Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best Mirror for the Brompton

As I’ve mentioned before, I really like the Mirrycle bar end mirror ( However, I can’t really install it on the Brompton because I tend to fold and unfold the bike many times. I guess it would work if the Brommie was never in a folded state.

I'd like to recommend the Zefal spin handlebar mirror (MSRP $19.99). The Zefal spin gives you a smaller “window” to look behind, though. It’s a compromise you make for having a mirror on a folding bike. Another positive is that you can fold the mirror “in” and, when you unfold it out, it tends to stay at your personal viewing angle. Finally, folding the mirror in does not interfere with folding/unfolding the Brompton.

Give the Zefal spin a try. I think you’ll like it for your Brompton or other folding bike. (Tag: Review of the Zefal spin handlebar mirror.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Brompton vs. Dahon Mu (folded state ONLY)

Alice got herself a Dahon Mu P8. Thought I'd post some pix of my Brompton compared to the Mu. The Brompton wins as it has a more compact, elegant package. It's not a total blowout, though. Keep in mind that the Mu comes with slightly bigger 20" wheels. Maybe if I get a chance to babysit this MU I'll give it a full review. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bike saddle protection: Target bags rock!

As I’ve mentioned before, I leave my bike outside the subway station while I spend my (typically) 9 to 5 day at the office. With my bike exposed to the elements, I usually cover my saddle with some sort of plastic cover to primarily avoid moisture from rain. I was trying shower caps for a while and they worked well, but the moisture caused the elastic part to lose its elasticity. This would cause the wind to blow the cap away. I would get these shower caps for free when staying at hotels.

After a while, I ran out of shower caps. I even bought a fancier one at the dollar store which also sagged out from the elastic part. So, I decided to go with the free plastic bags that you get at the grocery store. These are ok, but the plastic is thin and tears easily. And, some of the bags have predefined holes at the bottom (huh?). I don’t know why some have these, but maybe the manufacturers put them there so air can escape when packing them.

One bag doesn’t have these problems: the Target stores bag. These are thicker than your typical grocery store bag and they don’t come with holes. Best of all they’re free. The thickness of the plastic makes these bags last a long time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New dedicated commuter: Review of 2009 Novara Fusion

Woo hoo! Got a new ride! Found this at REI and the folks there let me apply a coupon. MSRP is $899, but I paid a little over $700 with tax. I think this is going to be my modus operandi: buy a new bike at a significant discount, ride it awhile, then sell it for what you paid for it or make a little profit(!). Lather, rinse and repeat. Ride a new bike for free or get paid for doing it! Anyway, on to the review…

This bike is like a tricked out Mercedes Benz. It’s got little accoutrements (big word, huh?) that make it stand out from other Internally Geared Hub (IGH) or city commuting bikes. A MBenz has things like heated seats, wipers on the headlights, air conditioned glove boxes, etc. Same with the Fusion. This bike has things like a bell in the brake levers, leather wrapped grips, dynamo power light...I like the color of this bike, which REI calls “Espresso”.

THE RIDE: Even though the bike is heavy (mine weighs 33 lbs), it can really roll fast. This may have to do with the 700x32 Vittoria Randonneur thin tires. You give it one pedal stroke and off you go. The drawback to the speed is that the ride is kinda rough. You’re better off sticking to pavement primarily. I am a fan of front suspensions because I do a lot of curb jumping, cutting through parking lots, and basically encountering many potholes or dips in city asphalt. I may have to ride this bike when I’m fairly sure I’ll be sticking to city streets and more “traditional” commutes.

To improve the harshness of the ride I will swap out the very nice leather saddle, which my sit bones do not agree with. And, look into Ergo or other ergonomic grips that will allow me to absorb the bumps from the front. The leather grips that come with this bike sure look nice, but don’t provide any padding at all. I would do padded gloves but, 1) I’m always in a hurry and can’t find them quickly enough and 2) I’m not sure there are any full finger padded gloves for cold weather riding.

