Friday, April 30, 2010

The Toolmanator

ACCESSORY 26: Bike tool $16 @

I first saw the Blackburn brand at Sports Authority. They had some pretty cool stuff. They always take pride in their designs and everything's typically packaged very nicely. This new bike tool is no exception. You've might've already guessed what those red snowboard shaped things are. They're tire removing tools! It's very good quality hard solid plastic - unlike the ones I got from ebay which are hollow.

The drawback of this tool is that it's fairly bulky. It's more cube shaped and rectangular like most other ones on the market. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but two grey portions separate to expose 16 different tools - 17 total including the tire levers.

It really is called the Toolmanator. Kind of corny, but a fun name. It looks too good to not display. By now, you've figured out my main reason for getting this. It's red! It also looks a lot better than the other ones I considered. For size, the Topeak Mini 18 would've been better but it doesn't have the tire removing tools which is my main reason for getting a tool. I figure with those and a couple allen wrenches, I"ll be all set.

Rack it up

ACCESSORY 25: Display stand $20 @ Cognition Cyclery

The garage is getting fairly messy with all the gunk I still have there from the past 29 years of my life. The best way to store the trike is to prop it up on it's rear wheel. While at Cognition Cyclery, I picked up that grey adjustable rack. It works exactly as planned. As long as there isn't an earthquake, my car sitting next to it should be okay.

It sticks out from the wall about 2-1/2 feet - not too bad. When I first propped it up, I was a bit worried that it wouldn't provide enough clearance for me to get to my door after getting out of my car. There's plenty of room though. It's turned out well. I was prepared to pay about $25-30 for a stand since that's approximately what they go for on the web. the $20 felt like a steel since this particular one also has adjustments on it for narrower wheels. It may come in handy if I ever decide to swap to race tires. The store also gave me 10% off.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cut off by a cop!

As I was going downhill in a designated bike lane crossing an intersection, a cop pulls right in front of me! There's no stop sign and no traffic light. I hit the brakes hard and the trike pulls so far to the left that the front left wheel pops up at least 6". Frantic as to what to do, I kept braking and leaning.


I finally land back on three wheels. I'm one foot away from smacking into this penguin's shiny black bumper.

Bastards. Another reason to hate cops. How do you miss a blinking light shining into your right rear view mirror in the blackness of the night?

Lesson learned about how the trike works. The guy at Bay Trail Bikes in Albany who took me for my first recumbent trike test drive warned me that the KMX tends to veer to one direction when braking. This was one of the flaws compared to the higher end $2,000+ trikes. I figured out this evening that the easiest way around it without breaking out the tools is just to counter steer to the right by pushing the left handlebar forward. I tried it a couple times and it worked pretty well! This is super important especially when going downhill. This wasn't the first time I popped up on two wheels during an abrupt slowdown.

Wobble wobble no more

The rear wheel had wobbled when I brought it to Nomad Cyclery to fix. Justin took it a part and put grease in the hub around the ballbearings but apparently hadn't tightened the cone enough. Since this was the second time I brought something to Nomad Cyclery only to see that an issue wasn't completely fixed, I thought I'd try a new place.

Cognition Cyclery just opened about 3 weeks ago and they've been very friendly. I had gone in to check out their sunglasses and that's where I fell in love with the Specialized glasses. Although their prices were very competitive and if I were to buy them, I'd get them there, I wasn't ready to let go of that much cash for a pair of glasses. I ended up going with the Tifosi ones priced at $55.

Jason from Cognition found that indeed the cone was lose on the side of the wheel where the cassette is and helped me tighten it for free! Before handing the wheel back to me, he described what was wrong. I replied,

Thanks, what do I owe you?

Don't worry about it. Nothing. Just buy something next time.

I'd like one of those display stands.

He looked up the price and gave it to me for $20. At the counter I saw some glueless tire tube repair kits. 6 patches in a tiny pouch for $3. I grabbed that too. The kit I have now is way too big for the tiny Timbuk2 bag I have. The numbers didn't add up for the purchases. Even after tax, everything was less than $23. Apparently there's a 10% off discount off everything until tomorrow.

I've found a way to clear up some space in my Timbuk2 bag. I'll report it in a future blog post.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bye bye bluetooth...

