Our old Commuter Bike was in need of cargo carrying ability.
Friday evening and I wanted to get a funky handlebar basket on our old Puch Bergmeister
commuter bike as it needed some cargo carrying ability. Seems like quite a trend to build Porteur Bikes these days, but with most Porteur racks costing about a hundred bucks and the fact that it severely limits some riding agility, I opted for something a bit different, if not cheap and the Velo Orange Porteur Bars demand some appropriate styling.
Two dollar thrift store basket with hook and loop velcro straps for attaching to handlebar.
It is fun finding items like the basket in these photos at thrift stores. A whopping two dollars landed this beautiful wicker basket with rope handle and leather trim.
This is a very simple method and any solid wicker basket will work. This DIY project has turned out exceptionally well with the basket being a bit elongated with a shallow round shape providing some aerodynamic quality without skimping on capacity. A rare quality with most handlebar baskets.
Three points of securing basket to handlebar has provided an easy ten pound weight capacity.
Prior to installing it might be a good idea to clean and clear coat the basket for durability. I have some Valspar Clear Coat
I have used successfully on several outdoor wood working projects and is perfect for this as it dries instantly.
Next, simply thread the Hook and Loop Velcro
through the wicker and wrap it around atl least two places on the handlebars.
Thrift Store shopping offers fun DIY handlebar basket projects for bike commuting.
This basket was installed with four points supporting it. Obviously the first two Velcro Straps
on the handlebars with a third strap wrapped around a steel front reflector bracket which helps to keep the basket from shifting side to side while riding as shown in upper right photo. Fourth is the steel chrome fender which protects the basket and tire from each other with the basket barely touching the fender.
We placed a gallon water container in the basket with the basket proving more than able to support and carry the load. I am confident this basket could safely transport ten pounds efficiently and look good doing it. I look forward to running some grocery and other errands with it over the weekend. Will add photos of my fun filled rides, now that I have a basket for it. Cheers!
Simple Chain Maintenance Kit for Bike Commuting
Chain maintenance made much easier when you know what works.
Bike Chain Maintenance for any type of bike
There is so much information regarding chain maintenance it can be daunting for new comers to bike commuting who simply want an efficient and affordable method of bike chain maintenance. As Sheldon Brown noted it is perhaps the most controversial of bike maintenance topic there is. Well, if you'd like to jump ahead and research all the definitions and terms referring to why chain stretch is a misleading term, what's a good chain and why, what cleaners to use and which lubes to avoid based on wet or dry conditions with explanations of chemical detergents and how they can harm your chain, etc. then skip this article and go to links provided at the end of this post.
If you would like to know a quick, quality method for maintaining your commuter bike's chain then use the following methods we have used for years in servicing many happy customers' bikes. Whether they were hard core road bike racers or fair weather bike commuters we never had a dissatisfied customer.
There are basically three things to list for drivetrain and chain maintenance: Clean, Check Wear and Lube. How often? When a new chain is put on a bike it is recommended to not clean and lube the chain until the original packing grease has been worn away. At the first sound of a dry squeak clean and lube it. After completing that routine a couple times you will get to know you're own particular schedule for chain maintenance. Many factors contribute to how frequently your chain will need attention and varies from bike to bike depending on how many miles you ride, on or off road, wet or dry,etc. A chain cleaning and lube technique which I am sharing here has worked for all types of bikes regardless of riding conditions. In my experience it is not only the quickest and easiest way to clean the chain it is also the longest lasting between applications as well as providing long life to chain and all drivetrain components.
Scroll down to see photos that help to illustrate each step of this simple and easy process.
If you don't have a bike repair stand or the space for one, you can get a twenty dollar Sunlite Bottom Bracket Type Bicycle Display Stand,
oh and a five gallon bucket to store the following list of items in. Just yesterday I was out on one of my bike commutes and found a nice quality shop rag and felt it was a good idea to share this tried and true chain cleaning technique for bike commuters.
- Degreaser: For Chain Cleaning we use straight Simple Green which is both non toxic and biodegradable and can be purchased by the gallon and dispensed with a spray bottle or added to a Bike specific Chain Cleaner.
