In general, cycling allows to me switch off, relax and enjoy some time on my own for anything from 20 minutes to a few hours and surprisingly, despite some of the bad behaviour of drivers while I am commuting on my Brompton in London, my temper rarely frays like it would when I am behind the wheel of my car. One thing that can be a chore is maintenance, I’m not suggesting neglecting safety critical jobs and I do enjoy tweaking and adjusting things from time to time, but two things have reduced the cleaning / oiling time through the winter - mudguards and Chain L.
I’m very pleasantly surprised how much cleaner chain, crank and running gear has stayed having fitted Gilles Berthoud mudguards back in November despite some pretty rough weather, I’m seriously considering leaving them on year round. They quality of these mudguards means a small weight penalty but no rattles and squeaks at all.
I have tried various chain lubes but there will be no more changes since I tried Chain-L after reading an article in Kent’s Bike Blog. It seems counter-intuitive that a heavy oily lube wouldn’t lead to an accumulation of muck on the chain and grimy components, but it is really clean running and very long lasting. I suspect it is the thickness and that it penetrates well (I’m giving the chain an occasional wipe with a dry cloth rather than regularly dripping on light oil), that means the lube stays where it’s supposed to be, in the bearings, not on the outside.
Brooks saddles compared - My Brooks B17 was very comfortable on flat bars, but was not great when in the drops on a drop bar, even though I have the bars only about 2” below the saddle and set it flat (as opposed to ‘nose up’). I was also looking for something more comfortable on my Brompton to replace the standard saddle. I moved the B17 to my Brompton and looked at the alternatives.
Brooks road saddles are actually fairly similar in specification. The B17 was a bit wide, so obvious choices were the Team Pro, Swift, Swallow or B17 Narrow. The length of both the B17 Narrow and Swallow were greater than the B17 and I had no need for a longer saddle. The Team Pro seemed the most subtle difference and this is what I chose. I do think the thicker leather may make it a bit more weather resistant, but I wouldn’t want to leave any leather saddle wet for a prolonged period. Having used it for a few months now, I’m pleased with the choice, there’s no doubt it is significantly firmer than the B17 which lengthens the breaking in period and makes it less shock absorbing, but despite being only 10mm narrower on paper, the shape is far more appropriate for drops making it noticeably more comfortable for longer rides. And the B17 is just perfect on the Brompton.
I got back into cycling with a spur of the moment purchase of a Specialized Globe Vienna “hybrid” bike (I don’t like the term “hybrid”, doesn’t actually describe much.) Very quickly I started to get an idea of what I really wanted. The Globe wasn’t bad at all, but the aluminium frame gave a really harsh ride, even on relatively fat tyres. After a fair amount of research I got a Surly Cross Check from the wonderful Brixton Cycles. I also have a Brompton for town commuting - I work in London quite a bit and very rarely take the tube any more.
Some time later and now properly bitten by the bug, I started looked at second hand steel road frames with the intention of building a fast road bike to complement the Surly, but really wasn’t too sure how appropriate it would be when in fact probably only 50% of my riding is on roads, with the rest a mixture of paths and trails. I’ve also always wanted to build a three speed and thought about doing a conversion from an off the peg single speed (Jamis Sputnik or Fuji Feather), that would resemble something like a Cooper Zandvoort or Traitor Luggernaut.
In the end I have decided to have one bike that would be the “do it all” bike, I have chosen pretty much every component and the build should be complete by the end of October 2011.