I don’t remember the details of the bikes I rode as child and teenager. There was a single speed bike with coaster brakes and the mildly swept handlebars (not straight bars; not drop bars). There was a 3 speed, I think it was a Raleigh with the Sturmey-Archer gears in the hub that I rode to high school in the fall and spring. I bought a road bike and cycled for a few years in the late 70s and early 80s. Then marriage to a person with access to family cottage, children and other hobbies ate up weekends and leisure time. I came back to cycling 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 before 1980. Shimano 600 cranks, chainrings, ,shifters, brakes. Gearing below. 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. Sold it when I moved and downsized in 2020-21.
- Giant Yukon. Aluminum mountain bike; straight bars, a 26 inch wheel bike. It came with knobby tread. I went to less aggressive tires, and rode it mainly on paved roads and trails and gravelled trails (as a hybrid). I changed chainrings and renewed the cassette. Front 46-34-22 x 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. 700c x 32 tires. Straight bars. Shimano Acera trigger shifters. Trek Blendr Mount (can be fitted with computer mount or a headlight mount). 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 (clips for the SPD cleats on one side). I had a Bontrager rear rack and changed to a Tubus Logo Evo rear rack. I had a couple of Bontrager headlights including Ion. I had a Flare R rear light. I took off the pedals and put back the Bontrager accessories when I sold it when when I moved and downsized in 2020-21.
- 2019. Cannondale Topstone 105, gravel bike. 700c x 40 tires; changed to 700c x 38. Mid-trail. (frame geometry term for how sensitive a bike may be to load on the front and pressure on the handle bars). Drop bars. Shimano 105 (STI) Double tap shifters. Disc brakes. Stock crank FSA 172.5 mm; changed to 165 mm – a shorter radius and less stress on knees. Change the stock 700c x 40 WTB tires for Panaracer 700c x 38 tires. I used the Cat Eye Mity 8 odometer, changed to a Garmin Edge GPS. I used Shimano PD-A530 pedal I moved the Bontrager Flare R onto this bike, but found out that this unit did not withstand moisture and replace it with a Cygolite Hotshot. I bought a new front light. I put on SKS longboard chromoplastic fenders and a Tubus Vega rack, mainly to carry a trunk bag.
In Victoria I mainly rode the Giant 2002-2015, the Trek 2015-2019, then the Cannondale starting in 2019. I sold the Apollo and Trek when I moved to a smaller place in 2020. On my visits to Winnipeg 2006-2014, I borrowed bikes including Mike’s Raleigh with road bike gearing and straight bars.
I learned about bikes as I worked on them, and attempted repairs and improvemets. I learned from the web sites of Harris Cyclery and Sheldon Brown. The former is a bike shop in Newton, Massachusetts founded by Sheldon Brown. Sheldon’s family and shop continue to publish his advice. In modern times, there are YouTube videos posted by Park Tools and Global Cycling Network, bike builders and mechanics. In my move to a gravel bike, I watched videos by Russ Roca of Path Less Pedalled.
Bikes are complex. They are made of many parts that have to fit together and withstand the rider and the road.
Gearing presents nerdy talking points. Many of the combinations on a 2x or 3x bike are not useful. Some combinations of front ring to rear cog are hard on gear and rider. Ratios for power and cadence are another nerdy area. Sheldon Brown explains the gear-inch method and the gain ratio. It’s the same thing. Both methods calculate how far forward the bike moves for each movement of the pedals. Gear inch counts forward movement in inches for each full revolution of the pedals. Gain ratio counts movement for each unit of movement of the pedal. Both methods depend on diameter of the circle the pedal moves in and the diameter of the wheels.
Gearing on some of my bikes follows.
Inaccessible (chain criss-cross) gears.
Kuwahara Apollo. 170 mm crank. 700c x 23. Front Shimano 600 52-40 x Shimano 600 Uniglide 6 cog.
Trek FX 7.4. 170 mm crank. 700c x 32. Front Shimano Acera 48-36-26 x Rear Shimano HG20 9 cog 11-32. I mainly used the 36 tooth front ring, with the 21, 19, 17, 15 tooth rear cogs; sometimes the 13 and 11 tooth cogs. I almost never went to the large front ring. I went to the small front ring against the 21, 19, 17, 15 tooth rear cogs for some climbs.
Cannondale Topstone 105. Front 46-30 FSA Omega x Rear Shimano 105 11 cog 11-32 cassette; changed to SRAM PG-1170 11 cog 11-36 for a few more low, climbing gears.
It is important to have a clean chain, chainrings and cassette, and well positioned derailleurs.
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 (3 bolt or 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 and put those on the Cannondale too.
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 was dependable for some kinds of clothing, tools, and some repair parts and replacement components. As of 2020 MEC was shaky and after Covid it was sold to a hedge fund. I expect changes.
I wear sunglasses for eye protection except under low light conditions – in summer, there are lots of flying insects and dust. On bright days, UV happens; bright sun conceals risk. Variable diffusion works under a range of conditions.
A bell is useful for riding trails and paths shared with runners, longboarers, 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 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 rear rack and a rack pack. For some rides I also use a small pannier. I carry a replacement inner tube, a mini pump and some tools.