Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ride: Spike-O-Rama

While I don't really care for the King of Fruits these days but then when in season each year, I'll venture out on one or two rides to hunt out a couple just for old times sake.. After all how many activities are there in urban Singapore to bring back those childhood days.. picking fruits, catching spiders.. Seriously we are just so deprived around here surrounded by modern development and technology.

We thought Willy was hallucinating when he stared at the tarmac and said "Watermelons!"
OK it was some just starting to grow melon-lets but yea it is melons indeed. Seeing all of these again brings me back to the primary school garden where I had spent countless hours. We once tried watermelons. It grew but we never really succeeded in getting it all big and juicy. Maize, sugarcane sweet potatoes and many others were successful. Most vivid was the memories of catching ladybirds among those maize.. .red and orange "candies" among the sea of greens....

and Mr APM, no not Anti-Personnel-Mine but Accident Prone Man, Nik-- got stung by a scorpion this time-- and OF ALL PLACES near the eye!  In the foot yes but how do you get a ground dwelling Dromopoda to hit you in the eye-- So now we have a tree climbing scorpion up on a branch waiting for unsuspecting cyclists!

Nature 1 : Cyclist Jiro.  

...At least it wasn't one of those slender green tree viper.

Minor mishap on the way back.. Or maybe Lews was trying to show how to do a flat whip with minimal clearance over an entire pedestrian pavement.. Ok a little bruise hands and ego but at least his little Stevens sporting one of those elusive White Monarch RT3 is safely unbroken.

Me.. guess I am finally-almost-recovered. Shoulder ain't whining after so many months. Actually popped a few good ones along the way... Damn, with bunnies like Nik around, its hard to keep 2 wheelssticking to the ground.

As usual... dripping wet, enough if anyone needed to wring off a cup of cycling-shorts-isotonic juice from what I'm wearing... Just wondering along the entire ride what it would feel like when those 48mm wide Golem Minor wheels are back and plonked onto the bike...

Have to 'jio'.. the right people if you want to be errm... "fruitful".. Mystery dude here almost single-handedly accounted for our entire morning's result with precision scent tracking like some Iban tracker + knowledge of the best durian trees around...

Off for holiday next week-- hope the next wkend after I'm back is still Season of the Spikes...
The place we went to is quiet and a good spot to break out the Vargo stove for some caffeine brew too.

Its not about podium finishes, its not about personal achievements on a saddle.. some days we just need to kick back, have fun and cut back on those technical dosages... 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Proj. Golem Minor.

Might not have been apparent but each time when something of interest is going to turn into another endless wall of text article... I begin to think to myself if it's really worth all the effort or if anyone would be interested. Then again many things are really meant as a depository of sorts for myself on things done biking, tinkering. At the same time I'm also much influenced by people who choose to espouse long pieces like one of my favorite site,  which never fails to catch my interest whenever I see new post notifications on my RSS feeds from here.

Of course my scribbling is obviously lacking by a million miles both in terms of writing skills and depth of each topic (ok, on the latter I choose to be lazy sometimes in not putting  up all the relevant links and being more in-depth with history of things)....

3rd Jul 2014..... Time for another itchy mind itchy finger conversion for a bike that has been working well for its intended build.

Golem? Maybe its the whole sandy rootbeer-camo theme coupled with the change to a bigger footprint. Alrighttttttt.. my mind's wandering as usual, most likely fused with some weird ideas watching too much mecha-animes recently like Broken Blade. Really, one of the better mecha out there tin the last few seasons... Ok I digresss again...

Yea, a "not fat, not thin but a squishy perfection in-between". Once done, that allows singing the merits of how wider rims of a faux fat sussie is the best of both world between my regular 28-30mm mtb hoops and the Moonlander's  100mm steamrollers. Throw in a whole crock load of biking jargon from compression, rebound to float and confuse the hell out of all my riding but non bike-savvy friends.

All to make them drop a ton of money faster than their pants to convert theirs ;)

Oh..what are friends for huh!

