Monday, August 1, 2011

Bikes in Hawaii

I'm a terrible blogger. I go on holiday and nothing else matters any more, apparently. There have been a few fun bikey things going on so I'll try to do a blitz. And by 'blitz' I mean maybe post more than once a month.

Anyway, I was in Hawaii!

Ate delicious food....

Truly appreciated the beauty and strength of nature....

And then did fun things like ziplining....

So I suppose bikes weren't exactly the first thing on my mind. There were plenty of them around, though! Especially cruisers, of course. And I don't recall ever seeing an empty bike rack.

Love this one... especially the funky chainguard...

Interesting cockpits....

Gorgeous colours....

And, sadly, bikes that needed lots of love....

Maybe that grip placement makes it easier to stand off the saddle cuz I sure as hell wouldn't wanna put my ass there.

There were lots of bike lanes but many of them were either in the door zone or ended abruptly. I suppose people just bike on the shoulder in that case. Better than nothing?

These touristy areas seem to be the perfect location for bike shares. Kailua had one but we unfortunately didn't have the time to check it out. But what better way to get around and really explore the area than by bike! Being on a bicycle allows you to really take in your surroundings, much more so than if you're stuffed into a fast-moving car. Hopefully bike shares will have made their way to other cities as well by then.

All in all, a great trip. Thought I could maybe live in Hawaii forever but the cockroach trying to break into our luggage made me yearn for bug-killing, Canadian cold! Plus, what would I do without knitting mittens in the winter??

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Not that I'm the most prolific blogger anyway, but my posts have been scarce lately since I've been away in paradise...

Such a beautiful place. More to follow...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ride the Road Tour

On June 5, W & I attended the Ride the Road Tour. It was an organized bike ride through the streets of downtown and surrounding areas - however, we had a police escort that basically closed the streets to vehicular traffic in order for us to pass through. As a result, we got to cycle some busy streets that many people might not normally have the courage to ride on!

The ride started at Stanley Park and went through Elbow Park, Mission, Beltline, around the downtown core, then to Inglewood, Ramsay, past the Union Cemetery and the industrial park, then back to Stanley Park. I'm not sure what the exact distance was, but it was maybe around 15km. The ride itself was nice and leisurely and took us about an hour to complete.

Stanley Park is far from where we live so we took the train:

We met up with Daorcey and Natalie and headed to the meeting spot at Stanley Park before heading out on the road. We figured there were about 150 people on this ride!

Cycling down Elbow Drive. Crazy!

Here I am with Natalie. Note my slouchy Po Campo bag. I can't seem to figure out a good way to anchor it onto my rack without it wanting to slump to one side. Oh well, it stays on but looks a little precarious.

More pics of us on streets that I would not normally want to ride on due to crazy traffic:

Made some bikey friends but I'm terrible and forgot their names! They had beautiful bikes and we had a great conversation about biking in the city, the (slowly) changing attitude towards active transportation, and other events around the city to raise awareness (like the monthly Critical Mass rides). Here we are, so caught up in conversation that we drifted way to the back of the pack:

Traffic stopped on Macleod Trail for us to pass through:

And back to Stanley Park:

Then the four of us left and had a delicious greasy lunch at Broken City.

All in all, it was a tremendously fun day. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about the police escort - I was unsure how we would be received when motorists had to stop what they were doing to let us through. However, I didn't notice any hostility (not blatant hostility, anyway) and many of the curious people along our path waved at us.

In any case, it was an excellent opportunity to see what it's like to ride around the city. Obviously the police escort amps up the safety factor, but there are many safe and efficient ways to get around. From the turnout at this event, it's clear there is growing interest in cycling in Calgary. This all closely coincided with the release of the City of Calgary's Cycling Strategy - hopefully more good things come our way!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rivendell Betty Foy - Specs, Pics, and Raves

I've had Betty for a few weeks now and I couldn't be happier!

