Archive for May, 2009

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When To Dahon? When To Trek?

Sunday May 31, 2009

Somebody recently asked me how I choose which bike to ride: do I take the Dahon or the Trek?  It wasn’t really an easy question to answer but I said something along the lines that the Dahon slowed me down and made me enjoy things more, made me look around and see what the world was up to.  The Trek, on the other hand, makes me travel fast, head down, legs pumping.

This weekend I’ve been reading the latest CTC magazine, ‘Cycle‘ (June-July 2009) and one of the stories nailed it.

The Dahon, to me, represents “Travel and transport, not sport“.  On page 50, in an article on ‘slow cycling’ it states the following:  “Walking is obviously transport, whereas running is a sport.”  And that’s how I see the difference between my two bikes: the Dahon is transport and the Trek is sport.  I expect to break sweat on the Trek, I expect to ache after it.  Whilst on the Dahon, my world (and my mind) slow down and I learn again to look, listen and enjoy what’s going on around me.

The article in Cycle goes on to say:

You don’t have to practice slow cycling all of the time, but every keen cyclist ought to have one bike they can jump onto and pop down the shops, wearing whatever they have on at the time…

Slow cycling is practical cycling.  Do you need a shower after walking to work?…  Slow cycling is also safer and less stressful.
[CTC magazine, Cycle, June-July 2009]

So, that’s how I see my two bikes!

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Saturday Evening – 4 Miles

Saturday May 30, 2009

Great day today, sunny and warm.  I grabbed the Dahon and headed out this evening.  Thought I’d avoid Rochester town centre as it’s Dickens Festival weekend and it would be packed with tourists and locals in Dickensian costumes.

Headed out over the M2 motorway bridge and watched the river, the cars and the EuroStar.

Oh, the Big Apples were fantastic.  4 miles on these ‘balloon’ tyres and the ride was smooth and much more comfortable than the original Kwest tyres.

More photos from this evening on Flickr.

Dahon In The Cycle Lane

A Bike's Worse Enemy

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Multimodal Travel

Thursday May 28, 2009

Multimodal Travel

Even trains are looking for alternative methods of travel during these days of the credit crunch!

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Big Apples Tested – They’re Greeeaat!

Tuesday May 26, 2009

Had to get out and test the new Schwalbe Big Apple tyres tonight, I was eager to see if they lived up to the hype.

It was almost 9pm and the sun was just setting so I kitted the Dahon out with my Cateye lights and the Frogs and hit the road.  Surfaces cycled in the test included: tarmac/road, grass, shingle and Rochester’s cobble/block streets.  The BAs definitely DO improve the comfort of the D7HG and also the general handling.  The wider profile tyres give it a more ‘normal’ feel – the Kwest tyres were just a little too thin (especially as I’m 6 foot tall and ## stone!)  😉

So, according to me (!), the Big Apples improve the looks of the bike AND the ride and handling.

Definitely a recommended upgrade!

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44 Miles, Sun, Some Rain

Monday May 25, 2009

Went out on the Trek today as it was a Bank Holiday Monday and therefore no work.  Went with a friend from work – his wife was away for the day so he was looking to get out for some fresh air.  We did consider heading in to London and spending the day drinking beer in Covent Garden but decided to hit the roads on the bikes instead.

Although he hadn’t been on a ‘serious’ ride for over ten years, we ended up cycling a long way – a round trip of 44 miles to the Isle of Sheppey.  We took it relatively slowly but we were both very saddle sore and tired by the time we reached home.

The weather wasn’t look too great when we headed off at around 10am and the rain started to fall.  But the skies soon cleared and it ended up being a very warm and sunny day.

We crossed the river Medway to Sheppey on the Kingsferry Bridge (photo by Photo Paul, via Flickr), the old bridge to the island; the new bridge (photo by Jack Picknell, via Flickr) prohibits cycles.  On the return journey we were delayed here for five minutes as the bridge was up to allow the passing of some sailing boats.

Minster Abbey

Minster Abbey - Click to enlarge

Once on the Isle, we cycled to Minster and after a stop at the local shop for some snacks, we had a brief visit to Minster Abbey.  That was the point at which we decided to head home, taking the coastal road around Sheppey, through Sheerness and back to the Kingsferry Bridge.

