Friday, December 30, 2011

Evolution Resolutions Love

"All endeavors start out stupid; the trick is making them smart" - The Plano Cyclist.

The only thing that has been consistent about this blog for the past few years have been the "resolutions" posts that I put up at New Years, so even though this is Friday and I should be linkdumping, I'm going to be resolving instead. So here we go:

1. I want to continue to grow my readership. As you can see, I have put up a ton of posts this year, adding product reviews, a regular feature (Linkdump) and a little more structure to the blog. I have nearly reached 10,000 views, and I hope to be at 30,000 by the end of 2012. I don't know if I can continue posting daily, but there will be plenty of my words for you to "enjoy" this year.

2. Increase my mileage. This last year I rode close to 3000 tracked miles. I say tracked, because as usual I wasn't the best record keeper. I only kept track of longer rides, but I didn't track things like grocery store rides, park rides with my daughter, or cruise around type rides. I hope to end 2012 closer to five or six thousand tracked miles. That means more commuting as well, obviously.

3. Lose some weight again. When I really started riding, I went from 230 lbs to 188 over the course of 2010. During 2011, even though I rode close to 3000 miles, I ate like I was riding 10,000. As a result, my weight is back up to 200, which isn't bad, really, but is not pleasing to me. 1upUSA has sent me a trainer to review, I have the Livestrong app on my iPhone to count calories, and I am ready to get down to 175. Steel yourself to read a little bit about my weight loss oddessey this year.

4. Finish building the tandem up. I have been storing a disassembled bicycle for a very long time, and it's time to stop. I have all of the pieces, and I just need to break out the elbow grease and get at it. I'm guessing you will read all about it on the Internet. Probably articles written by some blogger.

5. Do at least one century ride. I have done some long rides this year, but I haven't managed a hundred mile day yet. This is the year that I need to do that, so I will. Truth be told I'd rather do a couple, but I am going to resolve to do at least one in 2012.

6. Do a few more Planocentric articles. Since my name change, I have done exactly one article specifically about Plano stuff. I need to address that, and I do have some plans to do so. I did make a hundred posts altogether this year, but the ratio of 1:100 means that I have another name that doesn't make any sense. I will remedy this for sure.

We will revisit these this time in 2012, and see if I managed to do what I set out to do. My record isn't great on these, but I think that just making the resolutions is a big part of the magic of New Year's Resolutions. Keeping them, well that's a whole other thing entirely. I do see some that I will have to do if I'm going to maintain some other goals that I have this year, so I think that my "How did I Do" list might be a little more interesting in 2012.

Rocky's, San Diego
Like last year, I will close with a photo of myself that I like from this year. Happy New Year, and I will see you in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

So How Did I Do?

Every year I have made some New Year's resolutions for myself on the blog, and I like to check in at the end of the year and see how well I kept them. This year is no different - well, generally the check and the new resolutions are in the same post, but this year they will be separated. (Content is hard to come by, and I am having a hard time filling this short week, so I'm milking what I have to work with.)

On to the resolutions from 2010!

1. Increase my commuting time. I was riding two days a week, maybe three this year. I would really like to ride into work at least three days a week, and more if I can swing it. I see this one happening.

I did pretty well with this one until July; I was commuting 3 days a week, but lost my momentum when it got super hot, and I wasn't able to recover it at all. I am disappointed in myself that I didn't keep it up. I did ride more this year than in 2010, but kind of fell off a cliff in the dog days of summer.

2. Ride at least two "social" rides this coming year. I rode the BFOC Tweed ride this year, and I'd certainly like to ride that and at least one other. In addition, Hubbard and I have been talking about riding a rail to trail conversion, and I really want to do that.

I only managed one social ride this year, documented here. I had every intention of doing the tweed ride, but one of my wife's friends had the gall to give birth on that day, and I ended up doing a babysitting path ride with my daughter instead. Hubbard and I are still talking about the rail to trail ride, and that will happen in 2012.

3. Ride two organized century rides this coming year. I rode the Wish 100 this year, and I'd like to do that one and a true century, probably the Wild West in Waco. I'd like to drag Hubbard along for one or the other, but truth be told, when I ride hard I prefer to ride alone.