Truth is -- I just want those wide cutouts for the camo theme on EG-Lite here (which by complicated calculus crunching says it will transform into EG-not-so-Lite when finished  :)

Yup this is a culmination of various other bike ideas over the years too.. a military theme bike that took roots long ago but never materialized...

So what happens to the usual  Zenvilogy of "FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION"? .. All that to blend in with some colored duct tape on the bike now ??? ...  frenzied screaming voices of  imaginary fans is reaching a crescendo within my grey matters as I type now.....

Actually,  it's been loads of "researching" before arriving at this decision.. Aesthetics is a bonus  when all things happened to fall in place nicely.. Certainly not one being averse to larger tire volumes whenever possible on my bikes.

More importantly at this stage in life, I'm not after speed or podium finishes but fun, comfort plus lots and lots of bike related tinkering projects :) .... speaking of which, let's see how much bigger things get...
Left to right: 48mm Try-All Nowar K2 mounted up with 2.4 Onza Ibex. Measured smooth wall to wall
28mm Halo Freedom Disc with 2.4 Ardents measured wall to wall.
Same Halo with Ardent measured lug to lug at widest point.
6.5mm wider wall to wall.. but measured across the entire donut-- its probably a 6-9% increase in vol..
Definitely. gonna be a diff in the ride feel. and hopefully that should let me start running pressure in the lo 10s psi.
ALL mounted to smallish mtb tube-- if using those large DH ones-I reckon things will widen another couple mm.

Side to side comparison showing a visual difference on the wider setup. Plonk into the  rear to check for clearance.
Enough on the sides not to touch and might just fit a Surly Wizard 2.75.. so long as that tre isn't too tall.

Nothing new really. Folks have been experimenting with wide trials rims on normal mtb circa 2005-07. But it never really caught on somehow... that is until the Fatsunami came crashing in these 2 years... with it came the not-so-fat, mostly instigated by Surly like their Instigator and Krampus models.. Suddenly there is a revived interest in niche circles with ~50mm rims.. Then of course there are brands like Sandman banking on going big but not float-in-the-dead-of-winter-snowing-BIG type of builds and geometry.

Having climbed on the fat train since 09 with a Pugs and "upgraded" to a Moonlander last year, in between these and the EGs... I am beginning to toy with the idea of a "tweener medium" at a time when the world was lolli-sucking into the 27.5 wave.

Why? Well there are things that are just more fun with a full suspension bike. Then there are properties of fatties that cannot be understood if you have never rode them. Then there is always the idea of zipping all genres to come up with that ONE PERFECT BIKE.... it will probably never happen but it has never stopped people from wasting money trying to achieve it.

These demi fatness revolves around an obsession with the Surly Wizard  2.75" rubbers... well, there just aren't all that many tires that will fit the bill out there. First to fit this chimera and still be left with usable clearance is the numero uno factor in determining what's the biggest possible. Older 2.6-.27 DH tires have pretty much gone the way of the dodos in the DH circuit. Besides those are a little too heavy to be used here.

From the info by Surly on the dimensions on Wizard mounted to 50 and 29m rims-- taking the 50mm readings which is close enough to my recent rim purchase. But as luck would have it, the most important piece of info needed is missing... the tire height from top of rim to the outermost of the tire-- determines whether it will clear the yoke of the main pivot on the rear tri is not available ;(

Ok time to trawl the usual forums to see if anyone has some info to offer..
In the worse case, just stick with the Onza Ibex 2.4 for now-- which by far seems to be the biggest 2.4" currently in my possession...

To be continued...

17 Jul 2014...
Couple of real world measurements of Velocity's 26" Dually rims @ 45mm wide mounted Dirt Wizard puts the overall diameter @ 700mm. My 48mm is not gonna make too much difference to the tire height...

Looks like center of axle to yoke on the EG is gonna come up maybe 1/2 a centi short  DAMN! But let's leave this to mull for later...

Anyway wheels are back tonight.. Looks good despite a lot of earlier worries.. Haven't talked about it but when rims arrived - there's considerable gaps in each of them. That is why I always bring my hula hoops to mt few regular trusted builders.. if they dare lace it up and hand it back-- they are good to go. Otherwise they won't even touch it. Moreover this time with these kind of rim-- the knowledge of how to build them up is a little beyond me to attempt a home build.

