Puncture Repair the Cheats Way

During last Sundays ride to Brighton Marina, one of our riders suffered a puncture. To save time I decided to use a puncture repair spray to keep us moving.

The spray is designed to repair and inflate tubeless or punctured inner tubes instantly without tools and without taking the wheel off the bike.

A couple of the ladies on that ride hadn’t seen this method of puncture repair before and were impressed by the ease and speed of the repair. They thought it was an ideal solution for ladies riding alone who aren’t confident about repairing punctures in the field; I know a few blokes like that too!

So, for the benefit of those individuals that don’t know about this option, here is a link showing the product in action.

https://f1.media.brightcove.com/4/3415345270001/3415345270001_3524643232001_937535.mp4?pubId=3415345270001&videoId=35243388750001

The can is small enough to fit in a pocket or backpack and doesn’t weigh very much. It inflates the tyre as it seals the hole and more air can be added afterwards if required (I’ve never found this necessary on a 27.5 tyre). The manufacturers suggest that you replace the inner tube once you return home but again in practice I’ve found you can keep going (till the next puncture at which point a new inner tube is required).

This spray, from Decathlon in Brighton, costs £2.99, but I’m sure there are other similar products/suppliers. The manufacturers say it will repair holes up to 1 mm wide but I’ve used it twice to repair tyres with small slashes of 3 mm and it’s worked fine (after a bit of seepage through the hole).

So if you’re not confident fixing punctures or you simply can’t be bothered because it’s pouring with rain, cold and muddy (which is why I carry one on my commute) then you might want to consider giving it a go? That said, I would strongly recommend that everyone learns how to repair a puncture, because whilst this stuff is good it won’t fix everything.

I’ll be looking to arrange some puncture repair classes soon. Maybe with a bacon butty incentive. (Den?)

Have fun.

Guy

A way to reduce flat tyres.

There have been a few Facebook posts over the last few weeks about multiple punctures sustained whilst riding off-road. It is always the same this time of year.

For me, punctures are doubly inconvenient as I commute cross-country from Lewes to Seaford and in winter this means riding there and back in the dark. When I’m cold, wet and muddy it’s no fun fixing a puncture; so I thought I’d share my solution to this problem.

You probably already know that ‘tubeless’ tyres are generally the best way to avoid flat tyres as they self-seal (most of the time). However, getting a tyre to create an airtight seal on the rim has driven many a sane individual crazy. Tubeless setups can be messy if you have to take the tyre off as the sealant has a tendency to get everywhere (see picture below).

You can buy self-sealing tubes ‘off the shelf’ or make your own. I do the latter because it’s simple, cheaper and the self-sealant I use (‘Stans No Tubes’) seems to work better than fluid used in the commercial versions. All you need is a tube with a removable core (or valve) and a bottle of sealant. With the tube in the tyre and the wheel back on the bike you simply remove the core and pour in the required amount of self-sealing fluid. Once the tube’s core is replaced inflate the tyre as normal. Simple!
So what are the pros and cons?

Pros:

  • significantly reduces the likelihood of a puncture
  • no requirement to use tubeless ready tyres (which in a tubeless setup can be difficult to fit without an air compressor)
  • reduced mess in the event that the new inner tube is required
  • cheaper than buying a commercially available equivalent, which in my experience don’t work as well. I would suggest buying a bigger bottle of sealant which is significantly cheaper

Cons:

  • slightly heavier than using just a tube (or running tubeless)
  • the self-sealing fluid needs topping up roughly every six months and the life of the tube reduces to about a year (after which the self-sealing fluid starts to create large rubber lumps within the tube)

One other thing to remember if using this setup (or a tubeless setup) is that in the event you have to remove a tyre because the sealant hasn’t prevented a flat, you need to check for more than one thorn, etc. because the sealant may have already sealed previous punctures and the thorns might still be there.

 

 

Rides Calendar on mobile devices

As a reminder, our calendar can be made readily available to mobile devices by creating a homepage shortcut or, for offline viewing, by linking to the phone’s onboard scheduling software.

