From Mountain Bike to Commuter Bike to Touring Bike
Large Handlebar basket rests atop front rack
'93 Bridgestone Catalog with fun illustrations
'93 Bridgestone MB-1 as I had found it with stripped threaded 1" steer tube and broken fork dropout.
New fork, shorter riser stem and sweeping ergonomic bars provides instant commuter bike conversion.
Converting an old steel frame mountain bike can be accomplished and identified as two distinct phases of the bike's transformation. Here is a precise definition of conversion; a substitution of one component for another so as to effect a change:
What begins as a simple, no frills basic vintage trail bike instantly transmutes when handlebars and stem are swapped out for comfortable commuter handling and posture. Adding a set of fenders, a rear rack and some efficient tires for commuting and oala, presto, ta da, it's a mountain bike for commuting. Yay!
So, what makes a touring bike different from a bike for commuting? Well that depends on some other factors when you are considering all the bikes available on the market defined as commuter bikes including three speeds and such. For this topic of converting a mountain bike to a touring bike the only difference to "qualify" this bike build project as a touring bike is the addition of a front pannier rack.
Nothing is at all lost in this process after all when it's all said and done the mountain bike that began the project still exists as a mountain bike that can be used for touring.
Like most avid bike folks who appreciate a high quality frame I love the old steel mountain bike frames and in particular those with lugged design. One name comes to mind when reminiscing over the golden era of steel lugged mountain bike frames and that's Bridgestone.
Back when folks would pour over Grant Petersen's Bridgestone catalogs a following was quickly established and today you might hear the term "BOBISH" referring to the Bridgestone Owners Bunch. Described as some bike folks who "stuck with steel through the aluminum and titanium years".
Setting aside all bike cultish nonsense there are some genuinely practical reasons for preferring a solid old steel lugged mountain bike frame to build up as a dependable commuter touring bike. If steel frames feel better than the more rigid aluminum frames than a lugged frame from Ritchey Logic tubing is something of a Cadillac in frame design. If you're one of those folks who feel that 700c or Twenty Niner wheels are a necessity for bicycle touring, check out Darren Alf's Co Motion Pangea
that he's been riding for at least a couple years now and continues to ride as his bike of choice to fit his bike touring lifestyle. Complete with 26" wheels of course.
So my point here is to say that the tried and true twenty six inch wheel is not dead, far from it. Recognizing the fact that a high end bike company like Co Motion is successfully producing and selling a three thousand dollar touring bike with twenty six inch wheels and some guy is out there riding the thing all over the world enjoying every trip he goes on then do yourself a favor and consider your own possibilities of building up an old steel frame mountain bike for touring or commuting.
This is not the first bike I've built up and converted to a touring bike. I love my old Diamond Back Ascent EX though it has a very long top tube and required more comfort consideration with a complete overhaul of the cockpit. Which brings to the point of swapping out those old stems, which is the number one part to convert an old mountain bike especially for touring. Tom Ritchey's patent eight inch long flat stem and bars though perhaps some of the finest components you will ever encounter on vintage mountain bikes is a brutal combination for a touring bike. Some folks find it suitable enough to simply add bar ends, the most popular being the Ergon line of ergonomic grips and bar ends. However, for this conversion project I decided to go with sweeping handlebars as an ergonomic approach to improving the ride comfort in which case bar ends are not used.
Enjoying how this bike handles for both touring and commuting.
Bike packing seems to be gaining more popularity particularly with off road enthusiasts wanting to explore gravel roads and trails. It's a different method of implementing bike bags and gear typically with the use of frame bags, seat packs, and handlebar bags. Smaller front racks are often used to help stabilize the handlebar load but not always. It makes sense for those riding conditions described that having low rider panniers on conventional front touring racks might inhibit ground and cornering clearances for particularly rugged terrain. My purpose of pointing this out is that it might make more sense when converting a mountain bike for touring that setting the bike up for bike packing would be easier.
Not necessarily. Regarding bike handling characteristics for me it's knowing how the bike's steering characteristics and overall feel of handling with a load as being more or less predictable that determines my choices in bike packing. So, is this a touring bike for bike packing? Of course it is I just prefer to use a tried and true low rider front rack with the steel construction of the Minoura FRP 3000
. This is essentially the only additional bike accessory needed to convert a commuter bike to a fully loaded touring bike. This helps shed light on the process of converting an old mountain bike as it goes through it's first phase as a commuter bike before making it to touring bike status.
Links related to this topicBridgestone MB 1 Threaded Fork Reviews A Bike for All SeasonsHandlebar Favorites Build a Touring, Trekking, Commuter Bike
Looking for a new touring bike with a steel frame, good components, rack, fender braze ons, disc brakes, with wider tires than a conventional road bike for a price at or approximately a thousand dollars. Wouldn't it be nice to find a bike that meets all the criteria of quality touring bike standards with a customized bike fit system designed specifically to meet their customer's needs? I was looking for just such a bike when I found the Fitwell Bicycle Company Fahrlander
and Fahrlander II
Fitwell Bicycle Company Fahrlander bike offers an excellent design for bicycle touring and commuting
Fahrlander frame geometry is in keeping with traditional touring bike frame design.
As a former bike shop owner one of the most appreciated offers from Fitwell Bicycle Company is their rebate offer
of up to one hundred fifty dollars to ensure your new bike is assembled and tuned by a qualified bike mechanic of your choosing. This is proof of a company caring about their customer's bike fit and ride satisfaction. Visit their site to download the rebate form
that must be filled out by the service provider.
Internet bike sales have effected local bike shop's sales as big box company's are able to offer bikes at prices well below suggested retail and with free shipping. Most notably has been Bikes Direct, an online bike superstore that had my customers asking me if I could complete with the prices and then asking me if I could assemble the bike for them once it arrived. Of course I offered the service but I did not offer the same tune up specials available if they had purchased a bike from our shop. That having been said, due to my experience of shop service and bike sales in a very competitive market it is refreshing to find a company that has built their bikes as it specifically pertains to customer satisfaction with local bike shop loyalty in mind. In short they are basically saying "here is an excellent bike and here's some rebate cash to give to your local bike shop to ensure the bike operates safe and properly". It's a beautiful thing.
