Friday, November 30, 2012

This Whole 3D Parts Printing Thing Is Really Getting Interesting.

Back in August I posted a video on experimental bicycle parts being made out of Titanium via the new 3D printing process.  Well, not only is this method of prototyping and manufacturing going full-speed ahead, but your meek and humble Editor managed to procure an actual 3D part from a source of mine in the Aerospace industry.

While this may look like an innocuous piece of plastic, it is actually a prototype tool to be used in the building of commercial spacecraft.  It measures four-inches in diameter, by three-and-a-half inches tall.  Three -Dimensional parts can be built, or "Layered" from a digital model, and "Put Together," rather than being machined or cast.

So, why is this important?  Well, the capabilities of the 3D process are about limitless, and the applications are completely universal.  Not only will Aerospace, industrial parts, and consumer products be made faster cheaper, and better than before, but so will our bicycle parts.

Isn't science and engineering cool!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If Darth Vader Rode A Bicycle: "Luke, You Don't Know The Power Of The Banana."

                                                                  Pre-Fondo, And Ready To Ride. 

With the plethora of gels, bars and chews, nature still makes the best riding food available.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tried & Tested: K-Edge Garmin Edge Computer Mount

                                        Out Front And Center - Right Where The Garmin Needs To Be.

I recently picked up a K-Edge computer mount for my Garmin Edge 500, and what a darn handy accessory it is.  I am just bummed I did not think of this great idea first.  The alloy, quarter-turn mount moves your Garmin further out of front of you for better visibility, ala, SRM head units.  Better visibility and better safety.  Here are the details:
  • CNC Machined 6061 T6 Aluminum
  • Compatibility – Garmin Edge® 800, 500, and 200 GPS Bicycle Computer
  • Fitment – 31.8mm diameter handlebars - powerful clamping via all metal bolt/mount system
  • Weight – 30 grams (weight includes bolt, clamp, mount)
  • Lifetime Guarantee – if you break it, they will replace it
  • Anodized Colors: Black, Gunmetal, Red
  • Made in the U.S.A.

                               Yes, It Is The Same Quarter-Turn Mount, Just Not On The Stem, Anymore.

                                   Out Front, Sturdy Mount, Easy to Read - What Else Could You Want?

The K-Edge mounts quickly to any 31.8mm bar via two (2) 4mm hex bolts, and is reach adjustable to accommodate Edge 800 units (as well as the aforementioned 500 and the 200) via one (1) 3mm hex bolt.  Also, being it wraps around the bars, you can tilt the mount, and thus the computer, up or down to suit your viewing tastes.  In the “Neutral” position, the computer is mounted below the tops of the bars keeping your Garmin out of harms way and giving much more pleasing aesthetics.  After mounting the whole thing up, I agree.

                                      The New Position, Just Below The Bar, And Out Of Harm's Way.

Entering my outdoor laboratory, I took the K-Edge on my usual test loop, and the four (4) inches the mount moved my Garmin forward was a very big deal, visibility-wise.  I did not have to tilt my head down to read the data on the computer, as all it requires now is a quick glace with the eyes.  I rode over some of the worst pavement I know of, and the unit stayed firm and blur-free the whole time.  The computer mount base is similar to the stock Garmin quarter-turn stem mount, however, this one is a lot more secure, so stories of computers coming loose should be a thing of the past.  And, being machined alloy, the K-Edge should last a lifetime.

A giant two-thumbs up to the K-Edge Garmin mount.
Retail is $49.99

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another Turn Of The Pedals - Another Birthday.

                                                               Doing what makes me happy.  

I may be a year older today, but the desire to get up and ride still keeps me young, so to speak.

How young, I am not sure, but as long as I can still swing a couple of legs over a bike and actually get it going, I am truly blessed.

May all of you find many, happy miles pushing the proverbial pedals, as well. 

Darryl Bustamante, Editor, Cycling Dynamics

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Ritchey Torque Key - A Good Idea Gets Better.

                                                                  Image Courtesy Ritchey Logic

There was a time in the bicycling world where tighter was always better (I am referring to fasteners on our bikes, not the Lycra, so all of you perverts calm down).  However, with the arrival of exotic alloys, and now ever-more expensive Carbon Fiber parts, we must be mindful of how much "Oomph" we apply to cinch these parts down.

Since the kind lads at Glendora, California's Tweaked Sports have been ever-so-kind by supplying me with bits of "Exotica" to test, the torque specifications of these goodies must be adhered to for proper performance and safety.  Well, for some components, Tom Ritchey has us all covered with the handy Torque Key.