Details are shown at http://cycleseahaven.org.uk/cal_info/

 

How to prevent your bike from being stolen

Here’s a useful article that should help you to retain possession of your lovely wheels (and frame, and saddle, and  . . . ).  Just follow the link:

How to prevent your bike from being stolen

https://www.directline.com/home-cover/how-to-prevent-your-bike-from-being-stolen

Beware – some of the videos in the article may cause serious stress and consternation to riders of a delicate disposition and a love for their bikes!

Be safe – it’s a dangerous world out there.

Bike Building for Dummies #3

Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club -the community of speakers of that language. Frank Smith

Having managed to create a unicycle from my Singular 69er frame and a rear wheel, ‘What next?’  

I asked the combined wisdom of the Friston MTB group and the answers were many and varied.  The lovely Kate suggested a saddle which was a great answer because I know a) what a saddle is and b) which saddle I wanted.  Practically unheard of for this bike build, I promptly ordered my Selle Italia Gel Flow Diva .

My favourite answer however was this:

Were you going single speed? I have a Middleburn 33t chain ring (barely used), a Velosolo 21t sprocket (unused) and spacers that I’m selling.

The chainring is 105bcd so will need the correct sized cranks.

These two sentences were literally incomprehensible to me.  In my head, I understood that this was in actual fact the english language, however it might as well have been cantonese.  With google as my guide, I managed to do a bit of translation….

Chain Ring is the big pointy wheel thing with teeth that the chain goes on at the front.  The sprocket is the little one that goes at the back.  They look a bit like this:

 

 

The ‘t’ in‘33t’ and ‘21t’ actually relates to teeth which are the pointy bits on the outside of the ring, which makes sense if you think about it and the number is how many teeth there are on the outside.  Now this is actually really important for a single speed bike as the size of these rings determine your gear ratios.

The gear ratio is basically how hard you have to push to get your legs and therefore your bike up to Bo-peep / Eastbourne Lane for example and apparently it’s something that can take a bit of tweaking to get right for you.  Ellie’s singlespeed was a ‘32 / 18’, so 32 teeth on the big front ring and 18 on the back one.  It seemed to work for me. I made it up the majority of the hills and it was OK on the flat if slightly irritating that it felt like I was pedalling like Billyo and not getting very far. But I was being offered 33 / 21….what difference would that make?

Another bit of quick googling showed that it would make a massive difference.

Gear ratio online calculator….brilliant for bike geeks. Including me!

The gear ratio for 32 / 18 is 1.78.  33 / 21 is 1.57, so it would be quite a bit easier as the lower that number is, the easier it is to pedal.  The gear ratio for a granny gear could be around 40 / 30, so 1.33 to give a bit of perspective if that helps.

So the 33 / 19 chain ring / socket set wasn’t for me….

The chainring is 105bcd so will need the correct sized cranks.

Bcd? Better cycle daily?  Bikes crash dully? Turns out that it stands for Bolt Circle Diameter. In the picture above, it would be the distance between the holes across the middle of the chainring.   This is basically the size of the mountings which attach the chainring to the cranks (cranks being the bit that the pedals attach to), so I would need to get the cranks first (or make sure that the cranks I got were compatible with that chainring).

AArrggghhhhhhhh……With fingers in ears, eyes closed, I rocked silently back and forth for a few moments before my head exploded.   At this point I had a glass of wine and gave up on chainrings, cranks, bcds and all that gubbins for the sake of my sanity.  Obviously I will have to revisit at some stage but for the time being, it is parked…

Calm once more, I was still keen to get on with doing something, ANYTHING to keep the bike build moving forwards.  Thankfully, a friend had donated some pedals and brakes which he had spare and was looking to declutter.   One of the pedals was stuck, but just needed cleaned and lubed up again to get it moving.  How hard could that be?