....earbud. I looped back after my downhill ride to look for my headset and actually found it! The earbud piece however came loose too and was nowhere to be found. Perhaps losing it was worth making a new speed record.

I got pretty excited as it the gauge was creeping up from 28, 29, and finally the big 3-0.

I was too excited to realize my bluetooth had fallen out and music was coming directly out of my phone instead. By the time I figured it out, I was at the bottom of the hill. Ugh. Turning around I brought the phone closer to my ear so I could hear hoping that if I got close to the earpiece, the bluetooth would connect and the phone would go silent.

That never happened.

I ended up finding the headset 2/3 up the hill. For some reason it never reconnected. Good thing it was 7:40pm, the sidewalk was clear and the sky was still lit. Another reason to buy the Motorola S-9 HD headset. Amazon says I'll have it by Tuesday. Can't wait.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


16 miles today.

I guess not everyone is as friendly as I thought. I finally made it up a big hill and started to take it slow when I saw a smiling tatooed 20-something in shorts lean over with his hand outstretched as if to give a high-five. I stuck my arm out receive only to see him take it away as I sped passed!

I just got moded.

It was much friendlier earlier in the day.

Two people responded the same way as I rode by, but the accents were on different words,

I want one of those.
I want one of those.

When I'm out, I'm usually riding. I don't take many breaks, but pulled over when my trike started feeling a bit sluggish. Time to pump up the tires. A group of just-graduated from college middle eastern guys stopped by and complimented the trike. One of them asked if I made the thing. This isn't the first time I heard this question, but each time I'm still a bit honored that people would actually think me to be capable of it. I suppose if I took those welding classes at the Tech Shop and learned a bit more about bicycle parts, it could happen. I'm glad KMX did the work though. I'm having lots of fun riding it - no need to make one myself. The trike is still rare enough where it would still get the same reactions as if I were to have designed and fabricated my own version of a BMX trike.

Academy of Sciences has this nice glass outdoor elevator with red accents. I figured it'd be a perfect backdrop for the trike. The reflections ended up getting in the way, but I managed to snap a few pics here and there.

Since I took my weekly Sunday ride though Golden Gate Park solo this time, I stayed a bit longer than my wife would normally want to ride. I took the whole road closure stretch twice and took the steep hill up and down about 4 times. The thrill can't be beat being so low to the ground. It's much more satisfying than with a bicycle. Getting to the De Young Museum, I made a new record for myself in speed.

26.7 mph.

I was pedaling downhill with all my might trying to hit 27 mph w/no luck. Maybe another day. Perhaps I might one day find a longer downhill stretch. My goal is 30 mph before the end of the year. That might require adding a new crankset. I won't mind spending the money if I can find bicycle components that will look OEM.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood

I didn't go to my granma's house, but my parent's house instead - a bit over 4 miles in 40 minutes. On the way back, I heard some shouting fans yelling as I passed by,

"I like yo bike mang!"

"Look at that nigga!"

Right when I thought I've heard everything, I hear this new stuff. Pretty funny. A girl had walked across the walkway at Ocean Beach and abruptly turned back around when I came about 5 feet from her and screeched to a halt. She stumbled away laughing, so no harm done.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


ACCESSORY 24: Computer $34 @ Ebay

Call me a loser. I researched for at least 11 hours before I finally picked a computer. Apart from price there were a few things to consider:

1. Wireless or not?
Will wireless even work? All the instructions for every manufacturer states the computer has to be directly over the sensor. I initially planned to put the sensor at the rear wheel which wouldn't even work b/c it's beyond the typical 7omm (2 feet) limit.

2. Backlit screen?
I ride a lot at night so a backlit screen would be a really nice feature to have.

3. Color?
So far, everything's gone into the black/white with red accent color scheme. I'd be nice to keep with it. There aren't a lot of white ones and what are the chances of finding one with a red accent?

4. Features?
The $8 ebay ones from China have one feature. MPH. These other ones have anywhere from 6-12 features that include average MPH, distance, average distance, time, speedometer, etc.

5. Size?
Space is limited on the trike. Unless I slap it on the boom, it needs to be small enough to not cramp up the handlebars, but have a large enough screen to see easily.

