Update on the Bicycle Wrist Mirror

See the post just before this for background. Bike mirrors, even the best of them, take getting used to. It took me several months to get used to this one. I did not wear it religiously, but I did continue to use it from time to time. So… I got used to it. I also learned a few tricks. So this is a followup after it was thoroughly tested.

Glare. Given the angle of the mirror on your wrist glare is an issue, and a few reviewers mentioned that on Amazon. I learned you can simply close the mirror, placing the mirror face down, and the problem goes away. It is designed so that there is velcro to keep it from flapping around. If I am not in traffic I fold it down hiding the mirror. I use it mostly for high traffic areas, but don’t need it on the extensive trail system here in Columbia, MO., where there is no motor vehicle traffic.

Angle. The effective angle is a bit odd, and probably changes depending on the geometry of your body (length of arms, etc.), and that of the bike. For me I have to hold my hand out to the left angled up, and cock my wrist to the side. If I do that I have a great view of what is behind me.

Blind Spots. Learned where to place the mirror. Problem solved.

Magnification. Still an issue. Would a bigger mirror with different optical properties help? Probably.

Practice. Practice helps you learn how to judge the distance and look into the mirror. I have found that most things with a bike take practice. How many of you have feel over in the process of learning to use toe clips, or step in pedals. Over the years I have abandoned both, and after a long while taken them up again and I either fell over once or had a real close moment. When I purchased my new touring bike I had two keel overs due to learning the geometry and fit of the bike.

Perfection. Ain’t gonna happen. I have tried many of them over the years and all have flaws.

I bike commute and tour. I want every reasonable, and practical, safety feature I can get. I know many still go with the turn the head and look approach. Which is fine. I just want to augment it.


Flat Tires and Bike Commuting: Are Airless Tires the Answer?

I try to commute whenever I can. The local trail is about a mile from my house, I ride the trail for about three miles, and then exit in the downtown area. From there  it is a  wee bit under a half mile to my job.  A pleasant ride that takes me just under a half hour there, and back.  I started last year, and this semester I have been doing it a little more.  It helps that I am better organized, and have fresh clothes that I keep in my office closet to change into. Being a guy you can get by for a couple of weeks with just five pairs of paints, five shirts, and three sport jackets,  with one pair of black work shoes. I just mix and match the shirt and trousers so that I I have different outfits.  After I have worn everything a couple of times, I switch them out with fresh ones on the weekend. It works great. Below is a picture of my commuter bike which has made a previous appearance on this blog:

20150902_150404A couple of weeks ago on my way to work I came close to crashing.  The next day on the way home I recreated the incident:


On the way to work I rode into a large crack, a seam in the road, and was barely able to muscle my way out of it without going down. I was about a quarter mile from home when this happened.  By the time I rode into my driveway the tire was flat.  I changed the tube and tried it again the next morning.

That next morning I managed to get just past where I had ridden into the crack when I noticed my tire was going flat.  I called my wife,and luckily she was able to to pick me up, and she dropped me off at the bike shop where I do business which is located very close to where I work, and they were able to take a look at it right away while I waited. I ride with two spare tubes, a co2 kit, and flat patch kit, but I didn’t want to bother fixing the puncture and getting grease all over me on my way to work. Two flats in less than 24 hours.

It is because of such possibilities as this, that I make sure to leave in the morning at least an hour early, and the day when my front tire went flat I had left even earlier.   The shop replaced the tube at my request after they were unable to find a hole in it. They also adjusted the rim tape.  So far, after sixty miles are so, no further problems.

The one thing thing I dread the most is the possibility of flats in the morning when I am going to work. I don’t mind fixing them, or changing tubes.  I don’t even mind having to push my bike if I have to.  What I want to avoid most of all is being late for class.

What to do?  Since then I have been investigating other alternatives and have discovered several possibilities.  One possibility I am gong to try for sure is the Slime Tire Sealer.  You put the slime inside the tube and it seals small punctures.  If nothing else it might buy you some time. Several small companies are working on solid tires, and airless tubes, and you can find them on Amazon, or other retailers.  I also found airless bike tires at www.airlesstires.com.

