Monday, June 21

Surly Spruce Up

The last fortnight I've spent a bit of dosh under the guise of readying the bike for winter. But, when it comes to buying a Portland Design Works rack, whilst I already had a perfectly functioning Topeak Super Tourist, the alibi wears a little thin. I have to admit it was an impulse purchase because I thought it was rather pretty (which, of course, is the principal consideration when investing in a load carrying frame). My justification was worked out afterwards. It is steel and surprisingly sturdy, whereas, my Topeak was already quite worn (if you squinted and looked sideways). The little 'D' shaped loop takes the bottom hook of my panniers perfectly - no more sliding (not that this ever proved a serious problem). The new rack is longer and, therefore, takes the tent length-wise more easily than the old one. Did I mention it's pretty?

 I've also folded and succumbed to the purchase of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres. I had been persuaded to try some sort of techno goop in the inner tubes that was supposed to seal any punctures. I thought this was too good at the time, but, when you're a bit of a Luddite you sometimes get the inclination to go outside your comfort zone to prove something. Needless to say, it was not a resounding success. No, I did not have to patch a couple of punctures, however, the opaque liquid streaming out of the tyre at high pressure, had the effect of a Katherine wheel and covered both me and the bike in a substance I can only describe as thin papier mache. It took longer to wash the bike down than it would have to fix the inner tubes. Since then punctures have been occurring with irritating regularity. Commuting at night on glass strewn bike paths needs tyres with staying power rather than finesse. I'm really surprised that I like the ride on these tyres so much. It's firmer, more connected  and although the width is 1.35" not 1.25", the area of tread is actually narrower (something about having to curve around that lovely wodge of protective rubber). I thought I was making a change for practical reasons, so it's great to have the unexpected bonus of added enjoyment.

The only purchase that was really to do with winter is my set of SKS fenders. I'm not a huge fan of the look of fenders. I know that transpo/utility/retro cyclists often wax lyrical about them being necessary for a bike to look complete, but, I have a preference for a more stripped down look. However, I also have a preference for not looking as though I have been the target in a cow-pat throwing contest and I tire of having to de-grit the gears twice a day. I must admit getting to work in the rain the last few nights has been a much cleaner affair. Personal aesthetics aside, I am a true and grateful fender convert! The SKS fenders are sturdy, easily fitted (for fenders) and are wide enough to accommodate a range of tyre widths.

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