First snow on ground 2016

So it snowed a bit overnight, so just out of reflex, I switched over to the winter beater.


This past spring, after a couple of winters, the galvanized chain that was supplied with the bike had more or less rusted into a solid piece, and so this past winter I swapped it out for a stainless chain.  Pulling the Sub Zero out of the garage, I see that the chain is doing just fine.


And off I go. It turns out that the balaclva was total overkill for this morning.


Going in was slow, slow, slow. People were passing me on the Bloor bike lanes!  Was it that I was just getting older?  No, as it turns out, my rear drum brake was dragging the whole time. I loosened up the cable, and dropped by Urbane for a shot of cable lube, and all was fine on the way back home.

BTW, if you want a pair of the handlebar booties you can see in the first picture, then Urbane does sell them. Here’s a picture of a pair on one of the shiny bikes in their showroom.


It’s getting dark and slippery out there. It looks like next week will be even more fun.


Ride safe everyone!


Traction on road markings

Note that this blog post is a companion piece to an article on the Dandyhorse blog where the city has furnished quite a bit of additional information.

I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that there is less traction on the green patches that have been incorporated into several recent examples of bike infrastructure around town. The City of Toronto advises that the green paint is a thermoplastic material that has been blended with grit to give traction similar to asphalt.

Having had training in both Physics and Engineering, I decided to see if I could measure the difference in traction between ordinary asphalt, and asphalt covered in two different kinds of road markings. After some thought, I decided to repurpose some equipment that our undergraduate students have been using to measure the tensile strength of materials. What is relevant to the present discussion is that there is a force sensor that can be hooked to a computer to record force as a function of time.

Here is a picture of the apparatus.


The red string pulls on a lever that presses against a silver plunger that sticks out from one of two blue boxes (the one to the left that is labelled “Force Sensor” in small green type.)  The apparatus has four small rubber feet underneath. The idea is to drag the whole thing to the right by pulling on the red string while recording the force measured, which would be a measure of the frictional force.

The first set of measurements were done on a crosswalk on Runnymede Rd. Here is a picture of the setup being dragged.


I will note that this was done on pavement that was slightly wet from rain earlier in the day.  I started the measurement on asphalt, dragged the meter all the way across the white stripe, and then some distance on the asphalt, just so that I could see if there was a different on and off the marking. The data for three separate runs are shown below. The horizontal axis is time in seconds, and I’m not going to quantify the force reading on the vertical axis.


As you can see, the measurements are fairly consistent, and that there is a dip in each curve (from 4-8 seconds), corresponding to when the meter is being dragged across the white paint as opposed to the asphalt.  Clearly, there is a reduction in friction on the white paint.

Since each of the curves has quite a bit of scatter, I take the average value for the asphalt and the paint sections (with the standard deviation as the error). The results are as follows:

  • asphalt: 5.4 ±0.5
  • white paint: 4.4 ± 0.5

The net result is a 20% ±10% reduction in friction on the white paint.

Now onto the green bike boxes. The difficult here was that my ability to take measurements was somewhat hampered by the fact that I was dodging traffic while doing so. Here is a picture where I took the data, on the Annette bike lane at Dundas St. West.


The data is taken where I draft the meter off of the green paint. Here is the data:


If you are charitable, you might imagine that the first part of the curve, say from 1.5 – 3 seconds is a little higher than from 4-6.  This would indicate that the traction on the green paint is actually higher than on the asphalt.  The numbers are as follows:

  • green paint: 5.6 ±.5
  • asphalt: 4.8 ± 0.6

Therefore, in this case the variation in the data is comparable to the difference measured between the two surfaces, and so it is not possible to conclude that there is a clear difference. If fact, if there is a difference, the green paint might actually provide slightly better traction than bare asphalt.  I will note that the asphalt section adjacent to the green paint was very rough (much rougher than the asphalt on the Runnymede bike lane), and this probably reduced the contact area between the rubber feet and the pavement, which would account for the comparatively friction reading for asphalt. At any rate, the green paint is very comparable in traction to bare pavement, and appears to give better grip that the white paint used for crosswalks (and I assume for bike lane markings etc).

