akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Wednesday 29 February 2012


Keith Bontrager said something like that


Once you're diagnosed with the virus infection, it's quite hard to get rid of. The virus is ever evolving by the hour; and you could only abate it with constant supply of information, or a flow of serious money. Or, just sit back enjoying whatever it is that you have and hope the itch would lessen as time goes by. It is by no means a rare disease, because there are many fellow riders infected too. Newbie, and seasoned alike.

Technology is one of the causes UGI. The mere hearsay of technology advancement currently brewing in a test lab could spur an epidemic in certain circles. Sometimes they are potent enough to cause a serious concern. But sometimes they do, in which there are no other cure except to fork out $ and go with the flow. Usually when industry-wide adoption takes place and certain parts are discontinued.

The push factor
Well, sometimes upgrades are unavoidable. Will 9-speed system fade away and 10-speed become the norm like what 9-speed had done to 8- and 7-speeds? Are v-brakes dying, in comparison to adoption of disc brakes?
Or is it actually a technological push created by the industry itself?

I don't really know but I do know that some 'old' things still have their places, in terms of usage. We have to look into what sort of parts do we really need, and good enough for our usage. My commuter bike do not need disc brakes and even 7 speed on the rear would suffice. However, I choose to use 9 speed cog on the rear (and shifters) due to parts and compatibility factor. All the bikes with gears at home are with 9. Easy for me to swap/interchange parts between them. Also, my spares inventory is kept to minimum.

Feel good factor?
Placebo effect?

Sometimes the upgrade that we are eyeing for are not really giving a positive effect on performance. Most of the time it's the bling factor, or the notion that 'new tech are better'. Or, the hype surrounding the product makes it like a cult or a must have 'upgrade'. Thus, we tend to feed our brains that by upgrading those new grips, our riding experience would be enhanced. Well, this fares a bit like the uplifted feeling that we have upon driving the car out from the carwash.

Take my recent experience with Fi'zi:k Gobi XM saddle. I have been aiming for it for a long time since all the good riders are using it. Plus, the fact that it is expensive would equate to the performance, right? Well, to put it simply, the rule does not apply to me in this case. My butt hurts on the 25km on it offroad. I have no choice other than to resell it. Hmm... I wonder if Brooks B17 is better...

Anyway, if it would somehow make you feel better, by all means go for your cure. It's your money, right?

The waiting game
If time = $, then you have to wait for the cure to become affordable.
It takes some time for the technology from the highest caste of a product line to trickle down to their humbler brethren. However, I'm happy to report that in recent cases the period is short. In not more than a year, the XTR tech would be seen on XT's. The same goes to XT curves would eventually show on SLX, Deore, etc. So, weight aside, to have the upper end tech available on your budget parts would need you to be patient.

Of course, if you have money, anything goes.

The real cure
It's not the bike, it's the rider.
The real defense against UGI is to develop yourself. Your strength, both physical and mental. While technology is needed to get the best machine possible (and lightweight), your strength is the core of it all. You're the engine, to get the machine works, above all. So build up strength and then only the best machine that you could afford would be much more enjoyable. Even if you're using 8 speeds, or singlespeed for that matter.

Sure, technological advances would always churn out better products and new ideas unleashed as offerings. However, they might not be necessary for you. This is where mental strength is required, to resist the temptation to UGI (especially when $ is of no object). Truthfully, you have to look at yourself (and your bike) and think honestly and deeply, do I need those upgrades?

When to upgrade
Bike parts are subject to wear and tear; that's the beauty of it for UGI sufferers. The best time to upgrade is when you're replacing your worn out parts. Start looking in advance what parts needed to be replaced; and if there are opportunities for upgrading.

One example is the drivetrain. When replacing the chain, it is imperative to change the cassette as well. And the crankset. Might be as well upgrade to 10 speed (if you see it as a necessity), if you're using 8 or 9 speed system, especially if the price for your favored 'old tech' would be more or less the same as the new ones.

