Tag Archives: bike tour

Shimano Alfine Di2 Electronic System

Everyone loves new electronic gadgets (except Luddites), what about when they are added to something as simple as bicycles?  Shimano did that a couple years ago with the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 system. It really interested me when it first was announced, and I have had a couple of chances to try it out on trainers at a couple different shows, never on the road. It truly is an amazing system, and if I was a pro-level racer I would really like to take advantage of the perfect and quick shifting. They are coming out with an Ultegra Di2 now, helping to lower the price and allowing for more people to take advantage of the electronic shifting system.

Who would have ever guessed Shimano’s next step with the Di2 system would be to put it on an Alfine internal gear hub? The Shimano Alfine Di2. To me this system seems confusing, but at the same time it makes some sense. This could be a system that works with some commuters, but probably just those who are already riding carbon bikes to work.

Alfine Di2
The system is only a prototype right now; the finished product should be out in September of 2012 (no idea on price). It looks like there will be no big changes to the internal hub itself. Instead it will just have an electronic shifting mechanism on the outside (though I could be wrong). It will be offered in a 8 speed and 11 speed, and will offer 2 different brake/shifter lever set ups: road and flat bar. They will offer a road lever system, similar if not the same lever as the Ultegra Di2, allowing electronic shifting with the right lever, while the left will just be a brake. This will be Shimano’s first road lever shifter for an internal hub. They will also have a flat bar system, with a Rapid Fire electronic shifter. The system will also have an electronic display screen to show the gear you are in and battery life. The Dura-Ace Di2 currently only has a small battery indicator. The system will use the same battery system as the other Di2 systems.

Alfine Di2 Shifter Alfine Di2 Battery
Alfine Di2 Display Alfine Di2 Demo Bike
Photos from BikeRadar.com article (Here)

I hope Shimano realizes if they want this system to actually work for commuters and people who bike tour, they will need to do something better about the battery. The advantage of an internal gear hub is they are maintenance free. If you throw a battery in picture you are going backwards. It keeps the hub maintenance free even more so by removing the cables, but you have to make sure your battery is charged, and that you have enough power for long rides, and even short tours. The system would probably have a lot more battery life than the Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2, because it only deals with shifting the hub, as opposed to two separate derailleurs. It would really boggle my mind and probably a lot of others if they don’t make a way for the Alfine Di2 to be powered from a dynamo hub. I think that would be a necessity for this system, as it would keep it so much simple. If you can power your light, and electronic shifter, then I think the system would work well. If they only offer a battery set up, then there must be a way to lock the battery in place. On BicycleRetailer.com, they mention a battery placement of a “seatpost-mounted battery”. I don’t what that means, and I can’t find anything else about it. I don’t know if that means the battery could be mounted in the seat tube or just to the seat tube. If the battery could go in the seat tube you would keep it safer. If it’s on a commuter then it should be locked down, no one want to deal with taking more stuff off their bike that could get stolen, so lock it down. The dynamo would be easier though.

Overall I think the Alfine Di2 will find its place, just like the Dura-Ace Di2 has. If the Alfine Di2 system can work with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive, it could make an amazing mix. I would really like to try the Alfine Di2 out for my self when it come out. Maybe then I will understand it more.

Sources:
BikeRadar.com – Shimano Alfine Di2 – First pictures
Road.cc – Shimano to launch Alfine Di2
Singletrack Magazine – Shimano 2013 – Alfine Di2 and other Shimano Tech
Bicycle Retailer – Shimano announces Di2 Alfine option, more

Movie: Ride The Divide

Ride the DivideRide the Divide is a movie that documents a group of riders racing from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, USA (Mexican border) on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route – 2745 miles. It greatly shows the riders struggles emotionally, physically and mechanically along the way. It’s hard enough for the film crew to catch up and find the cyclists.

It’s a great movie and if you like any sort of cycling you would probably enjoy watching this movie.
It’s on Netflix Streaming right now, or you can request a screening or buy the DVD on the Ride the Divide Site.

“Shit Cyclists Say” Video


PeopleForBikes.org has made a “Shit Cyclists Say” video, inspired by the popular “Shit Girls Say” videos and all the videos that followed from it. This video is more roadie specific, but should still be funny to most cyclists. I hope someone comes out with a video for, bike commuters, touring cyclist, cargo bike, etc. As long as they are cyclist related I’m sure they will be funny.

