Monday, October 15, 2012

Bike Helmets Save Lives (A New Study Says...)

An interesting new study came out today.

As reported in the Toronto Star:

"In a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, University of Toronto family doctor lecturer and St Michael’s Hospital associate scientist Navindra Persaud concludes that helmets help prevent fatalities — something he says until now was 'controversial'."

I've followed the helmet vs. no helmet debate, and frankly, never really understood the argument against helmets.  So seeing a study that indicates "The conclusion was that bicycle helmets save lives" - well, that just fills my little heart with glee.

I hope this sways some of the non-helmet wearing out there.


Article referenced:

Friday, September 28, 2012

I finally found a bike trailer!

After months, and I mean months, of searching, I finally bought a bike trailer for the baby.

I'd been looking for a few key things:
  • A lightweight safety inspired design;
  • 20 inch wheels;
  • Ample space for one two kids; 
  • 5 point harnesses;
  • Weather shield;
  • Bug screen;
  • Fold-ability (yeah, it's a word); and
  • A good price.
The Chariots and MEC trailers were fine, but didn't offer much to justify the heavy, heavy, heavy prices.  Between $360 and $500 for a trailer and stroller kits.

Wike trailers offered a great alternative, and was made in Ontario, but didn't have a good stroller kit to go with it.

The Canadian Tire trailers were cheaper, topping out around $250, but CCM isn't exactly a brand I'd get behind (or let my baby get behind).

So, with the price a big consideration, I started looking online for used trailers.  Typically people buy them thinking they'll use them all the time, and then the trailer lives in the garage for a few years just collecting dust. 

After a number of failed attempts to buy Chariots and MEC strollers online (and I should note that online sales/sellers seem to be lacking civility and manners these days) I finally found the one.  It hit all the key points on my list of criteria.

 It's an InStep trailer.  Probably about 7 years old.  No rust, no rips, no structural issues.

And it was only $75.

It works great as a stroller, and the wee one gets a great view while in it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Bike Licensing Debate Taking Place in Portland

More on the ever entertaining bike licensing debate!

Jim Meyer's article highlights a recent initiative aimed at licensing cyclists in Portland Oregon.  This satirical response is cleverly crafted and provides humorous fodder for the argument for, and against licensing cyclists.

For instance:
"If Huckaby’s (the gentleman proposing the new licensing law) law goes through, it will present a lot of problems. If you own several bikes — say a road bike, a mountain bike, a fancy two-wheeled-unicycle, and one for your pet chimp — that’s a lot of licenses and a lot of cash. And what about kids? Can your 9-year-old pass the rider’s test? If not, should he be tazed by the authorities? And tourists? Lots of people head to Oregon on vacation (mostly Germans) to bicycle (because Germans don’t know what fun is). What about them? What about the Germans?"

"In 2011, the city of Long Beach, Calif., ended its short-lived bicycle licensing program because, despite hefty fines of up to $400 for riding an unregistered bike, the city was hemorrhaging money on law enforcement and prosecution. With Oregon’s projected fines in the neighborhood of $25, it is unlikely to do any better. A Medford, Ore., bicycle registration law was repealed in 2010. “We just think this is an unnecessary ordinance and is really unenforceable. It really doesn’t work in the best interest of our community,” said the city’s then-Chief of Police Randy Schoen."

"In the meantime, if we’re going to throw out impractical, divisive, and infuriating solutions, I suggest we get a bit more creative. We could require a bicyclists-only chunnel below every street in America. Or how about we alternate days? Mondays and Wednesdays for cars, Tuesdays and Thursdays for bicycles, Fridays for rollerbladers, pogo-sticks, and silly-walkers, and the weekends belong to racing toilets (it seems like that’s the way it’s going in my neighborhood anyway)."

A great article and a very funny man.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bike Licensing Debate Pops Up Again ...

An interesting article on the bike licensing phoenix that rises every so often in Toronto.

Well, despite years of debate, and many reports recommending against it, the bike licensing phoenix has arisen in Toronto again.

