From Sow’s Ear to Silk Purse

Posted in commuting, cycling, gear by antisociology on August 9, 2009

Okay, maybe the change I’m about to describe is not so dramatic. Yesterday, after a fantastic 50mi ride up to Nyack which included a detour and some climbs I’d never taken before, I came home to a sweet care-package from Velo-Orange. I got a kickstand, some new pedals, and a front rack. Some of this stuff is a little bit of a luxury, but I’m fairly convinced that I’m going to stick with utility cycling so it’ll all get used bunches. Here’s Rollie the Raleigh all kitted out with his new duds:

Rollie the Raleigh with new duds.

The front rack is a Nitto M-12. I got it to carry small things, as well as the very stylish Nigel Smythe Li’l Loafer that Rivendell Bicycle Works carries. In a few weeks, I’ll be going on a day trip to Montauk with a friend, and it’ll be nice to have my wallet, phone, and camera up front within easy reach. The rack took a little wrestling to install, and the center tang doesn’t fully engage the rear bolt. I’m hoping that this is not too much of a problem, but I’ll probably have to check it regularly. I’m not going to be carrying heavy loads on it (that’s what the rear rack is for), so I don’t forsee any major problems. Why yes, that is me knocking on wood.

Personally, I still can’t get over how pretty and well-made Nitto product is. I have a Nitto stem and handlebars on the go-faster bike, and couldn’t be happier. It is super tempting to get a matching Nitto Big Back Rack to replace the very agricultural (but highly functional) Pletscher rear rack I have now. At $160, however, I just can’t justify replacing an already perfectly adequate rack. Perhaps next year.

Some people might find kickstands dorky, but I’ve had enough of struggling to try and load heavy bags of groceries onto the back of an unsupported bike. Plus, this two legged Pletscher stand is not only sturdy and stable, but also has a clever folding action. I think it looks like tail pipes when it’s folded up.

Pletscher 2-legged kickstandThe new pedals are Velo-Orange brand touring pedals. I’ve added MKS leathered toe clips (so they don’t take hunks of leather out of my shoes), and MKS thingies that make it easier to flip the pedal over with your foot. The driveside pedal was a tad hard to install. I suspect the machining of the pedal threads on that arm are not so great. I actually stripped the flats of the old pedal when I was trying to get it out. The local bike shop helped me out of that jam with their Big-Ass Pedal Wrench ™.

VO Touring PedalThe pedal is really well finished and quite light for a touring pedal. It’s has a satin silver finish with the VO logo in the center and traction pins on the ends. I’m hoping the larger surface area will help with some foot soreness/hot spot problems, and that the traction pins will keep my feet from sliding about so much. Here’s a comparison with the old track style pedals that came with the bike:

Track vs. TouringThe additional surface area should help spread weight more evenly across my foot. In addition, the VO pedals site slightly farther out from the crank, which should also help some.

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