Bicycle Commuter Profile: Peter Brackenbury

Name: Peter Brackenbury
Location: Warkworth Ontario, Canada
Started bike commuting: 1994-95, Montreal, 1997-2001 Ottawa, Warkworth 2003-present
Commute distance (one way): 5.5 miles

Describe your commute: I live in an area that is known for its Drumlins which are egg shaped hills that are glacial deposits from the last ice age. The hills, though not long are quite steep and you are either climbing one or descending one. My ride to work is more descending than climbing, my ride home is the opposite. It is a rural commute between my home and town. About 2-3 km on dirt road and the rest is paved. I pinch myself most mornings that I am lucky enough to live so close to work and enjoy beautiful sunrises. I tried, but backed down from winter commuting this year. It is risky when the snowfalls and the speeds on country roads are frightening, especially when drivers don’t expect to see a bike. I aim to ride at least 3 days per week in the spring, summer and fall.

Describe your bike and accessories: 1986 Nishiki Continental, purchased on PinkBike from Calgary Alberta. In the sloppier weather (edge of winter and spring!) I ride a re-painted Raleigh Mountain Bike from the 80’s. I have serratus panniers from Mountain Equipment Co-op. The bikes both have leather saddles, one Brooks, One VO, and Friction shifters and Fenders of course.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: I think, as some have mentioned above, that you do what you can and ride as often as possible without risking mental anguish, wringing of hands, and your own life. Its Ok to miss some days as long as you try your best to get out there as often as you can. It’s always nice to have good positive experiences and memories to draw upon, not miserable ones, it’s those memories that get me onto the bike some mornings. But don’t make it an all or nothing game.

[To add your profile to the collection, please visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page. —ed.]

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Dorothea

Name: Dorothea
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Started bike commuting: August 2010
Commute distance (one way): 2 miles (7ish if I take a lakeside ride!)

Describe your commute: After a short jaunt around Monona Bay (wave hi to the waterfowl! just now there’s a shy but beautiful male hooded merganser out there), head up Main Street to the Southwest Bike Path. Zip (or chug, if the headwinds are mean) down to the underpass near the Kohl Center, then up the hill to Dayton, around the dorm construction, across Johnson and University, and down a bumpy alleyway to park on Library Mall. When the weather is good, I’ll take the Harold Temin Lakeshore Path to Eagle Heights and back before I go home in the evening. Great end-of-day stressbuster.

Describe your bike and accessories: “Pleione” is a purple Electra Townie 7d. She has silver-colored fenders and rear rack (both from Electra), Wald rear baskets (for the farmer’s market, and for hauling 30-lb. boxes of theses across campus), a politeness bell, a drink-bottle bracket, and silver decals on her frame that spell her name. I have a Planet Bike red light attached to my messenger bag, and a Blaze half-watt LED headlight attached to my standard-issue Giro helmet. I need to rig a skirt guard for her (Pleione’s only fault is that her brakes are skirt-eating monsters), but haven’t figured out quite how yet.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Don’t scorn a bike in an unusual color. Drivers, pedestrians, and other bike commuters all seem to get a kick out of Pleione the Ineffably Purple!

[To add your profile to the collection, please visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page. —ed.]

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Adolfo

Name: Adolfo
Location: Buenos Aires
Started bike commuting: 4 months ago
Commute distance (one way): 8 miles

Describe your commute: I leave my kids at school and then I go to work, I have almost 90% percent ride within a bike lane, pleasant and nice actually. I take a shirt and changed myself (superman style) at the office. At night I take the train.

Describe your bike and accessories: I own a fantastic Dahon Mu Uno, black, foldable, amazing.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Pay attention to other commuters, you never know when are they turning!!

[To add your profile to the collection, please visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page. —ed.]

Opening Up an Internal Gear Hub

Alfine 8 Guts

Let’s see, I’ve either owned or had on loan five bikes with Shimano Alfine 8 hubs, four with Shimano Nexus 8 hubs, two with Sturmey Archer 5 hubs, three with Sturmey Archer 3 hubs, one with a Nexus 7 hub, one with a Nexus 3 hub, and one with an SRAM iMotion 9 hub. Among all of those internal gear hubs, I’ve never had an issue until the most recent Alfine 8 on my Civia Bryant.

It’s not unusual for internal gear hubs to make some noise when they’re new, but they almost always quiet down after a brief break-in period. This particular Alfine 8 started out noisier than most, and it’s only gotten louder over time, to a point where it was obvious something was not quite right. I finally consulted an expert on internal gear hubs who recommended I have it serviced. Being the sucker-for-a-good-bike-maintenance-project that I am, I decided to take it on myself.

The recommended process involved removing the internal parts of the hub (they come out in one piece), briefly soaking them in Shimano’s special IGH oil, then reassembling everything (while I had it open, I also added some grease to the bearing races and around the seals). The specific steps included removing the cassette joint, sprocket, and dust cap on the drive side, then removing the disc caliper and bearing cone on the non-drive side. Once the external parts were removed, the innards of the hub slid out toward the drive side in one piece. Once the internal parts were free from the hub body, it was simply a matter of dunking the whole thing in Shimano’s oil bath as per their instructions, then reassembling.