Late season family bike ride

This time of year, every slightly warm weekend feels like it could be the last one of the year. We took the occasion to fit in a family bike ride down to the lake.


Heading down Runnymede. I’m the only one looking psyched at this point.


K at the turnaround point. This is her new bike; she has outgrown the Rambler by a fairly wide margin.


Heading back across Mimico Creek on the Calatrava style bridge.


These signs on the section of the path by all the tall condos are new. Pity they didn’t hire an artist that could draw a bike properly.


Lucy complains if we’re not in the lead.


Obligatory family picture.


K insisted on taking a funny picture as well.


Can you guess who is the clown in the family?


Hope you all get a chance to get some riding in before the snow descends!

Update: I dug up a picture from Nov 2006 taken at more or less the same spot.2006-2016

Cycle Hamilton  is a relatively new cycling advocacy group. They were running a Cycle Advocacy Week, and I figured that a ride they ran today would be the perfect opportunity to check out some of the bike infrastructure  and to get a bit of a feel about what was going on in my hometown. Given that it’s been 40 years since I’ve actually lived there, I knew that a lot had changed.

We gathered at City Hall. Kudos to them; this is the first bike related event that I’ve ever been to where more people showed up than were “going” on Facebook. There was a mix, everyone from a bike dad with son to a bunch of roadies in Lycra.


Johanna (co-founder of Cycle Hamilton) gives us the scoop on the ride before we start. She says that today’s ride focuses on the fact that a popular route up the escarpment, Sydenham Rd, is due for some infrastructure improvements, but that bike lanes are not included in the plan, even though this route is on the Cycling Master Plan.


And off we go. Look, a bidirectional bike lane!


Parking buffered bike lane on Charlton.


Note the wayfinding signs.


Entering a section of trail that goes along the northern border of Chedoke golf course.


Stop to regroup.


Here we go.


The lead group.


The rail trail.  Very nice and wide.



Threading through the Mac campus.


and down towards Dundas along Cootes Dr.




Pulling up to the Shed Brewery.


A brief stop to figure out who was going to brave the hill. It turns out that pretty much everyone was going to do it.


Here we go.


Not steep yet.


OK, time for the granny gear.


People arriving.


Proof that I made it. Thanks to Mark for taking the photo.


The historical marker talks about how this is called Clara’s Climb, after Clara Hughes.


These folks rode Sobi bikeshare bikes.


Group shot.


That’s Dave, chair of Cycle Hamilton, in the centre.


The ride down was quick, and then it was time for beer. The Shawn & Ed Brewing company was kind enough to let us bring bikes in. I hauled a heavy lock up that hill for nothing!


A good turnout. I was told that the building used to be a firehall, and then a curling rink, and now a beautifully retrofitted brewery.


It was great to talk to these guys about what was going on bike wise in Hamilton. We argued over who had the more dysfunctional city council. Of course, I could always pull out the Rob Ford card. Their main issue with the bike lanes is that they don’t form a continuous network. Sounds familiar.


The fellow on the right Mark Chamberlain, runs a ride called Bike for Mike that raises funds to provide underprivileged youth with bikes. They have a multi pronged approach to getting young people on bikes, including having them earn their bikes by pledging to bike to school, etc. They are taking the long view on encouraging the next generation of bike riders and potential bike advocates.  I can’t remember the exact date of the next ride, but I believe that it is going to be the first Sunday in May.

A few pictures of infra on my way back downtown. We biked by this sign on the way out.


I like this bollard shielded bump out for pedestrian safety and traffic calming.


The bike lane on Herkimer which is the one way complement to Charlton. These bike lanes just went in this year just went in this year.


Thanks to Cycle Hamilton for running this event!


Update: Don’s much better pictures on facebook.