I completely dropped the ball on this one; I did sign up for one organized ride but I only rode 30 miles. However, since I made a big affair out of it and was the top individual fundraiser, I am going to give myself a pass. And I don't ride hard, saying that is a vanity.

I did say that I wanted to blog more, but I didn't make that one an "official" resolution - and that was the only thing I talked about that I actually accomplished. Go figure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Little Bit Of Navel Gazing - This Post Falls Into The "Life" Part Of The Subtitle

As the end of the year approaches, I always like to do a little navel gazing and see what changes the last twelve months have wrought. If you look on the sidebar, you will see that the biggest change is the number of posts on the blog this year. In the first two years I had this place, I didn't manage to post more than a handful of times; this year I am knocking on the door of a hundred posts. Why?

In high school, whenever anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I only had one answer: a writer. (Notice I didn't say "good" writer, so in a way I have succeeded.) Even though I wanted to be a writer, I knew that if I got a degree in wordsmithing that I would someday end up squatting in a tent on public property in some sort of disorganized protest action against the government. Instead, I thought I would bang out some life experience so that I would have something to write about. Sadly that didn't work out well either; none of the prose I wrote was worthwhile and now it waits in the attic to be discovered (and then thrown away quickly) by my heirs.

This really is for the best

I gave up fiction after a while, and now write poems - though I have been submitting to poetry journals and magazines for years with no results. However, since I have increased the rate I post here, I am pretty sure that in any given month in the latter part of 2011 this blog has had more readers than any poetry magazine that "politely declines" my verse. How many readers do I have? In December 2010, I had approximately 81 views for the entire month. In 2011, I have had over 2300 views in the same month, which is pretty impressive (to me anyway).

So what does all of this mean? As the year comes to a close, despite my best attempts at making "art", it is the stuff I post here that people want to read. It may be that I am just the only girl left in the bar at two in the morning, but I like to think that maybe people actually want to take my blog posts home and introduce them to their mother. Even better, the return visit rate tells me that for the most part, people are coming back to read what I write again and again. That being the case, I want to thank everyone reading for being a part of making a mulleted high school kid's dreams come true. I plan to pay you back by continuing to put articles on the internet for you to "enjoy" in 2012. It's obvious that the more I post, the more I grow; at this point, I need the validation that my readers provide. If I start losing readers, I will get depressed and that will lead me to write more bad poetry (that won't be published anyway) - and obviously no one wants that.

I have plans and an outline for what I will be doing over the next twelve months (something I haven't had before) and I hope that you will continue to indulge me as you graciously have thus far. We are at the bottom of the first hill and the chain has just caught the hook under the car. Please keep your hands and head inside the blog at all times, and if the excitement gets to be too much for you, just scream. I know I will.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking Into The Future

I know that I have been gone a long time, and I am afraid that the world may have moved on. However, even in this brave new world, there is still a need for mediocre blogging about bicycle parts and rides. Luckily, as in the old world, that is the position I have placed myself in.

Since I have been so long absent, I figured you would wonder whether this blog would peter out, or if I had anything in store for the future. For the next few days, things are going to be a little "mecentric" around here and you may not like it, but BSNYC is on vacation and Andy Rooney is dead, and as such I know you don't have anything else worthwhile to read on the web. Over the rest of this year we will visit my resolutions from 2010 and see how I did, I will share my resolutions for next year with you, and we will talk a little bit about the blog and my readers. I know all of this doesn't sound like what has become the norm around here, but hey, as I write this my mouth is full of yak nog, so excuuuse me me if it's not what you are looking for. How's your blog lookin', pal?

If you decide to skip the next week of blogs, then I will tell you what to expect when/if you return in 2012. I have a few things to review in January, including the Bikecharge I have spoken about in passing over the past few weeks. I need to install it, but really haven't had the inclination to do it yet. Once I review the Bikecharge, I have some clothing I will be taking a look at; Aero Tech Designs has sent me a couple of pairs of bibs to take a look at, some shoes by Chrome, and some special glasses by Moto-Optix and an Octopus winter cycling cap. With the exception of the Chrome shoes, all of the things I will be looking at are USA made items, which is (to me) pretty exciting.

