I cycled as a teenager and came back to it about 2002. I kept riding in Victoria when I moved. My bikes, as an adult:
- Kuwahara Apollo. Road bike with a Chromo-moly steel frame, purchased around 1980. 2 x 6; front 52-40, rear 13-15-18-20-25-29. Shimano 600 cranks, gears, shifters, brakes. Down tube friction shifters. I added a longer seat post in 2005, and a longer stem. In 2015, Shimano PD-A530 pedals (SPD cleat). In 2019, brake levers for more leverage.
- Giant Yukon. Aluminum mountain bike; straight bars, a 26 inch wheel bike. It came with knobby tread. I went to less aggressive treaded tires, and road it as quasi-hybrid. I changed chainrings and renewed the cassette. It was 3 x 7; front 46-34-22, rear 12-14-16-18-21-24-28. I changed cranks, hubs, changed the stem, added bar ends in 2004. I replaced the seat in 2005. I added Shimano PD-M324 pedals (clip for cleat on one side). I changed the cranks and chainrings again in 2009. I gave it away when I upgraded.
- 2015. Trek FX 7.4, hybrid. 700 x 32 wheels & rubber. 3 x 9; fromt 48-36-26; rear Shimano 9 cog 11-32 cassette. Straight bars. Shimano Acera trigger shifters. I added the Trek kickstand, Bontrager/Trek branded fenders and the stem-mounted front light. I put a Cat Eye Mity 8 odometer on it; replaced that with the Bontrager Trip 100 on the Trek Blendr Mount. I put on Shimano PD-M324 pedals, and changed to Shimano PD-A530. Both have clips for the SPD cleats on one side. I had a Bontrager rear rack and a Tubus Logo Evo rear rack.
- 2019. Cannondale Topstone 105, gravel bike. 700-40C wheels. 2 x 11; front 46-30, rear Shimano 105 11 cog 11-34 cassette. Drop bars. Shimano 105 (STI) Double tap shifters. Disc brakes. I used the Cat Eye Mity 8 odometer, the Shimano PD-A530 pedals and Bontrager rear lights. I bought a new front light. I put on SKS longboard chromoplastic fenders and a Topeak MTX rack, mainly to carry a trunk bag.
On my visits to Winnipeg 2006-2014, I borrowed bikes including Mike’s Raleigh with road bike gearing and straight bars.
I worked on my bikes, gradually learning a few things. I learned a lot from the web sites of Harris Cyclery and the late Sheldon Brown. The former is a bike shop in Newton, Massachusetts founded by Sheldon Brown. In modern times, there are YouTube videos posted by Park Tools and Global Cycling Network, bike builders and mechanics.
I learned about the consequences of monitoring the condition of the bike, components and fitting the bike.
The original seat on my Giant broke down gradually in 2005; my right hip was lower than my left for at least a couple of months and a few hundred Km. The seats available for replacement were numerous and varied. Manufacturers promote padding as the essence of a good seat. Width, alignment and seat position (elevation) matter too – more. I agree, as I often do, with the late Sheldon Brown on saddles. (Sheldon’s family and old shop, continue to publish his advice). I ended with a hard narrow road seat, and was happy. The Trek FX had a better seat; the Topstone better still. My favourite saddle: the leather-covered Arius on my old Apollo.
The gearing on the Trek charted, using the gear-inch method:
I mainly used the middle (36 tooth) front ring, with rear cogs 4-7; sometimes cogs 8 & 9. I almost never went to the large (48 tooth) ring. I went to the small (26 tooth) ring against cogs 7, 6, 5, 4.
The gearing on the Cannondale charts this way:
The original gearing on the Apollo:
The ergonomics and quality of the shifters matter. It is important to have a clean chain, chainrings and cassette, and well positioned derailleurs.
I rode straight bar bikes – the Giant and the Trek – mainly on paved roads or maintained straight trails. I cut the bars on my Giant down to 156 cm. for a time; the bars on the Trek FX were 158 cm. With straight bars, my hands are outside my shoulders. I leaned into the bar. Setting straight bars low was not a great idea. I get numb or tingling hands, and a period of diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome in 2007. I mainly blame this on my choice on handlebar height. The measurement across the top of the drops on the Apollo is 138 cm; The meaurement across the hoods on the Cannondale is 145 cm. Drop bars provide more hand positions, with hands closer to the body which allows a more upright posture, even with the bars set lower than straight bars should be set for comfort on a straight bar touring bike.
I change the cranks on the Giant in 2004 to upgrade from the factory Suntour cranks. I did not see a problem in purchasing the 185 mm cranks that the bike store had in stock – I knew Sheldon Brown, but did not read his crank length article at the time. I don’t remember what the length of the orginal cranks, or what I installed after/when I removed the 185 mm. It may have been 180, which was where the manufacturers and stores were with Mtn bikes in the day. My Apollo felt better because, among other things, I had 170 mm cranks. The Trek FX had 170 mm cranks. The Topstone has 172.5 mm. I am not tall enough for longer cranks.
I went to clipless pedals on my Giant and cycling shoes with cleats in 2004 or 2005. I started with Shimano SPD, the two bolt system, in the universal release mode. I have tried the black cleat too, but didn’t like it. I couldn’t find a good wide shoe at MEC, and went a size too large in my first shoes. I should have had a proper fitting shoe. I changed to the Lake 90 shoe in 2010, an inexpensive lace up shoe that fits me well, takes the SPD cleat, and has a rigid composite sole. This suits the riding I do. In 2007, I bought the Look style Ultegra pedals for my Apollo road bike, and (on sale) Carnac road shoes and Shimano SPD-SL (Look Style) cleats. I never got comfortable with that system. I changed to Shimano PD-A530 pedals (clips for the SPD cleat on one side) in 2015.
A helmet is a necessity; a light helmet with good airflow is worthwhile. Good shorts with a (modern, synthetic) chamois are vital. For summer, a light jersey in a wicking fabric. At one time most of my clothing was purchased at Mountain Equipment Coop, which is dependable for some kinds of clothing, tools, and some repair parts and replacement components.
A bell is useful for riding trails and paths shared with runners, skaters, dog-walkers, pedestrians and other cyclists. Some are in their moment, listening to music, hearing impaired or indifferent to the possibility of being overtaken.
I wear a variable diffusion sunglasses except under low light conditions – in summer, there are lots of flying insects and dust. On bright days, UV happens; bright sun conceals risk.
I put fenders on the FX in 2017 to ride on days with showers or moisture on the road or trail. I put fenders on the CT when I bought it.
I have always had a back rack and a rack pack – I like to carry a replacement inner tube and a pump and some tools. Self reliance; stubborn.