Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Strumey Archer Hub. At Last.

Needless to say I have had the hub in place for quite some time. For those who remain interested, here are my thoughts.

It is a two-speed, kickback hub. It looks like a single-speed but isn't.  You need either horizontal drops, or a chain tensioner. I am fortunate that the Pake has drops that work as I do not prefer the look of a tensioner.

The Pake allows flexibility for either geared or single-speed. Great frame - I think I need to get one of these for my daughter. It's a lot like a Surly Crosscheck but for about half the price.

You can see the chain drooping a little in this picture. I'll be removing a link and resetting the wheel accordingly. Means I need to realign the brakes as well but that's the "price" I pay for having a fixed hub.    

This is my overall primary function as a cyclist.  My commute is 17km each way, year round. There are no hills between my home and office, and I prefer a simple, if not minimalist look to my bicycle.  Therefore this hub really fits the bill.
I appreciate that there are no cogs to deep-clean on those oft messy days (especially in the winter).
The gear ratio is perfect for my purposes, although when there is less overall environmental resistance in the summer months (less wind, no slush) I do wish I had a higher gear to use. Note too that I replaced the cog it came with for a smaller one (32 tooth chainring and a 20 tooth cog).
The fixie look is pretty hot right now so I can fit into that crowd if I want to (even though I am cheating with two speeds)!
I have found "chain stretch" to be a new issue (for me).  I sometimes drop my chain and its not always a quick fix without a derailleur.

There are other posts and videos that mention the sound of the hub, that is, you can hear what gear you are in.  While this is true, I have found that when commuting I wouldn't count on being able to hear anything over the wind in your ears of the traffic.  It's worth mentioning because when you are heading down a slight slope with some speed it's difficult to determine whether you in in your higher or lower gear. More on that in a bit.

I actually took this through the Paris-to-Ancaster race in late April.  The hub is not designed for off-road, gravel-grinding but I felt it actually performed well.
Again, I received lots of "wow, he's doing the race single-speed," which is nice, but we're all whizzing by too fast to try and correct the bystander who is trying to compliment my effort!
The hub dealt well with mud and other kinds of junk that sunk my wheels well past it. 
Given that there were lots of hills in the race, I found that the ratio (same as mentioned above) was just about perfect.
I don't think I did any damage to the hub but I guess time will tell. It's possible that all kinds of things got in there and since I don't have the expertise to open it and clean it I guess I'll take a wait and see attitude. I figure if something in there is grinding away at the mechanism it'll make itself known. Otherwise, so far so good three months later.

Hills & Shifting.
You shift from one gear to the other by giving a slight backpeddle.  It works predictably about 60% of the time, depending upon a few things.  If you are peddling under load (read: hills) then be cautious. The least thing you'd need to worry about is losing momentum on a hill if it won't shift, but the worst thing would be to actually fall over while climbing. Note that I do climb some very steep and long hills almost every weekend as a part of my weekly countryside tour - but I really appreciate the workout the two gears give me (don't expect to keep up with friends though).
Going down a hill has its own consequences too.  If you cannot shift higher as your speed increases be ready for some mighty fine spinning!
Even if you are not peddling under load don't always trust the timing of the internal mechanism (could this actually be damage from my off-road racing?).  It may not shift "just when you want it to." That makes it awfully awkward at stop lights and in traffic or when there is another cyclist right behind you.  Needing to backpeddle several times to get the gear isn't always convenient but will eventually work.
Finally, yes, it does ghost shift.  It is ironic that sometimes it won't shift when you want and it does shift when you don't want it to.  Sometimes (actually often during my commute) it is a very, very subtle backpeddle that changes the gear. When I come to a stop I can almost always be assured that once I start peddling again it will be in the "other" gear.  This could be a big issue for some, but it really isn't for me because I've learned to anticipate this, and as I have said, my commute is pretty flat (so I'm not usually in any danger because of the wrong start-up gear).

If you are in my category - long commute, all season, not hilly, minimalist, utilitarian -  then this hub is a great pick. It's no heavier than a regular, geared set-up in the end, and looks really clean and slick.

You'll learn to deal with its quirks and you'll have equipment that not likely anyone else in your crowd has.

Hope to post again before several months pass. Please leave your comments and questions.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sturmey-Archer Work Finally Underway

I will need to do a post on how intimidating I am finding the cold this year (getting old?!). Thus my lack of input for my beloved BLOG.
Nevertheless, I hope for inspiration from my new weather-proof hub (weather-proof means coming home and being able to more-or-less quick-wipe my bike and come inside instead of staying in a freezing garage, soaked in sweat and cleaning the drivetrain everyday).
Once around the horn. 3x to go. My Discraft BUZZZ also getting in on some action.

Um. There shouldn't be extra nipples should there?

Laced but not yet trued-up.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sturmey-Archer S2 Duomatic

I have been coveting the Sturmey-Archer S2 Duomatic hub for two years. I love a streamlined look, and I have a less-is-more attitude for most things.