This simple, effective tool allows components to be torqued to a specific number (5 Newton Metre's in this case, or 44.25 inch-pounds) to avoid over-tightening and causing damage to Carbon components, though alloy torque specific parts can benefit from this tool, as well.

Highlights include:

  • Properly install your Ritchey bars and stem without fear of over-tightened bolts. The torque key is calibrated to 5Nm with an indication you both feel and hear.
  • Now available with interchangeable bits in popular sizes
  • 5mm, 4mm and 3mm hex keys and T-20 Torx
  • Magnetic bit retention

Retail is $19.90 USD, however, Tweaked Sports can get 'em to you for a whole lot less.

KCNC Cassette's. From The Realistic To The Sublime.

                                       11-23 cassette on the left, and the amazing 11-38 on the right.

When you absolutely, positively have to get up that hill, well, it appears KCNC has you covered.

Also available in Titanium.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday's Fail.

                                                     Bike Lane Fail - City of San Dimas, California

This one is pretty self-evident, and from a safety standpoint, it is quite serious. 

The posted speed limit here is 45 MPH, however, traffic moves a whole lot faster than that.  A cyclist forced to swerve into that fast moving traffic to avoid a careless, door-opening motorist would not be very pretty

The location is on Bonita Avenue, east of Lone Hill Avenue, looking east, in the city of San Dimas, California.

City of San Dimas: Epic Fail

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Aero Gloves Updated, Update.

In previous installments I both raved and complained about (more disappointed, really) what has since become my favorite pair of cycling gloves.  Well, apparently, I was not the only one.

It seems there was indeed an issue with the Pittards WR 100X palm leather on the initial product release, thus a whole lot of gloves had black dye running onto riders' hands.  Pearl Izumi recognized quickly they had an issue, stepped up, and with superior Customer Service (thanks, Brian), quickly apologized and replaced the gloves.

So, now all is back to good in my world, and I looking forward to many, many miles with my "New" P.R.O. Aero Gloves.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cycling Shoes – Is Spending More Really Better?

If you ride a bicycle, you more than likely wear shoes (sorry, flip-flops don’t count).  The kind of bike you have, and the type of riding you intend to do, will dictate the kind of shoes you will wear.  If this is not the case, it ought to be.

If cycling does have one odd human-factors issue it is with the whole shoe/pedal nomenclature.  You clip into clip-less pedals, but you do not clip into toe-clips.  Once you get past this oddity, you can see it is not too difficult to comprehend.  However, this article is not about pedal types, but about the connection your body has to the bikes locomotion – The shoes.  Road shoes, in this case

There is one thing I have found to be absolutely true regarding road shoes – A stiff, pure carbon sole is better than anything else.  They do not flex, and the power which can transmitted through them is far greater than a non-carbon sole.  Period. 

A friend of mine uses cycling/athletic shoes with an SPD cleat.  Fine and dandy for off the bike (and fashion), however, the power she is losing with that super-flexy sole has to be astronomical.  However, this is the trade-off if you choose to not go with a stiff soled shoe.

Buckles, Boa’s, Laces, And Straps, Oh My!

There is a common belief the more securing systems a given shoe has, and thus, more secure the foot is in the shoe, the better.  This is simply not true in this mild-mannered evaluator’s experience.  The rationale behind a very secure fitting shoe is the precise application of power and optimum tactile feel.  However, this, in my opinion, does not add up dollar-wise in the real world of ever-more expensive shoes.  The double-edged sword of snug and secure are countered by the issues of restricted circulation and hotspots as the feet warm up and swell.  I find simple straps extremely sufficient to get the job done.  If I was a Pro Tour rider I may feel differently, however, the bulk of manufacturer’s customers are not racers, so a “Racing Snug” fit is an over-sold feature to everyday cyclists.

Case in point: I have a pair of Sidi Genius 5 Pro Carbon’s and a pair of Lake CX-235C’s (the “C” designating a full-carbon sole).  Both are very good shoes, however, they go about performing their jobs in very different manners. I paid $60.00 for the Lake’s (on close-out), while the Sidi’s were $220.00 on sale (regular retail was $269.99 at the time), and have a “Millennium Carbon” sole, which is market-speak for, well, not real carbon.  While I am a big fan of Sidi, and their stuff fits me like a pair of slippers, their shoes get awfully expensive at the upper, carbon-soled, end of the range.  You can get top of the line, carbon soled, Sidi’s for about $500.00, which is nowhere near cheap for most people (If you are really feeling brave, you can pay $1250.00 for a pair of custom fit D2's or Riivo’s). 

