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Bike

Airless tyres – an update…

So an update on the post in January: ‘Airless Tyres

Back in Feb 2011 I said ‘Never in a month of Sundays…’ but now on 2020, it’s my 10th year ‘commuting by bike’, or rather simply riding a bike to and from work daily.

You can read about it here: Think again? – Feb 2011 – ‘Never in a month of Sundays…’

OK this year, 2020, it’s been a tad different for all of us – not much commuting from April through August #Leicester #lockdown.

But onward the bike’s still seen >1200 miles to date this year.

Airless Tyres

In January’s ‘Airless Tyres‘ post, I reported on my move to a Tannus Airless 40mm tyre on the rear wheel.

I kept the ‘puncture-resistant’ 35mm Marathon Plus tyres on the front, but in March the Local Bike Shop fitted Tannus Armour under the Marathon Tyre.

Thankfully there’s still a few LBS around as you’ll need the tyres fitted properly. I use the bike daily for work in all weathers and I was looking to reduce the worry of potential punctures and tyre pressure maintenance etc.  It’s just a commute; I am not trying to break records or burn off the beer; I ride in a relatively relaxed manner and have found ‘the ride’ with these Tannus adaptions great.

Alas, the surface conditions the commute deals with are still significant. So after 1200 miles here’s the wear:

 

 

Initially it was a firm (as good traditional tyres), I did not notice any difference in 35mm pumped, and 40mm airless.

After 1200 miles of wear the ride is still good, but the airless tyres are noticeable as you can see above. They now feel softer and have flattened – but, for my needs, the ride is still good. We’ll see what another 1000 miles does. Tannus say they are good for 5000 miles! But I fear they are not familiar with Leicester’s ‘bike routes‘.

The front wheel’s Tannus Armour under Marathon Plus tyres are much less of a concern, and perhaps the combo of  Marathon’s 5mm thick puncture guard PLUS Armour’s 15mm foam protection to the centre (and 2mm to the sidewall), is ultimate winner? Do I go for this on the back…?

They are not for everyone, but for now I am enjoying the puncture free worries.

There’s an ‘airless’ commercial review here and a more personal review here if you’re interested.

 

Also, if you’re interested there’s a few bike related Notable Readshere.

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Bike

Airless tyres?

It has surprised me that I seemed to post only two bike posts last year!

It’s been more than eight years riding a bike to work daily (Velocipeding), more than 30,000 miles, and I’m now riding my ninth winter, brrrrr! Back in Oct 2017 I switched to my Gazelle Ultimate S8. Guidance and advice from friends and Future Cycles in Leicester has proved worthwhile – I am extremely pleased with my bike.

I thought I had made all the adaptions I was gonna make: The Gates belt, the Shimano gears, extended handlebars, Marathon Plus tyres, Brooks saddle, etc. but…

Puncture!

This week for the first time in about 3 years I had a puncture on the way to work. A right pain in the arse when it’s dark, cold and you’re 3 miles from work and 5 miles from home. (I scooted 3 miles to work on the pedal!)

I’ve had the ‘puncture-resistant’ Marathon Plus tyres since 2016 and I have to say they have been great.

I was thinking about options like slime etc, then touched on the subject of airless tyres, and after a little deliberation I thought let’s give it a go!

I rely on my bike, after selling the families second car that we used once a week. I use the bike daily for work in all weathers and although I had not had a puncture in three years I could do without the stress of potential punctures and tyre pressure maintenance etc.

Airless Tyres

So I am trying a Tannus airless tyre on the rear wheel – I’ve kept the Marathon on the front. I read somewhere that ~80% of punctures occur on the rear wheel as it takes the weight etc.

The first ride back from The Shop, I have to say felt no different! I understand the Tannus tyre is relatively lighter than the Marathon. I have moved from 35mm to 40m which I had been thinking of anyway due to the surface conditions the commute deals with. As it’s just a commute; I am not trying to break records or burn off the beer; I ride in a relatively relaxed manner so the ride is still great.

You will probably the tyre/s fitted properly so once again your LBS will be worth its weight in gold. If you live in or around Leicester I recommend the guys at Future Cycles!

