Yay to the threaded bottom bracket!

Cycling Mountain Bike-96One of the key things I love on my Santa Cruz mountain bike is the threaded bottom bracket. Most other bike manufacturers had moved to press-fit bottom brackets over the years but I, and a few others, were not convinced that press-fit BBs where, as a whole, better than threaded BBs for most people. I really appreciate the easier maintainability of threaded BBs and that they don’t tend to squeak!

A recent BikeRadar article describes how there now seems to be a trend amongst manufacturers to return to threaded BBs. Of course Santa Cruz’s steadfast loyalty to threaded BBs gets a mention :)

United Kingdom knife laws, and the Topeak Alien II mutli-tool

The UK’s knife laws are quite strict, especially on fixed-blades and locking folding-blades carried in public areas. These laws and their interpretations are described here:

Unfortunately, a lot of multi-tools, including those for bicycles, have locking folding-blades which can cause legal problems. I have the Topeak Alien II bicycle multi-tool with a locking folding-blade which I take with me on longer bicycle rides. I have recently become uncomfortable carrying this even though the tool is at the bottom of my bag, and even though it takes MUCH effort to lock the blade into its open (active) position.

In order to avoid any legal issues, I was able to dismantle the tool and, through a grinder, removed the ridge on the blade so that it was no longer lockable in the open position. After reassembly of the tool, I now have a non-locking folding blade on the Topeak Alien II. In use, the blade stays in place much like a traditional slip-joint on a penknife so that it is still practicable.

On a related pointed, it would be really awesome if manufacturers can sell us all the individual tools separately so that we can then build-up our own customised multi-tool. I predict a huge market for this!

My new Apple Watch Sport 38mm

This my new Apple Watch Sport (38mm). It will come into its own when I’m out cycling, or on other occasions when whipping out the iPhone is inconvenient.


I agree that the watch is a little bit overpriced, but this is Apple, and they know supply-and-demand!

My new Silva Expedition 15TDCL compass

I recently treated myself to a Silva Expedition 15TDCL compass (this is from the genuine Swedish Silva company and not a cheap version from the American Silva company).

My new Silva Expedition 15TD-CL compass.
My new Silva Expedition 15TD-CL compass.

The 15TDCL is a quality mirror spotting compass with magnetic declination adjustment and, as a bonus, incorporates a clinomoter (which I probably won’t use).

OK, I have plenty of electronic gadgets such as GPS units, smart phones and expedition watches which can show me location and/or direction. But I do sometimes miss the feel of paper maps and a traditional magnetic compass. This compass isn’t something I needed, but it was something I wanted. It makes a nice backup too in case the electronics stop working :)

My new road bike

I purchased a new road bike earlier last month. A Boardman Elite SLS 9.2.


It’s very light and is fitted with Shimano Ultegra 6800 wheels, gears and brakes. Boardman call this a “sportive” bike in that the geometry is a bit more relaxed compared to a pure racer, and the rear is a little more compliant, so is relatively comfortable and suitable for road endurance cycling; these were the main factors in helping me to choose the new bike. Here’s Chris Boardman himself talking about the SLS platform:

It’s been a great bike so far, but having come from the mountain biking side of cycling, I’m still trying to get used to riding in the drops. Riding on the hoods are not a problem except that I need to learn how press the brake handles a little bit harder; a proper bike fitting is really required. I’ve also swapped out the tyres to 25mm Schwalbe One tyres which have held up well (no punctures!) even with gravel off-road cycling. Yes, this bike is doing fine.

Helmet for road cycling

I’ve been mountain biking for a while, but have recently bought a road bicycle to use on those those trips that increasingly entail significant road travel. I had tried to use my existing mountain bike helmet for road cycling but I found that it was not ideal in this role; the helmet is relatively heavy compared to road helmets, it has a visor that can get in the way when in the road cycling position forcing you to crane your neck upwards (especially when in the drops), and the colour is rather low key which can make it difficult for other road users to notice you.

So I decided to get a new helmet specifically for road cycling. And here it is: light, bright and visor-less! A Kask Mojito.


Easy peasy! Going tubeless on road bicycle wheels

I’m more of a weekend-warrior mountain biker but, recently, I decided to try road cycling to complement the mountain biking. So last week I purchased a fairly decent road bike. After the first few rides on the heavily potholed roads around here I was sorely missing the comforts that a full suspension mountain bike provides!

I have a two-pronged approach to increasing comfort on the road bike:

  • Phase 1: go tubeless using lower tire pressures (with puncture resistance benefits too).
  • Phase 2: purchase a new seatpost to take the buzz out of riding on rough roads.

Phase 1 was completed today!

The road bike came with Shimano Ultegra wheels; these can be run in a fully tubeless configuration if needed. There’s no need for any rim tape as the rim bed is solid with no spoke holes; kinda like the Mavic UST rims for mountain bikes.