                                                         Sidi Genius 5 Pro.  Image Courtesy Sidi

The Sidi Genius 5’s are made from Lorica (synthetic leather), and comes with two Velcro straps, plus one of them ratchet-type, thingamabobs all the shoe makers seem to rave about.  Sure, ratchets are a nice feature, and you can get your feet plenty snug with them, but I find them a pain to fasten and unfasten.  Overall, the shoes fit really good, look great, are well built, and are prone to giving me severe hot-spots.   

The Lake’s are amazing, full-carbon soled, real leather cycling shoes, with three, simple Velcro straps.  They have now been replaced in the Lake model line by the CX236C’s.  Shame, as the 235’s completely rock!  They fit darn good, are very well built, super-easy to adjust on the fly, and do not give me any hot-spots.  The only down-side I see, so far, are the non-replaceable heel pads, which are part of the molded, carbon sole.  So, when they get too worn, I will have to get creative to find a workable solution to this issue.

                                                        Lake CX235C - And, The Sole Is Vented!

In the real world of road testing, both pairs of shoes performed very admirably.  Getting in and out of the Lake’s can be done quickly, and can even be performed without looking at your feet.  Once underway, if an adjustment is needed, it is easy to do so with the Velcro straps.  The Sidi’s require a super-precise guiding of the buckle through the ratchet (it rarely works the first time), and adjustments on the fly takes a bit more work than I consider safe. 

Between the two, there is noticeable flex in the soles under power, especially going up hills with the Sidi’s.  The stiff, all carbon sole of the Lake’s produces nothing but forward motion.  Since efficiency is the name of the bicycling game, I strongly urge all to seek out a full-carbon sole to put all of your pedal strokes to good use. 

See, what truly matters to the everyday cyclist is not a lot of the bells and whistles, but the balance of procuring the stiffest sole their wallets can afford. 

                                                                        Real World Testing
Yes, We All Have To Walk, Too

A few tips about going bi-ped in your very expensive cycling shoes.  First, do it very carefully, as you will be perched upon the cleats of the shoes and the heel pads.  And, all heel pads are not created equal, so pay attention to what you have, and practice a little bit if you must.  My other tips for waking in your cycling shoes are to do it as little as possible, and to use cleat covers to minimize the damage that can be done to said cleats, whilst also cutting down on the noise.  Unless, you enjoy sounding like Gregory Hines tap dancing on concrete, that is. 

Putting It All Together

So, when looking for a cycling shoe, having a good understanding of what kind of riding you will be doing and what you wish to accomplish will help in the selection of the correct pair.  And, for those of us not having the fortune to be born trust fund babies, being conscience of price becomes a moral imperative. 

The latter is why actually purchasing features we can use are more beneficial than simple marketing hype. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day - Our Salute To All Whom Have Served.

                                       And to all that still do.  God Bless!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Surface Fail.

                                              Bonita Avenue Looking West Towards Towne Avenue.

The initial entry in this series is a multifaceted “Fail.”  While the City of Pomona was kind enough to finally pave what was previously one of the worst road surfaces in Southern California, there are still some issues with the situation.  As you can see from this shot, the pavement is indeed nice and smooth, however, the bike lane in this area is littered with small water main covers right in the middle of the lane.  Not only that, but they are anywhere from one to three inches below the asphalt, and are a complete hazard to cyclists.  Bent wheel and endo, anyone?

But wait, there’s more.  Notice the parked vehicle, with the arc of its door opening right into the bike lane.

City of Pomona – Fail!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Surface Fail – A New Series

There is no escaping it.  It is relentless, colorless, odorless, tasteless, and it is 100% non-discriminatory.  Had enough yet?  Well, gravity is not through with any of us by a long shot. 

It is for this reason the surface upon which we ride is so vital to our whole riding experience.  See, as long as we have gravity, we must ride upon something.  And, that something more often than not are public roads.  Thus, the conditions of these roads are vitally important from the tops of our helmets to the bottoms of our contact patches.

So, where am I going with this?  Well, there is a very cool blog called “One Woman. Many Bicycles” (O.W.M.B.) written by a fearless young lady out of the Bay Area of Northern California.  She runs a very informative series of stories, including some titled “Bike Lane Fail,” highlighting correctable errors the responsible government agencies need to address in the name of safety and common sense. 

