Thursday, November 27, 2008

RIP Blogger

The Lazy Randonneur's time on blogger is coming to an end. This site will remain as long as blogger sees fit to keep it running, but the Lazy Randonneur will be living at this new location and running on WordPress from now on.

Please change your bookmarks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bow Cycle Bike Expo Saturday 29 Nov 08

click to enlarge

I'll be at the Bow Cycle Bike Expo this Saturday. If anyone in Calgary wants to meet up for a coffee in Bowness and check out the expo drop me a line. I'm planning on riding over around 11am.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Marathon Supreme Tires

Schwalbe Marathon XRs are my go to tire for touring and since I'm too lazy to change tires when I get back they are my default tire on my touring bikes at home as well. XRs have been good to me - zero flats and no tire related problems at all - great traction in the dirt and mud. Given how much I like XRs it seems almost silly to try a different tire, but my curiosity got the better of me and I picked up a set of Marathon Supreme tires to try out. These are a lighter faster rolling tire, but still designed with touring in mind. I'm hoping these will give me much of the toughness of the XR in a faster tire that would be ideal for a long paved road tour. They are almost slicks and would not be suitable for going off pavement for any distance or winter riding so I don't see them replacing the XRs entirely. I'd still use the XRs for expedition/dirt road/adventure touring and the Supremes for paved road tours.

Marathon XR 26 x 1.6" = 595g
Marathon Supreme 26 x 1.6" = 440g

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's a Pug's Life...

Photo: Devo

Devo [of Asana Cycles fame] has a great thread going about his Surly Pugsely on the site. His musings on life, his Pugsely and everything are entertaining and informative. Well worth a read.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Radical Designs Lowracer Bags For Sale

The bags are sold!

I'm using a set of Radical Designs Lowracer bags on my Fujin SL. They work great and do not need a rear rack so any bent with a hardshell seat works. I ordered a second set of these bags by mistake [damn online shopping!]. I was keeping them thinking they are so darn useful that I might get around to needing a second set, but my bent fleet has shrunk so that doesn't look likely.

These bags are ideal for carrying enough for a credit card weekend tour or everything you'd need on a longer brevet.

The bags I am selling are brand new never used with the tags still on.

They are $125 + shipping new. I'll sell mine for $115USD shipped Canada/US.

I've been hesitating selling these bags, but I've been seduced back to the darkside of DFs

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Radical Designs Recumbent Bags For Sale

Bags are sold...=-)

Top & Bottom Photo: Challenge Recumbents

I'm selling two Radical Designs Recumbent bags:
These bags are both brand new and still have the tags on them. I bough them for use on my Challenge Taifun, but ended up selling that bent and so have no further use for these bags.

They are exceptionally well made and will fit on any bent with a rear rack and a hardshell seat. They have reflective material for safety and each will hold 2 water bottles so you can carry 4 water bottles with these bags all at easy reach for long days of touring.

The side panniers come with a set of waterproof liners to keep your gear 100% dry. Note the bag fabric is waterproof on its own, but the seams are not sealed so extended rain will seep in. You can use these liners to keep things dry or you can apply a seam sealer [like for a tent] to waterproof the bags.

These are the bags being sold.

Prices [in USD]:
  • Panniers are $230 new + shipping - you can have mine for $170 shipped [North America]
  • waterproof pannier liners $25 new + shipping - you can have mine for $15 shipped
  • Seat Bag is $110 new + shipping - you can have mine for $90 shipped [North America]
  • You can have both for $250 shipped & I'll throw in the waterproof pannier liners for free.

I have two other Radical Deigns bags [Lowracer panniers & Solo Racer bag] which fit on my Fujin and I enjoy using them very much. If I need recumbent bags in the future Radical Designs will be my first stop.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ghost Trails

Jill of the Up in Alaska Blog has written a book about her cycling experiences/adventures. I haven't read it, but plan on buying a PDF copy [save those trees...=-)] in the near future. If you are looking for some cycling related reading her book is worth a look. Her blog is an enjoyable read so I expect the same from her book. If you need more motivation than simply getting some reading material you'll also be helping her fund her 2009 Idtarod adventure.

