I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I’ve been focused on a new bicycle project. A few years ago, I outlined my step-by-step build of an e-bike using a Bafang 750W BBS02 mid drive motor kit and a Cannondale road bike, You can see the details of the build here at “Bafang E-bike Conversion”. I’ve been extremely happy with the bike since, and I’ve ridden it more than a thousand miles without a problem.
Although I really enjoy riding the Bafang, my Bafang and Cannondale Synapse Neo 1 e-bikes are very similar bikes (see “BUILD OR BUY AN E-BIKE”), so I felt it was time to diversify my e-bikes. Since I enjoy Rail Trail riding, and the trails I ride can get very slippery after it rains, I decided to move the bafang motor off the road bike with narrow tires and onto a Cannondale mountain bike with the widest tires I could fit on the bike. I also added racks so the e-bike could be used on multi-day touring rides.
After a few more test rides to work out any problems with the build and to determine the range of the bike and battery, I plan to give it the ultimate test by riding the C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park) and the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage), a 334.5-mile ride from Washington, DC to Pittsburg PA (COGAP). I have ridden this wonderful traffic-free route approximately 12 times in the past, but never on an e-bike.
It’s always an adventure that I would highly recommend to cyclists of all skill levels. Here is my planned itinerary. So, stay tuned to hear how I make out on the e-bike. Or even better, join me on the ride.
I’ve been using the Kool Stop bicycle tire jack ever since I first learned about it when I was cycling across the United States, see Day 35 – Silsbee, TX to De Ridder, LA – Cycle Across America. It is a fantastic tool for mounting tight fitting bicycle tires. While I would still highly recommend the Kool Stop as a great compact tool to stuff in a seat bag for quick puncture repair when touring, in my home shop I’ve switched to a generic plier-like tire jack pictured below.
The plier-like tire jack makes grabbing the tire bead and rim a faster and easier one-handed operation. However, although the plier-type jack is easier to use, I don’t think I would ever carry this bulky tool in a seat bag for emergency tire repairs. Nevertheless, I found it easier to use while servicing my tires in my home shop.
If you struggle with mounting bicycle tires like I do, I highly recommend the Kool-Stop Tire Bead Jack or the generic plier-like tire jack. Pick one or both up at your local bike shop. If your local bike shop doesn’t have them (many bike shops don’t), they can easily be found online.
Full disclosure first. I rarely do product reviews. When I do, it is always of a product that I chose for my own use and paid for with my own money. I do not benefit in any way by a product review. I share my opinion of a product with the visitors to this website so they might benefit from my experience with the product.
With that said, you may have noticed in my post Don’t Forget to Service Your Bicycle Pump that I use a Topeak Road Morph Pump. While this pump looks like other mini pumps, the Road Morph transforms smoothly into a floor pump. This compact, easy-to-carry pump has all the features of my shop pump with a head that fits both Presta and Schrader valves, an in-line pressure gauge that reads up to 140 PSI, a flexible hose, T-type handle and fold-out foot pad.
While you might think that a full featured pump like this will be big, it is barely noticeable on the downtube of my bike in the picture below. If you struggle with a small but ineffective mini pump consider the Topeak Road Morph. My Topeak Road Morph pump was essential to me on my coast-to-coast adventure and is still an essential piece of equipment for me today.
When I replace the sealant in my tubeless tires, I find it is also a good time to service my bicycle pump. Like most touring cyclist, I prefer the reliability of a pump over C02 cartridges because I just never know how many CO2 cartridges I’ll need. For example, while cycling coast to coast across America, I set a personal record with four flat tires in one day. With a good reliable bicycle pump, I can inflate unlimited tires and never run out of air.
However, without regular service, my pump might not work when I need it, especially after not being used over the winter. The seal on the plunger tends to dry out resulting in air leakage inside the pump. Simply servicing my pump in the spring helps to prevent this problem.
Servicing a pump is simple. Disassemble the pump and remove the plunger. Clean the inside barrel and the plunger with a silicon spray like WD-40 spray lubricant. I don’t use petroleum-based products in fear that it will damage any rubber seals. Finally, I apply a generous amount of silicone lubricating grease to the seal. After reassembling the pump I test it to make sure it works properly and hopefully I’m good until next season.
As spring approaches in the Mid-Atlantic United States, it means it’s time for me to start getting my bikes ready for the new riding season outdoors. I have a policy of fixing bike problems immediately. If I don’t, I find it is just too easy for me set my bike aside and ride another bike until all my bikes have problems and I have nothing to ride. However, even with my fix problems immediately policy, there is always maintenance that needs to be done at the start of every riding season.
Servicing my tubeless tires is one of those maintenance jobs. At first glance, it may not be obvious that tubeless tire maintenance is required. Although tubeless tires are holding air, unlike tires with tubes, that doesn’t mean they are ready for the new season. Since the tubeless tires on my bike will hold air without any sealant in them, it is easy to be fooled into thinking there is also sufficient sealant in them to seal a puncture.
