A Secret Use For Koozies

Nothing says swag, the promotional items that are given away to advertise a company or product, like a can or bottle koozie. Koozies are those collapsible neoprene or foam rubber insulating sleeves designed to keep a canned or bottled drink cold.

Generally, most of the swag I get at bicycle events is useless junk and gets tossed in the trash immediately, except for koozies. While I’ve never used a koozie to keep a drink cold, they’re ideal for transporting a bicycle packed in tight spaces. Since the cleats on my touring pedals can easily scratch the interior of my car or other items packed in with my bike, I’ve found that slipping a koozie over the pedals is an ideal way to prevent scratches from my pedals. They work great!

While I hope you will share this tip about koozies with your cycling friends, please don’t let anyone in the bicycle industry know. Otherwise, instead of getting koozies free at cycling events, they’ll be selling for $50 a pair at your local bike shop.

Ken Whittaker

Bafang E-bike Conversion Kit Design Deficiency

Its been about a year since I built my Bafang conversion e-bike and I still enjoy riding the bike. I am impressed with how powerful the 750 watt motor is and the range the 840wh battery provides. However, the Bafang conversion is missing one key feature that I’ve become very used to on my Bosch e-bike. That is a continuous range estimate on the control display. Without a range estimate provided by the e-bike system, you have to guess the range left in the battery based on your experience.

So it finally happened. I ran out of juice while riding the Bafang. I must admit it came as a surprise. I started the ride with 3 out of 5 bars displayed on the battery indicator. Three out of 5 bars means I should have somewhere between 40-60% of the battery’s charge left. However, after about a mile into my ride the battery dropped to 2 out of 5 bars meaning I had a 40% charge. Still, I wasn’t worried sine I was planning an out and back ride. I simply planned to turn around when, or before, I reached 1 bar. My plan was to use 1 bar going out and 1 bar to return. However things didn’t go as planned.

To my surprise, about 10 miles (16 km) out while climbing a hill the battery dropped to 1 bar. Only 10 miles (16km) on 1 bar? That was unusual. Still I wasn’t worried. I just turned around and headed home. If I used 1 bar going out the remaining bar should get me home. Right? Wrong! Only a few miles more while climbing a short steep hill the battery indicator started flashing empty. No way! I should get more than 15 miles (24 km) on a battery that was at least 40% charged when I started. Was the Battery Management System saving power to protect the battery from completely discharging? There was no way to tell. Not willing to take a chance on damaging my battery, I shut off the power and started pedaling my dead e-bike home unassisted. Luckily it wasn’t as hard as I expected. The motor didn’t add much drag and the additional weight was only noticeable on climbs. About half way home I turned on the system again. What was happening? The display showed 1 bar again and I was able to make it home on assistance level 1. In my opinion, not having a continuous range estimate is a BIG DESIGN DEFICIENCY in the Bafang system, especially when for some unknown reason the first half of a charged battery provides a lot more miles than the last half of the charge.

Ken Whittaker


Checkout Gravelmap.com

Gravelmap.com is the best cycling related web site I’ve found in a long time. I live on the east coat of the United States where it is a rare treat to get away from traffic and find a nice quiet road for cycling. Nevertheless, on my first visit to Gravelmap.com I found a quiet gravel/dirt road close to my home to explore on my bike quickly and easily.

While Gravelmap.com sounds similar to TrailLink, ridewithGPS, and other bike route websites that may offer some of the same routes, what makes Gravelmap.com different is that it is an interactive database of only gravel and dirt roads and paths submitted and managed entirely by riders.

If you enjoy cycling gravel and dirt roads or would like to share your favorite route with other like minded cyclists then you should visit Gravelmap.com today! You may just find a new quiet less-traveled gravel gem close to home to explore on your bicycle.

Ken Whittaker


Garmin Edge Speed and Cadence Sensor Alternatives

Speed & Cadence Sensors

When I purchased my Garmin Edge 1030 I didn’t think much about the sensors. However I have several bikes, and it isn’t practical for me to move the sensors from bike to bike. At $69.99 for a pair of speed and cadence sensors it can get a bit costly for me to equip my other bikes with sensors.