SHIMANO NEXUS 8 HUB: My Fuji Kyoto had the Nexus 7, which was a great introduction to IGHs. When you compare the Nexus 8 to the Nexus 7, the 8 is quieter and allows you to shift when pedaling. When you shifted the 7, you pretty much had to be not pedaling or stopped. If you didn’t, you would be greeted with a significant clunking noise. This Nexus 8 is much smoother. Of course you get 1 extra gear, which increases the range. This bike comes with trigger rapidfire shifters, which psychologically may suggest that the shifting is more precise than the 7 on the Kyoto, which uses twist shifters. The 46T front crankset with the 20T rear cog gives this bike very good granny gearage for my area, which is hilly. As I’ve mentioned before, IGHs are great for city riding because they allow you to shift while stopping.

DISC BRAKES: I am anxious to try these brakes on a rainy commute. Rim brakes work good in most situations, but rain and other noxious weather is where disc brakes shine. I googled another review of the Fusion and there was a concern that some water/ice could pool in the cable housing below the bottom bracket (where the rear brake cable runs) in subfreezing commutes. This could cause the rear brakes to not engage. I don’t think I’ll have a problem with this since I usually tend to favor the front brake when stopping. And, the weather here is not so bad that it freezes AND precipitates. This only happens a few times per year. We’re such wimps in cold weather here that I think that all schools and employees are usually given the day off in such conditions. Still, this could be a mass tort lawsuit waiting to happen for REI.

LIGHTS: The front Basta Pilot halogen light is powered by a dynamo hub in the front. When rolling, the the top light illuminates and there is a circular ring of leds that flash on/off. Very nice. Again, the light is meant more for cars to see you rather than to fully light your way forward. If you do a lot of night riding, I would invest in a good LED setup to supplement this Basta light. The bottom part of this light seems to be a reflector only. There are 3 positions for the switch in this light. 1=off 2=on and 3=on. There is no difference between positions 2 and 3. I’ve tried them both and the light output and flashing seem the same. Anyone out there have the same experience?

The rear fender has a light sensitive blinkie that comes on in low light conditions. It is battery powered. It works! The flashing is not that bright, but should give you some visibility to cars and such. I will also supplement a good Planet Bike blinkie so that cars are sure to see you.

SUMMARY: This is a fine, dedicated commuter that is outfitted very nicely. Time will tell how it holds up as I pile on the miles.

PROS: Speediness, IGH, Fenders, Dynamo Powered light, Stock Blinkie light, Disc brakes, Bell, Color scheme

CONS: Weight, Stiff ride, No Chainguard, Stock Saddle

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cheng Shin Tires: Don’t Know What You Got til It’s Gone

These tires came with my Schwinn Voyageur and one of them developed a gash. I tried to do a homebrew fix by putting patch on the inside of the tire and some super glue on the tread side (see pix below). That didn’t work as the spot would bulge when I tried to get close to the max PSI recommended. The tire that gashed was my rear tire.
I don’t know that much about tires only that some feel and ride great and others are just adequate. These were strictly in the first category. It seemed that when you wanted to go fast, these tires would aid you in that. And, if you just wanted to go slow and cruise, these tires would absorb the bumps and help you on your merry way.

Retailers do not seem to carry them. I looked for them in Walmart or Kmart and they only have Bell tires. I replaced them with Forte Gotham slicks (w/o Kevlar belt). I’ll use the front tire as a spare.

Tire size of the Cheng Shins was 700x40 . I had only put about 700 miles on these before the gash. They still had plenty of tread left.

I had read that they were pretty ho-hum tires and that manufacturers put these on because of their cheapness. My review of these Cheng Shin tires is quite positive.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Big Apple Tires Do Not Give a Full Suspension-Type Ride (20” size)

There’s a lot of raves on the internet about Schwalbe Big Apple Tires. People say that they have a wide footprint and roll very well. I agree. I disagree when they claim that slapping these on can give you the equivalent of a full suspension. Here’s my review of the Big Apple Tires:

I was at a bike shop that I never go to because it’s so far away from my house. I saw that they had these tires at a very reasonable price ($25 each). I couldn’t pass these up because they usually run about $35 online and that price does not include shipping. The size of the tires I bought is 20x2.0.