It's weird how the pinning is right across the hole and not even centered. I had to take a chance.. finding and ordering trials stuff was a totally different ball game from regular mtb/roadie bits. Was reluctant to send back if it can be used... I know most of these trial rims are just a clone of one another and each factory will just try to push it a little more.. still this whole pinning is not really my cuppa for how a rim should be made in all honesty.

Then again this wouldn't be something I'm gonna take for those bashing head 10' drop-in FR rides from the start will let it pass for now.

Still scrutinizing these unfamiliar rims and how it's being built up compared to regular hoops...  certainly a lot of things to learn here after giving a few close look.

The rims seem a little too light for my taste at this width... My gravity oriented bombproof still-be-rolling-when-I'm-long-gone-and-dead CK/Hope + 30mm Spank Subrosa are heavier! Overallthe build now is not too much different from when the same Hope EVOs were laced to those WTB 480gm i23 (incl. rim tapes) @ 1,92kg.

Since these weigh ~570gm a piece and was necessary to use those big ass 16mm nipples...they took a 230gm hit and end up with a grand total of  2.154kg now.

Getting those camo duct tapes nice and smooth isn't a straight forward process. Gotta stretch the Surly rim strips underneath just enough. Too little and parts of of the rim strip will be exposed as there isn't sufficient tape on the outside. Too much and there is going be all kind of crease and folds.
Trial-and-error and half a wasted roll later... DONE.

Here... all pumped up hard to let the bead sit in tight overnight...

These 'bloons here were blown up with big 280-300gm tubbies The extra 230gm of the build  and another ~260 due to the tubbies  (over my usual 160gm ones) + those Surly rim tapes-

DAMN its a WHOOPING 1/2 Kg of rotating mass. OK got to ponder whether to go back with lighter weight tubes eventually. Ggrrrhhhhhhh.....

Why not tubeless....
FOr one-- I have never gone tubeless, UST or ghetto.
With proper UST tires, sealants and all-- doubt there is much saving if not increase the weight further.
Ghetto with these softer 120 TPI sidewall tires and a split tube--I feel a little uneasy and not sure if these trials rim can be properly converted. The rim design is just not meant for tubeless.

Anyway I'm just not a tubeless person... Been on tubes with 19-23 psi over the last 5-6 yrs with nary an issue.. we got rocks but hardly thorns so I don't really get the kind of pinch flat woes like my heavier friends....

19 Jul 2014
Ok all done up and even gave it a spit shine tire polish my former regimental seageant major would approve.. Geez, I can't remember the last time my mud rigs ever gotten a proper clean and shine session...

Ride around a bit and I would say it has characteristics that falls in between my regular suspension setup and a fat bike. Maybe still leaning a little towards a regular mtb and that is why I'm still adamant to stick some 2.75" rubbers on it. Exhibiting the magic carpet float over finger roots on my short test ride this morning with  12-14 psi but certainly can use whatever extra volume that can be squeezed into it.

Tomorrow is the trail test-- so will come up with all the techie "review" bits like how the wheels roll or push and how's the float over an extended run in relation to the suspension settings..

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pandora 1132

Without winter around here.. we never have to carry all that much extra. These days with the heat really beating down, I have started to revise my "trail-essentials" again. My drivetrains are usually kept in good running conditions so it's down to all the "what-will-happn-if-it-will-happen" bits.. Yea its never too far to get back out on this island but still..I rather change up a broken hanger mid trail or replace up a fallen off rocker bolt than risk riding it out all the way with a missing piece and risk messing up more things along the way....

Oh and "1132"???  - thats the dimension of the tiny box of essentials, 11cm x 3cm x 2 cm ;)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Saint M820

I have stayed true and long enough on my waste-not philosophy. Friends are always asking me why am I muttering "mottainai" (もったいない). There is just too much wastage around us these days and as bikers, we are a notorious lot. But during my last trip in Chiang Mai, with the more aggressive setup doing my test on the new X-Fusion RV1 under the relentless 40 degree heat and dust of the dry fiery season.. my 5 year old XT M775 calipers call it quits with the loudest groaning and squealing it can muster on those "free-fall" descent when we were coming down Doi Inthanon and the few usual steep trails back around Doi Suthep.