This will all make sense in a moment. 

The most exciting thing of all to me is that 1upUSA has sent me an indoor trainer to review. Since I have become fat over the course of these past twelve months, I'm looking forward to making a concentrated effort to knock 25 pounds off my frame. I bought myself some size 34 waist pants for Christmas, and when I put them on I looked like two scoops of ice cream piled on an ice cream cone. After I finished crying softly at my reflection in the mirror, I sat down and mapped out my my plan to get back in fighting shape. I will be using an epicRIDES video I have installed on my iPhone, so I will review it as well and hold it solely responsible for my success or failure.

Finally, In the early part of the year I am also going to attempt to to be the first resident of Plano to circumnavigate the every mile of bike path in the city. I have engaged the services of a native American tracker, and have started laying in my pemmican and hardtack supplies along with plenty of ball and powder to ensure my safety.

I think there is a drinking fountain over there! 

As you see, I have some serious content plans for the upcoming year, and I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am.

Westward ho!

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Official Notice and Linkdump

As I have been intimating, I will be going on a bit of a sabbatical from this blog in order to "find myself" in the mountains of Tibet. I plan to drink nothing but Yak-nog and eat Tibetian khapse cookies until my spirit animal contacts me via text message, or until I grow tired of khapse cookies, whichever comes first.

In the meantime, I understand that most of you will be celebrating some holiday or another, so I wish you a happy one. Once found, I will return to post here on December 27th. 

Here are some links you might enjoy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Light And Motion Urban 180 Bikelight Review

As I have said before, I don't like riding at night, mostly because I don't have enough light available to me. I have been using a Serfas USB Ultrabright rechargeable, and while it seems fairly bright, the light output is a mere 12 lumens. Being interested in a brighter light than I had, I contacted the folks at Light and Motion, and they agreed to send me over one of their Urban 180 models to test. The Urban 180 is 180 lumens (clever) and in addition to lighting up the road in front of you, it has side lights. I know some of my readers scoff at the idea of a need for side lighting, but I operate on the "light myself up like a Dekotora" principle and it has worked out for me so far.

Dekotora Truck
The urban 180 is super simple, and super bright, and uses a rubber strap and hook method to attach to the handlebars of your bike.

Plenty of other accessories use the same method, and it works very well. The strap is very heavy, and the hook gives it a very solid feeling. The inside of the clamp is ribbed, so once you have it secured, it is very solidly mounted. However, once mounted it is easily removable should you have to lock your bike up and spend the night in a haunted mansion.


At four inches long, the light is compact, and I assume the size is dictated by the batteries. The Urban 180 is a USB chargeable light, so it's great for me as a commuter; when I get into the office, I just plug it in, and it's charged for the ride home. The Urban 180 has a light on the rear so you know when it is fully charged.

Indicator light on the back. 
In the photo above, you can see the sidelights - they are bright as well (though not as bright as the forward facing light) and should contribute some extra visibility when riding at night. Once again, this is just my gut feeling, I don't have any hard data to back up my assertion. However, if you want to look at it logically, we can do this:

1. I use lights for side visibility on my bicycle. 
2. I rode my bicycle with side lights on and did not die.
3. I am Human
4. You are Human*
5. Therefore, side lights on a bicycle mean you will not die. 

I'm sure someone will call out my logic skills on that, but I want you all to keep in mind that I never graduated college, and I like Jackass movies. Why are you even wasting your time reading what I write? I'm starting to question your logic, to be very frank. 

Lights from the side. 

The Urban 180 really is super bright. 180 lumens is far brighter than any light I have had on my handlebars, and for commuting, it should be more than adequate.

This is kind of artsy - I like it. 
In addition to the  bright setting, there is also a medium and low brightness setting, along with a "blinking" mode. The USB cable needed to charge it is included in the package, but the light uses a standard micro USB cable to charge, so you don't have to worry about finding a proprietary cable if you somehow lose yours.

