Tag Archives: equipment

Bicycle navigation – reinvented…

It was wild, wet and windy (again) today, so I surfed a little instead of riding – don’t be too hard on me, I did get out for a jog. One link after another led me to GizMag and their top ten cycling innovations of 2013. Top of the list is the intriguing Hammerhead for Bike Navigation.  I think it is well worth a look.

Hammerhead - navigation re-invented

Hammerhead – navigation re-invented

The new startup team behind Hammerhead say they are inspired by simplicity – get the essential right then junk the rest is their philosophy: in this they (and their advertising video) reminded my strongly of Apple and that cannot be bad.  Their breakthrough to simplicity ideas include:

  • team the Hammerhead to a smart phone, using all its complicated and expensive electronics;
  • replace spoken or turn instructions with peripheral vision colours as direction indicators
  • a really smart, minimal design and look
  • incorporate a built-in headlight.

I like this idea a lot for several reasons:

  • it’s great to see someone other than Garmin looking at navigation
  • I want to make better use of my iPhone
  • it keeps the iPhone safe and dry without needing a new case
  • it’s refreshing to see a new take on an old problem
  • conventional satnav screens are a nightmare for those of up who need reading glasses
  • it looks like great value for money.

I see Schwinn have an alternative out (see below), so I will wait until some user reviews appear, but I hope I won’t have to wait too long.  This looks like a great device full of promise.

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The Brooks B17 Saddle

When we met with Andy Blance to specify our bikes we had a lot of choices to make. Many were difficult options on technical matters. My choice of saddle was instant, however: I knew I wanted a Brooks model B17.  The B17’s reputation had gone before it!  Here’s a glimpse as to why:

 

 

Three years into riding the Thorn I am still convinced I made the right initial choice.  The B17 is just coming into its best, although it was never uncomfortable, it is now a real pleasure to sit on over a long day.

 

Brooks England saddle. B-17 model.

Brooks England saddle. B-17 model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Click-Stand – my favourite cycle accessory – ever!

I had been thinking of getting a Click-Stand kickstand for my Thorn for over a year: but niggling doubts over the concept, delivery from the States and the cost put me off.  Finally, I took the plunge. It arrived yesterday. Wow,  am I pleased!

The amazing Click-Stand

The amazing Click-Stand

It was love at first sight – no, first touch. The Click-Stand just oozes quality. First, it is so very light. Mine, for a pretty standard bike size, weighs a paltry 99 grams. Compare that to most bolt on stay-mounted stands. This first positive impression was immediately confirmed as I undid the velcro retaining strap and felt the individual links snap into place to create the Click-Stand.  Like magic! Examining the velcro strap showed it to be cleverly and neatly knotted to retain it on the stand – neat and efficient –  like all other features of the stand.

The neat Brake-Bands

The neat Brake-Bands

How did it perform on my bike? Perfectly! The elasticated straps (brake bands) slipped easily over the bars and extended over the brake levers to hold them on with just the right amount of effort and pressure. The cup of the stand slipped right into place on the frame and produced just the right angle of lean when the point was positioned the suggested 10 inches from the bike.  Then I ‘tested’ the bike’s stability by gently rocking it back and fore. Then I tested it again with less gentle rocking: I could not believe just how rock solid the stand was in use. The Click-Stand inspires complete confidence from the start.

Turning back to the quality of the Click-Stand, I was struck again by how good it felt in the hand. Like a quality camera or an Apple product, it feels and looks perfect. It reeks of simplicity and no feature seems out of place. Even the brake bands are made from the same elasticated material as the stand itself – I suspect from off-cuts, further securing the environmental credentials of the Click-Stand. It may not come from your local bike shop, but everything about it speaks to it being hand-made with precision and care for the design, materials and final quality.

Click-Stand by Tom Nostrant

Click-Stand by Tom Nostrant

The ordering process, too was excellent. The web-based form on the Click-Stand.Com site sounds a bit OTT, but it steers you exactly to the detailed information you need to give to get the size and specification just right for your bike. Payment by Paypal (or you can use a credit card) was quick and painless and prompted an individual email response from Tom, the owner and maker. Delivery took a matter of days rather than weeks and the customs form allowed the package to arrive in the UK without attracting any further duties or handling charges.  A very welcome thing. With postage, by Click-Stand purchase came to $52.00. Not cheap, but compared to any other quality bike stand, very competitive – and you get a much better stand when considered by concept and design.

