Category Archives: tires

Toronto International Bike Show – Spring 2012

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:

From Entrance

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!

Argon’s display
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….

 Even managed to score some deals:

Regularly $25ea!

Booty!
– 2 Knog “Ringmaster” cable locks
– 2 sets of KMC x.8 chains
– 1 Alivio 9-Speed Alum. body Derailleur
Bought for $20, regular price of $50, and MSRP of $35;
it should be a significant upgrade to current system.

My friend bought the tires, a new 26in wheelset, a new derailleur also, and an SRAM 7 speed cassette, for a total of $126.75. My total was about half that, all told, including the $13 admission price.  

All-rounder Update: 200km Mark

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 full four pounds more 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.

Here’s what I’m not so happy about:

– Delayed shifting/ Ghost shifting on rear
– Derailleur cable stop location
– Rear dropouts slightly misaligned
– Rear rack deck height
– Kickstand placement

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.

A fine beauty, that!

RIP: Snow Studs

I’m putting the snow studs to rest (for now) for two reasons:
1. There be no snow/ice on the roads as of late, and its > 5 degrees outside
2. They keep popping inner tubes!

Despite my best efforts, and lining each tire with 3-4 layers of duct tape, the occasional screw would be able to wear through the protection and put a cut into the inner tubes. Its quite unfortunate, as they were really quite amazing ice tyres. The only way I can thing of salvaging them is buying a few rolls of Mr. Tuffy or some other tyre liner and completely covering the insides to protect the tubes.

They really only seem to pop in hard cornering or trail/ off-road riding. I was caught out the other day up to my ankles in mud, where I had to change a tyre. I was not happy, needless to say, when I ran out of patches from how many punctures there were.

Fully Completed.

I’ve done it – the bike is completely finished, and it has been distance-proven; I took it for more than 40 km of wintery riding over the past two days. All the riding and abused has allowed me to ‘dial in’ all the settings of the bike: the Brooks saddle has been moved foreward, the derailleur cables have stretched/settled and been adjusted, the handlebars have been positioned, the STI levers have been re-positioned, and more than all these other combined, the new brakes have been worn in and re-positioned.

Ta daaaah!
Hells yeah – ‘Standard’

That’s right; new brakes. Those old Shimano low-profile cantis are gone, and are replaced with one of the widest-of-wide profile brakes; some Tektro 720s. They really have cleaned up the problems, so now there is about 1/2 cm of clearance each side of the rims and more than double the braking power. The quality of workmanship is superb – they come with 6mm allen key fixing bolts, a stainless-steel bushing, both sides adjust, and the cable yoke has and indexing screw so that cable pull can be equalized. It’s the attention to detail that makes them hard to beat. That, and the fact that they look (and work) pretty darn good, too. When running drop bars with cantis, I can now recommend them wholeheartedly.

It even comes with V-style brake pads, that have  a replaceable insert.
The little things really do matter.

The front derailleur problem has also been (mostly) fixed. While, unfortunately, neither my bike frame or the STI levers have places to mount adjustment barrels, I have managed to get the indexing to near-perfection by simply using a cresent wrench, a pair of pliers and some finesse upon the cable adjustment. The other outstanding problem was the difficulty with which my now 16-year-old Shimano Alivio mountain front d. now moves. I was not able to shift without nearly breaking my fingers pushing on the lever! I had read online that problems could occur beacause of a different pull-ration between mountain and road front d’s, but, to my luck, all it really needed was some WD-40 to lube it up gud! Now, it is (relatively) easy to shift with, but still harder than on most road bicycles.

No, this is not the derailleur. But, it does say Alivio…

Update on the Snow Studs: The homemade tyres have held up fantastically, with very little wear on the screws even after >50km of on-road riding. No screws have come lose or rusted, or pushed back into the tyre – BUT- the duct tape liner on the front ripped and let a screw head have its way with the inner tube. Needless to say, I was not happy about having to remove/patch an innertube in a -10C and snowy environment. There are now 3 layers of duct tape in the tyres. Feel free to add more if you decide to make a pair.

Sadness.


I can’t remember what was going on here, but if I had to guess,
I was a little miffed. And cold.

But, I made it downtown before the tire popped. Downtown TO. is always has an interesting look in the snow.

Looking North on McCaul St.

South