I didn't weigh the Urban 180, but it's fairly light - once again, any weight is worth the light tradeoff, in my opinion. Since it is all self enclosed, it is much lighter than some other high output systems that require a separate battery pack.  It feels very well made, with lots of great small details; the USB charging port is on the bottom of the light, covered by a nice tight fitting silicone flap to protect it from the elements. The Urban 180 is a really powerful light in a small package. There are even brighter models available on the website - The Urban series goes up to 500 lumens at not too much more of a premium, all without a separate battery pack.

The Urban 180 is $99.99, and well worth it for the light that it brings.

In addition, Light and Motion has a blog here, where they often run contests to give away their products. They have asked me to contribute to their blog, so look for some sort of guest post there in the future.

There will also be one more post here tomorrow, and then we will maintain radio silence until the 27th.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'm So Busy, I Originally Forgot To Title This Post

This is dumb, but it made me laugh.

I am busy cleaning my desk off before I go underground, and my time is very dear. Unfortunately this will have to count as a post today

However, I will give you a second video as bonus content. This really is my favorite bicycle song, and it always makes me smile.

They used the song to great effect in Jackass 3D, one of my favorite dumb things to watch.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today's Post is Not a Review.

As some of you may know, I ride a bike occasionally - though I have been sidelined this year by a couple of things; I have a daughter who doesn't want to go to school/wake up early, and it was a million degrees this summer. When those two things aren't going on, I'm actually a pretty good commuter, and ride the full distance to my office. When those two things are going on, I end up driving rather than riding, and I don't like it. In an effort to at least get some saddle time in, I have been riding to the train station and taking the train part of the way to the office. Maybe all the way, I'll never tell. I do ride at least 5 miles on the way home, so there is that.

Normally, I never see anything worthwhile on the train - I've actually ridden enough that I know some of the regular characters. I'd love to take a photo of the guy who dresses very nicely but overdyes his hair for you, but I think he'd catch me. He is obviously some sort of businessman, and he carries a very nice briefcase.

I guess he likes to party as well, because as he got off of the train, this little baggie dropped in his wake.

This is maybe 1/4" square, and I was totally shocked to see this fall off of his person. I don't know what it held originally, but I don't know of anything other than crack that comes in bags that little (or so I've heard). This guy is always dressed in a nice suit and overcoat, and he has to be at least 50 years old. I would never have noticed him, except for the fact that he dyes his hair a severe black. I don't know that he is doing crack, but I do know for sure that this dropped off  his person as he exited. I assume he is a banker or a financial person, because he is always reading the Wall Street Journal as he rides.

That is what I saw on the train on a foggy Friday. You never know what to expect.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The BikeConsole iPhone Mount - Installation and Review

Since I am an early adopter, and needed the ability to move appointments and send harassing text messages verbally, I actually stood in a line to upgrade to the iPhone 4S. As I stood in my line, I was Googling away on my perfectly functioning iPhone 3G, looking for a bike mount for the new phone. I am afraid to admit that I'm a headphone guy; I love having music on my rides. I do feel a little guilty sometimes because everyone says "You'll die if you can't hear the car that's going to run you over". I can't bunny hop, so I don't see myself doing an elegant move to get out of the way of being squashed, and I'd rather go out hearing something good than hearing accident sounds; they always stress me out.

I had been using a cheap mount that I found on eBay for .99 + shipping for my 3G, and it worked fine and was solid. However, the phone had to be naked in the mount, so it was for nice day rides only. I definitely wanted some protection for the phone this time around, especially as I have designs on rain commuting this year, and I like to use my phone as a computer. There are a ton of apps available to let you do so, and I use Runkeeper, though I am also giving Bikebrain a try in order to give you a couple of options.

I found BikeConsole online and contacted them; they offered to send me a BikeConsole and one of their new products - the BikeCharge. I'll be installing and reviewing that later, but this post is about the BikeConsole.

