Friday, October 28, 2011

Journey of the Boardwalk: Part 15 - Gold Ultegra RD and more!

More gold bling for my Boardwalk TT! This time I re-installed the Ultegra RD with gold bling, which was previously on my bike before I experimented with using the SRAM shifting system.

Unique Ultegra 6700 RD Short Cage, Gold Version, possibly the only one in the world?

The gold parts on this Ultegra RD are:
1) B-Axle (the bolt that fixes to the RD hanger)
2) Cable fixing bolt
3) Tension and guide pulleys
4) Pulley bolt

By the way, these are very nice Token pulleys with sealed bearings, which run very very smoothly compared to the usual pulleys. However, because they are made of metal instead of plastic, they tend to be noisier in certain gears.

Previous photo of my Gold Ultegra RD (taken during the end of year 2010)

Great picture of the gold stuff on my bike, taken last year when I was still using PZ Racing wheels. Picture courtesy of Taiwoon!

 New picture of the gold Ultegra RD! Difference from previous installation is the wheelset, cassette and the cable housing.

 Overall look of the rear drivetrain, with the gold Ultegra RD.
Another gold bling I got for my bike are these nice brake pad holders for caliper brakes! I had previously got gold brake pad holders from Taiwan, but those were for V-brakes. I happened to come across these at a local bike shop, and I simply had to get it!

Gold brake pad holders for caliper brakes!
 Gold brake pad holders with Kool Stop Dual Compound brake pads.

 A view of the entire drivetrain, with gold bling sprinkled all over!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Minoura Space Grip - SGL-300 Review

Running out of handlebar space to put your bicycle accessories? With the Minoura Space Grip, you can "extend" your handlebar and place all your favourite accessories on the bike!

The space grip I got is the new quick release type, which allows it to be removed from the handlebars easily when not needed! Much better than the previous version which uses a metal band for clamping. The bar can also be turned 90 degrees with respect to the clamp, which allows mounting on the stem, handlepost, seatpost etc.

Also, this is the version with a longer bar, which should fit up to 3 lights if required. The clamp also comes in 2 sizes, 22-29mm for smaller diameter handlebars, or 28-35mm for oversized handlebars or seatposts etc. Within its stated range, the clamp size can be adjusted simply by turning a bolt to expand or close up the clamp diameter.

Another good thing I like about the bar is that it can be slid sideways, so that you can fit 2 wide accessories side by side, or shift it to one side to fit 3 accessories.

 Position bar in middle if you have 2 wide accessories, such as high powered lights or MP3 player.

Or you can shift the bar to one side, so that you can fit up to 3 smaller accessories, such as lights, cyclocomputer, bell etc.

The clamp is excellent as always, the same one as found on their clamp-on bottle cages. When used with the rubber shim provided, the clamp is super secure and rock solid! Tested the clamp by cycling along the bumpy Pioneer Road, with 2 lights mounted. At the end of the night, after 50+ km, the clamp is still in the exact same position! Great clamp strength and grip.

A close up of the clamp. (Yes I was caught in the rain!)

2 front lights: 1W S-Sun blinker and a 3W Innovity light for dark roads. Both are powered by 3xAAA batteries.

Another picture showing the extra space available for mounting accessories! Especially useful for narrow bullhorn or drop bars, with limited handlebar space.

One downside to this Minoura Space Grip is that it will cause your accessories to stick out from your handlebar, which is a big problem especially for folding bikes. However, the quick release clamp solves this problem by allowing you to remove the whole Space Grip easily, together with any accessories mounted on it!

For bullhorn handlebars or drop bars, this sticking-out of the Space Grip is not a problem, since the bar or shifters will stick out from the front anyway! The Space Grip merely expands your handlebar real estate by sticking out from the middle, which would be unused space anyway.

 The Minoura Space Grip does not stick out untidily because it is still between the bullhorns!

 Is this overkill? 3 front lights plus a bell!

Updates shown below!

Previously I noted that the clamp for this Minoura Space Grip look very similar to that of the Minoura clamp-on bottle cage. Today, I dismantled the clamps to compare the mounting methods.

Clamp for the Space Grip is fixed to the bracket using a single bolt.

On the left is the clamp from the Space Grip (22-29mm) and on the right is the clamp from the Minoura clamp-on bottle cage (28-35mm).

From the picture above you can see that both the clamps are very similar! 3 mounting holes, and both the bottle cage and the Space Grip uses the middle hole for mounting. This means that the clamps are interchangeable! Great for those who want to get the space grip, but cannot find it in the larger clamp size (28-35mm).

More pictures of the Minoura Space Grip, fully utilised! 3 front lights! 
My 3 front lights, from left to right: 5 LED front light, Innovity 3W light, and 1W (3 LED) S-Sun front light.

Of course, this Space Grip is not limited to handlebars alone! I can already imagine how you can mount multiple rear lights using this, especially for folding bikes with long seatposts. Since you can also turn the bar 90 degrees, you can come up with your own array of lights or accessories! And who says you can only use one Minoura Space Grip? With multiple Space Grips, multiple clamping locations, different mounting angles and different accessories, the possibilities are huge! I would recommend this to anyone seeking to add more accessories to your bike!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Unveiling my Mobile Bike Tools Cabinet!

Finally found time to organise and tidy up all my bike stuff! I had a lot of tools and spare parts lying all over the place, in boxes, on the ground, practically everywhere. Also, everything was messed up, with lights being stored with velcro, rags being stored with allen keys and stuff like that.