I am looking forward to many successful journeys with my Click-Stand – and an order has been placed for one for Jacqui’s bike of course!

UPDATE October 2013: We used the Click-Stand on our recent trip to Holland and one wee issue arose. If you have a heavy bar bag fitted, as we both did, then you have to turn the handlebars at right angles to the rest of the bike to get things stable.  Otherwise any slope or high winds will result in a failure.  But this was a small matter and easily resolved.

Tom Nostrant’s (Click-Stand inventor and maker) story from the Daily World

New Bikes in Portugal

We picked up our new bikes from Bikeland on the N125 near to Quarteira on the Algarve. Our previous bikes in Portugal were a Trek and a Specialized, both having seen better days and both pinched in the aftermath of Jacqui’s accident a year ago.

We went for a pair of Scott’s – hybrid bikes, suitable as road runabouts and for light touring duties. We bought them sight unseen, on the assurance that they were similar to Trek 7100 models, so it was a relief to find they looked the part when we first set eyes on them.

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They are nothing special, but the 35km ride back to Algoz was enough to reassure us that they ride well and are more than up to the light duties we will expect of them on our trips here in the south of Portugal. Just nice relaxed runabouts and all the better for that. I will be interested to see how they hold up over the next few weeks as we micro-tour along the coast to Spain and back.

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Re-purposing joys while cycle touring

One of the joys of cycle touring is travelling without the clutter of everyday life.  Knowing that your maximum pannier load is 4.5×2 kilos creates a wonderful discipline.  Knowing that every kilo less than the maximum will feel great on the first climb makes your self discipline all the stronger.

Other joys follow the freedom from clutter: once into the routines of touring you learn the joys of re-purposing and ‘make do and mend’.  Here are some of our favourite discoveries from our last tour.

sflickr0602 - napkins encroach

sflickr0602 – napkins encroach (Photo credit: cygnoir)

Never leave a napkin behind after a meal.  We seem to cycle every kilometre with a drip on the end of our noses and a fresh napkin as a giant tissue is a great treat.  And they make great bike cleaners at the end of their lives.  A fat napkin will clean a set of wheel rims stopping the dreaded wheel/brake scream just a treat.

Petrol Station disposable gloves (the kind issued to stop fuel spills on driver’s fingers) make great hand warmers on a frosty early morning or will help keep gloves dry in an unexpected downpour.

Liberate a few used newspapers when the weather is unsettled and when you are climbing.  Nothing dries out soaked cycle shoes better than crumpled newspapers; tuck one down your shirt at the top of a climb and escape the chill as you descend; a few opened sheets will protect a hotel floor from dripping bike dirt and reassure a dubious if not hostile receptionist.

Wringing soggy socks

Wringing soggy socks

Supermarket polly bags make great overshoes in a thunderstorm or when rain follows in our wheels all day long.  There is nothing more dispiriting than finding your shoes are so totally soaked that you can no longer coordinate your pedal revolutions: polly bags will stave off this moment for hours.  If need be they will also protect your seat.

Hotel reception sweets must never be left behind: it’s amazing how instantly a simple boiling turns into a performance enhancing substance at the bottom of the last steep climb of the day, or a medical miracle when you hit the wall and run out of energy.  Apples and bananas work even better!

Dental floss

Dental floss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dental floss has more uses than WD40. On our last trip we used it as a navigation range finder aide; instead of thread; instead of cable ties and to reinforce tired bungee grips.

A suitably sized stone chip will serve as a great spacer to hold a front derailler in middle chainring alignment if you have the misfortune to snap a front gear cable as we did on a recent trip in Portugal.

Old paper receipts and hotel notepads make great disposable navigation crib lists when leaving of a morning.  We write out 3 – one for departure, one with en route decision points and one with details of our next hotel.  Each can be thrown away when no longer needed.

Our Picks of the London Bike Show 2013

Well, it’s a long way to go, Aberdeen to London, but we just about felt we got enough from the London Bike Show 2013 at Excel.  Here are our favourite picks – in no particular order.