First, the installation. Everything you see above comes in the box. The large black piece is the silicone cradle for the phone when it is in the case. The console actually comes with a cradle for the 3G as well, so that's nice bonus. Note well the Allen key; it is all you need to install the mount, and it is included in the package. Also included is a spare silicone band used as a safety to keep it closed.

Handlebar Mount

All you need to do is slip the strap around the handlebar, then use the included Allen wrench to tighten it. Once the mount is secure, put the phone in the included box and slide it onto the mount. That's it. The case is a thing of beauty, and if it didn't have the clip on the back, I would probably use it as a case most of the time. It has a touch sensitive front, and a button, so the basic functionalities are available. There is no access for the volume buttons. There is a port for the headphones, and it is covered by a silicone flap.

Closing Latch - you can see where the band clips. 

Silicone cradle in the case

Rail on the back to connect it to the mount. 

There is a cutout for the camera, but the flash is reflected by the case. It gives an interesting effect, but I ended up turning the flash off to avoid it in other pictures.


Once installed, the mount can be oriented either horizontally or vertically, by twisting it.

Auto Corrected - So You Can See It. 

The BikeConsole mount is solid on the handlebar, and the case is very secure, with a solid snap lock on the bottom and a silicone band to provide secondary closure should the clasp somehow break. BikeMount makes a model for many smartphones, with complete list of available options on their website. It can be mounted on the bar or on the stem, whatever your pleasure.I like this mount quite a bit, because it protects the phone well, and allows you to use the touch screen while providing that protection. If there is any nitpick, it's that I can't adjust the volume while it is in the case.

The BikeConsole is available here for $54.99, and is available for several models of smartphone. Spare bicycle mounts are also available, so you can just move the case from bike to bike if that is your pleasure.

I like this a lot, and I'm glad that I am cradling Siri in safety, rather than hanging her in the wind as my old handlebar mount did.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Linkdump - Amazon Edition, Complete With Giveaway.

I'm going to keep the "linkdump" feature going for as long as I can while making it kind of interesting. I'm planning to come in strong for next week as well, and fill your face with my computer words every day until Thursday the 15th, when I must go underground to avoid the alien invasion. If that whole thing turns out to be a hoax, then I will resume posting on the 27th of December, and rocket us into the end of the year with some year end roundup stuff, resolutions, and a NYE ride in to work.

IF we all survive. 

In the meantime, here are some books that I will be taking into the bunker with me. The majority are bike related, but all are great books. 

Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Championship Bicycle Racer I got this for Christmas last year, and I enjoyed it a lot. Major Taylor was the first black World Champion of anything, and he was an interesting individual to boot. Unfortunately after he retired he hit some snags and ended up dying a pauper at the age of 53. This is a great read. I thought I wrote a full article review, but I can't find it. 

Ballad Of The Whiskey Robber: A True Story Of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, And Broken Hearts. This is another great book that my wife gave me. It's not bicycle related, but it is sports related, so I'm going to give myself a pass in order to recommend a great book you may have never heard of. BOTWR:ATSOBHIHTPSMDABH is the incredible true story of Attila Ambrus, a Transylvanian professional hockey player who takes up robbing post offices to make ends meet. It's an incredible true story, and a great book.  

Escape Artist I'm torn on this book; one the one hand, I like it, and enjoyed reading it. On the other hand, there are some things about the book that bother me; his relationship with his suddenly dying wife seems to be very secondary to the cycling aspect of the story, though I think that he meant it to mean more. I am going to read it again and see if I can get a different perspective, since I posted it here. The writing is good, and the basic story is ok, but some aspects are a bit underdeveloped, like my legs. 

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance; An Inquiry Into Values. This one is also not bicycle related, but it is two wheel related, so I'm again going to give myself a pass I'm still not so zen as I'd like to be, but this is my problem, not the book. I first read this when I was in my late teens; one of my mother's co-workers gave me a hardcover copy on my 16th birthday. I remember he being a groovy older lady, though I've forgotten her name. I've read this book at least ten times, and I always come away with something new. This is a paperback copy that I bought to take on a motorcycle trip. 