Fahrlander is designed to fit for bike touring
Fitwell Bicycle Company "Morgan" Fit for leisure rides.
Fitwell Bicycle Company's "Riley" fit for touring bike
Fitwell Bicycle Company "Alex Drew" fit for roadies.
Fitwell's Fahrlander and Fahrlander II is a quality bike designed as a touring bike and of course would be an excellent choice for bicycle commuting. Providing a comfortable frame geometry for a more relaxed riding position the Fitwell name derives more from three or four options of posture or style than it does actual bike fit in the technical sense of the word.
Photos on the left depict the four riding styles or "fit" as described at their company site. Every bike designed and built by Fitwell Bicycles fits one their four bike styles. Their first style called the "Morgan" refers to a very upright riding position with a bike designed for leisure commuters or a porteur bike.
For the touring bike being discussed the riding style is dubbed the "Riley" and the Fahrlander
and Fahrlander II
are designed to provide that riding posture. This is an excellent posture for bike touring and has been discussed in another post. Remember, after purchasing a bike from Fitwell Bicycle Company
entitles you to the rebate so that your local bike shop can help you get the bike dialed in for an even better fit.
"Alex or Drew" fit (style) is a couple of options providing roadies with the more or slightly less aggressive riding style for aerodynamic comfort and performance and have a couple of bikes built for that particular style as well.
This is all meant to clarify what the company defines as "fit" which I would refer to as style or posture. Anyhow, I'm going to point out a few things about the Fahrlander as a touring bike.
Around here we have become quite fond of our Minoura front racks and if you want to install a front rack on the Fahrlander take note that the fork does not have braze ons for cantilever or linear pull brake options, it is strictly a disc brake fork without midway threads on the fork for mounting a low rider style front rack.
I am pointing this out for folks looking for a new touring bike as there are front racks available that would certainly work with the Fahrlander but it does limit some of the choices. That having been said there are the threaded braze ons needed at the dropouts for both a rack and fenders both front and rear. As the Minoura MT 4000sf
is designed to accommodate disc brake and comes with clamps for suspension forks the clamps could be made to fit solidly with the additional axle mount design. Or for a lighter weight solution there is the Axiom Journey Suspension and Disc Low Rider front rack
As far as gearing is concerned both the Fahrlander 1 and Fahrlander II have double chainring cranksets. They are compact cranksets at 50t and 34t but for touring you really want to be using a triple geared like a mountain bike. Fahrlander I is a nice nine speed cassette whereas the Fahrlander II has the current ten cluster. Shimano 105 drivetrain group is a very nice setup but the Tektro Lyra disc brakes have very few but mixed reviews, mostly from folks installing on their own rigs. Discounting possible installation errors on part of the reviewers I do know that the rotors included with the Lyra calipers are reported as being much thinner than avid bb7's for instance. For proper brake setup and tuning is advised to use the rebate from Fitwell Bicycle Company for your local bike shop.
Weinman Rims with Novatec sealed cartridge hubs are coupled with bladed spokes to provide some durability for a bike described as being designed for "adventure". Maxxis Columbiere 700 x 32 tires provide some flat protection in a grooved semi slick design that wouldn't perform really well on trails.
In summary I really like the Fahrlander 1 and with its' current price tag it would still be worth using the rebate to swap out the crankset if needed for loaded touring. However, if you ride mostly on the flats or do more credit card style bike touring none of that is an issue. Slap a rear rack on with a nice handlebar bag with a trunk bag or rear panniers and have fun! I'm sure either of the Fahrlander models can handle it no problem.
Note that I have included a link in an older post to a free bike ergonomics ebook
written by Juliane Neuss. Wherein she describes four basic riding postures similar to those adopted by Fitwell Bicycle Company. It's an excellent resource for understanding some of the aches and pains experienced while riding a bike with solutions to most common complaints. Click on photos or links provided in post for more information or to purchase.
Links related to this topicEffective Posture for Commuter Touring Bike
Ergonomic Bike Comfort
Review of Tenn Tempest Pannier Rain Cover
Elasticized edges and metal button straps
Affordable Quality pannier rain covers from Tenn
My ten year old Axiom Cartier Panniers
have been in need of some good rain covers. After several years of being exposed to all sorts of weather conditions and UV rays the material (although very faded) of the old panniers is holding together quite well.
I considered replacing those old panniers with something similar as I like the design of the metal mounting hooks and swivel lever lock that holds them securely in place on front racks for bouncing along trails and such. I also have come to appreciate the heavy duty bungee and hook that not only keeps the panniers from swaying in turns but they also don't rattle like a lot of Ortlieb panniers with their locking mount system. After several years of service the bungees were wore out and so rather than buy new panniers I ordered the axiom replacement pannier bungee
for each..While I would love to try the newer axiom seymour panniers
the top mounting hooks and lever have been replaced with Rixen and Kaul adjustable hooks. It's an excellent mounting system getting excellent reviews and will be the next set of panniers I get before the end of the year. Until then I thought it a good idea to find some good quality pannier rain covers
other than those available from axiom.
So, when I say I found some good quality rain covers, I sure enough did. Finding a reasonably priced set of quality pannier rain covers
wasn't easy. As the rain covers from axiom combined with cost of newer model panniers previously described plus the cost for covering my older panniers I might just as well have purchased a set of Vaude Aqua Back Cycling Panniers
that I have been considering.
Decisions made with budget constraints help me to find creative solutions to these considerations. After finding the Tenn Tempest Waterproof Hi Viz Bag Cover
for ten bucks a pair with a better quality attachment system than any other pannier rain cover I looked at. Two elasticized straps placed at bottom of rain cover are stretched up along the backside of the pannier then attaching with two high quality metal snaps on top. It's an excellent design and feel much more durable than the Camelbak Rain Cover
from a previous review. There is nothing wrong with the rain cover from Camelbak and it works great with my Camelbak Capo Hydration Pack as well as a pannier rain cover as is described in my other post.
