16 Oct 2010

Geared up for late October

16th October 2010: 36-43F, windy, sunny. 21miles shopping trip before morning coffee trying to ride at right angles to the wind. I was freezing at times when in the shadow of the woods but a bit warmer in the sunshine. I am adjusting my clothing to suit the colder temperatures. Different hats, gloves, jackets and socks are all necessary.

Last year's experience will suggest when to put on overshoes and start adding thick fleece jackets as well as the normal windproof shells. It is vital not to sweat on climbs or one can become rapidly chilled later on. I wish I'd bought overshoes last year. They turned out to be far cheaper than I feared with a bit of shopping around.

Gloves are still a problem. None of mine are really good enough for sub-zero conditions on a bike. Fine for a long walk but they lack the windproofing and insulation necessary for the higher wind speeds generated by cycling. The good old wind chill factor is still working with a vengeance.

The CSI 43005 bike computer continues to fail to record distance and speed depending on its mood. Then it starts again without any obvious cause. The magnet and wireless sensor have been reset so many times I can do it with my eyes closed. It's a great shame because it is the only affordable cadence indicating device I can find online. The head is a fairly good size with all the information one could ask for. I have replaced the battery in the head to no effect. I had thought that removal of the flashing front light had solved the wireless problem. I was wrong.

I should have a Tiagra RD-4500GS 9sp. rear changer on the way to rural Denmark by snail mail. I bought it on eBay(UK). Danish online/retail prices are at least 25% higher than in the UK. There is no eBay(DK) Having an 8 speed cassette and a 9 speed indexed, bar-end lever finally makes a new rear changer quite a sensible purchase.

This longer cage, Tiagra GS model claims 37T total capacity. It allows a maximum sprocket size of 27T (lowest gear) but my 28T should be within its range. A spacer washer under the Higgins boss, which supports the Trykit gear hanger, should provide just enough clearance for the top changer pulley from the largest sprocket without spoiling the gear changes. The difference between 28T and 27T is quite small anyway.

I have 28, 38 & 48T chainrings and an 11-28T cassette.

Number of teeth difference changer capacity calculation:

Sprockets:               28T - 11T = 17T Rear difference.

Chainrings:          48T - 28T = 20T Front difference.

Capacity required:  17T + 20T = 37 Teeth total.  

The old Suntour ARX, which I am presently using, has the wrong cable length change per click ratio for the Shimano 9 speed indexed lever. Sometimes the ARX jumps two gears and then then nothing happens for the next two clicks. Provided the cable length change (per-click) ratio is correct the lever (shifter) itself does all the indexing. The ARX is obviously not compatible so I use the friction lever option. The problem then is the small lever movement required to change between any of the 8 gears.

The rear changer itself simply moves under the precise control of exactly measured changes in cable length. While still maintaining chain tension. In theory (almost) any Shimano compatible changer would work with an indexed Shimano lever. The spacing between the sprockets is quite closely matched between cassettes. The rear changer, end-stop screws can limit a rear changer to fewer gears but will not provide more gears than the lever itself can handle. (No matter how many sprockets there are on the cassette) 

We shall see how it fares when the new Tiagra changer turns up. A new cable and outer will probably be a good idea to reduce friction.

It wasn't worth worrying about indexed gears when I was still messing around with smaller numbers of gears and very old, recycled changers.

By a happy coincidence a secondhand set of tri-bars still had Shimano bar-end levers fitted. The right hand, rear change lever offers indexed or friction options at the turn of a simple, hinged wire handle.  This looks rather like a friction adjusting device for downtube gear levers but it actually switches directly between indexed and friction. Only the right, rear changer lever is furnished with the wire adjusting handle. The left, front changer lever is a friction device. The wire loop offers easy hand adjustment out on the road without the need for tools if the indexing should go out of adjustment.

I have two sets of Shimano RSX, double, brake/gear, road levers but both are compromised. One has a gear cable fitted which cannot be removed. The cable nipple is stuck inside the mechanism despite my attempts at partial dismantling. Both refuse to click and release cable on moving the smaller gear change lever no matter how hard (or little) I pull on the attached cable.  I am too mean to have an LBS look at them and would prefer not to wreck them by dismantling any further. Checking online found that they are only 7 speed shifters so I don't need try any harder to repair them.The advice offered on a forum was to soak them in WD40. As I am allergic to WD40 I'll just put them away in the old bike levers storage box. 

41F, still windy, but sunny pm. 11 more miles for 32 today.

17th Hard frost overnight. Woke to 27F. 45F pm, mostly still, sunny. So still the wind turbines were not moving. Even spotted a rare hot air balloon. Out most of the day so only time for a late afternoon 12 mile shopping trip. 