Consequently, I make it part of my spring maintenance routine to dismount my tubeless tires, clean out the old and dried sealant, remount the tires and refill them with fresh sealant. That way I know that my tires will function as expected if I get a puncture.
I’ve been using Zwift for my indoor training sessions during the cold winter months for a couple of years. While I’ve strived to move up levels (currently at level 11), earn achievement badges (currently at 59 achievement badges), and accumulate Zwift currency in the form of drops that I use to buy virtual cycling equipment in the Zwift virtual store, I never really considered Zwift a gaming platform.
I guess, I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees. It wasn’t until I learned that Zwift was ranked as one of the 10 most innovative gaming companies by Fast Company that I realized what Zwift was doing. Zwift had turned my indoor training sessions into a cycling game, and I didn’t even know it. My bike became a video-game controller while my legs, lungs and heart were getting a meaningful workout, not my thumbs. Wow, what a surprise. I was playing a video game!
And I must not be the only one that enjoys the video game. Zwift users peddle over a million miles a day while cheering on fellow Zwifters with “Ride On” and giving thumbs up. If you aren’t enjoying your indoor training sessions or spin classes give Zwift a try. You might enjoy it.
You will need a trainer, bike, power meter, cadence sensor, heart rate monitor, internet capable electronic device and a Zwift subscription to start Zwifting, but don’t forget to add a fan. For years I would just open a window to try to keep cool during my indoor training sessions. I never even thought of using a fan.
Adding a fan made a huge improvement to my indoor training experience. One of the many pleasures I love about cycling is that cool breeze generated while pedaling. However, when I started training indoors, I never even considered that I could recreate that experience by simply adding a fan.
Although I use a Wahoo KICKR HEADWIND with a smart fan that can be controlled by my speed or heart rate, any good adjustable speed fan with a fan head that can direct the breeze on your torso, where you need it most, can be used.
The hardest part of setting up my Wahoo KICKR with Zwift was pairing it with my computer. The KICKR can pair with the computer using both Bluetooth and ANT+. Initially, I chose to use ANT+ because my Garmin cadence sensor and heart rate monitor were ANT+. Since most laptops aren’t ANT+ capable, I had to use a USB ANT+ dongle. Luckly, I already had a Garmin USB ANT+ dongle that I could use.
Even if your computer isn’t ANT+ or Bluetooth capable, generic USB ANT+ and Bluetooth dongles are cheap and relatively easy to find, so your computer can still be used for Zwift. In my case when I later switched to Bluetooth my computer’s Bluetooth was not compatible with my KICKR, so I had to use a Bluetooth dongle. Regardless of which protocol you use, the setup is basically the same.
Nevertheless, if you still find pairing difficult, another alternative is to use the Zwift Companion app on a mobile device as a bridge that can convert the trainer’s Bluetooth signal into a format that your computer can recognize.
Over the past few years, I have paired my devices with ANT+, Bluetooth and the Zwift Companion app. All three methods have worked for me. Once everything is paired you are ready to go.
Before I started training with Zwift, I first needed a trainer. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post “Why I choose a Wahoo Kickr over a Peloton Stationary Bike,” I use a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer. However, whichever type of trainer you decide to use, it should have a power meter, cadence sensor and heart rate monitor (note power meter, cadence and heart rate data displayed on top left of Zwift Screen).
Since I use a smart trainer and not a stationary bike, I also needed a bike for the trainer. In my case, I use the same bike that I used to cycle across America. Since I’ve ridden this bike many thousands of miles, there is no need for any changes or additional setup of the bike for the indoor trainer.
Finally, I needed an internet capable electronic device to run the Zwift program on and a Zwift subscription. While I’ve used both my mobile phone and laptop computer, I found that the mobile phone screen was a bit too small and a computer with gaming capabilities worked the best.
After researching the Wahoo Kickr smart trainer and the Peloton stationary bike, it was clear that I could maintain my fitness over the winter months with either platform. I didn’t think either system offered a greater training advantage to make that the deciding factor in choosing which system was right for me.
However, I knew that when the warmer weather returned, I would be anxious to get back to cycling outside as soon as possible. Either trainer would be packed away until cycling outdoors was no longer practical again next winter. So, spending a lot of money on a bulky stationary bike I would only use a few months and put in storage the rest of the year was not a viable option for me. A smart trainer that I could use in combination with my regular bike made much more sense.
Besides the obvious benefits that a smaller smart trainer has over a bulky stationary smart bike, like being portable and easy to store, the transition back to outdoor cycling is seamless. In fact, I find it very beneficial to be able to tweak my bike over the winter while I’m using it on a trainer. I’m able to try out new gear and setups and when the warm weather returns, I simply take my bike off the trainer, mount the rear wheel, put the trainer in the closet and I’m ready to go and I know everything will work well together.