Well, I have to say it would have been easier if we had the right tools.  A set of spanners and a vice would have been handy, but we made do with an adjustable spanner, two pairs of hands, an allen key and a cloth to stop the flipping thing moving around all over place.  Once again, google and my ‘quick guide to bike maintenance’ book came in handy.  We basically had to take the inner bit out of the pedal, take it all apart, clean it thoroughly, then put it all back together again with a shedload of grease.

Things I have learned about pedals

  • There are 24 teeny, tiny ball bearings inside these pedals
  • The old rule ‘righty, tighty, lefty loosen’ rule doesn’t apply to all pedals.  It worked for one of mine but not the other and this is apparently correct.
  • It’s really important not to lose any of the aforesaid teeny tiny’ ball bearings
  • The inner core bit has lots of little parts which need ‘fettling’ which is fiddling about with all the little bits as you put them back together until it works.

We thought we’d done a pretty good job of cleaning / regreasing, so were a bit disappointed when the dodgy pedal was still stuck.  Luckily a passing bike guru (thanks Gus) was able to advise on the fettling element and with a bit more fiddling around we got it unstuck and working.  It only took an hour and a half….but another bit of the bike was ready.  Success!

Next time:  Wheels revisited…

 

 

Bike building for dummies #1

Rule 12:  n+1

‘The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.

While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.’

I fully blame my competitive streak and Ellie.

‘Try my single speed’, she said.  ‘You’ll love it.  Your gears are slowing you down.  I’m on holiday from Wednesday, why don’t you borrow my bike while I’m away?’

I LOVED it.  I was expecting it to be hard, but actually it was probably really similar to cycling my bike on hills.  It was just like being in a low-ish gear, all the time and  So on ‘2’ on the left hand side (I only have two big rings) and probably 4 out of 10 on the right hand side.

Because it was lighter than my bike, I felt like I was flying up the hills and had got fitter overnight.  Which I obviously hadn’t.  Back in 2015, when I first joined Cycle Seahaven, I couldn’t work my gears at all, just didn’t understand whether I should be changing up or down, pressing the left hand one or the right hand one, so for quite a few of my initial rides I just boshed along, caning it up the hills as fast as I could, getting up out of my seat.  So going back to that frame of mind and attacking hills made sense to me.

The bike was a Niner, rigid (which means no suspension) and made from steel.  I found out afterwards that being made from steel is a good thing for a rigid bike as the steel apparently has a bit of ‘give’, unlike carbon and aluminium which are stiffer.  You learn something every day.   I didn’t really miss the suspension, I mostly do cross country and although it was pretty bumpy going downhill on chalky bumpy paths, in general it was OK.  I’m not really a bomb craters sort of girl so that wasn’t a problem.

I loved it so much I didn’t want to give it back….Which is when Rule 12 came into force.  It was time for n + 1.

Step #1:  Choose a frame

But which bike to go for?  All I knew for sure is that is sounded like steel was a good idea and I liked the big 29er wheels as that is what my existing bike and the borrowed single speed used.

The problem is that there isn’t anywhere where you can go to try out lots of different single speed bikes.  I did try a cycle shop in London after a tipsy lunch, but was extremely disappointed to find out that they only sold road bikes. Which sort of makes sense but I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: ‘I’ve got money to spend in here’ and no bugger even approached us to see what we were looking for!

So I looked at bikes online until my eyes were bleeding.  So many choices!  I could go for a safe option, a factory built model like the Kona Unit, or perhaps an On-one In-bred 29er.  (I decided against the On-one because I emailed them and they didn’t reply.  Their loss!)

Or maybe I could try to pick up a frame and have someone build it for me?   I thought this sounded like a good idea as then I could have it built how I wanted.  For example, all bikes come with a standard saddle.  Having had blisters on my lady parts at the end of my Tanzanian ride which meant I couldn’t sit down comfortably for a week, I am actually quite particular about my saddle.  (It’s a Selle Italia Gel Flow Diva, BTW, if you’re interested.  It has holes for your lady bits which means it meets Rule #61.   Brilliant!)

