søndag, januar 17, 2010

Two posts in one day!!

I wrote a review on Recumbent Journal of my new recumbent. As you can tell, I rather like it ;-) Many bike reviews go into great technical detail, but although quality components matter to me I don't find it particularly interesting to write about. So instead I wrote more about the selection process, what works for me, what it's like living with the bike etc.

It's an ICE B1, a short-wheelbase bike with over seat steering. And it folds! Well, not as small as the Birdy, or the Xootr Swift before that. But smaller than pretty much any recumbent I can think of. And using a few basic tools, the frame will split into 3 pieces and apparently allows the whole bike to fit in a suitcase. That would be really cool for a tour, though I haven't gotten anything planned.
Yet again, the blog's name proves to be rather apt..

The Stelvio's have turned out to work rather well for touring, and also for more general riding. Summer of 2009, I did 4-5 short tours on the Birdy. Short in time duration - all long weekends - but not necessarily short in terms of distance. The Birdy easily handled 40-60 miles per day with a load, even in hilly northern California with only a 9-speed Capreo.

This past summer I also did a lot of long day rides, unloaded. But I found as the mileage increased, I started getting back-aches. Most likely because the handlebars on the Birdy are just a little too low for me, and I have the older non-adjustable sport stem. Hence I did more of my long rides/tours on my recumbent than the Birdy.

I'd very much like to fit one of the adjustable sport stems to the Birdy, so I can keep riding it. And it should also make packing the bike in a suitcase quicker - no need to remove the handlebars from the stem, when the stem can be separated! Seems like spares are barely available in the US anymore, so this upgrade may have to wait for my next Europe trip.

søndag, februar 15, 2009

I have been thinking about getting new tires for the Birdy for a while. The Mrs always rolls away from me downhill on her Moulton TSR with Schwalbe Stelvio tires, and from what I can see most people think these tires are significantly faster than the stock Maxxis Birdy tires.

So, I got a pair of Stelvios, 18x1 1/8 with a wire bead. They are very small - you will want to get matching inner tubes, as the stock 18x1.5 tubes are bigger than the tires and were very hard to fit! I'm sure someone will be curious about weight - my kitchen scale says the Stelvios were 220g, v.s. the Maxxis at 350g. That's a weight reduction of 260g (0.6 lbs) for two tires, which is of course quite trivial in any real sense - though it sounds more impressive as a 37% reduction!

There's been a lot of rain, so I haven't had a chance to go for any long rides yet. My first impression is that ride quality isn't noticably worse, which I had expected with a much narrower tire at 120 psi rather than a wide tire at 90 psi. The Stelvios are much smaller than the Maxxis, and so gearing is definitely affected. I'll have to do a rollout measurement to find how much, but my feeling is that I'll more than ever think the bike is geared a little low. Oh well, if the tour we keep thinking about ever happens I'll be better equiped for hill climbing with a load ;-)

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tirsdag, november 04, 2008

I'm just about to fly with the Birdy for the first time. A friend of mine has a Bike Friday and kindly lent me the Samsonite F'lite 31" case for this trip.

Packing the case went pretty well. Getting the bike disassembled/folded was the least of my problems - once it was in the case, there was so much room I had to do some head scratching on how to pad/brace it so it won't move around in shipping. Basically the bike took up only the bottom half of the case, and with a fair bit of room around the sides. Cunningly, once the wheels are off, the Birdy can be folded such that the derailleur sits between the fork legs - hence no chance of it getting bent.

Weight-wise, the bike + tools + shoes + helmet + case = 40 lbs on our probably wildly inaccurate home scale. So I put all my clothes in too! Hope that our scale isn't too far off what they find at the airport, or I may have to do some last minute redistribution to my carry-on luggage....

UPDATE: one thing about packing my Birdy - the particular one I have isn't as fast to pack as Birdys are often made out to be. Mine doesn't have the height-adjustable handlebar riser, which means that I can't just slide the handlebars off to pack in the case. I have to unbolt the stem faceplate to take the bars off. Ok, it's just one more step, but it's a little fiddly and adds time.


onsdag, oktober 29, 2008

Well, I had intended to post pictures of the Birdy for a long time. Until I recently got the stem extender I ordered 2 months ago, I didn't feel the bike was "finished". The bike shop was absolutely great - the delay lay with either Royal Mail or USPS. Without the stem extender, I could not raise the seat as high as I would like because the bars would have been far too low. So on longer rides, my knees felt tender along with my wrists and neck.

The Acor Aberhallo (made by Satori) has worked out great. Now I can raise the seat high enough, and the bars are still relatively higher than they were before. It seems well made and sturdy, and it was very easy to fit.