We couldn’t resist stopping at The Tree Tuns pub in Lower Halstow for a well earned meal.  The food was great as we sat out in the beer garden in the afternoon sun and rested our aching legs.

I had a great day out today, a good ride and some good conversation with an old friend.  Oh, and I can’t forget the fantastic sausage, egg, chips and beans!

Outward Journey

Return Journey

Return Journey

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Schwalbe Big Apple Tyres – Dahon D7HG

Sunday May 24, 2009

As posted yesterday, I collected my Big Apples from the Post Office and my plan was to fit them this weekend.  The plan has been successfully completed and the Schwalbe Big Apples are now fitted to the Dahon D7HG.

I purchased the tyres from online store Dotbike and they arrived ‘next day’ – although I was out so the Post Office held on to them until the weekend when I could get over to collect them.  It was the first time I’d used Dotbike and it was a smooth and speedy transaction so I’ll be using them again in the future.

Schwalbe Big Apple - BIG AppleThe Big Apples (BA) are known as ‘balloon tyres’ which offer a softer, smoother ride and effectively absorb more of the road imperfections.

The BAs are replacing the factory-fitted Kenda Kwest tyres on my D7HG.  Compared to the now fitted BAs, the Kwests look very narrow – the Kwests are 20 x 1.5″ and the BAs are 20 x 2.0″.  The BAs are far chunkier and really to enhance the look of the D7HG making the wheels look far more substantial.  Based on looks alone, the BAs are definitely worth the cash!

Like the Kwests, the BAs have a 3M reflective strip on the sidewall which makes you stand out at night.  The BAs also have ‘Kevlar Guard’ which is designed to provide additional puncture resistance.

Fitting the tyres was relatively easy.  The front wheel was the easiest to remove: unhook the brake cable, loosen the two axle nuts (with my new spanner) and pull the wheel off.  Then, using the Crankbrothers Speedlever, I removed the Kwest tyre.  After a quick visual check of the existing rim tape, I pushed the BA tyre onto the rim followed by the new Schwalbe inner tube.  Before pushing the tyre completely onto the rim, I pumped the tube up slightly to enable it to gain its shape – this was to minimise the risk of nipping the tube as I pushed the tyre on.  I didn’t use any tools to fit the new tyre, resorting to thumbs and fingers so as to not damage the new inner tube.  Once fitted I inflated to 60PSI and refitted the wheel to the bike.

The removal of the rear wheel was going to be a little more complex and it was to be the first time I’d removed a wheel with a hub gear system. With this in mind I checked out the Dahon forum and other sites and collated the following information:

Schwalbe Big Apple - Fitted on the DahonAll proved to be useful.  One thing that I noted was that I didn’t remove the chain from the pedal cog prior to trying to remove the wheel – if I had done, after loosening the axle bolts, then I’m sure that I would have removed the wheel quicker and ended up with less oil and grease on my hands.

Having refitted both wheels, minor adjustments were required to prevent the new, fatter, tyres from rubbing on the Dahon’s mudguards.  The front adjustments involved a couple of screws and the rear mudguard was adjusted with a little bending and brute force.

After all that it was time for a quick ride around outside to check that all was in order.  They definitely do make the ride more comfortable and they do change the handling of the bike, in a positive way.  I didn’t ride far so I haven’t really tested the tyres, that will be (hopefully) tomorrow’s task.

So, tyres fitted.  They look great and really do improve the look of the bike.

More photos on my Flickr account.

Schwalbe Big Apple - Fitted

Dahon D7HG and Schwalbe Big Apples

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Cycle Helmet Poll Stats Update

Sunday May 24, 2009

In January I posted a poll on whether or not people wear cycle helmets.  After months of hectic voting (!!!), the current count being a massive (!) 17 votes, the results are as above.  Only one of the voters has voted like me, stating that they don’t wear a helmet.

The poll is still running so if you haven’t yet taken part then there’s always time to do so.  Looks like most people cycle with skull-safety in mind and protect their head.

I’ve just read that the statistics show that severity of injury “increase with helmet use”:

Individual cyclists may have benefited from wearing a helmet … but the odds would seem to be against it.

When large population samples are examined, it is difficult to detect any noticeable improvement in cyclist casualty trends. Worryingly, what change is to be found would seem to suggest that injuries, and sometimes injury severity, increase with helmet use. [Cycle Craft]

More helmet statistics and information on the following sites:

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