You can read her own blog post about the book by clicking on the image above.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Occassional Rubbing of Disc Brakes

Q: occasionally I'm experiencing rubbing with my Avid BB7s - how do I fix it?

If you read the Avid manual there is a procedure to align your caliper and rotor as well as to set your pads up at the right distance from the rotor.

Four things that can cause an occasional rubbing even though your brake is setup correctly are:

- a disc brake on the back of a fork is trying to force the wheel down and out of the front dropout when you brake. This force is resisted by the clamping friction of your QR and the lawyer lips on the ends of your drop out. If the QR isn't tight the axle can move slightly under braking and this will cause some rubbing that will go away on it's own when you hit a bump or reseat the QR. If you experience this occasional rubbing stop the bike and open/close the QR with some downward pressure on the bars. If the rubbing goes away this was your problem.

Sheldon Brown acknowledges this issue and points to this link for more details.

BTW - do not ride a bike with a front disc and no lawyer lips on the fork. If your QR is loose and you brake hard you could have a gnarly accident.

- Another problem is your disc rotor can be slightly bent causing occasional rubbing. This may go away after some braking if it is only slightly out of true. You can check this by doing the test above when the rubbing starts - if it doesn't go away lift the wheel up and rotate the wheel by hand if this is the problem it will happen at the same spot once per rotation. You can gently bend the rotor back into shape by hand [wear clean gloves so you don't contaminate the rotor with oil]. There is a specific rotor truing tool if you want to get a bit more precision in your adjustments.

- Another cause of occasional rubbing is dirt in your caliper. Clearances are fairly tight between the rotor and the pads. If you get some grit in there it can reduce the clearance so that the pads rub anywhere the rotor isn't totally true [no rotors are perfectly true]. This will take care of it self as the grit get cleaned out. You can check for this by inspecting the rotor/pads for dirt.

- The last cause of occasional disc brake rubbing is a flexy fork. It doesn't take much side to side movement of the fork to cause the rotor to rub. You can test for this by playing around with your bike - lean it from side to side, turn hard - if this causes the rubbing to start you'll know this is at least part of your problem.

Keep in mind you may be experiencing occasional rubbing due to one or all of the causes noted above. Assuming the rubbing is light and only occassional it isn't something I'd worry too much about. Just make sure your front QR is tight.

Frequently Answered Questions...

I find myself spending quite a bit of time answering the same questions on online forums again and again. I don't for a second consider that I am an expert of any kind. There are far more technically knowledgeable folks out there and people that ride farther, faster, better and more often. Having said that I do have an engineering degree and a practical approach to bikes that works fine for me. I'm pretty good at doing some research and distilling the information I read into the most salient points.

Rather than trying to continually type out similar answers I'll be posting my responses to this blog so that I can reuse them again and again. Sure that's partly because I'm lazy, but it has the advantage of making the information more widely available and I can spend time updating/improving responses as I gather new information or my experiences dictate a change in opinion.

You'll see a new set of links on the right of the screen called "FAQ" where I'll list my Frequently Answered Questions.

BTW - if you want to correct or enhance anything I post in the FAQ section feel free to comment and I'll make changes as appropriate.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Salsa got cranked as well...

Photo: Salsa Blog

I posted recently how negative posting on forums was getting me down a bit. Tom commented in that post that Salsa's Blog had to shut down their comments section due to all the negative posting.

You can read Salsa's explanation here.

Too bad it has to come to this. I really like blogs you can comment on as it provides a way to communicate with the blog owner and other readers. That is a much more satisfying experience than the one way communication of read only blogs. I hope Salsa sorts out their comment moderation issues and enables commenting again.

