Long Time No Post

It has indeed been awhile since my last update. I’ve been BUSY trying to get my thesis done. I really haven’t done much GPS tracking of any rides lately because I’ve just been riding when I can. And lately, that’s meant lots of commuting duty so I can keep my cycling legs under me.

The Pompetamine has been getting some miles on it lately. It’s also had some changes since I posted up my original build pics. Here’s what I’ve done to it:

It’s the wet season, so I threw on some SKS full fenders so I can keep drier. I also had to get some narrower tires so the fenders would fit. The rear end of this frame has plenty of width, but tire height is a bit of an issue with fenders. I had some 38’s on it, but I dropped down to 32’s. They’re smoother and faster on pavement and can still take a little dirt. But they’re no gravel grinder tire. If I want to do that, I’ll have to remove the fenders to put the old 38’s on.

I put a smaller 42t chainring on instead of the 46t. I found starts from stoplights to be a PITA on the 46t, and I’ve got a bit of a climb on my way home that was just a beast every evening. The 42t just takes the edge off of the climb and starting from stoplights takes a lot less effort. 42×18 works for me on my commute.

I got a Portland Design Works rack just last week. Boy is this thing nice. Bamboo deck, aluminum construction (even bamboo dowels inserted into some of the aluminum tubing), and curvy, sexy lines. This isn’t grandpa’s utilitarian rack. This one has some design put into it to make it LOOK nice.

More reflective tape to increase visibility and a MagicShine taillight.

Now for the pics (and a vid):

On-One Pompetamine commuter

Check out that sexy rack. I don’t have any panniers just yet, though. But you can be sure I’ll pick some up. I’ll probably get a set of waterproof ones. I also want to move the taillight from the seatpost out to the end of the rack, but it’s designed to attach to a round post, not the tab. I have some scrap pvc and I might rig something up.

On-One Pompetamine commuter

Rear view. You can see the round light on the seatpost here.

On-One Pompetamine commuter

I had to get creative for the front fender attachment to get around the disc brake caliper. First, I needed to use a longer bolt with a shim to get the plastic bracket away from the disc tab. Then, I bent the fender stays around the caliper. I did all that bending with just two pair of pliers. A vise sure would have helped out a lot there.

On-One Pompetamine commuterOn-One Pompetamine commuter

Checking out the reflective bits on the bike. You’ll notice something about the rims. I got these wheels built up with Velocity Dyad REFLECTIVE rims. Do you see them reflecting here? Barely. If you notice in the horizontal picture where the light hits the front of the front wheel that maybe 1/4 of the rim is reflecting brightly and another 1/4 of the rim is reflecting faintly. That pales in comparison to the reflective sidewall of my Crucible tire. I’m a little miffed that the reflective effect of the rims is that wimpy.

Here’s a vid of most of the active lighting on the bike (the brand new wheel blinkie is dead…must have blinked in the store for hours or something). Pay no attention to the audio here. That noise is the focus on the camera. I have the headlight on blink, actually, but the frame rate of the camera is too slow to catch it. The taillight is good, and motorists appear to be able to see it in the daylight just fine. I seem to be plenty visible to people around here without extra hi-vis clothing, even. Now, people do drive EXTRA cautious around here, though. I have passed more than one person on my bike crossing the railroad tracks going UPHILL. It seems to be sport to go 10mph under the speed limit. It’s enough to drive you crazy when you learned to drive in big cities and when you get in the car you just want to get somewhere for cryin’ out loud.

Commuting here is spoiling me in many respects. Drivers around here mostly don’t yell at cyclists. I can remember being yelled at once since I moved here in 2008 and I have more road miles here than in any of my previous residences. And even then, it was just dumb kids. No idiot rednecks in pickup trucks (though I do live in rural Texas and there are PLENTY of pickups – none of them care to cause any trouble), no aggressive businessmen in too much of a hurry, nobody’s thrown anything at me, none of that. The worst I get are the clueless students. In some ways they’re more dangerous because they’re unpredictable. There’s a half-roundabout at the main entrance to campus that I use to exit sometimes. It used to be two-way, but it was somewhat recently changed so that it’s now a one-way loop. It really simplifies traffic flow there. But there’s the occasional idiot that enters at the exit in spite of the prominent “DO NOT ENTER” signs, paint on the street, and whatnot. I was waiting at the exit on my bike a few times when people have entered there. It’s quite scary to see headlights bearing down on you head on and you’re just standing there straddling the bike. I do my best to scare the crap out of those idiots. I’ve successfully had one group actually stop and get out of their car. Small lessons, right?