- Rags: lint free and durable easy to find by the bundle at auto supply stores and are very inexpensive. After use, rinse well, soak with simple green for degreasing and place in bucket of warm to hot water. Pull the rags out when convenient, rinse, ring dry and re use.
- Chain Cleaning Tool: After the kids in the shop kept dropping and breaking our Park Cyclone Chain Cleaning Tool I decided to look for a more durable much less expensive alternative to routinely replacing a $25 maintenance tool. Finish Line's Grunge Brush (shown in photo above) turned out to be the best tool available. Using a spray bottle filled with straight Simple Green profusely sprayed on to the chain, chain rings and cassette gears with a spray bottle and running the chain through the Grunge Brush in two directions worked to clean even the worst chains. Then spray again with a bottle of half Simple Green and half water use a rag by gently pinching the rollers and running the chain through the rag until clean. Fold rag in half, holding either end and clean between cassette gears. It may require some practice to get a feel for moving the cassette in the free wheel direction with the rag to thoroughly clean the cassette. In a shop when a bike is in a repair stand this is very easy. If you don't have a repair stand, remove the rear wheel after having cleaned the chain if the gears appear to need that. Often times after the initial soaking with Simple Green Degreaser simply rinse off with a garden hose. Before applying any lube wait several minutes for everything to dry or repeat the described cleaning methods with a clean dry rag.
- Check Chain Wear: It's a good idea to check for chain wear with a tool like the Park Tool Chain Wear Indicator CC-3.2 which costs about ten bucks and comes with instructions on how to use.
- Lube: There are two to use which when used in the way described will last a very long time especially if you're only maintaining one bike for commuting. Park Tool CL-1 Synthetic Blend Chain Lube comes with a small straw like applicator excellent for getting lube into pivot points of derailleurs without waste and of course can also be used on the chain. For chain lubrication Boeshield T 9 is by far the longest lasting lube for wet, dry, road or trail conditions. One drop applied to the top of each roller is plenty. After lubricating every roller on the chain either very gently remove only some excess with a rag or leave all the lube for wet, muddy conditions. Wait two hours for the lube to dry before riding. When the method described here is used accurately and thoroughly you can get hundreds of miles between chain maintenance schedules for typical bike commuting or bike touring conditions. Boeshield T 9 Travel Size Bottle is also available for effective long lasting chain maintenance while bike touring.
Simple efficient bike cleaning kit stored in five gallon bucket. Bucket can be used to sit on.
Rag used to clean between gears.
Park Tool CL-1 Synthetic Blend Chain Lube with applicator works very well for lubing hidden pivot on back side of rear deraiileur
With the steel bottom bracket bike stand in place holding rear wheel up the chain is passed through the Grunge Brush after having soaked the chain and gears thoroughly with Simple Green in Spray Bottle. The bucket is for sitting on.
Park Tool CC-3 Chain Wear Indicator showing NO signs of wear. Notice how clean chain is.
Boeshield T 9 applying one drop per roller and allowing to dry for two hours before riding.
The Best Bike Commuting Bag for less than Ten Dollars!
Versatile handlebar bag can be used as a seat bag, excellent for bike commuting. Axiom Phoenix bag fits most leather saddle tabs like that shown in photo from Selle Anatomica or Brooks Saddles.
Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag
Axiom's water resistant 600 D Poly is good stuff
Looking for a bike commuter gift idea? I purchased this as a birthday gift for Lisa as she needed something a bit larger for her new Sony Z1 phone and Adock Silicone Keyboard as well as other items such as riding gloves, keys, etc.
I didn't want to spend too much as I tend to do for her birthday so the Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag
looked to be a perfect gift idea at ten bucks or less. Without skimping on quality it turned out being a good fit for her '89 Peugeot. A simple strap design allows use as a seat bag on a Brooks Saddle or most any leather saddle with seat tabs such as those on the Sell Anatomica NSX pictured above.
The bag is very water resistant and the Kiwi Camp Dry once added will be adequate for the material However, the two button snap design being a nice change from the plethora of zippered models on the market creates a flap between the snap on cover and the rest of the bag.
