It’s been a while since I last posted for various reasons; a packed schedule, a lost smartphone and a case of bloggers’ ennui being but three. But I’m back now, so that’s all that matters.
Despite the aforementioned setbacks the bike commuting is still going strong and the thing that strikes me lately is how my responses to commuting’s challenges seem to constantly evolve. I’m unsure why this is. Perhaps I’m just a borne tinkerer? Perhaps my needs and circumstances are constantly, imperceptibly shifting? Perhaps I’m realising that there are many ways to skin the proverbial feline and I’m just trying all of them. Perhaps Derrida’s vive-le-difference is the answer?
Whatever the answer, what I do know is that my current commuting rig is working really well. Resurrectio is currently rigged with Tioga flat bars (£5 NOS from On-One.co.uk) and my 90mm Nitto Technomic stem. Both are highly-polished aluminium and look great together. More importantly they give a great riding position, on and off road. What’s sealed the deal in terms of comfort and style is a pair of Hermann cork/rubber anatomic grips. Less than a tenner from Practicalcycles.co.uk, these grips look for all the world like the grips you get on walking poles in terms of shape and material and offer a very comfortable, grippy perch for the hands. Due to a very shiny handlebar surface I had to glue the grips on with Evostik extra strong glue, but once firmly in place they’ve been excellent, providing plenty of hand support. The great thing is, because my main riding position is so comfortable, I’m not missing the alternative hand positions afforded by other handlebar setups.
Controls are taken care of by Tektro’s great budget v brake levers – everything you need from a lever and nothing you don’t. Sun Race’s bargain friction thumbshifters still grace the bars and work a treat, especially in combination with a new piece of kit on the bike, namely a Microshift RD M-45 rear mech. I’ve been eyeing up Microshift’s stuff for a while, first seeing them on Bike Friday’s bikes and then as aftermarket items on http://www.rivbike.com.
The rear derailleurs have got a nice design which evokes both Huret’s offerings from the 70s and Shimano’s bang up to date Shadow mechs, with a bit of SRAM style thrown in for good measure. My mech is pitched around the Deore level in terms of quality and shifting is very positive. The main difference in terms of design compared with my outgoing Deore LX mech is the lack of a sprung top knuckle (I’m not sure if that’s the right term derailleur fans – the part I mean is where the mech is attached to the frame where the B limit screw is. At first I thought “How’s that going to work?” Then I connected the chain and realised that the tension created by the spring in the jockey wheel cage is what keeps everything in place. The short of it is a great derailleur at a great price – just £19.99 from an online retailer whose name escapes me right now.
Clothing wise I’ve made a few recent purchases and acquisitions lately that I’m really excited about. One is a great winter merino wool cycling jumper from Muxu (that’s ‘Moo – Shoe’ to you) which the Barcelona based company kindly sent me to long term test. A full review of said item will follow this update but rest assured its good.
The second acquisition was a similar garment from Aldi, their black merino wool mix cycling jersey. At £14.99 this is a real steal. Long sleeves, quarter zip, long arms and torso, a mid weight ‘sweater’ knit in 70/30 acrylic/merino and a rubberised gripper at the back. It’s great. It looks like an office smart jumper; it works like a cycling midlayer. There’s very little to dislike about it.
In terms of carrying my stuff, I’m currently using a standard 25 litre daysack, picked up from Clas Olhson for just 10. In an effort to be visible on the ever darkening roads, and to keep my commuting gear dry, I’m using a hi-vis waterproof rucksack cover (borrowed from my wife’s Brompton bag). I’m not a big fan of hi vis vests and jackets, however, the rucksack cover provides that attention-grabbing high-spot of light on the road, without having to compromise one’s outfit.
My hi vis bag also allows me to wear by stealthy black Karrimor Urban waterproof, safe in the knowledge that I’ll remain visible. The jacket is extremely waterproof, windproof and breathable and packs down small enough to fit into the rucksack. Off the bike, it’s a normal jacket with a normal cut, unlike misshapen cycling specific jackets. Even on deluge days, this jacket, combined with my Regatta overtrousers, keep my completely dry and clean.