akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Tamago Cycling Race Shop

Brader Ali Tamago dah bukak kedai servis kat area Kebun Teh.
Support, jom!
Nak dikatakan kedai, tak juga lah. Ali takde jual barang apa pun kat dalam 'kedai' tu. Lebih kepada pusat servis, sebenarnya.
Semasa aku melawat haritu, borak-borak sambil dia re-build wheelset si Helmy guna truing stand Park Tool dia. Seronok juga tengok otai buat wheelbuilding ni sambil ambik tahu perkara semasa pasal basikal.
Kat dinding kedai tu bersusun banyak basikal, semua orang punya lah. Dah siap diselenggara.
Ali ni dulu kerja mekanik kat kedai basikal kat Singapura. Lama jugak lah, lebih 20 tahun. Pergi kerja dari JB ke Singapura naik basikal je. Otai tak otai tu.
Aku rasa wheelset aku tu memang nak kena hantar servis dah pun, asek lanyak je bertahun pakai. Boleh hantar kat Ali, insyaAllah.
Tamago Cycling Race Shop
No. 22 Jalan Rebana
Taman Perbadanan Islam
Kebun teh
80250 Johor Bahru
(013) 7951832
Tempatnya agak tersorok siket, jadi bila dah sampai kawasan Kebun Teh tu boleh telefon Ali agar dapat sampai ke lokasi.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Review: NiteIze Marker Band

For my RTW, especially when riding wearing using long pants, the Marker Band is an indispensable item. It does a double job, safety wise: keeping the hem of the pants away from being stuck onto the chain/chainring whilst making me visible from rear.

NiteIze Marker Band on my right ankle
It's intended use is on the bicep; however, I use it on my right ankle while cycling.

It has a few options as a visibility marker:
Passive - reflective yellow band
Active - continuous red LED light
Active - blinking red LED light

The LED unit is the same as on the Sport Vest albeit shorter clear wand, with the same high quality for the make and material and with the same lighting modes - continuous, blinking and off. Battery is provided and I used the item straight away after taking it off from the packaging board.

NiteIze Marker Band

The unit is lighted by a small LED, and a clear wand is attached to it to disperse the light so that we get a long, lighted strip. Everything is encased in a reflective sleeve which is also fitted with loops to slip the elastic band in. The make is of high quality and feels durable too.

Visibility is good, and LED is bright eventhough it is encased in the reflective sleeve. The switch position is marked (printed) so that you won't have to wonder where it is. When using half finger gloves, I can feel the slight bump on the end of the LED unit - that's the switch. With full finger gloves, I have to look at the unit to turn on (or blink, or off) the LED.

Sporting an adjustable buckle on an elastic band, it is easy to strap on and to take off - the feature that I like most. As the strap is elastic, adjusting the buckle is easy - just fasten the buckle together, and pull the strap to your desired tightness. However, I'm afraid that over time it will give way. We'll have to see about that.

tuck the loose end in
Another thing to be careful with is that the elastic strap would have a long loose end dangling. I have about 3.5" loose end. This is foreseeable as the unit is intended to be used on the bicep. My biceps aren't big, either, and more so my ankle. I make sure that it won't get caught on the chainring by either tucking it under the marker, or just simply flip the buckle the other way around so that it would be on the outer side of the ankle. Having a proper way to secure the loose end (velcro, or provide a loop like a belt) would make it nicer.

At RM60 a piece, it is not cheap. But, you get what you pay for - high quality safety product. Other than the dangling elastic strap which is only a minor to me, there's practically no other negative side of the Marker Band that I've encountered so far. I'm quite happy with it.

Further reference:
NiteIze page on Marker Band

Marker Band is available locally through Gear 'n' Gadget.