6. Reliability and durability?
I've read about computers dropping or getting lost. The price has to be cheap enough where I can replace it if it comes flying off the trike on one of my treks.

7. Mounting?
All of these computers are designed for bicycles. Computer goes on the handlebars and the sensor goes on the front wheel. There's a few that work with the rear wheel, most of which are digital which are a bit rare. Determining how to mount it to the trike would be a bit of a challenge both b/c the handlebars are vertical and the computer may not end up being directly over the sensor within the 30 degree contraints.

The product actually works pretty well. I had my doubts, but the mechanism of this mounting bracket was actually designed very well. Maybe it's worth the $12.01 I paid at REI afterall. It was my only option, so I went for it.

The CatEye Strata got a lot of good reviews, but the price for the wireless version was just too high - about $54-60. Of the whole CatEye product lineup, there are only three wireless ones with a backlit screen. The top two are closer to the $80+ mark, so it was way out of my budget.

After seeing the CatEye Micro Wireless installed on a recumbent trike, I figured it must work. The computer was on the boom and the sensor was by the bottom of the right wheel. The Micro Wireless also happens to come in a limited eddition white with red racing stripe! Perfect! There was only one left on ebay for $34, so I grabbed it. Typically the cheaper wireless ones are $40+ before tax, don't have a backlit screen and have fewer features.

I spent probably 30 minutes deciding where to mount the sensor, but finally chose a location. It hugs the bottom part of the hand brake. Zipties hold them on pretty tight. Originally I had tried to mount it underneath the rotor below the brake caliper, but this method at the handbrake lets me see the sensor better. I'll notice right away if it drops. It also sits closer to the computer for a better connection.

The magnet has to be super close to the sensor - less than 5mm. I ended up drilling a small hole into the inside face of the mag wheels. It screws in w/o glue. The sensor lines up perfectly.

Finished product! I picked the right side over the left b/c the bell was already taking up space on the left side. I would've swapped it, but it takes the thumb to trigger the bell which isn't that convenient on the right side if I'm changing gears or braking the front wheels.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Liar liar!

You should have seen me yelling at the television weather girls this morning,


It got rained out! The annual Sunday Streets event where a 6 mile stretch of roads were closed to cars for bicycles was pretty much killed by the weather. It literally rained from beginning to end. No break from the rain between 9am-3pm. The weather report even warned of hailing! I can't imagine how much money was lost this Sunday from the kiosk owners that either never showed or closed early from the minimal turnout event. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival suffered the same fate. No show b/c of the weather. I was looking forward to this bicycling event for the past two months! Ugh.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My lips

ACCESSORY 22: Reflective rim stripes $26 @ ebay

Here's a little reminder of what the trike looks like now. The design rocks, but the colors are kinda drab. All black and white with only a hint if red from the water bottle.

Although these types of wheels aren't compatible with the magnet I'll need for my trike computer that records speed, average speed, etc, I love the look of them. I can't stand the typical medal design seen on bicycles.

I ordered this just a couple days ago from matsui63 on ebay! I overpayed a bit, but the super fast shipping made it all worth it. He was also one of the few who was willing to make me the custom 20" size. Correspondence was great. I'd buy from him again and probably will. I'm looking to put yellow stripes on my sister's blue bike. The competitors' products come from HK while this one comes from Modesto, CA. It came in time for the Sunday Streets event in SF where a large stretch of the roads are closed for bicyclists. I can't wait to install this! Thanks matsui63!

Step 1: Clean the rims so the stripes will stick. First is the degreaser. I happened to have some under the kitchen sink. I finished it off with 409 as the instruction sheet recommended.

Step 2: It's pretty basic. Just peel off the stripes one at a time and stick it onto the rim. Although the stickers are cut curved, you still have to line it up carefully. I applied pressure to the tape every 3/4" or so then ran my fingers across the whole thing after ever strip to hold it down. At first, I lapped each section about 1/2", but later did about 1" or more. The stripes stick well to one another, so lapping is good.

One rim complete. We're almost there!

How about a closeup.

Tada! This picture was taken right before a tourist stopped me and asked to take a picture too. She wanted to ride it and I went ahead and let her sit on it, but I wasn't too comfortable with her driving it around since I had just fixed the gears and didn't anything to happen to it.