Fortunately both of these rain covers can be adjusted to perfectly fit all of the panniers I currently own including but not limited to Trek Pannier II Pack
, Delta Compact Panniers
and axiom Cartier Panniers
, subject of this post. Although the adjustment of the cinch style elasticized bungee sewn in around the perimeter of the Camelbak cover is more versatile, the Tenn Tempest Cover
is very durable made of a,coated polyester with reflective trim and a nice high visibility greenish yellow that's very nice looking. Despite being made of a thicker more durable material these rain covers are surprisingly packable with ability to fold small enough to stuff in my pocket if need be. I have read reviews of water proofing panniers vs. getting a pannier rain cover where the most common complaint regarding rain covers is the backside or inside of the pannier being exposed to water and leaking through to the pannier's contents.
Perhaps it's due to the fact that I have previously used waterproofing spray on my Cartier Panniers but what I have considered more importantly is drainage. Due to the design of pannier rain covers the water that gets in pools up in the bottom of the rain cover. When that happens and the bottom of the pannier is soaking in that pool of water then the stuff in the pannier is likely to get damp if not soaked depending of course on how the bottom of the pannier is designed. To remedy this it is preferable to have a pannier made of a sturdy enough fabric for adding a grommet hole. It's an easy fix that works very well. Grommet kits
are easy to use and very inexpensive with lots of other uses for do it yourselfers. If you're looking for an affordable quality waterproof pannier rain cover the Tenn Tempest Hi Viz Bag Cover is an excellent choice.
Links related to this topicCamelbak Rain Cover, Versatile for Wet Weather Rides
Kids know to get rest for their cooking classes
It has become quite silly around here with tents with the girls teasing me about my love of tents. When Lisa catches me looking at tents on the internet she immediately says "oh no, we don't need another tent". However she does find it humorous when I get excited about setting up all the tents at once.
Yay! Let's build tent city in the back yard. With Lisa's kid's cooking camp out this year we had the opportunity to set up a few of our tents but not all of them. Usually the girls sleep in the Dome workshop and the boys sleep in their Slumberjack six person tent
. This year however, while I was on night duty as usual the girls were freaked out by some spiders or roaches that crawled on them while they were sleeping on the dome shop floor. So I rendered immediate assistance by pitching the Mountainsmith Genesee Four Person, Three Season Tent
and my old Coleman Cobra Peak 1 two person tent
. These are the three tents shown in photo above and each has been an excellent tent for the price. We purchased the Mountainsmith tent
for the girls to sleep in with a couple of friends for car camping trips and it performed just as well as our REI Passage 2 two person tent that me, Lisa and the dog slept in under thirty to forty mph gusty wind conditions. However these are not tents for bike touring unless of course you are riding with a support vehicle such as with some bike tour companies.
I have three tents to choose from for my personal bike touring needs and each one offers its' own unique qualities. Only my fifteen year old Coleman two person tent has been discontinued and the only tent like it is the Vango Banshee 200 two person tent
. I have heard that the new Coleman Enyo or something like that was meant to replace the old Cobra Peak 1 but the Vango Banshee looks most similar. As sentimental as I am about my old Coleman tent as it weighs slightly more than three pounds with the MSR groundhog stakes and not using a footprint as it hasn't been necessary for fifteen years now. Anyhow, when I got the tent out for the a couple of the girls to use Lisa made it a point to say in a very serious tone "you tell them to be very respectful of that old tent". So I did in my own way have those teenage girls respecting that tent by telling them how old the tent was and that in the fifteen years of owning the tent only one other person, on one single occasion has slept with me in that tent, that being their mother. Teenage girls love stories like that and it's even better when they know it to be true.
Consisting of a single pole design the tent naturally needs to be staked out. This has rarely if ever been an issue even when I used it at a Walmart parking lot where I pitched it where folks let their dogs crap. How in the world I avoided pitching that tent on a pile of dog shit is a mystery. When I woke up the next morning I had to carefully step to avoid the dozens of piles on the grass. The all mesh body of the tent is excellent for summer camping and provides a wonderful airflow, the best of any of the other tents. Although the Vango Banshee 200 two person tent is a two pole design it requires stakes and has the same common complaint as my old Coleman. "That's a one person tent"! Lisa refuses the idea that it's actually a two person tent which is probably why we only slept in it together once. Folks are saying the exact same thing about the Vango Banshee two person model, so whatever, it's a very nice tent for bike touring and camping. Solidly built, excellent in heavy winds and rain, even in snow where the old Coleman was popular with winter enthusiasts and is how I heard about the tent being of such excellent quality for the price.
Nice ventilation at rain fly peak
Vango Banshee 200 is popular with some bike touring folks
Nice size, shape and vestibule storage
Last year I picked up an Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 one person three season tent
. Two reasons, free standing model, absurdly inexpensive, a bit taller than the Coleman providing more headroom when sitting up. I actually felt a bit spoiled setting up the Alps Lynx 1 as the free standing style is so simple and easy.
When using the rainfly and when in very windy conditions it is necessary to stake the tent out. Single entry with vestibule it is a very nice tent that absolutely cannot be beaten for the price. I could criticize it in comparison to the Coleman Cobra Peak 1 tent where I have two entries, two storage vestibules, built in roof pockets and more compact pack size. However, after getting an Outdoor Research 5L dry bag
for stuffing the tent body and rainfly into I pack the longer poles and stakes in their own bag inside my thermarest mattress on rear rack so it is not an issue.
Another option with this tent and the next two tents is ability for a "quick pitch" or minimalist shelter. This is where you simply pitch the rainfly and foot print or ground cover. It's not an option with the Vango Banshee or Coleman Peak 1 tents due to their inherent design of needing to be staked down. Having a minimalist shelter option is nice to have when you just need or want some shade. In New Mexico while riding across vast open areas of desert with no shade at all it's a nice option to avoid heat stroke or if you get sun burned.
Love the large vestibule storage area.
This year I picked up the REI Quarter dome 2 two person tent. I was surprised to find no bike touring specific reviews for this tent. It's by far the best tent I own though I haven't had an opportunity to use it much. I did get to set it up just in time for a torrential down pour with all the tropical thunderstorms we had earlier this year and it was rock solid.