There is also a “Shit Mountain Bikers Say” by IHTtwo.

Review: Novara Arosa Bike Gloves

I got a pair of Novara Arosa Bike Gloves at the REI Year-End Garage Sale. The gloves MSRP at $29.50. I already have colder weather gloves, the Novara Stratos, but I wanted some suited for cool/dry weather wearing. They are built very similarly to the Stratos gloves. They have synthetic leather palms with nice grip, and a small amount of padding, with added grip on the finger tips of the thumb, index and middle fingers, to allow added grip on brake levers. These are cool weather gloves, so they won’t cut the wind, or repel water, like the Stratos but they are extremely breathable. There are large reflective accents across the whole back, and a nice amount of fleece on the outer part of the thumb for wiping your face. The cuff allows for a good fit, with no bulk or hassle with straps. They have a pull tab to help fit them on and elastic cuffs. They fit very nicely. These are size XL, the same size as the Stratos I own. I think these are great gloves and I am happy I got them. If you are looking for excellent cool and dry weather gloves, you won’t go wrong with these.
Novara Arosa Bike GlovesDisclaimer: I bought these at the REI Year-End Garage Sale so I got a  great deal on them, and paid a sale price of $9.83. I would still be willing to pay full price for them. The reason for return on them was “not warm enough”. They might not have realized they are cool/dry weather glove, and they are fine for me, and do what they advertise.  If you need gloves warmer than this, think about the Stratos.

Kickstand Cyclery Open for Business!

Yehuda Moon IconYehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery comics are back today. The comic was on a short hiatus while Rick Smith and Brian Griggs figured out what to do with the strip. There was a Kickstarter to raise money for Volumes 2, 3, and 4 to be printed into books. They only needed $18,000 for their goal to produce the books, but ended up with a breathtaking $44,054, from 660 backers. Which is great, I can’t wait to get my volumes in the mail anytime now I would imagine.

Open for Business

Open for Business 12-30-2011

Now for 2012 the comics will be published 5 days a week, Monday through Friday. The new comic will be for Kickstand Club Members, pay $1 a month or $12 for the whole year. With that it allows you to get: Access to the new comic, and view old comics by year/month on nicely organized pages. Non-members can still view old comics, they just have to navigate through on a large pull down menu or clicking through them like the old days. Members will get discounts in the store, and freebies. So become a member now to see the new comics. The comics will also appear in Bicycle Times magazine again starting with issue 15, Feb 2012. Thank you again Rick and Brian, for all the hard work with the comic and for keeping it going. YehudaMoon.com

And again, just like my post about the Kickstand Kickstarter: If you haven’t heard of Yehuda Moon you can still get started reading them, They are all online still, here is a link to the first strip. Yehuda Moon 01-22-2008

Yehuda Moon 01-22-2008

REI Year-end Garage Sale

Saturday December 31st, 2011 was the REI Year-end Garage Sale in Eugene. This is a big sale at REI, where they sell slightly used gear, returns, and display items. This was the first time I have been able to go to one myself, and let me just say it was well worth the short wait in line to get in. There was a lot of great gear to pick up there and I got myself some presents that I’m quite happy about.

ALPS Mountaineering Mystique 2.0 – MSRP $199.99 bought at $9.83
This is the first real tent I have ever bought, but it seems like it will be perfect for me: 3 season, fits 2 people, pretty light at 5lb 2oz total, packs pretty small. I’m quite excited, the only thing is the tent was not cleaned up before packing away after the last use, so it smells like the outdoors (Angel claims it smells like mossy earth and radishes). No visible mildew, but I should clean it as soon as possible. If anyone has any ideas on how to clean it in the middle of winter, indoors let me know. The biggest problem right now is all the rain we’re getting, so I can’t set it up outside to clean it out and hang. So I’ll need to do this inside maybe in stages. If I can’t get it cleaned out well enough it’s no big loss, it was $9.83.
ALPS Mountaineering Mystique 2.0 Tent ALPS Mountaineering Mystique 2.0 Fly