Luckily, there are cost effective alternatives to Garmin’s speed and cadence sensors. In fact, after one of my Garmin sensors failed, I purchased a pair of Magene S3 Speed Cadence/Sensors for about the same price I would have paid for just one Garmin sensor. Although I only needed one, I bought a pair because the Magene sensors can be used as a speed or cadence sensor. Now if another speed or cadence sensor fails, I have a replacement readily available.

Worried about the quality of the much less expensive sensors compared to OEM Garmin sensors? If customer reviews are any indication, as of the date this was published, the Magene S3+ Cycling Speed/Cadence Sensor got 4.3 out of 5 stars from customers on Amazon and the Garmin bundle got 4.6 out of 5. I would say they are of comparable quality.

Ken Whittaker


7 Reasons Why You Don’t Want a Carbon Fiber E-bike

It is a bit of a paradigm shift when it comes to thinking about e-bike frames. It’s true that high quality carbon fiber bicycle frames are known for being light weight with lateral stiffness and vertically compliance. But, you have to ask yourself if that is important when it comes to an electric bicycle. In my case I wanted all those feature on my non-electric bike, but when it came to purchasing an electric I didn’t need or want to pay for these features.

Here’s why:

  1. Light Weight: The difference in bicycle frame weight is highly overrated. Since the difference in weight only accounts for about one or two watts of additional power, the reason bike riders lust for the lightest carbon fiber bicycle possible is to lighten the load when climbing hills. Similarly, the number one reason most people give for buying an electric bike is to make hills easier. Although you may need the lightest possible bicycle you can afford or an electric bike to make it up hills easier, you don’t need both. The lightest e-bike with a carbon fiber frame isn’t necessary when it comes to hills because the weight savings just isn’t significant when a rider is being assisted by an electric motor.
  2. Lateral Stiffness: In theory a stiffer frame is more efficient as less energy is lost to the frame flexing. This is most important when pounding the pedals because it can create energy robbing flex. However, since the rider is being assisted by an electric motor there isn’t a need to pound the pedals. As a result, there isn’t a significant energy loss by the rider due to frame flex.
  3. Vertical Compliance: When I think of compliance, I think of comfort. But handling is also a part of compliance. I find that tire size and pressure make a more significant contribution to compliance than frame materials. A wider tire with more air volume and lower tire pressure gives me a sure footed and comfortable ride. Therefore, a frame with tire clearance that will accommodate wider tires is much more important than having a carbon fiber frame.
  4. Durable: All other bicycle frame materials such as steel, aluminum, and titanium are more durable than carbon fiber. A significant scratch in a carbon fiber frame can ruin the frame, whereas a scratch in the other frame materials just adds character and to the story of the frame.
  5. Precision Engineering: Steel, aluminum and titanium are easier to precision engineer than laying up carbon fiber.
  6. Recyclable: Carbon fiber is not recyclable while the other bicycle frame materials can and should be recycled.
  7. Reduced cost: Carbon fiber frames are expensive to make and, as illustrated above, offer no significant advantage over other frame materials when it comes to e-bikes. The savings could be used for better components or just more money in your pocket.

The bottom line? Ask yourself if there are any real advantages to a carbon fiber e-bike. After careful consideration, I think you will agree that a carbon fiber e-bike is not worth the additional expense over other frame materials.

Ken Whittaker


What was Garmin Thinking?

Garmin Edge 1030 fifteen characters course name limitation

What could Garmin possibly have been thinking when they limited course names to only fifteen characters (as illustrated in the accompanying photo). Fifteen character course name isn’t just an inconvenience, it forces users to create super cryptic names for their courses because there just aren’t enough characters to adequately name them. It’s reminiscent of the days of DOS when file names could be no more than eight characters.

While Garmin’s operating system will automatically truncate a course name to the first fifteen characters, if another route has the same first fifteen characters then only the first route will load.  To make matters worse there is no error message to explain why the other routes didn’t load, leaving the user wondering what went wrong.

Why hasn’t Garmin addressed this weakness in their system?  Why should they care?  Competition.  There isn’t much that my Garmin Edge can do that my iPhone can’t.  But there is one thing my phone can do that Garmin can’t, and that’s display route names with more than fifteen characters.  You need to catch up Garmin!  You’re falling behind your competitors.

