminum half rack, such as these on eBay.

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Often this winter I’ve had to be very careful to remember to make sure that I’ve a charged battery powered headlight on whatever bike I happened to be riding to work that day. Every once in a while, I’d mess up and not have a headlight on the way home. Not a huge deal since my commute is mostly on lit streets, and I have lights built into the helmet I use in cold weather, but still on those occasions it would be annoying. My regular three seasons commuter, the pink bike, has dynamo lighting.

Finally I got around to ordering two dynamo wheels to upgrade both my winter bike and the cargo bike. Here are the two wheels, nicely built up by Martin at Hoopdriver.

It was a bit tricky finding a dynamo hub for the Norco since it has roller brakes. Martin says that these hubs are getting hard to find. Anyway, you can see that the roller brake could use a good clean.

Here’s a picture of the other side of the brake, which I’ve never bothered to look at before.

Here’s the hub and headlight all installed.

The headlight is an early LED model that was sitting in my parts drawer for over ten years. A newer one would probably be more efficient, but it was nice to put this one to use.

Here’s proof that the headlight was installed correctly.

Ironically, with DST it is not dark most nights when I ride home, and also with the weather warming up, I’ll be putting the winter bike to bed soon. However, I’ll be all set for next year.

Here’s a picture of the beam pattern. Not quite sure why there is a bright patch just in front of the front tire. The brightness is slightly less than the Lars Rover battery powered light that I’ve been using, but the beam is also not all over the place like that light.

Here’s a picture of the “stand light” function when the bike is stopped.

Next up: putting a dynamo on the Haul a Day.

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Never too late to do a little work on the Haul a Day to help it survive the winter. First item of business: addressing the fact that the bungee cord that retracts the kickstand gets a bit weak in cold weather. Solution: swap it out for a spring.

For those that are interested, here’s a picture of the specs on the spring that I used.

.53″ x 8.5″ x .054″

Next issue: dealing with a very corroded and worn chain.

I was really happy with the stainless chain that I installed on my Norco, so I searched for an equivalent item for an 8 speed derailleur. The closest thing that I could find was this chain by Wipperman.

Of course I had to check the old chain for stretch, and you can see that it is way beyond the 0.75% that is recommended as the limit. Given that the chain was the original one from April 2014, I figured this was OK.

Here’s a picture of the old and the new chain. They are lined up at the far end, and you can see just how much the old chain is stretched.

In this picture, I’ve lined up the end of the new chain, and the original chain, to show you how much additional chain I had to add. (Yes I had to buy two of the very expensive Connex 8Sx chains).

The new chain looks much better, and it shifts just fine. Fortunately, the chainring and cassette seem fine.

It was a gloriously sunny day today. Just for fun, can you spot the HaD in this picture?

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My winter beater is a Louis Garneau Sub Zero, which I got back in 2013. It has been a good bike, and I like the fact that it came with studded tires. I’ve been using it as a winter bike since 2013-14, but until today this winter had been mild enough that I hadn’t used it much. Yesterday I got a flat, and inevitably it was on the rear tire (since the bike had a internally geared hub). Fortunately I was near Urbane Cyclist, and so I elected to have them change the tire so that I could pick it up today. (Hey it was cold and dark, and I didn’t have the wrench to detach the rear roller brake cable).

This morning they phoned me and said that the flat was caused by one of the studs working its way through the casing.


Looking elsewhere on the tire, you can see where many of the other studs were pushing their way through the casing.


I was told that the issue with this tire is that the studs are not properly bonded it, and they can move around and even rotate in the holes where they sit. You can see some rotated studs (and some missing studs as well) in this picture.


Long story short, I elected to replace both tires with Schwalbe Winter Marathons, that I’ve had good luck with in the past.


Ironically I spend more than half the original purchase price of the bike on these tires, but I intend to get many more winter miles out of this bike.

I can’t generalize that Winter Marathons are vastly superior to the Kenda Klondikes in all cases: I’ve had no issues with the Winter Marathons I have in the 26″ size, but the 406 pair also had some issues with stud induced punctures so I had to install Mr Tuffy tire liners.


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Back in 2013, I just started using a Safe Zone helmet mirror, and I figured it was high time for an update: this mirror is by far the best on the market. As you might be able to tell from pretty much any of the self portraits of me on a bike over the past few years, this is the only mirror I use now. I have one on both of the helmets that I regularly use.



The mirror itself is nice and big, but what makes the whole thing special is the fact that you can reposition the mirror on the fly and it will stay in position.

The one issue that I can see with the mirror is that it is not easily available in Canada. However, if you are lucky enough to live in Toronto, then Matteo of Matteo’s Mobile Bike Repair will be more than glad to sell you one for considerably less that what you would pay on Amazon, or by ordering directly from the company (especially after shipping and currency conversion). You’ll save even more if you meet up with him to pick it up in person.


