Joe' Bicycle Page
BackgroundI am a returning bicyclist. I rode a lot in Jr. and Sr. high school on my grandfather's hand made fixed wheel track bike. This was the real deal with sew-up tires and no brakes. It was a fun bike and I put lots of miles on it. That ended when I rode it into the back of a parked Pontiac in 1974. I got a used Raleigh Super Course TT 10-speed as a replacement and continued to ride. After many miles on a fixed wheel I finally got to coast. I continued to ride in my first two years of college due to necessity. After graduation I stopped riding as I had a car and several motorcycles. I started to ride again with the birth of my two sons. Riding the boys was great as it gave mom a break and I got to spend some quality time with Joey and Matt. I rode with them on the back until they were about 30 lbs and too big to ride in the rear carrier.
In 2003 late my doctor started to give me little hints about my weight and cholesterol. I took the hint... In the spring of 2004 I decided to get serious about my health and started commuting to work on my bicycle. Biking to work added less than 10 minutes to my commute and has had great health benefits. It was difficult at first as I was quite out of shape. My family thought I was nuts as I was very winded when I arrived at home after the mile-long hill near our house. I started with a goal of twice a week and when I no longer needed CPR when I got home I upped it to three times if the weather was nice. In a few months I was riding on all nice days.
Tirreno Razza 2.0 Road BikeOn August 1st I replaced my 30+ year old Raleigh with a Tirreno Razza 2.0. This a modern road bicycle that is a full 10 pounds lighter than the old bike. It features aluminum frame, 24 spoke wheels and carbon fiber seat post and fork. It also has integrated shifters and brakes that really work. It is a real pleasure to ride, and I have increased my riding beyond commuting to an occasional weekend ride. It weighs only 19 pounds. When I first got it I made a goal of putting 1000 mile on it between 8/1 and 12/31 2004. I only had to ride 25 miles on 12/31 to make it happen.
- Carbon Fork
- 1000 miles!
- Home made cue sheet holder
- Another view of the cue sheet holder showing Velcro straps
MaintenanceWith my increased riding I started to run into maintenance and equipment issues. I would like to share some of my experience with articles and some pictures.
One of my first issues was with determining how to measure chain stretch. I found I had to figure it out myself. Check out my article on how to measure a bicycle chain with dial calipers.
One day on the way to work I herd a "tink" from the front wheel sound as I came to a stop. I looked down and there was a spoke hanging off the hub. I got off the bike, removed the spoke then put it in my back pack. I did a failure analysis on the broken spoke and wrote an article Anatomy of a Broken Spoke.
When I was a kid I always worked on my bike by simply flipping it upside down. This is not possible with this bike due to all the stuff on the handlebars. I fixed the situation with a simple workstand made from a short piece of 2x6 lumber and a 4 drywall screws. The whole thing took about an hour to make. Most of that time was rounding off the corners. It is very dirty since I use it when cleaning the bike. If you are worried about scratching your seat on the ground just use a piece of scrap cardboard.
Click picture to see full size.
Handlebar mounted equipment fits between the two rests
Workstand in action
I ride year round for my commute. I get off work at 4:30 and the earliest sunset is at 4:36, which means I am riding in low light conditions (don't tell my wife I ride in the dark.) Needless to say being visible is very important to me as getting hit by a car will erase all of the health benefits of riding. Here are some of the things I do to be more visible:
I use the Cat Eye Power Opticube HL-EL500 headlight with TL-LD170 tail light. The headlight works like a champ for making me more visible to oncoming cars. It has one very bright LED that puts out a nice beam and is very easy on batteries. I set of 4 alkaline batteries last me about 3 months of nightly use on my commute. In addition I have a ViewPoint blinking bar plug. The bar end light looks wimpy, but it is quite visible from the rear. I have the light turned with the visor facing up so I don't see the light while I am riding.
I also have a couple of blinking/reflective bands. The one shown goes around my ankle. It is quite comfortable and very visible. I also have a larger version that is meant to wear around the waist. I use it around my back pack. I think these are particularly effective since they light 360° so I will get noticed by all traffic.
The ankle band is very effective. When I started wearing it I noticed cars gave me 1-2 more feet of room when passing. I believe this is due to the fact that it is moving up and down and is on the left side of the bike. If I was to have only one light it would be the ankle band.
When I started commuting full time I was very disappointed with the mirrors out there. Of course I could turn my head, but some of the roads I ride are very narrow and I need to focus on my lane position. I tried the Blackburn road mirror and the bar end mirror. The road mirror was not stable at all. The bar end, was better, but moved when I hit a big bump so was not in position when I needed it. I then tried a helmet mirror. Good idea, but I could never see any traffic with it. The best I could see was sky or shoulder.
Then I found this Italian road bike mirror. This is the hot ticket. It is small, but always there in the right place. The additional benefit is it light and does not stick out so I can park the bike leaned on the left side. The mirror mounts by taping it onto the bar with electrical tape before you put on the bar tape. It took a couple of tries to get it positioned right and have it remain in place. Here are the tricks I used to get it right:
This mirror works like a champ for me when I have to check for traffic before making a left. The only slight issue is I have to bend my head down to get to the right part of my bifocals to engage.