Here’s the link if you are so inclined:

And a snippet from the article:

“A poll of 834 Toronto residents by Forum Research also shows that more than half of respondents believe that licensing bikes would be a fair trade-off for Toronto investing in European-style bike infrastructure.
Overall, 65 per cent of respondents approved of licensing bikes to improve traffic law enforcement. The broadest support — 71 per cent — came from Scarborough residents. But even among poll respondents in downtown and East York, 67 per cent agreed with licensing cyclists.”

This time the argument has been slightly nuanced to focus on licensing’s ability to help enforce traffic laws (given that bicycles are already covered under the Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act and city by-laws, I am not sure how this argument really fosters greater adherence to traffic law, but hey, I’m only an armchair lawyer.)  Check out my post on Ottawa's foray into velo-licensing here:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Be Prepared for your Commute

That's right. 

Preparedness is one habit that we should all have.  Be prepared.  For anything out there. 

Some great things to have in your bike kit are:
- A small tool kit with allen keys, a wrench, pliers, and a tire lever;
- Some money for the bus, or a cab, etc.;
- A tie down strap (for those unanticipated finds - like wooden waterskis);

Things you should not leave on the ping pong table in the basement:
- Tube patch kit.

And here's why this was a hard lesson for me to remember:
A nice sharp finishing nail will help me remember.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm Kind of a Bad Mechanic

The proof is in the picture.

I lost a crank arm, but found a suitable replacement from the co-op.  A session involving a hammer and the obvious absence of a torque wrench resulted in this:

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Hubway Experience

Back in October of 2011, yes I know it was a long time ago, I went on a trip to Boston for a weekend of foodie exploration. Much to my delight, I found that Boston has a Bixi-type bike sharing service called the ‘Hubway’. And even more delightful, I found a Bixi type bike stand just feet from our hotel!

Now, Ottawa’s had a Bixi pilot for about a year and I have never had the chance, or desire, to try it. I have revolving quiver of bikes in the garage, and under ass, and no inclination to pay to rent another one. That said, I am very supportive of bike sharing initiatives and really hope the Ottawa Bixi takes off. I’ve also always been a little curious about how these Bixi-type bikes ride.

This trip to Boston afforded me a great opportunity to experience the Bixi-type bike sharing system as an actual tourist. Here’s what I found:

  • Renting bikes was extremely easy, and relatively cheap at 5 dollars for 24 hours.
  • These bikes are tanks. All the components and mechanics are integrated into the frame, making stealing parts almost impossible.
  • The lighting system is fantastic. Dynamo driven, and very, very cool.
  • They have reflective tires.
  • Seats are adjustable, but theft proof.
  • Fenders give good coverage.  And a covered chain housing keeps the grime of life off your pantleg.
  • The handy-dandy basket up front is easy to use.
  • Boston is not a great city to bike in (my route had few bike lanes and required some good old fashioned aggressive riding.).
  • There is no cupholder for coffee.
So, to sum up. Good designs, good pricing, good rides, and good luck Hubway (and Ottawa’s Bixi).

- Here's a picture of my trusty Hubway whip -

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A bike for a Brother

Whether he wanted it or not, I was building my brother a scrapper bike.

I found the frame in the trash.  And rescued it.

I replaced the chain and seat, but the brakes and shifters were ok.  I used the parts of 5 bikes to complete this project.  And now call this the Frankenbike.

Here's the before:

And the after:
Last I heard, my brother was letting his roomate drive this around with a pink basket up front (holding a pocket sized dog to boot).

Sigh, it is what it is.
This my friends, is what a 'tube tumor' looks like.

Oh Continental, why are your tire walls so thin?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Today's find. The bike racks at work are filling up as spring rolls in. And while I lament losing the choice parking spot that my bike enjoyed over winter, I am happy to see the racks filling up with neat whips. 

Here's today's find:

Turns out the Premier Cycle Co. Is an interesting operation.  They began producing 'safety bicycles'' to replace the Penny Farthing in the UK.

Premier closed down in the 1930s but their brand lived on.  A Japanese manufacturer began producing bikes under the Premier name - and used their label and face-plate until recently. The Japanese company was called Maruishi and if you keep an eye out you just might see one.

I'll try and post more soon.  Maybe even some pictures of this regal steed.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

New Restoration Project

I love a good find. The last bike I restored was Frankenbike. I put it together for my bikeless brother Ryan. I'll post on the Frankenbike later.