I was able to find a bike seat rain cover
that should fit nicely and for a few dollars more it was worth seeing if it will fit. Whether it does or not is of no issue as she is very pleased with the bag so far. Due to the simple strap design this versatile little bag from Axiom doesn't interfere with a front light that is mounted on the handlebar. Some folks have a very difficult time commuting at night and many quick release handle bags and baskets which use a large mounting bracket typically places the bag or basket a bit high so that the front light is blocked from effectively lighting the roadway. Not an issue with this simple little bag.
Product Specifications: Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag
is made of 600 D Polyester measures 4" x 9" with a capacity of 44 cubic inches and weighs 150 grams. Mesh interior pockets are nice for stashing keys and other small items while commuting. This is a very good little bag for the money and exceeded my expectations of quality with the leather Axiom logo as a nice touch providing a classy retro vintage look.
Optional rain cover for Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag is less than five bucks. Click on photo for information or purchase.
Affordable Quality Bike Touring Panniers with Water Proofing
Axiom Cartier DLX Panniers
I recently reviewed my ten year old Cartier Panniers
and have been pleasantly surprised by my new handlebar bag from Axiom
While shopping for a small, simple handlebar bag that I could use on any of my bikes without having to use a mounting bracket I reminisced about all the Axiom products I sold to some very happy and satisfied customers.
Whether for short bike commutes or cross country rides I was able to provide affordable quality items to meet my customer's needs. It always felt good to have customers return to the shop not to complain or want an exchange or refund but to give me their thanks for not only supplying a quality product but saving them some money as well.
While looking at the new mounting brackets, new models of panniers and other re designs I felt it was time to catch up a little bit and have decided to order some new panniers.
While I love my old Cartier Panniers (link for review)
I would like to replace some other Axiom Panniers I sold with a restored vintage Bianchi touring bike I had completed in our shop.
Axiom Panniers offer versatile Affordable Quality Products. My Axiom Cartier Panniers are still providing quality carrying ability after ten years.
My favorite panniers whether it be for bike touring or commuting are the Axiom La Salle Panniers.
Designed for front or rear use, offer plenty of storage, include rain covers, angular shape for wind resistance and of course extremely durable. Unfortunately or fortunately when I sold the '83 Bianchi Randonneur Touring bike the buyer wanted the bags so bad he paid extra for them.
All of the Axiom Panniers have changed slightly in appearance over the years with a few design differences among the various models and a few new models added such as the Seymour DlX Panniers.
In my previous post regarding my Axiom Cartier Panniers I decided to order a pair of the Seymour DLX 30 Panniers
Affordable good quality pannier set
A good bike touring pannier set that offers versatility with swapping front and rear bags. I like to use the Axiom Cartier Panniers on the front with Minoura Front Pannier Rack. Locking tabs on Panniers ensure they won't bounce off. Velcro handle strap that goes over rear rack ensure the Delta Panniers stay in place as well.
Other than the Grand Tour Modular Kits that I hear were a flop, most all Axiom Panniers are a worthy investment sure to provide several years of use with proper care and handling. Here is a short list provided from a comment regarding the most popular panniers from Axiom with storage capacity and links. Seymour LX
1700c" (27.85L) per pairSeymour DLX 30
1830c" (30L) per pairLasalle DLX 45
1830c" (30L) per pairCartier DLX 35
[this set] 2013c" (33L) per pair
Kootenay DLX 2441c" (40L) per pairChamplain DLX
60 3000c" (49L) per pair
Here is a list of Bags and Panniers in photo. All bags treated with Kiwi Camp Dry, have optional rain covers also treated with Camp Dry and use of Water proof stuff sacks for organizing and storage. Axiom Cartier PanniersDelta Compact PanniersAxiom Phoenix Handlebar BagAvenir Big Mouth Seat Bag
Kiwi Camp Dry
At the time of this post the total cost this pannier kit is less than $170 including rain cover for Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag and Kiwi Camp Dry Waterproofing Treatment.
Nashbar Ragster II Sandals are excellent clipless bike commuting sandals particularly for the typically low price.