Bike Lights

Just this evening I took receipt of a pair of Magicshine bike lights. These things have been around for awhile and there’s lots of discussion about them around the web. They’ve got their fans, and certainly their detractors.

I got them because I am at the point in my physical recovery that I can probably get back on the bike soon. When I can do that, I probably won’t be ready for the mountain bike yet. I still need a lot of strength and stamina. But I WILL be able to start commuting by bike again. It will help me get back into shape for mountain biking. Part of commuting is getting your bike outfitted with adequate safety gear.

I have a couple of rear blinkie lights that have been more than sufficient for me over the years. I have no complaints with them. Though maybe eventually I’ll get one of the insane DiNotte tail lights so I have an obnoxious level of visibility so that nobody in their right mind could say they didn’t see me on the road after dark. For Christmas, my wife gave me a Bike Glow rope light to wrap around my frame for improved side visibility. The place where I was really lacking was with my headlight.

I have a couple that I’ve been using for years. My first was a simple DIY job that used a 7.4v NiCad battery pack, a housing made from PVC pipe fittings, and had the bulb from a 6D-cell MagLite. It was a rebuild of the original light, which had an Energizer spelunker’s headlamp housing. That original housing/reflector setup shattered in a crash years ago and the PVC getup was an imperfect and insufficient solution. Later on, I began to use a Black Diamond SpaceShot headlamp which was scary bright, but only provided optimal light on the most focused spot setting, didn’t provide much peripheral lighting, and was a beast to rig onto a helmet. It also used a NiMH battery pack.

I heard about these Magicshine lights on the MTBR lights forum. They claim 900 lumens of output. I quickly learned that the actual output was more like 500-600 lumens. Usually that kind of overstating would be a deal breaker. But, with the lights going for about $85 from a couple sources, that problem is easy to forgive. Most bike lights are hundreds of dollars. I’ve even seen a light or two in the $1,000 range. That stuff is just out of my price range. I can afford a Magicshine, however. The MS light looks an awful lot like a Lupine model, and coming from China, it’s no wonder. But, it’s barely different enough to apparently qualify for its own patent. At any rate, with as cheap as they are, I bought two. That way, I have a spare for my wife if she wants to ride at night, or one for a friend. Geomangear.com, the place I bought mine, even sent me a free y-cable so I can mount both of them on my handlebar using one battery. That’s just sick.

Magicshine bike light
Here’s the box it came in. Snazzy for $85. The lid is magnetic, even.

Magicshine bike light
The contents. Well organized and protected by the foam.

Magicshine bike light
Light parts: Charger, light head, extension cord, battery, and rubber bands to attach to the bike.

Magicshine bike light
The light head. All aluminum. The bezel unscrews to get inside if you need. With the LED light, I’d be surprised if you needed to get in there, but I suppose you could tinker with it easily enough if you wanted.

Magicshine bike light
A non-scientific beam shot. This is a lit room with 3x 75watt grow lights on my vegetables just a few feet away. This light is bright enough to make the camera show everything else dark, illustrating how much of a difference there is between the lights.

Bike lights
Shot of the light head mounted on the handlebar. Good size. The rubber band doesn’t grip too tight. I think I will add some rubber spacers under it so it grips more tightly.

Bike lights
All my lights on…with the light on in the room. You can see the bike glow wrapped around my frame. That ought to help with visibility. I put the batteries into a seat bag. I think that’s probably the best spot for them. I plan to run the Magicshine on my helmet, however, in which case the battery will go in my pack.

Bike lights
All my lights on…with the room light off. I only have one rear blinky attached at the moment. The other attaches to me while I’m riding.

Bike lights
All lights except the Magicshine. You can really see how visible that bike glow is. I obviously don’t have a good angle on my blinkie, so it’s not obvious. It’s a Cateye. I have a nicer Blackburn that’s a bit brighter, also. Two points of flashing red lights on my body is better than one. I might get some more since they’re cheap.

This is my commuting light set-up for now. I’ve got some reflective stickers I’ll be adding, too, for more pop. I do already have a couple reflective stickers on my chainstays already.