Selle Italia Diva Flow. No more blistered lady bits.

It seemed like a bit of a waste to pay for a bike with a saddle and then immediately discard it to be replaced, so I decided to start looking at second hand frames online.  I liked the idea of reusing and recycling and it *should* be cheaper too as a bonus.

I trawled Ebay and pinkbike looking at frames.   I searched for bikes that my fellow MTB’ers own.  The Salsa Mariachi got great reviews and is beloved by its owner, but he’s on the 3rd frame as they have a tendency to break in the same place.  Another Mariachi owner said that his also broke in that same spot, so that ruled it out.

I looked at the Cotic Soul, but 26inch wheels ruled it out.  I had loved the Niner I rode, but they are an American brand and hard to find here.  I considered a Surly Karate Monkey too.  Not just because it wins hands down the bike name of the decade prize, but they seem to be a great ride from the reviews…

It’s fair to say that I was bamboozled by choices.  Something will become something of a theme…

Voyeurism & Dogging

I found I had also become a bike voyeur.  As I cycled alongside my fellow cyclists, I was doing sneaky sideways glances, checking out their single speed stallions from the corner of my eyes. Which is how I came across Singular.  They’re a small British company and have a small range of good quality bikes, and my fellow MTB’er loved his Singular Swift, although he said that there weren’t many of them around.

I headed back home after my Sunday morning ride and checked Ebay.  There was a Singular Hummingbird for sale, steel frame, 29 inch wheels, single speed, fairly local (Dartford) and ending in 6 hours!  It seemed like a sign and would put an end to wasting hours fruitlessly mooning over random bikes online.  I swiftly made an offer – and won!  Yay, decision made!

We arranged to meet in a Tunbridge Wells park the next day for me to collect the frame.  I was slightly concerned that Google maps seemed to indicate that it was ‘Dogging Central’ but on the basis that I had my husband and 4 children with me, I thought it was probably safe enough.

Less than 24 hours after putting in my bid,  I was the proud owner of a Hummingbird Swift Frame in medium for the total sum of £230.

I was chuffed with myself for making a decision.  Discussing it later in the pub amongst ourselves, I was inspired by my girlfriend, who had just got a new bike frame from the Friston MTB group and was really pleased with it.  The guys on the chat group had been super helpful, giving loads of advice.

‘Maybe I could do that’, I thought.  ‘But maybe I could build the bike myself.  I know loads of blokes who will be happy to advise me as to what I need and can probably help me out if I get stuck.  And it would be a BRILLIANT way to find out how bikes work as I literally have no idea.  What could go wrong?’

 

Next Week:  69ers, more car parks, and a brand new language….

 

How to plan a new route

Ride leaders, have you ever thought, “I’d like to go somewhere different today.”  Cyclists, have you thought, “Not Firle Road and Bopeep, again?”

Don’t despair, help is at hand.  Cycle Seahaven has produced a video guide to help you to plan new routes.  It gives you the skills and tools you will need to explore many exciting new routes and find parts of the countryside you never knew existed.

You can access this at   https://youtu.be/rl31gNbvtMU

When you’ve planned them, recce’d them, and proved them with a group, why don’t you put them on our website where you will find nearly 20 others with maps and directions.  Find them at “Rides and Events”, “Cycle Routes”.