Part 1 is here

text: America, State of Nevadascreen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-36-35-pm

To chase the dream of ultimate speed, people build bikes and gather here from all over the world to try to go faster than 140 kph on A BICYCLE! screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-36-59-pm

Competitors come from all over the world.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-38-01-pm

By coming here, our team is learning a lotscreen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-38-59-pm

Jan Marcel: We want to show people all over the world what we can accomplish with human power. (text on left says Holland Team)screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-39-16-pm

Into this setting that tests technical skill comes a team from Japan for the first time.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-45-06-pm

Last December, the team was recruited. The motorbike people didn’t know when they were recruited for the project that this was about bicycles.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-46-08-pm

Text: this past March (a brief recap of the race against Team Cygnus)screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-48-41-pm

they won! (speed of 93.69 kph)screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-49-30-pm

After that, they started to design a new bike to go after the world record.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-51-31-pm

They showed up to the WHPSC, but they had some difficulties and were not able to race the first day   [text: accident]screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-52-14-pm

A brief montage of fiddling with the bike, then an image of the rain on Tuesday that cost them another day.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-54-16-pm

Finally they got to run, but their starts were a disaster.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-55-32-pm

Ikegami: at this point we’re not doing very well are we?screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-56-37-pm

Only two days left!!screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-57-41-pm

Stay tuned to find out what happens nextscreen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-58-51-pm

(Introduction of the talent) Hi everyone, we’ve come all the way to America to take in this event.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-3-59-35-pm

Fifteen teams from 9 different counties.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-01-00-pm

and believe it or not, those things that you see are bicycles.When you first see them you think “What the hell are those!screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-01-57-pm

Explaining that speed bikes have a bike inside a cowl (fairing) [flashback to Velox 1]screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-02-16-pm

The fairing reduced drag. The air moves smoothly past the bike, which is what you need if you want to go faster than 100 kph.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-03-10-pm

showing off the new bike.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-05-20-pm

4th day of competitionscreen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-05-56-pm

Team Japan managed to g0 118.38 kph….but the wind was above the legal limit of 1.67 m/s.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-07-32-pm


  • Canada A
  • France
  • Holland A
  • Italy
  • England
  • Canada B
  • Japan
  • Russia

Brief bio of rider Komori, who after high school started racing professionally, and has raced in France, Italy, and the US.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-08-57-pm

At the 2.5 mile, I was already in the top gear.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-11-45-pm

15T top gear.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-12-19-pm

Why don’t we go for 11T?

What? are you aiming for over 140 kph? [I love Ikegami’s incredulous reaction]screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-13-38-pm

Ikegami had been conservative with the 15T gear to make sure the rider was going to be alright. He decides that to go to 11T, he needs to convert the middrive cluster from 5 cogs to 7. Can he get this done in three hours?screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-16-45-pm

Ikegami-san how are we doing?

Well we’re pretty keyed up. The wind conditions look good. If we are lucky we should get in a good run.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-19-41-pm

Wait a minute, aren’t you going at it a little to hard for a warm up? screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-20-52-pm

Komori replies that his peak effort is less than 5 minutes, so it is more important to be able to put out peak power, even from the beginning of the run.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-22-19-pm

Explaining about the display board at timing and if he goes below 6 seconds, then the speed is 120 kph.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-23-02-pm

here we go!screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-25-15-pm

at the 2.5 miles he is 1 kph faster than yesterdayscreen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-26-46-pm

five seconds and change over 200 m!screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-28-34-pm

Japan moves into 2nd placescreen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-29-39-pm

I didn’t manage to get into top gear.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-30-29-pm

I finally had the feeling that we got a good run in.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-31-16-pm

Day 6: last day of the competition.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-32-55-pm

Talking things over with cowl designer Mr. Seki.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-33-46-pm

Ryohei gets some advice from world record holder Todd. (go all out for the last 1000 to 1600 m) It takes experience to find out how to apply the power exactly where down the course to get the highest speed.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-35-14-pm

With this advice in mind, they decide that Komori needs to start sprinting about 5 seconds earlier.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-37-22-pm

I need to extend my sprint. I’ll imagine that the finish line is just a little further away.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-38-34-pm

Last change to run, one blown start, and then success. [note that during the first launch, it looks like the guy to the left tripped and pushed the bike over]

Junior Chihara: Is it normal that he is weaving back and forth like that?

