Archive for February, 2010

My DIY Handle Bar GPS holder

I can be a bit of a “geardo” sometimes, and can be carrying any number of electronic devices at any given time. I have a Magellan GPS that love using for mapping trails out or city routes that I feel are worthy of recording. I have always wanted one of those expensive GPS holder solutions on the market. But just can never justify the price for something that I will for sure smash in the the first one to two months of ownership. So i came up with a cheap replaceable DIY holder for my GPS.

I ‘ll show you how I made it, just in case you you have some kind of electronic Fred gear that needs to be mounted to your bike.
Get one piece of PVC pipe about the length of your GPS. I used 2 1/2 inch, black PVC from the Home Despot.

Now take a jig saw and make a horizontal cut down the tube, making a single straight cut through one wall of the tube. Now here is the tricky part, and it may take you many tries, with many pieces of the PVC pipe to get it right. But hey, PVC pipe is pretty cheap for a 5 foot length.

You have to make the second cut at just the right spot, so that there is some gripping force or “cradle” effect on your GPS or electronic device. The pipe has great has a slight flexibility that it retains no matter how many times you flex it.

Now get one of the many bar clamping reflector/light /bell /last thing fell or broke off your bike, holder things. All of these bar retaining systems share the same pivot which usually is all you have left after it breaks off your seat post or handlebars. So if you’re like me, they are easy to come by and you already have a shoe box full of these things.

The pivot will usually have a bolt going through the center, but for the this purpose you’ll need a longer bolt with a nut and 2 washers.

Drill a hole through the center of the cradle the size of your bolt near one end. You can make make the hole depending on where you want the GPS holder located on your handle bars.

Mount the PVC cradle to the bar clamp with the bolt and nut. UseĀ  a washer on both sides for a nice snug fit.

Do it a test fit and clamp your GPS into the PVC cradle. You want to be sure it takes some force to dislodge it. You can apply pressure from the insides the pipe, and outwards to release the GPS. In my case the the Magellan doesn’t touch the back of the tube, but it your device does, you can throw in some foam to cushion or prevent scratches. This extra space also gives me some ability to tilt the GPS up or down after it been locked to the handlebars.

I softened the the hard edges of the pipe with a knife, to give it that perfect production quality look. You could sand it, paint it a different color or carve it into any shape depending on your level of creativity or prowess with a Dremel or wood carving kit. The PVC is pretty malleable.

I use a couple of 20 lbs fishing leaders linked together, as a lanyard strap hooked to a carabiner as extra security. Just in case the GPS were to fall out on a jump or accidental crash. I usually clip it to one of the brake lines. Unless I’ve got a lunker on the other end, that GPS is going anywhere! Anyway have fun building gang.

My Vintage Simpsons Sears 10 Speed Commuter

I’ve had a few people ask me about my other winter commuting bike, the Simpsons Sears Road bike. I rescued this bike from the dumpster at the end of summer. Old bikes have a funny habit of following me home. What first caught me was the hunter green metallic frame sparkling from the edge of the garbage bin. Why would anybody toss a perfectly good bike into the trash? Sure the tires may have been flat, the rims a little rusty, but hey, with a little TLC someone would be able to ride this steel frame around town again.

Well, it turns out that someone was me. After a change in job sites, I no longer had a secure place to park my Norco Charger whilst at work, and there was no way I was going to leave it on the street all day long in this part of town. So I decided to fix up the Simpsons Sears road bike. I wouldn’t be too heartbroken if this bike got jacked. Easy come easy go right?

The fist thing I changed was the handle bars. The were drops bars originally, but way to narrow for me. I figured the earth tone bar tape would go nice with the green frame. New brake pads, cables and housings were next on the list. The original “cherry” brake pads were rock hard, and did little to stop the bike. If your a commuter like me you’ll find that brakes are probably more important that round wheels in traffic.

The frame is a little small for me, so I swapped in a longer adjustable Zoom stem, and setback seat post that I had laying around. This gave me the extra cockpit room I needed to make the bike comfortable enough to ride. Bike fitters please hold your tongue!

Of course what commuter would be complete with out a rack for panniers and fenders? I salvaged an Axiom bike rack from another donor bike and screwed on 5 pattern LED tail light. Right now the bike is sporting the most uncomfortable saddle known to man, an OEM Norco special, where the outside plastic ridges ensure that you stand up and pedal more than you sit. It’s the next thing to go when a suitable replacement floats my way.

