Archive for the ‘Retrogrouch’ Category


Dusted off the Tamarack to get in a short ride in shorts, just to say I did it in mid February. It took a few minutes to stop trying to shift with my hands on the brake levers ūüėČ

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Tried and liked 2022

Around Christmas time, it’s a bit of a tradition on the Internet BOB list to post bike related things that you have tried and liked during the past year. I see that it’s been many years since I’ve posted such a list, the last one being in 2016. I still really like of the gear that I recommended that year, with one update being that my choice for wool balaclava is now from TST.

Since that time, there are a number of items that I would highly recommend, most of them acquired in the last year or two.

Firstly, I love the wool shirts from Kitsbow.

This an employee owned company that sews all of their stuff in house in North Carolina. Their icon shirt has lots of lovely details that make it a lifetime garment, and the regular cut is trimmer that all of the other flannel or wool type shirts that I’ve tried. This, along with a wool undershirt, is my regular commuting gear. In winter I also throw on a jacket over top. I’ll also put in a good word for their wool knickers. I’ve worn those down to 0¬įC. They are a stretch wool blend. I don’t know if the wool makes much difference, but they are much more stink resistant than regular bike gear. All their stuff is expensive, particularly with the exchange and shipping to Canada, but if you want the best, and you want to support manufacture in North America…..

On a similar note, I really like my Search and State jacket. It is sewn in NY, and so is quite expensive. A very stripped down. design, but it seems to breathe well. The only additional thing I wish it had was a chest pocket, but that would add weight and make it less package. I see now that they’ve added a jacket with more pockets, but the price is even more stratospheric.

In winter, I like pogies as a preferred solution to cold hands, and so I finally broke down this year to get the ultimate versions by Dogwood Designs. (update: see my review of the pogies from 7Roads.

I have another pair of pogies in bound from a small shop in the Ukraine. I’ll let you know how they turn out. If you are looking for a cheaper pair, the padded ones from Rock Bros are OK.

On a side note about pogies, if your hands are buried in them, then you probably have to relocate your bell from its usual location. An alternative is to use an electric bell with a remote button. The Twooc is not a bad option. It is certainly plenty loud.

My Routewerks handlebar bag is terrific. Yes, it is rather heavy, but it is very well made, and the flip top is awesome for access while riding. You’ll see plenty of pictures of it elsewhere on the blog, such as this recent example.

Finally I’ll mention that my initial impressions of the new commuter bike headlight from Trek are pretty positive. It has decent optics that give the beam pattern a horizontal cutoff as is required in Europe.

On low beam, it is still brighter than my lower end B&M dynamo headlight.

At any rate, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and tailwinds for the new year.

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Lucy doesn’t think so!

I suppose it’s obvious from the picture that I’m a big fan of wool jerseys, Here are a couple of my favourites.

This is perhaps my oldest, a Swobo that is old enough to have been sewn in San Francisco. My wool knickers are of similar vintage.

Millenials have no idea who the Riddler is, as opposed to the Joker.

This one is from a limited run of iBOB jerseys that were made back in the day.

I get lots of comments on this beautiful jersey that was from one of my favourite bike shops in Pacific Heights.

This one is also from another favourite bike shop, and the extra long zipper is a very nice detail.

Until I pulled them all out of the closet for the first picture, I had no idea that I had so many.

Wool jerseys rock.

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15¬įC and sunny: every weekend day like this is precious at this time of year. An ideal time for a bike ride with the good folks from Urbane Cyclist.

The starting point is Wallace Espresso. Sam is taking the picture so she is missing.

Owen is our fearless leader. He tells us that this is a no drop ride and there is going to be a little rough stuff in the Don Valley.

Lots of interesting bikes in this group, with many tending towards the retrogrouch, so I fit right in.

Prospect Cemetery.

Cruising along the Beltline.

A pre ’93 Ivory Bridgestone XO-1! I used to have a red one of these (not the more famous orange ’93)

Riding the gravel trails just north of the Brickworks.

Instead of continuing onto the Brickworks, we turned left up a series of steep switchbacks. We were rewarded by the scenery from this viewpoint.

Headed north from here, off the main trail.

Down a gully to some old railway tracks.

We were advised to ride along a narrow dirt path beside the track, rather than on the track bed itself. In the narrow bits, I was having a fair bit of pedal strike on the railroad ties, which was a new thing for me.


The tracks are really overgrown on this stretch.

Down another short chute to some regular mountain bike trails.

Now in the Don River trail system. People have figured out that they should smile when I wave my phone vaguely in their direction.

Back on the mean streets of our fair city.

The end of the first segment of the ride at Muddy York Brewing. There are worse things in life than having a beer at noon on a Sunday.

I was not able to join the group for the second half of the ride which was to the Leslie St. spit. (in fact where I was last weekend) I was glad to enjoy the new routes that we were shown this morning, and happy that I was able to keep up with all these young folk.

