Tag Archives: bicycle

4,000 Miles In

So, I’ve just turned in my 4,000th mile of using a commuter bike as my primary vehicle for commuting and errands. To celebrate, I’m having a kooky beer made with peppercorns, but, hey, how about some thoughts and reflections too?

Damages and Cost

maintenance and repairs

3 chains

Repacked wheel bearings

1 broken pedal

1 pair of brake pads

1 derailleur cable

Collisions with cars

1, no physical damage to myself. Broke rear blinky, bent front fender.

Upgrades

New rear blinky (Cygolight Hotshot)

New front blinky (Niterider MiNewt 350)

New front disc caliper (BB7)

Organic disc pads (Clarks)

Bar ends

Ergon Biokork grips

Crane copper bell

Shimano PD-M324 Pedals (metal spindle, woo!)

Numbers

Total bike cost with accessories and gear: $1,986

Approximately $560 saved in gas and car maintenance

$100 saved in canceled gym membership

Thoughts about bike commuting

If you bike and run red lights, fuck you.

If you bike in the lane until a light then scoot between the stopped cars and gutter, fuck you.

If you then run the red light, fuck you twice.

Fixie kids do not know how to accelerate from a stop.

If you can’t trackstand a fixie, put a foot down. There is no shame in this.

If you can’t trackstand and run lights because of it, fuck you, and switch to a singlespeed.

The Monon Trail is much better than commuting by road. Bunnies and robins are superior to road-raging commuters in every way.

Organic disc pads and proper caliper adjustment make mechanical disc brakes rock. Hard.

Learning to trust the front brake has drastically improved my stopping confidence.

Your saddle probably needs to be higher.

I acknowledge that it’s possible to own an Audi and not drive like a self-entitled inconsiderate asshole, but I have yet to see real-world evidence for this hypothesis.

It’s OK if you check your iPhone while stopped at a light, but for the love of the gods put it down while actually driving you idiot.

Drivers don’t acknowledge right of way if a trail looks like a sidewalk. Cyclist be wary.

No, I don’t belong on the sidewalk. I’m doing 14-19mph, I’d be a damn menace to pedestrians. That’s their space.

Learn to bike in a straight line, and behave like you’d want you to if you were the car behind you.

You probably don’t need a helmet if you mostly ride trails. Bring one anyway.

Pedestrians understand your right of way on trails less than cars do on the road. Be cautious, and unless you have a clearly marked right of way, be respectful of their incompetence.

People will ignore you more if you don’t dress like a Tour de France racer. If you’re a guy, a wife beater is the ultimate solution to getting honked at less. For some reason if people assume you have a DUI they get less upset when you’re in the road. It’s fascinating.

For god’s sake, don’t shoal, people. It’s so incredibly rude.

Gears are great. Gears are your friend. Learn to spin before you learn to go fast.

Tailwinds make you feel like you have rocket boosters, even when you’re not going any faster than usual.

Buy a pair of Mr Tuffys. Best single purchase I ever made for my commuter. I have fixed one and only one flat since I did.

If you have flat bars but not Ergon grips, you need to find $30 right now and fix that.

Commuting is not a sport, learn what your comfortable pace is and then enjoy the scenery as you move along at it.

As soon as you can afford it, buy a bike that didn’t come from a department store. The fit will be better, the frame lighter, and the maintenance easier.

Learn to do your own maintenance. Or make friends with some who can. There are enough YouTube videos and Park Tool articles to teach you everything you need to know to keep a bike rolling, and in a world where cars have more error codes than Windows 98, a bike is still a machine simple enough to fix yourself.

Speaking of which, your chain probably needs cleaned. Go do that.

 

New Tumblr For Bike Projects: Anything But Fixie

So. I’m really taking to this biking stuff, and now that my town bike is solid and stable, I’m getting ready to start working on a more involved project to update a 70’s road bike into a light touring / randonneuring bike. I’m really jazzed, because this is going to be a lot of fun. But, I also don’t want to keep spamming this blog with bike stuff. So, I’ve created a new Tumblr to follow my wandering thoughts as I work on this next project, and any that come after it. The Tumblr is called “Anything But Fixie,” and you can find it via the link below.