Light Riding at Tanjung Puteri Resort

Last Sunday the whole family went to Tanjung Puteri Resort.
Adam has a swimming lesson, a session that would last about 1½ hours. Usually when Umar is left at home with his mummy, I would take along the laptop and surf the internet while waiting for Adam. As the missus decided to swim, too, it went without saying that I have to babysit Umar.
Thus, I decided to load Naza's bike along with mine and Umar's babyseat into the car. Now that Marsya is always using Naza's bike, I could ride with her and Umar too. That would easily kill time.
I guess the temptation to ride the bike with me and Umar is stronger than swimming alone, making the missus to ditch her initial plan. So Marsya had to take turns with her.
The area around TPR is quite serene. There are not many cars, save for the occasional golfers coming in to the driving range. There are also bungalow lots within the resort area outside the clubhouse; we were allowed to cycle around. Uphill, actually. What I like most is its main road lined with trees, providing shades from the biting 10 am sun.
As a little taste of offroad for Marsya, we went to the horse ranch. She was a bit reluctant at first, but after I showed her some of the simple offroad skills, she gave it a try. 'Skill' here is how to ride across the puddle and rocks and getting over bumps. Not so much of a skill, really, but I think enough to entice her interest in mountain biking.
Umar? He pretty much enjoyed the ride, I guess. Hehe... Not much complaint from him, sitting at the back enjoying the ride.
more photos in here.

Monday 21 March 2011

RTW 21.03.2011 SS48/11

Bukan sebab nak kaki jadi kuat.
Bukan untuk menyelam perasaan seorang fixie.
Walau berseluar 3/4 pagi tadi.
Bukan juga berkayuh di trek.
Kaki aku masih juga tak kuat.
Aku masih pakai helmet.
Pada batang handle masih ada tuas brek.
Di kiri dan kanan,
untuk hadapan dan belakang.
Perewel masih hidup.
Gear di belakang masih sembilan.
Gear di hadapan masih tiga.
Cuma jari jemari tidak menukar gear.
Bukan untuk laju.
Malah, masih tak selaju
bilamana tayar berbunga ketul.
Saja aje.
Nak ukur kemampuan,
kederat yang ada.
Kekadang kalau tak dikerah,
'kan jadi longlai.
Kalau tak diperah,
bisa jadi lunyai.
Jadi apa hasilnya?
Dari titik mula,
Gear di hadapan empat delapan
Di belakang sebelas.
Kaki sentiasa mengilas.
Dua bukit di perjalanan.
Satu diratah dek momentum ditatang.
Satu tak kesampaian,
tatkala dua meter lagi ke puncak.
Apa rasanya?
Puas, noktah.
Stats for today:
Out from home
Arrive office
Ride time
25' 41"
Ave. speed
Max speed
Good doggies
tesco + L route
 Yukon, slicks, SS48/11 gear
Terima kasih sudi berkunjung.
Kayuh dengan selamat.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Seatpost: Giant vs Thomson

This is my report on my search for suitable (and as always, cheap) seatpost for my Trance. If you're not interested in finding a comparatively similar 30.9mm diameter seatpost to Thomson Elite, you may skip this.

Giant Connect SL 30.9 seatpost
Giant frames that I have in my stable, Trance and Yukon Disc, are both requiring 30.9mm seatpost. That's the main important criteria of the search. Alongside, weight is also considered. Of course, the equally important factor, price tags are looked at. So that's two of Keith Bontrager's famous quote.

I have been wanting to own a Thomson Elite, much because they are light, beautiful, strong (although there's no empirical data on this); and the snob rights. "Thomson make parts for Boeing and Ford, too, you know..." would definitely gain envious smirks. Oh, I'd get a sticker and nice seatpost bag too.

Except for one thing: the price. Thomson Elites are generally in the RM300 range (USD99.95). You could find slightly less than RM200, but used item. From BBS, of course.

Anyway, from Thomson's wide range of offerings for their Elite type, the one suitable for my frames is SP-E128. Weighing at 243g for Ø30.9 x 367mm. So, that's the one to be compared with.

Not much are being offered by other third party manufacturers, and the one that is relatively easier for met to get is Giant's seatpost now that Jason's shop is stocking on Giant. I asked him for the price, and he told me that it would be less than RM100 for the aluminium ones.

I checked with Jason two days ago, the price for carbon Contact SLR is around RM200. Well, it's obvious that Contact SLR is out of the question for me. One, the price. Two, I'm not fond of carbon parts. Three, it's not aluminium - then it would not be a fair comparison to Thomson's (okay, there are actually only two reasons).