Airnimal certainly impressed

Airnimal certainly impressed

We still have a hankering after a couple of folding bikes to increase flexibility when travelling and especially, going and coming on tours.  So we were keen to visit the Airnimal stand – and we were not disappointed.  Of the various models, the Joey took our fancy as a ‘do it all’ bike combing speed, versatility and a go anywhere capability.  Best of all was to speak with the bike’s enthusiastic and knowledgable promoters.  They made such a positive change from the half-hearted and frankly feeble bloke we met on the Brompton stand.  Chalk and cheese I am afraid to say.  Airnimal were the clear winners in our mind.

Jo McRae gives great advice

Jo McRae gives great advice

Creditability was also the keynote we took away from Jo McRae and her ‘Training for Cyclists’ company. Jo’s presentation centred on the need to fit the bike correctly and to correct the negative effects of turning only to cycling for exercise.  She told a pretty convincing tale of the need to do other activities to build up core strength and correct weaknesses and problems likely to follow too much cycling.  We found her talk and demonstrations totally convincing.  Google her and her company for more details.

The award for the most innovative new start we gave to “Water off a Duck’s Back” and their range of attractive and stylist all weather gear for commuting cyclists.  Their stuff was really stylish and the designs were original and we felt they deserved a good look.

Innovative design convinces

Innovative design convinces

Next to catch our eye was the Topeak Tourguide Bar Bag.  This is their mid size bag and we were attracted to it for its good size and multiple compartments and long list of features.  Nominally priced at £54, we were pleased to pick up an example from Halfords, no less, for a 20% reduction and so paid £43.  It will be with us soon and we will review it as soon as we can, but it is an eye-catching and fully featured bag.  Hopefully, it will make a good keepsake from what was an interesting visit to the show.

The Topeak Bar Bag

The Topeak Bar Bag

Cycle touring kit list – for non-camping softies who like toys and comforts!

We have been revising our essentials only kit list  we prepare for our month in Spain in October.  So far we plan to take:

Norman (Jacqui much the same in panniers (2@4.5kg) and bar bag(1.7kg), but no saddlebag)

BarbagOrtlieb Model 4 (weighs in at 2.7kg)
Wallet with cash and cards
Passport
Travel Tickets (train and ferry)
Next accommodation details
Travel Insurance Card
E111 Euro Health Card
‘Business’ Cards

Pleased to meet you!

Diary/Journal – Moleskine
Camera – Panasonic Lumix TZ30 (stills and video)
Camera – Flip Ultra (video)
Sat Nav – Garmin Edge 800
Mobile Phone – iphone 3S
Cycle Computer – Cateye Wireless
Torch – micro model
Pen
Swiss Army Knife
Keys
Sunglasses (off bike)
Reading Glasses
Waterproof cover
Micro Towel
Fieldglasses 10×25 – 7Dayshop.com
Compass

SaddlebagCarradice Long Flap (weighs in at 5.0kg)
Large D-Lock and 2 cables – Kryptonite New York 3000
Insulation Tape
Spare Tubes x2
Spare Cables – Rohloff x2
Sunblock
Cleaning Cloths x2
Bungee Ties x2
Paper Road Atlas – Michelin Spain and Portugal
Waterproof Jackets – Gore x2
Multitool – Toepeak
Eccentric Hub Spanner – Thorn
Latex Gloves x4
Cleaning cloth
Puncture Repair Kit
Tyre Levers
Cable Ties
Chain Lube
Mini Floor Pump – Revolution

Left Rear PannierOrtleib (weighs in at 4.5kg)
Hotel and Travel Documentation
Passport and Card Details (Photocopies)
Emergency Contact Numbers
Bike Details
Toilet Bag
Cycle Shorts x3
Cycle tops x4
Cycle Socks x3
iPad

Right Rear Pannier – Ortleib (weighs in at 4.5kg)
Trousers x2 Rohan
Shirt
Microfleece – Rohan
Sandals
Chargers’ Bag
– iPhone
– Nokia
– iPad
– Still camera – Ixus
– Still camera – Lumix
– Garmin
– iPad photo cable
– Mains Adapters x2
– Cateye Batteries x2
Medical Supplies
Reading Book

The Thorn Raven Sport Tour bikes we have are recommended to take no more than 16kg on the rear rack, so we are well inside that at 9kg.  The only downside is the massive 2.7kg for the D-Lock and cables.  I am tempted to take the lighter model and just make sure of the bikes physical safety wherever we can.  Good idea?