I've had a few comments I've had to delete, but nothing serious.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Penny Farthing World Tour

all photos: Joe Summerfield

Two things you don't expect to see in a bike tour journal:
  1. a guy touring on a penny farthing in Tibet
  2. the same rider getting a wisdom tooth pulled while camping without anesthetic


Monday, November 10, 2008

CrazyGuyOnABike Touring Bike

Neil [owner of CGOAB] is working with Stephen of Bilenky Cycle Works to develop a 26" wheeled expedition touring bike. Neil's approach seems to be very purposeful and the end result looks promising - especially given the lack of 26" wheeled touring bikes for larger riders available in North America.

Neil has a thread going over at the CGOAB forums discussing the details of the new bike. If you have some ideas to share, are interested in buying this type of touring bike or just want to see how the process is coming along there is a lively dicussiion in progress.

I'm looking forward to seeing the result of Neil and Stephen's efforts...=-)

Sheldon Brown on Brakes for touring bikes...

David Cambon posted this Adventure Cycling article written by Sheldon Brown about the different brakes that touring cyclists may be considering.

There are a few points I'll add to what Sheldon says:

  • Cane Creek now makes a drop bar v-brake lever which is very nice.
  • I've used the Dia Compe 287-V and it has worked nicely for me.
  • I've not had any clearance issues with v-brakes fenders and 26 x 2.0" tires
  • pads for these types of brakes are very common, especially if you don't use the cartridge style v-brake pads
  • I'd recommend using a Koolstop salmon coloured pad for great performance wet and dry
  • Although some folks are worried about rim wear unless you tour exclusively somewhere wet and gritty tourists are not having issues with worn out rims, David Cambon suggests a properly hand built wheel should last 30,000kms on a touring bike - YMMV.
  • I've never had issues with rim brakes overheating. If you can use pulse braking, sit up to catch the wind and let your bike run or take a break to snap a photo while your rims cool. Interestingly disc brakes can overheat as well and although they don't blow a tire if your discs suddenly stopped working or applied full braking force without notice - you wouldn't be any happier than a blown tire.
Disc Brakes:
  • You need a very strong stiff fork for a disc brake. This means you'll be giving upthe comfort of the classic curved steel touring fork that bike builders have been perfecting for a long time.
  • My experience with disc brakes [Avid BB7s] on the Dempster Highway has made me question the performance of discs in wet/gritty conditions. My brakes worked, but they were certainly significantly impacted by the mud and rain I was riding through. true the caliper and disc are not near the hub, but enough crap splashed up into the hub area that braking force was reduced, pad wear was accelerated and I had to adjust the pads a lot to get clearance for the rotor as crud built up.
  • Finding disc pads that fit your brake will not be as easy as v-brake pads so carry a couple extra pairs on tour. If you tour is long and you'll be traveling through less developed countries you have to ask yourself if you'll be able to get spares you need to keep your brakes working.
  • I'd stick with mechanical discs on a touring bike for simplicity and ease of repair. With Avid BB7s if the front caliper fails you can quickly remove it and install the rear brake on the fork to get to the next town and get it replaced. If a cable brakes it is an easy field repair to replace it with minimal tools.
  • One popular myth is that disc brakes don't overheat so they would be ideal for a heavily loaded touring bike in the mountains. Logically an engineer can surmise that disc brakes are not immune to over heating [the heat has to go somewhere and there is not much mass in a rotor or caliper to absorb it, some heat will be dissipated to the air, but there is a finite rate at which that can happen which you can exceed with heavy consistent braking] and the tests run by a German mountain bike magazine confirm this. When disc brakes do overheat the brake can stop working or can seize up - neither is a good thing on a touring bike in the mtns so you need to manage your heat load with discs as well. If you need further proof that discs can overheat just head to a tandem site and note that nobody will approve a disc brake as a third drag brake on a tandem [unlike drum brakes which work well in this role] - this is simply because they'll overheat and fail if sustained braking is attempted.
  • Disc brakes apply a lot of force to a wheel in an asymmetric fashion which will eventually cause spoke failures.
  • Disc rotors are delicate and can easily be damaged [flying, buses, taxis, trains] so you have to ask yourself do you want to be pulling the rotors when you need to transport your touring bike?
  • I find modulation of Avid BB7s to be similar to a v-brake.
  • A normal sized rotor [160mm] provides the same braking force as a good set of v-brakes. This is enough to skid a rear wheel or do an endo on an unladen bike. Keep in mind there is no more braking force to be had after this. If you were to add a large 203mm rotor to your bike in the hopes of even more braking power keep in mind under most conditions you'd simply reach the same point of skidding a wheel or doing and endo. If you were on a heavily loaded touring bike and happened to be on some sticky pavement you would be able to generate more braking force than a v-brake or standard disc, but keep in mind all that force has to be transmitted through your front wheel, fork and frame - it wouldn't be hard to damage your bike permanently if you got too aggressive under very high traction conditions.
  • this is not to say you cannot or should not use disc brakes on a touring bike, but they are not a magic bullet and they come with trade offs, but if you mostly were a bike commuter in the PNW and wanted to use the same bike for touring discs would make sense. If you wanted to tour on a MTB with a suspension fork discs may be your only option with many forks. If your touring bike was also your winter commuter discs definitely make sense in the snow/ice.
At the moment I have one touring bike with v-brakes and one touring bike with Avid BB7s. Although I think v-brakes make more sense for a touring bike I continue to use a set of discs and will modify my opinion if my experiences and/or the touring journals I read demonstrate they are a better choice.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Alchemy Goods Urban Messenger Bag - 8 Month Review