From Giant's 2011 catalog, there are 3 aluminium seatposts in their range, for mtb:
1. Contact
2. Connect SL alloy mtb
3. Connect
Details are as in the comparison table below:
The closest to Thomson's SP-E128 is the Contact seatpost. It weighs 243 grams, straight or setback. Contact is only 7 grams heavier. I'm not sure if it would be the same as Thomson's if the extra 7mm length is shaved off. Strength wise (being the other factor in KB's quote) I'm not sure with, as there are no data to support. However, looking at the material, perhaps it is safe to say that they are more or less the same. Thomson states that the material is of 7000 series al, while Giant's is of 7050 al forged single piece shaft.

So, my choice is clear then. Contact it is.

One problem, though. Jason didn't have it last 2 weeks. And none of the bikes on display in his shop has it. I didn't want to wait. That would be another 2 weeks, while I've waited 3 weeks already. So I went with the next best - Connect SL Alloy MTB. RM90. A third of Elite's price. Not too bad, I'd say. At only 35 grams heavier. Sheeshh...

the blue anodized rail clamp,
with side single bolt adjusment
The comparison cannot be made apple-to-apple, entirely. Giant's are without straight ones, but only a slight setback. Thomsons are either straight or setback. Saddle adjustment on Thomson's is via 2 bolts, while only 1 for Giant's at the side which is pretty convenient. Thomsons are either silver or black (read: boring), while Giant's has anodised blue bit up on the rail clamp (not that it is very visible). And I can't say to people that Giant makes parts for Toyota or Airbus too (good, I won't be a snob then).

Oh, I don't get a nice seatpost bag, or sticker when I bought the Connect SL seatpost. Never mind, for half of the parts on the Trance frame has 'GIANT' printed all over already.
Including my new seatpost.

Cheap? Yes.
Strong? Hope so.
Light? Yes.
I'm a happy rider.

Have a nice day.
Thanks for reading my report.

Besides Giant, Specialized also use 30.9mm seatposts.
Weird people.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Hydrapak Bladder Warranty Claim

I noticed that my Hydrapak 3L bladder leaking at the bottom outlet. Not the bottom valve, but at the joining of the bladder's outlet. This was after the GA MTB Ride. I'm not sure what causes it, and I don't bother about it anyway. What I know is that I've been using it for a good part of a year, so it is still under manufacturer's warranty.
In Malaysia, a 'warranty claim' has a remote possibility for it to be entertained. Well, I might as well spend RM5.70 for the poslaju and make a few calls, then see what happens. Worst scenario is that I would lose the bladder (can't be used anymore, anyway), and get a new one. That would open up an avenue to try out other brands and systems (Source by Deuter, Antidote by Camelbak, etc.).
It has been a few offroad outings I'm without a water bladder. I'm pretty much dependent on water bottles now, putting one on the bike frame and one in the backpack. It's not that I'm ditching water bladder altogether, no. What I'm saying is that currently I can do without it, but perhaps only for my normal offroad outings which is circa 3-4 hours. I've been using water bladder for the conveniences that it bring, in direct comparison to water bottles. Simple as that.
So, I called Leong of KHS TTDI and queried about the matter. Without hesitation and without further questions asked, he told me to send over the defective item and he'll despatch it to the agent for a possible replacement.
Here's the timeline: 
2nd March 2011: sent out via Poslaju to KHS
3rd March 2011: received by KHS
7th March 2011: called to confirm the item's status. KHS already sent to agent for warranty claim
17th March 2011: KHS called, informing that replacement item sent to me via courier - ETA 18th March 2011
18th March 2011: new bladder received in good condition. Me a happy customer.
soon: back with riding with water bladder in my backpack
So there you go. All I had to do was ask. My old and stained water bladder is now replaced with a new and clean unit. And I encourage y'all to do the same as well, if you have such case; not limited to bladders only though. Let's practice our consumer rights. Of course I have to thank KHS too, for their good service rendered.
Thanks for coming over.
Have a good weekend.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