Sometimes, the problem is solved for you whereby the parts you're looking for is now obsolete requiring for a necessary upgrade, or parts for your old system is now becoming rare and costlier than going for a newer system. In other words, no choice for you.

In any case, do not overdo it. Spending on bikes is not a profession for a weekend warrior. If you're starting to eat only rice and fried eggs for lunch in order to cure your UGI, it's a sure sign that you're in a critical stage. There are other things in life other than biking.

A friend would always ask:
Akaun Tabung Haji hang dah cukup?

Thanks for coming over, and have a good day ahead.
Ride safe, bros! 

Friday 17 February 2012

RTW 14.02.2012 - flat tire

fellow cyclists

It has been quite some time since my last post on my RTW adventures. Well, perhaps mostly because they're now considered normal.  Which, I consider as a good thing.

Note: I'm happy to report here that my goal for this year is going great so far. 5 weeklongs so far (another 15 to go), but no monthlong yet (4 to be completed).

The morning's ride was a bit different because my front tire gotten flat from hitting something on the road. I was riding swiftly on the Coastal Highway, and suddenly the front tire gave weird noise before getting totally flat in 5 seconds. I'm not sure what, but it caused a laceration about 3-4mm wide on the tire which went through to the inner tube.

I timed myself, and the tube change complete with pumping enough air inside took me about 8 minutes. Not bad. Luckily I was not in a rush (unusually!) and so I did not have to whip my ass out to recover the time. However, 8 minutes loss is quite big. I could finish my shower in 10.

This year I decided to take the safer route and had never gone against the traffic at the Pasir Gudang Highway coming out from the Coastal Highway slipway, until that morning which I took as an exception due to short of time. My (now) normal route from the Coastal Highway is to cross the main road in front of the Pasir Gudang Stadium towards the slipway to Pasir Gudang Highway then use the parallel road towards CCM Chemicals. From there, a right turn and cross the PGH heading towards MMHE (coming from TNB Generation). I consider that route to be safe as there are not as many cars and I could cross the highway safely.

On the coastal highway, I passed by a couple of casual riders on their mounties with lycra, helmet and all. It's nice to see fellow cyclists along the way. I hope that there are many more. Koh told me that he saw me on the road, too. Next time, I'll see you riding as well ya bro!

I'm using Maxxis Detonator 26/1.5 front and rear. It's evident that the tires are without puncture protection. I can vouch that RiBMo would have no problem with that. Well, you get what you pay for in the end. Now I miss RiBMo badly.

Sports Tracker entry

Have a great weekend y'all.
Thanks for coming over.

Saturday 11 February 2012

06.02.2012: Offroad in Kulai

The initial plan was to go for a touring ride to Gunung Pulai with Yad and Kadafi on Monday 6th February, taking advantage of the 4-day weekend (Maulidur Rasul, Thaipusam). I put up my status in Facebook, and there were a few responses from others on it. That includes by people from Kulai - Rahman of KBC and my schoolmate Fahmi. Apparently, they're going for a (part of Gunung Pulai) waterfall ride on the same date, riding up from Kulai. That, coupled with the absence of Kadafi, steered my decision to drop the initial plan and go to Kulai instead.

Fahmi my dormmate during my early days in Jasin, contacted me through fb a couple of weeks earlier. He's a native in Kulai all these years, hailing from Felda Taib Andak and been working and living in Kulai. Much of a surprise to me when he told me that we could have met earlier should he joined the Kota Tinggi ride. In fact, we were in the same event before this at the R&R Mega Ride; he saw me riding with Umar but did not notice that the cool guy with the baby in the carrier on bike was Akmal. Haha... am I really that different from my school days? Anyway, meeting Fahmi after 20 years is another reason to join the ride, too.