You can read my initial impressions of the Alchemy Goods Messenger Bag here.

Alchemy Goods Urban Messenger Bag - manufacturer's info

I've been using this messenger bag for 8 months and thought I'd report how it has been performing. As I noted in my initial review this is my first messenger bag so I wasn't 100% sure how I'd like it compared to the backpacks I'm used to using. As it turns out this bag has become one of my favourites and sees a lot of action.

The two things it does very well are:
  1. doesn't look as dorky as a backpack when I'm about town socializing.
  2. is a very practical way to carry stuff you need to access a lot.
As much as I like this bag a backpack is a better way to carry heavy loads. A backpack is also a better way to carry stuff you don't need access to often. However, a backpack can be a real pain when you want to get at the stuff you are carrying frequently. This messenger bag swings around to the front and you can root around in it easily without taking it off.

Although I said a backpack is a better way to carry heavy loads I've been surprised by how much stuff this bag will swallow when needed. I've carried multiple bottles of wine, a suspension fork and two sets of fenders [strapped on outside] at the same time. It will hold a 17" laptop for those of you who need to haul your computer around. One thing I did add to this bag is a padded shoulder strap as it doesn't come with one and the bare strap isn't comfy if your carrying a decent load.

Still looking good after 8 months.

The bag has proven to be very durable as you can see from the photo above it looks like new. The design is well thought out and you'll appreciate all the small details when you use it such as the easy to pull zipper, reflective stripes and internal pockets.. I really like the fact it's waterproof and made domestically largely from reused materials [bicycle inner tubes, car seat belt, etc...]. It's big enough to be useful, but doesn't flop around when you it isn't filled.

The whole style thing may strike some folks as superficial, but I definitely appreciate gear that functions well on the bike and lets you transition to other aspects of your life without screaming "I'm a cyclists!" I've used this bag when taking my laptop to business meetings and when meeting friends for dinner at a nice restaurant. It blends in without attracting a lot of attention which I like. It's particularly good as a carry on bag when flying because you can get at the contents easily when you need to dig out your passport or grab your Ipod.

