Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Peugeot 206, Y56 AOA Pulls out regardless...

And our turn for a close encounter...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Tool Kit Hack: Lezyne Elite Wallet Reworked

The Lezyne wallet, given that it is promoted as a wallet, has a very mean pocket to hold cash - it will take a few coins or a folded banknote but little more. Enough cash to grab some food and drink at the cafe stop but it'll struggle to hold enough money to cover a night away.

So time to hack:

Step 1, use a stitch picker to remove the existing sewn-on pocket.

Step 2: I grabbed a cheap and thin wallet from eBay and used Sugru to 'glue' it into place in the Lezyene wallet. I left it overnight with some packing to push out the sides of the Lezyene wallet and with a heavy weight on top to ensure the two pieces were in contact.

Step 3: A little additional Sugru around the edges to keep it neat and prevent the glue peeling.

Step 4: Finished - a couple of pockets for banknotes and slots to drop in 3 credit cards.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Tool Kit Refresh: Lezyne Elite Wallet

As part of the preparations for the Evo-K I thought it was maybe time to take a look over my on-bike toolkit, refresh some of the tools and see if there are weight reduction/consolidation opportunities at the same time... Here are my 'first look' feelings on the changes:

Lezyne Elite Wallet 

This is a cyclists-specific wallet, it is oversized in order to take a multi-tool, a puncture kit, tyre levers, a mobile phone as well as cash and a credit card, making it a one-grab package when heading out for a ride. For Roadies the idea is that it will drop into the pocket of a riding top.
The overall thing is bigger than a wallet, smaller than a bag, with the black leather-effect finish kind of giving the impression that unzipping it is going to produce a neatly bound bible...
Strangely the older (2010?) 'Elite' model of this wallet is big enough to take an iPhone, but, for inexplicable reasons, the current new-and-improved 'Smart' wallet is not. This model is becoming increasingly difficult to find, but was in stock at Wiggle.co.uk at time of writing.
The new model is available both empty and also populated with tools but the older model comes 'empty' - this does, however give you the opportunity to pick-and-chose the contents although information on what will fit is rather hard to find.

The tools slide into pockets on the 'inside front cover' of the wallet. For now (and shown in-situ in the photo) I've gone with:
  • a Crank Brothers m17 multitool (because it offers both cross and flat bladed screwdrivers which seems to be rare on Lezyne's multitools, and was on special for £12 at CRC, which is very much cheaper than the competition) - this seems about as big a one-piece tool as will fit, tho I've heard rumour that it is possible to fit a Topeak Alien with it split into two pieces.
  • Leyzene Matrix tyre levers - they look a bit tiny, do seem to be nice and stiff, but I'll reserve judgement until I've used them in anger. I'm not sure whether levers that are any bigger would fit in the marked pocket, tho there is space between the lever pocket and the edge of the wallet for something 'custom'
  • TipTop TT02 puncture repair kit - old faithful - I've been burnt trying 'self-adhesive' patches that just don't so am sticking with tried and tested 'wet' glue patches. There might be scope to repack the contents of the kit into a smaller box but I've not tried yet.
The middle 'leaf' of the wallet is a ziplock bag that comfortably takes an iPhone. There seems to be sufficient neoprene covering the tools that there is no risk of damage to the phone.

The back inside cover is the 'money/ID' part of the wallet and, to be honest, is a little disappointing and is the weakest part of this offering - curiously so as it is advertised as a wallet! There is one pocket that will take an ID or credit card, possibly two back-to-back. Fair enough - minimalist but workable. However the 'money' pocket is about the size of the change pocket in a pair of jeans. It will take a folded £5 note, or maybe four £1 coins but not much else. There seems to be no reason the whole of the back cover of the wallet couldn't be a more functional pocket taking unfolded banknotes and there could easily have been a change purse big enough to hold money for a cafe stop and a call home if needed. There is certainly no scope to carry enough cash for an overnight stay, a train ride home or even a round at the pub.
This will be the first area that needs 'fixing'.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Why the Evo-K?

I know, nothing for months and then two posts in one day...

I thought I'd better elaborate on why the K...

Firstly I'm feeling the need for speed. At least for more speed than Whitey Glyde has to offer. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed the Glyde but at times Whitey can be slow and her weight can be telling. At around 40 kilos she is rather a load to haul up hill, even with the mountain drive. The next leg of GAB taking in Devon and Cornwall is focusing my attention in that direction a little. With my options the Evo will be coming in at around 20 kilos. I'm not a weight weeny, but even I can see that dropping 44 pounds from the kerb weight of ride is going to make a big difference.

I am very happy riding a trike with 'tank' steering - with a handlebar by each hip - but I've not felt so confident on any of the trikes I've tried with a freefloating joystick in the centre - this includes various machines I've tried from the Windcheetah/Speedy, a couple of bikes who's names escape me through to the Quest that I owned for a while.

The gearing on the Glyde is fine - a Mountain Drive and 11-34 cassette give a reasonable range and reasonably sized steps tho a little more top end would be useful I have been reluctant to compromise the lowest gears on Glyde. I've ordered the Evo-K also with a Mountain Drive but this time with a monster 11-36 cassette. This is running on a 26in rather than 20in rear wheel and over 10 speeds so should yield around 30% wider gearing hopefully without the step size between the gears becoming a problem.

