Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Still here!

I'm still here.
Been working on a few things.
Got a few product new reviews to write up.
Watch this space!

Monday, 1 May 2017

BikeBins hard-sided locking panniers - approaching the seven year mark!

Almost seven years on, and we are still using our Bike Bins panniers.
Here I am about to lock my helmet inside on a trip to the local hospital.
Almost seven years!
I always intended to make this a long-term review, and you won't find reviews as long as THIS elsewhere!

It was in June of 2010 that we bought our pair of hard-sided locking panniers from Bike Bins.
They are currently 45 quid each (or 80 quid for a pair) including VAT and shipping.
We paid about 65 for ours, but that was seven years ago!

Anyway, we still use them.
In the seven years, the colour has faded rather, and we have broken one mounting rail (which, because it uses standard Rixen and Kaul parts, I was able to repair for a reasonable cost).
Here are links to where I have written about them in the past, so you can easily read what I wrote then:

The original review
2 years on
3 1/2 years on
Approaching 4 years
Problems at 4 1/2 years
The repair
5 years, and a comparison with other panniers we own 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

New Shifters, and Nine Over Eight Gearing?

Winter dreaming about gearing.
Having recently got my hands on a pair of "old school" "thumb" friction shifters, I will have a bit of flexibilty with gearing.

Three factors that unfluenced me buying the friction shifters are:
1) I have an almost unused rear wheel that came with Hoppy (that was quickly swapped out for the eight speed I was using on Mermaid) that has a seven speed freewheel. With friction shifters, to swap wheels I'd just have to alter the stop screws on the derailleur. Indexing is irrelevant on an undexed system :-)
2) Having removed myself from the hegemony of having to have the same "speed" shifters as rear gears, I can run a variety of set-ups, including unothodox ones. Irregualrt spacing vetween cogs? as long as the chain can handle it, so can the friction shifters!
3) If I fancy another go at an aero setup, then friction "thumbies" mounted on the aero bars will be MUCH cheaper than the "proper" aero "bar end" thumbies.

So lets have a look at gear spacing.
From Sheldon Brown's cribsheet:
Typical 7 speed "modern" "freewheel" spacing = 1.8 (ish) mm spockets with 3.2 (ish) mm spacing, for a total height of 32 to 33 mm
I could swap out the freewheel for a modern 6 speed (2mm sprockets with 3.5mm spacingm for a total height of 29.5mm
An 8 speed Shimano/Sram freehub takes a cassette with 1.8mm sprockets and a 3mm spacing, giving a total height of 35.4mm
A 9 speed Shimano/Sram cassette has 1.8 (ish)mm sprockets and 2.54 (ish) spacing, giving a total height of 36.5mm
I won't worry about the "10-speed only" hubs, because I won't be buying one!
An 11 speed Shimano hub is reported to be 1.85 mm longer than a 9 speed hub, so that gives a height of 36.5+1.85 =38.35mm

What if I wanted to mount nine 8-speed sprockets? How long would that be?
35.4mm (for an 8 speed) plus a 3mm spacer, plus a 1.8mm sprocket gives 40.2mm - 1.85mm longer than an 11 speed hub.

Would it fit?
Depnds on the engagement of the lock ring, I suppose.
Certainly the SRAM 8-speed gears in the smaller sizes have the flange moulded in with the sprocket - all in steel. I have a 11-toth and a 12-tooth rear cog like this. Their "true" width is 4.8mm, because they don't use a spacer. Indeed, the SRAM PG850 cassette I own only has 5 spacers for the eight gears, not 7 ... the 5 are between the 14,16,18,21,26, and 32t cogs, while the 11t and 12t have a "spacer flange" into the cog.
Similarly Miche 8-speed gears have the 11-tooth cog as part of a pair (the 11t clips into the 12t next to it), so, again, there is effectively a very wide flange for the smallest cog.

The only question is, then, how much of the lockring is engaged?
Guess there is only one way to really find that out.

Buy it, and try it!

Watch this space ...

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Fixing the bike after the Crash

Hmm. These were "North Road"-style bars.
But the left side has been bent in the crash.
The lower side has been bent in the crash.