French Revolutions:Cycling the Tour De France. I know I said I was going to reread "Escape Artist", but I think I'll probably reread this book first, after I finish the Civil War trilogy I'm reading. This book is a nice light sorbet for your brain. It's the travelogue of a guy who decides to cycle the route of the Tour De France a few weeks before the pros, and it's an interesting tour of France, the race, and people. He's a good writer (unlike myself) and the book is pretty funny. He's able to capture the unique character of all of the people he meets, and makes the reader feel as if they are riding along on the adventure.

There are my links for this week and please, if you have any good bike book recommendations, throw them in the comments. I mentioned a giveaway in the blog title, and here it is; if you would like to read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", I will mail you the copy above. I didn't realize that I had two copies of the book until I started pulling stuff of the shelves for this article, and I don't need both. The first person to post "I want it" on the comments will win this copy - I'll even autograph it if you want. The only rule is that if you have already read it, please let someone who hasn't claim it. I'm guessing that no one will claim it at all, but we shall see. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Installing Bicycle Grips

Since I had to install new grips on the Bloggipede, I thought I would take some photos of the process so that someone looking for a "how to" would be able to find one.

Installing grips is very easy. You will need a pair of grips, hairspray, and a bike to install them on.

Pictured: Hairspray. 

It's what's not here that makes the photo. 

Step one. Spray some hairspray in the grips. I am using my daughter's hairspray, partially because it smells
like vanilla, but mostly because it's the only spray we had in the house.

Fun fact:I snapped this picture with the tip of my nose. 

Spray liberally, and roll it around. Try to coat the entire inside.

Twist the night away

Finally, slip it on. Twist the grip to get it on well, and be sure to get the design on the grip the way you want it - the hairspray will dry fairly quickly once you stop moving the grip, so get it aligned before you stop twisting.

Once you have it the way you want it, leave it alone; the spray will dry fairly quickly. That's all it takes to install grips.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Installing The M210 Mini Monkey Light Bike Light - And A Review

One of the things I dislike the most about cycling in Dallas is riding at night; I never feel like I am visible enough. One option is to dress like a cellphone while I ride so that drivers will pay attention to me. The other is to light myself up like a Christmas tree and pray that I catch someone's eye so they don't kill me on their way home.

My current commuting kit. 

That's where the Monkeylight comes in. Blinkies, headlights, and taillights are important, but being seen from the side (and more importantly), getting a distracted drivers attention, is the harder part of the equation. The Monkeylight accomplishes both of those things easily and in a very neat way.

First, the install; the package includes everything you see below. The light, the batteries, zip ties, and a metal "anti - theft" strap, along with stickers and some tiny spoke cards - or maybe trading cards, I'm not sure.

It's in the bag, baby. 

My first thought when I saw the Monkeylight was that it's just a circuit board, and will never last. What you can't see in the pictures is that the board is completely enclosed in resin or rubber, protecting it from the elements. The Monkeylight is very solidly built, and makes my bike look super Hi-Tech to to boot.

This thing is sealed up. 

Installing is pretty straightforward - zip tie the board to the spokes as shown.

Zip ties are my duct tape anyway.

Zip tie the battery cylinder to the hub, on the opposite side of the wheel from the light itself; this is to keep the wheel balanced. I don't question the idea of balancing the setup, but I do question wether the weight of the batteries is offset by the weight of the light itself. I didn't weigh them, but the light board didn't seem like it weighed as much as 3 AA batteries.

That black thing is the waterproof battery cylinder

Once installed, turn it on and pedal away. There is both a high and a low setting on the light, and a lot of patterns to choose from - and that is where it's at. Blinking lights are fine, of course, but I'm banking on getting some attention with this thing. Zigzags, hearts, stripes, triangles, and more are generated by the wheel movement. That might make someone look twice; at least that's what I'm hoping for. The Monkeylight isn't only visible from the side, as the LED lights are super bright and throw enough light out to light up the street underneath the bike.

This isn't a great video, but it's hard to capture the effect by myself. This gives you an idea. Below is an "official" video to show you what it really looks like "on the streets" yo.

