We have limited bike space and so I packed the Bike Fridays away in their travelcases some months ago, ready and waiting for our next tour. I was contacted via this blog a while ago by a couple of local ladies who wanted to see it, so I bought it out of it’s hibernation so they could have a go.
The chain was stiff and was not forming it’s usual curve around the running gear, so I decided that I would bite the bullet and put on a new one. The bike has only done about 2,500 kilometres but a lot of our touring was on unsealed tracks and it got very wet and muddy. I did clean it the best I could during the tour, and before we came back to Australia (customs won’t let anything dirty in to the country anyway, ha ha ha) but there is only so much cleaning I could have done, putting it away meant that it solidified.
Anyway on the ride over to show it off, the new chain was slipping on the 6th cog at the back. That must be a new record for me, wearing out a cassette at 2,500 kms. The cassette on my Schwinn Le Tour has done close to 10,000ks with no signs of slipping and I have plans to replace it when I put the next chain on in 2,500 kilometres time.
The only conclusion I can draw from this is that I should have upgraded running gear when I ordered the bike. It had an SRAM PG820 cassette on it when shipped and it was a dark colour instead of the shiny silver of good quality cassettes. I have now it replaced with a shiny SRAM PG850 cassette which cost me about $21 from Wiggle and the chain slippage problem has disappeared. Hoping to perhaps last for 2 or 3 chain changes with the new cassette. We shall see.
The only other, very small issue with the Bike Friday is that the wheels both need a minor true. I can see some wear on the tyres, but not enough to cause me to look for replacements yet. I expect they are at about the half way point of their life time.
I transferred the towing hitch for the DoggyRide Novel Dog Bike Trailer over from the Surly Long Haul Trucker to the Bike Friday. The rationale is two fold – 1: it will help acclimatise my legs to towing for our next tour, and 2: I will only have to carry one size of spare tube when I take the dogs out riding. The DoggyRide + dog is going to be quite a bit heavier than the Travelcase + my meagre luggage, so even though I was pretty worn out after towing the 21.5kg dog 20 kilometres a couple of weeks ago, I know it is good training!
The Bike Friday is much easier to accelerate when towing as opposed to the Surly. I believe this is because the 20″ wheels have less inertia than the 26″ wheels on the Surly. Of course this means that the bike doesn’t hold momentum as well after a downhill, but with 36.5kgs of trailer and dog behind me, I find I have plenty of potential energy to work with down the hills.
The other advantage is that with the smaller back wheel, the GoPro on my seatpost gets much clearer shots of my canine passenger!
Getting the Bike Friday out has reminded me what fun it is to ride. The girls who test rode it said something about ‘looking like a bear on a bike’, but they agreed with me, for a small wheeler it handles remarkably like a normal ride. You do, however, have to get used to the fact that the front wheel isn’t in it’s usual place right in your face when you look down over the handlebars.
I know I have been very sluggish in writing for this blog for the last 12 months. There are some things I need to update (for example, the condition of bike parking at Perth Arena has changed radically since my post), and I also have some more product reviews coming up. This list is partly for me so I don’t forget, but also for you in case you want to subscribe to the blog to ensure you don’t miss out.
We just ordered a new tent for our next tour, and will be doing an initial test of it towards the end of March. After a bit of looking around we decided on the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 for it’s good internal size and light weight. All the reviews I have read have noted that weight savings have been achieved by using fragile material. I don’t think this will be as much of an issue with us as the tent will be safely stowed in the hard Travelcases whilst on tour, and tucked well into my rucksack in transit via aircraft or trains. We will also be using it for car camping on trips where the dogs are not joining us. I definitely wouldn’t expect it to hold up to dog claws. Anyway it will be interesting to see how it fares as our replacement for the MSR Hubba Hubba we’ve been using for the last 7 years. It offers a slight improvement in weight as well as better ventilation and resistance to wind.
I got a bit sick of spending big dollars on helmets so I had a look around for some other options that would be comfortable on the head and the wallet. I have been approached by Provizsports to review one of their high-vis options and I will compare this with the Kali protectives helmet which I purchased from Aussie online retailer Velogear.
As you know I like to include the dogs in everything I do, so I bought a new kayak with them in mind – the Old Town Vapor 10
. At 3 metres and 20 kilograms this boat is also more feasible to tow with my bike than my longer boat. I will compare it to my last ‘dog kayak’ which was a Bic Oaussau sit on top.
Finally, if you have been reading my blog and have found some value in it, the best way to support and encourage my blogging habit is to use the links on my ‘affiliates’ page to buy your bike gear. It’s a win-win because you will get a great price from these retailers and I will get a very small commission. The money is mainly symbolic but it helps to motivate me as it shows me there are people out there really valuing my posts.