The initial reactions are great! Time will tell, I’ll let you know.

Update March: I now have Tannus Armour on the front, under my Marathon Plus. Feels great! Will update on the Airless rear tyre in due course.

UPDATE: You can read an update here: https://julesprichards.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/airless-tyres-an-update/

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Chance encounter…

When you travel, anywhere, you can open yourself to the opportunity for ‘encounter’.

When we travel via car-riage we are to varying extents limiting our exposure to encounter.

When you travel by bike (or indeed walk) regularly, you will find that one of the things that might strike you is your exposure for encounters.

My Instagram captures above don’t portray the people, but it’s the human interactions that are most memorable. From the trio of ladies on their way to work that say hi every morning, and the senior citizen with her two dogs, the people on bikes going the other way, the mechanic who opens his garage at the same time every morning, the man returning from the shop with his paper, the lady who feeds the ducks, the people waiting for the bus, the schoolboy with his rucksack, the rough sleepers under the bridge…

I’ve said it before; All this puts the ignorance of the man in the black saloon in his place. 

If you consider your ‘approach’ appropriately, often your encounters can be remarkable and delightful. From the natural and the humane, to the juxtaposition of our creations, traditions, and behaviours. Yes, you also encounter the broken, the disturbed, the unfortunate (and ‘misjudgments’ as a professional correspondent recently excused it).  But in the main, exposure to ‘life’ can bring growth. Life by its nature brings growth – it’s the lack of life, or broken life, that might cause disruption, disease, and emptiness. As a ‘creative art’ student, one of my favorite quotes was ‘the interaction between things is what makes them fecund’ from Wallace Stevens (referenced by Damian Grant in his book ‘Realism’).  

I consider myself fortunate. The times I am shaken by glimpses of wonder, by people, nature, song, life’s riches… far outway the angry disappointed brokenness that also colours our society. 

On another not unrelated topic: I have a small part in a play by a local amateur theatre company QT Theatre. It’s a play called ‘Chance Encounters’ written by Jamesine Cundell Walker. One day… One bench… Nine encounters…
QT say “a mixture of comedy, pathos and surprise!” .. a day centred around a park bench … Chance encounters; from a couple meeting to discuss division, to a lady settling herself on the bench for the night. 

Easily said, but for some, not so easily put into practice… but, I will say it again; ‘the interaction between things is what makes them fecund’. Here’s hoping.

 

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Two years – Six and a half thousand miles…

2; 6,500

It’s now been two years, and about ~6500 miles. Since I switched to my delightful Gazelle Ultimate S8.

8; 30,000

It’s been more than eight years riding a bike to work daily. That’s more than 30,000 miles, and I’m approaching my ninth winter, brrrrr!

2011… 2019

I started riding a bike back in 2011 – and you can read about it here: Velocipeding

I moved to belt from chain etc – and you can read about it here: Gazelle Ultimate

You can see all my biking posts here: Bike

So much has been learnt and unlearnt that I would not know where to start. I guess my post from last May was my last recap: Just a Person on a Bike

 

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4000 miles, an update.

So… Gazelle Ultimate S8, ~4000 miles, an update.

Back in Oct 2017, you may remember I made the gazelle-like leap (ho ho ho) to a Gates Carbon Belt Drive, Shimano Alfine 8 Hub Geared city bike.

Gates ‘Belt Drive’.
Gates say “Free yourself from oily, rusty chains… Clean. Smooth. Strong. … last longer than chains, never need grease and are nearly maintenance-free … goodbye to high-maintenance bike chains. Say hello to simplicity and fun”.

 

Shimano ‘Hub Gears‘.
The Shimano Alfine 8 speed. Shimano say “a stylish and sophisticated way to enjoy the ultimate urban riding experience”Reviews are good: “…does an impressive work … you don’t have a problem with its weight … rapid and silent functioning … unpretentious maintenance”.

One of the reasons for the upgrade was gear, chain & chain-set wear & maintenance.

