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View Diary: An abortive "Bike to Work" Day ... with many bike to work days (110 comments)

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  •  I'm glad (18+ / 0-)

    that you're able to commute by bike at least some of the time - I wish I could.

    I think you will be happier when you can switch to a touring bike and leave the heavy and unnecessary batteries and motor behind. I'm a 200 lb 50 year old male, yet I can always pedal up any hill with a triple chainring.  I live in a hilly town in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, BTW.

    •  Compact double crankset (13+ / 0-)

      Seems to be the solution for me, although I haven't finished building the bike yet.

      A triple crankset would work too but is heavier. The exercise I get from a 28 mile round trip with one monumental hill is exhilarating even at 49 years old. You just have to listen to your body.

      The important thing is to find equipment that you enjoy, including electric assist. But carrying the extra weight when pedaling would not be my cup of tea.

      Reaganomics: The belief that: 1) unregulated capitalism can produce unlimited goods for an unlimited number of people on a planet with finite resources; 2) You can increase revenue by decreasing revenue.

      by FrY10cK on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:20:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wheels are generally where you get the most (8+ / 0-)

        weight savings. That and the frame.  You aren't saving a whole lot of weight by going with a compact as opposed to a triple.  You're looking at maybe dropping 100 grams.  I run a mountain triple, Shimano XT, on my touring/commuting bike.  I live relatively close to work and am building up a nice little single speed with a coaster brake as my commuter.  That's the best for nice flat areas, for sure.

        I refuse to represent my political beliefs using numbers. It isn't accurate, nor is it helpful. But I'm around a -10 on both scales.

        by AoT on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:11:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How do put a coaster brake (0+ / 0-)

          on an aluminum road bike frame I have lying around?

          Reaganomics: The belief that: 1) unregulated capitalism can produce unlimited goods for an unlimited number of people on a planet with finite resources; 2) You can increase revenue by decreasing revenue.

          by FrY10cK on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:40:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You need a coaster brake hub, I think. (4+ / 0-)

            I'd think carefully before relying on a coaster brake, though I know some single speed aficionados do. Rear brakes are supplementary; in hard braking weight shifts to the front wheel. A heavy application of rear brake only results in a useless skid.

            When I'm braking on a steep hill I get out of the seat and throw my weight back over the rear wheel so I can use both brakes. I'm guessing that the single speed folks who use them have some anti-skid braking technique like that, or they just live without being able to stop fast.

            I've lost my faith in nihilism

            by grumpynerd on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 12:22:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks. (3+ / 0-)

              I have old Dura-Ace 7700 brakes laying around so I might as well use them. I think I was overcome with the nostalgia of using my coaster brake to power slide all over the place when I was a kid.

              Does anyone make a cog to turn a regular road bike hub into a single speed?

              Reaganomics: The belief that: 1) unregulated capitalism can produce unlimited goods for an unlimited number of people on a planet with finite resources; 2) You can increase revenue by decreasing revenue.

              by FrY10cK on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 12:44:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think you want to look at Sheld Brown's website (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lujane, FrY10cK, pHunbalanced, HeyMikey

                He's got lots of articles on stuff like setting up a single speed bike.

                Yes, obviously there are single speed freewheeling hubs but you have to make sure you get one that fits your frame.  The most common freewheeling hubs are sized for smaller BMX frames.

                Depending on the manufacturer of your hub, I think you can just take your existing wheel and mount a cluster in which all the cogs but one have been replaced with spacers. Details are in the Sheldon Brown article. That makes more sense than building or buying a new single speed wheel, until you're sure single speed is for you.  Then by all means build a custom single speed wheel. It will be lighter and stronger because it doesn't have to be dished to accommodate the cluster.

                I've lost my faith in nihilism

                by grumpynerd on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:09:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Great info. (0+ / 0-)

                  There must be a cog+spacer thingy that you can just buy off the shelf but I'm not sure what to term to google:

                  single speed cassette?
                  cog with built in spacer?
                  etc.

                  Reaganomics: The belief that: 1) unregulated capitalism can produce unlimited goods for an unlimited number of people on a planet with finite resources; 2) You can increase revenue by decreasing revenue.

                  by FrY10cK on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:45:05 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  That Sheldon Brown page bears studying. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  pHunbalanced

                  After a quick look, it seems to indicate you can put a BMX cog on a Shimano freehub.

                  The best choice for this is to use BMX cassette sprockets. These sprockets are quite inexpensive, and are available in a range of sizes. They have taller teeth than sprockets designed for derailer use.

                  That section is a little unclear though.