13.03.2011 - Seri Alam 1Malaysia offroad with Wa Cycles

L to R: Nick, Steven, Akmal, Meng, Joe (lawyer), Joe (Titus)
0600 hours - drizzling outside, dark and wet.
0730 hours - text to Reza, Kadafi, Atuk & EG: "Kayuh?"
Replied by EG and Reza, they are in their hometowns. No reply from Kadafi and Atuk.
Hmmphhh... I've prepped with the essentials for offroad the night before. License granted by the missus. However, I can see my missus smiling while she's still asleep that morning, thinking that I won't be going offroad. From the look of it, seems that I won't be going after all. She asked me to get her a loaf of bread of breakfast, which I obliged.
I went to the Petronas Mesra at 7:45 am and went up to Cactus Inn on the way back. Not really a detour, rather a farther distance home. I went there around 8:00 am to check if the guys from Wa Cycles are riding, and perhaps to say hi and a short chat before heading off. Joe (Titus) and Nick were there waiting since 7:00 am for the others to turn up. Koh came over some 10 minutes after. Apparently there is going to be a ride that morning. And, the rain had stopped by that time. I'm at a junction now. To ride or not to ride? Steven, their ride leader is coming; and as soon as I see Joe (the lawyer) driving in, I made up my mind. There'll be at least 5 riders including me. That's a good number.
So I went home and suited up. Bike's ready and after a quick bite of bread and jam with tea, I went off pedaling to Cactus Inn. Lucky me, it's only around 2 km away. When I arrived (panting), Steven was already there, and Meng also. Koh is not riding, so there'll be 6 of us. We went off at around 9:00 am.
The plan: Plentong Epic Ride in reverse, towards CP1 and CP2, badminton, Permas Go Kart (yes, it is in Plentong), and back. The route chosen was awesome. There were flowy downhill singletracks, lung bursting climbs, speedy flats, and a detour to the unknown (read: lost). Along the way, laced with good humour (mostly lawyer jokes, haha), chatting, and lost GPS signal.
We started off with a flowy singletrack downhill and followed with slight uphill to what the PG riders call Bukit 9G. Went down and took a left towards a singletrack and more flowy downhill ensued. I enjoyed it tremendously. It has been a long time I've been into that particular trail.
We went out eventually to UniKL, and crossed over to Flora Heights rubber estate. Went down towards the Indian settlement and up towards the top of the hill. From then on, downhill and the rodeo section. After that, we went deeper into the rubber estate and all the routes from then on are quite blurry (or much too lazy) for me to describe. I should mention that we did a detour just to try out the route less traveled. And we managed to get back to where we started, alhamdulillah.
Anyway, we did go down to badminton and headed to go kart for replenishing our thirst with 100 Plus. Went back from there via the canopy, and we ended at 12:30 pm. I parted with the other riders at the jongkang-jongket, went back alone smiling.
What I like about the ride is about the spirit of the riders - joyful, lighthearted and with good stamina. The fact that the number of the pack is small also plays a big role in us getting a good ride. The best part is that we hit all the nice trails and downhills plus those which I haven't ridden for some time. All that, and the awesome scenery of fresh green leaves on the rubber trees contrasted with fallen leaves covering the ground.
To the folks at Wa Cycles, I thank you for having me riding along with you guys. There will be a next time, insyaAllah. 
Have I mentioned that the 6 comprises of a Malay, three Chinese, an Indian and a Sabahan?
Ride stats:
distance: 34.14 km
ride time: 2h 37m
average speed: 12.9 km/h
photo taken from Wa Cycles' facebook album

Monday 14 March 2011

GUMQ'11 - biar betikk...

antara hadiah untuk pengayuh runcit-runcit dan tak laju
Aku melawat website (blog) GUMQ'11 tadi, terkujat kejap tengok hadiah lucky draw dema...

Gila babas jugak:

Frame aje dah belambak: ada Faith, Reign, XTC SE0, ATX Pro, ATX 7 dan TCR (road)

Lain2: seatpost, stem, saddle, dan lain-lain lagi.


Aku baru je beli seatpost haritu, maka insyaAllah aku tak dapat lah tu. Yang aku takde ialah frame-frame tu. So insyaAllah mengena lah kan. Reign tu je pun dah cukup dah... Lagipun tak sajak Epicon 120mm pasang kat frame Faith tu.


