BikeCommuters.com

Commute

V brake conversion and Travel agent installation.

Hello Bike commuters and fellow DIY bike mechanics! Yes, as much as I like my local bike shop, there are some repairs or upgrades that I am able to do myself. My Spicer CX had one weakness; its cantilever brakes. Even though I replaced them with new Avid Shortys, I still was not comfortable with their stopping power on a steep downhill.

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So what did I do? Well, I went with V brakes instead. The process of installing V-brakes was pretty straight forward; the only issue I ran into was that I needed to replace the cable housing so it can run all the way to the brake noodle.

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But there was a problem with my conversion; the brake levers from my Spicer CX are designed for short pull brakes and the V brakes that I installed are long pull brakes. I figured that I could get away with it by adjusting the tension on the brakes and having the pads really close to the rim. Well, I was wrong. The rear brake is OK, but the front brake was not grabbing.

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I did what every respectable DIY mechanic would do: “I Googled it”. So Google came up with a little gadget called “Travel Agent” by Problem Solvers and since I had a problem to solve (pun intended) I ordered one of this shindigs online. Mind you, the travel agent was not cheap but braking is sort of important after all.

Installing the travel agent was pretty straight forward thanks to the video and the right tools. If you happen to work a lot on your bikes, I highly recommend the Park Tools Cable and housing cutter.

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I did a quick test ride around the block and man, the travel agent works as advertised! I have now plenty of stopping power on my front brakes! In case you are wondering why I am making these changes to my bike, well, that is because I am training for the Strada Rossa V ride this coming March. More on that later on.

Deals for January 2018

Hello everyone, although BikeCommuters.com operates on a shoe string, we still have to pay hosting fees so we have become an Amazon.com affiliate and as a Prime member we will be sharing deals in a monthly basis. Please share if you find something cheaper or if something is not quite a good deal by leaving us a comment and don’t forget to white list us if you have an ad blocker.

Here is some of the stuff currently on my “wish list” and stuff that I bought:

I have 4 bikes and my Garmin 520 only came with 3 mounts so here is a deal for a Garmin Bike mount:

I have an affinity for bicycle bells and the Knog Oi has an interesting shape and sound, I may pull the trigger and buy one of these soon:

I recently bought these Kenda Kwest tires for my folding bike. These are really hard to find at bike shops but here they are if you need them:

I bought these leg warmers for the wife and she absolutely loves them:

If your bike does not have quick releases, this Lezyne wrench is small enough to carry on your seat bag:

So support BikeCommuters.com by just clicking or buying one of these items, we really appreciate it!

Ravemen PR600 Review

Hello Bike Commuters and fellow night riders! Dark afternoons have descended upon us so it is time for us to start using our lights for us to see AND to be seen. It is unbelievable how many cyclists are riding in the dark with no lights, no reflectors and dark clothing! There is no excuse for riders to be riding in the dark, lights have become more compact, more powerful and more affordable.

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A great example is the Ravemen PR600 rechargeable light which sells for about $55.00 in Amazon. Ravemen sent us this light for us to test during our dark commutes mainly because of its DuaLens design which features a low and high beams. In my opinion, the low beam is one of the greatest features of this light. The “low” beam’s output is a generous 400 lumens and it is quite wide.

This picture shows the Ravemen’s wide beam:

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This picture shows a NiteRider’s beam:

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The wide beam is perfect for bike commuting; powerful enough to see the road yet it will not blind incoming vehicles or pedestrians. Need more power??? Enter the high beam which can be used in conjunction with the low beam and it produces 600 lumens of light:

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Yeah, this thing is powerful. In fact, I decided to test the light in a mountain bike ride to test it in total darkness and to test if the light would handle all of the bumps of a dirt trail. The light did great, it did not slip, flicker or died. Using the low beam and high beam was great while riding single track, the wide beam allowed me to see better on tight corners and the high beam let me see way ahead. There was one drawback with using both beams at full 600 lumens; the battery only lasted about an hour:

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Another cool feature of the Ravemen PR600 is the “remote button”. I thought it was kind of gimmicky but once I started using it I totally loved it. The button allows you to keep your hand on the grip and change modes without having to mess with the button on top of the light.

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The last feature that I also really liked was the pulsating mode. The Ravemen PR600’s wide beam pulsates so you can ride during daylight and be seen by traffic and pedestrians.

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So in summary, here are the Pros of this light:

The light is a good deal for bike commuting at $54.95
The Wide beam is excellent for bike commuting and riding singletrack
Remote button allows you to maintain your hand on the grips
Pulsating mode for riding during the day.

