Category Archives: Bike Tech

The Leaves are Falling (and a Little Snow Too)

There are plenty of opportunities for some nice riding whether for recreation/exercise or errands/work. Here are a few riding tips to keep in mind during the fall season:

  1. Check your lights front and rear. Too many lights are just right in the low-light fall conditions. Your lights are to make you visible (both day and night), not necessarily to light the path ahead.
  2. Replace the batteries. Keep your chargeables charged.p50315471 - Copy.jpg
  3. Have someone view your bicycle from behind in the dark with the lights “on” to ensure that their beams are not blocked by gear or clothing and that they aim toward following vehicles.
  4. Watch other people on bicycles and judge their visibility index as a guide to improving your own.
  5. Add a blinky light front and rear and use them both as nighttime supplements and as “daytime running lights.”
  6. You’ll probably ride safer and smarter if you are comfortable – so plan your riding gear accordingly. Think layers.
  7. As you bundle up, look at your outer layer. If it’s dark in color, either choose something that isn’t or pick up a cheepy reflective vest from your local big box home center.tumblr_inline_neml72xshI1r2v92h
  8. Wet leaves and snow are slippery so anticipate stops and turns.tumblr_li3fainZGQ1qakvm6o1_500
  9. Pay special attention to puddles of water or clumps of leaves as they can mask potholes and craters in the paved surface.
  10. Recall that some pavement markings can also be slippery when wet or extra slippery when covered with wet leaves, snow, or ice.
  11. Keep your chain clean and lubricated.
  12. Plan your braking to avoid a spill.
  13. Be mindful of slippery metal surfaces (such as utility covers and grates).
  14. Fall and winter is a good time to 414057_10150558104377778_290371472777_8772451_121834680_o with a tune up from one of our local bicycle shops. This is a good time to support your local shop and to help them over the slower winter season. November through March is good time to get that special attention from your bicycle mechanic. Find out where at – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/resources/

Other winter riding tips –

https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2015/12/21/ears-cold-try-these-2/

https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2012/01/12/what-is-spinning/

https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2011/12/05/windchill-effect-while-riding-a-bicycle/

https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2010/10/23/1064/

To plan for low stress, safe cycling, plan you route with the Albany Bicycle Coalition BikeAlbanyMap – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/albany_bike_map/

To find out about bicycle-related events, go to – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/resources/events/

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Filed under Bike Tech, Lighting, Riding in Albany, Winter Cycling

MIPS to You Too!

Using guidelines that a helmet should be replaced every 5 to 10 year and noting that the current helmet had a bunch of scrapes and scratches and well as being (a cool but) invisible black, a “Hi-Viz” replacement seemed in order. But wait – what about the new MIPS technology: What It Is and Why You Need It?

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MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System.” Created through years of research, the combination of the brain’s own protection and MIPS can provide better protection from angled impacts. When a MIPS helmet hits the road and sticks initially due to the high friction, one’s head can slide relative to the helmet thus reducing rotation of the head during impact and minimizing strain to the brain.

So here is a Bontrager MIPS helmet (TREK – $99.99 + tax and tip) (note the WindBlox noise blockers ).This is a very comfortable helmet with the only disadvantage being the cheesy, twist-prone quality of the chin strap meaning that it has to be smoothed out before wearing.

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Previously, helmet shopping were limited to comfort, ventilation, price, style/color, weight, configuration, visibility, overall quality, and ease of buckling and adjustment. A 1999 federal law requires that bicycle helmets meet the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) standard. Look inside your helmet (probably with a magnifying glass) to find this fine print attestation – possibly accompanied by a Snell Foundation label.** Thus all helmets provide the same level of safety; that is, the helmet does not block the rider’s vision, does not come off when after falling or during a crash, and reduces the force to the head when the helmet hits a hard surface. However, helmet crash testing has not evolved as the basic impact test is still smashing the helmet against an anvil in a test rig. (See also – https://www.cpsc.gov/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Bicycle-Helmets )

Note the WindBlox on the strap – see – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2017/06/01/wind-blox-cut-that-wind-noise/

These criteria do not protect against all concussions or other brain injuries especially during slower crashes or crashes at oblique angles. MIPS addresses this gap in with a form of slip plane technology with two low-friction layers that rotate against each other, mimicking the rotation of the brain’s own cerebrospinal fluid (the body’s natural defense against oblique impacts). In short, a MIPS helmet can move relative to the helmet’s outer shell. MIPS technology provides an extra safety but at a slight cost premium.

The MIPS helmet’s outer layer is same impact-absorbing EPS* material as a conventional, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACPSC helmet. The difference comes in connecting the shell to a low friction inner layer that rests on the rider’s head. (Look inside a MIPS helmet at this clearly visible and moveable plastic interior liner with connectors joining it to the outer shell – see white arrow in photo.)

 

 

An earlier attempt at reducing rotational injuries was the transition from the white Foam Helmet“foam” “Bell” helmets of the 60s and 70s to a smooth, hard outer surface covering the shock absorbing EPS* material. This smoothness allowed the helmet to slide along a rough road surface rather than bouncing along the roughness and subjecting the head and neck to a rapid series of jolts that might result from the rougher surface of the “foam-style” helmet.