I was amazed by the few who are running Saints M820... Told myself -- "That's it. New brakes the moment we're back home" Was already on the new triple sandwich Ice tech rotor up front  and certainly it was a lot better than the  Breakin rear disc.

Certainly wasn't cheap... BUT! definitely worth every dollar spent so far... I cut the hoses to fit and had to do a little re-bleeding. Glad I gotten those bleeding cups too. As usual... close off the fine adjustment when squeezing out bubbles. makes life easier that way

As always, Shimano has delivered. No major issue I see whatsoever with these badboy stoppers here. For ease of use, collective maintenance over an entire quiver of bikes  and interchangeability of has been nothing but Shimano brakes and drivetrains for me. Some say I'm too conservative but I would rather think I'm being calculative. On a couple of  occasions I was really glad to have stuck with mineral oil brakes..... halfway down a mountain I hope you never have to experience the same thing like me having to top up and the last you probably want to be fumbling with in those situation with sweat & swear flooding up your goggles is to tinker with DOT fluid.

Yes, for those who don't know -- I'm that cranky paranoid that actually have a bottle of mineral oil and spare rocker bolts up in the mountain with me when I go ride.

 There's a whole supermarket shelf worth of trick looking brakes out there of course. But for me? I prefer reliable consistent quality and brands I can trust.

Won't really be able to test the brakes to full potential until my next holiday.. let's see where I'll be up for 5000ft of descent next ;)

My next wishlist? A Shimano fatbike crank.... something that has been missing in their lineup amidst the fat blubbery wave sweeping across the world now.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Last One Standing

Kampung Lorong Bunagkok:
A little further up on the left is a dirt road leading to it
By now a ton of people must have visited the last village left on mainland Singapore. As usual, I'm always slow... but twirling along the maze of Punggol Waterway today, I just happened to exit where the road leads to this quaint little pocket where time stood still.

The closest to seeing something like this is probably on Pulau Ubin. To which most of us are no strangers. Still laid back compared to the rest of Singapore but even there, with all the buildings pretty much from the days they were first built, the degree of commercialization is rather apparent from the weekend crowd there.

Bike rentals and eating places choke up the area near the jetty vying for business with an aggressiveness that runs counter to the other wise idyllic setting of the place.

Here it's a little different. Wasn't sure if it was actually ok to just ride through. I mean, while interesting to everyone else, afterall its still a stretch of residence. Putting myself in their place, I certainly wouldn't want to feel like some zoo exhibit with folks every so often looking in...

Took a cautious approach and everyone along the way seemed friendly enough. Reckon they are probably used to it  by now. Passed by a house which I almost mistaken as what might be a small restaurant... 3 tables outside with everyone eating and talking. Took me a minute to realize this was actually a family meal at the verandah in the cool evening air, probably extended family and neighbours too.

A mak cik came out to put more food on the table...  Talk about that kampong spirit... Right here right now! Can't be any more authentic.

There were a few cars as I made my way into this short stretch.... it was a strange feeling as there is hardly ever a place nowadays where sedan wheels are still crushing gravel underneath. My 23c Panaracer Extremes weren't exactly the type of tires to be traversing here either. Yea.. those new 32c gravel-proof cyclo tires didn't fit with the fenders in place....

Read from all the other sites, this isn't a very big area, so I decided to get down and push the bike along and soaking in the air around here. As much as the earlier Punggol Waterway is nice, there is just something about being in a more natural, hmm rustic environment? Maybe its just my imagination and sense of nostalgia... but the air sure seems fresher. Crisp. Maybe it could have been just due to the earlier rain... Trying not to be bias.. but guess I already am ;)

Still cautious, despite getting all smiles from the villagers here, not wanting to be some inconsiderate urban klutz trotting without a care into people's houses, I made small talks with some of them...