18th 39-43F, windy again, bright start but soon became heavy overcast. 23 miles. Rain forecast.

19th 39-44F, light winds, sunny periods. Avoided the promised showers. I have seen a new Jay every day for a week on my various travels. Lots of birds of prey about and some small, fast flying  birds in flocks which I have yet to identify. Mostly light coloured. Nothing I am familiar with from Britain, I don't think. Probably migrants heading south. They are so shy I can't get a proper look at any of them.

Just a gentle shopping trip for 22 miles today. The CSI Bike computer is still misbehaving completely at random. Relying on the GPS loggers instead. I have been wearing a waistcoat under my beautifully windproof, cycling jacket until I warm up. Determined to stay comfortable this winter. I am much better equipped than last year with a variety of windproof cycling jackets and other kit to call on as necessary.

I'm also hoping the 2WD will overcome the problems of uncleared minor roads if we get a lot of snow again. The months of lying snow still seems like a strange nightmare. Even in Denmark it usually only lies for a week or two at the most. Trying to ride on snow was an extreme test of patience due to wheel spin and the front wheel constantly crabbing sideways.

20th Oct 39F, cold, windy, sunny at first then bitterly cold and overcast later.  I have found an affordable Tiagra triple front changer to go with the rear mech. I bought earlier. Mr Higgins will be getting a makeover soon!  Only 20 miles today.

21st Only 34F, cool, still, but becoming breezy, sunny. I wore the overshoes and waistcoat expecting it to be freezing like yesterday. Though it didn't  feel very cold riding into the wind. I became so warm on the way home I took off the windproof jacket and ended up riding in my cycling jersey over a long sleeved vest. Still wearing racing shorts despite the sympathy of old ladies at the supermarket. I keep telling them: My legs don't feel the cold. Not even when I can feel the cold wind on my chest right through my layers of cycling clothes. My new windproof cycling jacket is proving absolutely superb. Another excellent charity shop find. In perfect, as-new condition it was too and incredibly cheap! Though my wife gave it a tour in the machine as usual. She is very patient washing of all my cycling kit. I am never allowed out in yesterday's kit.

An LBS had found me a bottom bracket set with adjustable RH cup and locking ring. No charge either! What a gentleman! He had a Tiagra rear changer on a racing bike in the shop window. First time I have seen one in the flesh. 23 miles. My average is heading for only 30 miles per day! With the weather turning bad every afternoon I haven't been able to sneak out for an afternoon ride for ages! This will not do if I am to reach 10k miles by the end of the year!

BTW: I have been passed twice by Google Street View cars recently. I wonder how long it takes for the images to go "live" on Google Earth? Perhaps they weren't filming at the time?

22nd   40-45F, strong, gusty wind, sunny. I was being blown off the road in places but survived for 21 miles. Plus 15 miles later between showers. The wind had dropped a bit by then.

23rd 46-49F, very windy again, some sun. I am fed up  with the wind! No matter how I plan my route I always end up fighting the wind. 22 miles.

To test a theory that I had toughened up enough to ride other saddles I put the Vetta SL back on. So much for theory! From the first few yards I knew I was sitting on unwanted pressure points.  These were precisely where there were muscles needing freedom of movement which didn't want to be squashed between my bone structure and the lightly padded saddle.

It took me right back to my teens again and riding my Unica Nitor road saddle. It was rock hard, stiff, moulded plastic without any padding or even a vinyl cover. No matter the large mileage I was doing it always hurt at the start of each ride. Not to mention later during the ride. A long ride was a test of pain endurance. At 17 I rode from Bath to Plymouth one day and then rode back the next. The awful pain of that endless ride left a lasting impression.

I had treated the vinyl cover of the Vetta with silicone in the summer to make it more slippery. It tended to grip my shorts and cause discomfort in the summer heat. Now it is so slippery I nearly fell off the trike when turned round to double check for traffic. I went over it with a wet wipe at a shopping stop and this helped a bit. Just as well, because I nearly slipped off again on the next acrobatic corner.

 Despite going on the same saddle pin as the Brooks, without adjustment, the SL felt higher and my knees and my shins hurt most of the time. I couldn't be bothered to stop and dig out a spanner to lower it once I was out on the road. The Brooks Professional is going back on despite the Vetta feeling a lot quicker. Probably only because it was slippery.

 The Tricycle Association Gazette turned up this morning. As usual, I read it from cover to cover before doing anything else. There is always a funny side to many of the stories. I liked one letter to the editor reiterating how I feel myself about tricycling. We do it because it's so much fun.