Novara Arosa Bike Gloves – MSRP S29.50 bought at $9.83
These gloves fit very well and should be a great cool and dry weather glove, when my Novara Stratos Bike Gloves are just too warm. On the tag, the reason for return was “not warm enough”, but these will work well for me. They just needed a little stitching fix, and now they are perfect. I can’t wait to get to use them this coming spring.
Novara Arosa Bike Gloves Novara Arosa Bike Gloves

Merrell Chameleon3 Stretch – MSRP $120 bought $19.83
The shoes are hardly broken in and all the tread is there, including the fine tread that wears off fast. They should be great for hiking and walking.
Merrell Chameleon3 Stretch Merrell Chameleon3 Stretch

GoPro HD HERO Camera – MSRP $239.99 bought $99.83
It was a big surprise for me to find this, and it was a hard decision to get it but I did. Angel and I shoot lots of videos together and we have always talked about getting one. This price was too fair to pass up. I can only imagine no one got it before me because: A. They didn’t know what it was, or B. They don’t do video editing themselves. The camera is in perfect condition. The reason for return was “didn’t like product”,  and I don’t really know why they didn’t like it, but I like it already. It has HD video up to 1080p at 30fps, with 127º wide viewing angle. 60fps at 720p and WVGA resolutions allowing smooth slow motion playback with 170º wide viewing angle. With a waterproof case allowing it to go to depths of 180ft (60m), my Fuji XP10 depth is only 10ft (3m). Comes with mounts, including a one for vented helmets. This should get a lot of good, fun video footage that we can use. Great for long bike rides, or trips to the coast. Can’t wait.
GoPro Hero GoPro Hero
I’m excited to get to use these new items and after I will write reviews for them, so stay tuned. There will be new videos as well with the help of the GoPro Hero.

Review: Delta Airzound Bike Horn

Airzound mounted on my LHT, you can see a little horn on the white triger

I ordered the Delta Airzound Bike Horn  back in February. I have had a good 8 months to try it out now. The Airzound is a great accessory for a cyclist that does anything more than recreational cycling. The basic design is a plastic bottle (it looks just like a single use bottled water) full of compressed air. Leading off of the bottle is a plastic hose that meets up with the horn itself. The horn has a button over a schrader valve that you can refill the bottle with air through. The bottle can hold up to 80psi (claimed to be about 30 blasts). This is a closed system, so if the hose gets pinched, or punctured, it won’t work. Delta doesn’t offer any repair kits.

Placing the horn on the bike took me some time before I got it mounted where I liked it. There is little space on my bars for accessories, but I still figured out a good way to mount it. The bottle and hose are another story. The bottle is a smaller diameter then the average cage, so it’s hard to fit it in securely. It might have been nicer if they had made it out of thicker plastic and made it fit like a cycling water bottle should. The bottle is wrapped in velcro and it comes with another velcro strip to zip-tie onto the frame. Different kinds of bike frames will have different set ups for the Airzound. The tube that leads to the horn can also be hard to route. Make sure not to crush the tube under a zip-tie; that will cut off the air, or worse, break the tube. The easiest thing to do is run the tube alongside the cables.

The overall manufacturing quality is good, no flaws. The sound from the horn is extremely loud. It really works when you’re trying to get a car’s attention. The drivers seem to get surprised when there is such a loud sound coming from a little bike. But that is what this horn is all about. I must warn you though, this horn is not to be used towards other cyclists or pedestrians. Please be cautious about using it around people who aren’t in cars. It is claimed to be up to 115dB. This falls in between a car horn (110 dB) and a jet engine (120 dB). There is a volume control, but I haven’t experimented with that feature. I prefer to leave it on the loudest setting, just in case. Even when I know I’m about to use the Airzound, the noise that comes out of it startles me sometimes. I try to warn whoever I’m riding with before I use it, so they are prepared.
I haven’t had any problems with mine yet, but have read cold weather will dampen the sound. All in all, this is a great horn for cyclists, whether you are bike touring on country roads or your daily commute involves a lot of traffic. This horn lets you be heard when needed.

The Delta Airzound Bike HornMSRP is $39.99. I bought mine off of Amazon for around $25, and I have seen them in most LBS for around $25-30. There is nothing else out there on the market to really compete with this product. So bottom line is, if you want a horn to make others aware of your presence when necessary, this will do the trick.

Trigger button lifted to show schrader valve used to refill the air

Front view of Airzound

Air bottle mounted under down tube in an upside down bottle cage for clearance