...while I was left wondering inside my own head how on earth our government forever in the name of "progress" has left this idyllic spot alone while towering buildings of apartment blocks and amenities are suffocating the surrounding area like everywhere else on this island.

There's even a road sign from the 1979-1995 era. A time encapsulated in my mind when skinny 9 yr old me was riding a too big rickety coaster brake bike all over the island catching fish and spiders.

Signs like these with the 4 digit postal code were my "way-points" getting home or remembered so that next time going back to the newly discovered "best spider catching spot" would be easy.

Not many left... I know a couple of these old signs still in Jalan Kayu where the farms and nurseries are and probably another few more somewhere in Lim Chu Kang and Neo Tiew.

One of the 7 wells here.. most of them are closed up.
I was looking for a well when I struck up a conversation with someone who lives there. Over the next 10 minutes I learned a little about the history of the place.

Apparently there are "no plans" to develop it for now. Poking a bit more when this Mister seemed comfortable to rattle off, I have a gut feeling that the authorities are just taking a softer approach but nevertheless one with a certain element of indirect pressure in the hope that these remaining 13 families here will somehow decide to sign on the dotted line and sell the land they are on.

Well it seems that the regulations governing this place would fall within the clauses of the Land Act from 1965. Buying back the land from them would mean basing the value of that time. Seriously! As one of the most expensive city in the world who in their right mind would want to sell it back to the government at 1965 pricing!  Ok some did... over time due one reason or another people have moved away. From 120, its now down to just this 13 families still holding on.

The well(s) I came to see (yea where to find wells in Singapore these days! Things like these get us urban bumpkins all excited eh) are all pretty much closed up. I wouldn't even have known and much less taken a picture (above) if it was not pointed out to me. Reason being, the authorities came and told the folks here that they will be bringing them piped water in buried plumbing.

All I saw was exposed surface pvc piping that certainly wouldn't last long in this climate. As if reading my mind, he lamented

"Yea they come here meeting with us, talk until like damn nice lah.. What will dig and then bury the water piping so we can have fresh water... Now? You see lah... all exposed one. The FT engineers all came see, look, look then go back. Never do anything. Where got underground. Somemore dig up area      never put back. All the dust! Aiyoh..."

Seeing that I was intently listening, he continued...

"Best part you know arh.. right after these pipes.. they come cut the land up on paper, draw here draw there then tell us they going to build HDB again. One meter away from these piping arh.. Yea the ones in front of you now... all the construction vehicles will be pouring in day in day out...
You ask people living here how to comfortable lah. Right or not?
I go work come back every few months.. everytime come back something will change. I don't know man... maybe next time I come back my house also gone by then"
I detected a faint sigh behind his cloud of cigarette smoke...

Eyeballing the surrounding.. I was appalled at what these people will be going through when the excavators and vehicles start their onslaught.. Houses no more than few meters from all the dust and noise. Well.. if people here are uncomfortable enough, by then they might just "willingly" pack up and leave? Hmmm. Is that the plan?

Still I try not to be bias and be too fast to agree and condemn. Afterall I have only heard from one person but  all of these led me to wonder further... Has the recent voicing of discontent from matters like Bukit Brown being turned into a dual 4 lane carriageway caused the authorities to approach these sensitive issues from a different angle?

There are only a handful of people here, no? Well, yes and no? Actual number of folks might not be huge but some has gone to the National Heritage Board and the result is a petition signed by more than 3000 asking this place be preserved.

It is really hard to justify what's right or wrong or should we just go by things should be done for the greater good. To some, examples of nearby development represents what's best for everyone. Always fast to jump on the rationale that on this land scarce island, we simply can't afford to leave things undeveloped. Nice manicured parks and walkways leading up to wooden bridges with viewing galleries while joggers and park user's  modern apartment blocks are mere minutes away. A pattern repeated over and over and over. From East in ECP to Pasir Ris to Woodand, Kranji and everything in between... same old same old.