I'm glad it's looking better here than it did in my garage where it had looked a tad tacky. I was starting to regret it when I stepped back after the initial installation. Looks good now though, right? I can't wait to see it in the dark!....w/headlights or a flashlight. I wonder how well these reflect.

Wonder no more. This is how bright it looks with a flash even in the day time!

I've always wanted to take a picture of the trike or my car next to some graffiti, so when I came across this, I didn't hesitate for long before carrying it and my new Adidas shoes into the sand for a photo op.

Rider: I look like a giant compared to the trike! But I'm only 5'-7" and 150lbs.

Flag me

The rear wheel was wobbly probably from me drifting too hard and the gears still change automatically. Sometimes it won't even go to first gear which made climbing steep hills that much harder. I brought the trike back to Nomad Cyclery and Justin hooked me up with a new flag mounting bracket. I never even asked for it, but he recommended that KMX's design was poor in that it had mounted it directly to the hanger which can bend it when taking the flag in and out.

The bracket was reconfigured and is now mounted off the seat frame. Justin did a really good job! The horizontal black metal piece looks more than just a silver metal piece. Looks good? I think so.

Rain rain go away

Every time it starts to rain, I head back to the house thinking the rain will last forever. Pulling over to hide away in a cafe wouldn't be worth it b/c I'll end up there for hours. Not the case. The rain usually lasts only 5-10 minutes before it dries up. This weather is cutting my voyages short!

It was actually pretty fun in the rain. I'm more worried that my electronics getting ruined from the rain than my clothes getting wet. Drying off the trike is also an extra chore I'd rather avoid. I found out today that my warmest jacket is not even close to being waterproof. Not even water resistant! It's smooth like a windbreaker and soaks up water like a sponge. No more red jacket when the sky is grey.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ACCESSORY 21: Combination bike lock $12 @ Target

I wanted something small and light enough to fit in the bag, so I was pretty much limited to a laminated cable. I try to bring as few things with me on my rides as possible, which means I don't carry keys. A combination style lock works perfectly for me.

With the weight of the trike around 43lb's combined with the alarm, there isn't much of a need to lock it anywhere too securely if I'm eating dinner with the trike in view. I just wrapped the combination cable lock around the back wheel to it's frame so no one would be able to ride it away. They'd have to swing by, hold me down and pop the trike into their pickup truck to take it. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Another repair needed

Ugh. After drifting around a corner I got back to my garage to find that that rear wheel is loose. The couple bolts that I think need tightening aren't accessible with the tools I have. I'll need to go pick something up soon. I'm thinking if I keep riding, I might just mess it up even more.
ACCESSORY 20: Bag $30.58 @ REI

This has been a long time coming. I originally ordered this through Amazon for $35. Shipping took forever and I just happened to come across REI's 20% off Internet sale. I purchased it right away and had it shipped to the store. It still took about 4 days, but I got almost $5 off it. So not bad.

Why I got it:

a. The size. It works well with the trike.
b. It's the Timbuk2 handlebar bag! Anything Timbuk2 is pretty good quality and very well designed. I trusted it complete.
c. The attachment mechanism fit well too.

Here's the back! Those straps can be tucked and hidden away in the little pockets on either side. It's designed to be a goofy fanny pack when take off a bicycle. I don't plan on using it quite like that, but the strap I thought would work well to keep the bag attached tight to the trike's seat back.

The inside is waterproof! Good thinking. You never know what you might put in here. The exterior ballistic nylon is a great finish for this product too. Looks sleek! For sizing reference, this bag fits about 3 cans of beer.

For size comparison. The one on the right is made by bell and was my last bag. It was $10, so I couldn't resist and bought it just in case the Timbuk2 one didn't turn out. I'm keeping the Bell one for the bike.

Here's the Bell one installed. It's tucked away quite nicely. Fits well, but just doesn't have the quality and style of the Timbuk2.

I've had a chance to use the Timbuk2 and it works pretty well. It hugs the back of the seat a bit better but surprisingly doesn't hold as much stuff as the Bell bag. I like that the Timbuk2 bag has a separate zippered compartment though for more sensitive get-it-now items.

