Bicycle Updates

I had my bike out for my second ride of the year, shaking out some upgrades, which are all working pretty well. I just rode to and through the city park, 5 miles total.

After my first ride of the year, I forgot to set the rear wheel strap when I mounted my bike on the trailer hitch rack. When I got onto the highway, the back of the bike fell off, and the side of the rear wheel was dragged/bounced at highway speeds for several hundred feet. Surprisingly, the tire seemed to suffer no ill effect, but the rim was badly out of true, far beyond the point where it could be adjusted through spoke tension.

I ended up replacing both wheels and getting new tires, inner tubes, and brake pads. I didn’t pay much, $267.94 not counting tax, shipping, or tools. Still, that’s more than half of what I originally paid for the bike when it was new.

The bike is a 2010 Specialized Sirrus, which is a hybrid bike.

The new wheels are WTB Dual Duty i19 TCS made by Quality Wheels. They aren’t particularly an upgrade, although the rims are slightly wider, and the rims and spokes are black, which looks nicer on my bike. The freehub is much quieter, and I can’t hear it at all when I’m coasting on the bike.

The new tires are Michelin Protek Cross, which are labeled as E-bike tires. I wanted to take advantage of the wider rims and put on slightly wider tires. 32mm tires are fine on the road, but they have limited effectiveness in mud or sand. I had already upgraded from smooth road tires to something with a little more tread (Forte Gotham ST), and they had helped a little, but not enough. These Protek Cross tires are ostensibly 35mm wide, but these tires are known to be oversized, and indeed mine measure 38mm wide. They have what appear to be a good aggressive tread in a V-pattern that should still roll smoothly. On smooth pavement, I can hear a slight whine or hum with these tires, but it’s quieter than any of the other noises I make on my bike. These tires are much more supple, and I have them at a slightly lower pressure, so they are really softening out the road bumps more than the previous tires.

My old inner tubes were not suitable for 35mm tires, so I had to get new ones. I have been using puncture resistant tubes, and I haven’t had a flat since I got them six years ago, so as you can imagine, I swear by them now. These are Michelin AirStop tubes, and I think they are supposed to be puncture resistant. I guess we’ll see.

The bike has rim brakes, and at one point early on, the brake pads got a bunch of abrasive material lodged in them. They’ve been grinding away my rims ever since. With new shiny new rims, I wanted to get fresh new pads. Evidently, the nicer pads made by Kool Stop are well respected. These are their Cyclocross Linear Pads, which have a combination of three types of braking material. They are quiet and smooth so far, and they definitely work, but we’ll see what happens the first time I get them in mud.

My bike was out of commission for nearly a month, although some of that was procrastination, and some of it was research. (Clearly, I need to own more than one bike.) I haven’t been riding regularly since last Autumn. During my ride in February, on my usual 11 mile trail, I could tell I had lost some ground from last year. Still, I am in much better shape than I was a year ago. On today’s ride, I rode up “the hill” without stopping, which is something I never used to do.

I need to devote some attention to bikewear. My glasses are crumbling apart. The lobster claw gloves I have are great for very cold weather, but they are far too warm for 59° weather (in hindsight, I could have just gone without gloves, but I would still like to have some light gloves). I’d like to find some pants (not tights) that aren’t loose around the ankles and likely to get caught up in the chainring. Of course, aside from the glasses, all of that will be moot in a month. And do they make very thin wallets made to hold just a couple of cards and maybe one bill of paper money?

I learned today that putting on a balaclava is quite difficult with a day and a half of stubble on your head.

Also, why do manufacturers of clothing for cycling use such tiny zippers that are always broken? I realize there is a weight factor, but if they used zippers that were just slightly bigger, they would be much more reliable. I wonder if I can replace the zippers in some of my existing gear.

I also need to get NumberSync working on my watch again. That will be another rant, but I’ll wait until I have the complete story.