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Grip shifters; just say no

August 17, 2009 Comments off

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate grip shifters?  You know, those twisty bicycle handgrips that shift gears while you wreck?  Trigger, thumb, and plug shifters are much safer and as a bonus, easier to work on. 

There may be some kind of super-high-quality grip shifters I’ve never seen before, but mostly they just seem like something that a marketing expert thought of for low-end and low-mid-range bikes. A “sounds like a good idea until you think about it for ten seconds” kind of thing. And they make a ten-minute cable replacement into an hour-long ordeal because the cheap plastic parts cracked and I had to dig around in my spare parts buckets.  Fooey!

Categories: bicycling, Geeky

You can’t ride all the time

December 16, 2008 1 comment

When it’s just cold, and the streets are dry or only a little icy, riding a bike is pretty easy.  (Ski goggles help a lot.) Ice is slipperier the warmer it is. After an ice storm, unless you have studded tires, forget it.  Riding on a half-inch of snow is easy, but when it gets to two or three inches, it’s a real aerobic workout.  And automobile tire tracks can throw you.

Whenever you ride across a really icy patch, ride straight; you can’t apply very much Δv.  This requires planning ahead so you can make changes in speed or direction after you are back on relatively dry pavement.

And if it’s dark, don’t make automobile drivers guess where you are; they may not make the effort.  Bike lights are cheap and better than ever.

Massbike.org says; “There are lots of reasons why riding in the winter is not as crazy as it sounds…”

Categories: bicycling, Geeky

Fixed-wheel bikes

September 1, 2008 2 comments

Chicago Tribune has a great article, with explanatory graphics, on the hottest trend in cycling: No brakes, and they like it.  If you are interested in a fixed-wheel bike, or in the trend of people riding them on the streets, you should definitely read the article.  It covers both the design and the legal controversy over fixed-wheel bikes.

It is not quite true that fixed-wheel bikes “have no brakes”.  These bikes rely on the rider’s skill with the non-coasting drive train to bring the bike to a stop.  This is not a trivial trick, and the article rightly says riding a fixed-wheel bike on the street is no place for a beginner.

A simple compromise is to equip the bike with a front brake.  The front brake does 85% of the stopping on a bike anyway.  But the “purists” don’t like anything attached to their bikes that isn’t absolutely needed to move the machine.  I don’t screw around: my bike has top-quality front and rear disc brakes, with massive tires.  When I want to, I can apply a hell of a lot of drop-anchor.

The article made no mention that cheap, dime-store bikes often have such dysfunctional brakes that they may as well have none at all.

Categories: bicycling, Geeky