No product is perfect so here are the cons of this light:

Battery only lasted one hour running at full blast
Light is a little on the heavy side if you are a weight weenie
The light mount is “old school” so it takes time to remove and install on another bike
The darn nut from the mount is easy to misplace

Overall, the Ravemen PR600 is great for bike commuting and I would definitely recommend it.

For more information, please visit www.ravemen.com. To purchase this light in Amazon.com for $54.95, click here.

Disclaimer: Ravemen sent us this light to review at no charge because they felt that this product would benefit bike commuters. We were not compensated to write this review.

My multi-modal commute just got easier

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Hello Bike Commuters and fellow folding bike riders! I finally had the chance to ride the Giant Expressway folding bike to work and I am happy to report that my train-bike commute got easier and more convenient. I love the fact that I can fold the bike, stash it inside my sedan’s trunk, park inside the covered parking lot and be ready to ride to the train station in seconds.

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Another HUGE plus is that I get to sit next to my folded bicycle, no need to use the crowded bike racks and play the “train stop dance”, if you ride the Metrolink, you know what I mean.

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The bike also takes less space at the office, in fact, I get to park the bike in my cubicle right behind me.

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However, riding a small bike also has its negatives such as the never ending teasing that I get: Clown bike, little people bike, Junior bike, kid bike, etc. It’s OK, bike commuters always get teased anyways. I also have to get used to the bike’s performance, or lack of thereof, max speed on this bike is about 15 mph so I have to pace myself so I won’t sweat too much on my way to the office.

Overall, I am really happy with my purchase but I am already thinking of ways to make the folding bike go faster 🙂

Wanna race?

And it starts like most races do with a little hesitation, some trepidation, and a lot of anticipation. I roll out and set a steady tempo. I know my fitness is not where it used to be so I decide that a long range attack allá Contador is the way to go. I’m receiving information and it’s telling me I have a 30 second gap. I’m holding steady pushing about 20 miles per hour. I have some luck on my side and I have not had too many reasons to slow down. As I’m approaching the first climb, my first true test, my breakaway has gained me 2 minutes.

The climb shines light on the cracks in my foundation. I’m coming undone and I’m starting to Pedal in squares. The 2 mile climb is pushing my heart rate to 190 beats per minute, I’m bleeding time and fading fast. This climb that tops out at 7% and has taken my two-minute lead down to one minute. In the last mile of climbing I’ve fallen apart and this climb has taken its toll and although the major climb is over there is still more climbing to be done.

I’m feeling confident that I can get some of the time back on the upcoming rolling section. The problem is that this section is much less rolling then I remembered it. The next half mile has not a single negative grade and an average grade of 3%. I begin to lose more time and when I reach the two-thirds marker I’m only 20 seconds ahead. Those 20 seconds dissolve into zero, zero grows to a negative. My second best effort on this section is still about 1mph too slow.  I’m now 20 seconds behind, I’ve been caught, and I don’t have much left in the tank.

My strategy might seem to have failed me but I’m exactly where I want to be. I limp up the rest of the climb and utilize one of my best skills. The descent is my playground. I slowly see my deficit disappear and I even make up a few seconds. In my aerodynamic tuck I’m able to gain one minute and 30 seconds as I turn right, right into the last real climb. From here Colima is only 0.3 miles but with an average grade of over 6%, it can do some damage.  This climb is no test, this climb is a deal-breaker, make or break, win or lose.

My 1 minute and 30 second Advantage disappears yet again I get out of saddle I give it everything I have left to no avail. I’m riding like a man possessed but I’m two minutes behind. In 2 minutes I’ve lost 2 minutes. My lungs feel like raisins, I can feel the burn down my esophagus, my legs are begging me to stop, I consider sitting up. But for every climb there is a descent, so I hold my pace steady and continue up the climb. 2 minutes and 15 seconds is what I have to make up on a 2 mile descent.

I rearranged myself about 3 times trying to find an aerodynamic position I can hold for the entirety of the Hill. Colima Road flattens out and it’s now up to my legs pushing at times 28 miles per hour, holding my threshold as long as I can. I look down and realize I’m 3 minutes ahead. All that is left is to maintain my lead. I want to do more than maintain though, so I push each pedal as hard as I can for the remaining 2 miles. Little by little I’m gaining time, three minutes turns into four, four minutes balloons to 5, and by the time I’m at the finish my lead would tell a different story than my body. I’m a wreck but I’m feeling like an accomplished wreck.

My first race in sometime was not against a Peloton or a friend, it was against myself via my virtual partner on my Garmin 520. I had no idea that this is going to be so much fun, so competitive, and so inspiring. At the time I didn’t think twice I just thought “oh look what I can do” with my Garmin. It seems like my commute has found yet another way to keep my interest.

Watch the video