akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Friday 27 April 2012

Commuter's Bike Shop

Wouldn't it be nice if we have a bike shop dedicated for non-sportive people. The specialty bike shop would cater for the needs of daily commuters, tourers, randonneurs and the like. For people who take cycling as a means of transport, not sports. Utilitarian Human Powered Vehicles.

The shop would have decent selection of commuter bikes, town bikes, Dutch bikes, hybrids, foldables, fixed gear and even recumbents - the kind of bikes (and 'bents) that people would use for travelling efficiently from point A to B. It should also have a comprehensive spread of parts, consumables, accessories and apparels for the needs of the commuters. What should the shop stock on? Read up Bicycle Times and Momentum magazine and you'll get the big picture. Of course, it would be a strange place to sell car bike racks.

I mentioned the above to my missus, and she quipped almost without hesitation:
why don't you open the bike shop yourself?

For now it's a pipe dream. And in that dream, the shop would have dedicated musolla, shower booths, bike parking facility, repair and maintenance area, and a riders' lounge. Well, pretty much like Mellow Johnny's. Oh, and the bike shop would hold leisure rides, tours and more importantly, cycling clinics. Yes, pretty much like MJ's.

I think there's such a bike shop in UPM, run by Akmal. Not me, though.

Thanks for dropping by.
Ride safe, and have a great weekend!

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Review: Tires - Maxxis Detonator 26/1.5 Black


From Maxxis webpage:
One of our most popular road training tires is now available for your 26" wheels.  With its Silkworm protection for puncture resistance and a lightweight, foldable bead, the Detonator provides great traction and durability.  Perfect for road training when you only have one bike available - or for daily commuting.

Mine: 26/1.5 black, foldable.
Single density compound - a bit soft, sands get lodged in the rubber compound and tears all along the tire surface.
Silkworm protection - not good enough. I get punctures from glasses (cuts) and staples.
Weight: about 1kg for a pair is good, but at the expense of puncture protection. Not good trade-off; I'd rather go for a weightier puncture resistant tires, which spares me the time consumed and stresses that come with flat tires.

First of all, they're road training tires. Period. I won't take them for daily commuting. Not for my normal RTW route which is a combination of tarmac, loose gravels, puddles, glass littered road shoulders and a short section of red earth.

Been using them for 4 months of daily commuting, about 1000km. Bought the pair for RM120 from LBS - way much cheaper than other commuter tires. Anyway, since these are the only ones available (and cheap at the same time), I grab them as a much needed replacement for RiBMos. So those are the reasons for me getting these softies - not much choice, cheap, and quick replacements.

Unfortunately, it is true that 'good things not cheap, cheap things not good'. I should have known better. The compound is soft, such that sands would be able to lodge on the surface like whiteheads on a person's face. Upon closer inspection, there are numerous tears on the tire surface which is quite scary. I had a few punctures during the last 3 weeks for the front and rear tires, but thankfully not at the same time. However, it is really frustrating that these can't be trusted for my daily commute.

Ride quality is good, as the soft compound absorbs a bit of the vibration from the road. I put on 60psi from the max 80. Any lower, the ride is painfully slow and a bit squishy.

Puncture resistance is not good, mainly due to the soft compound.

Grip is good, and for more than 1000km now, they are in still good condition. The tread wear is quite good. When bought new, they are noticeably tacky when I hold them, early indication of their good grip. Braking is good, however I don't do skids.

I won't go back to these for my RTW unless really, really desperate and would be using them only on nicest tarmac. And being very cautious. Well, sounds like not going to be a carefree ride.
Anyway, as they mentioned: 'for road training'. Don't believe the 'or for daily commuting' bit.

Note to local bike shops:
Please stock good tires for commuting. Pretty please.

Friday 6 April 2012

Sans Casque

Period: 19~23/03/2012 (11th weeklong in 2012).

Breezy, and no helmet hair. Surely.
I've tried once before this doing my RTW without wearing a helmet. The ride was quite aggressive, my head was sweaty and trickled down to my face. Not a good feeling. Lately, I've been riding a la bike commuter proper. Relaxed ride, spinning leisurely and enjoying the breeze from the ride. Going uphill would take some time as I'm utilising the low gears in order to spin the crank at a leisurely rate. So, it is different now. And I tried a week of RTW without wearing my helmet.

