Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shimano RT82 SPD Road Touring Shoes

Since the beginning of this year, I have been trying out SPD pedals on my Dahon Boardwalk. Read more about clipless pedals here, and a review of the Shimano PD-A530 pedals here. In this past year, I have gotten used to having SPD pedals, and clipping in and out of the pedals are now performed automatically without me thinking too much about it.

The first SPD shoes that I had were the Shimano M230 MTB SPD shoes, which has a raised sole and metal studs at the front. They are also heavier and tougher. However, since I don't go off road, I don't actually need this kind of SPD shoes. A downside of that shoe is that the centre part of the bottom of the sole is actually hard plastic, which can be slippery when not clipped in.

Shimano M230 MTB SPD Shoes

I recently discovered that Shimano actually has a line of road touring SPD shoes. What is so special about these shoes is that they have a sleeker look, which makes it look more like a road shoe than a MTB shoe. Also, these shoes use SPD cleats instead of the road SPD-SL cleats, which makes walking much easier. They are also lighter and more comfortable than my current MTB SPD shoes as the sole is less thick and more flexible.

I was able to order these shoes online, as I know exactly what size I need. Usually when I buy shoes, such as running shoes or soccer shoes, I get US Size 9. For the MTB shoe, I was using EUR Size 42.5, which is equivalent to US Size 8.7. Even then, it felt slightly too big, as there is some movement even when all the straps are tightened. For the new RT82 shoes, I bought EUR Size 42, which is US Size 8.3. This makes it even smaller than my usual running shoes.

From what I read online, I see that very often, people recommend slightly larger sizes for cycling shoes, as they find that if they get the same size as their running shoes, the cycling shoes will be too tight. For example, someone who wears size 10 for their running shoe will get size 10.5 for their cycling shoe.

As for me, it works the other way round, as my cycling shoe size is smaller than my running shoe size. Seems that you cannot always generalise that your cycling shoe size should be smaller or larger than your running shoe size. What I suggest is that if you are buying cycling shoes for the first time, you must try it out at the shops! After that, if you are getting another pair, you may be able to estimate the size for the new pair of shoes. Of course, sizing and fit will differ from brand to brand, changing the brand of shoes will mean trying out the sizes at the shops again.

Here is a quick look at my new shoes!

Shimano RT82 Road Touring SPD Shoes

According to the marketing brochure, offset straps reduce pressure points on the foot

Ratchet locking system for the main strap

This size is perfect for my cycling shoes

Size view. Looks more like a road shoe.

Bottom view. Rubber sole all along the length, quite comfortable for walking.

New cleats for the shoe. Single release mode SH-51 SPD cleats.

Conservative design with touches of yellow at the tips of the shoe.

The shoe still feels a bit tough, as I have yet to break it in. The new cleats do feel more solid, with less play than the previous SH-56 SPD cleats that I was using. Will continue to try out these shoes and see how it fares.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Modifications to Flamingo London NX7: Crankset, Chainguard, Pedals & 1 Roller Wheel

Some upgrades to my humble Flamingo! Most of the time, an upgrade to the Flamingo is done not because I want to go faster, but just because it can be done!

I have recently upgraded the crankset for the Flamingo, from the stock Driveline 48T crankset to a new Shimano Sora 50T crankset. The inner 34T chainring was removed as it is not needed.

New Shimano Sora 50/34T crankset!

The stock chainguard cannot be used as the BCD of the crankset is different. The stock Driveline crankset has a 130mm BCD, but the Sora crankset has a compact BCD of 110mm. This is why I could not just install the same chainguard.

Without the chainguard, there isn't actually much of a problem. The chain does not drop off as it does not need to shift across a cassette at the back, because this bike uses an internal hub. The only issue is that because of the exposed chain,my leg sometimes touches the chain or chainring, leaving a mark on my leg.

Thus I sourced for a suitable 50T chainguard with a 110mm BCD. Ironically it is a Driveline branded chainguard.

The chainguard that comes with longer chainring bolts

Less common specifications, 50T with 110 BCD. Found only on compact cranksets.

At the same time, I also got new pedals for the Flamingo. The stock plastic pedals are starting to develop quite a bit of play, and the bearings are becoming less smooth. Thus I got another pair of folding pedals. The best folding pedals that I know of are the MKS folding pedals, which I had used since my very first folding bike in 2008.

MKS FD-6 folding pedals

Chainguard and pedals installed!

The black and white artwork on the crankset and chainguard matches well with the Flamingo logo on the frame

Installing the chainguard was not so straightforward as there is very little clearance between the chainstay and the back of the chainring, when the bike is folded. This causes the rear of the chainring bolt to scrape against the chainstay when I tried folding the bike. I had to try a few different combinations of chainring bolts and spacers before I could get a good setup that allowed the bike to be folded.

Damage caused by the chainring bolts, before I figured out how to solve the issue.

The eventual arrangement of spacers, chainring and chainguard that solved the problem.

Another thing that I changed on the Flamingo is one of the roller wheels. I had previously changed the whole set of roller wheels to enable better rolling. As one of the roller wheel fixing points was bent, I had to use a bent bolt to realign the roller wheel. You can read all about it here.

As a side effect of that, one of the roller wheels is at a different level from the other 3. That causes the bike to lean to one side, and only 3 wheels touches the ground at any one time, which makes it a little unstable.

To solve that, I bought wheels that are slightly larger, about 10mm larger in diameter. By changing one wheel, it allows all four of the wheels to rest on the ground when folded.

Larger wheel shown on the right, larger by 10mm in diameter.

One big one small! Looks funny but it works well. 

With the larger roller wheel, all four wheels can rest on the ground at the same time, making the folded bike much more stable.

Flamingo with the modifications. Crankset, chainguard, pedals and roller wheels.