The reviews for the flat proof tires are all over the place but they do have certain disadvantages.  For one thing, there is air in tires for a reason.  It does not weigh much, and it acts as a shock absorber.  The reviews I did read talked about increased rolling resistance, a rougher ride, problems with getting a proper fit, some handling issues, and difficulty in fitting the tires to some rims.  In addition there were stories of the tire rolling off the rim, sometimes causing a crash.  It seems the idea has been around for awhile, but so far not that effectively.  However, I think we will see great strides in airless tires, which are essentially flat proof, in the next five years if some of the bigger tire manufacturers get behind the concept.  I suspect that for this to work well, it will require special wheels which can hold the tire in place, and a more-or-less regular tire casing on the outside bonded to some kind of effective shock absorbing material on the inside. Flat proof tires are too good of an idea to go away.

Biking Ugly

I love to bike, but I don’t like doing it for exercise. Seems like I would rather run, or walk, most of the time.   Even I find that odd.  However, I do like bicycling as a means of transportation, and as a lifestyle choice.  Bicycles are a marvel of evolutionary engineering, and just get better all the time.  I am lucky to live in a town which, although not perfect, does provide an environment where bicycling is promoted, and encouraged.

Schwinn Hybrid
Schwinn Hybrid

I have a Schwinn hybrid that is at least ten  years old.  I bought it when click shifting was maybe one or two years into production. It has a steel frame, it has gotten a lot of use, and it was a perfect choice.  I am still completely satisfied with it.  I went from a racing bike, that I actually did race (that is another story), to a bike I could use on the trail system here, and that would be reliable transportation. It was a great purchase. I purchased it from Walt’s Bike Shop here in Columbia, and they offer lifetime free labor.  I just had it in for a tune up and they replaced the chain, and some cables.  It cost me around thirty dollars.

I think walking, or riding  your bike, as an alternative to taking a car is an absolute sane, and healthy way to live.  It is better for you, the environment, and certainly  your pocket book.  I can drive my car to work and burn no calories, or I can ride it to work and burn 400 for free, and enjoy the outdoors all at the same time.  Weather is seldom an issue except for severe thunder storms, or extreme winter weather.  I will not ride in the ice and snow.  I would LOVE to do without a car entirely, and use my bike for everything, and am getting closer to being able to do that, although replacing a car 100% here in the United States is  challenging.

All of these pictures are ones I took yesterday when I rode my bike to campus to meet with some students, and stop by our local public radio station, KOPN at 89.5, to pick up a free mug I got for joining as a member.  They were having a pledge drive that day.

KOPN Coffee Mug
The coffee mug that cost me 90 bucks but I get to make monthly payments on it.

If you use your bike to commute you have to have the right bike, rightly equipped. For example,  I am very paranoid about breaking down,  getting stranded,  and then missing a class.  It takes me about 30 minutes door-to-door leisurely riding averaging right at 10 or 11 miles per hour.  In case something happens I allow for an hour which provides time to either fix things up, or walk in pushing the bike.  I carry C02 cartridges, spare tubes (more than one – I have had two punctures on one ride only once, but it was enough), and a few tools.  Also, a tube repair kit which I have absolutely no faith in.  I have learned that fifty dollar tires are worth the price.  To domesticate an already placid, forgiving, and reliable ride I have added the following accessories:

bicycle saddle bags
Cheap eBay saddle bags. LOVE them. Large capacity, and somewhat water proof. Less than ten bucks.
Cheap, WalMart bell.  Works great.  It does kind of chime as you ride and hit bumps but that is kind of charming.
Cheap, WalMart bell. Works great. It does kind of chime as you ride and hit bumps, but I find that rather charming.
Fenders.  These drive me crazy with their rattling, and they are finicky as far as adjusting them so they make less noise (never no noise), or rub.
Fenders. These drive me crazy with their rattling, and they are finicky as far as adjusting them so they make less noise (never no noise), or rub. But they are worth the expense, and trouble.  My most expensive add-on accessory.