I'd happily recommend this bag to any one looking for a messenger bag - Alchemy you make a great product...=-)


  • Wicked-durable strap made from a RECYCLED seatbelt strap
  • 100% waterproof exterior constructed from RECYCLED inner tubes
  • Waterproof zippered flap pocket for easy access to phone or MP3 player
  • Multiple internal pockets for books, packages and other items
  • T-strap stabilizes load while cycling
  • High quality reflective tape for added safety
  • Internal key clip for bike lock keys or house keys
  • 13 x 8 x 11 inches (and expandable)
  • Accommodates laptops with up to 17” screens
  • Priced at $148

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Selle Anatomica Saddle - Loaner

After trying many saddles over the years I was very happy with my Brooks Champion Flyer. So happy that touring with padded bike shorts is a thing of the past. I was quite surprised when I tried a Selle Anatomica Titanico saddle and found it even more comfortable. It's hard to quantify saddle comfort and of course everyone is different so your experiences may not agree with mine, but here goes:
  • Brooks: no need for padded bike shorts, at the end of a long day of touring I can tell I've been riding a bike saddle, but there is no significant discomfort.
  • Selle Anatomica: no need for padded bike shorts, at the end of a long day of touring I can't really tell I've been on a bike saddle at all.
The SA saddle I had stretched out too fast [which was a problem with a small batch that has since been corrected] and SA sent me a new saddle for free even though mine wasn't under warranty.

I still have my old SA saddle and it works fine. If anyone local wants to give the old saddle a try you are welcome to have it. You may only get a week or two of use out of it before it stretches too far to adjust, but at least you'll have a free trial to see if it works for you. The new saddles cost about $200 with shipping so it's nice to know your going to like it before you take the plunge.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


My injury has resulted in a lot of time spent surfing and chatting online about bikes. It's a nice distraction from being a prisoner in my apartment and provides lots of motivation to get back on the bike. However, I've noticed more objectionable behaviour recently on online forums than I can ever remember in the past. Folks launching personal attacks because they don't agree with your comments on a bike part, pointless flame wars, racist slang, etc... It boggles the mind that people can get so worked up and negative over bicycles.

Don't get me wrong I enjoy a spirited discussion, but the hallmark of a good debate is that the discussion stays focused on the facts and opinions of those involved. You can disagree with someone that doesn't share your point of view, but when you start passing judgment on them personally there is no possibility of a constructive dialogue.

One thing I decided on a long time ago was to use my real name on online forums. I always try and get "Vik" or some variation on it when possible. I usually provide links to my blogs at the bottom of posts I make. This means that I have to take ownership of what I say online. If I behave badly I can't hide from it the way I could with an anonymous user name. If you want to you can easily find my full name, photos of me, where I live and contact me - no stalkers please!..=-)

To be honest I've had my moments of childishness and gotten into a few pissing contests that in retrospect were pointless, but I don't think I've ever crossed the line to being disrespectful or hurtful to anyone online. As we seem to be moving towards more and more online interactions with each other [I can't remember the last time I went to the bank and spoke with a teller in person] I hope we can bring along the same social skills and consideration that we routinely use in our face to face interactions.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Himalaya by Bike

A few posts ago I mentioned a book about bike touring in Tibet and noted that I'd like to do some touring in India first as a warm up to the more challenging conditions in Tibet. Well Laura Stone's new book Himalaya by Bike tackles this very subject. I've read some good reviews of this book online and will be ordering up a copy in the near future.

Laura has a website
that is out of date, but she has said in the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum that she'll be updating it in the near future.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Lonely Planet Thorn Tree

I've known about the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum for quite a while, but have only recently taken the time to delve into it more throroughly. They have a cycle touring sub-forum which is really useful when you need up to date info on border crossings or cycling conditions in far flung parts of the world. If you are traveling or planning a trip this forum is well worth visiting.

I also just noticed that LP is selling individual chapters of their guides online in an electronic format. That's brilliant as I tend to travel very lightweight [10-15lbs in a day pack] when on foot and my LP guidebook was one of my heaviest single items. However, if you end up buying the whole book electronically one chapter at a time it will be much more expensive - hopefully they'll provide a whole guide as a PDF at better price. One step at a time I guess!