Reply: not unusual if he is sprinting. (gear number5) screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-46-03-pm

Felt like a good run if the winds were legal.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-48-50-pm

Even as I thought that I couldn’t hold the effort, I managed to push through. I was able to get into top gear!screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-51-06-pm

82.03 mph, legal wind!screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-52-59-pm

Even though they didn’t set a new world record they finished 2nd in the world.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-54-37-pm

and a 80 mph hat.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-55-17-pm

Final thoughts with the team:

Well for a ten month project, the idea that you could go faster than 100 kph on a bike seemed a bit crazy, but when we went 90 in March, then I thought, well something in the 130 kph range was within reach.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-56-12-pm

It was really satisfying to build such a pretty bike.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-58-18-pm

Well we put ourselves under pressure because we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves coming out here. We are proud we did well under pressure, and we really enjoyed ourselves.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-4-59-38-pm

Congratulations on all your effort!screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-5-00-53-pm

Next time on Sugowaza: how to launch a drink all the way down a 15m long bar.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-5-01-42-pm

It’s doubtful that the team will return to WHPSC, which is a shame. They did phenomenally well, having the most successful debut ever for a new team and a new bike. One can only speculate how much faster they could have gone if they had gotten more than 3 runs down the five mile course.

Video here.



Oi bike bell by Knog

Earlier this year, there was a Kickstarter campaign by Knog, a well known maker of bike accessories based in Australia, for a slick looking bike bell. I wrote about it a while back on the Dandyblog.


I decided to go for three of them since they looked so pretty. They arrived around the beginning of October, just two months after they were originally promised, which is great by Kickstarter standards.

Two small Aluminum ones in different colours, and one large Ti one.


The acid test: first how loud are these. The second point: are these going to ring properly while wet.

Here is a video. The four bells tested are:

Listen for yourself

Note that the relative volume of the bells is a bit different between the two clips as the microphone placement on my phone and my camera are a bit different.


The Cateye and the Incredibell are my standard bells, and they are both plenty loud.

I like the double strike of the Cateye.


If you’re tight for space, the incredibell is smaller and just as loud. It also has the advantage that the azimuthal angle of the striker is adjustable.


I’m afraid that I can’t recommend the small Aluminum version of the Oi. Its size makes it possible to fit in odd places like under a brake lever, but it is not loud enough to be an effective bell. Very pretty, though.


The large Ti Oi bell puts out a sound that I would say is adequate for use.


Bottom line: My impression of the Oi is mixed. They are pretty, but the smaller one is not recommended, at least for use in the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto.


December 2016: the retail versions of the Knog bells are now in retail shops. I tested the small bell at Hoopdriver Bicycles, and it was louder and more sustained than the ones I have, to the point that it is a decent bike bell.



This year, there was a Japanese team at the WHPSC for the first time. They were accompanied by a camera crew as this whole project was sponsored in part to produce a couple of segments for an NHK show called “Sugowaza” which roughly translates to “extreme engineering”.  This past March, the first segment was broadcast, where Team Super Ketta (Ketta is slang for bike in the Nagoya dialect) put together a bike and competed against Team Cygnus. Since the time of that broadcast, the team got busy building a second generation bike, which they brought to Battle Mountain.

The first part of a two segment show was broadcast today.What follows is a series of screen caps from a very poor video stream of the show. [editorial comments in brackets]

Note also that any mis translations are solely my responsibility, due to my Japanese being at about a 3rd grade level.

The lead in starts with a review of the 2015 world record of just under 140 kph.


Text says: World Human Powered Speed Challenge (spelled out phonetically in Japanese)


The two characters on the left say “Human Power”


A brief review of the three principle members of the team: the rider, the team leader (Ikegami, who also designed the internals of the bike) and the fairing designer from Toray.


The length of the entire project was 10 months, starting in December of last year. There objective was to go 140 kph to set a new record.