Betty Foy is a lugged, steel-frame mixte from Rivendell Bicycle Works. I had been looking for a well-built steel bicycle, and was faced with many choices. Eventually it came down to Betty and the Pashley Princess Sovereign. I see a place for both bicycles in my life, but I could only afford to get one right now. Although the Betty does not have certain features of the Pashley that I liked (full chaincase, internal hub and gears), it is still the more versatile of the two. Its derailleur gearing and slightly sportier but still comfortable riding posture enable me to take it on a greater variety of rides, from running quick errands to my hilly 20km commute to work. While I don't believe there is one bike that can do it all for me, I find that Betty comes pretty close - this echoes Lovely Bicycle's sentiment.

The Betty Foy is customizable. Keven at Rivendell was extremely helpful in guiding me through my component choices. Once the specs were finalized, the bike was built, tested, and shipped to my home. In order to facilitate shipping, Riv minimally disassembles the bike.

Putting the bike back together was fairly easy. My job was to reassemble the handlebars and stem, front wheel, front brake, front rack, front fender, saddle/seatpost, pedals, and other accessories (i.e. bell, mirror, basket). This video shows how easy it really is. Having said that, I had difficulty reattaching the front fender so that it didn't rub against the front tire. No matter what I tried, some part of the fender would rub and make an incredibly irritating noise. Eventually we drilled two holes into the fender and zip-tied it to the front rack in order to hold it up and away from the tire - worked like a charm!

Here are some (ok, many) pics:

Nitto Albatross aluminum bars, cork grips (which Riv beautifully shellacked and twined), Tektro brake levers, Silver sidepull rim brakes, Silver bar end shifters, German mirror, brass bell:

(Yup, I live in giant vehicle land)

The Albatross bars are awesome. They allow for a very comfortable riding and hand position - no more numb hands - and I can grab onto the middle section for extra leverage when climbing. I have my handlebars positioned relatively high as I prefer to sit more upright. The shifters - good God I love these shifters. They work flawlessly, and feel comfortable in my hand when shifting. I know that sounds weird but that's the way it is. I approached friction shifting with some trepidation but there ended up being no reason for that. There was virtually no learning curve; it really is quite easy. This article gives some good tips on learning friction shifting. The best way to get a feel for it is to just get out and ride.

Front view... Wald basket on Nitto Mark's Rack, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires:

I prefer a wire basket over other materials (e.g. wicker) - less weight to impact steering, less wind resistance. I have a net that clips over the basket to hold its contents in place. Sure, the wire basket isn't cute but there are enough girly details on the bike already!

As for the tires - I'm unsure. I went with the Marathon Pluses simply because they were the only ones in stock at the time. They're super puncture-resistant due to a "SmartGuard layer" of rubber. My journeys don't bring me through areas with lots of broken glass or other debris so I think the MPs might be overkill and aren't worth the extra rolling resistance I feel. Schwalbe Delta Cruisers would be ideal but they don't come in the size I need. I'm thinking of swapping these out for Marathon Supremes but I'll keep riding with these for now - maybe they'll grow on me.

Sugino XD2 triple crank, MKS sneaker pedals, IRD front derailleur, Pletscher double leg kickstand:

8 speed 11-32 cassette, Shimano Deore rear derailleur:

Nitto top rack, Brooks B17S saddle in honey:

Rear view, SKS plastic fenders in silver: 

These fenders work great but are a little short. I would have preferred the Longboard Fenders but they don't fit a 26" wheel. So I'll get some mudflaps instead. I love the look of hammered Honjos (as seen on many other lucky Bettys) but I'm perfectly happy with these trusty plastic fenders.

And now for the prettiness!

Evil-eye Betty headbadge:

Gorgeous lugwork:


Downtube decals:

Tiny apples!

My favourite lug is here on the seat tube - I love the filled-in heart and fanciness:

Some people find the girly details to be a little much but I'm all over it like stink on sh!t. That's not too crass for a girly girl to say, is it?

Well, that's Betty. Don't let her good looks fool you - she's beautiful, but she's also a speedy workhorse. I can't stress enough how much I love this bike!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Introducing Betty!

Well, I did it... I splurged and got myself a Betty Foy...

And I'm so glad I did. This bike is so enjoyable to ride - comfortable, fast, and functional. More to follow!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Test Rides - Linus Roadster Sport and Pashley Brittania

After a very unfortunate and traumatizing accident learning how to ride bicycles when they were children, my cousins never learned how to ride. However, they have recently been bitten by the bug (I like to think my passion for riding is what inspired them, but I think it's just the appeal of the bike) and are now in the market for new bikes! This weekend we went to BikeBike to check out their offerings.