Thanks to Owen for organizing this ride. Nice to put some names to some of the faces that I’ve seen at Urbane.

Update: here is Ben’s video of the ride.

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It’s been a while since I wrote about foot retention, and way back then I guess I liked Powergrips. ¬†Since 90% of my cycling is for commuting, errands, and shopping, you could argue that I’d be best off with just flat pedals. However, in practice, three out of the four bikes that I ride the most use half clips. They are ideal for the city since they are easy to get in and out of, and they provide a little bit of support for correct foot placement on the pedals.

A little while ago, I found a pair of steel half clips in my bow of assorted parts, and I put them on the Brompton.


However, I was finding that they were a little hard to get into, and also they were scuffing up a new pair of Blundstones that I got around the same time. So off I went to my favourite LBS: Hoopdriver Bicycles. Martin always has a good stock of higher end accessories for the kind of bikes that I ride (i.e. not carbon fibre wonder bikes). I scored a pair of MKS deep half clips with leather wrapping. I’ll review the Crane bell when I get around to it.



Here is a side by side comparison of the old and new half clips. You can see that the deep version fits quite a bit thicker shoe. The standard ones seem best suited to cycling shoes, or similarly low profile shoes.


A bottom view.


If you’re considering a pair of these for a city bike, make sure you get the “Deep” version. You can also get it without the leather.

A much cheaper alternative is the plastic half clip, which you can see has a similar profile. They should be available at any non-racer type bike shop.IMG_9721

The plastic ones break in the long run, but in practice, I only have to replace them every two years or so. However, since the new ones were going on the Brompton, I figured there was no harm in having something a little fancier and shiny.

Here is the new half clip mounted on the Brompton.


Here is an action shot showing how happy my dressy shoes are not being scuffed up.


BTW the pedals I’m using on the Brompton and several other bikes are removable, and have the MKS EZ Superior system. This way it is EZ to swap pedals around. If you are going to go this route, make sure you are getting the Superior pedals, and not the regular EZ ones (that have little yellow plastic retention clips that are really EZ to lose).


Counterclockwise from top left: a clipless pedal that I used on the Brompton for STP, platform pedals with half clips, the flat Lambda pedals that are raved about by retrogrouchs that shun foot retention, and a sure sign of autumn. Switching from the Lambda’s to the platform pedals shaved a little weight off the Brompton; not something I really care about, but every little bit counts when you are suitcasing the bike and keeping the total package under 50 pounds.





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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¬į 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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Tarik Saleh Bike Club

Back in 2011, I apparently became the first foreign member of the Tarik Saleh bike club. As it says on the official page, there are only two rules:

1. Ride bikes

2. Try not to be an ass

Very wise words in this season of car vs bikes madness.

The TSBC started with you sent him a couple of bucks and he sent you some pins with a postcard. Now it has gotten all fancy with an official store where you can order stuff. When I saw this, I took the opportunity to get the very last of the canvas saddle covers from Randi Jo Fabrications. It arrived a couple of days ago, along with some patches and pins.


Here’s a close up of the patch.


The reason I wanted the seat cover was that my Brooks model had holes in it after probably a year of light use.


Here’s the new cover, shown from the back so that you can see the holes for saddle bag loops.


The green lap is to protect the underside of the saddle, and there are also snaps on the sides.

Overall impression is that looks sturdy, and the workmanship is very good. I’m guessing that it was meant for a B17; the fit is a bit snug on my Selle Anatomica X, but it works. ¬†The only downside that I see is that it is not really a super quick on and off item because of the underflap.I might have been better off getting another Carradice, which was the one that I had before it finally wore out after much use, but I couldn’t find a local source. For the moment, I’m perfectly fine leaving it on the pink saddle for a while.

Update: the Human Powered Race Association is a like minded organization. According to their rules: (scroll down to the bottom)


Hat tip to Garrie for pointing this out.


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About a month ago, I had a new front rack put on the Tamarack to lower the mounting position of my handlebar bag. I found that the handling was affected by the regular mounting position, to the point that I didn’t find if very easy to ride no hands.

Of course I don’t have any good pictures of the handlebar bag in the old position but these two will give you an idea. It is a small Arkel bag. You can see from one of these pictures (taken during the Growling Beaver) that the top of the bag is quite a bit above the brake hoods.

After Hoopdriver installed the VO Pass Hunter rack, of course it took me another couple of weeks to get around to figuring out how to mount the bag sans decaleur.

First step: remove the existing mount hardware.


Next, reinforce the bottom of the bag with some coroplast.

Mark positions for holes with a Sharpie (sliver Sharpies rule!)


Use zipties to secure bag. The initial thought was to pass the zipties through the treaded mounts, but they were a little too wide.


Front and side views of the bag. It has been lowered by about 2/3 of the height of the bag itself.