Night road cycling, with Aldi, Lezyne and Ituo lights

Since the weekend I have refitted my WIZ20 dual LED, wireless light  on my commuter bike, and this has brought a smile back to my face, this light is good!!!  Since the clock went forward, I have been cycling with an Aldi  240 lumens COB type rechargeable bike light £12.99 and a Lezyne Zecto drive Pro 80l for £38 giving a total of 320 lumens for around £50 in total, I can not make a direct comparison as they are very different and even the price of the two is half the price of the WIZ20, but I think, it worth sharing my findings. The Aldi light is again very good value for money, but this is really a flood light with very little throw, so you end up having good light by your front tyre but not extending forward very much, ok on very well lit roads but not much good if you going at speed on badly lit roads , le Lezyne Zectro drive pro is kind of the opposite with a very fairly narrow beam but reaching a further. Both light are great to be seen but are not much good for you to see the ground and spot pot holes in time to miss them. The Zecto Drive Pro can double up as a rear light so this is quite handy to have a secondary light in case your main front or rear light packs up. The Aldi one in my mind is much better for dog walking or around the house as a torch, very broad beam , ok as a bike marker light or a flashing light. Both are USB rechargable.  Now going to the Ituo WIZ20 1500l for which I did a review for the club last year. Well, as I said, as soon as I turned it on, I had a grin on!   Nice broad light beam reaching far in front of your bike and still putting plenty of light by your front tyre. This kind of reminded me of the type of lighting you get from a car. The beam given by the WIZ20 is nice and safe for you to ride at speed in lit up or dark road, I had to turn it down to its standard low setting  250 lumens which does give you 14h. I have used it off road many time last year and this is also ideal for MTB if you want to go wireless  (this is also the one I usually lend to some of my new riders if they need a light) Like the others, this is wireless and USB rechargeable and its output is programmable. All this of course does come in with a higher price tag, under £100! Price of a Volt 800 or a Lezyne Deca 1500 but once you check the specs and start reading reviews you will see how good the WIZ20 is, specially for a light under £100!
I have not got any interest into this new firm apart from wanting to share what is a very good product with fellow cyclists. Luc. MTB 2B night ride leader

https://www.aldi.co.uk/p/72177/1

https://www.evanscycles.com/lezyne-zecto-drive-pro-light-EV194257

http://singletrackworld.com/reviews/review-ituo-wiz20/

http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-night-riding/user-review-ituo-wiz20-996544.html

http://cycleseahaven.org.uk/ituo-wiz20-1500-lumens-twin-xm-l2-u3-bike-light/

 

 

 

 

Enlighten

The most important item on your bike at night are your lights and this is an often talked subject on night rides. Thanks to the internet, lights are very accessible to every one with a small or a large budget. The requirements for road riders and MTB riders are different, I am far for being an expert but would like to chair my experience with other hopping this will be a little help to guide you through the confusing world of bike lights for MTB night ridding.

For what it is worth, here is my own experience.
In my early days, I used cheap flashlights-torches putting out a decreasing 200/300 lumens for just a little more than an hour on full power. You had to seriously monitor your usage as the output did drop quickly, of course much more expensive lights with better output were available, but being new to all this, I could not see the point of spending hundreds of pounds on dedicated high power cycling lights.
As I went on riding and Chinese lights like the Solarstorm X2 started to appear on ebay for an affordable price, I got myself a set. This did transform my night time riding experience.
I soon realise that cycling in the forest with a single bar light was a bad idea, specially with a cheap one. I was advised to get another one for my helmet. This does allow you to look around corners and spot hazard on the trail. Also if one battery or light decided to give up, you would not be plunged into darkness.  I got another couple sets from ebay, but the cheap ebay experience did not go entirely smoothly. Out of 3 ebay lights I purchased, the 1st one was fine, the second one was a terribly made copy of a Solarstorm X2 which went back for a refund and the 3rd one the battery lasted 30mn , this was exchanged by the seller. Later one, of the battery pack started to smoke and was disposed of promptly and one of the battery charger packed up within 6 months. I tried also some Yinding YD cheap Chinese copy of the Gemini lights which in my mind were not better than the Solarstorm X2 despite the fact they cost more.