On The Town: Me and The Felt Verza City 2 Review (And Also Using It To Commute)

A Preamble, and Some Context

OK, first. I’m a commuter. I decided after a rough break-up that I wanted to get back into shape, and I decided to break out the old mountain bike from college and start biking more. Of course, years of disuse after years of abuse had left me a rust bucket with a bent rim. I set it out for the neighborhood kids to make off with and bought a hybrid. A cheap one, really. At the time, though, it was the most expensive bike I’d ever bought. And, it changed how I viewed biking. It rolled! I could make decent time and not feel exhausted! It turns out, I think fenders are sexy! No really! And, other than some laps around the adjoining neighborhood, it got used as a vehicle. It was a way of getting from A to B without a car. Work, groceries, my buddy’s place. That’s what i wanted out of a bike. No recreation, but transportation.

I’m not a weekend warrior. I don’t want to kick out Saturday morning and spend 50 miles grinding up hills. I’m not keen on the idea of doing a century. I’d probably have fun doing it, but it’d eat a day. And that doesn’t jive with my preferred use of time. I have too many hobbies to kill my free days going forwards in one direction. I’m also not a mountain biker, or a downhill guy. If I try to imagine myself barreling down a dried-out creek bed, I giggle. BMXs are only valid bikes near a half pipe. Otherwise, they’re clown-cars for guys with nicer boxers than jeans. Touring is a maybe. I might some day get into touring. Biking around the country and drinking coffee at strange cafes pleases my inner romantic. But  mostly, what I am is a guy who sees a bike as a substitute for my car, but with free exercise. This is important, because one’s reasons for selecting a bike are pretty much born out of how they’re going to use it. The bike I ended up with is probably not even remotely a reasonable choice for most bikers. So, i wanted to establish why I went with this bike in the first place, so we can get down to the brass tacks of reviewing it properly.

I didn’t need a light bike. The Felt isn’t. I needed a bike lighter than my last one, and the Felt is. I needed fenders and racks. I know you can buy those aftermarket and put them on. I have. I wanted ones intended to be there. Purpose-built racks and fenders always look better than bolt-ons. I didn’t need shocks. I bought the sauce. Shocks eat efficiency if you’e just sticking to paved roads. I am. I could go either way on steel or aluminum. I wanted something with a more road/aero profile, and less of an upright/cruiser profile. I wanted good brakes. Good rbakes are comforting when you’re getting passed by cars who love running lights. I needed gears. Internal gear hubs are awesome, and I love the very idea of them. But, if you’ve ever biked home with two glass growlers of beer for ten miles, you might think having a few more gears choices is a splendid idea. I have, and I do. I wanted 700c wheels, and rapid fire shifters. Those were my metrics. I wanted to keep it under a grand. I got a Felt Verza City 2. And that leads us to the review. The next page of this post is the review of the bike itself. The third is my thoughts on using it in the wild, and on commuting in this city in general. Those two thoughts are two intertwined to split into separate sections. So it goes. And here we go.

 

 

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Townie, Revision 3

Bottle cage, tool bag, frame pump, New York Noose, teacup bell, MiNewt 350, Planet Bike Superflash stealth, Brooks B17 Aged saddle, and custom orange rims. Check.

Now, I just need one of those Soma Sparrow bars, a mirror, and a tub of squeal remover for the front disc and this Town will be perfect.

Calculate Your Commute

So, as I mentioned recently, I’m trying to switch to using my bike as a primary vehicle. And one of the reasons people will tell you for doing so is to save money, which always seemed to me to be a bit bunk, since most of the cost of a car is owning it at all and keeping it insured. So, I made a quick little calculator to compare the two on a maintenance and upkeep basis. The calculator asks for your commute schedule as you’ve been doing it by car, and then asks how many of those days you’d like to bike instead. Just punch everything in and it’ll spit out estimates of your cost per mile, per commute, per week, and per year, your savings for the same, and as a bonus can tell you how long it’ll take you to pay yourself back for the bike.

If you want to play with it, you can do so here: http://zedmartinez.com/calculate-your-commute/