Over 6 years, I have discovered that bike commuting ~16 miles a day takes a large toll on the mechanics of a bike. The condition of our roads and bike paths throws dust, debris and all manner of crud into the mechanisms of a bike. Without regular cleaning and maintenance parts wear. Even with cleaning and maintenance parts wear! The novelty (and cost) of this is ok for some, but I am not naturally a dirty-hands bloke. I have to put a thankful word in, to the lads at City Cycles in Thurmaston – great service always!

But I digress, in 2017, my ‘Gazelle Ultimate S8was supplied by the great folks at Leicester’s Future Cycles. If you have any questions or are up for investing in something that might change your life, speak to the guys at Future Cycles. There’s more to a good bike than the loud-brands will tell you!

But as I say – an update…

As mentioned before, one of the reasons for the choice was that on an urban commute, a chain/gear mechanism picks up so much muck and dirt that a regular adjustment, clean, degrease, lube etc is essential!  Of course with a quality hub and belt, the bike still has to traverse the same paths, but the theory is there’s not so much mech to maintain. But, there still is mech to be wary of!

Other the planned service, my bike has had little attention, but after about 4000 miles (15 months) the rear sprocket needed attention as you can see below.

After consulting Future Cycles and the helpful folk at Velorution, I discovered that my S8 came with a ‘durable composite’ rear sprocket. This is the basic choice, and in retrospect knowing that I do ~80 miles weekly, I should have opted for a more durable one.

To fit with a Shimano hub a Gates 24 tooth sprocket come in; CDX:EXP stainless steel, CDX:SL aluminum, CDN steel, or CDN composite.

Thanks for the advice from Andy at Velorution, and I the fitting and service from Jon and Tim at Future Cycles.  I now have a steel one. We’ll see how this fairs.

You can see below the state of the old one against the new one.

 

So onwards!

You can see ‘bike posts‘ since Nov ’17 below, and other ‘bike posts‘ can be seen ‘here’

 

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Bike

Biking Gadgets

Ok, I’m not a gadget type of person, and yes, my philosophy is ‘just get on and ride’, but we all enjoy toys.

You don’t ‘need’ all that must-have cycle-stuff that’s papped out but the cycle sites, and you don’t need all that ‘get while you can’ stuff in the Aldi-etc catalogues.  Yes, I went through the phase a few years back when I  got the under-garments, the over-garments, and the middle-garments. There were cycling socks, the cycling shades, cycling gloves and cycling shoe covers, LOL!

Yes, if you are going on a long cycling venture, you will need to kit up with some of this stuff. Yes, all that stuff has its uses, but for most of us who are just riding a bike to work, or to town, then look at people in some other places (remember Europe!?), who don’t even classify it as cycling, it’s just riding a bike!

I cycle 8 miles to work, and 8 miles back, and have done for 8 years. If it’s raining I wear a coat, if it’s cold I put on a few layers and gloves, etc. I don’t usually wear long trousers unless it’s near freezing.  Incidentally, it rains much less than you might imagine. I don’t pelt it, it’s not a race, I am simply riding a bike instead of walking, getting a bus, or driving a car. At work, I change into my work clothes.

So all the bits and bobs, that the cycling culture pedals out, are not essential. But back to gadgets…

Non-essential gadget number 1, the Helmet Camera.

If you’ve read my other bikey posts, you’ll know that I have moved from biking by road to biking by path. Motor vehicles mixed with people-powered transport is far from ideal. Although I ride primarily off-roads, a gadget I have not been able to drop is my helmet camera. Not essential I agree, but since I have been using one I have filmed so much dangerous driving – I’ve become aware, that should the worst happen, it would be my word against theirs, and having it on film MAY give some leverage to may carers or those left behind.

My camera simply records on a loop of about 10 days worth of rides. I habitually charge it each night along with my phone etc. Having a record of some rides is also good for posterity! I am not sure if my Dogcam / Road Hawk Bullet Ride R+ camera is still available for sale, but it was a budget price, and considering it’s used daily and still going after 4 years it’s been well worth the money. You can see footage from it here – RECORDINGS – These are uploaded at a low-quality, the original is really good but they are meaty video files.