After a little over a year now (Click for Previous Post)
I am really enjoying the Nashbar Ragster II Sandals
particularly for hot or humid weather. I purchased these sandals last June when I provided my first article regarding how to prepare the cleat mounting area for adding cleats to the Ragster II. For bike commuting one of the reasons I like these so much is the way the soles cover the surrounding area of the cleats. No more clickity clackity nonsense or the sound of grinding and crunching over concrete or pavement and not having to wear socks is nice though it does allow for quite an interesting tan line.
The closed toe necessitates that I keep my big toe nail clipped short but that has more to do with one foot being oh so slightly longer than the other. Also, the neoprene like fabric for the closed toe is very easy to stretch by hand. These bike sandals from Nashbar are so much more comfortable to walk around in and though I'm not one to harp about bike fashion I do appreciate the subtle quality of this footwear. While walking around in a coffee shop or grocery store I don't have non bike folks looking at my odd noisy footwear that had me considering busting out some tap dancing moves. I now leisurely stroll about walking comfortably and confidently though I wouldn't try playing soccer in them. A common complaint in other reviews is the "pebbled" foot bed as shown in the lower left photo. I haven't found it to be an issue of discomfort at all and in fact appreciate the grip provided as my feet don't slide around when riding bare foot. Also of note are velcro heel straps which can be adjusted a bit and helped my bigger foot from feeling too pinched with the closed toe design.
Here's a look at the Nashbar Ragster II Cycling Sandals,
same as those I'm wearing in photo above and want to thank Lisa Piper of Natural Living
for her fun and creative photo skills. I appreciate extra safety features particularly while bike commuting and the reflective accents shown in photo at left are also on the heel strap.
These sandals are not only comfortable and affordable but made to last. I feel confident I will get miles and miles of bike touring and commuting use from this footwear.
Loving the comfort and performance of a simple Touring Bike.
Romantic tranquil scenery near Kemah, TX with my old Bridgestone MB 1 for bike touring.
One of the benefits of summer bike touring is being able to travel light. My old Bridgestone MB 1 in photo at left with Detours Grassy Handlebar Basket and two small panniers holds all I need for sight seeing and photographing the Gulf Coast's scenic areas.
There are however two must have items for this part of the country during summer. Mosquito Repellent and Sunscreen. A friend who travels regularly to the Phillipines, Thailand and Vietnam commented that the Texas Gulf Coast has the worst mosquitoes he's ever seen.
For that very reason I carry a bottle of bug spray and a very small container of Sunscreen available at Natural Living.
My reason for using those products is when I spray Mosquito Repellent all over face, neck and hat I don't worry about toxic chemical based products getting into my eyes from perspiration. It's also the best product I've found for spraying materials to keep the bugs off.
Other non motorized wheeled vehicles can be seen along the fun and festive Kemah Boardwalk such as the Horse and buggy powered by an 1,800 pound Clydesdale. Ya, cars go around.
Beach Camping and fifteen miles of open coastal mountain bike touring where an annual pass is a mere ten bucks to camp.
Matagorda Bridge over the Texas' Colorado River
The Texas Gulf Coast has a lot to offer—more than 360 miles of coastline, seven barrier islands, and more than 3,000 miles of bay-estuary-lagoon shores. All these provide hundreds of satisfying places to anchor your toes in the sand.
Here's a Link to Read Dan Kleeper's Article "Beaching on the Cheap" from Texas Highways Magazine
We camped on the beach at the Matagorda Bay Nature Park
where the Colorado River enters the Gulf. Not "The" Colorado River but the mini Texas version.
There is atleast fifteen miles of open beach bike riding in the direction east of the park's jetty. We camped near the jetty for easy access for our rides which included riding to town approximately seven miles. With mostly flat terrain getting anywhere in the area on a bike is easy with the exception of intense high winds and some fog.
We stopped at the Matagorda Bridge to pickup our one year beach camping pass for ten bucks which is good anywhere along the Texas Gulf Coast that offers beach camping.