Does your helmet have MIPS? If it lacks a MIPS label, tell by looking inside as all MIPS-equipped helmets have a plastic interior liner that can move relative to the outer shell with connectors joining the inner and outer layers.

Since the Bontrager MIPS was already over $100, why not go all out in the visibility end with a Serfas TL-HLMT LED blink light? ($11.99 + tax). Curiously, the orientation of the hook-and-loop mounting strap is for a vertical helmet bar rather than horizontal,  Thus, when mounted, the light looks a little goofy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If this helemet is not up to your standards, check out the Lumos Smart CPSC-CE Certified cycling helmet with wireless turn signal handlebar remote, built-In motion sensor, and 70 LEDs on front, rear, and sides at $179.00.

NOTES *EPS or Expanded Polystyrene has ideal crush characteristics with no bounce-back to make the impact more severe. The manufacturer places polystyrene beads (granules) in a pressure mold shaped like the helmet liner and expands the beads 2 to 50 times their original size with a blowing agent under pressure and heat. The beads expand to form the cells and fill the mold. The cells are tightly bonded and varying the density of the foam cells can produce optimal crush for a given impact level. Additives can increase cell adhesion to reduce splitting on impact. Manufacturers can also add internal reinforcing of nylon, carbon fiber, or plastics to reduce cracking, enabling designers to open up wider vents and still pass the lab impact tests.

**Curiously, the subject Bontrager helmet lacks the higher standard Snell Foundation approval. Its competitor, Specialized, seems to have many of its helmets so certified.

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Filed under Bike Tech, Product Review, safety

Budget Light Mount for Auxiliary Safety Light(s)

You cannot have too many lights. Here is a low-cost way to mount (one or more) “Knog-style” blinky lights on the front or rear of your bicycle.

CAUTION – The “Knog-style” blinky lights should not be your primary nighttime lights – front or rear. They are appropriate for supplemental visibility lighting or as “day-time running lights.”

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 Here is what you will need:

  • M5 bolt (any head style will do – these instructions use a hex-drive head)
  • One flat and one locking washer to fit M5 bolt/screw
  • 4mm hex wrench (or other depending on the bolt’s head style)
  • Electric drill with bits
  • Hack saw (or similar)
  • File and/or 80-grit sandpaper
  • Ruler
  • Thread locker (optional)
  • Knog-style lights (red for rear, white for front)
  • 1-inch diameter RX/pill bottle – hopefully in a color that suits that of your bicycle (discard the cap)

Here are the steps:

  • Mark and cut the pill bottle to 1.5 inch in length
  • Smooth the cut edge with file and/or sandpaper
  • Mark the center of the bottle’s bottom
  • Drill a small pilot hole in the center
  • Enlarge the hole for a snug fit for the M5 bolt
  • Thread the bolt through the bottle’s bottom
  • Place the washers on the bolt so they are between the bottle and the bicycle frame
  • Place a drop of thread locker on the bolt or braze-on threads
  • Mount the bottle to a convenient braze-on or to a fender or rack mount – any place that will accept a M5 bolt.
  • Install the appropriate “Knog-style” blinky light and adjust so that it is visible from the rear (or front)

 

If this is too stressful, you can always shell out $22.00 – 24.00 for a Paul Gino light mount – another top quality product from Paul Component Engineering.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While you are at it, replace the batteries in all your non-chargeable lights and then adjust them to they are also visible. A light with weak batteries or low charge that points down or to the side or is obstructed by straps or folds in pack-mounted bags or your riding gear is next to worthless.

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Filed under Bike Tech, Lighting, Product Review, safety

Demo – One Up Bicycle Rack

At the September 2018 Albany Bicycle Coalition meeting we were pleased to have a complete installation and use demo of the One Up bicycle carrier by renowned cyclist David. See https://www.1up-usa.com/. This made-in-USA carrier is trailer hitch mounted and can carry bicycles weighing as much as 75 lbs. (Think e-bike.) The carrier – with loaded bicycle – tips to allow trunk access, can have as many as three additional “add on” racks, and is made of cast and stamped aluminum (to reduce weight and eliminate corrosion).

This rack is most impressive for it ingenious design and impeccable execution.

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Big Bar – Small Bell

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat to do when the entire bar bell inventory has only bells too small for your bicycle’s handlebars (or accessory rack)? No – you don’t go on the internet. You go to a local bicycle shop having the largest accessory inventory in the area – the Bike Barn in Cohoes.

On a recent visit to solve the above problem, there must have been 20-25 different bells from which to select. Amongst them was the Japanese-made “INCREDIBELL XL – A LITTLE BIGGER – A LITTLE LOUDER.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo provide flexibility, it comes with a shim thus offering two sizes – or, in Army Quartermaster parlance, “too small, too large, and ridiculous.” A couple warps of electrical tape made the fit “just right.”

 

 

Other features of this bell include a pivoting dinger to position the thumb (or finger) lever in a convenient location. The standard screw mount features a metal threaded insert so the mounting will likely not be stripped.

List is $10.95 less a 10 percent discount for Bike Barn Meetup membership.

Ding Ding!

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Filed under bicycle shops, Bike Tech, Shop Local