I found all of them to have weak battery pack and not good heat dispersion with no heat management system causing the light output to decrease quickly. So I started looking for a decent battery pack to improve the Solarstorm X2 light head. I came across the Fluxient range and got myself a good battery which did cost me nearly as much as what I paid for the Solarstorm X2. With it, the output was more steady with a better run time.
There is no doubt that lights like the Solarstorm X2 and others similar lights are very good value for money and will do a similar job as expensive branded lights. There is a huge number of riders who swear by these type of cheap ebay lights, some having more success than others, but once you start talking to them or follow forums, you soon discover, that they don’t last very long, first thing to pack up are usually the battery pack and or the charger, so you end up buying another light or a decent battery or a charger with an end result of making your cheap light no so cheap in the long run!

Solarstorm X2 do vary a lot in price and range from £12.99 to £34.50, Output advertised are between 1500 to 8000 lumens 🙂 All I can say is do not believe the massively inflated output, the TRUE LUMEN OUTPUT of the Solarstorm X2 is around 1000 to 1200 lumens according the model of Cree LED used but the output decrease very quickly as the light has no heat management system. It will pay off to switch the light to low mode when you stop moving. Go for the XML-U2  instead of the T6. BEWARE, fake SOLARSTORM X2 are being sold, yes the Chinese even fake there own cheap lights!

After quite a few years riding trails with my Solarstorm lights, I was given the chance to review a bike light from a well established reputable Chinese light manufacturer Fenix. Their BC30 bike light was a mid price bar type twin LED bike light design for cycling and at the time was a great purchase.
I liked the experience of ridding with it, the light was better made, had a better beam, better fittings and behaved differently to the cheap ones so I started looking for a quality dual LED lights that could replace my Solarstorm X2 for a better lighting experience.
After extensive research via MTB forums and reviews, in December 2015,I bought myself one of the best high quality light on the market: the Gloworm X2. I was blown away by the difference between the usability of my new Gloworm X2. The GW X2 rated at 1500 lumens had no doubt more output that my old SS X2 which was advertised with similar or higher output. In short, the GW light had a better beam, a better tint, better run time, better battery, a lower profile, a very useful remote switch, a more secure attachment for the light and battery and was programmable to my own requirements. The light experience was just a lot better, but of course you had to pay quite a lot more for all this.

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a new Chinese bike light company: ITUO, they had read some of my flashlight and bike light reviews and were looking for a few reviewers world wide for their new range of lights. So, I jumped to the chance of trying something new. With others, we have tested their lights off road or on road and have send them feedback on our experience and they have modified their lights from some of our recommendations.

Their slogan is: Reliable affordable performance bike lights.

Their reliability is only two years old, but from what I and other reviewers have experienced, their products do match their slogan!
And they listen and act on what the cycling community has got to say on their lights.
One of their last product is the XP2 a direct competitor to the Gloworm X2 that I so much love.

For me, the Ituo XP2 is a better option due to the lower price, first class heat management system and removable remote switch, the UK price is £134 for the Ituo XP2 against £179.99 for the Gloworm X2. (Nov 2016)

I do get ask sometime what light would you recommend?

This is based on my own experience:

The Solarstorm X2 for the price is a good but basic cheap light as long as you get a genuine light as copies are being sold on ebay ( you can not tell them apart unless you have a look inside them), so my recommendation is if you want to buy one, get it from a UK reputable dealer.
If your budget can stretch further, have a look to the ITUO range, great value as you are getting purposed made high quality and a high tech bike lights for what is still a reasonable price.

Don’t forget if a light is very cheap, there is generally good reasons for this!
It is more than likely a copy of an existing one or one badly designed which had been thrown together with cheap material and with no quality control in some sweat shop. Now I am not saying, don’t buy any of the cheap ebay ones, but I will say be very careful and don’t write off all the other lights!
Some of the more expensive lights have a lot more to offer you!

Lights are like bikes, you can have as much fun in the forest with a cheap Halfords bike or a expensive branded ones, but your ridding experience will be different and it is the same with lights!

Luc, MTB 2b night ride leader

PS
Brightbikelights are the UK distributor of the ITUO range and have kindly offered for our club a 5% discount on the Ituo range after, I allowed them to use photos from my ITUO WIZ20 review. The code is “SEAHAVEN”