Antisociology

Bike Theft is not just Property Loss

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on February 28, 2009
The standard way to secure a saddle

The standard way to secure a saddle

Well, it needed to be done. I’ve secured my saddle with the old chain in a tube trick. While my saddle most likely won’t get nicked, my bike is that much more uglier for it.

Bike thieves are evil not just because they steal bikes, but because they force us to make our bikes ugly with locks and chains.

Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

Roll On

Posted in commuting, cycling by antisociology on February 25, 2009

I finally received the Raleigh One-Way I ordered back in December. It arrived the week of my birthday. Waaaay too late for Christmas, but not a bad birthday gift. This is to be my commuter bike.

The Raleigh One-Way (50cm)

Today, I took it bike commuting in plain clothes with just my courier bag. I even made a detour to attend my run club’s general meeting. So, all in all, I saved $6 over public transit. Go me! Unfortunately, I also blew $6 on pants clips because I was annoyed that my pant legs were blowing around. Oh well.

I love bike commuting! It is such a pleasure to hop in the bike in the morning instead of stuffing myself into a subway car. I’m also thinking that there are a lot of accessories I will want to get to personalize my ride. I’ll write about that later. This post is about the bike.

The plastichrome top tube protector certainly looks the part and adds a bit of understated style.

The plastichrome top tube protector certainly looks the part and adds a bit of understated style.

The Raleigh One-Way is a bit of an odd duck in my book. It’s basically a very practical road bike kitted out as a singlespeed/fixed gear. It has a full set of eyelets for racks and fenders, but no cable stops or derailleur hanger so adding gears will take some creativity. It has long chain stays so your heels don’t hit your panniers, and low trail as well as a long wheelbase for stability and easy handling.

As a complete bike, I think it’s a great deal. However, the individual parts spec is spotty. In places (like the saddle), it’s fantastic. Absolutely top of the line. In other places, it’s bottom of the barrel. This is one bike that is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Included Brooks B-17 saddle even comes with a shoe lace to tie the skirt!

Included Brooks B-17 saddle even comes with a shoe lace to tie the skirt!

The included Lezyne Pressure Drive S mini-pump is quite upscale for the price. This is normally a $40 pump.

The included Lezyne Pressure Drive S mini-pump is quite upscale for the price. This is normally a $40 pump.

The first thing that I noticed is that this bike is heavier than I expected. I think I was expecting it to be as light as my race bike since it has an exceedingly simple drivetrain, but that was not the case. The steel frame is supposedly butted, but the main tube thicknesses must be pretty robust. This is not a bike you have to worry about breaking. The feeling is reinforced by the tires, which are a fat 32mm wide, puncture resistant tires. They are great for city streets, but lack good feel. They ride like trucks.

Low end crankset is sufficient, but not sexy.

Low end crankset is sufficient, but not sexy.

I’m also skeptical of the gearing. The bike comes with a 42 tooth chainring, and 16 tooth cogs on both the fixed and freewheel sides of the flip-flop hub. This is a pretty high 68 or so gear inches, which would be fine in Kansas, but may be a bit much for those who have hills on their commutes, prefer to spin a small gear (like me), or who haul stuff (like groceries). It’s a high/hard enough gear that I always stand to get going and it can be something of a handful. I’ll probably be swapping out the 16 tooth cog for an 18, 19, or 20 tooth cog. Really, I probably should just get a 39 tooth chainring. Oh, the crankset is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. To my eyes, it looks out of place. They should have included something a bit more elegant, in keeping with the aesthetics of the rest of the bike.

Yep, that's just one gear back there (and a full set of eyelets!)

Yep, that's just one gear back there (and a full set of eyelets!)

The wheelset that’s included is okay. It has a strong 32 spoke, 3-cross configuration front and rear. Generic cartridge bearing hubs laced to “Freedom RLX-19” rims. I suspect the wheelset does much to add to the bike’s girth. I also feel like the freewheel and hub bearings are not very smooth. One can feel imperfections in the rim under braking. Well, maybe the front wheel is out of true. (Already?!)

The bike comes with a minimalist chainguard which is useful, but far from perfect. A full chainguard would be better. Plastic SKS brand fenders are included. They are a little short, but work very well. I have to admit that fenders are somewhat of a revelation. It was raining the day I picked the bike up, and my pant legs and back were dry when I got home. Amazing.

Raleigh includes a set of Wellgo track pedals, with aluminum toe clips and thick leather straps. This is another bit of questionable spec in my opinion. The pedals are narrow, so riding for more than an hour can lead to hotspots. They also don’t have much of a platform. The leather straps look great, but also wear fast. Mine have already started cracking after one day of use.

Cheap, but usable hub. Also note the full set of eyelets in front.

Cheap, but usable hub. Also note the full set of eyelets in front.

Traditional bend bars. Check. Brown bartape. Check. Campy-style brake hoods. Check.

Traditional bend bars. Check. Brown bartape. Check. Campy-style brake hoods. Check.

I felt at home on the included drop bars. Contrary to the specs on Raleigh’s web site, mine came with 26mm diameter road bars. They are traditional bend, meaning no straight “ergo” section. I like this. The Tektro levers feel a little tinny and can rattle, but they also feel a lot like the Campagnolo brake hoods I’m used to from my road race bike. The tan cork bartape is a step down from the leather Brooks tape that Raleigh spec’d on the previous model year, but looks and feels good.

The One-Way doesn’t handle at all like a road race bike, despite the looks. Discerning riders will notice the long wheelbase, particularly out of the saddle. There were times I felt like I was towing a trailer. This isn’t bad. In fact, this is precisely the kind of bike geometry you want for a utility bike. Besides, a shorter wheelbase would probably mean shorter chainstays, and that would compromise the ability of the bike to take panniers without annoying heel strike problems.

I was a bit let down by the ride, though. I expected something more lively and damped, more like my steel road race bike. I suspect that the included tires just plain don’t ride well. That, along with rims that are most likely overbuilt, result in a ride that is best described as utilitarian.

It might sound like I don’t like this bike. Nothing could be further from the truth. I adore it. It is, however, an example of just how hard it is to bring to market a solid well specced bike for under a grand. Still, there are some things that Raleigh could easily change without affecting the pricepoint. Wider road/touring style pedals would be a better choice than the track pedals. A full or half chainguard instead of the chainring protector style guard could be provided. I might also spec slightly thinner tubing given the slightly oversized (for steel) diameters.

At $750, this is not an inexpensive bike, but it’s still a lot of bike for the money. Frame construction and finish look good, and there are a number of very nice touches that really make the bike stand out. The included mini-pump and Brooks leather saddle are excellent high-end items. The bartape, levers, and handlebars are inexpensive but good as are the fenders.

Clearly, Raleigh spent money on the contact points, and tried to lower the cost by specifying low-end drive components. I would probably do it the other way around, but then I wouldn’t have bought it. So, Raleigh is probably doing the right thing for everyone here. The strategy works because the drivetrain is simple. If this had been a geared bike, I would have deemed it unacceptable.

Sure, the One-Way could have been so much more but then it would probably cost a lot more too. Save the money and get yourself a fantastic set of panniers.

Twitter me This, Twitter me That

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on February 3, 2009

What I talk about when I talk on Twitter. Click the thumbnail to see my tweet cloud in glorious detail.

What I Talk About on Twitter