Archive for category Bike Components and Accessories

Secrets of Winter Cycling, “Get a plated chain.”

There has been a couple of occasions during my work commute where I am running late. I grab the bike, run it to the street and hop on. As I start to pedal, all you can here is this horrible  squeaking coming from the chain. The bike sounds like some kind of antiquated farm machinery. I forgot to oil it last night, damn.

Most bicycles sold today come with a stainless or plated chain that can avoid corrosion to some degree. For winter cycling, you will significantly reduce the amount of rust dripping from your bike by purchasing a nickel plated chain.

Nickel has innate  anti-corrosive properties that will make all then difference when running a bicycle through the winter months. Almost all of SRAM or Shimano intermediate chains are plated.

Most winter cyclists will have a winter “beater bike” of some sorts. A semi-disposable variety of bikes, that come with dilapidated equipment. Cheaper bikes will come with cheaper chains. So it’s a good idea to double check what kind of chain you have on there before you end up with rust around your ankles.

When it gets wet and slushy, and the snow just clings to your bike, you’ll have to pay closer attention to the drive train than when it’s cold and arid. Rust build up will add friction to the chain’s components, slowing you down. Robbing you of energy, as made apparent by the horrendous squeaking coming from the metal on metal contact. So make sure you add lube at least once every couple of rides during the winter months.

It takes twice as much oil to maintain a good lube in the winter than in the summer, especially if you are city riding. The calcium chloride, sand and salt mixture that they cover the roads with, just beats up the bike.

The roads will stay wet down to -8 or so degrees when they apply the sand mixture, so dress accordingly. Be prepared for a messy bike ride and to go through plenty of oil.

MEC World Tour 40L Cycling Panniers
15 reviews

MEC World Tour 40L Cycling Panniers

$79.00 CAD

Product Number: 5008-914

Made in Vietnam


Rugged touring panniers that will see you through lots of touring or commuting. Designed to be used on either front or rear racks. 40L capacity per pair.

Panaracer RiBMo Road Slick By Pannasonic

I mounted the Panaracer RiBMo  26″X 1.50″ on a set of Ryno Lite rims with Deore hubs. I got the folding version and didn’t require a set of tire irons to get them on the rims. Sweet. I had so many flats with the previous set of rubber that it was time for a change.

First things first. RiBMo stands for “ride bicycle more” as clearly stated on the sidewall. It’s not some Japanese technical acronym to describe the technology invested in the tire as you would have thought. From a marketing stand point, it’s just weird.

The first thing that strikes out at you is the shape of the contact patch. The center, or the rib? Is literally two CM wide. This creates much less rolling resistance compared to a comparable slick.

The RiBMo’s unique shape is nearly a complete slick with mild siping similar to that of motorcycle slicks. The rest of the tread doesn’t even make contact with the road surface until the tire has to absorb a bump, or your carving in to a turn. The RiBMo’s are nearly silent for such a wide tire.

Not to jinx myself but I have never had a flat. It must be Panaracer’s new “protex” lining. According to their website here , the Protex is 3x time stronger that existing Kevlar technologies. I have about 3500-4000 km on these tire now, they show very little wear.

Considering that I have taken these tires off roading on too many occasions, driven through glass littered construction sites, broken concrete, curbs, drops you name it. They have taken a beating. I’m a heavier rider at 200 pounds, and usually commute with another 20 or so pounds in the pannier.I run them at 80psi, which is the max rating according to the sidewall. I can really tell the difference if they are running low, even at 70 PSI you don’t get the full feeling of acceleration they are capable of, but the ride softens up considerably.

How to describe the feel of the tire. It pretty subjective, but all I can say is it feel almost like riding on a very stiff foam. Panaracer calls this the “mile cruncher compound”. They claim it is more durable than their competitors hard casing tire without the harsh ride. It’s hard to tell if i’ve worn any flat spots in them from emergency braking.

My only concern is how long the center rib will stay pronounced. After so many kilometers the rear tire only appears slightly more worn that the front.

In Canada these tires retail for well over 60$ a piece. Pricey considering the dollar has been nearly at par for a couple of years now. US pricing varies from  33$ at Jenson USA, to 42$ and up at REI and other cycling specialty shops.

All in all I can with certainty that I love these tire. The puncture resistance and low rolling resistance has me sold. They weigh in at a modest 440 grams even less in the skinnier version which makes them easy to spin up.  At 4000km they show no signs of throwing in the towel and I anticipate getting at least two full seasons of use out of the pair.

http://www.allweathercyclist.com/photos/index.php?album=Panaracer+RiBMo+Bicycle+Slick&image=DSCN8046panaracer-ribmo.resized.JPG&z&p=full-image
http://www.allweathercyclist.com/photos/index.php?album=Panaracer+RiBMo+Bicycle+Slick&image=DSCN8046panaracer-ribmo.resized.JPG&z&p=full-image

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Axiom Monsoon Bicycle Panniers

This is my second set of panniers made by Axiom, a division of Norco. A Canadian bike manufacturer. I previously had a pair of their their early generation Typhoon Panniers, the larger  33.2L version with the same effective waterproof roll-top closure, but with out the fold over flap and zipper pockets that you see on the latest versions.

I received the Monsoon’s, a little smaller  at 24.8L for the pair, as replacement since my original Typhoon set had been damaged by the cold. The welded seams had split open in temperatures under -25 degrees Celsius.  I agree this is pretty extreme condition, but Axiom makes no mention of their ability to tolerate cold in any info blurbs. In hindsight I shouldn’t have taken them in the temperatures that cold. But someone had to find out the hard way right?