Alfine Oil

I’m happy to report the service worked. The snapping/clunking sounds I was hearing while pedaling lightly are now gone. It’s my understanding that the purpose of the oil is not so much to act as a lubricant as it is to refresh the grease within the internal parts of the hub. It appears either the hub was not lubricated sufficiently from the factory or it sat dormant long enough that the grease had started to dry out (my bike is a NOS 2009/2010 model). Whatever the case, everything is smooth and quiet now and I should be good to go for at least another couple of years.

This was the first time I’ve opened up an IGH. The process was less daunting than anticipated, though I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone other than the experienced home mechanic who enjoys a challenge and is willing to do his/her homework. For those who don’t have the experience to undertake such a process, dealers who regularly service IG hubs should be able to do a service like this in under an hour (assuming no other issues). Of course, if there is actual damage to the hub, the time it takes to do the repair may be significantly longer with correspondingly higher costs.

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Spencer Morse

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Spencer Morse
Location: Madison, WI
Started bike commuting: 2005
Commute distance (one way): 7 miles

Describe your commute: My commute is a mix of bike/pedestrian paths along Lake Mendota, on-street bike lanes, and bike “routes” (share the road signs). Occasionally, I’ll extend the commute to catch some extra hills or scenery. Winters in Madison can get quite cold, but with the right mix of clothing and equipment, riding is quite enjoyable and invigorating.

Describe your bike and accessories: I ride a Salsa Casseroll 2011 frameset with some 2009 Casseroll parts and the rest has been mixed and matched to my taste. I run a Schmidt Sondelux hub running Supernova lights. The Salsa has a front rack (which I changed to a Nitto), and I use a Tubus Carry Ti rear rack for panniers. VO hammered fenders and Brooks leather saddle and accessories round out the mix. I like the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires for the snowy months.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Start small. Ride just once a week during mild weather. If possible, find someone or a group who commutes in your area to show you some routes. Slowly work your way up to a couple days per week, with small additions to your wardrobe and bike accessories to accommodate inclement weather. You’ll find that you feel so good after commuting by bike that you can forge through something as silly as “bad” weather and enjoy yourself.

[To add your profile to the collection, please visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page. —ed.]

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Steve Fuller

Name: Steve Fuller
Location: Johnston, IA, USA
Started bike commuting: 2006
Commute distance (one way): Used to be 9 miles, now 3

Describe your commute: I leave my house and ride through a lightly trafficked residential neighborhood and merge to a somewhat busy 2 lane arterial street in the suburbs. In those 3 miles I pass an elementary school, a small pond, 3 small corn/bean fields, and cross a major freeway. Most mornings it’s less than 15 minutes into my office. I’ll take a longer route home occasionally, heading into downtown Des Moines or points further south using both surface streets and bike trails.

Describe your bike and accessories: My main bike is a Salsa Fargo with 2.1″ tires, Surly Nice Racks on the front and rear, Schmidt generator hub w B&M IQ Cyo R headlight, Dinotte taillight, Arkel Tailrider for bike and small stuff (hats/gloves/repair kit/bungees), and one or two Arkel panniers depending on what I need to carry and if I have post work errands to do.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: You can start commuting with nothing more than a regular bike and a backpack. Take a dry run of your route on your bike on a weekend morning to get a feel for how long it will take you, and then drive it in your car on a weekday morning to get an idea for the traffic levels.

[To add your profile to the collection, please visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page. —ed.]

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Andy M.

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Andy M.
Location: Oak Park, IL USA
Started bike commuting: Spring 2010
Commute distance (one way): 10 miles

Describe your commute: My daily ride consists of a 10-mile tour through Chicago’s West Side. I ride entirely on urban thoroughfares, so with dedicated bike lanes, some without. I cross through every conceivable type of neighborhood and urban landscape: downtown, industrial, dense urban, desolate urban, rough, not-so-rough and 19th Century Olmstead-y parkland. I am fortunate to have secure indoor bike parking in my building, so I can ride a much nicer bike than I normally would use if I had to lock up on the street.

Describe your bike and accessories: I ride a Japanese domestic market 2010 Panasonic OSD Tour. The frameset is lugged cro-moly, and as imported included a coupling system, fluted aluminum fenders and a Nitto Campee mini-front rack. I added:

  • Brooks B-17 (honey)
  • Nitto mustache bars w/ leather bar tape
  • Nitto Technomic stem
  • Sugino XD 600 cranks
  • Deore FD and RD
  • Velocity Dyad (36H) rims with Deore hubs
  • Vittoria Randonneur tires (700 x 35) (I could go to 37 with the fenders)
  • MKS Sylvan Tour pedals w/MKS toe clips and leather straps
  • Nitto Big Back Rack from Riv
  • VO leather chainstay guard
  • Pletscher dual kickstand
  • SOMA retro headlamp (attached to front rack, which has the light rack on the right-hand drive side).
  • Crane bell

My alternative (if I not carrying anything with me) is a 1986 Trek 500 Tri-Series 650b conversion.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Keep your head up and be predictable, and remember it’s not a race. Apart from the health and eco-friendly benefits, I ride to work to enjoy my commute. Each morning is a little vacation. For clothing, I suggest loose wool and non-cotton clothing year-round. I have had great luck in all seasons with Endura Singletrack shorts (of varying lengths depending on the temp) and Ibex wool jerseys.

[To add your profile to the collection, please visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page. —ed.]

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