I installed them on my Dahon Yeah, which has those cheap Kenda Kwest’s. The Kenda’s are basically your lowest common denominator tire that major manufacturers put on their bikes. It’s like what the airline attendant thinks when she hands you that mini bag of pretzels: We’d like to give you something cheaper than this, but the next cheapest thing is dog food.

They were a definite step-up from the Kendas. They roll fantastic. The wideness of the tires even gives you confidence to take these loose or off-road gravel paths. The range of the PSI is 30-70. At 40PSI they do absorb the rough asphalt that could give you the jarring feeling in the hands. When you inflate them at the max (70PSI), they give you speed. Not as much absorption of the rough asphalt, though.

However, curb dropping and taking deep undulations of a road is not aided by the Big Apples. They really can’t compare to the full suspension feel of the Downtube Full Suspension bike, for example. I like these tires.

Pros: roll very well, wide footprint, absorb basic rough asphalt, reflective sidewall, Kevlar lined for puncture protection
Cons: not a substitute for a full suspension bike, price (if you don’t find them on sale)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bellevue, WA: Immaculate, cool bike racks, and jackets in the summer.

Just got back from a quick business trip to Bellevue, Washington. Bellevue is an outlying suburb of Seattle. A resident of Bellevue told me that Bellevue has always been a bedroom community of Seattle, but with higher property values. Well, I asked: shouldn’t it be called a ‘master’ bedroom community, ha-ha.

Anyway, I didn’t take an extra day so I could go riding (sorry Brompton), but I did walk around after my daytime meetings were over. First, the downtown area was surprisingly clean. They must run those street sweepers all night because nary a fast food wrapper or plastic water bottle was seen in the curbs.

2nd, they had these cool looking bike racks (men’s and women’s versions). Didn’t see a lot of urban riders, though. I saw 2, and they were both riding on the sidewalk. Bike racks were unused, too.

Finally, the temperature was a nice respite to the humid hot DC weather. I guess highs were up around the mid 70s. Mornings were cool (60s), but not cold. Yet, there were a lot of people wearing performance fleece as they jaunted around town. We’re talking Marmot, Mountain Hardware and TNF Denalis. I’d hate to be out here when it gets cold (like 50 degrees). I’d probably see some heavy parkas and such. To be fair, I did see people with flip flops, shorts and tshirts. They were probably from out of town.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Review of the Laken ISO 70 Insulated Water Bottle

I’ve been looking for a water bottle that is stainless steel and that can keep my water cold when I take my long rides. (Soapbox time: Steel and other BPA-free water bottles are reusable and great for the environment). All of the steel bottles I’ve seen are single walled and only keep water at room temperature. My plan would be to use this bottle in my water cage, throw it in my bag and maybe take it into the office.

There is a Polar bottle ( that is squeezable and has some sort of flexy insulated material that keeps liquids cold, but I don’t like they way it looks. I’m also afraid that the kind of abuse that I would put the Polar bottle through may cause it to leak or maybe even tear. The Polar bottle looks like it’s made of some flimsy rubber/plastic material.

I thought I had found the perfect candidate in the Laken ISO 70 water bottle. It felt as lightweight as a regular steel bottle because it has some sort of insulating material (aerogel) to keep water cold. In addition, it had a “wide mouth” so I could easily drop ice cubes in there. I picked it up at my local hiking/camping store and the price was $30 (ouch!). For that price it should work.

I tested it out this past weekend by filling it halfway with ice cubes and the rest with water. It kept the water cold for about 2-3 hours. That’s it. I was expecting more like 8-10 hours. Very disappointing.