One oddity was the enclosure of the annual mileage form. It runs from September to September! I kept changing my computers to the latest model in the local supermarket and didn't seriously record my mileage before January 1st of 2010. So I'll be 3 months short of a full set! And, it was the worst winter snow for years in Denmark with some minor roads impassable for weeks at a time. I feel so inadequate! :^)

24th 40-42F, breezy, overcast. Rain forecast for the whole day. I managed a short ride before the rain started. I had decided to test my "new" Aesse jacket for waterproofing. So I knew what to expect in future.  It didn't do too badly but I was starting to feel cooler from the damp coming through on my forearms, shoulders and upper back after half an hour riding into a rainy headwind. I'd describe the jacket as shower-proof but no better. When I arrived home my cycling jersey felt slightly damp in places but I still remained warm despite the rain. Which is good enough considering I carry a fully proofed jacket for heavy rain. It is always best to know in advance how clothing will perform rather than waiting until it becomes a matter of survival at worst. Or prolonged misery at best.

I wore my new 'BBB' neoprene overshoes for the first time today. My feet remained completely dry and cosy without the slightest sense of overheating or restriction. They were much easier to put on too compared with Aldi's cheapos. They didn't look remotely so huge or as ugly as Aldi's baggy cloth overshoes. I was hoping to get out later but the rain is now more or less continuous. Only 14 miles today. Plus 14 later in a much stronger wind. Now my right knee is hurting slightly from that Vetta SL saddle experiment yesterday. I fitted a new 12V battery in the wireless computer sensor but all it did was produce random figures for speed.

I'm hoping the Tiagra gear changers will arrive in the post tomorrow. There is no packet delivery on Saturdays in rural Denmark. I'm thinking of making an HD video of the indexed gear changing with the trike on the workstand and my TZ7 camera on a tripod. I know, I know! I have far too much time on my hands. :-)

Here's a good selection of trike "porn": 

Flickriver: Most interesting photos from Racing Tricycles pool
The mere mention of the P-word should bring in a few more visitors: Most (all?) of whom will be "sadly" disappointed! :-)

25th 33-42F, started almost still but wind building, cloudless sky. No gear changers in the post! A tyre went flat on the ride. A patch had lifted on one side where I had replaced a Superpatch. Possible incompatible glue residue? 21 miles.

26th  29-42F, still at first, but breezy later, cloudless sky. More sympathy from old ladies about the frost on my bare knees! It didn't feel particularly cold despite the grass being frosted white. I wore the knitted waistcoat again until I warmed up. The sheer weight of the shopping made the front wheel feel light! Still no sign of my gear changers. Grr! 27 miles. Plus 15 more later.

27th Oct. 43-46F, windy, constant rain. I thought I'd chosen a brief lull but the rain started again soon after I left. Still comfortable in assorted jackets, shorts and over shoes. Only 14 miles.

28th Oct 43-48F, overcast, windy. I paid the price of an easy first half by having to return into the teeth of a gale! With the rain stinging my face like riding through hale on a motorbike! Having put on my fully proofed jacket I arrived home soaked with sweat and rain in equal measure. I have added a polka-dot shower cap to Mr Higgins' inclement weather, saddle accessories. King of the Mountains style. 24 miles.

As usual, visiting multiple Danish supermarket chains failed to provide the special offers they claim to have in their weekly advertising comics. How much longer are the politicos going to put up with these crook's lies? Year after year they tempt the shopper to travel ever further to another supermarket only to find the offer shelves completely empty. When is fraud not fraud? When it's carried out by a supermarket chain? I went in to buy four specific items and came away empty handed! It may have cost me no petrol but finding the next supermarket would mean a long ride in the pouring rain and a howling gale.

I might as well have another good moan while I'm at it:  If only, the damned (industrialised) farmers hadn't been subsidised by the EU to rip out all the roadside hedges the journey home would have been far more comfortable. Instead of which it took me three times as long as my jacket rattled like a sail in a hurricane. But that's the result of yet more corruption for you:

The hedges provide habitats, food and nesting sites for endangered species of birds. Hedges act as wildlife corridors for endangered species of mammals and amphibians. The hedges provide shelter to cyclists, joggers and walkers alike. Don't they bang on about obesity and getting us all fit again? How much taxpayers money do the powers that be spend on promoting cycling? The hedges soak up toxins from traffic and absorb loads of CO2. Remember global warming and CO2, anybody?