Heavy wind and rain and it didn't even flinch and I suppose this can be attributed to the pole frame design. Although it is a bit more complicated to set up,which is Lisa's only criticism of this tent. However, it is very spacious for a two person tent, dual entry, two vestibules, very lightweight at just over three pounds and I was also able to fit the tent body and rain fly in the Outdoor Research 5L ultra dry sack
for carrying on my front rack with poles and stake tucked inside my air mattress on rear rack.
Aaron's Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3 Tent
Photo shows four panniers from both front and rear of my touring bike racks with a hydration pack tucked in the rather spacious vestibule without interfering with entering or exiting the tent.
It's impressive how much extra room and storage has been provided by the tent's innovative pole frame design. There are some rather odd functions to the design that I don't prefer and that is the plastic holders on the ends of the poles.
I will get some more photos of this tent and get another post made for this with more descriptive photos and information when I have an opportunity to use this tent camping or on a bike tour. After all, we know how much I love my tents, eh honey?
As much as I like this tent it is a bit cost prohibitive priced at three times what I paid for the Alps tent but not much more than the Vango Banshee 200 two person tent. Also, this tent is free standing, well ventilated and a couple pounds lighter than the Vango Banshee.
There are lots of reviews touting the Vango Banshee two person tent
as an excellent choice for bike touring but I have to say for the price and features of the REI Quarter Dome 2 I preferred to spend the extra money not only because it's a lighter weight tent but one that is more spacious knowing that Lisa will be much happier with the dog not sleeping on top of her. Click on any of the links or photos for information or to purchase. REI Quarter dome 2 is only available at REI.
Links related to this topicAlps Lynx 1 Person TentThermarest Sleep Travel ProductsCookstoves for Bike Camping
Oh yes, another tent for bike touring that one of our warmshowers guests touts as his favorite tent for bike camping is a three person tent. He enjoys having the luxurious space of a three person tent even when touring alone and despite the fact that the tent weighs a bit over five pounds. Personally, I wouldn't tote that thing hundreds of miles but he didn't seem to mind at all claiming he had given up on traveling light.
This is the type of tent for two person bike touring where each person carries a portion of tent to help with excess weight and bulk of packing. For example I heard of a couple who loved having the extra space of a larger tent so while he packed and carried the tent body and poles, she carried the rainfly and tent stakes. They love having what they referred to as "a palace of a tent" compared to whatever smaller lighter weight tent they had previously used. Aaron's Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3 Tent
is shown in photo and I wanted to share his enthusiastic appreciation of his tent by including it in this post.
Who has a strong inner guideline and does not need the approval or admiration of others can stay himself in all circumstances. Nobody can find a point of attachment for harm. He never has to adapt his heart, but he can let it determine its own course, in freedom. Learning the easy way by being prepared
Here are four basic guidelines that have helped me not only to be prepared for the random stuff that can be thrown in one's way on the road of life but also some concepts and ideas to assist others needs as well. These are guidelines passed along to me from my father who has always shared with me the importance of leading a healthy active lifestyle which I feel is very important in today's techno driven gadget filled world.
1) "You can learn it the hard way or the easy way".
This is typical of someone who learns the power and value of integrity. Growing up and appreciating having an authority figure to respect whether it's at home, work or school is a gem of an experience. Ideally this lends to a compassionate mode of dealing with people in the "real world" who might need to be told those very words and perhaps even in a harsh tone is appropriate. It's not a threat or black and white thinking of right versus wrong it's more a matter of choice and natural consequence.
Keep this in mind as you pack your kit whether it's a ten mile bike commute to the office or a back roads adventure through several third world countries. Each scenario has potential problems and more often than not many potential disasters can be averted. For example I have a very small bottom bracket tool and crank arm puller that I take along on very long bike tours. Sure they add weight to my kit but I noticed myself taking it for granted when I needed these tools as the repair of simply tightening a bottom bracket cup that had loosened was uneventful.
We each have our own set of criteria which pertains to innumerable scenarios. Is it really alright to blow off learning the language where you're going or could it mean learning it the hard way for you? Not understanding currency exchanges, not taking a bike lock to work when you know it's more than a bit risky? You might get a block from the house without your bike lock and say to yourself "oh no I'm not going to learn the hard way" consequently going back to get your bike lock. Whatever the situation it's a good seed to have planted when needed.
One can learn a lot of one's faults, but one must have the freedom to make them. The quickest way to learn is by experience, which is a severe master, and with freedom and an open mind. Learning can be fun. It doesn't hurt anything to walk your bike
2)"Nothing has to be perfect".
I consider one of the most disruptive "qualities" of technology is the implication that we are achieving some level of perfection. No longer having to stop at the corner gas station to ask for directions to locate an address, technology has made life so much easier in many ways than it was just ten years ago, or five years ago or even last year. Ironically, although many things seem easier there is so much more available and taking place than before that the pace of day to day living is conducted faster. With a need to keep up with various technology such as kids being issued tablets at a public high school there is an additional learning curve necessary to perform basic tasks. This extends to the parents' need to understand that same technology just to interact and understand what is being expected of kids these days. With internet marketing, google maps and the vast social media networks even small business is feeling the pinch to keep up with current technology trends. Thank goodness for so called "glitching out". Phones glitch, are actually quite fragile, drop calls, GPS directs you to the wrong location and we are reminded that no we're not perfect, technology is not perfect and more often than not it doesn't have to be to simply get the appointed task completed. Also I might add that since the techno trend also consists of more user friendly gizmos one doesn't have to possess a rocket science intelligence to make use of the opportunities that technology has to offer.
I don't use bike apps any more. Sure I tried them out, saw how quickly they drained the phone's battery and because I prefer to have my phone for making or receiving calls, getting some photos or using GPS to navigate home I preferred to make sure I had plenty of phone battery. If I were to get turned around the bike apps I tried didn't have a navigating function so I didn't see the point in using a bike app.
