[BIKING] The New Commuter

So, it finally happened. After all that research etc, I finally got the new bike. I picked up the floor model SE Bikes Lager from Joe Mamma on Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon, I took it out for a spin, get a feel for it, and maybe get some pictures, because that’s what I do.

spring Ride

Nice, eh? Yeah, I’m happy with that shot, despite it just being a cellphone pic, and then edited in Snapseed on the fly.

The bad news though, was that I got half way through the ride, and the back brake started GRINDING. I took a look, and there appeared to be flecks of metal on the pad. not so good.

So, I got it home, and took the back left pad off to take a closer look. This is what I found:


Crazy, eh? that is actually a shaving from the WHEEL. I was seriously concerned that there was a problem with the casting of the wheel. And I’m still slightly apprehensive on that level: I’ll be keeping an eye on things. However, I took the bike back to the awesome guys at Joe Mamma, and they were suitably freaked out. That said, I love watching guys who love a thing (in this case, bikes) get down to the business of solving a new problem. In this case, it appears that there was wire embedded in the pad(s) of the brakes. So, they replaced both sets, front and rear, and I picked the bike up Monday afternoon. I rode to work this morning, and, other than having slush freeze on the wheel/braking surfaces, all seems well. Obviously, my own paranoia says I’ll be keeping an eye on that back wheel. Good news is, if it does end up being an issue, I know that’s an SE Bikes/Warranty issue, not cost-out-of-pocket issue.

At the same time as I got the bike, I grabbed a new helmet. I’ve never been a helmet guy, but @dogandgarden insists quite vehemently that I should wear one, and, dammit, she’s actually right. I should. I just… never have. So, I got a new bucket/hockey-style helmet from BELL.

Acutally, small digression here. I’d planned on getting both helmet and a new lock from Mountain Equipment Co-op, but when I showed up at 10am Saturday morning, they were out of all their chain locks, smallest u-lock (to go with the chain) and adult helmets. Nothing but kids stuff, or ultra-high-end racing helmets.

So, I ended up buying all my gear at Joe Mamma. Which, considering a discount for accessories bought at the same time as the bike? Yeah, no worries there. I spent a little more than I’d planned, but not exorbitantly.

And, the chain lock I got?

Is, simply, the coolest, SMARTEST chain I’ve ever seen.

What I actually got was the HipLok Lite: slighly lighter chain, and slightly shorter too. That said, 75cm is plenty for most lock-up situations, especially as I don’t have quick-release anything on the bike.

Not having to have a lock-bracket on the bike makes me happy (they always rattle), but also not having to take a backpack/courier bag with me to carry my lock everytime I go out? Yeah, that also makes me REALLY HAPPY. It’s a pretty brilliant idea, I gotta say. I mean, you could do the same thing with a standard chain/lock combo, but the ease of use with the velcro belt, and using that to size it to my (admittedly ample) waist? yeah, totally awesome. Both the lock and chain feel as beefy as I’m gonna need, as well.

Which means I’m all set for the summer. I commuted this morning, despite it being -12oC: there’s ice from the weekend melt-off, and the slush associated with it was actually splashing up onto the wheels and freezing on the braking surface, which I’d forgotten happened occasionally this time of year. I remembered REALLY QUICKLY when I hit the brakes and not an awful lot happened until the pads peeled off the ice that’d formed in chunks. That said, the commute is dead easy, even on the single speed. I guess last fall when I was riding the devinci in single-gear mode, I built up some single-speed expectations on difficulty level. So far that’s a non-issue. In fact, I’d almost like a bigger crank cog up front, so I can maintain more speed! I didn’t expect THAT at all. It’s a 46T in the front, with a 17T freewheel out back, so maybe it’d be worth going to a 52T in the front, sometime in the future? Meh. that’s something that can wait.

The stock riding position is also REALLY upright. I’m 99% certain that IS going to change, with a set of bullhorn bars. I think that maybe the riser bar is a littel too upright for me. I think for most people, though, it’d be perfect. Between the old Devinci, and the Opus Stern though, I’m much more used to, and comfortable with, a more aggressive position. I don’t necessarily need to go as far as the cyclocross for the street, but a little more aggression in the stance won’t hurt, for sure. When I do it though, I’ll mount the brake levers cyclo cross style, next to the stem, rather than out on the ends of the bullhorns, track style. With luck, I won’t need to get new cables that way, too.

I guess it may sound like I’m not happy with the bike: that’s not accurate. I really like the bike. But riding single/fixed is new to me, and the mechanisms involved are simple enough that I can do things to them to make them more me. I’m a mild tuner with my car: I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be with my bike, as well. At the very least, it makes it more “mine”; and at the end of the day, if a new set of handlebars and brake levers, and a new chain ring and chain can maximize my time on it? Why the hell WOULDN’T I make those changes? I have the skills, it’s extremely basic mechanical work. And then it really, really starts to become “my” bike, too, rather than just one off a line.

Good enough is never quite good enough, is it? once you’ve got that bug?


2 Responses to [BIKING] The New Commuter

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  2. Pingback: [Commuting] An Interesting Proposition (as Opposed to a Modest Proposal) | Life, the Universe, and Everything

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