Nak kena mula kosongkan bilik stor tu.

Ada sapa-sapa nak beli? Tapi aku belum buat keputusan lagi samada nak kekalkan Trance sekarang ni atau guna frame yang baru tu.



gambar dicilok dari blog GUMQ'11





Friday 11 March 2011

RTW 11.03.2011 - a weeklong!

Alhamdulillah, it's a weeklong! The first for this year, and insyaAllah another two. That's the aspiration for my RTW this year.
To think about it, I might as well keep it as a habit, and perhaps turn into a full commuter. We'll see how it goes, as it is not my intention at all. Statistically, I've been riding to work continuously for the last 8 working days - only 1 day this month I went to work by car (so far). That's something for me to beat. Will the streak be chopped off by circumstances, I wouldn't know. What I do know is that I'm enjoying it.
My last year's weeklong was quite exhausting. Nowadays, with the discovery of L-Route in part, the commute is more manageable. It used to be 12 km one way, and now I could decided whether to beat on the 12 km ride or take a shorter and flatter 10 km route. I like variety; so even though I'd choose 10 km most of the time, there are times when I would relish the 12 km route. Or, the 9.5 km route through Taman Bukit Rinting just for the challenge that awaits me.
For the record, this weeklong registered a total of 97.3 km. That's lesser by 10 km compared to the previous one, obviously due to the shorter L-Route.
I mentioned about doing a weeklong each month in that first weeklong entry. Well, I'm starting with 3 weeklongs per year for this year - that's once in 4 months average, although I wouldn't restrict myself to every 4 months. After that I'll graduate to perhaps once in two months, or maybe accelerate to monthly weeklong. Again, we'll see about that. Anyway, I'm still sticking to my resolution of at least 2 RTWs per week insyaAllah.
What have I learnt? One thing. To sustain a day by day commute, moderation is key. No rushing, just a relaxed ride - to and fro. For that, early out from the house is a must. Otherwise it would be an exhausting race against time - mighty tiring. Just be the tortoise, but slightly faster of course.
Rain? That's a different strategy.
Thanks for coming over.
Have a good weekend, y'all.

Wednesday 2 March 2011


I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I logged into my gmail and got more than 40 new messages - mostly tagged as 'facebook'. I received notifications from fb on friends' (and relatives) messages left on my Wall. Whaddaya know, friends even those whom I have not contacted for a long time wished me happy birthday.
To all of you, thank you very much for your wishes and do'a. May we all grow wiser and better as we age, and may our ibadah and 'amal increase as years pass.
You know, it's nice to have private messages from your friends and acquaintances once in a while (okay, once a year in this case). Y'all made my day, truly. Can't thank y'all enough.
Shall I get a birthday present for myself?
Hmm... tempting.
As of now, wishes kept pouring in. Nice. I'm enjoying it.

RTW 02.03.2011 - relaxed, with a surprise

I had to take a shower this morning.
Couple that with the time available, I decided to have a really relaxed ride. Planned not to shower when I reach the office, perhaps only to shampoo my hair and wash my face. I was hoping not to break sweat, thus pedaling with a relaxed cadence all the way even going uphill. That means I have to give in to climbing slowly, which I'm not quite fond of.
I took the Tesco + L Route. No rushing, just a relaxed pedaling all the way. All the while resisting the urge to burst into speed. Hence, the surrounding is quite different. I can see some details that I would have missed if I were to focus on getting from A to B in the shortest time as I could. Colours and sounds and smell, I could soak in a little bit more in detail.
Much to my surprise, in addition, is that I did door-to-door in 29 minutes. That's mind boggling, for my normal ones via the same route would be about the same. Some even longer by a minute or two. Okay, I didn't have to wait long at the two traffic lights en route; maybe that's a contributing factor.
What I love about the ride this morning is that I sweat not as much. Just a little wipe on the back with a small towel did the job of making me dry. My heart was not pumping as hard when I arrived at the office. In total, it was quite tranquil. I just love it. The best part is that I had 5 minutes extra for I didn't have to shower (but shampoo and facial cleanse I did).
Thanks for coming by.
Have a tranquil day, you.