Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ergon Grips

I ride regularly, almost every day more for exercise and to blow off stress from work.  Other than a comfy saddle(Brooks B17 highly recommended) the 2nd most important touch point will be the grips.
The Egron Grips are funny shaped grips which with the use of wider surface area, reduce the pressure point on your palm and grip. They come in 3 different sizes and really depends on the rider preference.
My first grip was a small but I have come to realise I like a large which is more comfortable for me.
Here is are some photos of a stylo bio-cork option for my Tokyo bike.
Ergon Biok Cork Grip. Nice Packing with min paper. 
How to set it right. The box hides the other grip. 
Fitted to Tokyo bike. The Brown area is harder while the black patch is a softer rubber material = comfy grip
Looking from Front
Looking from Side. The allen Key screw is to tighten the grip in the required angle. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Brompton Personal Review for Touring

My trusty Brompton with me and friends on a nice Mekong ride
Now I am not a bicycle guru and this will surely piss the true blue Bromptonites ("how dare you... it must be the best bike in the world!!!")  For Brompton Zealots... Please kindly tune off as this will not be your cup of tea.

Sorry mate... But I am of the opinion that there are many good bikes in the world. One of them also happen to be the Brompton. And I will share my own personal opinion after riding it for 2.5 years and with several overseas journey with the iconic bicycle.

This is what I have done over the years
Japan - Business trip and extended to explore more of the place (2 times)
Terrain is City flatish, with train rides (folded brompton)
Distance cover roughly 30 km
Transport by DIYed Carton box. 
Exploring ulu area has it challenges.. like no escalator... gulp

Mekong area, Thailand - Self supported cycling trip
Terrain is mixed of tarmac, mud tracks which became quite gooey. Lots of slope and downhills.  Rain big time.
Distance covered roughly - 200km
Time: around 1 week
Transport by Lojel luggage case. The Luggage lock portion broke because of rough handling.
Some where near Chang Khan, Thailand
Manning the rear with my M bar Raw Lac 6 Speed
Taiwan - Supported cycling trip with family and van support.
Terrain is good tarmac with hill elevations of around 300m (mount Faber is 100m). Strong head winds
Distance covered roughly - 150km
Transport by Original Brompton Box
I got another Brompton for my wife.. haha.. buy in Taiwan and ride directly
Cranking it @ Taiwan. It's a P bar which give more position to reduce frontal drag. It works!
Brompton Pros/Plus
  • The legendary fold is neat, strong and good for packing. Excels in mixed multi transport mode(Bus, Train, Van, Taxi) 
  • The frame and ride geometry is stable and good for riding around. With the rear supported by rubber suspension(Got soft and firm- get the firm one if u are doing more touring and heavier loaded) and adding a brooks B17. The Brompton is one comfortable ride.
  • Front Mount Touring (aka T) bag is roomy enough put my clothes, and all other stuff. It is also supplied with a flour-yello waterproof cover... which I tested in a full day rain ride in Mekong. 
  • When you ride and get tired. You can fold and take a taxi. Or hop into the support van or flag a horse cart in ulu conditions. 
  • The small wheel run true and spin well. Over all the bike keeps going and going.. slowly is how it likes it.
  • The Clunky SA hub just keep going and going. Best in wet conditions as it is protected from the elements. 
Brompton Cons/Minus
  • I really hate the SA hub wide gearing. In a City environment, it is ok. But when u are in a constant hilly terrain. The wide gear spacing really gets to you. It is either too light or too heavy.. to compensate, you need to adjust your cycling Cadence to accommodate. 
  • Shifting of the gears are quite your English quirkiness.  The plastic casing of the shifter look flimsy by over 3 years.. they shake but still shift fine. It just don't look robust and refined. This is year 2012.. Brompton company pls consider something simpler and more intuitive. 
  • Rear tyre change is more troublesome. You need to have 2 spanner size - 8, 15 to loosen the brake clamp, wheel axle. Also need to unscrew the Internal hub gearing key link. I resolved this by buying the most puncture proof tyre. Yes I do lose some speed but in return, I get more "puncture insurance".  I don't fancy changing tube in the middle of the blazing sun at the side of the road... with no shade. 
This is Encik George Lim. Don't be fooled by his pink bike. He is V8 on Steroids.  We nearly died trying to catch up with him haha. 
Overall findings
Brompton is best suited for the city landscape. This is where it thrives. Fold it, take a train to the near by location, unfold, ride. It is unbeatable.. or the gold standard. 
For touring.. it is a mixed bag. The small wheels are not too good for bad potholed mud paths and the wide space SA hub reduces cycling efficiency by around 20 percent at least. Get the Tbag if u are intending to tour unsupported. It carry suff easily and makes the bike handle well. It is big and placed in the front of the bike.. your aerodynamics will suffer. But if u go slow and smell the roses..it is fine. 

Would I take the Brompton on a tour? 
It depends on the location and terrain elevation. If City like- I will confirm bring it or the Carryme.
If it is slopely slopes galore... I will bring my Alex Mouton TSR with triple crank to spin up any hill. Hope this gives you more insights of the wonderful bike called Brompton. Any questions still in your mind.. just ask. 

