Saturday, September 20, 2008



I have taken the plunge and gotten a pair of clipless cycling shoes. My biz partner has been a full-time bike shoes guy for some years now and after a while his and a few other friends' dedication to wearing them got my interest piqued.

After poking around in a couple of bike shops and then doing a couple hours of web reading, I settled on these shoes:

They had them in stock at the Kozy's bike shop over on Milwaukee Avenue by me here for a good price, so I was able to go over and give them a tryout. I settled on these because they were allegedly pretty flexible and had a recessed cleat. They seem to be positioned as an "indoor/spinning" cycle shoe, but they seem pretty terrific.

Oh, I forgot about the other thing that made it easy to take the plunge. It was that my bike had already come with these Shimano pedals that are quite functional for normal riding, but made it pretty easy to make the switch:

The great thing about these pedals is that I can still ride with normal shoes quite comfortably.

I have to say that I'm loving being clipped in (clipless, clipped in, the terminology gets kind of confusing). I rode toe clips for a little while recently and though I got the same good feeling of being able to do a full rotation with some sort of power. However, with toe clips I also had a handful of ridiculous incidents of my shoe lace across the face of my shoe hanging up on some little protrusion on the cleat and pulling up to a stop only to comically slowly fall over on the ground. So, the shoes are definitely better in terms of being easy to unclip (unlock?) yourself from them. If you set them up a bit loose, it's a piece of cake.

I think it feels easier on my old man right knee, which would mostly feel pretty stiff when I first started riding in the morning. Now I don't really feel any discomfort in the morning or any other time for that matter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bike Porn


Here is the site of Ray Dobbins, a serious bike tweaker/restorer with some of the nicest "fashion photography" of bicycles I've seen. His concentration is on 70s and 80s Italian bikes, but he's also got a gorgeous 50th Anniversary Paramount in there. It's overwhelming! Nice stuff Ray.

He also has a nice primer on aluminum polishing that is making me start looking for a bench buffer! Additionally, there are good tips on paint touch-up and other minutiae for the restorer.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

grab bag


Here are a few funny cycling loose ends:

A quality ride my wife spotted yesterday downtown. Keepin' it real! (Now she wants one like this!)

Also, here is a guy juggling machetes downtown on a 10' tall unicycle. Go man, go!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Adios to yet another Trek!


I sold off the Trek 660 I had a brief dalliance with. I decided I couldn't afford another bike that wouldn't take a rack, so I fixed this thing up a bit and let it go.

Here's what was done to it:
-removed weird "Grip Shift" shifter and returned it to normal Shimano indexed downtube shifter
-trued and rewrapped the wheels (they were blowing tubes due to mangled rim tape)
-replaced the Shimano 600 "tricolor" derailleurs with another set of 600 SIS derailleurs I procured as I was coveting the ones it came with for my impending Paramount re-conversion (back to a road bike from single speed). Got the shifting humming along well with the replacement stuff
-rewrapped the bars
-gave a vigorous cleaning

It ended up being a quite nice looking bike and I think it will make someone happy for a long time to come!

Here's the more or less original setup (I actually changed the seat right off and had some temporary wheels on there):

And here's how it left:

Austin vay-kay


I almost plum forgot to write a little bit about my newest addition to the family. When I got to Austin for the vacation we took in early August, I had shipped down the Takara from a few posts ago to use and keep with my brother down there. Well, I rode that for a couple of days, but then I noticed a CL ad for a bike I had actually been trying to get my brother to buy was still hanging around. It was for a Felt 85 and was a sort of "must sell!" type deal and seemed pretty cheap already. I think he was asking $400 for it. It's an aluminum road bike, circa mid-90s maybe? Well, I wrote the guy telling him that I wasn't really in the market per se, but perhaps I could cough up $360. He went for it. Why it was so hard to sell that bike, I have no idea! It's terrific! It has a Shimano Sora group on it, which is a pretty low end group for them, but it's still just a super nice zippy light racing bike. My first aluminum road bike. I only got to ride it for about 4 days, but it was SO fun. I actually thought about shipping in back to Chicago to continue with the fun, but decided it'd be nice to not have to procure another bike for my time in Austin. I ended up being able to sell the Takara to a good old friend of mine currently living in Paris, but who comes back to Austin pretty regular and wanted a bike to keep there as well.

I took this bike on one good solo 10 mile ride. Heading west on a bike trail over the MoPac expressway onto Far West Blvd. a well-to-do-ish hilly thoroughfare, I got my first experience with the Shimano STI levers or "brifters" (brake shifters) as, I believe, Sheldon Brown tagged them. This is really an efficient way to ride a bike! It's like you are just joined to it, with all controls immediately in your hands at all times. I reached about the 4.5 mile mark at a steep downhill grade that leads on out of town and got up to about 35 mph according to the computer. What a rush! However, about half a mile down the hill, I realized I'd have to make it all the way back up and needed to be ready for an evening out in about an hour, so I turned back. I had to go all the way to the granniest of granny gears with this 24-speed drivetrain to crawl back up at around 7mph. I got my exercise though!

I'm looking forward to taking some long, hilly rides on this bike for sometime to come. I think I will have to go to some sort of shoe/cleat setup pretty soon though, as I got stuck in the rather awkward toe clips on this bike a couple of times throughout the 4 days of riding it, leading to comical slow-motion flop-overs at a couple of stops!

Overall the trip to Austin was quite enjoyable sans car. We rode an average of about 15 miles per day in temperatures at or near 100 degrees. It was a good workout even with pretty leisurely paces. Austin is definitely ramping up on some off-street bike trails, though it still falls far short of places like Madison, WI, in which off-street bike travel is really a quite feasible way to get around all over town. Chicago still has a long way to go before we'll see anything more significant than painted bike lanes which also serve as expressways for the occasional psychotic car driver and parking lanes for service vehicles.

Here is a picture of the Felt:

Also, here's my Austin friend Adam's really nice Surly Long Haul Trucker. He's setup with a sort of urban/randonneur style. This was the first time I've seen the "Midge" bar, which is kind of a cross between a drop bar and a moustache bar, or really a drop bar with the drops flared out at a 45 degree angle rather than straight down. He's set up with cross levers in their intended "interrupter" fashion, as secondary brake levers (these are very much in favor today as primary brake levers for all manner of city bike/fixie, etc. conversions. Nice bar-end shifting too.

A pretty sweet ride, all in all:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Stolen bikes


Long time no posts! I've been remodeling my kitchen and it hasn't left a whole lot of time for anything besides (kind of) keeping up with work.

I've begun helping out with moderation duties at the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry over the last couple of weeks. It's a community maintained site for reporting stolen bikes which offers a pretty coherent set of questions and information one must fill out and then posts it in a standardized fashion.

One thing it makes you realize is that there are A LOT of bikes stolen in Chicago! I mean A LOT! I would assume that perhaps no more than maybe 10-ish percent of stolen bikes end up on this list, and there are so far maybe 30 or so posts per week, so do the math.

Another quick thing you'll notice if you look through it is that using a cable lock is the very easiest way to have your bike stolen. These things can be cut through in about 5 to 10 seconds with a big, honking pair of cable cutters. Use at least a U-lock. Bikes are still stolen with U-locks, but it is almost always a situation where the bike was left unattended for at least some hours.

Be careful out there, there ain't a lot of civilized behavior going on out on the streets of Chicago!