V checked out the Linus Roadster Sport. It was an interesting test ride. He basically learned how to ride by trying out my old MTB - probably not the greatest way for a 5'10" individual to learn by riding some short person's 13" bike but it was all we had at the time. Obviously it was very different riding a bike that actually fit him but I think he looked like a natural!

Here we are, discussing how to properly mount a bicycle:

Seeing as how V has only ridden a bicycle less than a handful of times, the focus was mainly on getting a feel for riding a properly fit frame and trying to figure out what feels good and what doesn't. The first thing he noticed was how different the North Road handlebars felt compared to my MTB's riser bars. He wasn't able to say whether this was good or bad, just different. We'll take many more test rides so he can discover what he likes. I'm guessing he'll eventually decide the North Roads are more comfortable but maybe that's just my personal bias. I always get tingly fingers on straight bars, and hugely prefer the more neutral position that swept back bars allow for. Also, for the type of riding he plans to do (recreational riding on pathways), I can't see how straight bars would be more beneficial other styles. Maybe North Roads won't be what he eventually prefers, but I'm confident it won't be straights.

The hub gearing was also new for V. When he was learning to ride, we never got into changing gears with the derailleur as we were focusing on the very basics of riding a bicycle. He had no problem picking up how and when to change gears on the Linus' 3 speed hub. For recreational city riding, I think an internal hub would suit him just fine (maybe the 8 speed hub though, since the larger range would be nice in our hilly area). Plus it's so much easier to change gears with an internal hub vs derailleur. The lower maintenance associated with a hub also makes it an appealing choice. However, I think it would be beneficial for him to learn how to use a derailleur geared bike before he makes a decision but we'll get there in time.

Our next stops will be to other bike shops to check out some other options. It can get overwhelming so we'll go slow and only try out two or three bikes at a time. I'm secretly hoping he goes for the Linus. It's a fantastic value for the money. Its features would make it a great city bike - chromoly frame, Nexus 8 speed hub, Schwalbe tires, fenders, rear rack, comfortable geometry.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm on a Pashley Britannia. I didn't intend to test ride it but V needed company!

The Britannia is basically the same as the Princess Sovereign, just with slightly different features. See here for my PS test ride. The Britannia does not have the full chaincase, skirtguard, and rear rack of the PS. On one hand, I like the idea of a full chaincase for all-weather durability. On the other hand, I find a partial chaincase to be easier for chain and rear wheel maintenance. The skirtguard isn't a dealbreaker and a rear rack is easy enough to add on afterwards. I love the vibrant colours and nicer grips of the Britannia. The PS has tough Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires whereas the Britannia has cream Schwalbe tires (Delta Cruisers, I think - I didn't actually check since I was distracted by all the fun). I don't know if it was the tires or the crappy conditions in which I test rode the PS, but I found the Britannia to be slightly quicker to accelerate. In any case, I'm glad I checked out the Britannia as I would seriously consider getting it if and when the time comes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sawako Furuno Helmet

I've been admiring Sawako Furuno bicycle helmets for some time but there are no local retailers who sell them. There are plenty of online retailers but I hesitated to purchase one sight unseen and without trying it on. They come in one size to fit a head circumference between 54 and 58 cm. My head circumference measured at about 55 cm so I figured it should be ok.

icargobike had the best price and the "Ran" model I liked (although I also contemplated getting the Sakura from Cyclechic) so I placed my order. Here it is:

Rear view with size-adjusting dial, which I apparently need to straighten out:

Inside view with foam inserts:

It also came with a dustbag:

I love the concept of this helmet - stylish, functional, and unique. But the problem is it looks effing huge on me! Sure, it fits, but I feel kind of ridiculous wearing it. Before I purchased, I saw all sorts of pictures of other petite Asian cyclists wearing them and they looked fine so I thought I'd fit right in. Maybe I'm being too self-conscious and it's not as bad as I think but I'm still debating whether I'll keep it. Regardless, I should probably just suck it up and know that my noggin is protected.