Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Every Detail Counts

....and that's why I spent the money on these puppies. Ooo, ahhh. Are they pretty? Got them from ebay just a few days ago and they've already arrived! I'm glad I spent that extra $0.02 per cable end to get it earlier and support a USA seller. It was worth it. I've been wanting these things for awhile but never bothered to get them 'til now. Nice finishing touch, eh? At $0.33/apiece they're over 300% more than the cost of the regular ones. Decent though for something so low cost.

I got extra b/c these are going on my new e-bike project!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Storage Design Works!

I don't have any doubts. This setup should work out perfectly. Functionally, it'll work. It's just a matter of whether or not I like it. Being that the bottom of the Dynapack is already all scraped up from the failure of the last setup which dragged it along the road, I'll have to keep that. I may as well figure a way to mount it and this is what I came up with.

I was so confident that the side-storage solution word work and when it didn't, it was a big disappointment. Rather than doing a test ride with the new configuration, I wanted to toughen up the bracket some more before taking it to the streets.


Another Profile Designs computer mount. This time I'm using the short 35mm one to keep the longer 60mm one from angling clockwise from the overwhelming weight of the rear Topeak Dynapack. (By the way, that red reflector thingy was a freebie from Tom. He sells them on BROL if you're looking for a set. He offers them by the singles so order as many as you want!

The mount is basically a shim. It fills a gap to prevent any movement of the vertical bracket. I can adjust how long it is by screwing it looser or tighter. For additional adjustments, I can simply lift the entire bracket up and down the shaft of the existing longer bracket.

And this is the outcome! Because of the design of the Profile Designs mount, I can fine tune the angle of the pack to the millimeter!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Option #3 Failed!

I gave it a try on my first real ride today with the new storage unit mounting system. Less than 10 miles in, I heard a sound coming from the unit - a dragging sound. Looking down, I saw that the Topeak Dynapack was dragging on the ground! I guess I can't return the item anymore! When I got home I found it was all scratched and dirty on the bottom.

For the next mile or so, I tried just lifting it up back into place. However, it kept slipping back down. The Topeak Xtension Bar was slipping on the frame. There was nothing wrong with the bag. It was the mounting that was the issue. Eventually, it got so loose that I couldn't ride anymore.

I pulled over and tried to remount it like I did for Option #2, on the back of the frame just above the wheel. I may have crossthreaded the screw b/c it wouldn't attach properly. Luckily I was riding with Mike and he taught me to screw it in from the other side which would clear the crossthread problem - and it did!

Another problem.

The bag was so heavy with all the gear in it, that it slipped down and sat on top of the wheel! That wouldn't work either, so I relocated the fender close enough to use it as support for the bag mount. It looked funky, but it worked for almost another 10 miles until...


The bracket sheared off! There was no repairing solution now! So what to do? Well, I'll call up Topeak for a warranty coverage, but until then what am I supposed to do? Luckily I'm on a recumbent.

I had to carry it in my lap the rest of the way home! Don't ask how inconvenient it was to shift gears and brake all while pedaling.

So what now? What's the long term plan? Well, I'm going to option 1. It won't require the use of the Topeak Xtender Bar. I'll give it a quick 2 mile test ride before deciding what to do.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Vote for your favorite on-board storage solution

I came up with three ideas. Let me know what you think. Please leave me a comment with your preference. Your vote is really important. BROL members can also leave your feedback in the poll here.

#1: Rear mounted trunk w/o fender (nor rack)

The profile looks decent and the design maintains the same sleek look. We're missing the stock rear fender which makes the lines not quite as clean. I like how it floats above the wheel though which unfortunately leads to a drawback.

The storage unit has no choice but to double as a fender, defending its contents from mud and dirt. Yup, that means by the end of the day, the whole bottom side's getting dirty.

#2: Rear mounted trunk with aftermarket fender

It might look a bit busy back there, but at least my trunk will be protected. I may opt for another style fender. I'd like one that curves more parallel to the shape of the wheel. The current Planet Bike one is a bit too straight for my liking.

Mounting the spoiler back on requires the Topeak BarXtension accessory mount b/c the stubby Profile Design one is only 60mm - not long enough for the trunk bracket.

#3 Side mount trunk with stock fender

Lastly, the storage unit is brought to the side of the trike. This keeps the clean profile of the existing trike w/o any excess stuff up top. Keeping the weight in the middle of the trike will probably keep handling more similar to how it is currently with the Timbuk2 back beneath the seat.

Originally, I was hoping I could access the storage with this design while in motion, but that wouldn't be safe. I can keep the brackets looks and rotate the trunk for easy access while seated though.

So please vote. Let me know what you like and why. Also tell me what you don't like and why. I'm open to any all all comments. Don't be afraid to be mean. Give it to me straight. Let's hear it. Register and vote here on Blogger or leave me a note on BROL here.

On-board Storage Solution!

I've been designing on-board storage solutions for my trike ever since witnessing the convenience of being able to carry lots of stuff: sandwiches, granola bars, bike tools, etc.

The products and accessories I ordered a couple days ago arrived from Amazon this afternoon (about 2 hrs ago). Here's what I have to work with:

Firstly is the bag! I heard conflicting reviews about the actual size of this thing. I was hoping it wasn't too big and not too small. Here it is next to my helmet for reference. Looks to be the perfect size! We'll see.

As another reference, here's the Topeak Dynapack seat post mounted storage unit on top of my stock KMX 20" rear tire.