                  Reaganomics: The belief that: 1) unregulated capitalism can produce unlimited goods for an unlimited number of people on a planet with finite resources; 2) You can increase revenue by decreasing revenue.

                  by FrY10cK on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:03:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Rims, then tires, then tubes. (7+ / 0-)

          I used to ride on latex tubes. I don't see them these days at the bike shop so  I don't know if they still make them. I found they gave a less harsh ride at full inflation. They also flat less, because latex is so flexible.

          A quality tire also makes a huge difference.  I've tried heavy supposedly bulletproof commuter tires, but have not found them much if any better than a very high quality lightweight tire when it comes to getting flats.  I think it's because thick rubber doesn't contribute at all to puncture resistance, what matters is the quality of the fabric plys the rubber is mated to.

          Same goes for rims. I've found a high quality rim of moderate weight to be stronger than a heavy, cheap rim even if the cheap rim is alloy. The only exception from this shave weight from the wheel philosophy I have is spokes. I prefer a heavy gauge spoke because it doesn't weigh that much more and broken spokes are a pain on the road.

          The price of a good wheel can be a little shocking, but there is no single component you can replace that will affect the performance AND convenience of a bike more. You'll get a nicer ride, better performance, fewer flats and less wheel warping.  In fact, I'd say that if you want a very good bike but don't have the money, buy an OK second hand bike and spend the savings on the wheels.

          I've lost my faith in nihilism

          by grumpynerd on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 12:51:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Specialized Armadillo tires. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            aufklaerer

            I had some old Kenda tires with Mr. Tuffy liners. Repeated flats. Asked the local bike shop to recommend the absolute most flat-resistant tires on the market; they said Specialized Armadillos. I switched to those and have had less than 1 flat a year since. Love'em.

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:47:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  SRAM has the solution (7+ / 0-)

        their Apex gruppo is a compact double, but an even wider gear range than a triple.  

        I have a new Specialized Roubaix Elite with that config.  

        It's awesome, and it's lighter than a triple.  

        Here's the bike:

        http://www.specialized.com/...

        I've had it a week, and I have back, shoulder, and hand problems, and have had no pain or neuropathy over about 150 miles so far.  

        Apex rox.  Shifts fast, feels great, and the shifters are the most ergonomic I've used.  

        I have predicted, for a long time, that all that's left for these people is to start playing in their own feces. But even I never predicted they'd freeze it and use it as a dildo.

        by Nada Lemming on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:09:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are the Apex shifters (0+ / 0-)

          significantly different from the Rival, Force, or Red shifters from Sram?

          Reaganomics: The belief that: 1) unregulated capitalism can produce unlimited goods for an unlimited number of people on a planet with finite resources; 2) You can increase revenue by decreasing revenue.

          by FrY10cK on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:42:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nope (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FrY10cK, pHunbalanced

            aluminum brake pull instead of carbon.  The shifter itself is still carbon I think.  Otherwise, identical, and they're all interchangeable.  

            I have predicted, for a long time, that all that's left for these people is to start playing in their own feces. But even I never predicted they'd freeze it and use it as a dildo.

            by Nada Lemming on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:56:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  SRAM makes an interesting rear hub (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, HeyMikey

        It has an internal three speed mechanism like the old Sturney-Archers but it also takes an eight speed external cluster.  On a compact 20" wheel it

        Frankly, I think 8 speed is overkill because without a front dérailleur the chain's a bit out of alignment, but you could build your own 6 speed cluster and put spacers on either end.

        Sturmey makes an 8 speed internal gear hub which ranges from 1:1 to 3.25:1. On 700c wheels that gives you from about 27 gear-inches to 89, in 14% increments except for a 30% jump at the top and bottom. That seems practical for most commuting, unless you have long downhills with fast moving traffic.

        For longer rides, I find gear spacing to be as big an issue as range. If you have a wide gear range then a triple means that when your legs turn to overcooked spaghetti you aren't wishing for a gear that's just a little bit higher and lower than what you have.  I find that happens on long, gradual uphills against a headwind.

        I've lost my faith in nihilism

        by grumpynerd on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:59:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I like the Schlumpf solution - (0+ / 0-)

        a two-gear system in the bottom bracket.  You just hit a button with your heel to change gears - no missed shifts and very easy to use.

        •  I read bike related forums all the time (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, HeyMikey, Lujane, cooper888

          and I can't believe how much stuff I'm learning in this one thread.

          Reaganomics: The belief that: 1) unregulated capitalism can produce unlimited goods for an unlimited number of people on a planet with finite resources; 2) You can increase revenue by decreasing revenue.

          by FrY10cK on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:10:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well ... (11+ / 0-)

      Not quite sure ... the electric assist really is 'nice', especially when hitting hills, with work gear, in heat, at the end of a long day, at the 15th+ mile ... However, as I commented, perhaps after some number of rides, I'll have built up my stamina and confidence such that I can move to a touring bike at a fraction of the weight ... Or, well, perhaps I'll just have that electric assist so that 'killer' hills only require some exertion rather than exhaustion.  Only time will tell.

      And, well, I went a good 12+ years without bike commuting really seeming to be an option.  Point really might be: "seeming to be".  Previous office, however, I wouldn't have the same shower access right by the bikes, no special bike locker (with coded access recording every entry -- with only building staff and employees who have signed bike commuting agreements having access), etc all being additional barriers to biking.  And, well, I am nearly certain that I would never have tried to do a bike commute without 'upgrading' to this electric assist (even as I've, over time, occasionally looked at getting a touring/commuting bike).

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:07:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I put my truck away last September. (5+ / 0-)

        I managed to get through an entire Idaho winter on my old mountain bike. I dressed in layers with a snow boarding shell to stay warm.

        At first the going was really slow and I needed to give myself an hour and a half. But, in time, my physical condition improved. I've now cut my time to about 30 minutes each way. I find the ride wakes me up and places me in an alert but meditative mind set. I now cycle everywhere.

        A few weeks ago, I spent a portion of the money I have saved on a beatiful commuter with racing slicks, singlet and jersey. Over the winter my thighs have grown quite large and I actually look like a cyclist. I crave healthy food and eat constantly without gaining weight. This last bit is completely unexpected. I just wanted to stop being a part of the problem.

        I've recently had some invites by riders to join in recreational rides. I'm a bit nervous but also curious.

        It's interesting how a small change for a simple reason can fundimentally change ones lifestyle and future experience.

        I like to believe in love as democracy - Salman Rushdie

        by crystalboy on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:02:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Lighter weight bike does make a huge difference (6+ / 0-)

      I'd been using my old mountain bike I got in the late 80's -- it is a great bike, but heavy as lead.  I finally one day borrowed my son's bike, much lighter, with shocks (:D, oh how I love the shock absorbers!) -- felt like I was flying. (Yeah, I've sort of stolen it from him).

      "On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps...of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again."

      by middleagedhousewife on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:07:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes and no to the weight issue.... (4+ / 0-)

        I just rebuilt a 1970's Gitane road bike as a touring bike.... which is perfect because touring bikes are based on older bike geometry anyway. And they are usually steel because steel provides a more comfortable ride.....

        Here is a link to what the bike looked like last year after I had made a few changes:

        http://www.gitaneusa.com/...

        And now after the rebuild:

        http://www.gitaneusa.com/...

        Click on the pics to enlarge.

        The bike cost 200$ originally. My guess is that I have spent another 13,00 total between last year (some experiments that didn't last) and the rebuild this winter.

        She weighs 27 pounds but is so comfortable I could ride all day. She isn't significantly heavier than a new steel touring bike but has things you can't get today like the beautiful sweeping forks that also help cushion the ride.

        So, I now have a completely custom bike that I designed for a total of 1,500$, with a frame I recycled.

        I am running a triple and a mountain bike gearing in the back to help with hills as I live in NH..... Interestingly I discovered that the gear range I picked is very similar to the gearing on new touring bikes built today.

        •  I love my heavy commuting bike. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, cooper888

          Call me crazy, but I converted a full-suspension downhill bike to a commuter. Basically did nothing but mount 26x1.5 slicks (80 psi), a seatpost-mount cargo rack, and a splash guard on the downtube.

          44 teeth on the big chainring; 11 teeth on the little gear in back; 27 speeds. Thought about upgrading the chainset and front derailleur to get higher gearing, but my 7-mile commute only had one downhill steep enough that I ran out of gears, and then only for 5-10 seconds. Decided to coast a few seconds and stop worrying.

          Commuted on this for several hundred miles over about 4 years. Quite hilly route in the Atlanta 'burbs. Loved it. Amazing how much simpler your ride becomes when you stop thinking about nearly all bumps. Wouldn't even break cadence for bumps that, on my old hardtail, would've require me to stand on the pedals.

          Heavy, sure. But I was doing it for exercise.

          Now I work from home. Still ride many mornings for fun & fitness.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:58:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's one (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            of the first things I noticed last year, that all the guys at the bike store obsessed constantly about road conditions while I rode happily on anything..... even dirt roads.

            Aluminum might be lighter, but who ever heard of an aluminum shock absorber?  

            Besides, if the frame is heavier you will lose more weight - and rider weight makes a much bigger difference than the weight of the frame.

            •  Most forks these day are Al (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HeyMikey

              At least most of the shock forks.  They don't use an aluminum coil, if they have a coil, but the majority of the shock is made of aluminum.

              I refuse to represent my political beliefs using numbers. It isn't accurate, nor is it helpful. But I'm around a -10 on both scales.

              by AoT on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:59:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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