I'm still debating whether or not to move the handlebar bag back to the handlebars. I really like using it on the Klickfix extender on the seatpost, except the Klickfix mount stops the seatpost going in all the way - and that means that when folded the bike rests on the chainring instead of on the seatpost. On the other hand - with the stem extender, I'm not sure I want to put any extra weight on the bars...


mandag, juni 09, 2008

The Xootr has gone. Long live the Xootr.. I was no longer commuting by bus and train, and on the potholed roads of San Francisco the ultra stiff frame of the Xootr was making me unhappy. A couple of trips out of the city reminded me what a joy the Xootr can be on good roads, so it was with a somewhat heavy heart that I decided to sell the Swift to my dad around xmas. His job moved to a new location about 10 miles away, and his old bike wasn't up to the distance. I think mostly he plans to bike the distance, but the Swift's ability to fit in a car appealed because of the unpredictable English weather.

Fast forward 6 months, and I've been doing some trips for work. I miss having a bike along! Also, my wife got a Moulton TSR DB, and that magical suspension makes it ride better than any of my big-wheel bikes. So suspension and folding have been mulling around in my mind.. Way back before I bought the Xootr, I test rode a Birdy but ended up not getting it because it was expensive and I was really fixated on drop bars. Now I realize I rarely use the drops, so a flat bar with bar ends works fine for me. Also, I found a really good deal on eBay for a new-old stock Birdy Silver (Capreo).

So far, so good. It rides really well on San Francisco's bumpy roads, and feels fast and responsive. I'm a little annoyed that one of the front brakes rattles like hell, but discovered that it just needs a shim (spacer washer) to take up the slack. I had that on the brakes I bought for the Xootr too - Shimano has a real problem with manufacturing tolerances, it didn't seem like the bike shop was suprised..

Pictures to follow..

fredag, juni 22, 2007

Showing the old quill stem I used to make my "HubBub" adapter to use the Sturmey-Archer SA-8 shifter on drop handlebars.

You will need:
  • an old quill stem
  • a hacksaw & file
  • a tape measure
  • a new bolt
measure the length of the shifter, then cut the quill stem such that you have about 1" of stem in addition to the wedge inside the handlebar when mounted. Well, 1" was a number taken from the top of my head, but it seemed a reasonable compromise and that's what I used. After all - there's not much load on this (only the twisting action when shifting) so it doesn't need to be super strong!

You'll need to visit your local hardware store and find a new bolt of suitable length. I don't recall what diameter & pitch the thread was, but it was certainly a standard size and I had no problems finding something suitable.

That's it, you're done! Well, almost... The S-A 8 shifter is designed to be wedged up against the handlebar grips, and so there's nothing to keep the black rubber grip onto the shifter. I superglued mine on - it's stayed on for a year now.

[UPDATE] I forgot completely - the quill stem is slightly smaller than the handlebar the shifter is designed to mount on. I made a shim by cutting strips of plastic bottle and wrapping around the stem. I've also heard aluminum drink can suggested, that sounds like it would work fine too.


mandag, mai 28, 2007

This is the cable routing that Peter Reich recommended to me. Initially the shifting was a little "sticky", but after reducing the number of bends in the cable it got noticably better.

The cable goes through the top braze-on on the main tube, then under the main hinge on the inside of the seat stay, over the top of the brake bridge, then over the outside of the opposite seat stay and down to the hub.

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The incomparable "Butt Buddy". Lame name, but it pretty much does what it says on the tin. The elastomers give almost 1 cm of damping - this won't be enough for offroad riding, but it does noticably reduce road vibration and smaller bumps. I can't notice it flexing much when I pedal at high cadence either.

If I were starting from scratch, I might have prefered a sprung Brooks saddle. But that would have been fairly expensive. I got my titanium rail saddle for $20 secondhand, and the Butt Buddy was on sale for $25. If that isn't a bargain, I don't know!

I did call it "random updates", didn't I? It's been a while ;-)

The Zefal kid fenders/mudguards lasted about 1 month on the bike. The front fender actually worked really well, but must have been knocked hard at some point because when I fetched my bike off the bike rack on the shuttle the fender had snapped off at the mounting point. The rear fender wasn't really long enough, and never prevented me from getting a wet stripe up my back. I had considered adding a little length of PET bottle or something, but when the front snapped off I decided to cut my losses.

In the picture you can see my new fenders, Planet Bike Freddy fenders. So far they've been on for 6 months, still going strong! There's no road spray at all, and they seem extremely sturdy. When I fold the bike, it rests on the back fender. Admittedly, I'm aware of it and put the bike down carefully, but still it is so far resisting this punishment. 2 thumbs up, much recommended!