Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Pencil Case Makes a Stylish Bicycle Tool Bag

Why spend a lot of money on a tool bag? If your tools are stored in a basket or pannier, a pencil case makes an inexpensive and attractive option. I found this beauty in our local Staples' clearance section.

My large office pannier is heavy enough without adding the extra weight of tools! 
With my previous commuter front bag, it was easy to include necessary tools (stored inside a black, barrel shaped, neoprene pencil case) plus pump, easily forgotten because all items were hidden beneath material. Using the new basket set-up required a different mindset, regarding tool storage with easy access. And the more I thought about it, it made sense to use a larger tool bag to also accommodate my pump.

The new bag has a low profile so I can easily stow other items along with my tools, like my weekly farm share produce.
A color coordinated bungee cord holds the case inside the wire basket, and also allows easy removal in case of inclement weather. Tuck the stylish bag under my arm or toss in my office pannier and go!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Peugeot St. Laurent is Commute-Ready


I spent several hours transferring items from the Ross Mt. St. Helens to the Peugeot St. Laurent. My goal was get the bike commute-ready over the weekend, in time for Monday's ride to the office. What I didn't anticipate was accomplishing everything in one day! A rainy Saturday helped, along with a few breaks, one of which was riding the bike with my son, and by the end of the afternoon I had finished.

I started the work outside on our deck, then moved indoors once the rain started, using a tarp to protect the wood floor. I wouldn't recommend either method, risking loosing tools through the gaps in the deck (I lost an Allen wrench and two star tools over the porch rail, but miraculously found them beneath day lilies), and indoors because I was uncomfortably stooped. Without a work stand to elevate the bicycle, my back ended up pretty sore for a couple days, however it's my own fault for neglecting to retrieve the stand from our house. Once we're settled at camp, it's often difficult to leave, even though it's only a 20 minute drive home.

Both the Peugeot and Ross are topless (without handle bars)  - I was in the process of transferring the Ross's handle bars to the Peugeot. I slowly dismantled the Ross (on the right) and while I will keep the wheels, I replaced the original  green, straight handlebar so it will travel to it's eventual new owner. 

The Transformation Process & What I learned
  • Starting with a front tire change, I decided instead to switch front wheels, which necessitated adjusting front brakes because the rim was slightly wider. At the outset, it reminded me that there's often more to bike maintenance than meets the eye - very much like home ownership! And I also noticed that the Peugeot's front wheel needed bearings regreased, so I'll store that wheel for a back up and properly overhaul it when necessary.
  • I tossed the gross, shredded seat and put on a new Nashbar Women's FC1 saddle. The Ross's current seat was, quite literally, a PIA.
  • With impending rain in the forecast, I took a break and rode with my son for a few miles to get some exercise. Little did I know we'd end up riding hills and trails! At that point the bike was bare-bones, sans fenders and racks, and I zipped along - definitely a foreign concept to a bike commuter!
  • I swapped handle bars because the stamped, labeled Italmanubri bar, gleaned from my son's Peugeot has always felt right. It was a slow process, loosening brakes and thumb shifters was a little difficult (more so on the Ross because the screws were nearly stripped), but with patience I'm glad to have familiar, comfortable handle bars. 
  • Transferring fenders was relatively easy. There is more clearance on the rear wheel than when the fender was previously connected to the Ross, but I will keep it as is.
  • I am keeping the included 1.5" rear tire because I see value in retaining puncture proof rubber, for the time being, even though I prefer 1.75" Paselas.
  • I had trouble installing the rear rack. I couldn't free all of the bolts on the slider bracket (I stripped a couple Allen heads), ideally to level the platform, so I attached the rack as is. For now the large Blackburn office pannier works okay and I have heal clearance, but I wonder if shortening the bracket would adversely alter the space. I'm not happy with the rack angle so I'll deal with the rack in the future.
  • The front rack went on smoothly, though because the fender also shared the same frame bolt, I attacked both transfers together. Of special note, the lower rack holes are mounted to the cantilever bolt attachments. The Peugeot lacked Allen bolts, but fortunately I was able to swap the bolts from the Ross. 

Above, the Italian stamped bar; below, original unmarked bar. Visually there appears to be little difference,
but in reality they are not the same.

Unexpected but delightful surprises
  • With more space between the sloping tubes, my water bottle is more accessible.
  • I sit more upright - an unanticipated but welcome advantage as this position allows a natural transition to the Clementine (and vice versa).
  • The frame (and it could also be due to tires) absorbs bumps more so than the Ross. My 15 year old son insists the wheelbase is longer; he noticed the increased fork curve. Everyone knows that teenagers are never wrong! I suspect the comfort is due to a larger frame size. Handle bar position seems to sit further back and not above the center of the front wheel. I could be wrong in this assessment, but the frame geometry feels quite different. Whatever the reason, the bike fits and I'm happy!
  • I'm pleased with the new saddle choice, a comfortable seat the first time around!
  • I sprang for a new set of ergonomic grips, Ergon's cork style.
These items: a lock, tool bag, and pump were hidden in the green bag on the Ross. It's a work in progress, storing the accessories in a basket, because I like to leave them on my bike at my workplace rack. I need to find a long term solution.

Other thoughts
  • The Peugeot was the perfect opportunity to use a front basket. In this instance, I used one of two white baskets that I'd grabbed, years ago, from a neighbor's free pile. New bicycle, "new" accessories!
  • I will eventually add anniebikes' style - possibly coordinate with the orange/red color scheme, and/or decorate with leopard print duct tape? I missed pe-ordering an orange Clementine so you can bet I'll play up the orange on the Peugeot!
  • I cannot locate a Shimano cap locally to cover the lost cap on the right-hand thumb shifter. A mechanic found two extra left-hand shifters, but the cap, unfortunately, is proprietary (go figure). In fact, I found the original shifters  hardware on my son's Peugeot in our parts stash - both are missing caps! For now, I'll keep the exposed parts oiled (my bike stays outdoors at work) and continue looking for a replacement online.
  • I've been riding the Peugeot for two weeks. What strikes me the most is how well the bicycle fits, something I've longed for for quite some time. Go Peugeot! 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dash for the Sunset

Our heart was not in pedaling to the fireworks show this year as a three-some, without extended family members in attendance. Instead, we dashed in the opposite direction to watch the sunset on the bridge over the Winooski River. We spied Canadian geese and goslings, debris floating downriver from high water, and cyclists high-tailing the other way to catch the fireworks. For once, I was relieved to avoid the crowds and do something completely different.

I will save packages of glow sticks for another time!

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 4th Preparations & Decorations

On my morning commute, I noticed the Independence Day (July 3 in Burlington) celebrations unfolding: red, white, and blue banners, park vehicles hauling a trailer of porta potties, and a blue sky to greet revelers - a welcome sight indeed! I look forward to this evening's annual fireworks festivities and family ride in the dark. Happy 4th!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

1988 Peugeot St. Laurent Step Through

The Peugeot St. Laurent is a companion to my son's bike. Same year and model. How cool is that?
Introducing my next commuter bike: a 21" Peugeot St. Laurent! A Craigslist purchase, I found this bicycle close to home from an avid cyclist ready to pare down his fleet. The bicycle was originally being sold with fenders and ergo grips, but the seller accepted a lower offer and kept those items for himself.

The bike has the usual frame wear a 30 year old bicycle should have, but it's structurally solid. Wheels are sound, spokes are tight, with flat rim walls. Front wheel is original Weinmann while the rear is a replacement with a newer Shimano freewheel. The frame has typical fender and rack eyelets of a 1980's bike.

The Shimano thumb shifters are the nicer version than currently on my Ross, though the seller couldn't find a missing cap. I'll try to source this locally or online, but as a last resort I could transfer one from my Trek (now a parts bike). As is, the current shifter functions well but I wouldn't want to expose the inner parts too long to the elements as my workplace bike parking is outdoors. Interestingly, the bike has SIS shifting (index shifting), a bonus and similar to my Trek. All parts appear to be original Shimano components, other than the rear wheel.

The right shifter is missing a cap.

Curiously, both sets of brake pads appear original, using the metal-clad brake shoes, but that seems unlikely for the age of the bicycle. Perhaps someone has gone through the trouble of re-soling the rubber?

I spent a couple hours cleaning what I had hoped was surface grime, which fortunately, turned out to be true. Wheels spin fine, headset seems tight, crank spins well. I will not do a thorough overhaul unless a problem crops up in the future. I will pop on a new chain. I plan to transfer racks, fenders, and handle bar, grips and pedals from the Ross plus, most likely a Pasela tire to replace a wider, slightly worm and nubbed front tire. I haven't decided whether to swap the Peugeot's rear wheel because both freewheels are 28 tooth low gear so I don't think I'm gaining anything by swapping the rear wheels, as much as I love Araya rims.

I'm delighted to have a commuter bicycle frame that's not black, fits me better, and a side benefit: I sit more upright on the Peugeot, which I hope will better prepare me when I transfer to bike touring on my Clementine.

For the curious, a link to the 1988 Peugeout St. Laurent specs.