Some footage of the earlier race in March on a test track in Japan, with the Mark 1 bike vs. Jan Marcel in Cygnus Chronos.


Now the credits to the program.


Text says: Battle Mountain Route 305, America, state of Nevada.


A diagram showing the course, with the timing section at the end.


Now a discussion of how the new bike is different than the first one. Super Ketta 162; the number means the 2nd bike built in 2016.


The new bike is smaller and the clearances are at a minimum. Toe clearance is 1 mm. .


They are relieved that the toe clearance is OK.


They estimate with the new shape that the aerodynamic drag should be decreased by 30%.


Also a switch from windshield to camera.


Front and rear suspension (the speciality of Ikegami, who works for Yamaha motorcycles).


Now some footage of Monday morning qualifying.72.42 kph = 45 mph is the minimum qualifying speed to run the 5 mile course. Calvin has a cameo.


Team Japan goes 88.25 kph and they are happy.


After qualifying, they rank 7th.


The teams are listed in the following order:

  1. Holland A (Jan Marcel)
  2. Canada A (Todd)
  3. Italy (Andrea)
  4. Holland B (Jan)
  5. Australia (Gareth)
  6. Canada B (Calvin)
  7. Japan (Ryohei)

During the rider debrief, Ryohei talked about noise in the drivetrain. There is a bigger issue. Here, Ikegami is being told that the handling feels very floaty as if the rider can’t feel any solid contact with the ground. He would prefer that the suspension be removed. This is bad news.


Now a long montage of the team frantically working on the bike. At the time of the debrief, there was only four hours before the racers had to go out for the evening session. The drivetrain noise is traced to wheel imbalance, and the fact that the wheel fairings are not stiff enough.


The suspension is more problematic. One issue: the front mount for the drivetrain subframe will not bolt on correctly since the replacement aluminum mount doesn’t have the correct holes.


In the meantime, riders are setting up for Monday evening, and there is no sign of Team Japan. A good number of bikes are going above 120 kph now, and this changes the seeding.

Working late into the night.


All Tuesday runs were cancelled, and it was decided to use the seeding for Tues AM for Wednesday AM. Note that Team Japan is not scheduled to run.

Wednesday midday: at the seeding meeting, Team Japan gets a rude shock. Since they were not able to run on Monday evening, their seeding position has now dropped to 13th, and only 12 bikes can run in the evening. Their only choice is to sign up for Thursday morning.


Ikegami being told they can’t run Wednesday evening. Do not play poker with this man.


That evening, Todd Reichert resets the record to 142.04 mph = 88 mph.

Team Japan is in the stands. Ikegami says that Todd’s run was unbelievable.


The hosts of the show, Junior Chihara and female sidekick, meet up with the team and the new bike. He comments that the new bike is totally different and much smaller than the one they saw in March.


In response to a question, Ryohei says that the bike is ridiculously difficult to ride since there is only 2.5° of steering available in either direction. [at this point, my wife comments that I shouldn’t be allowed to ride any two wheeled streamliners anymore]


Thursday morning: team Japan has four unsuccessful launches and are told that they can’t run. Apparently the removal of the suspension has changed the handling of the bike at low speeds. [There is a two minute launch window for each bike since we try to run four or five bikes down the course during a heat. The faster bikes take about 6 minutes to get down the course, and we are only allowed to close route 305 for twenty minutes at a time]


However, there were some other cancellations, so we squeezed in an extra heat, and this time Super Ketta 162 made it down the course, albeit with some new scratches on the shell.


The team is happy that they went 30 kph faster than qualifying.


However they were a little disappointed to learn that the winds were above the legal limit of 1.67 m/s

Also, Ryohei says he ran out of gears. More mechanical work for the team…Now lots of dramatic music: what is going to happen next?  They have only two more chances to run!


[the NHK people wanted Ryohei to run again in the evening, and ideally both morning and evening for the rest of the week, but he put his foot down and said only once a day. He was now seeded fast enough to run Friday and Saturday evening]

Tune in next week: same Bat time, same Bat channel!

Update: the show is available online here:


(required flash)