Bottom line: Save your money and don’t by the Laken ISO 70 bottle. Looks promising, but does not deliver.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Budget Lock Options Found at Your Local Dollar Store

I love bicycling, but I hate paying high prices for bike accessories. Everything you see at the bike shop carries a hefty price, too. Because of this, I’m always on the lookout for cheap or on sale biking items. As you’ve seen from this blog, I’ve sometimes modified cheap(er) hardware store parts and adapted them for by biking purposes.

Below are two locks that I picked up at my local dollar store. The one on the left was $4 or $5. The one on the right was $1. If you are going to lock up your bike for an extended period of time I would recommend a U-lock, which can run you around $20. For a high quality U-lock, you can expect to pay more.

However, U-locks are heavy and add to the overall weight you carry on your ride. The locks here are affordable and lightweight. Ok, the one of the left is a little heavier (but not as much as a U-lock). The one on the right is great for locking up your bike outside the grocery store. It provides enough of a deterrent to prevent someone from walking away with your bike. At this price, you have no excuses for not carrying a cable lock.

The one on the left is more substantial. The cable is encased in thick rubber plastic type material. The cable inside looks to be woven three or four times. I can see wire cutters having a hard time cutting this cable lock. This lock is good for going inside the mall or seeing a movie for 3-4 hours.

Go to your local dollar store and check these out. I picked them in red color because I figured the "drive by" thiefs will notice that my bike is locked.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fenders on my Downtube full suspension.

Wanted to post an upgrade I did on my Downtube. I installed full coverage fenders, which are better than those clip on fenders that are available everywhere. Take note of the back fender: It is shaped like a “C” which is great for stopping the rain from going up your back and messing up your drivetrain. The “C” shape covers up roughly 50% of the wheel. Rear clip-ons will usually do only 25%-30% of the wheel.

These are Planet Bike Hardcore recumbent 20” fenders. I believe they are also called “freddy fenders”. Planet bike sells them separately so you can’t buy them as a set. I guess it’s common for recumbent to have a different sized front and rear wheel (thus no sets). Including shipping both these cost me about $30.

It was a little challenging installing the rear fender. I criss-crossed some handi ties over the screw hole (the Downtube doesn’t have any place to fasten these). Still, the fender would slip down gradually while riding. I applied some duct tape around the screw hole area so that this wouldn’t happen. The duct tape went under the fender and around the frame. I could have made some holes instead of the duct tape, but I didn’t want to damage/modify the fenders as I may sell them later if I get rid of this bike.

The front fork of the Downtube doesn’t have a hole that neatly lines up with the wire holder of the fender. Thus, I fastened it using handi ties to the fork. I could have done p-clamps, but that would require me cutting the wire short. Again, I didn’t want to modify the original parts. I wish that planet bike would make their wires long and with an adjustable fastener to go up and down the fender. I’ve seen these fenders on some bikes. Longer adjustable wires would allow you to reach further or shorter depending on the holes on the frame. Another option is to use the holes that the Downtube has for disc brakes, but I wanted to keep those clear for now.

Injury update: I’m riding more, but still taking it easy. Lifting the front part of the bike hurts my left hand slightly. Some slight pain when separating thumb and index finger on my left hand and resting on handlebar. Squeezing the left brake is almost pain free.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Took a tumble. Sprained/forearm wrist.

Update 5-12-09 Did a short ride this morning on the Brommie. About 3 miles. Stuck generally to neighborhood streets. I ended up pawing the left handlebar to squeeze the brakes. Gripping the handlebar by separating the thumb and forefinger is painful. Thus, pawing and squeezing is the way to go. Pulling on the handlebar causes slight pain. I do this when going up an incline. I didn’t realize I did this until this injury. I guess I won’t be bombing down streets and jumping curbs for a while. I’ll ride this way until I feel well enough. Felt good to ride again :).