With the most recent version of the panniers, Axiom hasn’t changed any of the construction materials. A heavy duty Tarpaulin (the yellow part) and 600 denier polyester (the black part) compose the Monsoon set that I currently have. Both fabrics are incredibly robust, I have used this pair almost daily for about a year now. They are a little dirty, scuffed and abused, but there aren’t any holes or tears. They are still totally waterproof.

I imagine that it wouldn’t be too hard to clean them. A little degreaser would go a long way to remove the oil and road scum,. I’m sure they would dry in seconds. I have taken these panniers through a lot of different conditions, rain, snow, boiling sun. I’ve taken them off-roading, bushwhacking, and have totally overloaded them with “groceries”. Structurally, they don’t show any signs of stress.

I don’t think  there is a more effective yet simple system to mount pannier to a bike. Axiom uses two rubber coated hooks, a heavy duty bungee cord and a black plastic “twist lock” mechanism to secure the panniers to you rack. The hanger hooks will fit nearly any sized rack, and can be bent open or closed if need be. The hooks are usually a complaint for me with other brands of panniers, as they usually only accommodate one diameter of tubing.  So this is a major plus if you have more than one bike or style of rack.

Now i don’t want to jinx myself, but I have never had one of these panniers come loose in the 2+ years that I have had both sets.

As you can see the rubber coating on these hooks has worn off, and yes it does scratch my rack. It’s not huge concern , but if you were on a long tour I would keep an eye on the wear, I might just wrap a piece of inner tube around the rack where the panniers sit. The set came with an extra set of hooks and bolts just in case you need to make a repair.

The roll down  closure works in the same fashion as the dry bags you would use for kayaking or canoeing. I’m still not sure if the long Velcro strip is really necessary. In fact, i’m not even sure why it’s  there at all? It’s not really effective at compressing the load, nor does it keep the roll top closed any tighter. Suggestions?

As you can see by the next picture, these panniers are pretty cavernous. A penny is used for scale. You can see now why I switched from the larger Typhoons. There is a thick plastic stiffener mounted to the backside to give the pannier some shape. This works quite well, the panniers never flop over, can stand on their own, and most importantly stay out of your spokes.

My major beef with these panniers is the fold over flap with pockets. It was not on the older versions. I know Axiom was trying to add value to their line of panniers by adding this feature. I’m sure I’ve read comments about cyclists wanting more pockets to organize things, and having quick access to things is a real plus. I have to agree, however  I think they should have passed on it for the following reasons.

This is the mesh “tool pocket’ on the underside of the flap. I haven’t carried anything more than some letter mail in this pocket and clearly it is useless.

The flap causes more drag, as it catches the wind like an open jacket, and adds considerable weight with the two zippers and heavy tarpaulin. In a market constantly looking for ultra light alternatives, I think the weight saving alone would justify the banishing of the flap. I once heard of a cyclist paying hundreds of dollars just to save a few hundred grams…

I can still see this pocket being perfected, because I like the breathable mesh, it would be a great place to store damp or wet cloths while on the move. However I would never store any tools in there, especially not my crank brothers multi tool. The stitching came loose on both panniers with minimal use. I might recommend adding an extra hem around the mesh portion with tighter stitching, and a stronger mesh to prevent too much deformation of the compartment.

What ultimately caused my hate for the “flap” is the “self healing” zippers on the flip side pockets. As you can see this one is still in the process of self healing.

This was a great idea that some how went wrong. I would love to throw my keys, a quick snack, or a camera in that slick waterproof pocket, but it’s so narrow that you would be challenged to cram your cell phone or wallet in it. I though perhaps I had faulty zipper, so I checked the local bike store’s stock in person. I would say about half of the zippers were bunk, brand new, hanging in the shop. Some were smooth while other zippers snagged, separated on the first opening.

Over all I really like these panniers. The bright yellow Tarpaulin coupled with the reflective logos make them highly visible in nearly all conditions. The Monsoons carry a stunning amount of gear while being able to mount securely to nearly all front and rear bicycle racks. I regularly take curbs and drops with them fully loaded and they stay put.

I am still not convinced regarding the welded seams however. I wonder if it was too expensive to use stitch AND welded seams in their construction? I am still very apprehensive about using these through the winter cold, and may just pack them away until things get sloppy again in the spring.

This brings me to the other big selling feature of these panniers, and well for all Axiom products I guess. The lifetime guarantee.

Perhaps the failure of my first set of Axiom panniers was partly due to my fault. But this Canadian company does customer service first. If you have a problem, Axiom will have you return it to your local bike shop for exchange in most cases. I really like not having the hassle of mailing my property around the world hoping that I get it back without a lengthy repair process. Not having to worry about some phone agent disqualifying my claims is quite a relief as well.

Would I get a replacement set on warranty after  subjecting these panniers to abuse admitted to in this review? That’s a whole other question…

I don’t miss the larger Typhoons at all, but would certainly consider the full set of four Typhoon/Monsoon combo for unsupported touring. The fact that they are waterproof can not be understated either. If you are an all weather cyclist and need the contents of your pannier to be protected from the elements, whether they be dry cloths, shoes, electronics or paper work the Monsoon panniers in Axiom’s “Storm Front” series are the way to go.

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MSRP: CAD $135
  • Welded Tarpaulin and 600D polyester construction
  • Simple universal mounting system reliably mounts to almost any rack
  • Dry bag roll down closure keeps gear dry
  • Waterproof pocket on top flap
  • Mesh tool pocket inside top flap
  • Extra hardware included
  • Dimensions: 35 x 33 x 15.5 cm (14″ x 13″ x 6″)
  • Volume: 33.2L set – 2028 cubic inches

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