Installed! Fits perfectly....sort of. I estimated the spacing of the two velcro straps that secure it to the horizontal bar to fit fairly snug. It's off by maybe 1", but still works well.

There's plenty of clearance between the bag and the wheel. The Bell bag was never really a problem either, but I like the low profile of the Timbuk2 bag a lot more.

No complaints on carrying capacity. All that is typically stuffed into the bag with a bit of room to spare for my keys and granola bar. I plan to replace the tire repair kit with a much smaller glue-less kind. It's the size of 4 quarters. That'll give me plenty more space, but this will have to do until then.

There's even a front zipper that I use to store my garage door opener. This way I can press it while inside the bag w/o having to open it. If only my arms were long enough to reach it while riding.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I hate Nike. I love Nike. I hate Nike.

ACCESSORY 19: Cell phone holder $13 @ Nike Outlet store

Okay Nike's alright.

I've never liked Nike in the past and still aren't fond of the over rated brand. It also looks bad with the logos blown up to 3 foot banner sizes and plastered on Mexican car rear windshields all over Los Angeles. Glad someone likes it though. I'm also a tiny person, so size small T-shirts are still big enough to be a nightgown. Down to my knees.

I have to admit, Nike does have some cool products though. One of which I just purchased at an outlet store. It's cell phone holder - the band type that straps around your arm. The phone slot is secured by velcro for easy access. I figure it'll be easy to feel the phone vibrate if I get a call and it'll be much more easily accessible than in the back pouch behind my seat. Items would slip out of my pants pocket and my new jacket doesn't have side pockets....only 3 in the rear for bottles. It's the bicycle kind. So this strap seems like a good choice. I can't test it out until tomorrow though.

Update: I've had a chance to test it and it doesn't work very well. It might be better for other folks, but it's way too snug for my particular Verizon LG Versa phone. It felt like it fit perfectly at the store, but it's too tight for real life use. The cell phone can barely be removed from the case while wearing gloves and totally impossible to put back in. I might us it for other applications like when I go snowboarding.

My flight is delayed back home so I'm sitting in LAS on free Wi-fi just realizing that it'll be too late to trike by the time I get home. And it's supposedly raining. Sucks.

Without you

This is the first time I've gone more than a couple days without riding. I'm missing the ride. Can't wait to get back to the trike and start pedaling the dark with the new Sigma Illux headlight. I'm curious how well it'll work combined with the other two headlights. Photos of it installed on the trike and in the dark to come. I've since found a larger rubberband that might work with the size of the trike's boom. Maybe I won't need to purchase a new one.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let there be light

ACCESSORY 18: Replacement headlight $13.28 @ Amazon

The original Cateye one broke after it fell off from my poor installation and running over it with the trike. My desperate attempt at a temporary replacement led me to the multi colored zipties and Home Depot flashlight I had laying around.

The body of the original Cateye was fine and actually just needs a replacement bulb. Since the mounting bracket was never really designed for application to trike, I needed a replacement anyway. The fastening design has to be unique to the trike b/c unlike a bicycle with a single bar, the trike has a t-bar. There's only less than a 1/4" wide surface area on each side of the boom for the headlight to fasten to. Searching high and low, I found a mounting mechanism that works perfectly.....

The rubber band! Each length of the band will go on either side of the boom. It's more of an 0-ring and the one that comes with the headlight was obviously too small. I knew I had to purchase a larger one to fit around the 1.75" diameter bar at the front crankshaft where I plan to mount the headlight, but that can easily be found.

This Sigma Illux comes with a couple zipties that's working well for now. It's very sturdy yet allows the light to come off easily when needed. It twists off! The light is a lot smaller than I imagined from the picture which is good. The narrower the better b/c my feet will be on either side of it. A narrower light will give me more clearance.

I have yet to use this in the dark, but the look of the installation is much cleaner than before. I can't wait to replace the zipties with a proper sized o-ring for the final that's-how-it-came-from-the-factory look.

Update: Installed with the ugly zipties. I'll replace these with the o-ring soon. The width of it is perfect. I don't have to worry about knocking it off with my leg while pedaling like I did with the last CatEye that was a bit wider.