It was mentioned that the riders in Kulai are going to the waterfall in Gunung Pulai, but coming from the back route some 20km in. The plan was to go through a part of the KBC Nite Event route. Since Gunung Pulai offroad is one of my ride wishlist (see right-side panel) and I missed out on the KBC Nite Event, it seems all to fit in and reasons for me to join in the ride. Honestly, I was excited I can't sleep well the night before. The waterfall, the offroad ride on a foreign land and the reunion were constantly playing in my mind (or was I dreaming?). Yad agreed to follow along, and so we went out to Kulai very early in the morning on Monday.

The morning saw a bunch of riders congregating at Azizah Curry House having breakfast and ready to roll. The exact number was not known, but we were later on joined by another group making the total of 32 men and boys. Riders are also of a mixed level. There were newbies, seasoned, and intermediates as well; with age ranging from schoolboys to 40+ (kot). As you can expect from an mtb ride, you'll never feel like a stranger although the first time riding along. Of course, there were a few familiar faces, but you feel accepted by most if not all of them. Unfortunately Fahmi couldn't ride with us due to health reasons. Never mind, there's always a 'next time'. InsyaAllah.

The trailhead is just a few hundred meters from the rendezvous point (and a few of the riders' houses are nearby, lucky them). In no time, we hit the dirt of the palm oil plantation. The ride was leisurely all throughout, except for the lung-busting and leg-burning excursion uphill all the way to the communication tower. Albeit, I'd say that the trail mix is quite good. There were singletrack, wide offroad, uphill, sweet rolling downhill, and river stream as well (okay, we didn't cycle into the river lah). 

I tracked the trail via Sports-Tracker, and took a few photos along. However, the apps crashed suddenly while I was busy with taking photos and videos at the stream. Too bad, it was unrecoverable and I lost it. However, the photos are geotagged and I could track the trail later if I'm not lazy.

Anyway, the return trail was tracked and the data as thus:
distance: 11.6km
duration: 37' 57"
average speed: 18.3km/h
max speed: 40.2km/h
highest altitude: 74m

There were three highlights of the ride:
1. The killing climb to the transmission tower
2. Sallehuddin (aka Jalut) met with an accident while going downhill
3. Relaxing in the stream

I managed to get up to a certain level of the climb towards the tower, and decided to take a rest before continuing again. I don't know if I was already at halfway point or two-third up or anywhere it might have been, but it must've been a long rest. The moment I decided to put my butt on the saddle, people who went up earlier were bombing down already. Well, there it went. It was one long and steep climb. My hats off to Ah Chong (with 1x10), Rahman, Rudy, Tony and others who managed to climb up all the way.

After the climb, we proceeded to the stream. While going down a mild descend, Salleh hit the ground. Perhaps his pedal hit the higher ground while the tires were in the rut. Luckily he was able to walk and we were not far from the PLUS highway. We managed to get the highway support vehicle and send him to the hospital. He sustained a broken shoulder bone from what I gathered. Hopefully a speedy recovery for him. As a name would also serve as a do'a, friends decided not to call him Jalut anymore, only Salleh from now on.

A few good samaritans chaperoned Salleh with his bike, while the others pursued to the main highlight of the ride - the river stream. It was not that far, really, with only mild climbing and relatively flat terrain. The part I like is upon entering the jungle trail towards the river. It's like being in the woods in a foreign land. Quiet, calm, shady, plus the mix of rustling leaves on the floorbed and green fresh ones on the bushes are absolutely breathtaking. It has been quite some time since I last had the same feeling (during my trekking days while in college). The waterfall during the ride in Kota Tinggi was awesome, but this one is different.

Before dipping into the cold water, I had the nasi lemak that Fahmi thoughtfully prepped for me and Yad (big thanks, der!). Of course, I learnt my lesson from the KSRP Jamboree in Melaka. But knowing that going back would only be some 6km, I dug it in and shared with Rudy. Anyway, who could resist sambal kerang and fried chicken? I could say a lot about the place, but I'll let the pictures do the talking. Scroll below for the link to the album on facebook.

