Got up early this past Saturday morning at the behest of my pal, who reminded me that the Toronto Int’l Bike Show was on this weekend, March 2-4. It’s a place where all of the big names in cycling in Toronto (plus a few other major brands) meet to strut their stuff, and where a few bargains can be found for those so inclined – such as myself. This time it was held in the Better Living Centre of Exhibition Place, as opposed to the Fall “Blowout” show, which is much smaller, and held elsewhere at Exhibition Place.
Here are some shots of the show:
Trek Bike store’s display
And of course, there are a buncha bikes to drool over. Lots of carbon, whether road or MTB. The bike show seems to cater to “what’s new”, of course, so there were tons of fancy lightweight components on the road bikes, and 29er bikes galore!
Enough carbon here to solve China’s energy problems…
…with more carbon!
All-carbon rigid 29er. Nice!
Surly Pugsley Alert! Now available with BionX power assist:
Talking with the fellow from the BionX stand there, the BionX/Pugsley combo is his personal set-up, and rocks with about a ~100km range, with a top speed of ~40kmph. Would love to do that offroad!
The white hub is the BionX’s hub motor. You too can own one for $1200 CAD
The huuuge tires still amaze me!
Lots of more typically-equipped bikes on sale as well; commuters, MTBs, and tourers and especially aluminum road bikes were abundant….
All is well on the bike front, and I’ve now made it up to the 200km mark. I know, not a lot of riding in three weeks, but I’ve been completing the final push of school into exams (I finished my Chemistry exam today, yay! Only physics left, which is tomorrow). The tires are wearing well enough, but the compound of the CST Critters is fairly soft, so even gravel skids have worn the rear tread down a *weensy bit*. Just enough so that the “herringbone” pattern imprinted on each of the knobs is barely visible.
The Herringbone pattern is wearing away quickly… the skid spots are worse than the above picture.
So far, here’s what I’m liking:
– Off road handling – On road handling! – Overall weight – Load Capability – Comfortable seat/steam/handlebar height and position – Top Tube length is good – Rolling resistance ( Speed!) – Gear range (it hasn’t been changed from before)
After about 125km offroad (light trails, gravel, a bit of chip seal road and a few muddy+technical bits of singletrack), I’m happy with how well the bike works. Lots of BB clearance for the roots/logs. The CST Critter’s are claimed at 2.1″ wide, but they are closer to 2.0″, in actuality. As many other tires are over-stated for width (see some tire specs here), you could fit a 29 x 2.3″ tire, if you want to really squeeze some large rubber in there. On road, the Critters sap energy, unless they are pumped up to their 65 psi limit. At this pressure, the small contact patch makes it pretty easy to stay going fast.
Below 40 psi, the tire makes a great shock absorber for trails. Exceeding the reccomended limit is sometimes reccommended.
The overall wight is 35lbs, complete. This is only 1 lb less than my previous bike, despite its frame weighing a fullfour poundsmore than the O8 frame here. My hypothesis: the wheelset is the heavy hitter here, and adding 750g tires and 200g tubes to each wheel is only exacerbating the problem. When its time for those club rides/ summer rando sessions, you can bet I’ll shed these heavy tires and tubes and go for the 26mm semi-slicks I’ve got tucked away…
The frame nice dimensions to it, and the top tube is perfectly sized out so that the handlebars are not too far away for riding in the drops, and not too close to ride upright in the hoods or using the flat part of the bar. This upright riding is a lifesaver for quick downhill switchbacks & fast offroad turns, as well as getting over roots + rocks. An all-around nice ride quality and comfort.
This cheap Avenir stem is actually quality. Lightweight, and it allows adjustment for offroad/touring/road handlebar heights.
Ooooh…. “Custom drawn”…. and “airplane grade”: economic, and still fairly light, Cro-Mo tubing.
The 17-year-old Alivio rear derailleur is shot, and has so much play that it allows ghost shifting and shifting under load, but won’t shift when the time comes! A well-loved (aka, used) Deore-level or higher mech. might be finding its way on the back as a replacement – “Bike Pirates” of downtown Toronto has a million of such used derailleurs in a box for dirt cheap. And such good quality derailleurs, if not too badly worn, can be cleaned up and will perform like new. The rear cable stop also poses an odd challenge – it was meant for full-housing cables, so I had to “improvise” with a ziptie, and was placed too far from the derailleur (the cable is almost too short).
I need to replace this.
The wheel sits slightly too the left in the rear triangle, and I’m fairly sure it is because of the dropouts being misaligned. OTOH, it could be because of my 130-spaced hub, as I did add a washer to the left of the hub, and it helped a bit. The high-up rear rack allows lotsa tire+fender room, but it is so close to the seat, that only a few small bits of camp gear could fit atop it. The kickstand is overly bent, and mounts awkwardly on the rear of this new frame, and so a Pletcher 2-legger may be warranted soon, as well.
The cantilever brakes work well too, but lack a bit of the “punch” that V-brakes or disks manage to have. No regrets, though.
Overall impressions bode well, and I think this will stay my primary rig for the foreseeable future.
For any of those who don’t know, the Sport Check in the Scarborough Town Centre is going out of business… and so they are having a closeout sale. No, this is not a promotion for the store – I simply saw a 7 speed wide-range cassette on sale at that store for 30% off, dropping the price to $15. Knowing that my bicycle’s gearing is a bit high for fully loaded touring up big hills (I’m not super strong, either), I took the opportunity and bought the SRAM 12-32 gear cluster to customize my ride.
I didn’t have what one would call a “high” low gear before this upgrade – with 700c wheels, an 11-28t cluster in back and a 22-32-42t front crankset allowed for a lowest gear of 21.5 in, and a high of 104 in. I almost never used that high a gear, bust still had some trouble up hills with that low gear (especially on tour/ with load). The new 12-32 casette drops a little high-end, in return for a greater low-end; a gear of 18.8 in to 95.6 in. Strangely enough, the % change from one gear to another among the first 5 cogs is actually closer than before, meaning more comfortable control over cadences on the road. The lost two cogs have jumps much greater, but the absolute change in the gear value is small, making it nearly unnoticeable.
New = shiny… my old cassette was once like that…
Two problems: Firstly, my now-16 year old Shimano Alivio rear derailleur has a bit of trouble reaching the 32t cog, and sometimes hits… I’ll fiddle with the b-tension adjuster, and see if this improves. After all, they were rated (I believe) to 34t max cog. Secondly, because I didn’t replace the chain, and the derailleur is nearly at max take-up capacity, cross-over gears have now become a real danger on the 42t chainring/ 32t cog. Other than that, all is well.
Mounted on wheel. Notice how the last two cogs grow in size quickly; keeps the majority of gears within useful % change.
I hope to give it a greater test in the weeks to come, but everything is looking good so far!
’tis time to rejoice – a four-day weekend is here (for me, at least), and I plan on lots o’ biking around. An interesting thing I managed to build up is a little do-hicky for fine-tuning my front derailleur; with a lack of down-tube stops, I had to get a little more creative. I took the adjustment screw from the mounts that came with my RSX shifters, and attached a nut to it, et voila! a 2-cent in-line barrel adjuster:
It does its job, even if it ain’t pretty. It mounts on the side of the shifters, where the derailleur cable leaves.
I’ve already been on a few rain rides, and it hasn’t shown any signs of rust, so the long-term prospects seem good.