Onto this new steed. I found it while on my morning walk with Bobby.  It was perched along a line of refuse and I assume was meant for blue box recycling.

But I couldn't Walk by without giving it some consideration.  No, I couldn't allow it to find its way to the scrapyard.

The details: It's a yellow Bayfield bike from the Hudson Bay company. Probably 1970s. The bike's been made into a fixie.  It's clearly been through adventures as it's covered by 'The Grime of Life'.  It's got a nice little Quando flip flop hub on the back. It is missing a front rim and tire and will need brakes and an overhaul.

I think its name might be Lester!  Only with time, and some TLC, can we bring this beast back.

More to come.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Finding that Ideal Winterbike

Turns out, rebuilding a wheel isn’t as hard as I thought.  

Today, the Winterbiking chronicles begin again.  

As you know, winter riding takes its toll on your steed.  Regardless of make, material or method of maintenance, winter will eventually murder your bike.  It happened to Liberman and his predecessor ‘Nameless Gray Bike’.   

With this in mind, I have given my thoughts to finding/creating a bike with a limited life expectancy.   In the winter of 2010/11, I found a dual suspension bike frame on a walk with my dog.  We packed it up and brought it home.  It had no wheels, no brakes, a bent crankset, and the rustiest chain I have ever seen.  Over the months, I tore it down.  Removing the front crankset completely, and replacing it with a spare I had on hand.  I sawed off the rusty chain (trying to use a chain tool resulted in the destruction of the chain tool itself!!) and replaced it with a new-ish one.  I took the rims from Lieberman, put on new rubber and tossed all the parts back on the frame.    All of this took place over a period of weeks.  Half an hour here, an hour there.  Just light work with a small goal in mind:    Creating a Frankenbike that would rise from the ashes of past steeds, live for a finite time, then go down in a blaze of glory only to rise again as Frankenbike Redux.   

I am now proud to say, I am within reach of this goal. I have some skipping on the 5th cog in the freewheel and some nagging brake issues to deal with, but soon the Frankenbike will take to the streets scaring the bikes and likes of our children and elderly.  

Now, despite all this work building the Frankenbike, recent events have unfolded that have put its future in question.  I recently found another suitable winter bike.  This bike was free, required very little work to get running, and came with the fenders!  I give you:  Golden Boy  
Saved from the street corner and lovingly ridden everywhere, Golden Boy came with everything.  Fenders, a simple gearing system (only 6 gears, none of this 24 gear junk), and the dignity that bikes had when slathered with neon.    

It took very little work to get it running.  New seat, pump up the tires, adjust the fenders, and boom – I’m riding around town on this puppy and loving it.  I decided it would make the perfect winter bike, and that the one thing I should do (other than fix the brakes) is to put on some aluminium rims.  I have found that steel rims have lest stopping power in the wet and icy winter conditions.    So, I started looking for a rim with a 6 cog/sprocket freewheel cassette.

I went to CycleSalvation, where they rooted around and found me a shitty 6 speed rim.  It spun, but was CRUNCHY.  So, I knew I would have to tear it down, realign the bearings and lube it up.  Easy job I figured – until I actually got it home. The bearings fell out of the cage, and were gone.  And they were rolling around freely and chewing up the hub’s cone and the inside pit of the hub pretty bad.  I replaced the bearing cage, and the cone, lubed it up and put it all back together.  A good learning experience for a guy with little hub experience.  I also filed down some of the teeth on the 5th sprocket and cleaned up the cassette. All in all, I felt good about that work, and got excited about putting a nice knobby on the new rim, and replacing the tires that came on Golden Boy. 

But alas, after installing the new rim, I found that the 5th and 4th sprockets, skip very, very badly.  I had two choices left:  1) Trouble shoot the skipping or 2) put the steel rim back on.   So I tossed the old steal rear wheel on and added new brake pads.  That seemed to help.  But the bike still took forever to stop in slick conditions.  I finally found an acceptable compromise.  I traded a few volunteer hours at Recylclore for a nice aluminium front rim! 

That, coupled with the new brakes means I’ll be able to stop this winter.