Tuesday, June 30, 2020

In Praise of the The Joe Blow Floor Pump

A floor pump is one of those understated items that a bike lover must have, yet it's neither sexy nor as exciting as new bar tape or tires. Yet without a trustworthy pump, fixing a flat tire with only a mini-pump is awkward and time consuming. After purchasing too many inexpensive floor pumps that have malfunctioned within two years, we've settled on the Joe Blow Max HP floor pump. Retailing between 30-40.00 it's not the most expensive pump, but has been a reliable companion, even after 10 years of normal use, This model has both Presta and Schraeder connections, a large, easy to read pressure gauge with sliding marker for highlighting a favorite pressure, ability to pump high pressure in a reasonable time frame, and sturdy, comfortable handles. I'd highly recommend this version if you're a home mechanic looking for a reasonably priced floor pump.

What's your advice for a decent floor pump?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Miss Clementine's Makeover

Miss Clementine before and after the bar and tire swap.

2020 is the year for Miss Clementine's upgrdes.
The reason for the update was two-fold: swapping handlebars to create a more aggressive posture plus create more comfortable alternative hand positions for longer rides, and a tire swap to improve handling and further lighten the bicycle.

To back up a bit:
First impressions of the stock 2016 Clementine (Clem-L to be exact) - in my opinion - were disappointing. Riding was sluggish, and the bike was heavier and longer than I expected.  But trusting Rivendell's reputation and with my desired low gears, I put my immediate reaction aside, The weak aspect was always the bosco handlebars - I disliked the angular, cruiser-type setup, but without knowing what exactly I would swap them with, I decided to live with them for a while, which, in the end, proved to be a wise decision. 

You gotta start somewhere
Once I inflated tires properly, went on a few tours, hauled weight, tested hills - that was when the magic began to happen. Miss Clementine seems to climb all by herself! Well, of course, not really, but the propulsion or planing (I think it's called) is rather extraordinary. Once I gain momentum, Miss Clementine is easier to ride. I liked the upright grip on the boscos and even the supplied Kenda tires worked well on dirt roads. Hmm. Like all my bikes, I needed time to sort out what I would change, for Miss Clementine has always been what I foresee as my new touring bike.

Soma Oxford bar is a near equivalent to Nitto Albatross, but less expensive. This aluminum bar replaced the stock Nitto alloy boscos and is much lighter. I gained 4" of forward reach, a position that's a more comfortable fit, with alternative gripping on the curves.

Weight matters as I grow older.
Miss Clementine is a little heavier than I would like in a touring bike. The step-through bones are good. Gearing is optimal. At the present, it's still the right bike for me with a few changes. As I grow older, it's harder to haul the same 40lbs. of gear when I was 30 years old, so paying attention to bike weight, and getting by with less camping gear is critical. I chose the Soma Oxford bars for better hand positions and swapped the Kenda tires for my preferred Panaracer Pasela's in gumwall version.

Ooooh, comfy gripping on the curves!

A world of difference.
Both changes have made a dramatic difference in comfort. Between finding a bar that works better, along with familiar tires, I've lightened the bike by an estimated 2 lbs. Benefits to the new bar include: lighter weight, aggressive reach, and I have gained back the ability to climb hills while standing on the pedals like a traditional flat bar bike. The new tires are slightly narrower (though both indicate 1.75" width). I still need to work on optimal rack setup, but already I want to ride this bike more.