It's a sin, I know. And that's coincidentally a day after the late Rafizi Hamdan met with fatal accident on the MRR2.

Here's what I found out:
1. My head feels lighter with wind on my hair
It is simpler to go out of the house and just pedal off. I can feel the breezy air on my scalp as I hit 10km/h mark.
However, I feel awkward without the helmet on my head (of course, silly!).

2. Feeling of Freedom and carefree
I feel more like a commuter ;)
Just like people in Taiwan, China, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and fellow Bangla riders in Pasir Gudang.
With helmet, I feel like a bit over the top when riding with them.
Without it though, I feel awkward and a bit 'naked'.

3. Feel more cautious
I was guilt-ridden for not wearing my helmet, in part because I feel that I'm a role model for safety of cycling on the road.
I associate the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE, helmet in this case) as a signal of being safety conscious and that I take safety as paramount in RTW.
Without the helmet, I feel that I am much more cautious compared to wearing a helmet. Perhaps because I feel vulnerable without the protective shell sitting atop my head, for I've had it all these time.
So yes, I pedaled leisurely but cautiously without helmet. And it's a bit tiring.

4. Sweaty, still
Due to humidity, my scalp does get sweaty especially when I stop at the traffic light.
With a helmet, I need to shampoo my hair due to sweat soaked on the inner helmet pads.
Without, I just need to dry the hair a bit with towel and that saves me some time getting ready for the day in the office. Quite convenient. But, only if I ride the bike at a leisurely pace, i.e. 18km/h average. Yes, slow.

So, do I like it?
Yes and no.
Yes it is nice to be free. But I don't feel safe. To think about it, I've never met with an accident during my RTW whereby I knock my head. The worst was I hit the ground with my shoulder. So, statistically over the couple of years when I RTW on a regular basis, the helmet is a 260g mass sitting on my head strapped under the chin.

However, I have to say that I have more respect to cyclists who respect themselves; wearing a cycling helmet while riding. That's the case in  Malaysia, I think. At least, for me. Well, I'm blessed so far without any head-knocking accident. And I don't want to be without a helmet when I'm in one (na'uzubillah).

Of course, there's the debate of riding the bike with and without helmet which I wouldn't dwell about in here.
My stand? I'm wearing one because of safety and other abstract reasons. Besides, my MET Falco is sub-300g (that's light) and I look good with it.
Don't I?

Don't ride without it. Have a beautiful helmet hair, you.
Thanks for coming over.
Enjoy your weekend ride.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Milestone: 50th RTW 2012

Today marks my 50th RTW for 2012.

Odometer: 1053.7 km 

Earliest out: 6.37am
Latest out: 7.21am :P

Fastest door-to-door: 27 minutes
Slowest door-to-door: 44 minutes

Shortest route: 10.34 km
Longest route: 14.36 km

Highest average speed: 26.4 km/h
Lowest average speed: 18.8 km/h

Monthlong: 2 out of 4 (50% achieved)
Weeklong: 12 out of 20 (60% achieved)

The one I'm really keen to improve is on the time I'm going out. The earlier the better.
As for the targets, currently I'm ahead of time and hopefully I can surpass it like last year.

Why the stats?
Well, it's fun to keep track on the progress. And for me to show with you that it can be done, rain and shine (I prefer if it's not raining, though).
However, I foresee that when I'm a regular commuter, the stats don't matter anymore. Just like when you stop keeping track of your baby's walking progress.
We'll see.

Thanks for coming over.
Be kind to cyclists. Share The Road.
Enjoy your ride.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

In The News: MNCF losing out despite booming industry

Read the full article in here (NST).

And yes, mtb jamborees are now more or less a weekly event; a better scene compared to only a couple of years back. Good for the riders, they can choose to their liking. Even better for those who 'cari makan', jamborees also do give out prize money, if not as the training ground or platform to gauge their performance.

I don't know if the struggling junior cyclists are taking part in the jamborees. Well, why not MNCF sanction the jamborees and make it as a talent scout or something out of it for the advancement of the sport. Just put the bureaucracy, lengthy protocols (if any) and $-raking out of the scene. I'm okay with Negaraku, 1Malaysia and state song before the flag-off.

One thing for sure they'll be very, very busy lot all throughout the year.

Riders want to ride. Period.

Thanks for coming over.
Have a good one.