What sorta stuff fits in here? 2 wrenches, XShot camera extension mount, waterproof cover, one spare tube of each size, Gel, Clifbar, granola bar, ziptie, tube patches and my bike tool.

I'll have to mount this to the trike somehow. That's where this little gadget comes in. It's a T-bracket. Topeak calls it their BarXtender. You can mount it in various angles.

This is an extra long computer mounting bar. It secures directly to any handlebar or frame of a similar dimension. It pretty much lets you extend a bar perpendicularly.

Now how do all these pieces come together?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blackburn Toolmanator Warranty

So the bulky tool I got the first time around broke and that was the reason for the Topeak Hexus II replacement - the chain breaker part of the tool broke. Being that the chain breaker was one of the main things I need in a tool, it was pretty important to have that on hand in case a chain snaps. I've had experiences with that where the chain breaker definitely came in handy and I would've have been able to get my sister's bike operating well enough to get home w/o it.

I decided to call up Blackburn for warranty coverage to see if they could help me out. It turns out that the item is covered! We had a hard time determining if the tool was the Toolmanator 1, 2, or 3. Apparently their directory or system doesn't have photos! We were comparing specs. There are too many versions of it. Either way, I should be getting some sort of replacement in the mail within 2 weeks. We'll see what they send out. In the meantime, I'm still trying to figure out how to remove the tire levers from the Hexus II.

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Toys

I can't believe I lost my other tool! This is the third one. I've tried a different one each time. The first one's chain breaker broke, so I got basic Topeak replacement. Somehow I completely lost it so I figured I'd have to get yet a new one eventually. Today is eventually. Not cheap, but hopefully this will be my last one.

I read about this tool from a bicycle maintenance book I read recently. The chain gauge tells you how much your chain is stretched in percentage. This gives you a better idea of exactly when to replace it. A bit expensive, but I splurged on this $14 piece of metal.

The 8" tires on my electric scooter were a pain in the butt enough that I eventually had to take it to a shop who charged me $10 to remove and replace my self supplied tube. I figured rather than doing that again, I'd pick up a set of heavy duty tire levers for $7 to do the job.

Shopping for Chains

My uncle recently bought some replacement chains for his wife's new Catrike Speed! It got me thinking about the difference btw chains. SRAM makes 4 different 8-speed models:


I called them up asking for the differences btw them since their website all had the same description and no details on how to decide which to get. At varying price ranges, I'm wondering what I'd be missing by getting the cheaper PC830 vs the PC890.

To my disappointment and I suppose expectation, Kyle who answered the phone was a bit hesitant. There were lots of silent moments in the conversation and "um's" and "uh's". When I asked if there was a recommendation of one vs the other for mt bikes vs road bikes, he didn't seem to have an answer either. The quality and longevity of all 4 chains he said was the same. So the difference?

How smoothly the gears shift. I suppose I don't really care how smooth it shifts. Plus I'm sure that has a lot to do with the derailleur hardware. So lesson learned? PC830 or other cheapest chain indeed is fine for me. There's no real need for me to get anything else fancier. I suppose if I had the top of the line derailleur and I didn't have to buy 3 chains at a time, I might consider the higher end "smoother" chain to go with my hardware, but that's not the case right now. PC830 it is!

UPDATE: 10/4/11
Dan gave me some value able information about the differences btw the chains. Please take a look at the comment from him below!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

3 Flats!

After 545 miles of riding the ALC, I didn't get a single flat and what happens today? 3 flats in less than 10 miles! The last one made a hole so small I could barely see it. I'm just lucky I was close enough to a Starbucks to put the tube through some soap and water. From now on I'm carrying a bottle of soapy water with me. That helped a lot. I literally stood there for at least 10 minutes looking for a super tiny hole - never would have found it w/o soap. Once I slapped some soap on there, I found the culprit in about 20 seconds - way faster!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Metcalf Mountain

Mike, Paul and I have ridden together before but never with any other bents - until today! Eric and Tom came out with their trikes and here we are at our first rest stop.

Some how we decided to climb a big mountain. Dirt bike enthusiasts from the south bay will be no stranger to Metcalf Mountain. Except instead of riding up, they bring their big 4x4's.

After huffing and puffing and me asking about 3x, "Are we really going to the top?" we made it. Eric had to cut out early, but here's the rest of us at the Motorcycle Park . We hit 16% grades! Ouch! And in 102˚ heat!

If we climbed any longer, I would have been pretty exhausted w/o Tom's offer for extra water. Man, his ride can store a lot! He shared sandwiches with me on the way, bananas and even home-made granola bars! Thanks Tom! I should have taken pictures of the bars. They were good!

Someone decided that visiting the skatepark would be a good idea! I'm so glad Paul suggested it b/c I had been wanting to take the trike to one for quite some time. My high school friend had offered to take some videos next time we met up, but today was perfect b/c a skate park was not too far from our route.

Yup, we got a shot of it! I'm up so vertical that the flag is dragging on the ground! It was a bit intimidating at first being that there were at least a gang of 20 kids there at the park and we were the only ones who didn't know what they were doing.

The guys there were surprisingly very inviting. A couple of them even helped me get the trike up there on one of the ramps to start the off the action. If think if there weren't so many people there and it wasn't about to get dark soon, we would've stayed a bit longer. What a blast!

Pretty awesome when the kids were chanting, "He's gunna do it! He's gunna do it!" I'll post a video soon. Why wait, here it is: