Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Relaxed geometry for riding.

This is how I like my riding, slow and steady. Like my mascot on my TSR:) 
I like steel bikes 
After riding and writing about cycling for over 5 years, I have an idea of what my personal riding style and the bikes I like.
To be frank, it wasn't really a deliberate scientific rational planning but an organic free flow way of things just happening. And also ...ahemmm a very supportive wife:) 
I like Velo Orange and Rivendell approach. They are simply old skool bike geometry. Much more upright cycling with long wheel base. Key is relaxed, non-competitive and low/non tech. Recycle if possible.  We have a Chinese term for this. Its called 骑 
These are thumbies or thumb shifters. They work irregardless of whatever speeds cluster (7-10speed) as they use friction rather then SIS(index shifting)
Not a glam thing but it really helps to know whats coming from the rear. I think they are more important then helmets 
Usually the bicycles are made of  Steel or Chromoly which is heavy compared to carbon. But their defense, they dampen road vibrations pretty very well. Also they are quite robust. Some times we would experience a bike drop on the floor due to careless positioning when leaning on a curb or wall. 
Steel bikes also wear well with age and develop a patina with regular use. I am a product designer by training and this is something which I feel that most modern products have failed miserably. Modern products just don't wear well.
Now, this entry is not about dissing off the folks who want to go fast or love carbon. It's different strokes for different folks. I am just sharing what works with me. Here goes... 
My fleet of steel horses
As with all cyclists, it start with one bike and then the "fleet" will slowly grow. I don't know why but they do...else, you are not trying hard enough" ha ha. 
There are subtle ride differences in the ride quality and yet some how they feel also similar. So I took out 4 bikes in random and try to do some quantitative study. The bikes are 
1) 1990s Trek 930 with a surly LHT fork
Looking ready for a tour. Rigged up with Top Peak rear, Carradice Pendle and Tubus Tara front. 
Really nice Nitto front rack which u can put a safety kit or rain jacket
Wide bars by Velo orange  
2) Late 80s Old Road bike NOB 
My first bike I bought using my holiday work as a book shop assistant. Its being Singled speed-ed by Lynten 
You sure can touch this!
3) Tokyo Bike 
Birthday present by Wife and the basket helps me "tar bao" dinner. The front pouch holds my wallet and phone. 
Rattan basket is from some hamper which I recycled 
4) Alex Moulton TSR
Propriety front rack and Beach road canvas bag with DIY Beeswax waterproofing. 
Road bars installed by Rebound Centre, previously was a mustache bar 

As scientific as it can get from me

measure and check....

I took 3 basic measurements to understand my bikes. 
A) Reach- from Seat tip to steering stem
B)  Handle height 
C) Seat height 
What I found out is they are very similar with I measured! 

No wonder I felt Tokyo bike felt abit too short. The seat was lower compared with the rest of my bikes.
This measurements would be also very useful when u bring ur bike overseas and u need to dismantle them for easier packing. 

I also love the quote by Velo Orange which sums up what I feel on cycling.  
Chill and ride. Learning from the best of the best how to drink kopi ( uncle KC) 
"Most cyclists don't race, yet they ride uncomfortable racing bikes and try to go too fast and so miss much of the world around them. Our emphasis is on a more relaxed and comfortable style of riding, and on refined bikes that are comfortable on a century ride, an inn-to-inn tour, or even on a ramble down your favorite dirt road.
Chris Founder-President Velo Orange"
I know this kind of riding will never be main stream as say road riding. There is simply no commercial intent big enough to do do. This is why I share my opinion on my blog and hight light this small sub-cycling culture. 
Hope one day you could also try out this relaxed type of riding someday. See yah! 


  1. Happy new year 2016 !
    Nice article, reminding me about the nagging of my wife to my stop of adding bikes! 😊
    Touring on comfortable bikes like yhe ones you own will be quite an experience.
    I am still undeciding on acquiring a Surly which the small wheels do not offer in handling, connfort n stability.
    Well writtten ! Cheers.
    Keep on turning.
    God bless.

    1. You are welcome. What ever it is, wifey is always right. As a over ethu-cyclist, I tend to hoard too many stuff. Thats when u need to de-clutter and organise things. Last week we have been cleaning, clearing our home....that was quite a task.
      Mini velo have it place but if going for a off the beaten path and longer distance, full size bike might be better in carrying gear and comfort. What ever.... just ride. (to myself too:) )
      Take care!

  2. Very nice blog. Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading it.
    carbon cycle wheels

  3. My goodness, your collection of steel bikes nearly mirrors mine! Nice.

    1. hello desastar, u also like steel bikes? Share more!

  4. Hi Taiwoon,
    My daily bike is a Surly Crosscheck (you've seen a picture of it before)
    Others in the collection, Soma Rush single speed, Moulton APB R18, 1970s Fiorin, Bike Friday Tikit, Brompton P6R and Dahon Speed TR.
    Had a Trek Multitrack 730 before, sold it, waiting for one in better condition!