Arriving at a long steep climb after already having rode forty miles in fifteen to twenty five mile per hour gusting head winds I then thought "now why don't they make a fricking app for this hill?". It served as a humorous reminder that I was getting out riding long and hard, feeling good about myself and my bike I had built despite the tough conditions. Point was it didn't have to be perfect for me to enjoy my ride.
When I had my own bike shop I had a customer ask me for a very obscure sized tube. He explained he had just come from Santa Fe and the "fancy bike shop there didn't have it". I looked through some old tube boxes that had been collecting dust and when I handed it to the customer he started laughing and said "you know that fancy shop there they were putting micrometer dial calipers on their brake rotors and they were rude. I think they just need to get out and ride those bikes Then I find this tube at a funky little shop like yours". I didn't take offense and could relate to the customer's sense of humor while he reminded me that nothing has to be perfect.
Perfectionism is mindset that eats at you and your happiness. Saying yes to being imperfect can turn that around. Portland homeless person with a bike
3) "It's fair for everyone".
This is for the have's versus the have not's and not feeling the need to compare, feel victim to circumstance nor feel guilty if you are fortunate enough to find yourself living the good life. It's one of my favorites and kinda imbibes the first two.
Is it fair that your bike was stolen even though you went to great lengths to lock it up? Should you sulk in the corner and pout like a victim and say "ah crud, I guess it's fair for everyone, must have been some sorta bad karma?" Not at all, somewhere along the line that bike thief made a choice to learn something the hard way. You don't know everything, you don't have to even though the unresolved pain and anguish of having been cheated will most likely linger for awhile as it does with most folks who are prey to any sort of crime. Be proactive, get another bike, find something to build that was better than what was stolen or perhaps you will come upon some funky old relic you just have to have because it just has so much darn character. If that doesn't help then by all means see a therapist for the anger issues so that you don't hurt someone.
I have had four bikes stolen over the past few years. The last one had me that kind of furious and it was quite awhile before I began to change my perspective just enough to shake it off and move forward with my life. I may have over compensated a bit for the loss but so what I used it as inspiration to fuel some really good work. Though to be honest I kinda hope to find that bike rolling around town one of these days.
While visiting my homeless brother in Portland, Oregon I met quite a few homeless folks who were living that way by choice. Most of them had determined that it was an appropriate lifestyle choice for whatever personal reasons or unresolved reasons they might have had. Some seemed to be running from their problems and some were definitely creating more for themselves and others. Portland's Street Roots Newspaper provides homeless folks with a means for making some cash by peddling the paper on the streets. Sometimes the "it's fair for everyone" idea is all that was keeping some of those folks cheerfully moving forward with some meaningful work despite their circumstances.
Don't demand the best place, recognition, perfection - not from others and not from yourself. Just show your value, and you will earn your rightful place. If your value is part of you, no one can take it away. Life smiles back when your being yourself
4) "You can do whatever you want, it's who you are"
Be yourself, that's enough of a task for any of us these days. Adopting someone else's ideas of right and wrong, being duped into short changing yourself or believing you are better off because after all some other person knows better than you what's good for you. Sometimes that's true but the goal is to move past that. Bikes are a great way to explore who you are, what you want and what you don't want. If you prefer leisure cycling to challenging hard endurance rides so what. If you enjoy challenging yourself once in awhile by seeking out some tough rides that's probably what you should be doing. Besides the many health benefits that bike touring and commuting have to offer there is the personal satisfaction of setting and meeting goals that you yourself put in front of you. I stayed off of my bike for a long period of time sort of as an experiment to see how that might effect my life for better or worse. It had definitely been of no improvement whatsoever. I started to feel isolated, not in touch with the community and simply not enjoying life as much as when I did get more long hard rides in.
Bike camping is an activity I cherish as I feel recharged and refreshed after getting outdoors with nature. I enjoy the gear that my kit consists of and the quality or funky lack of quality of some of it. Doesn't matter it's still fun and I learned how much I missed riding and embracing those activities by not doing them. I didn't find anything to replace it with and that could simply be because I didn't want to. By learning what you want you find out who you are.
Don't bother too much about all those big things happening around you, take care of your life and needs according to your own ethics. Very often the rest will follow. Trying to answer to something else, which lies beyond your immediate understanding, will seldom bring any solution. Your own simple, direct view is often the clearest one.
Red knob on Speed Dial Levers for adjusting modulation
Avid BB7 160mm rotor and caliper
Riding a bike consists of two basic functions, stopping and going. Whenever I go about building a new bike and I can pretty much select whatever brake system I want I choose Avid for stopping the going.
My seven year old touring bike was built with Avid Shorty 4
Cantilevers and other than replacing brake pads as needed they require little or no spring adjusting.
For my expedition touring bike I knew I wanted to install the Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes
and top them off with Speed Dial Levers
. While working at a shop in Colorado for a few years of all the assorted hydraulics and other disc brake systems the Avid BB7's required the absolute least amount of maintenance of the rental fleet. If they were set up properly of course, which seems to be the biggest gripe most folks have with the BB7 system.
I have tried a few different methods of installing the BB7's to get the best performance from the system other than using their own specific cable housing. It hasn't been an issue at all, however when the cable housing needs replacing I will probably install Jagwire Ripcord Compressionless Housing
. Only reason being that to get the best feel from the BB7 with Speed Dial Lever system so that it is just as "nice" as hydraulic system. It's not something I need at all for the type of riding I do but would be fun to have.
Avid BB7 mountain disc brake Avid G2 Rotors are standard with BB7 calipers
shown in photo at left was installed almost two years ago and still using original pads. Another consideration in providing good braking performance and less noise it's preferable to use organic rather than sintered pads. Avid OEM pads
are sintered though last much longer than the organic pads. When shopping for replacement pads both types of brake pads
are typically available with sintered being slightly more expensive.