Riding along Taipei Park Connectors

4 amigoes.. George Lim, Desmond Chia , Aunty Audrey and me(behind the camera)

It is day 8 of our Taiwan Trip. 0530 am, Encik Lim George, Desmond Chia, Audrey Cheong and myself went for the a morning ride along the Dan shui river from Xin Meng Ding. We reached the turn off point to Kee lung port and turn back.
Desmond cycling along the PCN, enjoying the cool breeze
all is quiet and calm... this is Taipei city!
Capturing the moment in time
Frankly it was bit of trouble to muster enough energy to cycle, having cycled for the past week. However I was glad I did. It was a really pleasant ride but abit too chilly (18c) just with a jersey. Peaceful and another perspective of Taipei which I like more of.  This is why you bring a folding bike.... if u have a hour to spare, u can do a relaxed ride and see more of a place.
Morning light makes everything lookso beautiful

 One interesting observation on the Taipei park connector is the mobile bike shop. It sells bicycle nick nacks, jersey and all things relate to cycling. Even have a "courtesy"floor pump in case u need to put some air in your tyres. I find this is a good idea as it provides a good convenience to the park users and cyclists. Have a look.
Mobile bike accessory kiosk

Aunty Audrey doing SG proud by drawing first blood.. she bought a basket and something..
Pump for all to use.. 
Left or straight? a moment of confusion in Taipei maze like network of road. 
Later we went back hotel, rested abit and headed to Eslite(Chen Pin) to look at the books and just relax. There was an exhibition of drift wood and how the artist used scrap to create nature scenes. I like that a lot. More photos of the day here 
Beauty in the purity of idea

Saturday, December 22, 2012

LCSG Southern Taiwan day 5 12th Dec 2012

Full photo set here 
Ruishui (瑞穗)resort 
own porch for ur bike and quiet surroundings
How it looks inside... very nice and woody
Fuel up before the ride... you just never know
We started off from Ruishui (瑞穗)resort towards Hua lien using the route 193. It snakes through Huatung Valley (花东纵谷) to Hualien. Since the parallel, wider and faster highway 9 opened, 193 becomes a quiet road, perfect for cycling and sightseeing. It cuts through the hills and run parallel to the valley, both sides are mountain ranges with beautiful low hanging clouds, right next to us is basin area with fertile farmlands and villages. The view is breathtaking, beyond words and cameras. It is like the last unspoilt land on Earth. You have to be there to experience it. 
Crossing a bridge and  seeing the beautiful sky and view just make me cry out with joy

   It is nice but have a bit of slope along the way. Average about 300 m, bearable and makes me miss my moulton alot.... when I ride the Brompton.... haha.. you win some, you lose some. 

Nick and grandma facing off.... 
This is Marcus Yeo account of the route.... " Another reason I took so little pictures is the undulating terrain and head wind (After the whole trip, George told us he purposely planned the trip so that we experienced headwind all the way. Thank you lor Encik!). Slope after slope, it sucked dried all my energy. I was on the borderline before the lunch break. After lunch, it was hell. 
During the last push, we faced a daunting climb, probably 300-400 meters. To put into Singaporean's perspective, is to climb Mount Faber 4 times non stop. I pushed on, on 1st gear, pedal by pedal, I reached the top. I found strength that I never thought I have. My greatest takeaway for this trip." 
Route 193... must go place!
Marcus chasing after Bernice... chiong ahhh..
golden fields!
Rolling as one
Me and Nick "Pong Chek" in the numerous slopes.. so we take photo..
The beauty of the golden sun rays and clear open skies just make us smile. Words can't describe the simple pleasures of cycling with friends and nice greenery. Up and down...some of the slopes reminded me of Wu lin and eventually we reached Hualien famous 3 smoke stack... 76 km! We did it!
by the river bed.. 3 smoke stack = Reach Hualien! 

LCSG Southern Taiwan day 4 11th Dec 2012

Ride account by Marcus Yeo  
Full Set of Photos here 
Checking tyre pressure (pump higher psi to roll faster haha)  before the ride
"Dun worry" very relaxed one.. safety briefing before move out by Encik George Lim
Rolling. This is Aunty Audrey Cheong. Power house on a Tikit
After a good rest, We set off in the early morning light. Our route is the scenic highway 11 (台11线) that links Taitung to Hualian. We headed east from Zhiben (知本) to hit the highway, then followed the coastal road northeast, passing by Taitung Forest Park (台东森林公园), a small town called Dulan 都兰(!) and ended at Donghe (东河). Encik choose to end there so that we can have the famous local buns (东河包子)for lunch!
Brompton and Dahon enjoying a ride together!
Very color coordinated LCSG team!
The puppy who liked us very much run at least 8km with us... 
Quiet road and pass by rice fields 

Blue skies and cooling weather. Best for cycling!
The total distance is around 60km, it is relatively flat compared to the previous day so not as siong. For the first 15km, we had tailwind for the first time this trip, everyone rode the wind and was in high spirit. When we hit the coast, we were again awed by the grand Pacific. We visited a really nice police post along the way, tried out Taiwan's version of Park Connectors, found the legendary Nat Geo icon which every Taiwanese cyclist would pose for pictures, enjoyed the serenity of Taitung's largest park, and tackled some gentle slopes near the end.
PCN along the sealine
Zipping along TaiTung PCN
The famous Nat Geo Window for LCSG photo opportunity
This lake is for Canoeing and is in their "PCN" zone
Nice Med style home Stay
We reached Donghe at around 1pm, just in time for lunch, then packed up and crossed the mountain range westward by minibuses into my favourite area of the trip - Huatung Valley (花东纵谷). It was a flat piece of land nestled between two mountain ranges, littered with farms and villages. It reminds me of Shangri-La, and you have to be there to appreciate its full beauty. We put up at a very cosy B&B in the hot spring village Rui Shui(瑞穗), had our dinner, raided the local Seven-11, enjoyed the hot spring, and ended the night anticipating the next day's epic ride through the valley.
The Famous Do Lan Guo xiao... the bag is almost big enough to fit a Brompton!
Drafting to "catch up" with Encik.. proved futile... Next time we try electric power assist.. I think got chance
Gummy bears to refuel up
Simple food but delicious! 
Siew Wan and Gary enjoying the Do lan pau after a good workout
Ying Chang, George and Desmond
Night time, we makan at a very local shop. It was nice!