The Town Bike — A Lyric Waxing

As I noted before I have a city bike.  I bought the bicycle when I moved to Denver, CO from the nearby town of Evans.  At the time Cindy and I had decided to move to the city and try to live our lives without the benefit of the automobile.  We were not going to completely quit using our car, just reduce the use to a bare minimum through the use of bicycles and public transportation.   Denver, it turns out, has one of the best public transit systems in the United States, so I spent most of my time on the bus and the bicycle sat in the basement.  I took it out once a week or so to ride to the store for groceries or just because I was going stir crazy and needed to ride.  It was one of three bicycles I had in the stable and probably the one I rode the most.  The road bike (old Trek 720) rolled easier but was more susceptible to punctures.  The Mtn Bike (Trek 3700) took the dirt better but had a much higher rolling resistance.  In any case, I, like most Americans, did not ride as much as I thought I would.  I will admit that on some trips to the grocery I loaded the panniers to their maximum capacity and strapped other items on the top of the rack to the point that the front wheel rose off the ground.

In coming to Ireland that all changed.  First, I left the other two bikes behind as there is not room to store them here.  Second, because while the public transit system in Galway works, it would take me far longer to ride the bus than to cycle.  My experience with the flat tyre leads me to believe that it would take almost as long to walk as to ride the bus to work.  So I ride my bike to work every day.  I normally take a route that is longer but flatter than the direct route, though if the wind is particularly strong I’ll take the hilly route as it is shorter and the hills protect me from the wind until I reach the downhill stage.

The roads in Ireland are small, paved, with a few potholes here and there.  Riding through the University region there seems to be a great quantity of broken glass, but all in all the environment is conducive to cycling.  I recently calculated that in the 4 months that we have been here I have put as many miles on my bike as the average racer put on in the Terreno-Adriatico this year, so perhaps I should review my trusty steed.

There are several things that make this bicycle a great commuter bike:

  • The fully enclosed chain keeps the dirt off my pants or leg and keeps the road grit and rain out of the chain.
  • The suspended seat post makes for a smoother ride.
  • It has an internal gear hub so there is minimal maintenance.
  • It comes with a rack, standard.
  • The middle width road tyres (narrower than a mountain bike, wider than a road bike) have a lower rolling resistance than the mountain bikes I see everywhere in Galway.  While it is not as low as the standard road bike, it also provides more cushion against the occasional pot hole.
  • The lights are just there.  The dynamo in the front wheel means more rolling resistance, but it is much lower than the old spindle against the tyre dynamos of the past.  While I was waiting for my bicycle to show up from the states I borrowed one and purchased a flashing headlamp and tail light.  I have mounted those on the city bike as well.
  • The tires have a reflective stripe.
  • The fenders are included

There are several things I have changed from the original configuration:

There are several things that I find annoying:

  • Patching the rear tyre is a pain in the butt.  The fully enclosed chain guard has three screws that need to be removed before the rear wheel can be taken off the bike.   Keeping in mind that the chain guard is plastic, removing and resetting the screws multiple times will lead to thread wear and potentially the inability to replace this part of the chain guard.  The plastic tabs on the chain guard also have to fit together just right to put the guard back in place.  Every time I replace the guard I am afraid I am going to break the tabs off.  The other issue here is that you have to have a Phillips-head screw driver.  I would like to see this component reworked, possibly with a wire bale closure a la kitchen canisters.
  • The gear position indicator, on the twist grip, does not always line up.  I mostly notice this in 4th gear where the indicator seems to say 4-1/2 gear.

There are only major two issues that I have had to deal with:

  1. I had a problem with the rear hub where the mechanism that locks the cable guide came loose and the hub ceased to shift.  I noted this in an earlier blog.  I think this was an assembly defect in that the locking ring was probably not correctly installed as it seems to be functioning correctly now.
  2. The other problem was with the shift cable guide on the chain stay.  It was not there.  I am not certain if I broke it off when I tried to remove the rear wheel, or if it was not installed at the factory.  Once I discovered the problem I used a cable zip tie to hold the cable to the clip mount on the chain stay and all seems to be working well.

There is one item that I find useless: The European bike lock.  This is a little pincer-like lock that locks the rear wheel so that it will not roll.  While this may work in places like Amsterdam where there are few cars and carrying the bike would be a pain, in the States and probably here in Ireland, there are enough vehicles to throw the bike into and cart it away to make the lock useless.  To make matters worse, the key for the lock can not be removed without locking the lock.  So you can’t disable the lock and if you forget to lock the lock and remove the key some prankster can prevent you from getting home by doing just that.

All in all, if you want to ride a bicycle for general transportation this one should be on your list of bicycles to check out.

— Claude


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