Amazingly enough, the Simpsons Sears bike is loaded with a vintage Shimano groupset. The venerable Shimano Eagle rear derailleur probably still shifts as smoothly as the day it was made. I love the solid steel bash guard on this derailleur, and it will probably take it’s share of knocks as I’m locking the bike up or laying it down. You don’t see that kind of thoughtfulness on the new Dura Ace stuff, that’s for sure.

There is something so satisfying about downtube shifters. I don’t know what it is, the clunk you hear when you drop a gear, the less than practical positioning, or maybe it’s just the retro styling. Either way, no shifter adjustment has been necessary so far. I should probably change out the cables, but it shifts so smooth and accurately now, I just don’t want to change a thing.

The Shimano Thunderbird front derailleur still works like a charm to change between the double chainrings. I’ve had to replace one of the cotter pins on the cranks however. I think the threads were stripped on the nut end, and the crank would soon loosen up on the ride to work, even after giving the pin a good whack with a hammer. The 165mm cranks are taking some getting used to compare to the 175mm on my other bikes. It doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but is seems harder to get on top of the gear, as you can’t get the same torque to the drive train.

The week spot of this bike is the side pull caliper brakes. When the rims are wet or I’m riding through snow, there is very little stopping power regardless of how hard you squeeze the levers. It seems as thought the brake arms are flexing when you grab the levers. I’m going to have to look for something a little more sturdy. We are really spoiled with disc and cantilever brakes these days.

For winter commuting, I replaced the original slick tires with some 27″x 1 1/4″ Tioga Bloodhounds. I wish I could afford two pairs of studded tires, but we do with what we have right? These tires give pretty good traction on the winter roads as the rubber compound seems to be a little softer, even in subzero temperatures.

Everyone needs a spare hobby bike to play with. You never know when they will come in handy, whether it’s a run to the grocery store, or you just want to go for ride with a friend who doesn’t own a bike. So if you ever see a bike in disrepair in the dumpster, why not save a bike and make a new friend? No bike should ever be laid to rest in the landfill.

MEC Blast Gloves For Cycling in Extreme Cold

My search for real winter cycling gloves lead me to Mountain Equipment Co-Op. Their MEC house brand of products brings those highly technical fabrics and features found only on expedition grade outerwear to you at prices consistently lower than the leading adventure brands.

The Blast Gloves are no exception. Coming in at a 100$ trip to MEC, they are some of the most expensive gloves I haveĀ  ever owned. This year I had decided not to mess around as my hands were the weak spot in the gear last winter.

The Blast gloves have all the features I was looking for in a winter glove. Winter cycling gloves need to be very breathable, yet virtually windproof. I am still totally amazed at how much perspiration is produced even with even just a short ride up the block, never mind on the commute to work.

Breathable Gortex XTR liners are insulated with Primaloft, a synthetic fiber fill, with similar properties to down feathers. The major difference between down and Primaloft is that the Primaloft retains heat when it is wet, where as down looses it loft and insulating properties. The liners dry extremely quickly and move moisture away from the skin to be vented out of the shell.

There was an occasion in January where I forgot to put a load of laundry into the dryer from the washer the night before. Everyone has done it at least once in their life. I had my favorite riding gear on turbo dry, including the MEC Blast Gortex liners. After the wash, they were wringing wet, and after 20 minutes in the dryer they were, you guessed it, still dripping wet. I had to get rolling in order to be on time for work. After some deliberation, I decided to wear the wet glove liners in the shells, taking a real chance that I could loose my hands to frostbite.I had no choice. No spares…

After an hour of riding I was surprised to find that my hands stayed hot, even with the -40 Winnipeg wind chills. Wet, but hot. It’s obvious I soaked the liners first, and should have let them dry out properly, but this was a good demonstration of the technology.

A tough outer shell with real leather grip and palms gives me maximum feel and control of the handle bars. 4 way stretch Shoeller Dynamic breathable panels flex and bend better than a full leather shell and allow moisture to escape the glove, while still blocking the wind. The Shoeller panels allow the glove to be flexible enough to ride a bike with index shifters, and I bought the XL size.

Some nice luxury features on these gloves include the one handed adjustment toggle to seal the gauntlets from snow and trap heat inside the glove. This is a great feature to help regulate your temperature. When I feel the need to cool off my hands, I ‘ll loosen the toggle and let my hands breath a little easier, with out having to take off my glove.

The MEC Blast gloves are the only gloves i’ve worn that can truly compare to the warmth you get from wearing full on mittens. The gloves have all the techincal features of moutaineering gloves valued at over $200, available for half that. So far i’m very impressed with the quality and workmanship of these gloves. I will let you know if they don’t stand the test of time.