Going back was refreshing, as we were out from the cold water and tummies filled. The 6km was an illusion really. My tracking showed 11+ km. Anyway, it was not as taxing as in Melaka. More than half of the journey back was on tarmac where I drafted most of the way behind faster and stronger riders.

Many thanks to riders in Kulai for an unforgettable ride that day. Keep on crankin'!

return route tracking (and some geotagged photos)
photos on facebook album

Thanks for coming over.
Have a safe ride. Enjoy it!

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Public Bike Project

the donated Kona Nunu under test ride before possible swap with Giant Yukon

Hairi of Shah Alam commented on my post, suggesting for setting up a pool bike (not 'polo', ok).

A pool bike usage is meant for those who are testing the water (hehe... can't resist the pun) to start mountain biking before committing for a bike purchase. Some sort like 'meracun'. Well, he was not merely giving a suggestion, but offering his unused items from his parts bin too. So yes, why not. I'm keen with the idea and we agreed to meet up for him to pass over the parts for me to start with.

Boy I was in for a big surprise. It was not parts, but a full bike. It's an 18" 8-speed old skool blue Kona Nunu. The wheelset is an old Mavic X139. Along with that, there were also other loose parts (and a Lerun BMX) that he parted to me. Some I'd use it myself (and will pay forward to others) and some will go to the Public Bike. It astounds me until now how people could be so generous and contribute for the benefit of public. So, I felt obliged also to give back to the masses in a small way.

Okay, back to the Public Bike. Besides serving as a newbie's poison dart, it could also be used as a foster bike for those who come to JB without a bike but would like to ride with us in Pasir Gudang/Seri Alam/Plentong. There are a couple such initiatives that I know of. One is in KL, by the venerable BC Kelolo, and there's also a bike donated by Joe (parked at Jason's shop in Masai Utama).

I can't do it all by myself to build it. It would be good if I could get the support from bike shops and other individuals to get the project running. Alhamdulillah, Angah of Angah Bike Shack offered to help build it even before I send out the plead. Thanks, Angah! Hope that the project would take flight insyaAllah, for the benefit of the masses. Aamiiin.

My vision for the Public Bike is to have it as a 3x9-speeder with disc brakes and knobbies. This is how I take it:
I deem that the size that would be considered universal would be 17".
Vee-brakes are fine, but disc brakes would make the bike looks like a proper mountain bike rig. Not to mention of course, its superior stopping power compared to vees.
8-speed won't cut it for newbies. Minimum shall be 9-speed.

The first ride out on the Nunu, it felt awkward. I guess because of the frame size, coupled with the long stem. So that's the first stumbling block. The other thing is that the frame is an old frame. That means it is without rear disc brake bracket. So, vee-brake only for the rear.

However, I'm thinking of swapping my Giant Yukon frameset for this project and make the Nunu as my RTW Machine. The Yukon is 17", with disc brake bracket and multiple hose/brake bracket complemented also with pannier rack eyelets. Quite versatile, really.

Over the last weekend, I transplanted the front of the Yukon (cockpit, fork) and wheelsets to the Nunu for a test ride for RTW. For two days already, it seems okay to me albeit a liiiiittle bit stretchy. Tiny bit. But I think I could manage it. Don't know for long distances, but for my commuting, I don't have any big problem whatsoever. A tiny niggle is that my rear beamrack would need a thicker shim to attach to the skinny Ø27.0 seatpost (yes, not 27.2 - there's a huge difference on the 0.2mm, really!). Also, there's no pannier rack eyelet on the seatstay. I'll have to improvise on that later if the need so arises.

I'm gonna give it a week or two before deciding whether to carry on with Nunu as my new old RTW Machine (hey, I love the paradox). Meanwhile, time to discuss with Angah. Stay tuned.

Update: as you're reading this, a pair of pedals are coming their way all the way from Kelantan, courtesy of Mat Yoe. Thanks, man!