Folks who prefer the BB7 brakes have shared information on how to get the most out of the system for various riding applications such as downhill riding by using different rotors
I noticed there is some old information at reviews and how to installations for the BB7's so I thought I'd mention this for folks who might mistakenly expect to have to unnecessarily upgrade the brake rotors. In 2012 Avid replaced the Roundagon rotor on the BB7's with the cooling qualities of the G2 Clean Sweep Rotors
If you are shopping for a disc brake system consider the Avid BB7 Mechanical Brakes
and consider the fact that many serious bike touring experts ride with an Avid brake system. It's the system consistently installed on many high end touring bikes. It's a very dependable system, preferable to hydraulics with bike touring and commuting for their ease of service and quality feel rivaling any hydraulic system when set up properly.
Links related to this topic:Best Disc Brakes for Long Distance Touring How to Set up Avid Disc Brakes
Dahon parked in front of fun alley access apartments
Dahon Mariner on beach at Galveston Island's Historic Pleasure Pier
Found some nice murals for the Dahon Mariner
I have been enjoying the versatile features that owning a folding bike provides. One of those days when I was sticking to a scheduled work day and planning to go for a ride as soon as I was finished. Then the girls wanted us to all hop in the car and leave for Galveston.
Instead of saying something like "oh, I have work to get done and then I planned on going for a ride, you gals go ahead". Because I knew they were in a hurry to leave I didn't feel like getting the car carrier rigged on to the back of the vehicle and delaying their fun. So, I aired up the tires of my Dahon Mariner
, put some snacks in my hydration pack, grabbed my handlebar bag with camera equipment, folded the bike up, tossed it in the back of the car and off we went for what turned out to be a very nice time with excellent weather.
Dahon and bike rental selection, I prefer my folding bike
If I didn't have my folding bike I would have missed out on a fun little evening bike tour with photo opportunities so readily available on Galveston Island, Texas. Getting off the beaten track was easy with this little folding bike that has durable BMX quality casing and plenty of tread for navigating loose gravel or pot holes through the colorful, eclectic alleys. Photo above left is of a rather charming apartment area with alley access. If I hadn't been on my little folding bike I wouldn't have considered darting around alleys to get some thematic images pertaining to the Dahon Mariner's
Bikes and photography are a fun, rewarding hobby that's our entire family can enjoy. For this reason I decided to keep this folding bike although I had considered selling it a few years ago. However, when I consider how many times I have used this bike for travel when it was inconvenient to load a full size bike onto the outside of our vehicle the bike has more than paid for itself.
I took this bike to Kansas one winter for Christmas deciding that I didn't want my bikes exposed to harsh freezing temperatures, snow and ice. This bike takes up very little room when folded and fit inside our little Scion XB along with luggage for three women, which is saying something if you knew how much these girls pack for a trip.
By now my family knows how important is for me to have bikes in my life and how much I enjoy having a bike or two with me on vacations. I have a bit of a "don't leave home without it" attitude and ensures I can get away from it all as needed. So, rather than renting a bike (which has been suggested to me in the past) I prefer instead to ride my folding bike. I can take it with me anywhere as it's efficient and versatile enough for most vacation destinations. No, It's not the bike of choice for taking to Moab, Utah but it's sure fun for sight seeing, photography and errands to the store while car camping. Yep, that's what it's like, sort of.
There is something very warm and friendly about a folding bike. While pedaling the busy sea front with lots of foot traffic folks are typically smiling and congenial stepping aside to let me pass perhaps due the bike's low impact style and presence. An old friend in Portland loves his folding bike for commuting and while visiting my sister my brother in law came out to listen as the friend praised the abilities of his folding bike. When my brother in law said "ya right, until someone sees you on it". As if to suggest riding a folding bike is somehow embarrassing? Don't know, don't care, folding bikes are very fun, very versatile and can maneuver through tight traffic jammed areas like no other bike I have ridden. Maybe it's just not the right bike for someone who takes themselves too seriously? Ha, oh I take my bikes seriously even if I look like a silly little guy pedaling a silly little bike grinning ear to ear.
Folks have been gifting me some note pads the past few years. I don't actually use many of them and so I have a collection of them..I thought the cover of one of those note pads provides a pretty accurate description of riding a folding bike
Links related to this topic:Foldable Bike for Travel
Playing at the beach with my Dahon Mariner
One Year Review of Selle Anatomica NSX Selle Anatomica NSX when brand new
Folks at The Ride Journal
have made their magazine's past issues free to download so I began enjoying some excellent writing from diverse sources such as Jon Tomac
and Alastair Humphreys
. A publication that has been providing a venue for some of the best writing available as it pertains to all sorts of different folks who enjoy riding a bike. Whether that be road racing, adrenaline junkie downhill riders or fat bike boys merrily cruising the country side in three feet of snow tipping the old whiskey flask to keep warm. Their magazine provides ride articles for every type of rider.
While perusing a copy of the publication and stoked after reading the magazine's mission statement from their editor which ends with the following paragraph:"Times they are a-changing, and those of us who love bikes
and live bikes are one of the few groups who are changing
them for the better. Wherever you are and whatever bike
you favour, ride safe and ride hard".
Nice, although I definitely consider myself a part of some other excellent groups that contribute just as well to so called "better changes", namely the Natural Living Country Store
At any rate joyfully perusing another fine contributor to The Ride Journal, James Straffon and his written work entitled 'Seat of Learning'. In my humble opinion a better title would have been 'Saddle of Learning' but after reading his article in its' entirety it is the author himself who's claims of knowledge reveal his need to learn more of what he is speaking. Referencing Hindu sanskrit teachings and Taoist practices (ancient Chinese healing arts) he proclaims the wonderful experience of one getting their mystical rocks off on the road to enlightenment by the pure grace of bouncing one's genitalia on a bike seat.
"So how does the saddle fit into this psychoactive pursuit? I present the perineum. Ordinarily one would not expect the average cyclist to be on first-name terms with it. But it’s there, focusing your energy stream. Right between your ischial tuberosities, or sit bones. A man’s perineum is twice the length of a woman’s. And Taoist philosophy will tell you that your Hui Yin, or ‘root chakra’ is based there – your prime energy centre, your CV1 meridian acupuncture point". Selle Anatomica NSX one year later
Reports of folks logging many hours and many miles on their bikes as it pertains to a bike saddle consists mostly of men's prostate problems, impotence or erectile dysfunction than that of a college student doing acid for the first time. Definition of "psychoactive" is more appropriately used in association with oh, I don't know, psychedelic drug use?
