Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bike-Free Zone

I've been accustomed to viewing non-US societies as substantially more bicycle dependent than we are in the US.  It becomes easy to judge the first world as car crazy and so wealthy that bicycles are a third best alternative (car, then public transit, then . . .).

After a week in Lebanon, including one day in the capital Beirut, I am placated just a tad by the American situation.  In Lebanon, nary a bicycle in sight.  That in the affluent neighborhoods of Kaslik and Jounieh.  That on or around the college campuses of Universite Saint Esprit, American University in Beirut, and Universite Saint Josef.  That in the mountains north and east of town.  And that in the metropolitan city of Beirut.

OK, I saw two bikes.  At the end of the day I spent walking around Beirut, as I headed back northeast toward Kaslik along the very local-feeling Gemmayzeh Street, one commuter passed me on a city-bike of the ilk one might expect to see in Paris or D.C.  I was too slow to snap a picture.  The other?  Mounted on top of a Mercedes held for sale behind plate glass at the Mercedes dealership along Charles Helou, the major cross-town boulevard.

Still too few.  Not that some aren't trying.

I saw other such signs, too, but -- no bikes.  Huh.
Perhaps obviously, it says "Beirut by Bike."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Park Tool PCS-10 Repair Stand

I've used cheap bike workstands forever. Mostly of the tripod variety. They work OK, but there's always one compromise or another.

Recently I've had several simultaneous bike projects going on, and constantly swapping bikes has become a bit of a hassle, so with the need to pick up another bike stand anyway, I figured I may as well finally get a Park Tool stand. The PCS-10, to be precise.

The PCS-10 comes moderately disassembled. I guess they figure that assembling the stand is a skill filter. Anyone who can't do that probably shouldn't be working on their bike anyway.

OMG! What do I do with all these parts???

One of the real advantages of a Park stand over a cheapo Forte or something is the seat-tube clamp. The PCS-10 clamp has a nice cam action to quickly clasp and release the seatpost, and a little round thingy that enables 360-degree rotation.

If you had two of these you could be a lobster for Halloween.

Inserting a bike is about what you'd expect.

Why yes, yes those are Schwalbe Ultremos on a fixie.

The stand is surprisingly sturdy. I didn't expect much, but the moment-arm is long enough and the tube angle steep enough that there is really no inclination for the bike to tip. Quite refreshing after my tripod stand which seems always ready to tip over.

While I was at it I also got the Park Tool 106 accessory tray. To be honest $30 seems a little expensive for some molded plastic and bent metal, but it would cost me a lot more than $30 for a far inferior solution if I were to try to make my own.

Accessory tray. For all my accessories.

Assembling it was even easier than the workstand.


The accessory tray integrates directly into the quick release collar on the PCS-10 for a sturdy nut-/bolt-/tool-storage location.

Plenty of room for lubes, tools, rags, and even a scale to weigh parts before they go on...
My verdict on the PCS-10 is unabashedly positive. Yes, there are cheaper repair stands. I've had three, and they all worked, but none were as stable or as well built as this one. There are also more expensive repair stands (many of them from Park Tool in fact!). When I get a larger garage, I'll probably get one. But the PCS-10 is a solid mid-range workstand that I can imagine lasting for many years.

Before I forget, though, there was one problem. The repair stand did not come with the required nuts to hold the legs in place!

Anything missing?
Now that's a pretty minor problem. I'm sure I can find them at Home Depot. Still, annoying that they're missing.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Salsa -- New Wheels

I bought the Salsa Colossal this summer and have been commuting on it this fall in Indianapolis.  Posts anticipating the bike (here), discussing shopping for the bike (here) and reviewing the bike (here) came out in previous months.  The bike has never quite been finished because of the low-rent wheelset that came with.

Finally:  I have upgraded.  The Salsa Colossal is now complete.

The Salsa.  Done.  On the White River Greenway bike trail, Indianapolis.
The wheels are custom built by Ron Ruff at White Mountain Wheels.  This is my third set from Ron's workshop.  (Report on previous sets here.)  He has yet to turn a spoke wrench wrong.  That said, these are already my favorite.

White Industries hubs.  All three sets from Ron are built with White Industries hubs.  These are the perfect mid-rent product:  they look every bit as good as a Chris King and don't overdo the bling factor in the way that DT Swiss do.  They are light without being featherweight.  And they are affordable.
The hub is that silver part in the middle that you can't really see.

OK, so the picture doesn't show anything, but it looks good in real life.

These are centerlock disk mount hubs.  The upside is that they are much easier to use than the six-bolt disc hubs.  The downside is that centerlock rotors are more expensive and hard to find in the 140mm that fit with my brake mounts.  One lesson I learned: when a hub is made for a 15mm through-axle, which the White Industries hubs are, the standard lock ring does not fit.  Or more precisely, it does fit, but the cassette tool one uses to tighten the lock ring will not fit in the tight tolerance between the standard lock ring and the axle.  Fortunately, the hub came with a lock ring made to be tightened with an external-bearing bottom bracket tool.  The rear hub can be tightened with the cassette tool.
Shimano 140mm rotors.

Pacenti rims.  Ron recommended these and looked around little; these are much loved rims in the industry standard semi-aero shape.  Pacenti offers a disc-specific rim, which resolved one of my primary complaints about the stock Stan's rims.  And, like the White Industries hubs, the Pacenti rims are not over-designed.
I like the modest graphics on these Pacenti rims.  I love the lack of the brake track and the black Compass EL tires on black rims.

Sapim CX-Ray spokes.  Ron would probably build with something else if asked nicely enough, but these are his prohibitive favorite so I have them on all three custom sets.  Light, aerodynamic, and purportedly strong.

We went with understated -- silver hubs, black spokes and rims, and silver nipples.  The nipples may be a tad bright but I think it is a nice touch.  And I've done the color-coordinated nipples too often for my own good.

I mounted these with the 28mm Compass Chinook Pass EL tires Sam gave me last Christmas.  I've enjoyed these tires on some great rides including the fleche and the 600K in September.  They ride nicely on the Salsa.

Most of my upgrades don't work out as well as this one did.
On the bike, the wheels look awesome.  Getting rid of that brake track and the excessive graphics on the Stan's rims make for nice changes.   And this is the first time I've ridden on anything other than the Vittoria Randonneur tires that came with the bike.  It is almost disturbingly smooth and fast.