An internally geared hub seems to meet the criteria. 
While I will not be able to use this Sturmey-Archer set-up for races like the Paris-to-Ancaster, or the Hilly Billy Roubaix, it should serve me very well for my flat, rural-urban commute.
I hesitated to make the purchase sooner because I was scared off by spending more on a bicycle that is already perfectly functional. However, my hesitation did cost me in the end as the price increased from $100 to $150 over that period. I suppose the consolation is that the hub was also improved over the same time.
I ordered from Downtown Bike Hounds and it arrived a week later. I went with black. So far I enjoy holding it and staring, but before long I will muster up the energy to build it up.
With the winter on our doorstep, I am feeling like this will be a slick, efficient purchase with minimal wet-weather maintenance required. It would be ideal to add a Gates Carbon Drive but there is no split in the frame to allow the option.
My older aluminum Diamondback frame makes sense for a winter commute because it's aluminum, but I must use my nice, steel, Paké because of the drops.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Ride for Refuge 2013

It's the same route every year, but a nice one.  The skies were a bit dull and it didn't rain, so that's a bonus, but I think it dulled some of the colour on the trees.

My work is one of the partners of the Ride and that means people can choose to raise money on our behalf.  In fact, we managed over 15k for the shelter where I work.

My daughter and wife turned right where I turned left - and they did a 25km route.  I did the 50km.  Considering I haven't been leisure riding much of late, this was a good distance. I kind of pushed it so I'd get a bit of a work out.

I'll have some better photo's later but for now I defer to the GoPro.

A midway rest area.  Lots of sugar available!

I always admire folks on the tandems and cargo's who do these things.  I don't like them to finish ahead of me (I know, its not technically a race), but they have my utmost respect. Also, noshing on a Sweet n' Salty I got at the rest stop.

Colour's? Meh. Give it a week.
It's me with some of the guests who use the shelter.  They were easily the best rest stop on the length of the Ride.
Back at the start/finish. Now for some homemade chilli!
Perfect weather! Enjoy your ride!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Leisure Ride with Friends - Back on the Bicycle

I simply have not been riding.
Between having a brutal head-cold, lack of motivation on cold mornings and needing a car at work to shuttle myself through a day of meetings I have found plenty of excuses.
As I was slowly watching my waistline grow, my wife suggested we call some friends to get out and ride on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Great suggestion.

We rallied at their house on the mountain, and JD took us on a nice loop nearby.  First we skulked along the mountain brow (a well trod path on a day like today). Then we circled back north toward his place and Valley Park. Finally into a local conservation area I had always wanted to explore but never taken the chance to do so.

JD is fresh off finishing the Great Divide race. His frame failed with a few hundred miles to go (and he still finished!) and this was his first time out on the new replacement. Pretty sharp setup.
You never know when the GoPro is aimed at you! Here my wife takes a break to enjoy the view.
We left hills out of the equation, our total mileage might have been about 10 (miles), and there was no perspiration of any kind involved. You know, its just what the doctor ordered! Sometimes whatever it takes to get back in the saddle is enough.

No roots, no slippery stones ... this path is just my speed!

Cave entrance.  I didn't go inside but its clear that lots of others had.
I'm away for the next few days but when I get back to the normal routine I plan on my bicycle being a part of that.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Morning at the Cannon

A friend flew in from Edmonton and wanted to meet up so I recommended the Cannon.  He's quite a coffee connoisseur and gave their pour-over-style the thumbs up.  I wish I had taken a shot of our breakfast sandwiches - they were pretty decadent as well.

I got the GoPro rolling for the ride home and went a bit out of my way to have some fun.  Not too many days like this left.

If I was trying to make time I would have headed south right away, instead I headed east to the Red Hill expressway and it's parallel gravel path.

At times, the highway isn't very far away (immediately to my left in the photo below).

Then back into traffic once I hit Queenston, and from there, Highway #8 and home.  This fellow came close and his mirror even closer!

Whereas this bus driver left his rightful lane in order to give me space.  Thanks HSR!

The new bike lanes on Highway #8 are nice. Let's see if they keep them plowed in the winter.

Overall observations. It's now officially cold on the hands in the morning and not much better by noon.  The Kenda Small-Block 8's needed a bit more pressure today but should (as always) prove excellent once the weather really turns.  My brake hoods are beginning to feel like they stretch me out a bit too far so I might need to look for an alternative, shallow, handlebar that can get them in a bit closer.

I'm also beginning to think that I should look into a 58" frame. Wondering if the 60" is too much for me. Perhaps that's part of the issue.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Music in My Head

A quick errand is fun and simple but regardless of whether its a long ride or minutes there's often a tune recycling through my head.

The launch bay as amateurishly recorded via GoPro.

Last of the lovely days? We'll see.

Destination achieved.
Here are two clues.  See if you can guess the tune and/or the artist without doing a web search.

#1 - I'm a 60's, 70's and 80's sort of guy. Not too much use for 90's music.
#2 - "Woke up in my clothes again this morning. Don't know exactly where I am."