After decades of avid cyclists cranking out thousands upon thousands if not millions of combined miles a more common experience of a poorly designed saddle or improper bike fit is a condition called Pudendal Nerve Entrapment. Pelvic pain, erectile dysfunction or impotence have all been attributed to frequently riding a bike. However, after researching this a bit I found this very interesting bit information.from Men's Fitness"Not all researchers believe this is a real problem. A 2004 study in the Journal of Urology looked at 688 cyclists and found no statistically significant difference in erectile problems in the study group compared to non-cyclists. However, a study of 90 bicycle-riding police officers did show that using a "saddle without a nose" seat design resulted in less penile numbness and pain. Another study showed that riders who used seats with a wider posterior region (distributing weight to the "assbones," or "ischial tuberosities") had fewer physical complaints".
Now I can get to the points of how much I enjoy the Selle Anatomica NSX.
Selle Anatomica designed this saddle for folks who sit either more upright, for mountain bikes or who have had problems with their patented slot design, a cutout portion in the saddle which does not press on the nerve areas described by either the scientific approach of potential nerve damage nor the haphazard mystical mumbo jumbo of the arm chair spiritualist.
After what has actually been eighteen months of mostly bike commuting, some twenty mile jaunts and trail riding sprinkled in not only does it look about as nice as it did when I first received this saddle but Lisa's not complaining either. It is important to note that as an experienced bike builder I took into consideration all the factors of body weight distribution and chose my saddle width appropriately. In fact due to the saddle's width the inside of my thighs would chafe along the sharp edge of the saddle. This is very common and easily remedied with a file by gently removing the hard edge. Selle Anatomica was receiving complaints of the slotted saddle stretching too much too fast as the adjustment screw used to incrementally take the sag out of the saddle was maxed out. The company offers replacement covers for a hundred bucks at the time of this article. I haven't had this problem on my Selle Titanico Watershed model at all. At some point I will need to have a new cover put on but that's to be expected, There have been some structural improvements to the saddle rails and materials covered in an earlier post.
"In 1943, the great visionary Pablo Picasso fully embodied the ‘art of the readymade’ when he chanced upon a disused saddle and handlebars. These he fused into Tête de Taureau– a bull’s head, with saddle as face, handlebars as horns. What a wonderfully ironic metamorphosis – subverting posterior to anterior. The third eye relocated perhaps".
He just described a fella with his head up his arse. Photo at left is of Picasso's "Bull Head" which he completed sometime in 1942 to '43. That leather saddle has a wicked high centered crease that would wreak more havoc on man's sexy time parts than Picasso did on his women as he was quoted in 1943 describing "Women as machines for suffering". I think he confused women with the bike parts he assembled in such a way that they are neither going forward nor backward and if you can't move on a bike then that would feel like a machine for suffering. An obvious interpretation provided with the necessary information to have one is that ol' Pablo was a freakish bully toward women causing many of his mistresses to hurt or kill themselves.
Real Bike Saddle Wisdom
When it comes to bike saddles you more often than not get what you pay for and is perhaps the most important component on a bike for putting many miles on. As a former bike shop owner it was easily the most common complaint with folks wanting bigger, gel filled cushy sheepskin covered mega saddles that by the time they were done adding padding it looked like they were sitting on a small bean bag chair. It's funny but there's truth to some of the lengths folks would go to not believing that a good quality leather saddle is what has been working for several decades in providing happy healthy bike rides. Visit your local bike shop, ask questions about bike fit, proper saddle height, fore and aft position of the saddle and proper bike saddle selection. Brooks
, Velo Orange
, and Selle Anatomica
are all reputable manufacturers of excellent quality bike saddles with proven rider satisfaction. Brooks has saddles designed specifically for men and women riders. A most notable difference between Selle Anatomica and the others is that Selle Anatomica saddles do not require a break in period and receive much praise for their saddles being comfortable brand new. As the title indicates the company has a knack for making the hard easy. Brooks riders typically claim that their saddle starts to soften and cooperate with their bum after a few hundred miles.
Fellas, if you love and appreciate your woman like I do mine you build her a nice ride that she can enjoy and appreciate for couple's bike rides. I have to laugh at the absurd notion of welding a pair of handlebars to the bottom of a saddle and then having the brass balls (pun intended) to blame it all on my woman by referring to her as a machine for suffering. I would be out on the street in a minute and deservedly so. But seeing's how I did build her a beautiful classic rare beauty of a bike in keeping with her powerfully unique and adorable qualities we have a lot to look forward to with many good times ahead.
Regarding John Straffon's misleading information in his article and sending out much thanks for sharing a bit of inspiration to a below average writer such as myself. For comparison of his lofty ideas consider researching the grounding, emotionally soothing effects that riding a bike has had for folks who have experienced trauma in their lives or are recovering from PTSD. Listen to the editor quoted at the beginning Ride Safe and Ride Hard.
Links related to this topicSeat of Learning by James StraffonSelle Anatomica Mountain Bike Saddle ReviewMade in USA Selle Anatomica TitanicoBuild a Bike for Someone to Love
Selle Anatomica Titanico Watershed with patented slot at left and NSX model on right suggested for mountain bikes.
Bike Touring and Commuting Information Award Prep work of opening bike shop
It wasn't as pretty a picture as the photo on the left might indicate when I was forced to close the bike shop in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Our quality of service was excellent including custom bike builds and lots of repair work. With a population of approximately twenty five thousand and being the only bike shop in town we would get darn busy at times. The bike industry can be pretty tough to make a living at as is most small business ventures which often require unrelenting attention and focus to succeed.
It was a very slow and painful process lasting approximately seven years of rebuilding a body and mind which had been so traumatized by incidents which will not be explained. I also needed to redefine my association with bikes and my love of riding, though it has been my love of riding a bike and the loving support of friends and family which has been the most redeeming factors of my and our newly acquired successes. I don't like to think about those past events much nor have I necessarily enjoyed acknowledging many of the mistakes I had made. That having been said what I am taking from that failure is not only that I had many successes at that shop but that any and all residual tormenting is done. How did that happen? Because I said so. That's what is meant by the phrase "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I would elaborate on the "strength" part as meaning inner peace, joy and balance which ironically are all experienced when I ride. Just as ironically is that I didn't "have" to ride to get here however the bike remains a treasured asset to ensure these qualities are easily maintained.