Hoppy escaped the crash pretty lightly - indeed a badly bent handlebar seems to be the extent of the damage.
But I can't ride like that, so a bit of repair is in order!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

To Voucher Or Not To Voucher - That Is The Question

I got an email yesterday.
Decathlon reminding me that I have a voucher that is about to expire.
Given that today is the last day of the month, I guess the exoiry date will be today!

Whether to redeem or not?

Question 1: Trust.
This is always the biggie for dealing with folks and companies!
What do I think of Decathlon?
Do I think they sell great stuff, or junk?

Answer 1: I trust Decathlon

I bought my current bike from Decathlon back in the Spring, and I am delighted with it.
I am delighted with my Hoprider bicycle from Decathlon,
especially after I made a few slight changes,
such as the saddle and the bars
As a general-purpose all-rounder it is hard to beat, with its front dynamo and rear carrier, as well as a basic design that can be cheaply modified for a bit of amateur sport (like the local charity sportive, in which I passed hundreds of "proper" road bikes). OK, so I changed the saddle and the bars, because I am a fusspot about such things, and since I am 52, my prostate might not be all it was!

Saddles are very much an individual preference.
At 52 years old, I choose something I like,
rather than something fashionable!
I have ridden a number of "metric century" (100km, 62 mile) rides on this bike without any concerns, such as my local charity sportive (see pic below)

I also purchased my cycle jersey from Decathlon, and the little bar bag with a clear top shown in the picture. I am delighted with both!

Heading out for the local charity sportive on my Decathlon bike (slightly modified),
wearing my Decathlon jersey, and sporting my Decathlon bar bag just behind the handlebars.
And, yes, I did swap out the front dynamo wheel for a "regular" wheel for the event!
And, yes, the dynamo wheel did go back on the front once the days started getting a bit short.
And if that wasn't enough, our daughter also has a Decathlon bike, and she like the slightly avant-garde styling of hers.

Question 2: Pricing

These days almost everyone has to watch the pennies a little.
Additionally, being a family man I have folks to think about other than myself.
A voucher offering a modest reduction off something way above my price range wouldn't be that useful! (Indeed, it is a common marketing practice to overprice things, then offer a "discount" to get yu to pay more than you wanted in the first place!)
So how does Decathlon do for pricing?

Answer 2: Pricing is fine
I love this jersey from Decathlon!
It is equivalent to a 500 range jersey.
Decathlon have a wide variety of standards of equipment.
For cycling, their range mainly consists of the 100, 300, 500, 700 and 900 ranges, with a number like 320 having a higher spec than a 300, but generally a 500 would be better (and more expensive!).
Not all numbers are available in all items - for example, bike seem to run from 100 to 700, but clothing runs from 300 to 900!
Decathlon have some excellent sales from time to time, so you might get something pretty decent for a very modest price.
Both the bikes mentioned above are 300-range items,
So what is my jersey (in the pic above)?
Well, it was "double reduced" in a sale, so you can't get them anymore ;-)
It is a "5" jersey, which is an older version of the 500-series currently sold.
(no link, because it is out of production!)
The 300 long sleeve jersey only has a half-zip, and I wanted a full length zip.
This "5" fits my desires nicely.
Great in every way except that I have rather small wrists for my height, and the cuffs were a bit loose, so I got my wife to put a little tuck in the cuff. Perfect. And it was only about 7 or 8 quid (about 10 dollars, similar in Euros - the currencies are a bit all over the place at the moment!)

Question 3: Practicality of voucher redemption.

Answer 3: No Decathlon store in my town.
There is a Decathlon store in Oxford.
There is a Decathlon store in Milton Keynes.
The voucher is for 5 pounds (about $6 or 6 Euros)
It would cost me at least the value of the voucher to get to either of my two closest Decathlon stores!

Question 4: What about mail order / online shopping?

Answer 4: Delivery is £3.99.
So four pounds then.
The £5 voucher thus has a real value to me of £1, not £5
A pound is a pound, but only worth it if I want something anyway!

Question 5: Did I redeem the voucher?

Answer 5: Watch this space :-)