Tweedier: Bike Commuting in 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on April 12, 2010

In the last post, I talked about stuff that bike commuting stuff that worked. One thing I didn’t particularly like about the One-Way, was the position it put me in. The position didn’t seem quite right for commuting and errand running. In addition, the drop bars limited my options for carrying cargo on the front. So, this past weekend, I cleaned up Rolly the Raleigh and installed a new front end consisting of Jitensha/Nitto flat bars, shellaced cork grips, Shimano flat bar levers, and a front basket.

The front basket replaces the Nigel Smythe Li’l Loafer bag I used to use and provides a lot more carrying capacity. I took it on an easy grocery run today and easily carried home some OJ, a bottle of olive oil (not that light!), bananas, coffee, and some peas in addition to my usual bag of stuff and my heavy-ass u-lock. The Raleigh’s low-trail fork made handling with a front load a breeze. The bars are wide enough to proved some leverage, but not so wide as to make it difficult to thread your way through the city.

After riding around on the setup for two days, I think I may need to raise the bars a little, despite my preference (a holdover from riding race bikes the last few years). The grips and bars just aren’t that comfortable with a lot of weight on them and my hands get a bit tired after, say, more than 30 minutes at a stretch.

While I had the bike apart, I cleaned things up a little and did a general look around inspection in addition to replacing the front brake pads. I found some pretty deep dings in the paint including some on the underside of the chainstays where the kickstand mounted. Before building the bike back up, I wrapped that section of the stays with hemp twine.

A few months ago, I replaced the worn out stock brake pads with a set of Velo-Orange squeal free pads. They were definitely squeal-free, but I could never get them set up. If I set them up to provide good power there would be a lot of fork shudder under braking. If I set them up not to shudder, then they wouldn’t provide good stopping power. In addition, the pads seemed to pick up a lot of tiny metal shards from the rims.¬†They did remain squeal-free, however.

I moved the VO pads to the rear (which I don’t use much) and replaced them with the much heralded Kool-Stop salmon pads. These have been fantastic. Brakes that I had previously been thinking of replacing have taken on a new life. The pads provide excellent squeal- and shudder-free power and are easy to modulate. Two thumbs up.