Update 5-9-09. 7 days since fall. Slow and incremental recovery. I am gradually regaining my motor skills on my left hand. Let me rephrase: I can do some motor skills with not as much pain. I tried to ride my Fuji 2 days ago and it was too painful on my left wrist to rest on the handlebars. I rode the Brommie yesterday (test ride on my front street) and that was slightly better. I had to use my lower palm on the left handlebar. The Brommie may be less painful since you don’t rest your upper body as much on the handlebars. Still pain when I squeeze the brakes, though. No real riding yet. I did some jogging yesterday (about 2.5 miles). That felt good, but today my right knee hurts. I hope that’s just because that knee took the harder hit rather than some other serious knee problem. Probably the former since my knee hadn’t been hurting in the aftermath of the fall. Another observation: My left hand/wrist hurts more when I wake up in the morning than during the day when I’m at work or loafing around the house. Sigh.

This has been my second fall since I got into biking again. My first was a sideways topple when I was testing some toe clips. Nothing serious there other than a scraped knee. This was more painful and we’ll see how long this keeps me down.

This happened on a Saturday afternoon. I was riding around the back of a heavily trafficked shopping center. I sometimes do this to avoid crazy drivers backing out of their parking spaces. Anyway, there was an elevated (about 1”) sewer drain in the middle of the back of this shopping center. Sort of like an elevated rectangle with a sewer in the middle. I guess I thought it wasn’t that high or maybe I wasn’t thinking about it so I went over it. I rode parallel and very close to one of its edges and the front wheel slipped off it and my bike went sideways. I went forward and landed on all fours.

I scraped my palms slightly and my right knee pretty good. My left wrist took the worst of the impact (although I didn’t scrape my left palm as bad as the right). My left wrist and lower forearm got slightly puffy and today (Monday) it is bruised purple. I didn’t go to the clinic because 1) it was a weekend and I didn’t want to wait 3 hours to get seen and 2) we’ve been having an outbreak of the swine flu in my area. I figured that sick people were there (or had been there) and I would most certainly catch something esp. if I had to wait 3 hours.

I do have a dull pain there, but it is not throbbing. Obviously, I can’t rest my left hand on handlebars so I’m not riding. Also, some motor skills like turning a doorknob are painful. I felt better yesterday (Sunday) and about the same today. I know I’m getting better since I had a hard time taking off my T-shirt Saturday night and I was able to do it a lot better on Sunday. I’ve been putting ice on it a couple of times a day and that makes it feel better. Advil really does a great job of making it feel better, but my stomach doesn’t get along with Advil so I don’t like to take it.

I googled wrist injuries and all recommend resting it and let time heal it. Ice it for the first 24-48 hours then heat treatments afterwards. We’ll see.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Folding bikes at LL Bean!

As you’ve noticed from this blog, I’m a big fan of folding bikes. They open up bicycling to a lot of people who would not consider it. I imagine that most Americans don’t have large SUVs or trucks to ferry bikes to places that are more bike friendly. For most cars, you can get bike racks to carry your full-sized bikes on the outside. However, that is an added expense. Folding bikes solve this problem.

Folders are also more storable for urban residents who don’t have a large garage or big backyard. People who live in large high rise apartments or condos can benefit from folders. Just fold the bike and put it in the corner of the room or closet.

So, I was really excited to see that LL Bean, a major retailer,is carrying Dahon folding bikes. The bikes that I saw were Dahon Ecos and they are selling them at $379. I had not seen the Eco before, but they look similar to the Dahon Mariner/Vitesse. (Dahon tends to sell the same bike under different names to retailers). I also know that REI, another national retailer, is selling the Novarra Buzz Fly By at its stores and online. The Fly By is basically the Dahon Mu with slightly lower level components.