One small niggle is that the top flap has some slight interference with my shifter cables, but this hasn’t been a problem in practice.


Proof that I can stuff a jacket and other things into the bag and still ride no hands ¬†(although you can’t really tell from the picture that it was taken on the move).


Today was beautiful at the lakefront.


The Sunnyside bike park is still not officially open for the season.


We hope that city council will vote for bike lanes on this short section of Ellis underneath the Gardiner. This would tie into other improvements to the intersections that we hope are also coming in the next year or so.


Oh, and by the way, today marks the end of 30daysofbiking.


April is over

30 days of biking done

warmer weather comes


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It was a gloriously, sunny weekend, the first warm one of the year. It seemed like everyone was out and about.

On Saturday, Councillor Doucette hosted a Community Environment day down at the Lakefront. Ward13 had a table there to publicize the good work that Cycle Toronto has been doing, not just in our Ward, but all across the city.

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(photo: Janet Joy Wilson)

Having been at a similar event in Ward 20 two weeks ago, I was struck by the difference in mode share. Ward 20:


Ward 13:

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Of course this isn’t a totally fair comparison since the Ward13 event was held just off Lakeshore Blvd, but still it was striking to see many bikers and pedestrians in the downtown neighbourhood. We can do better in Ward13!

Safer intersections on Lakeshore and the Queensway would help a lot. Word is that some improvements to the Ellis/Lakeshore intersection (for example, a northbound cyclist’s crossing on the east side) are slated for installation in 2016. The city is also looking at putting a bike lane on the short section of Ellis between Lakeshore and the Queensway, as well as removing the right turn lane for cars on the northwest corner, but these changes have to be approved by community council, so these further improvments will probably take at least another year. (remember that it took over four years just to get sharrows on High Park Ave!)

Lucy is always up for a ride down to the lake.


Next up: some spring cleaning.


In truth, it was a bit more than just cleaning since I had dropped off my pink commuter bike at Hoopdriver last week to get new lights installed, and I got to pick it up on Saturday. Here is Martin working on my very dirty bike.


All Simcoe bikes have this motto on their toptube.


Here is the new light, mounted below the rack. The mount looks much more solid than the last one I tried.


Here is the taillight. You can see the LED’s glowing because of the standlight feature.


This particular light also senses when the bike is slowing down, and turns on or raises the intensity of the area light under braking. I saw this on another bike, and I can’t wait to check this out. Of course, I’m not going to be able to see it while riding.

After getting the bike home, it was time to do some cleaning. Removal of grime exposed many scratches on the frame; beausage or wabi sabi, take your pick. (although I’ll have to keep an eye on the sabi part of that descriptor).


These scrapes are a bit odd since they’re on the chainstay but on the opposite side of the chain!


In the background, you can see the new chain. The old one had stretched about half a link after about 7000 km.  Only had time to clean the one bike. The others will have to wait until next weekend.


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Hoopdriver Bicycles is one of the most distinctive bike shops in the city. They sell a variety of city and road bikes, but with an emphasis on more classic designs based on steel frames. They have also carved out a niche in providing bike builds and accessories for the randonneuring enthusiast.  This past winter, they moved to a new location in Ward 13. My wallet is going to be taking a hit until I get used to the fact that this shop is only a five minute bike ride from my house.


They are located at 668 Annette St., just west of Windermere. Ironically, they are right beside the former location of Windergarden, which was the shop that lead the local opposition to the Annette St. bike lanes years ago.

With spring approaching, I wanted to have a front rack installed on the Tamarack, with the hope that mounting a handlebar bag lower would improve the handling. Here I just finished towing the bike to the shop.


When you enter the shop, the first impression is of an overwhelming number of goodies that catch the eye.


Period art and steel frames from Soma, Surly, etc hanging from the ceiling.


Of course, lots of Brooks saddles.


Lots of nice detail on many of the bikes, like this colour matched handlebar tape weave on this Velo Orange Campeur bike.


They carry bikes from Marinoni, Bianchi, Pashley, Surly and Simcoe, as well as build ups from frames from Surly, Soma, and Velo Orange. The emphasis¬†is on bikes for city riding, touring and longer distance riding, with an almost exclusive focus on steel framed bikes. ¬†However, Martin did make an exception for this sweet Al framed, belt drive kid’s bike.


Also when I went to pick up my bike, I did see this titanium Marinoni with a carbon fork and brifters in the back. Heresy!


Many bike shops carry Brooks saddles, but this shop has more hard to find items and specialized accessories such as  Velo Orange racks, all the latest dynamo lighting from B&M and others, plastic and metal fenders from many vendors, and even Compass Pass tires.

Here is the VO Pass Hunter rack installed on my bike. (the second time I’ve had Hoopdriver mount¬†a front rack on one of my bikes).



If you are in the market for a distinctive city or road bike, Martin and company will take good care of you.



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