He said that he is not really interested in making money reselling something that keeps people safe.

Thanks Matteo!


note that I was using velcro to attach the mirror mount so that I could switch the mirror between two different helmets. However, the disadvantage was that the velcro would allow the mirror to wobble a bit. Since I now have two mirrors, I’ve used double sided gorilla tape to mount the mirror onto the white helmet. Normal helmets have enough vents so that you can use zipties to mount the mirror, but the white helmet (a Torch T2, BTW) does not.

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Beryl Laserlight Core

Ive had a Blaze Laserlight since 2014 when I received it as one of the original Kickstarter backers. It’s a light that projects green outline of a bike ahead of the rider. This past year, the same outfit came out with a newer, much cheaper version of the light, the Beryl Laserlight Core. I received the new version, along with a fancy taillight, as a pledge on this year’s kickstarter campaign.

Here is the packaging for the two lights.


The packaging is much simpler than the one for the original, which I thought was a bit over the top. Here is the box for the older light.


Here are the advertised run times for the new light, which are comparable to the old light.



Here’s what you get with the new light: a silicone strap type mount, a USB charging cord, and a little bag.


Here is a comparison of the new and old lights.



Here are the respective weights: 104 g versus 210g, including mounts.

Here is a daytime comparison of the brightnesses of the two lasers. The new light is to the left, and has a slightly bluer tone. It also appears to be slightly less bright, although I will have to check this out at night.


Overall, the initial impressions are as follows:

  • The new light is considerably cheaper and lighter than the old. It remains to be seen if it will be a commercial success as the new retail price ($100 USD) is still high for a bike headlight.
  • However, the old light was much more expensive, and in my opinion was rather overbuilt in terms of how it was manufactured. The new light is the product that should have been produced in the first place.
  • If they had also revised the optics for the LED headlamp so that it projects a proper pattern like a quality German light, then that would be a combination that would be well worth the money.
  • The old light had a safety feature that it had to be mounted on the special mount in order for the laser to turn on. This was always a bit of a pain when you wanted to demonstrate the light for someone. The new light does not have this feature.
  • The new light also does not use a proprietary charging cord, which is a plus.
  • The old light emitted a high pitched whine when the laser was on. The new one does not. Granted, the whine was only audible when you were in a quiet environment. It was not audible while riding.
  • It would appear that the company has partnered with some bike share companies to have their laser light built into their bikes, which is terrific as the end user is not bearing the full cost of having this feature. ¬†However, this image from the website is sadly quite deceptive. If you think that you are going to get this degree of visibility in daylight, you are sadly mistaken.

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 11.00.20 AM

As a sidenote, here are the contents of the Burner Brake taillight package.


The mount allows the light to be mounted vertically or horizontally.


The weight.


This light is supposed to have an accelerometer built in so that it indicates with the bike is decelerating.

I’ll post an update when I’ve had a chance to ride with both the new front and rear lights at night.

Here are my posts on the older version of the Laserlight

Update: Here are some photos at night.

Against a vertical surface like a garage door, the older green light looks a bit brighter.


However, this is mainly due to a bright spot in the centre of the bike pattern.

When mounted on the bike and looked at from the riding position, the two laser lights look similar.


Viewed from the forward reflecting position, the blue pattern looks brighter, with less intensity in a single spot, and better distribution of intensity across the entire bike shaped pattern.


Thus, the claim that the new model is brighter than the older one is verified, but the difference is not huge.

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Speck vs Tech21 phone cases

I recently upgraded to an iPhone XR (which I’m somewhat mixed about but I like the “Presidio Stay Clear” from Speck. However, I’ve been a fan of the cases from Tech21, a UK ¬†based company from whom I bought two previous cases. I eventually caved a got their simplest case, the “Pure Clear“. So now I have two cases, and I thought it would be interesting to compare them.

Here is the Speck.


and the Tech21.


The Speck case (to the left) is deeper, which probably accounts for a good deal of the difference in weight.


The Tech21 case is specced for drops up to 10 feet, whereas the Speck is up to 8 feet. Furthermore, the phone buttons are much easier to press with the Tech21 case. Thus, I’ll be using the Tech21 case for the moment. As a side note, a similarly simple Tech21 case for my iPhone 6 kept it intact for many years, even when I’ve dropped it while riding a bike; this is why I didn’t bother getting a heavier case.

The only niggle I have with the Tech21 case is that there is an issue with the website. It promised a certain amount for shipping to Canada, and also a certain delivery time. When it claim to actually checking out, the shipping cost when up by a couple of dollars. As far as the delivery time goes, it was much slower than promised, but most of that was probably due to labour disruptions at Canada Post.

On another Apple related note, I love the design of this shipping box for the iPad. It provides protection while at the same time not relying on styrofoam that is generally not recyclable. Someone is going to get an iPad for Xmas, but let’s keep it a secret for the moment.

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