The hedges provide sound barriers and sound absorbers to ever increasing traffic noise. The hedges make the roads seem narrower which slows traffic. Cheaper than chicanes and traffic calming measures. Nobody sets fire to a hedge like they do to speed cameras. Greatly increasing road safety. Particularly when the rats can't see around corners on their daily, high speed  runs through areas of outstanding natural beauty. Remember road safety, anybody? How much do they spend campaigning about it? How much does each RTA cost the taxpayer?

What do the psychopathically greedy, stinking rich, terrifyingly corrupt, parasitic farmers do? They rip out all the hedges! Aided and abetted by the corrupt politicians. The EU is demanding increased subs yet again from the rich member countries. They can't even explain where a fraction of this taxpayer's money goes! Paying the East European farmers to grub out their hedges. no doubt! Then paying them yet again to put them all back.

And no, I haven't finished moaning quite yet: Finally, 8 days after being posted, my Tiagra rear changer has arrived. Beautifully packaged but the item is not unmarked as claimed by the vendor. There are scratches and marks all over the body and pulley cage which certainly didn't happen in the post. Not that the changer will be easily seen while hidden right away underneath my huge shopping bag, but still...

Okay, it's time to get out to the bike shed to shelter from the rain.

It didn't take long to swap rear changers and by then the rain had stopped and it had brightened up. So I made a quick HD video of gear indexing in action on my Trykit 2WD converted trike using my Panasonic TZ7 camera in video mode.

As I said in the YouTube video blurb  the indexing works much better when my hand is in a more natural position on the bar-end, gear change lever. I had a short ride and was delighted with the indexing. It looks rather awkward on the video but the leverage was all wrong with the trike set up up so high on the workstand. I took the wheels off because there isn't much room to turn the pedals by hand with the wheels in place. The down jacket was to compensate for the wind chill while working outside.

Notice how invisible the Trykit 2WD system is and how silent the axle system is in action. Even with the volume turned right up there isn't anything to hear except the distant traffic. With cup and cone bearings it would have been very noisy indeed. I have adjusted the bearing cups, with their journal bearings fitted, so that there is only a tiniest amount of end play (or shake) on each axle. This should ensure the longest possible life for the bearings. Though new ones are easily obtainable if they should ever wear out. 

Now I'm looking forwards to receipt of my Tiagra front changer in the post. There is nothing inherently wrong with my old Suntour ARX changer but it can sometimes fail to move the chain onto the inside chainwheel. Which is a real pain when one wants to maintain momentum with a high cadence on a hill. If the changer is adjusted to push the chain just a fraction more then it jumps right over and onto the bottom bracket shell. With my feet flailing round but going nowhere it is then a case of applying the brakes not to run back downhill! Then I have to find a way to get the chain back onto the inner chainwheel without turning round and losing the height I'd already gained. :-)

29th 50F, overcast, breezy. I was too warm most of the time and kept swapping jackets.  The gear indexing is working rather well. Not quite perfect, but then I haven't spent any time, at all, getting it right. 29 miles.

30th 50-52F, weak sunny periods, rather windy. I took a new route across a flat bottomed valley with flooded fields full of birds. There were large flocks of geese, oyster catchers and gulls. 26 fairly gentle miles just enjoying the countryside in the golden light. The postman delivered my Tiagra triple front changer just before I left. It looks to be in as new condition despite having covered a few hundreds miles. The vendor must really look after their kit!  I was running home made TA triples back in the 60s but this is my first "proper" triple front changer.

 The Tiagra front changer in place. I had a seven mile trial ride and it is much more positive than the old Suntour ARX. The cadence magnet can be seen on the back of the left crank.

 31st 43-51F, cool, almost still, becoming cloudier.  I thought I'd better put in a good mileage to bring the month's total back above 30 miles per day. The gear indexing seemed to be going well. There is an easy learning curve to applying a gentle squeeze to the bar-end lever. This provides a positive change. I have bought another cheap wired bike computer for a fifty kroner (£5 equiv). The CSI just doesn't want to register speed or mileage even when I hold the head right beside the transmitter on the forks! Changing the battery again had no effect. Worthless tat! 47 miles so far and I have to go out again to do some more shopping.

Plus 13 miles. The new computer is working fine with nice big digits. I've put the other one on the other side of the centre of the bars to keep the cadence reading. I was reading about adding cadence to an ordinary bike computer with the magnet and sensor counting crank revs. Which I already have, of course. I'll have to do some more homework though to find out the circumference setting required. I may have to splice the cable too because the cheapo computer only has a short sensor wire and it wont reach the crank.
Click on any image for an enlargement. Back click to return to the text.


  1. Chris, were/are you visible on street view? Regards JD.

  2. Hi GB,

    I'd rather keep it quiet to avoid giving away my location too precisely. :ø))