To configure the wheels to run tubeless, I used the following:

  1. Schwalbe One tubeless tyres (700x25C) for front and rear (bought new).
  2. Stan’s NoTubes Universal 44mm Tubeless Road Valve Stem pair (bought new).
  3. Stan’s NoTubes sealant (I already had some for using on my mountain bikes).
  4. Schwalbe “Easy Fit” tyre mounting fluid (bought new).
  5. Stan’s NoTubes valve core remover (I already had this for the mountain bikes).
  6. Stan’s NoTubes sealant injector (I already had this for the mountain bikes).
  7. Lezyne floor pump.

Now, I’ve seen videos, and read of people in forums, who have had the most difficult time in trying to mount a tubeless tyre to an Ultegra wheel; way too tight! Shimano warn not to use tyre levers on the Ultegra wheels, probably because the rim may get damaged or warped, but these people were getting desperate and some had resorted to tyre levers.

With that in mind, I soldered on pretty confident that I could overcome any difficulties. Starting on the front wheel, I installed Stan’s NoTubes valve stem. Following that, I applied Easy Fit liquid to the tyre beads and the rim. Starting opposite the valve, I installed the tyre onto the rim making sure that the tyre bead was sitting in the centre of the well. Getting the last bit of tyre onto the wheel was a little bit difficult but it took me only around 20-30 seconds to do it, and certainly not using any of the extreme efforts that I’d seen on YouTube, and definitely not using any tyre levers! The Easy Fit liquid certainly helped, but you could probably use soapy water as an alternative (it’s what I do for my mountain bike tubeless configuration).

And then one more application of “Easy Fit” to the tyre bead and also to the inside of the rims to allow for easy inflation. Using my floor pump I had the tyre pop into the rim walls in seconds, and I took the tyre pressure to 100 psi. The rear tyre went on just as easily.

Making sure that both tyres had popped correctly, I deflated both tyres, removed the valve cores, and added 30 ml of Stan’s sealant into each tyre using the injector tool. Re-inserting the valve cores I re-inflated the tyres, this time to 80 psi. I’ll experiment over the next few days to determine the optimal pressures for me (speed vs comfort).
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Note that Schwalbe recommend the use of their own Schwalbe “Doc Blue”sealant in the first instance but they do also unreservedly recommend Stan’s sealant (both are made by Stan’s NoTubes!).

This tubeless malarkey on road tyres/wheels was not hard to do, especially if you use a proper tubeless wheel. The application of preparation and technique, both finely honed from my mountain biking tubeless experiences, allowed me to feel confident that I could overcome any challenges and not panic; brute force is not the way to go.

Once the 25mm Schwalbe One tyres are worn out, I might try the 28mm version. If I can run it at the same pressures as the current 25mm then I should have lower rolling resistance giving me a larger comfort/speed envelope.

These are the specs for Scwalbe One tyre that I’ve installed:

Size: ETRTO 25-622 (Franz.Bez. 700x25C)
Typ: Folding
Compound: OneStar
Execution: Tubeless
Color: Black
Skin: Lite
Weight: 340 g (12 oz)
Pressure: 5.00 – 8.00 Bar (70 – 115 psi)
Maximum load: 70 kg
EPI: 127
Article number: 11700024
EAN: 4026495718226
Tube: 15, 20

Casio Pro Trek

I’ve just bought a Casio Pro Trek watch. Not too expensive, looks robust enough, with some nice features.

Casio Pro Trek watch

I’ll probably use it mostly whilst mountain biking and also on travels.

DMR Vault MG Superlight

I’ve had Point One Racing Podium pedals (the original version) for a while and they’ve been really great and have taken quite a few hits. But the main issue that I’ve had with these pedals is that the o-ring seal is quite tight which results in a fair amount of drag. I’ve tried lightweight lube to make the pedal spin better and this has helped but not enough. These pedals are actually notorious for having a high rotational drag; some see this as a feature but it wasn’t really for me.

Although Point One Racing have brought out a new version of their Podium pedals which are lighter and with less rotational drag, I thought I’d try another brand. I had heard great things of the DMR Vault pedals so bought the MG Superlight version of these pedals. These have very good grip and are also very light made from magnesium with titanium axles. The only minus for me with the DMR Vault pedals is that they not as thin as the Podiums. Time will tell if this is going to be an issue with the sort of riding I do.

When I first saw the demo Vault pedals in the shop mounted to a board they spun quite freely which I really liked and is one of the criteria I used for helping me to choose a new pedal. However, when the new pedals arrived I was a bit surprised that they had a fair bit of rotational drag. So I dismantled the pedals and noticed that the axle was liberally covered in grease. I’m sure this grease is great for keeping the elements out but I’d argue that it’s not critical with an assembly consisting of sealed cartridge bearings and DU bushings. So I wiped off all that grease and applied a very lightweight grease at all the contact points; I trust the rubber seals to keep the elements out!

Anyway, these Vault pedals now have a really sweet spin to them. I really like!