The other day, we were both riding around all grumpy with headaches, wondering if we were coming down with something, when we looked up and noticed the above. Apparently, spring is arriving early in California this year. I guess it’s time for us allergy sufferers to start the yearly ritual of pill popping.
The Placer County Transportation Agency’s “Bucks for Bikes” program is now in full swing:
The Placer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) is currently accepting applications for the Bucks for Bikes incentive program. This program helps commuters to get out of their single occupancy vehicles and use a non-polluting, active, traffic relieving mode of travel—bicycling!
Interested applicants who live and work or attend school (must be 18 years of age or older) in Placer County may receive 50%, up to $200 towards the cost of a new commuter bike. Applications, along with a quote from a bike shop located in Placer County, must be received by March 8, 2011.
More information is available on the City of Roseville website.
Have a great week!
The 2011 NAHBS award winners are now posted on the NAHBS website.
Because belt drives are a relatively new technology in the bicycle world, adjusting belt tension remains a bit of a mystery, with even some local bike shops not knowing much about it. Fortunately, with the proper tool and the tension specification from the manufacturer in hand, it’s a simple process that anyone can do in a few minutes.
The Gates tension testing tool looks similar to the tension testing tools you may have seen for automobiles (it looks nearly identical to the tool used for Micro V-belts). Using it couldn’t be easier. You simply place your finger in the rubber strap, place the tool on the belt equidistant from the front and rear sprockets, then press the tool against the belt until it clicks. Once it clicks, the leading edge of the arm indicates the belt tension. Gates is recommending 50-60 lbs. for an Alfine 8-speed IGH, but you’ll want to check the tension specifications for your particular drivetrain. I found it best to test a few times, rotating the crank a quarter turn each time, then averaging the results.
If the tension is outside the recommended range for your drivetrain, you’ll need to adjust the tension. On the Norco Ceres shown in the photo, it’s simply a matter of loosening the allen bolts that lock the sliding dropouts in place (4 total, 2 on each side) and making small, equal adjustments on each side until the tension is within spec. Once the tension is set and the wheel is in alignment, tighten the 4 allen bolts and you’re done. The first time I tried, the entire process took less than 10 minutes. It’ll be even quicker the next time around. Of course, the method for adjusting tension varies from bike to bike, so you’ll want to check with the manufacturer on the specific method for your bike.
These new technologies can be a little intimidating, but I’m living proof that an old dog can learn new tricks (honestly, I love this stuff; it’s a blast learning new techniques and expanding my skills as a home mechanic). There’s no reason to fear change, and if a new technology appeals to you, I wouldn’t let learning a new maintenance routine keep you from diving in head first!
Here at the EcoVelo ranch, review bikes come and go on a regular basis, but it’s not so often that we add a personal bike to our stable. As I discussed in a recent thread, I’ve been feeling as if it’s time for a new project bike to replace my daily commuter. Like my Surly, the bike would be used as a test bed for parts and accessories as well as acting as a photographic model for documenting my commute experience. I asked our readers whether or not they think I should replace the LHT, and the poll results overwhelmingly favored keeping the bike, but after giving it considerable thought, I’m going to move forward with replacing it.
When considering what bike might act as a suitable replacement, the following criteria were taken into account:
- It needs to be a clear departure from my current commuter. My Surly serves its intended purpose well and it’s still in excellent condition, so there’s no reason to replace it with a similar model.
- It needs to include modern technologies in its design. Our readers have told us they’re curious about the use of developing technologies such as internal gear hubs, belt drives, and disc brakes on commuter bikes, so it makes sense that this bike has these parts in its spec (this is one of the main motivators for replacing my existing bike).
- It needs to be versatile and flexible. Because it will be used as a test bed for parts and accessories, it needs to have good wheel clearance and a full complement of braze-ons for racks, fenders, and other accessories. Multiple brake and rear dropout options are a plus.
- It needs to have a kickstand plate. Because I’ll be using this bike as my daily commuter and utility bike, I want it to have a robust kickstand plate for mounting a Pletscher double-legged centerstand.
- It needs to be readily available. Because this is essentially a long-term road test, it needs to be a bike that can be purchased by our readers without too much effort or customization.
- It needs to be manufactured by a company whose mission is in alignment with ours. It’s a priority of ours to support those companies who view and promote bicycles as alternatives to the automobile as opposed to promoting bicycles primarily as sporting goods.
- It needs to be a bike that I enjoy. This will be a daily ride for at least the next few years, so it needs to be a bike that I like and enjoy riding.
After working up the above list, looking over the current model year’s selections, and looking back at the bikes I’ve ridden over the past year, I’ve decided to purchase a Civia Bryant Belt Alfine complete. The Civia is one of the few production bikes that meets all of my requirements, and I very much enjoyed riding the Bryant prototype we had on loan last year (see photo above). I’d originally considered building up the bike from a frame, but the complete is so close to how I’d build the bike anyway, I decided to go that route. Also, as mentioned above, I wanted to start with a bike that can be easily purchased by anyone.
I’m hoping to have the new bike within the next few weeks. Once I have it, I’ll spend some time comparing and contrasting it with the Surly, after which the Surly will go up for sale. Look for much more on this over the coming months.