GlovesWinter2012 written at 23:39:00; Add Comment
My bike gloves for cold rain (as of winter 2012)
As a minor update to my previous entry on gloves, I have since gotten some neoprene paddling gloves for biking in cold rain (as I planned at the time). Specifically I got the MEC Humboldt 2mm gloves. They have been a complete success in this role.
Initially I thought that the gloves would be too cold (since they seem to be only partially neoprene with some thinner, more cloth-like lining at the sides of the fingers) but in actual use they've turned out to be more than warm enough for my commute riding. If anything they're a little bit too warm when it's warmer (for example, if it's 10 C and raining). They do get wet in the rain but they stay warm; if anything, they sometimes feel warmer when wet than when dry.
(Note that I don't go on extended rides when it's cold and raining.)
(The other MEC gloves I looked at turned out to have been replaced by the Humboldt gloves, which will undoubtedly be replaced by another version at some time. The 3mm Humboldt was substantially more awkward and less comfortable than the 2mm version when I tried it on, and given how warm the 2mm Humboldt is I suspect the 3mm would be significant overkill for me.)
DZ4LReview written at 14:07:43; Add Comment
A review of the Filzer dZ4L bike computer
This may be a good bike computer for someone, but it certainly isn't one for me. My experiences with two units have been negative.
My first dZ4L lasted only a few weeks after I bought it; it failed to survive a relatively modest Toronto autumn rain. As far as I can see, this is intrinsic in the design of the computer; the transparent plastic top seems to be simply pressed very firmly on the main unit, not sealed. This is basically tailor made for capillary action around the edges, so once you've got enough water exposure the water starts being drawn up the sides and into the main display area where it mists up the screen and then gets into the electronics. Result: dead unit.
After a year of more or less reliable operation out of the rain, my second dZ4L is now frequently failing to register wheel motion, resulting in either much too low speed readings or a total glitch. This appears to be due to the plastic mount warping (and expanding in the summer heat; hotter weather makes it worse and cooler weather makes it more reliable) so that it no longer firmly holds the computer against the mount contacts. It can simply stop working on its own, plus even small bumps seem quite prone to jarring it just loose enough. Rapping or pressing the computer into the mount can temporarily make it register again, but it's far from reliable and rather frustrating. Trying to use a map case or anything that rests near the mount on the handlebars is troublesome, because it seems very easy for a velcro strap or whatnot to put just enough pressure on the computer or the mount to let things come lose; even a very light touch can be enough.
I find this really unfortunate. The dZ4L's four line display is by far the best information display of any bike computer that I've seen, but a bike computer that periodically glitches out and drastically under-reports speed when I go over even a minor road bump is not a bike computer, it's an unattractive handlebar ornament.
(I may some day put this on the MEC website, where I bought my dZ4L.)
GlovesSpring2011 written at 00:26:11; Add Comment
My bike gloves as of spring 2011
I bike in all weather conditions. As a result, I have a whole lot of bike gloves (and gloves that I use when I bike), and I'm often looking for better gloves. Because I feel like keeping track of this, here's my current list with notes about when I use them.
In order of decreasing temperature ranges:
I have some additional gloves that don't neatly fit into temperature ranges:
I have read a fair amount of praise for neoprene paddling gloves as cold weather rain gloves, so I intend to get a pair when MEC gets them back into stock and experiment. I believe that MEC also sells waterproof shells, but when I looked at them in the fall none of them looked really attractive.
(The leading paddling glove candidate is the MEC CyclPad 3mm gloves, with the MEC Catch Neoprene gloves as a second option. The MEC Humboldt gloves in 2mm and 3mm are new enough to not have real reviews.)
Sidebar: other cold weather gear I swear by
FrozenBrakes written at 21:15:52; Add Comment
The novelty of frozen brakes
A disconcerting novelty happened to me a few weeks ago: my front brakes froze solid. As far as I can tell, I mean that literally; not just that they seized up, but that they seized up because they were frozen. As you might imagine, it was more than a bit disconcerting to squeeze the front brake lever and have it have no give at all, especially since the front brakes are the more powerful ones where you do most of your braking.
(This is not always the case for me, but that's another entry. Someday.)
My best theory on what happened is that in previous days some water had worked its way onto the brake cable and into the front cable housing (perhaps from spray thrown up by passing cars) and had not drained away. When I took the bike out in sub-zero temperatures with significant windchill, the water froze and locked the cable and the ferrule together. Exposing things to warmth and working the front brakes improved the situation by melting things a bit and breaking the binding action, although they were not entirely better.
Ah well, winter biking can be interesting. (If it was easy and painless, everyone would do it.)
NoFavoursPlease written at 01:35:08; Add Comment
How to help bicyclists #1: don't do us any special favours
Let us suppose that you are a well meaning driver who wants to help out bicyclists, but you don't bicycle yourself (or at least not anywhere where you're sharing the road with cars) so you don't have direct experience to draw on. So, what can you do to help?
Paradoxically, one of the best things that you can do to help is to not do us bicyclists any special favours; to treat bicyclists just as you would any other vehicle (which is what they legally are, at least here in Ontario).
The problem with doing bicyclists special favours is that it makes you unpredictable, and bicyclists really want cars to be predictable. When a car deviates from what we expect and what it should do, we have no idea what it's going to do next; we have to slow down and assume the worst, not because we think you're malicious but because we just don't know what's going on.
The corollary to this is that if you do want to do a bicyclist a favour, such as letting them turn left in front of you, it will help a lot if you do something obvious to signal that you're doing it deliberately. This converts your unpredictable behavior (inexplicably slowing down, for example) into predictable behavior; ah, you're generously letting them turn.
(PS: please don't be offended if the bicyclist doesn't give you much acknowledgement of such things. Generally the best I can do is to give you a brief thumbs up in thanks, because I am otherwise too busy with the mechanics of signaling, turning, and so on.)
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