 Got a nice little cabinet on wheels from Howard's Storage World!

With a top shelf, it is useful when I want to place spare parts or other components on the cabinet. Little red magnetic dish from Daiso holds bolts and other small parts without losing them!

Top drawer stores generic tools,such as screwdriver, Allen wrenches, pliers, scissors etc.

Second drawer stores small parts, like cable end caps, spare inner cables, 
spare bolts and nuts, brake pads etc.

Third drawer is used to keep my spare lights, cable ties, rubber shims and 
light clamps/mounts.
Fourth drawer stores the stuff used to clean and lube the bike, such as rags, wax polish, grease, chain lube etc. Didn't manage to fit my bottle of degreaser.

And the bottom drawer stores the heavy stuff, including many bike specific tools. Includes cone wrenches, Hollowtech II BB tool, cable cutter, chain whip, cassette lockring tool etc.

With all the tools and small parts in one place, bike maintenance is made easy! No more moving around the house gathering the tools or parts, or carrying them around. Just pull the whole cabinet with you, everything you need will be there! Extremely pleased with my mobile bike tools cabinet, recommended for all DIY bike mechanics out there!

Friday, October 21, 2011

High Profile 20" Carbon Wheelsets!

For all the mini velo and folding bike riders out there, you can also have high profile carbon wheels! Although they are rather rare, they are still available, albeit at a higher price. Check them out below!
Very sweet looking 20" carbon wheels!

Carbon frame with carbon wheels!
 Lots of Alex Moulton bikes with high profile carbon wheels!

Not to forget the Birdy bikes, also with carbon wheels.

If you are wondering where I got these pictures from, they are all from these magazines which I brought back from Taiwan a few months ago! Lots of other bikes and poisonous upgrade stuff. Feel free to let me know if you want to borrow them!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Journey of the Boardwalk: Part 14 - Caliper Brakes for Boardwalk TT

There are many Dahon bikes, but how many Dahon bikes come with road shifters/brake levers and caliper brakes? Other than the Speed Pro TT and the new 2011 Dash X20, no other Dahon folding bike comes equipped with these road components.

Because of this, the Speed Pro TT can be truly called a road bike, since it has Shimano Tiagra ST-4500 road shifters and bullhorn handlebars. As for the brakes, it has been changed every year since 2008.

In 2008, the Speed Pro TT came with long reach caliper brakes. For 2009, it came with V brakes and NO Travel Agent, which caused the braking performance to be really poor. As for the 2010 version, it was V brakes but at least it came with the Travel Agent, which allows compatibility between the road shifter/brake levers and the V brakes. Currently, the 2011 version is called the Vector X27, which has V brakes with the Travel Agents.
2008 Speed Pro TT, comes with long reach caliper brakes. Chromoly Steel frame.

2009 Speed Pro TT, comes with V brakes and NO Travel Agent. Aluminium Frame.

2010 Speed Pro TT, comes with V brakes and Travel Agents. Aluminium Frame.

2011 Vector X27, comes with V brakes and Travel Agents. Hydroformed Aluminium Frame.

At this point, if you are wondering what are Travel Agents, you can check out my previous post showing the transformation of my Boardwalk to the Boardwalk TT.

Travel Agent as seen on the 2010 Speed Pro TT.

However, these Travel Agents are not ideal for braking performance, as it introduces a lot of friction and thus efficiency losses into the brake system. The are many points of contact between the moving brake cable and the Travel Agent, and the rubbing can be easily felt through the brake levers. Also, because the brake cable is bent around such a small radius, it tends to want to unravel itself and again causes a lot of resistance when applying the brakes. Lastly, the geometry of the bullhorn bars, together with the long frame of the folding bike plus the wrapping of the brake cable around the Travel Agent means that even with the full length of the brake cable, it is only barely long enough to reach the rear brakes.

Due to all these issues, I decided to try to find long reach caliper brakes, which can be mounted on the holes for the fender bolts and reach all the way down to the rim. After some searching, I came across some caliper brakes that are actually meant for trekking/comfort bikes, which means large and fat tires with fenders installed. These caliper brakes are able to reach up to 74mm (measured from mounting bolt to rim), compared to the normal reach of about 50mm.

Extra Long Reach Tektro R559 brake calipers. Comes in black or silver.

Compare the distance and the arch width between the Long Reach Tektro brakes (Nutted)
and the normal reach Ultegra brakes (Recessed).

Also, it is necessary to get the nutted version, which has a bolt and an external nut to fix the caliper brake onto the frame. The recessed version can only be used on certain frames, not Dahon frames. To learn more about these two different mounting methods, read the Sheldon Brown website here.

Installing the brakes was rather straightforward. For me, it was the first time I was installing caliper brakes, thus it was quite tricky to get the alignment correct. By the way, I changed to Kool Stop All-Weather brake pads, not even bothering to try the stock brake pads!

 Good clearance between brakes and fender! Clearance is maintained even when brakes are applied.

At the maximum reach, it is just long enough to reach the rims.
 Black caliper brakes to go with my black fork!

 Rear caliper brakes fit well too!

Once I had changed the brakes, the braking improved tremendously, as the cable pull of the road shifters match the required cable pull of the brake calipers perfectly. Also, there is much lesser friction acting on the brake cable, which means that the braking action is much smoother. No more squishy brakes!

This upgrade should be possible for most Dahon bikes, as the frame structure is similar and the reach required should be achievable by these Tektro R559 long reach caliper brakes. Of course, these should be paired with road shifters/brake levers for optimal performance.