Progress? I hope so. Snapped this pix of the Dahon Eco at my LL Bean store:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Find a Saddle and Stick to It

Saddles, or bicycle seats, are very personal choices. I’ve heard it described that your sit bones have a lot to do with your how well you like a particular saddle. Luckily, I’ve found one that works for me. It is the Bell Mountain Bike saddle. This particular saddle is available at places like Kmart and Walmart. And, I’ve never paid more than $20 for it. It has a dimple along the back and a hole more to the front. The indentions in the middle must be for a man’s prostate, which should not be pressed (by your weight) completely flat to any surface. The material of the saddle is vinyl. This saddle has no springs, but good cushioning.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t do any long distance rides and mostly use my bikes for commuting, running errands, and the occasional weekend ride. I hardly think about this saddle being there when I’m riding. It’s that comfortable. The only slight negative is that the saddle is sewn. During rainy days water can penetrate it. When there’s rain in the forecast and I’m leaving my bike out, I wrap it up in a grocery bag, though.

Give this saddle a shot. You may like it. (My specs: I don’t have a wide bottom, my waist is 34” and weigh around 170lbs.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Great value folder: Downtube 2009 8FS Review

4.17.09 Update. Have only done 3-4 rides on this bike. One of them was a wet ride. Anyway, after that ride, the rear derailleur wouldn’t shift. I tried all the suggestions on the Downtube site ( to no avail. BTW, the derailleur on the above link is not the same as the one on my 8FS. For example, there are no H & L screws. It turns out that the inside of the shifter cable had developed some sort of white crud. It wouldn’t move. I replaced it with new cable and housing that I made sure was greased up. Now, the shifting is working great. It works even better than when I got the bike new.

I have been using the Dahon Yeah to run errands in mostly city streets and alleys, and the lack of cushioning is very noticeable. I really needed something to improve the rough ride. I was either going to get 1) some Schwalbe Big Apple tires to install on the Yeah or 2) get a brand new full suspension (FS) bike to replace the Yeah.

Big Apple tires are highly regarded because they are wider and tend to run at lower pressures which help to cushion the ride. On the bikeforums site, there were some posters that mention that the BAs are not really a replacement for a full suspension bike. That made me wary of them a little. The thing that turned me away from the BAs was the price. For a pair, they were going for about $80 (including shipping).

I decided to look at full suspension bikes. I looked at a couple like the Dahon Jetstream or the Birdy bikes. These bikes are expensive, though. They are usually around $1000 for each. I had been hearing good things about Downtube bikes. The owner of Downtube (Yan Lyansky) is a folding bike enthusiast and posts on the bikeforums site. He also is very committed to customer service as he always seems to “take care of” his customers esp. if they have problems with their Downtube bikes. While Downtube has a storefront and some dealers, their business model is geared to selling online, thereby passing cost savings onto the customer.

One of his full suspension bikes, the 8FS, was on sale for $299. This was the best price I could find on a new FS bike (and with a 1 year a warranty). Compared to the $80 I was going to pay for the new BA tires, I decided the 8FS was a better deal.

Let me cover what I liked about my 8FS. First, the bike was ready to ride out of the box. I just unfolded it, put it together like the instructions directed and I was ready to go. There was no rubbing of parts or squeaks of any kind. The suspension works as advertised. I can now do some curb drops and roll on the sometimes brick-layed streets of DC. The rear suspension is adjustable so I have set it sort of stiff so I don’t bob up and down when I pedal. The tires are Kenda Kwests (the same that come on the Yeah) and they roll very fast on asphalt. For some reason, I think that the Yeah makes me pedal more when I am on flat surfaces (high rolling resistance?). I believe that the

8FS almost feels like riding the 700c tires of my commuter bike. The bike also comes with some cushy handgrips. I usually ride without padded gloves so these grips are perfect. Downtube also includes bar ends. I probably won’t be using this bike to do long rides where I have to shift hand positions and use the bar ends, but it’s nice to know they are there. Finally, The 8FS comes with a bell to alert folks as you are about to pass them.

