I admit it. I’ve always lusted for the latest and greatest bicycle and gear. Even though I thoroughly enjoy riding my current bicycle, I’ve always wanted the latest and greatest gear as soon as I see it. Sure derailleurs, disc brakes and tubeless tires were great improvements and justified upgrades to improve comfort, safety and performance. However, in reality there have been only a few truly breakthrough technological innovations in cycling in the past several decades. As cyclists we are like a child that only wants what’s advertised on the TV Saturday morning cartoon show for Christmas.
A brand-new bicycle can cost you anywhere from the hundreds to several thousands of dollars, depending on style and brand. Yet, with a fresh coat of spray paint or just a tune-up, an older bicycle can be made new at a much lower price point. By getting into the “Buy Nothing” group online you might just snag a bike for free. Especially kids’ bikes, which they outgrow so fast that it’s worth investing in a used bike to save money. But you can even buy adult bikes online at sites like eBay, Craigslist or checkout your local bike shop. Many bike shops take trade-ins. For example, as part of Trek’s sustainability objective Trek will begin selling used bikes through its Red Barn Refresh program. Spend the money you save on a brand-new helmet, which you’ll need to be safe.
In the past, I’ve been very outspoken about the advantages of tubeless tires, see “Ten Reasons To Go Tubeless“. But as the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The picture illustrates how I fix most bicycle flat tires now. I simply let the tire sealant fix the puncture for me. It’s that easy. Admittedly, sealant alone doesn’t always repair larger punctures and sometimes I have to use a plug, see The Trick to Using Stan’s Darts on Tubeless Tires“. Nevertheless, given a choice, I will take a tubeless tire over a tube tire any day. However, there are times when you simply can’t use a tubeless tire. For example, the Bafang Monster Bike Build was a budget project, and I didn’t have tubeless ready wheels, and my 2.5 ” MAXXIS – Hookworm Tires weren’t tubeless tires.
So, I had to revert back to an old school solution to flat proof my tires. The process is relatively simple, as follows.
While not necessary, I also put rim tape over the plugs to ensure the plugs stay in place.
Finish the process by adding tube sealant in the tubes to self-repair any puncture.
For a more detailed description of process, see “How I Eliminated Bicycle Flat Tires Forever!” I never thought I would revisit this topic since going tubeless, but since I’m doing this process again for the Bafang Monster bike build I thought I would share, for those who are still riding tires with tubes.
While there are many advantages to disc brakes, I rarely hear anyone talk about one of the biggest benefits I enjoy with my disc brake bikes. Disc brakes have greatly increased the versatility of my bikes. Today there are so many different types of bikes. There are road bikes, commuter bikes, cross bikes, touring bikes, fitness bikes etc. and the list goes on and on, and the bike industry would like us to buy them all.
In actuality, there really are only minimal variations in the different bike style geometry. For the most part, the most noticeable difference in the various bike designs is the wheel size and tire width. However, with a disc brake bicycle that can accommodate a wide range of tire sizes, the versatility of the bike is greatly increased simply because it is so easy to change the wheel size and tire width.
As illustrated above, I can simply remove and change the wheel and tire set on my touring bike from 700C road wheels and tires for the road to 26″ Mountain Bike wheels and tires that I use on trails and paths. This flexibility has made my disc brake bike a great investment for me because I use the same bike to do on and off the road riding.
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.
As the weather turns cooler, a neck gaiter becomes an essential part of my cycling kit. There is nothing more versatile at keeping my head and neck warm. An added benefit is that when it gets too warm to wear my neck gaiter it is easily stored on my wrist while I’m cycling. Below are the ways I use my neck gaiter:
While it may take some time to learn how to transform this versatile garment into all its possibilities, with a little help from YouTube you can become a master at it in no time. So stay warm and keep cycling!
If you’ve read my post “BUILD OR BUY AN E-BIKE?” you know that I purchased a ready to ride Bosch e-bike and also converted one of my old bikes to a Bafang powered e-bike. After a year of riding both bikes about 1,000 miles (1.6K KM) each, which system do you think cost more to maintain?
The Bosch system was by far the most expensive to maintain. While neither the Bosch nor the Bafang systems had any mechanical or electrical problems, the Bosch system had to go to my local bike shop twice for service and the Bafang system never needed service.
Let me say that again.
