slight modifications with time…

I haven’t had much need to change things up over the last few 100 miles. After you get things dialed in, bikes are wonderfully simple that way. There have been a few small annoyances that needed addressing.

The first of these has been that since it’s been getting dark earlier and the weather has been wet, my need for lighting has increased. My front light works flawlessly, but my clip on Planet bike ‘blinky superflash’ keeps falling off when I hit bumps, which is constantly, because I’m driving around the city. All is going great and I’m making great time while on my way to work, and then I’ll hear this little tick-tick-tick sound of a small piece of plastic bouncing off into the distance behind me. Next thing I know I’m looping back around to pick it up and hoping it doesn’t get run over by a car in the meantime. Well after that happened about 5 times I gave up and decided to make the installation a little more permanent by removing the clip, drilling through it and strategically placing some bolts with lock-nuts so I can attach it to my back rack for good. It’s not getting off now. HA.

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Next few things on my list of modifications required me to give up a huge chunk of what little masculinity I had left by learning how to sew. My frame pump suffered from the same problem of launching itself from the bike at the worst times, like when I’m going through the middle of an intersection downhill over bumps 2 seconds before the light changes to red. After THAT happened 5 times, I decided to fabricate a small strap with some velcro on it to keep it from launching into traffic… Nothing super awesome, just something to get the job done…

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Then came the wet weather we had last week. I bought a waterproof seat cover a while back to keep the Brooks saddle from getting soaked in the rain, but it always slipped off due to the loose fit, and the smooth leather of the saddle. A quick and ugly fix to this (which doesn’t matter since it’s invisible from the top anyway) was to stitch 2 flaps to the underside so that I can wrap it underneath through the seat rails. Works very well!

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Last but not least, I bought 2 stainless steel water bottles from Velo Orange in July, but never put them in the cages too much because they rattled around like crazy when riding on the aforementioned rough roads. My fix was to make some bottle covers which slipped over top and tie off around the neck. I already found some thermally insulating fabric to make a revised version of these after I find some time to kill. The bottles are great, but the plastic caps are so-so. The sip-top lost one of it’s o-rings, and a drop to the floor cracked the top of the regular capped bottle (you can see in the picture where I had to epoxy and screw it back together. The bottles also suffer from the ‘launch from the bike at the worst possible moment’ disease, but a pair of non-flimsy cages is a better solution to that than anything I could sew up. The King Stainless cage I have on the underside holds a bottle upside down fine!

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Why denim? It’s the most durable stuff that I had just lying around. I’m already thinking about how I can make a small saddle/bar bag combo, but that would mostly be a showpiece because I don’t really need any bike bags at this point, and my skills haven’t evolved to the point where I can do things that actually look good yet. Down the road a bit.

I had a pinch flat a few weeks back when riding home from the store with around 50 pounds of groceries heaped on the back of my bike. That wasn’t too disappointing, but after I fixed it, the bead on the Continental Contact tire separated from the sidewall, and had an explosive failure before I could even get the wheel back on the bike. I’ve never seen a tire self-destruct like this before, and I’m really glad it didn’t happen while I was in traffic because that would have been bad. Anyway, I’ll rate my experience with that tire as a 5, because it did last for a few hundred miles, with good tread wear but it also catastrophically failed, even though I keep up with checking tire pressure and inspecting them. It’s not like I fault the company, because I’m really hard on tires, but aside from a quick replacement, my next full set is probably going to be a set of Schwalbe Marathon or Marathon Cross. I’m definitely done with Continentals and Michelins. I’ve has sidewall issues with both.

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