- Install bar plug.
- Put a bit of double stick foam tape on the very end of the bar to fix the mirror to the bar. The tape only has to be about 1" long and prevents the mirror from rotating.
- Install the mirror tilted out at the bottom out a bit as shown.
- Start wrapping the mirror with electrical tape at the mirror end wrapping onto the bar. This holds the mirror firmly on the bar and eliminates gaps.
- Rotate the bars slightly to adjust the mirror up and down.
- Put the bar tape over the mirror and finish the end with electrical tape as shown.
I like to take long rides on the little back roads around here. Navigating by reading a map when you are exploring is difficult when the roads are poorly marked and the road names change often. Getting lost 25 miles from home in the middle of hills truly stinks. To solve this problem I bought a used GPS. This older GPS has enough memory for the most deatiled maps in a 50 mile radius around home. Plenty for the bicycle. The only problem is mounting it on the bicycle.
I made the mount using a cradle (RAM-HOL-GA2U) and quick release (RAP-326) from RAM mounts. I mounted it to the steering stem using a 1.25" plastic shaft collar (MSC P/N 73090599) and a 3/32" thick piece of aluminum. I attached the aluminum to the shaft collar with two 8-23 button head screws. The quick release is attached to the aluminum plate with three stud type vibration mounts (MSC P/N 36691202). Two of the vibration mouns attach to the supplied mounting holes on the RAM mount. The base of the RAM mount just rests on the third vibration mount and keeps it from tilting forward.
The system is light and puts the GPS where I can see it while riding. It also allows the GPS to be removed so I can take it with me when I leave the bike. I have a little teather to hold the unit in case the quick mount releases by accident. The vibration mounts really move around while I am riding, indicating they are doing their job. I also put a small (1"x2") piece of duct tape across the junction of the 4 batteries to keep them from rattling around while I ride. Check out some of the rides I have recorded on the GPS.
Click on image to see full size.
Mount with GPS removed. Note the vibration mounts attached to the aluminum plate.
View from the cockpit
The original wheels were getting a bit worn at the brake surface and I upgraded to Performance Bike Titan series of wheels. They have 16 spokes in the front and 20 in back. The spokes are aero shaped and the rim is deep to be more aerodynamic. I think they have improved my average ride speed a bit and they are quieter than round spoke wheels. I like them quite a bit. One issue was my old reflectors did not fit so I made some out of the DOT certified reflective tape used on tractor-trailers. I also added some TireFlys LED flashers to the valve stems. They turn on only when I am in motion and give more visibility to traffic approaching me from an angle. I found that they can turn off if I am going slow on a smooth road due to lack of vibration. I will often turn them on by giving a tug on the bars to bounce the front tire when I approach "certain" intersections.
Titan Wheel Reflectors with Camera Flash TireFly on Valve Stem Tire Flys w/o Camera Flash
Shoes and Pedals
The bike came with the Forte classic pedals. They worked OK, but when I wore out second set of cleats I decided to get different pedals. These are the Speedplay X style. I love them. Two big advantages are they are double sided which is great when you commute in traffic and always have to get back in and they have adjustable float which my 49 year old knees appreciate. My only issue was getting into them for the first time. At 150 lbs I did not have enough weight to snap in. They warned about this in the instructions. With a little dri-lube and some effort they loosened up. Now I get in and out like "butah".
When I got the pedals I also got some new shoes. The CAT-1 shoes have a carbon sole, top and bottom ventilation and ratcheting closure. They have performed well. My old Forte shoes had Velcro closures, which got loose after a few hills. These stay tight. On my right foot I have a Toestie cover. I wear them in the winter and cover the bottom vents with electrical tape. This works well to keep my feet warm. I commute on the bicycle as long as the temperature is above 20°F.
I got the bicycle and most of the accessories at Performance Bike. About 95% of my riding clothes also come from Performance. I purchase stuff through their local store and their web site. I have always gotten a good price and when there have been issues they have dealt with it quickly and fairly. I would appreciate it if you use this link when you order from them. PerformanceBike.com...For People Who Love Bikes
I am also a member of Performance Bike's "team Performance" club. You pay a small fee to join the club and get assigned a number and a "free" subscription to Bicycle Magazine. Every time you buy something online or at their store you get 10% of the price credited to your account. You can then redeem your "points" on your next purchase. It is a good deal and it has saved me lots of money over the years.
Date Odometer Reading 8/1/04 0 miles 12/31/04 1000 miles 12/31/05 4780 miles 12/31/06 8782 miles 5/8/07 10,000 miles 12/31/07 13,291 miles 12/31/08 16,764 miles 12/31/09 19,752 miles 2/4/10 20,000 miles 12/31/10 23,670 miles 5/12/11 25,000 miles 12/31/11 28,319 miles
If you want to see some of the rides I have captured on my GPS check out my rides page. I also post rides on mapmyride.com as bmwjoe. There are rides by others there too for the Souderton/Telford area. I hope this information helps you and perhaps inspires you to get out and ride.
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