I didn't weigh the unit, and unless my readers speak up and tell me you need that, I'm not going to start weighing the stuff I review. This weighs as much as six AA batteries, essentially, so if you are a weight weenie, this isn't for you. I'm betting that if you read this blog, you are more of a commuter, and visibility is more important than a few ounces of weight. This thing is super bright, and I don't think there is a better way to make yourself visible from the side - and have a good time doing it.

It is hard to photograph stickers on a chrome frame. 

Oh, I forgot the last step - I had to install a sponsor sticker on the Bloggipede. I am very impressed by the Monkeylight - at $49.99 it is an excellent value - as long as it holds up to extended use. I do expect it to hold up just fine, as it seems very well built. I will report the extended test results in a couple of months, so be on the lookout for that report soon.

The M210 Mini Monkey Light LED is available here for $49.99, and will be shipping in February.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NuVinci N360 Friction Comparison - I'm Using Something I learned in High School!

The first article I wrote about the NuVinci N360 that explains how it works is here. In the comments on that article, someone mentioned that internal friction was an issue with this type of hub. When I finally finished installing the NuVinci it was a pretty nasty day, and I didn't feel like putting fenders on the bike just to take it on a test ride. Instead, I took a few minutes with a few different types of bikes and compared the spin time of different types of drivetrains. My totally unscientific method was to put each bike in the work stand, shift into the highest gear, give the crank ten revolutions, and time the wheel's spin from when I let go of the crank until it came to a complete stop. I did this 3 times for each bike, and I will post the average spin and longest spin.

NuVinci N360

The first hub was the NuVinci N360 - After ten revolutions, the wheel averaged a spin time of 19.2 seconds, with the longest spin time of 19.8

That is one blurry photo. Schwinn High Sierra, WTB hub

The second hub was the WTB freehub on my Schwinn High Sierra - that spun for an average of 46.7 seconds. The longest spin for this setup was 48.1 seconds.

Nexus 7

Next I tested a Shimano Nexus 7 speed internal hub. This hub actually had the worst friction of the lot, clocking in an average spin time of 12.3 seconds, with the longest spin at 13.2 seconds.

Like Buttah. 

Finally I put my 1973 Raleigh International in the stand. I picked this bike up from a day laborer a few months ago and haven't done a rebuild on the high flange Record hubs yet, so this was going to be a crapshoot. Average spin time on 38 year old Record hubs? 1 minute 11 seconds, with the longest spin clocking in at a whopping 1 minute and 13 seconds.

In conclusion, while there is indeed some friction drag on the NuVinci hub, it is less than the drag on a Nexus, and not too different than a free hub. If you want to ride without drag, find yourself some Record hubs. Otherwise, I don't find the friction drag on the NuVinci to be a real factor; a Nexus has more drag, and the NuVinci is only 20 seconds or so less spin than a regular freehub. I rode that Nexus for a long time and never noticed a difference. If you are racing, that might be a factor, but if you are commuting, I think the benefits of the hub outweigh the drag factor of the NuVinci.

The NuVinci is $399, available through your bicycle shop.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Installing the NuVinci n360 Hub

After cold setting my Ross frame, it was time to install the ultra modern NuVinci hub on a 27 year old bike. Installation was actually very straightforward and fairly easy. After figuring out the alignment angle using the numbers on the shift assembly and lining up the axle flats to the angle, I slipped the shift assembly on, bolted in my wheel, and then built the rest of the bike. I would say that if you can change a wheel, you can install the NuVinci on your bike. Just be careful, and whatever you do, don't accidentally drop the wheel - I did and my shift assembly came apart - luckily, it's pretty simple to get back together. I wish I'd had the foresight to take pictures while it was open, but I was too worried about getting it back together to grab the camera.

I was going to take some photos of the install process, but I only have two hands - so I'm just going to post the video that Fallbrook has up instead. If you Googled this article looking for insights, I have none, except the "dont drop it" part. Watch the video, installation is easy.

NuVinci actually brought me a prebuilt wheel with the shift cables already installed so there isn't much to discuss there. I had planned to build the Ross up with red cabling, and will probably do so when I need to replace the cables in the NuVinci shift assembly - look for that article in a couple of years.