While the Bosch never had a mechanical or electrical problem in the last year, it had to go into the local bike shop twice for service.
So why does a bike that has no mechanical or electrical problems need to go to the bike shop twice in 1,000 miles? Because Bosch designed their system so that a maintenance required indicator comes on every 500 miles (see wrench icon in bottom right corner of image). Once the icon comes on, it can only be reset by an authorized Bosch dealer using Bosch diagnostics software.
The joke among e-bike riders is that Bosch should change the maintenance icon (wrench) to dollar signs ($$$) because that’s what the icon really means. The bike doesn’t need service every 500 miles, the rider just has to pay to have it turned off. Perhaps it’s just an attempt by Bosch to bring revenue in to the local bike shops to help them pay for their expensive Bosch’s dongle and diagnostic software.
The maintenance of my Bosch e-bike is the most expensive of any bike that I’ve every owned. I don’t know if I would buy a Bosch system again knowing that Bosch intentionally created recurring hidden costs in their product that have no added value to the customer.
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, let me tell you about the Magicshine SeeMee 200 taillight.
If you’ve read my blog post BE EYE-CATCHING FLASHY you already know that I am a big advocate of cyclists making themselves more visible to drivers by using lights on their bicycles day and night. Unfortunately, a good set of lights can be very pricy. However, there are some very good lights available at very reasonable prices. One of these lights is the Magicshine SeeMee 200 taillight. So, what makes it a great light?
The Magicshine SeeMee 200 taillight features are:
Small – 32x28x43mm
Light – 1.4oz
Very Bright – 200 LM Output
Highly Visible – Up to 2 miles
Waterproof – IPX6
Smart – Motion Brake Sensor 200LM
Rechargeable – Micro USB cable included
Battery level indicator
Multiple lighting modes – 3 constant (30, 70 and 140 LM), 4 flashing (all 140 LM), and 2 smart modes
360 degree visibility – Innovative auxiliary tracing light that shines a beam on the ground for visibility in all directions.
Runtime – 2.5 to 50 hours depending on mode.
Low Power Mode – When battery reaches 5% chare, it automatically goes to economic flashing mode(30LM).
Inexpensive – MSRP $44.99
This is a great light at the MSRP $44.99, but luckily I was able to purchase one on sale directly from Magicshine for $38.24 with free shipping, customs and tax included. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. Pictures speak louder than words.
The innovative auxiliary tracing beam of light on the ground adds a level of visibility that I’ve never seen before with any other taillight.
When I first learned about AliExpress I was really excited about the bargains. However, there are several drawbacks to buying directly from sellers in China.
I’ve experienced all of the following:
Very slow deliveries.
Hefty foreign transaction fee.
Complicated and expensive import taxes.
Low quality and counterfeit items.
For example, with my most recent purchase the saving seemed to outweigh the risks. Besides, AliExpress had a MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, “We promise your money back if the item you received is not as described, or if your item is not delivered within the Buyer Protection period.” Since I wanted to buy a Magicshine Seemee 200 Bike Tail Light, I ordered one. The seller estimated that the delivery time would be between 20-38 days. After waiting 80 days I requested a refund under the Buyer Protection period. Although the seller would not honor the guarantee and refused to give me a refund, I submitted a dispute with AliExpress and they quickly refunded my money.
When the item finally arrived the seller immediately sent me a message asking that I return the item but refused to pay for the return shipping. In retrospect, the minimal savings about 10% was not worth the hassle. In fact, I have since found the light from local sellers cheaper, delivered the next day and will pay the shipping for returns.
So if you are looking for bargains with Aliexpress sellers, buyer beware! The real cost in time and aggravation may be much higher than you think.
I’ve used Thule racks for years. They proved to be a reliable product for me, especially when it comes to transporting my heavier e-bikes. Unfortunately, while Thule has focused their attention on carrying bikes they’ve neglected safety. With my bikes in the carrier my tail lights are blocked by the bikes. As you can see from the picture, although the tail lights on my vehicle are lit they are barely visible. However, Thule has woefully neglected this safety issue in North America.
To correct this safety shortfall I felt it was necessary to add supplemental lights to my Thule carrier. Now in low light situations or inclement weather I feel more confident that tail lights can be seen. If you would like to see a post on the details of this do it yourself project please leave a comment below.