For More Information Regarding Free and Inexpensive Texas Beach Camping visit the following links: FreeCamping.net
and read this article about a guy who enjoys living a specific bohemian lifestyle as a "Texas Beach Bum". His article
is both fun and informative for example this bit of facts which might just get you interested enough to plan a bike tour along the beautiful Texas Coast.
Our "Beaching it On the Cheap" as it were provided some very yummy morning coffee while Beach Bike Camping.
Axiom Cartier Panniers still in service after more than ten years.
Water Resistant vs. Water Proof, deciding what panniers best fit your needs for bike touring
I was reading an article from Ted Weldon at Carryology
regarding the necessity of having 100% totally waterproof packs, panniers or bag and brought up several points to consider for bike touring.
I have used my set of Axiom Cartier Panniers
for approximately ten years now. I used a can of Camp Dry to provide more water resistant protection than the Denier material would have provided by itself. I also use some water resistant stuff sacks in three different sizes which have not only served to keep my goodys dry but to help keep my panniers more organized as well. I like the mesh exterior pocket and zippered rear pockets as well as the zippered pocket in the cover. The elastic cord which is missing is the only part of my panniers which have simply rotted and disintegrated a year ago. While riding in Portland I noticed a friend had invested in some very large, obtrusive waterproof panniers and considered the rainy climate to be the basis of that purchase. While visiting with some friends I decided to leave my bike parked out under the rain to see how long it was before it soaked through. After leaving it out overnight I had nothing to complain about the following morning as my stuff sacks inside the panniers were barely dampened by the moisture.
It has been on very rare occasion that I forged through a torrential down pour when the rain is so heavy you need clear lens riding glasses just to be able to see well enough to continue riding. With bike commuting that's fine as commuting usually necessitates much shorter trips than while touring, in which case simply waiting it out works just fine.
Here is a quote from Ted's article to give you an idea of what he has to say on the matter.
I used to think that I needed a waterproof bag…Why? Current Model of Axiom Cartier Panniers
Because I did.
Because I had to have one.
My “amazing” adventures and my life demanded it.
The important and expensive things I carried must never ever get wet, never.
I wanted that assurance, that if there were a sudden tropical rainstorm, my tech gear would be perfect, no questions asked, no matter how hard the rain came. Now, with personal experience and via my professional experience…
I’ve realized, this is ridiculous.
Excellent for waterproofing panniers
A link provided previously in this post is worth checking out, I got a good chuckle out of it and enjoyed his ability to relate common sense decision making over imagining worst case scenarios to worry about and perhaps either over spend or simply find yourself carrying too much weight in those heavy, ugly waterproof river dry bag looking sacks that some companies are calling panniers.
After ten years of riding through mud, sleet, snow, plenty of rain and intense UV exposure which by the way probably contributed more than anything else to the elastic cord wearing out. Axiom's Cartier Panniers
as shown at right differ slightly than my older set. The mesh exterior pocket is now enclosed and the material looks to be of better quality Denier than my older pair. Still a very well reviewed set of Panniers that I will purchase again. At less than a hundred dollars for the pair it's a no brainer. Other features I like about these panniers are the size and shape. An angle front allows for ample heel clearance even on my mountain bike for commuting, the attachment system provided on the back of the bag for attacking to a rear rack is versatile enough that I have been able to attach them to three different racks all designed by different companies other than Axiom.
Kiwi Camp Dry
has been around a long time and has become a popular product with all sorts of outdoorsy folks. Camp Dry
has helped to make my tent, backpack, panniers and riding coat much more water resistant than if I had not used anything at all.
For the very modest price and ease of application it has become a standard practice to treat new bike touring and commuting panniers and bags when they are brand new and prior to first time use.
For under ten bucks it's worth the small investment to at least give it a try some time, you'll be glad you did.
CST Commuter Tires on Mountain bike for commuting
Another mountain bike for commuting as we appreciate the versatility.
I was reading a post from Darren Alfe at Bicycle Touring Pro about his 26" Continental Town and Country tires failing on him then his successfully finding a "generic" tire as a good enough quality replacement for his bike tour. While searching for new tires for my old Bridgestone MB 1 I considered many of the 26" tires I have sold over the years.