I will do an article on taking the wheel off soon, as I think that looks more confusing than it is - but I have to arrange a photographer.

The Bloggipede in the stand after completed install. 

As you can see, the setup looks very clean, with no cable and derailluer clutter at the rear wheel. The shift interface is actually behind the dropout when the NuVinci is installed, and as such it's a much more streamlined look than anything out there. Some other internally geared hubs have an outboard shift interface to clutter up the rear drop, and exposed cables as a result. This is almost fixie clean.

Oh so very clean. I still have to zip tie the cables down. 

I had planned for this installation article to be much longer with lots of techy photos, but the installation was a snap, literally. The hardest part was spreading the dropouts to 135 mm on my bike to make the hub fit; if you don't mess with old frames then installation on your modern bike should be a ten minute affair.

I have ridden the bike around a little bit, and the best way to explain my first impression of  the ride is "different". Adjusting the tension constantly is a big change in riding style. Instead of upshifting and downshifting,trying to find the right combo of gears, you just twist the shifter like you would a volume dial to find the sweet spot - and the sweet spot is always there. It's easy, but a little strange at first.

The little hill gets steeper as you lessen the tension. 

I let my neighbor (and sometime riding buddy) ride the bike and the only word he had was "slick" - both for the shifting and the setup. He was impressed, and threw around phrases like "ultimate commuter" a bunch. When he stopped talking about me, he mentioned that the hub was pretty sweet as well.

Tomorrow I will put up some "data" on the hub - I did a fairly unscientific spin test to compare friction between the NuVinci hub, a Shimano internally geared hub, a free hub with cassette, and a freewheel hub.

The NuVinci website is here, and a list of distributors is here.

The N360 Hub kit is $399.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Linkdump - Play At Home Version

Today I'm going to make one post with links to all of the companies that have sent me stuff to review. If you want to order the same stuff so you can review along with me, then click through.

1. Uberhood Bicycle Umbrella. As I type this, the rain is coming down, so you can expect a follow up article in heavier rain soon.

2. NuVinci N360 hub. This is installed, so be prepared to read about it next week.

3. Monkeylectric Bike Light. This is flat out cool, and looks like fun and practicality rolled into one.

4. Bikecharge bike generator. This looks like a great alternative to a generator hub for a commuter.

5. Bikeconsole iPhone mount. I loved having my 3G on the handlebars, but hated that it was unprotected. The Bikemount actually comes with an incredible case as a part of the setup.

6. Aero Tech clothing has sent me a couple of different made in USA bibs. I am debating taking photos of myself in said bibs for the article. I'm leaning towards "no".

7. Chrome shoes has sent me some of their Kursk SPD shoes to give a run. I was hoping to compare a couple of different brands, but no one else seems to be interested.

8. Octopus Caps is sending me a winter cap to try out and report on. I am a cycling cap guy, and have several that I wear in the summer - but in the winter, they do not keep my head warm. I have one of those neoprene skull caps, but I feel like a brain patient when I wear it. Plus, my ears get cold.

As you see, I have my work cut out for me. Some of these reviews will "drop" prior to my Chrimble vacation, and some after.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Have Posted Every Day For a While Now

So, Like Cal Ripken, I don't want to screw up my record. I'm going to throw up a relevant "Greatest Hits" type post - and link to my article on the NuVinci from earlier this year. The NuVinci is the hub I have finally finished installing on the Bloggipede. I haven't ridden it yet, but can tell you that it looks awesome, and I am excited to get up on it. As anticipated, my crankset did arrive yesterday, and I switched everything out posthaste. The bike is ready for finishing touches and a photoshoot, so you can look for that soon. My hand is much healed, so things can move forward again - I don't think I'll do any riding to work until next week, but I am considering doing a little Christmas Light Riding before I leave town.

NuVinci Diagram

We'll see.

In the meantime, I am reaching waaaayyy back into earlier this year and linking to an article I wrote about the NuVinci after the NAHBS.

Read it here.

I'm doing this for some of my newer readers (like my English contingent - cheerio,  folks!)

Sweet Ride