Ken Whittaker


How to program the Bafang BBS02 Controller

As I mentioned in my post Thumbs Up to Bafang!, one of the outstanding features of the Banfang BBS02 conversion kit is that it’s configurable by the user. Many changes like configuring the bike as a class 1, 2, or 3 and other basic features of the bike can easily be configured from the display.  However, with a laptop computer, a special USB programing cable and the Bafang Configuration Tool Software the Bafang motor controller can also be reprogramed by the user  to  improve the usability and performance of the e-bike.

My goal here is to only make you aware of the possibility of reprogramming capabilities of the Bafang controller.  Detailed instructions can  be found from other sources below:

  • However, be warned that reprogramming your Bafang system is not without risk. You can destroy the controller if done incorrectly.  So, read the guides  and do not attempt to customize your settings if you don’t fully understand what you are doing.  Proceed at your own risk.

Ken Whittaker


Double Duty Light Mount Extension

Light Mount Extension

There never seems to be enough space available on my handlebars to mount all the things I like in my cockpit. There’s my bike computer, day running light, Di2 Climber Shifters, GoPro Camera, and bell. That’s right, believe it or not, I have a bell on the same bike with Di2 shifters. More on why you want a bell in another post. The problem is even further compounded on my e-bike with its controls on the handlebars as well.

There just isn’t enough room for everything. So, I get pretty excited when I find an accessory like a computer mount that can double as a mount for my GoPro. But even better is a replacement screw for my GoPro mount that doubles as a light mount. These simple modifications get most of my handlebar accessories off my handlebars, yet they are still in plain view and readily accessible.

Ken Whittaker


How to Prevent and Treat Cycling Saddle Sores


When you think about it, cyclists get saddle sores for the same reason babies get diaper rash, mostly from chaffing, wetness and bacteria. So, it only makes sense for cyclists to use the same strategies moms do to prevent diaper rash. Accordingly, here is a modified version of Mayo Clinic’s online article on Diaper Rash adapted for cyclists:

• Remove wet diapers promptly. This translates to get out of your wet cycling shorts immediately after completing your ride. While it is tempting to relax with a cold beverage before showering, this is akin to sitting in a bacteria brew incubating an infection.

• Wash baby’s bottom with diaper change. Besides getting out of those wet shorts, get into the shower too. If you’re touring and a shower isn’t available, use a baby wipe to clean the area.

• Dry with a clean towel or let it air dry. Use a clean dry towel and give yourself some time to air out before putting on clean dry underwear.

• Give baby’s bottom time without a diaper. While this may not sound practical for cyclists, I have a friend who tells me that she has let her bottom air at night in the privacy of her tent when she’s touring.

• Consider using ointment. While I rarely get saddle sores, at the first sign of a potential problem, I immediately apply baby ointment to prevent further skin irritation.  This has always worked well for me.  While many cyclists swear by one brand or another, the active ingredient in most brands is zinc oxide. 

It should be noted that the Mayo Clinic doesn’t recommend anything comparable to chamois cream to prevent diaper rash. My guess is that although chamois cream is designed to reduce friction, a similar product is not used on a baby’s bottom because an anti-friction cream would also prevent a baby’s skin from airing and could also trap bacteria. For this reason I never used chamois cream. I do, however, use a powder like Anti Monkey Butt to reduce chafing and keep my skin dry while cycling.

Finally, while it seems every cyclist has their own remedies for saddle sores, if you can’t find one that works for you, you might consider asking your mom.  Even if she doesn’t ride a bike she does know what worked for you when you were a baby.  There is something to be said about a mother tested and approved remedy. 

Ken Whittaker


Why You Should Add Your Emergency Info to Your Phone’s Lock Screen Now

Emergency responders are not universally trained on where to look for emergency medical information. Their goal is to do as much investigating as possible to figure out what is wrong with you so they can provide the emergency care you need.

For this reason, I try to cover every place they might look for my information. I wear a wristband, carry a card in my wallet, and have it displayed on my phone’s lock screen. Getting your emergency medical information in the hands of emergency responders quickly could save your life.

If you don’t already have this information on your mobile phone, I would recommend that you do it NOW! Here are the links on how to get it done.

Use Emergency SOS on your iPhone – Apple Support

Get help in an emergency using your Android phone – Android Help

Don’t wait another minute! This could save your life.

Ken Whittaker