An old favorite of mine was the IRC Duro Metro which is no longer in production. Of course all the Schwalbe tires in the Marathon series are without a doubt excellent quality but I really wanted something considerably less expensive.
I heard about a budget tire from CST and felt that for the very modest price I would get a pair for one of our girls' cruiser bikes and if I liked it I'd order another set. After being rather impressed by what seemed to be a very decent tire casing with a nice 65 psi pressure rating and providing a very cushy ride I decided to research them a bit more.
My supplier lists this tire as the CST City Commute tire in 26 x 2.125 with two types of tread patterns. The first set I purchased are the Cheng Shin C241 Street Bicycle Tire with wire bead
I know an obviously made in China product which had apparently put the Continental Town and Country's on everyone's black list. Regardless of that fact, these tires from CST or Cheng Shin
, whatever they want to call themselves are a very decent quality tire for less than twenty bucks. I have seen this tire selling for anywhere from ten to nineteen dollars!
Turns out several folks that commute on varying terrain of multi use paved and gravel bike commuting paths absolutely love these tires so I purchased three pair and am considering getting a fourth in case they quit making them or they sell out. After putting a pair on my wife's bike she likes them so much that she is actually riding more as a consequence of truly feeling that the tires ride quality makes her bike commuting that much more enjoyable. She now wants to ride much more for recreation and not just running errands or commuting.
CST City Commuter Tire
on Lisa's Peugeot Canyon Express has a different tread pattern than the C241 Street Tire
When I first test rode her bike with these new tires they felt a bit sticky on dry pavement. After approximately ten miles the tires felt better proving to be a stable, fast rolling tire that handles light trail riding or gravel roads with ease and feel good on wet pavement. Read the reviews
of folks who use these as all season tires even on snow and you'll understand why I now have three sets of these affordable quality bike commuting tires.
CST Bike Commuting Tire with raised center tread and aggressive side knobs and not getting flats with these tires.
Cheng Shin C241 Street Bicycle Tire fast rolling excellent all purpose tire for bike commuting.
Durango Brewing Company has five crafted beers
Quick stop on our bike tour north of Durango, Colorado.
Durango, Colorado's Animas River Trail
When discussing bikes and beer Durango, Colorado needs no introduction but if you are not familiar with how to get around Durango on a bike to visit these pubs and not sure what each has to offer this blog highlights our favorites.
We wanted to visit the locally brewed fine quality beers that Durango is known for. So here is the lineup of the best known local brew pubs with links to each pub's site, respectively. Carver's Brewing Company Durango Brewing Company Ska Brewing Steamworks
Each of the micro brewery pubs listed not only offers a unique beer sampling experience but provide a nice bike tour of Duango's very bicycle friendly commuter streets. Approximately twelve years ago I was fortunate enough to have lived in Durango for three years. Back then bikes were popular but the designated bike lanes and the number of folks riding and commuting has drastically increased.
Given the influences like that of Fort Lewis College and the long established mountain bike community it's not surprising that the city would make an effort to not only embrace bicycles as a viable mode of transportation but that the ease of getting around Durango's town full of mountain charm and beautiful scenery could boost tourism as well.
An old favorite for bike commuters is the Animas River Trail
which covers about seven miles meandering in a round about way providing easy access to visit different areas of town. Use the link provided for a PDF map of the trail system.
We visited Durango over the July Fourth weekend and were able to avoid much of the town traffic by staying at the United Campground of Durango
. Camping with our two teenage girls it is necessary that we find campgrounds that provide certain amenities such as showers and such particularly for a week long camping vacation such as the one we took this year. Map provided below shows the easy riding from the campground to town for shopping, sightseeing, photography, entertainment and of course riding your bike.
If you're looking for a fun, interesting bike friendly mountain community Durango has something for everyone in the family to enjoy, especially us bike folks.
Here are some favorite accessories for pub crawling tours
Hanldebar mounted cup holder, for that necessary cup of coffee between pub stops
Six-slot Saddlebag Style Bike Bag, 6 Bottle Carrier with Handle from Donkey