While it is laughable at best to tie the three words government and common sense together, I was inspired by her work to have a good look at my own local roads, routes and paths, highlighting similar irregularities as our neighbor to the North has done.  

Call it a Public Service.  I call it, our duty as citizens, whether cyclists or not.  Stay tuned.

Monday, November 5, 2012

“The Hardware Store”

                                                                               The Enemy

This article is not about what you may think after viewing the title.  While real hardware stores are important to our societal well-being, the one I will be explaining in this article is anything but good for us.  Allow me to elaborate.

The “Store” I am referring to are the roads we ride our bicycles on.  If you pay just the slightest bit of attention to the road while you are riding (and you should be), you will notice little, sharp, metal hazards which make up what I call the “Hardware Store.”  They come in many forms, shapes and sizes, and usually go by the innocuous names of nails, screws, bolts, washers, tools, parts from vehicles, clips, clamps, pins, needles, etc., (This is not including those other hazards known as broken glass, metal shards, bumps, pavement cracks, and pot holes – Stay tuned for future articles on these babies).

This brings to light a few questions on the subject.  First, just whom is the cause of all of the hardware and hazards we see and must contend with via flats, bent wheels, and in some cases, road-rash and broken bones?  Who is responsible for keeping the streets clean, clear and smooth?  What are our duties to the greater good in these matters?

In the former, we can all do our part to make sure items are secure in and on our vehicles to prevent their being deposited on the streets.  The next condition relates to how effective our municipalities are in keeping streets in optimum condition.  This includes how often (if at all) street sweeping vehicles operate.  Remember, your tax dollars pay for this service.  And the latter relates to how vigilant we as citizens are at picking up objects we see on the roads ourselves.  Call it our Civic Duty, if you will.  I do it all the time.

                                             We All Pay The Price For Other People's Carelessness

In comparison, the aviation business has in place a program of education, awareness, and prevention training to combat the problems posed by pavement debris.  The expectation is for all personnel to patrol the airfields for these hazards, or as they are formally known, Foreign Object Debris, or simply F.O.D.  Objects on the airport can be sucked into jet engines, cut tires, and even be hurled at people and property by jet and propeller blasts causing serious injury and damage. 

The roads upon which we ride and travel are no different, and we need to have the same respect for them.  It is very important we all do our part to keep the streets free of F.O.D. and report road hazards and irregularities to the proper authorities.

It is not going to get any better out there if we ignore the problems, and this is one “Hardware Store” I would like to see permanently closed.

Friday, November 2, 2012

More Cycling Don'ts.

                                                                         Spotted at Burning Man

But hey, at least it has disc brakes.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rules Of The Road

“Rules?  There Are No Rules Here,” exclaimed James Earl Jones in the movie “Field of Dreams” while he was threatening Kevin Costner with a crowbar.  While there, thankfully, are not many people chasing cyclists with crowbars, there are definitely Rules of the Road while we are out enjoying the object of our passion.

Rules form the structure of the roads upon which we travel.  They exist to keep safety and order in a common frame of reference to all travelers.  While the aforementioned should work in theory, well all truly know it does not work out that way in reality.  Therefore, it really does help everyone when we do our part and obey all laws of the road.      

And, while there are indeed a multitude of laws we need to pay attention to, there is one which rises head-and-shoulders above the rest as cycling’s biggest faux pas – The Stop Sign.  Contrary to popular myth, and unfortunately ingrained since our youth, stop signs are not things you blow through while on your bicycle.  Yet, this behavior is on display everyday – In full view of everyone.  Be it Roadies, Townies, Cruisers, Commuters, Fat Tire People, BMX’ers, you name it – All day, everywhere, peeps is blowing through stop signs.  And, with municipalities seeking to boost the bottom line anyway they can, do not think the local constabulary has not noticed this reliable stream of revenue. 

How bad is the epidemic?  Well, even a cycling club I know of was once ticketed for running a stop sign while on a group ride.  Not only was this a dangerous, expensive error, but what kind of message does it send when among those ticketed were the clubs’ President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Route Master, Ride Leader and Membership Coordinator?  I’m not making this stuff up.  We all need to set a better example.  Otherwise, it can get really expensive, and even deadly. 

So, per the Vehicle Code, we, meaning bicyclists, must obey all of the traffic laws, no ifs, ands or buts.   

It is also a pretty damn good way to stay alive to ride another day.