Find out more here: Camera

Non-essential gadget number 2, the Bone Conduction Headphones.

Again, I ride primarily a bike off roads – about ~1mile of my 8 miles is mixed with motor traffic. With this in mind, I sometimes enjoy the company of Radio 3 etc in the mornings.

It was an impulse purchase and to be honest I didn’t think it would work, but this relatively cheap budget version works really well! And it’s Bluetooth, so no wires!

Leaving my ears clear to hear anything from my surroundings, the sound is transmitted through the skull, the node sits just on the cheekbones, it really is amazing. Admittedly on busy areas where traffic is heavy, you struggle to hear quieter elements of the sounds but this is to be expected. When away from the motor traffic, what you can hear is great – both bass and treble, voice and music, is clear and has depth.

Find out more here: Headphones

So, yes a lot of the cycle culture kit is not needed but these two toys I use daily, and along with my belt-drive Gazelle, biking to work is a blessing!

 

 

 

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Bike

Belts, not chains, a year on.

It’s been another year, and about ~3280 miles. Last September I switched from my old Specialized bike to a delightful Gazelle Ultimate S8.

I’d consulted the guys at Future Cycles Leicester about a bike:

  • with a quality belt drive, so in needn’t deal with chain wear and maintenance.
  • with quality hub gears for the same reason as above.
  • that would take the rigours of a 16miles a day UK cycleway(lol) commute

Over many years I have discovered that an urban commute, with a chain/gear mechanism, picks up so much muck and dirt that regular clean, degrease, lube etc is essential! This is not great if you don’t enjoy regular bikey cleaning, tinkering, adjusting and all that stuff – also this can be expensive if you don’t keep an eye on your machine or don’t get quality gear. This is not the case with a quality hub and belt setup. You can read about my Gazelle from Future Cycles Leicester, here: Gazelle Ultimate S8.

Over the last year, I have had no issues with my S8. The belt has done its thing and the gears have been a dream. The bike has had two full washes, the belt just needed a rinse with water. The gears have needed no attention.

OK, it takes ~40 minutes not 4 and my whole mantra is to slow down not speed up but hey!

This will be my eighth winter riding a bike to and from work. A colleague said to me recently “I felt for you in the bad weather, but I guess there must be something you enjoy about it?”, and it struck me that it’s been a long time since I thought I must be mad, why don’t you take the car?. Yes, years back, I did think like that! The transition from automobile user to a more pedestrian way of travel is not easy. I guess my habits & rituals have changed my mindsets.

A lot of our reactions and attitudes to life can be down to our perspective and the way we frame things. Yes, it’s easily said. Life throws curved balls and can be horrific. The human condition is a very shadowy thing. But, we can try to culture a language and narratives that focus on the breath, the light, and the essential things that matter.

So if I became President it would be belts, not chains, and low maintenance movement for all. It would be fresh air and free exercise for all. It would be regularly pujas, pauses, thank-yous and sorrys. Yes, there would still be the shadowy human condition, but we might be more in touch with a human spirit that can, with a little help from friends, seemingly move mountainous shadows.

 

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Bike

Sit up and breathe!

 

My daughter says ‘there’s no such thing as perfection, only improvement’. I’m told, it’s what her teacher says.

 

The old bars.

You may remember my old ‘Specialized’ bike above gradually transformed from the standard off-the-self bike, to a more relaxed sit-up and breathe kind of thing.  My riding style gradually changed from:
A. Trying to co-exist with traffic, ‘cycling’, riding a bike with a similar driverly attitude and outlook.
to…
Z. Aiming to be more aware of person, place, and surroundings: adopting a more mindful way.

So although my delightful Gazelle Ultimate S8‘* was pretty much perfect, after a trip to France I found room for improvement.

My new S8* adopted my previous Jones Bend H-Bar® 660. However, I still had that slight niggle that I wanted to relax even more.

You’ll see from my random selection of bikes in France, that people abroad generally ride in a more relaxed manner; sit-up and breathe.

Driving home I found myself following a Gazelle with an extended handlebar stem – I decided, that’s what I want!