In terms of what I didn’t like, the first thing would be the shifting. I have tightened the cables and the shifting is still a little rough. It is acceptable to a person not used to riding bikes like I do, but not for me. There is a noticeable clunk when going to a low gear. Before I tightened the cables, gears would sometime slip down by themselves. That problem seems to have been fixed. Maybe a new derailleur and new cable would be an upgrade that I would consider. Another thing that’s good about Downtube bikes is that they use parts that would work on other “regular” bikes. Dahon uses mostly proprietary parts so upgrading those is time consuming and often costly. I probably won’t do the derailleur/cable upgrade because the area where I will ride this bike is mostly flat with just some gentle hills that would require me to use 1-2 gears.

The stock brake pads could be better on the 8FS. They don't give me the quick stops that I am used to. Kool stops will usually solve this. Another minor gripe is the high standover height of the 8FS. All the folders that I’ve ever ridden don’t make you raise your feet so high to straddle them. This one does. I also wish this bike came with full cover mudguards or a customized fender solution (from Downtube) to add them easily. The folded state is a little jagged. If you need a folder to put in the back of your hatchback, it will work though. This folder has given me the closest approximation of a full sized bike in terms of riding feel (I know, I know, I've only ridden Brommies and Dahons).

Other minor gripes: bike is a little heavy; about 28 lbs. and the stock saddle is more race inspired meaning thin like. I prefer something just a tad wider. Finally, some of my pix have question marks. That's because I don't know what the purpose of these holes that are on the bike.

Pros: ready-to-ride, cushy suspension, surprisingly speedy, handgrips, bar ends

Cons: rough shifting, weak brake stopping power, no fenders/mudguards, heavy bike, stock saddle not for me

Bottom line: If you are looking for a excellent value in a full suspension folder, look no further than the Downtube 8FS.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Roller Blade Wheels Upgrade for the Brompton

(Check out Pt. 2 of this upgrade by reading here:

I had been reading at the Bikeforums about replacing the stock roller wheels with either the Easy Wheels (expensive) or roller blade wheels. The stock Brompton wheels are not that useful for rolling the bikes and have the negative benefit of getting caught in your shoes when pedalling. I’ve developed an inside out stroke to compensate for this so my shoes don’t get caught anymore. If your shoes get caught it could be dangerous if you happen to be in the middle of the street or you could take a sideways tumble if you’re stationary with your foot caught.

It took me a while to do this upgrade because I didn’t want to spend too much for roller blade wheels. Thrift shops carry donated roller blade skates, but they don’t want to sell individual blade shoes (a roller blade skate has 4 wheels and I only need 2). I finally came across some new wheels that cost me $3. Also, make sure your roller wheels come with bearings.

The upgrade was straightforward and pretty simple. I used the screws from the Brompton roller wheels. The wheels protrude sideways the same length as the old Brompton wheels, but they do make a difference in getting your shoes caught. Or rather NOT getting your foot caught.

There was no benefit of being able to roll the bike on the new wheels, though. I thought you could roll the bike like luggage at a 45 degree angle by pulling the saddle as a handle. It’s just not possible. The suspension “nipple” protrudes and you periodically get snagged while rolling it. Maybe a larger diameter wheel can solve this (I used a 72mm wheel). I don’t know, though.

Here’s my bottom line for this upgrade:
1) No more shoes caught on the wheels (!)
2) Very low cost

1) Can’t roll the bike at an angle

This is a definite “must do” upgrade for your M3L because it’s so inexpensive.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Winter's Grip.

I haven’t posted in so long, I should be flogged. I have been commuting, though. On very cold days, I usually wear thermal underwear. That helps. I’m ready for the winter to be over.

It has been unusually cold, but not a lot of snow. Just yesterday, the DC area got about 6-8 inches. That’s on top of 2 inches we got early in the winter. It’ll probably give us about 10 inches for this winter. Not a lot of snow. However, temperature wise it has been cold, though. Below average cold. The pix is of my Yeah bike, that is ensconced in the white stuff. Poor baby. Don’t worry. Three little ladies to the rescue: April, May and June, ha-ha.