I've uprated the brakes from the stock 70mm Sturmey drums (which I've had on trikes before) to the new 'oversized' 90mm version. In hilly country I've experienced brake fade from drums on a long descent. The potentially higher speeds from a velo need more stopping power... The drums are customised by the Go-One guys to reduce the weight - less weight to carry is a good thing, I'm not so sure reducing the thermal mass is a benefit but I'll reserve judgement until I've ridden them. As this machine is using the 'Euro-standard' velomobile suspension struts there are after-market DIY options to change to disc brakes if necessary.

The downsides? Luggage space is restricted to a claimed 30litres. I'm hoping there is space around the inside of the velo to cache equipment, eg. ahead of the front wheel boxes. It shouldn't take too much imagination to hide tent, sleeping bag and mat there.

I'm looking forward to the first reviews from Peter Haan who has a glassfibre version of the Evo-K due for collection in the next week or so. I'm not expecting his reports to change the options I have ordered but it could be useful information whilst I'm still able to tune my new ride.

The increasingly inaccurately titled "Glyde Around Britain"

After problems with the hardware delaying this year's leg of Glyde Around Britain I have opted to change my ride. Last weekend I went on a quick trip to Germany to try the new Go-One Evo-K and now have one on order. This is a lightweight carbon-kevlar-honeycombe monocoque velomobile expected to still come in at around 20 kilos even tho I've added rear suspension, a mountain drive and uprated 90mm drum brakes to the specification list. Ok, the styling isn't as dramatic as the Milan we saw on the same weekend but the ride quality, handling and performance of the Evo-K were impressive enough that I put down an order there and then. Expected delivery (ok, I'll probably go over and ride it back) is May 2012 - perhaps in time to grab a quick week dash 2nd leg of GAB around Devon & Cornwall...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Garmin Edge 800 Review - a Satnav bike computer...

I've been using a Garmin Edge 500 bike computer for some time. Ok, the unit is rather overpriced compared to even the top end conventional bike computers but this is due to it being GPS based rather than relying on counting wheel revolutions and multiplying by a magic number, which varies if you change tyre size, pressure, etc. The 500 has worked pretty well for me after a few teething problems.

The Garmin Edge 800 has been out for a little over 6 months and is now available in a discounted pack including full UK Ordnance Survey mapping. This sounded like the ideal bike computer to use for the next leg of Glyde Around Britain. Previously I used a SatMap Active 10 which worked fine but tended to mean parking up and peering at the screen in the shade of the inside of the Glyde fairing in order to be able to read it in strong light. The Garmin Edge 800 is advertised as having a "sunlight readable colour screen". Having struggled with the SatMap and having seen modern 'daylight visible' screens like the Kindle I was hoping the 800 would be the answer to my problems.

First off, here is a photo of the screen indoors. Bright and clear - no problems (the camera seems to have generated some interference lines in this image which are not visible by eye - probably a polarising issue):

Secondly, here is the unit carefully positioned so the sun is shining squarely onto the screen - an impressively bright and crisp colour display - no problems here:

And thirdly, here is how the unit appears in general use... which seems to be most of the time on the two test rides/75 miles I've ridden to see how well I can live with the unit:

In varying light conditions the screen tends to be washed out almost to a flat dark gray. Major features can just about be made out but only help with navigation if you've memorised the route and know the shape of the roads or where you'll be crossing motorways, etc. All other detail from the OS mapping is invisible. The screen itself is extremely glossy so in these conditions it behaves like a dark mirror giving a better view of the user's face or the sky than it does the mapping it is supposed to be showing.
I did consider adding an anti-reflective 'screen protector' but as this rather expensive unit is so obviously unfit for purpose it doesn't seem to be my job to re-engineer it.

The actual features of the unit do seem to be pretty much what I was wanting - just as per the Edge 800 there are a number of 'screens' of data which can be configured to show between three and 'many' of the riding stats the unit collects. These stats vary from simple speed, distance and associated average and maximums, altitude, height gain/loss, through to data from any ANT+ sensors you may have fitted to your ride - cadence, speed, power, heart rate.

Route planning via the PC/Mac-hosted (free) BaseCamp software uses the OS mapping on the Edge 800. The route planner has its quirks but it better than some online sites I've used to do the same job. It also handles the transfer of the routes to the Edge 800 in one press. All very slick and easy.

I ran into problems trying to use a custom Point-Of-Interest file as, oddly, these do not seem to be supported on the Edge 800 even though the Garmin POILoader application quite happily puts them on to the device. The files are then ignored. A list of POIs can be loaded into the BaseCamp software and uploaded as a list of 'Locations' but the number of such locations appears to be limited to 500 - which meant half of the campsite list I was trying to use was just 'lost'.

So, in summary, a great device but it does not seem to have a screen suitable for outdoor use!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Bank holiday season but no Glyde Around Britain...

With Easter/May Day bank holidays falling in rapid succession along with a bonus 'Royal Wedding' bank holiday I was hoping to get in there and spend another 2 weeks taking Glyde Around Britain around Devon and Cornwall (the south west/bottom left corner of the UK) but it is not to be...
Following disruption at the manufacturer I'm still running 'Whitey' rather than the production Glyde I expected to have had, firstly, in time for last years ride and, secondly, shortly afterwards.
That would all be well and good but Whitey is also waiting on a critical spare part... With a month to go before this year's 'departure date' I've resigned myself to cancelling for this year.