Most folks can relate to how moving forward in life necessitates letting go of the past so the timing of recently receiving an email like this one has helped with that process. So, I thought I'd give it a "blog about" by including the press release
provided by the League City Small Business Award. Click on photo of awarded plaque for a description of the award or read the press release in its' entirety below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bike Tourings Receives 2015 Best of League City Award
League City Award Program Honors the Achievement
LEAGUE CITY July 2, 2015 -- Bike Tourings has been selected for the 2015 Best of League City Award in the Bike Touring and Commuting Information category by the League City Award Program.
Each year, the League City Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the League City area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 League City Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the League City Award Program and data provided by third parties.
About League City Award Program
The League City Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the League City area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
The League City Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.
SOURCE: League City Award Program
League City Award Program
Letting Go of The Past, Old Bike Shop Photos
Former employee Jon Walsch and former customer "Pistol" Pete Garcia in front of bike shop.
Former shop employee Travis performing a "one footer" on his Haro.
Been there, done that, appropriately titled "Dark Canyon Highway" in New Mexico.
Old bike projects strewn around behind the old bike shop
Waterproof design with plenty of pockets
Waterproof materials with several pockets
Bike envy sucks, whether you're wanting the newest Carradice canvas and trimmed leather ensemble of panniers but don't have the cash or worse wishing you had an entirely different bike but making do with what you have.
Rest assured I'm not getting off topic too much regarding issues of so called poverty consciousness or a scarcity complex as most all of us have had to contend with hard times in some aspect of our lives. So much can be learned from those times of scarce resources or opportunities such as creative solutions by developing intuitive skills and so forth. I have lived through such times and very grateful it's long gone in the past but my adaptive problem solving skills are more than simply intact. Answers to problems that used to come by racking my head in earnest effort seem to chime in much more effortlessly and without angst. That's how I found this excellent handlebar bag
for my cameras and other goodies.
Roswheel handlebar bag has excellent storage
If you own several bikes you understand the difficulty of establishing a well rounded kit that can be transferred from bike to bike without having to spend a lot of time repacking. Some panniers can be a hassle if they are difficult to take off and on not to mention the same panniers being compatible with varying bike racks. I have gotten that part taken care of and each bike has a nice seat wedge kit with the basics for flats and small repairs. But there has been one bike touring accessory that has caused a bit of frustration for me to locate providing just the right size, features and versatility I was looking for. First of all I knew a waterproof handlebar bag would be a must have for my photo equipment and with the heavy rains we've been experiencing along the Gulf Coast this year my timing was good. Secondly it would have a versatile mounting system including ability to be placed on drop style handlebars with in line brake levers or top bar brakes whatever you want to call them the brake levers are positioned on an over sized handlebar and stem. I find the brake levers to be very useful for bike commuting and changing hand positions while maintaining ready access to my brakes for longer rides. So a quick release mounting bracket was ruled out and I am not too fond of them anyhow. I like my Axiom Atlas Handlebar Bag
but it's not waterproof and finding a good rain cover for it has also been part of my research. It seemed I would need to buy a rather expensive waist pack rain cover
that cost as much as the handlebar bag. Though I will most likely get the rain cover as I like the Atlas bag so much.
Thirdly it would have the storage capacity to fit all my photo equipment and accessories including cables, remote, two lenses, filters, batteries and other items. Good news is I found this waterproof handlebar bag
from Roswheel at less than half the price of what I had budgeted for and although skeptical of the so called waterproofing I thought I would at least give it a try for the very modest price. With the two rider side pockets I have easy access to my little Kodak Zx5 while I'm riding without having to stop all the time and my Motorola 4G LTE with case fits in the other rider side pocket. This allows plenty of room for my old Nikon 995 with lens adapters and gorilla pod. If I had a small tablet I could fit that in their too. There are plenty of internal storage pockets and the top flap is the main waterproof part with a map case on the inside that attaches very securely with velcro. When it is folded back toward the rider it is easy to read.
New Zimbale three ounce handlebar bag
Fourth it would have to allow front light access with handlebar mount without blocking the front light beam like most quick release models and not be so low that it would interfere with my being able to carry a tent on top of front rack.
After more than eight months of using this handlebar bag it has proven to be extremely waterproof, durable and I can use it on each of the ten bikes I currently own. It is so easy to take on and off with two plastic buckles underneath it makes it easy to remove and carry around with either a rubber top handle or included shoulder strap.
There is also nice reflective piping along the lower front of the bag and when I'm trail riding or curb hopping it's easy to attach a couple of bungee stabilizers like those on the axiom atlas. This is a very well reviewed Roswheel handlebar bag
as the company lists many other bike accessory items I am only familiar with this particular model.
Here are some specifications on size and materials: Material: 1680D Polyester+ PVC Breathable Mesh Size : 10.08 in x 7.45 in x 1.80
New Zimbale Waterproof Canvas Handlebar Bags
are also available at time of this post. These are some very nice, considerably more expensive options than my little camera bag from Roswheel.
Manufactured in Korea for Brompton folding bikes the attachment system does not require the use of installing quick release mechanisms which would inhibit use with more than one bike.
Zimbale's handlebar bag models are available in 3 oz., 7oz., 11oz., 14oz. and 16oz. storage capacities. Photo at left is the three ounce model.
Waterproof Canvas and zippered interior
Available in several size options, New Zimbale Waterproof handlebar bags made of waterproof canvas
This is the model I had budgeted for at the time of my purchase which was eight months ago or more. If these new Zimbale waterproof canvas bags were available then I would have snagged one.
I'm still considering it as these bags appear to be of good quality and could be slightly modified or made to work with just about any bike handlebar scenario. Because I am so pleased with my current handlebar bag I wouldn't call this bike bag envy but it's pretty close.