Mountain Bike

My main ride for off road and city riding is this 2009 Scott Sportster P2 purchased from Sammamish Bicycle in Redmond, WA.  It is a solid, comfortable ride that goes places the road bike is less suited to.  Toe clips secure shoes to pedals, but offer much easier entry/exit compared to clip-in pedals.  Shock forks take the edge off of cobblestones and make for a generally relaxed ride in the city.  When the trail turns to single track, the low gearing, ground clearance, etc. make this a capable, if somewhat heavy, trail tamer.  The only downside was the original Shimano hydraulic brakes.  Weak, vague, and draggy, they were pretty annoying.  Fortunately, Shimano offers a solution in the form of:

Shimano Deore XT Brakes (BR-M775)

I got a great deal on new calipers and brake levers at Cambria Bike Outfitters.  These components were a bolt-on replacement for the original stoppers.  While at it, I swapped the front 160mm rotor for a 180mm unit for more braking leverage.  The package vastly improved the power and modulation of the brakes, plus they positively retract from the rotors for zero drag until you want it.  Since I had never worked with hydraulic brakes and was running short of time, I had Jon at Sammamish Bicycle do the work to his typically high level of quality work.

Road Bike

Salsa “La Cruz” 57cm CrMo cyclocross frame

Fitted and built by Eric Erkel at Sammamish Valley Bicycle Shop in Redmond WA.   I wanted a sturdy, well made, steel-framed bike for touring and commuting, with disc brakes.  Salsa makes very nice frames. My only complaint is that the paint chips easily.  I have nothing but great things to say about Sammamish Valley Bicycle Shop.  The staff is friendly and knowledgeable.  They have a good selection of bikes and accessories, and the shop is as good as any around.

Shimano 105 triple group 50-39-30 chainrings, 12-27 sprockets

Shimano’s mid-line tranny and levers are still pretty top-notch. Fluid shifting, solid reliability, and parts available anywhere make Shimano an easy choice. The only thing I would change are the chain rings. Back in the Seattle area, the 30-tooth granny gear is not small enough. =:o Give me 24 or 26 teeth, and drop the others to 48 and 36 teeth. But, of course, you can’t do that with the 105 group.  In their infinite wisdom, Shimano chose a bolt pattern that pretty much fixes the diameter of the chainrings, so what you get is all you get. 😦 Good news is, we don’t have hills to speak of over here in Susterseel. I pretty much ride in the middle or large chain ring and go to the small ring only occasionally.

Avid BB7 disc brakes, 160mm rotors

I’ve owned side-pull, cantilever, V-brakes, and now, disc brakes. Of all those, I still think the original XT V-brakes with the parallelogram linkage to be the best: They had strong grip wet or dry, with very good feel.

The Avid BB7 with 160mm rotors is fairly strong, with good feel, but no way can you do stoppies with them.  I also find the rotors easier to damage than wheel rims and finicky to set up.  Plus, when you crash on the caliper side, you will knock the caliper out of alignment, perhaps enough to stop your progress until you re-align the caliper.  You did bring your hex keys didn’t you? The Avids do work with the 105 brake levers, so that is a plus.

The disc brakes are nice in the rain, but are they better brakes all around?  I’m not convinced.  Would I get another road bike with disc brakes?  Probably not.

Continental Four-Season GP tires, 700x28cm

Light-weight yet very damage resistant, Conti’s four season’s provide grippy, smooth-rolling traction, and are a real challenge to mount; the aramid bead is very tight.  What more could you want in a tire?  Lower price maybe…    Since most of the rider’s weight is on the rear tire, I run 120 psi in the rear and 100 psi in the front.  This reduces shock and vibration through the handlebars while providing good cornering and protection from pinch flats.   The 28 cm size is Conti’s largest in this model.  It rolls well on the road, yet lets you get off in gravel, dirt, grass, etc. when the need arises.  23 mm tires may be fine for races, but for a day-to-day bike, give me something that can take what may come and safely bring me home.

Garmin 705 edge cyclocomputer w/ cadence and HR monitor

After prior visits to, and getting lost in, Europe, I knew that a GPS navigator was a must.  Garmin makes several units specific to bicycles and good enough for the Tour of France team that caries their name.  What I was not expecting is that the 705 Edge is also a fantastic training aid!  The 705 model adds a wireless cadence/wheel speed sensor and heart rate monitor.  I had not used an HRM before, but now use it every ride, either to help push me harder, or to curb my enthusiasm when needed.

The map screen on the 705 is too small to read while cycling.  Fortunately, it provides directions in the form of text messages that are big enough to read.  Other features of note are the ability to record a route and upload it to Garmin’s Training Center software, or upload to Garmin Connect to view in Google Earth and share with friends.  If you have the DVD version of Garmin’s maps, you can also plot a route on your computer, then download the route to the 705 Edge.   There are many more features, too many to mention here.  To learn more, check out the review at Bike Radar.

Cygolite TridenX Li ion LED headlight

Let there be light, lots of it, steady or blinking, and make the intensity adjustable.  This is a fantastic unit that is well built, fits nicely on the bike, and provides somewhere between 2 and 20 hrs run time depending on ambient temperature and intensity setting.  The first one I got had a problem where it would get stuck on a dim setting.  After several trips back to the manufacturer, they replaced the light head and it has been trouble free since then.


Back home, no one would ever move aside at the sound of a bell or ringer, so I stopped using them.  Over here, bikes are required to have a bell.  People move to the right, right NOW, when you overtake and ring your bell.  Kind of civilized, don’t you think?  Or don’t you???

Anyway, I went down to the local grocery store (that’s right!) and picked up a handlebar bell.  Sounds great, but the mount is designed for a 1/2″ handlebar.  Who has a 1/2″ handlebar???  I can’t possibly use the screw to tighten the clamp, so I just clip it onto the handlebar.  Hey, it works!


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