Friday, January 6, 2012

Hatches anytime!

I'm not a fan of sedan style cars as they are very limited when it comes to carrying bicycles to the airport. Come Tuesday, we leave for our Northern Thailand ride and I have to carry one full size bike box and my Pocket Sport. Originally, I wanted to just pack my Pocket Sport into a regular size bike box so there will be minimum dis-assembly. But the normally spacious 2.4L car in my home cannot take 2 full size bike boxes and 3 passengers!

Therefore, it is fortunate that with a foldy, the option to pack it into a more manageable size box is always there. I decided to use the original Bike Friday packing box, and it took all of 10 mins to put everything in. With that, the full size box goes into the rear seat foot area and the BF smaller box fits into the boot with all the panners etc comfortably. The only small inconvenience is my friend has to sit length-wise in the rear but this is only for 20 mins.

Give me a hatchback/wagon style car anytime!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

East Coasting on a Brommie

I am very blessed to enjoy riding with a regular group of cyclists in Australia that meets every Wed morning and it seems, I have found a regular Wed group here in Singapore as well. It was great to ride this morning with old time friends Keong, Rich and new friend Ricky today.

The route is the East Coast Park, from National Sailing Centre to Changi Village, a flat and scenic 18km ride that hugs the coast and skirts around the busy Changi International Airport.

As I needed to put it into Keong's car (thanks so much for the ride there) and return by train, the natural choice was my first foldie - my trusty 9 year old Brompton.

Its supposed to be a 6 speeder but my RD is a bit sticky, hence it is limited to 3 speeds only. Nevertheless, I had no problems cruising with the 2 roadies who were moving at leisurely pace as well as Keong's well used Dahon Vitesse.

It was interesting to ride past a hovercraft which was beached. I'm told that this is used for any aircraft emergencies at sea and there are actually 2 hovercrafts on constant standby. Most impressive indeed.

As usual, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at Guru's Indian Restaurant and I had my usual prata with egg and onion, washed down with Teh Tarik. Unfortunately and unexpectedly, my glass of tea exploded after one sip. I must be radiating heaps of energy!!!

Oblivious to that explosion and any other noise, there was this cat near us with a major hangover and slept like there was no tomorrow. That amused Keong highly and he could not wake her up. What a difference to the state we were in, all bright and chirpy thanks to our cycling.

East coasting on a Brommie, you can bet I will do it again!

Back to Front?

I've been experimenting with mounting front panniers for my upcoming Thailand trip instead of using a rear rack like I've always done. The impetus for this came from researching the wisdom of experience tourers such as John Schubert who writes:

"It is somewhat counterintuitive that putting weight on the bike’s steering would improve the bike’s handling, but it most certainly does. For proving this, we owe thanks to Jim Blackburn, the since-retired founder of Blackburn Designs."

He adds that ideally, the load should be spread between front and rear of the bike but my touring load is light, max 7-8kg. Therefore, just the need for 2 Orbs is sufficient for me.

Pic fm

I discovered the following advantages with front panniers:

1. Handling of the bike is more sturdy and I feel confident to ride hands free. This is more apparent for foldies which uses smaller 20" wheels. Because it is carried lower than a rear rack, the centre of gravity is lowered.

2. Stability seems better especially during downhill descents. One tourer used the analogy of an arrow - where the head and weight of the arrow is placed in front not the rear. It tracks better that way. Same when making a paper aeroplane where you need a weight in front to fly better.

3. Small advantage when climbing hills as the front is more planted. I've climbed very steep gradients with a heavy rear load and the bike have tended to do an unexpected wheelie.

4. Easier packing. Standard rear racks especially when packed with foldies into Samsonites can be a real pain to squeeze into those super tight confines. Not packed properly, they can cause deep scratches on the frame. Front racks on the other hand, are very easy to pack as they are flattish, and also easy to fit onto the bike.

5. Zero heel strike. Point added by Pat. Noticed too often on our recent ride down to Margaret River in late Oct last year by a few riders. Thanks Pat!

The main disadvantages I sense seems to be:

1. It is less aerodynamic with 2 squarish bags in front punching through the air. Not so much a problem riding slowly but for those fast descends, it does have a negative effect.

2. A heavier steering feel. Your foldie won't be so nimble and takes getting used to.

The verdict is still not out yet, and I will be able to give a more comprehensive and conclusive report after my Northern Thailand ride next week. Stay tune!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My ideal bathroom

Was cruising through and this caught my eye. Trust the Europeans to come up with such creativity. I want one!