And so, the great people at Future Cycles Leicester replaced the limited length break and gear cables on the S8 with longer ones, and added a new stem… ‘simples’.

Old Stem…

New Stem…

Boom, boom, and triple boom! Sit-up and breathe. If you can, just ride a bike!

*My Gazelle Ultimate S8, what can I say, an utter delight: read more here.

 

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Bike

Gazelle Ultimate

And so it came to pass…  after six & and half years and roughly 20,000 miles the ‘old faithful’ has been exchanged –  I trust its new owner will enjoy it as I did. See the history of my old Specialised here: Bike (pre Sept 2017)

One of the reasons for the upgrade – chain & chain-set wear & maintenance, gear wear and maintenance.
Over the last 6 years, I have discovered that bike commuting 12-20 miles a day takes a large toll on the mechanics of a bike. The condition of our roads and bike paths throws dust, debris and all manner of crud into the mechanisms of a bike. Without regular cleaning and maintenance parts wear. Even with cleaning and maintenance parts wear! The novelty (and cost) of this is ok for some, but I am not naturally a dirty-hands bloke. I have to put a thankful word in, to the lads at City Cycles in Thurmaston – great service always!

Onwards…

So a Gates ‘Belt Drive’.
Gates say “Free yourself from oily, rusty chains… Clean. Smooth. Strong. … last longer than chains, never need grease and are nearly maintenance-free … goodbye to high-maintenance bike chains. Say hello to simplicity and fun.”
We’ll see.

 

AndHub Gears‘.
The Shimano Alfine 8 speed. Shimano say “a stylish and sophisticated way to enjoy the ultimate urban riding experience”. Reviews are good: “…does an impressive work … you don’t have a problem with its weight … rapid and silent functioning … unpretentious maintenance”
We’ll see.

 

And theGazelle Ultimate S8‘.
I researched a good selection of belt drive city bikes. The interweb’s got a lot of good things to say. Thanks also to input from friends like 42 Bikes Dave and his research into a ‘Bike For Life’. Ultimately (forgive the pun), I landing on Gazelle, supplied locally by Future Cycles in Leicester.

Time will tell of course, but after a few good runs, I have to say “I am very pleased”! The ride is quiet, smooth and solid. The gears are simply a delight. I wondered if the gears would be enough but no worries there; flat out on the straight and down to near bottom for the few ‘hills’ on my commute (short sharp inclines).

A few tweaks to the delivery from the Netherlands. All thanks to amiable folks at Future Cycles in Leicester.

  • I have retained my old Brooks Flyer saddle. It’s likely a friendly pair of old boots. The saddle that came with the Gazelle was hot and definitely not as comfortable.
  • I have again opted for Marathon tyres, and moved from 32mm to 35mm to take a bit more of the tree-root-hit out of the ride.
  • I have also kept my Jones handlebars and well worn Ergon grips.  The bars are a more classic design that allows the rider to sit up more.

As I have said many times before, my riding style over the years, has changed from:
i. Trying to co-exist with motor traffic, riding a bike with a similar driverly attitude and outlook.
Towards,
ii. Aiming to be more aware of place and adopting a more contented, mindful way…

Enough for now – just to say thanks again to the folks at Future Cycles in Leicester, and of course to the mensen(?) at Gazelle UK and the Netherlands.
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Bike

Autumn Commute 2017

It’s been a while since I posted a bike video – but with the clocks going back I thought I’d capture the ride home  – next week it’ll be dark. 😦

Not that the dark’s a problem really. It’s currently pitch dark on my inbound journey at 7am anyway. I find that in the dark you can often see other traffic and they can see you, sometimes better than in the daytime. In the dark, vehicles are lit up (hopefully), and people on bikes, of course, should be lit up too! With lights, you can see vehicle’s lights approaching from behind, as well as hear them.

But for now here’s record of an Autumn 10mile commute out of Leicester. 3 x 10min films.

Autumn Commute 2017

 

…and below is a reminder of the old commute and weather from other seasons. Potentially weather to come – the thought of it is worse than the reality – Happy daze!

Snow:

Wet and Dark: