Monday 28 October 2013

New Addition to the family...

No, Cindy isn't pregnant.  This is another topic.

Although I started thinking about this last spring, it's that time when snow has arrived.  I've just parked the M Coupe up at the parents house as its incapable of winter more than basically any car I've ever had.  Low, light, overpowered, with big broad rear tires.  It's certified from auto testers to pull a G of lateral force on a a skid pad in a corner, and is in the upper 4 second range on 0-100, but won't go up a 3% incline with 1cm of snow on it.  So…

… we have one good winter car.  But there are times when we're doing opposite things in opposite places on opposite schedules, and it'd be handy to get around.  I've been looking and thinking for a while.

I set these criteria in my mind:
1.  Doesn't get stuck.
2.  Cheap, as I don't drive much, don't want depreciation, op costs, insurance, etc. eroding my wallet daily.

I then turned to the internet for a meandering journey.

1 is somewhat easy.  What doesn't get stuck?  Range Rovers, Mercedes G Wagons, Subarus, Unimogs, Hummers, Toyota Tacoma 4x4's, Jeep Rubicons.

How about filter 2?  Range Rovers are expensive.  Benz's are too.  Unimog's take that to a new extreme (when buying new anyway, but given they last for 50 years, might have to revisit the depreciation calc on those).  Used Hummers actually aren't that expensive, but they depreciate like crazy and guzzle gas like nobody's business.  Toyotas and Subarus probably aren't bad, but I'm not really looking in that price range regardless, and wasn't really on the new bandwagon. 

In the end, through much contemplation I arrived at a solution. It's a question with many solutions, and every mind might come to it differently... and let's just say when it comes to cars, mainstream isn't what I gravitate too (there were only about 600 M Coupes on our continent after all). 

Sunday 27 October 2013

Lou Reed RIP

"Lou Reed, whose band the Velvet Underground became one of the most influential in rock by fusing art and music in collaboration with artist Andy Warhol in 1960s New York, died on Sunday at the age of 71, Rolling Stone reported."

I sit at work on a weekend 15 years and appreciate as some has said "he aged, but didn't burn out or rust".  Impacted the world more than my role on earth will through his voice and smooth poetic (ie. velvety) exploration of topics that were difficult to listen to then, or perhaps even now (underground).

I came into appreciation most of Lou Reed during my "Rock and Roll Music History" class in university.  I've never since heard his voice on the radio without stopping, re-concentrating, turning it up, listening, and thinking through the past.  RIP Lou.

Always saw, but now flying away from the dirty boulevard.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Moots Psychlo-X RSL

Well... this is going to be an intense session of high end craftsmanship appreciation.  I "accidentally" ended up with a Moots Psychlo-X RSL, which in my opinion is THE flagship of titanium machining technology.  In 2012, this bike won the Best Cyclocross Bike award at the NAHBS.  There's a correlation that surprises even me between NAHBS kudos and my 2 wheeled wardrobe.  Thanks Shawn for the inadvertent opportunity.  After 3 weeks of improving my ability to ride, I've put enough miles on it to say that it's the nicest (non-mountain) bike I've ever owned... I'm not even going to narrow down the road/'cross distinctions.

Ahh, beautiful bikes.  Relative to the non-RSL frame, the RSL has a lot of subtle technique applied to the tube set to lighten and stiffen the end product.  See if you can spot the difference from the near identical twin before you get to the bottom...

Fully housed cable routing for the 11 speed rear derailleur.  I've gone with the Ultegra 11-32 cassette which is pretty wide range.  In the back you can see the new TRP dual floating piston cable pull Spyre brakes.  They're awesome.  I've post photo shoot matched front and rear rotors, and have elected to go 160mm for both.

I might end up using a larger front ring than the 34 pictured here, but a) I had this 34 lying around, and b) until I get some miles in, I need easy gears post this broken arm lack of fitness ordeal.  I like the clean lines without a front derailleur.  The eggbeaters with red accents actually are subtle enough not to be red overload but look nice with the crank and the red pinstripe around the Moots logos.  Hidden behind is a Chris King press fit bottom bracket.
Thomson seatpost and Gobi saddle are my go-to's.  An avid weight weenie would see this saddle choice as most material location to shed a quarter pound, but I like the shape, and for 'cross remounting durability I feel better with the non-carbon rails.

Dura-ace 9000 controls, Thomson X4 stem and KFC bar with Fizik big thick tape.  I swear I feel a bit of torque motion occasionally with the 2 bolt Thomson stem, even the way the stem cap interlocks... could be my imagination, but I elected for the 4 bolt X4 to allay that sentiment.  I ride a 2cm shorter stem (100mm) than Shawn's to adjust for our reach difference.  King Headset and beauty Moots head tube badge.  Cable spacers to keep things quiet up front are a subtle touch.  Jagwire compression resistant cable housing.

Clearly a machine that's faster than I am.  Enve 29er XC wheels and Enve 'cross fork up front.  I put water bottle cages on post the glamour shoot and with them it's 19.01lbs ready to roll.

Here's the crux of the story if you haven't spotted the difference from Bunnin's.  Note the rear brake cable runs along the underside of the top tube in the picture below.  This is where it was off spec to Bunnin's - logically for a 'cross bike he wanted it run along the top of the top tube.  Moots noticed they welded it wrong vs. the agreed upon final PDF spec sheet and when informing him, said they couldn't file them off and reweld, so they built a new frame.  What could have been stale custom geometry inventory all winter turned into another sale...  after seeing his up close, admiring it, pondering it, debating my own "almost" 'cross bikes, reviewing geometry spec PDF files against each other, a tape measure session Shawn's living room while we were both crippled, I pulled the trigger on the discounted overstock frame!  We're nearly twins, although this won't help me go as fast as him (from the Moots delivery, other than the brake line routing, the only other difference is I requested a black seat post clamp).

Interestingly, post interbike, it seems the new Moots Psychlo-X standard frame spec has moved a lot closer in terms of geometry to Shawn's custom.

I've ridden it up and down the street, and it feels as lovely as any high end manufactured machine would when it's crisp and new.  For now I can't give it a test ride to justify opining on it's overall feel, as my arm cringes from anything bumpy or aggressive.  

Sunday 20 October 2013

Civic elections

The joys of local politics... kids get to be creative. 

Sunday 13 October 2013

Co-motion Java Rohloff detail review

First, Dwan - thanks for your design work and for your part in bringing such great bikes to the world through Co-motion.

Geometry is nailed.  I feel like I'm sitting on one of my race bikes.  This thing feels as good as all the best qualities of steel, in a tight, responsive, could ride anything package.  It's an absolute treat.  Given the spec isn't weight weenie, I'm actually surprised how this thing feels of reasonable weight and not like a tank.

These Velocity rims, the 36 spokes, the big chromoly fork up through the rigid Thomson cockpit setup just feels confidence inspiring.  The hydraulic front brake, and likely in time a hydraulic rear brake (need to custom create one with meters of hose) stop immeasurably better than my prior one.  If you can't feel front wheel flex under a tandem load with a 200mm rotor and a disc brake, you've got a sturdy wheel.

The belt drives will hopefully display durability over time, but the first impressions of a silent ride, and such a direct feel of power transfer, completely defy that this comes from linked drivetrain and a gearing system meters behind me.  The Rohloff is thus far perfect, I have high hopes for its longevity given my prior use of them, but it just initially feels so well suited to the task of a tandem.  And the perfectly symmetrical rear spoke angles you can feel right off the bat on how strong of a rear wheel this yields.  

British racing green was the paint shop feasible approximation of the green we used on our wedding invitations.

Now that's a drivetrain... in theory those are 10,000km belts, and a Rohloff Speedhub is a 100,000km device.  The rear wheel looks great with the symmetric spokes.  14 speeds of durable utility.  Shimano Cranks, Chris King bottom brackets.

Long belt drive shot.  They're installed with quite a bit of tension, I think the rule is 10lb of weight at the center is supposed to deflect it only a centimeter.  It's taught.  Slicing them is the primary risk.  The Shimano cranks are subtle beauty.  Our only issue on the maiden voyage, outside my arm being weak and getting sore, was Cindy's non-drive side crank fixing bolts weren't actually tight.  Easy fix.

Here's bit of the closeup.  Note the ring that appears to the right side in the picture - you can see it's the center track style of ring and belt to keep everything aligned.  Each bottom bracket shell is oversized to take an eccentric BB of Co-motion's design, then the Chris King bottom bracket.  The cable guides for the shifter and brake line are partially visible showing the zip tie approach behind the coupler.

Schmidt dynamo hub, with new improved wiring where a conductor plate is put inside the dropout, so there's no need to plug it in/out when removing the wheel.  Slick.

Schmidt eDeluxe light and beauty Co-motion nickel head badge.  Invisible in this shot Chris King headset.  Oversized head tube is compatible with new larger diameter suspension forks.
The amazement of moving electrons continues with the plug USB charger plug in the stem for whatever you might mount up front or carry in the waterproof Ortlieb handle bar bag (not pictured).  Phone, GPS, etc.

Part of why I went flat bar was the ease of superior braking options vs drop bars.  200mm rotors and hydraulic brakes with various cooling features.  As discussed early on in the design process, and from my experience with the old tandem - Avid cable pull disc brakes work.  Do you settle for 'the work' or do you pursue something that excels?  As anyone who has ridden one knows, the stopping power of current generation Shimano hydraulic product is exponentially different from the cable pull Avids, and with say a 300lb all in "unit", that matters.  Co-motion - your stainless dropouts are works of art.

Beautiful stainless steel dropouts in the rear again, the Rohloff specific disc in quick release option, and for now a set of Avid mechanical discs.  Shimano doesn't stock brakes with meters upon meters of hydraulic line, so it'll be a bit of a work in process to get some bulk hydraulic line.  

Awesome bikes should find adventure in far flung places.  S&S couplers rule, I've been a fan and supporter for nearing a decade.  I've gone with 2 rather than 4, and plan to take the normal S&S case as a wheel box, and divide the frame in two and use an Evoc or similar case.  Behind the couplers, cables are zip tied in so we just cut a couple of those rather than doing dividers.  This is the top tube one pictured.  The downtube one is gigantic!

Hand made in Eugene, Oregon.

Java co-pilot, Co-motion nickel badge.
Thomson bars front and back, Ergon grips with integrated bar ends (Cindy's en route), Thomson stem up front.  Aiming for long duration between service interval parts.  Cindy has a Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost as the pilot can unweight even minimally for bumps that the stoker is oblivious to (pilot calls out large ones, but isn't in tune enough to call out everything).

Saturday 12 October 2013

Co-motion Java Rohloff Introduction

5 months in the making, Cindy unknowingly walked into Bow Cycle's fit room this week after a long rainy drive in traffic to pick up "my new bike".   I was insistent we do this errand tonight even though we had a long day... and  surprisingly, she showed no frustration at being dragged along on this late night errand despite 90 minutes of rain induced stop and go traffic to get there.

Upon walking into the room, a British racing green Co-motion Java tandem was seen front and centre.  Confused, she said "a tandem? where is your bike", to which I replied "Cindy, this is your wedding present so we can go touring at Christmas".  

Cindy expresses emotions like I can't, and I love her for that.  With Franzky as witness, I'll just say Cindy "lost her mind" in excitement.  It actually helped me in the sense that now I have a witness to just why I got into tandeming.  

John put a nice little sign on it, and after having a little laugh, Cindy started reviewing parts.  Cindy knows them now and looked at each place - all black outside the green frame.  Ergon grips, finger points to Chris King headset, Chris King bottom brackets, Cane Creek Thudbuster seat post for suspension for her as stoker.  What is this round ball like front hub?  A Schmidt dynamo hub on the front, with a bright headlight mounted to the fork... and I take care to point out a USB port in the top stem spacer - wow!

What are these belts?  A Gates Carbon Drive system instead of a chain, in theory usable for 10,000k if not knicked.  No derailleur... that's a Rohloff Speedhub.  Water proof bin on the back, paniers at home, and a new mount kit for the handlebar bag we have at home.  Killer heavy duty Velocity Cliff Hanger 36 spoke rims.  S&S couplers.  It's pictured here with only 4 of 6 bottle cages installed, which even without my CamelBak All Clear, doubles our prior range (as based on fluids).

This is quality, and the cost reflected that.  I'm actually really surprised that it didn't feel like a heavy tank given the parts spec should favour a long mean time between maintenance and failures hopefully.  This is close, but somewhat different to a 2012 bike Co-motion showed at the NAHBS.  This is one of a kind.

That should mean many happy miles, with what was likely the happiest unveiling of a tandem the world has ever seen!

Details and riding review forthcoming.

Oh Canada!

Tuesday 8 October 2013


So exciting!

After a month of zero, nothing, no activity I got myself to Speed Theory for Trev's morning class at 6am. Coasting through the dark streets I felt free, felt alive, and felt every bit of why biking has made me feel free my entire life. 

I have planned to leave a trainer wheel there and swap wheels when I arrive. This should world other than my bike today has a 140mm rotor and the wheel there  has a 160mm rotor. Oops. 

Anyway, got on and got going. It was an easy, let's all get used to this class. Computrainers were quiet not screaming.  And a half hour in, in a 2 minute interval I had at a modest 200W, I felt a bonk coming on. Ouch. That's what happens with a month of nothing. 

My arm was sore supporting weight, will have to monitor how that feels rest of today and tomorrow.  I was hoping all that was behind me. 

Saturday 5 October 2013

Month since Mongolia

It's now been 4 weeks since Mongolia.  I've ridden less than I ever have in a month in my adult life.  Commuted that first week, 1h ride on weekend ended in a broken arm.  Not only have I ridden less than ever, I've been sedentary more than ever.  I've walked to work more now, arm was sore even walking for the first while.

This week had two updates - a specialist appointment on the arm - essentially saying don't do surgery.  If it was the ulna on the outside of the elbow with the thin skin covering it, he said they'd slap a few screws in there lickety split.  The radius on the inside, and its angle of break. is right under all the veins/muscles/nerves/tendons of the inner forearm.  Said that surgery would irritate the elbow so much that mobility would go from current "good" to "virtually nothing" again and start with a few degrees of movement and rehab.  Plus it wouldn't be straightforward near zero risk stuff with everything that's in the way.  So I'm just waiting and healing.  I go back for xrays early November and presumably they'll just say "looks fine, off  you go".

Hip had more fluid drained again.  It's not a bad little routine, say 15 minutes, a freezing shot, 4-5 needles of recovery of fluid, then steroid and anti inflammatory injection.  The big needle going in leaves that little section of skin looking pretty pincushioned after it all.

I feel good though and have most mobility back.  I can almost straighten arm and almost bend it closed.  Enough already for practical movement.  The rotation of the hand is pretty good too, just a little shy of back to normal.

Strength is zilch.  My right wrist feels like two bones wrapped in skin.  I don't have the biggest forearms to start with (typing and moving a mouse isn't resistance training), but there's really nothing there.  My tricep hasn't done anything in a month and has withered away.  My arm is scrawny, the elbow looks like the widest point, where usually it looks like a thinner point with some degree of muscle around it.

Thursday 3 October 2013


Thanks for your week of hard work around the house.
I've never known anyone so unabashedly lazy. 
But I did enjoy your fluffy company.