Along Punggol Waterway...
Me? I would certainly hope the place stay as is. We have been losing too much to the "modern Singapore". Maybe those of us that think this way might be selfish. But I honestly am finding it hard to get a place where I can break out some gears to brew a cup of tea and watch the world go by (preferably with no other human beings around which is almost pure wishful thinking these days). Every place is manicured with a thousand different prohibition signs not allowing this or not allowing that.    
Clean but Sterile.
               Orderly but Coldly mechanical


For now with dusk approaching fast, urban me with no anti-mosquito skin had to beat a quick retreat from the mozziekaze attack. Trust me... this is da real thang.. the damn prickers here are fierce! Reminded me of Poyan Range during army days..

Ok I didn't take that many pictures today but here's a link with has more on Kampung Lorong Buangkok.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Brake Pistons

Tutorials are a dime a dozen on the web these days. Normally I'm not inclined to paste direct links but this is one that eludes a lot of people working on their bikes.. Good read and good tips.

Wrench On.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

El Guapo

EL Wadever: "Big, Fat, Small, Tall, Limpeh ride them all"-- the bike say one.. not me hor.
5 years and 9 days since the first ride... bikes come and bikes go but not this one.
The recent builds and changes to the quiver is a nice distraction but still... the EG stands.

4 forks, 5 shocks and a ton of posts, saddles, stems, bars and rubbers. 11 distinct configurations anywhere from "XC" to "DH" or as close to each of these disciplines of riding... THE ONE f'cking bike that rules them all.

Ok back to being a nondescript trail rig and even spotting a rigid post for now... till it gets called up for various riding duties once again...

Ride Time

No morning waking up cramp
No cluster fk trail jam
No afternoon spent pushing prams
Real folks ride at 3 pm

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Labour Day Ride... Bars Bars and more Bars

6am thunderstorm pretty much decided the rare morning ride is not gonna happen. Just sitting around bumming after Crank came and collected the tires I finally got off my rump to head out for a spin.

Thought it would be good to try and settle in on yet another new bar, a Nitto Jitensha. Quite sure the VO Porteur will come in handy somewhere in the future... but its binned for the time being in my pirate chest of spares.

Things just didn't feel right with the Jitensha after it was installed. Felt a little stretched sitting on the bike, wasn't unbearable or overly uncomfortable but... In fact it felt like most of my other bikes... mountain bikes and fat bikes where the body is angled down in a slight attack-position, weight distribution is definitely off set a little towards the front and I don't really sit all that much on those bikes for the kind of riding done. Problem is I wanted this to be comfortable and upright, fully seated on the saddle with minimal pressure points on the wrists kind of build.

Should have gone with gut feeling to replace the VO Porteur with a Nitto Albatross or North Road but the sleek "Singlespeed-look" of the Jit was a little too tempting to pass. The Porteur was almost perfect for an upright posture, just a tad too narrow and I wished for another couple centimeters more of rise in there. As it is, the 48cm c-c Porteur bar makes for a little twitchy handling during those out of the saddle moments. Yea, yea, yea, its a SS townie for casual rides but well... some habits die hard ;)

Was reading a nice article on the Albatross vs North Road on EcoVelo. From the description, the Albatross would seem perfect. Another 5-6 cm wider and similar sweep, ie almost parallel but with a more rise. It says 6cm which would be 4.5cm over the VO Porteur's 15mm.

Decided I'm not gonna piss my ride today thinking too much.  Carried on and did the watch-the-world-go-by thingie ride until the thronging crowds left a distaste enough to make me turn back.
So much for a late afternoon of quiet Zen-ish solitude!

Sometimes I'm just too obsessed with getting the perfect fit for every build. On the way back after punching up a little incline, I realized most of the discomfort seem to be from the the wrist arcing out and downwards in a weird angle. In a bid to get a little "rise" from the flat Jitensha, it's been tilted up causing pronation of the wrists.

The Jitensha 41 deg backsweep is a lot less than the VO Porteur almost parallel backsweep. With the initial setup it made the shoulder felt "cambered" upwards as well.

"Oh what the hell, you never try, you never know eh..."

It was counter-intuitive but then I remembered something common about all the funny SS bars in my collection, from the Nitto 666-Torsion, the H-Bar to the Fleegle and recent Odin and Clarence--- all with much more backsweep from 11-45 degrees than normal handlebars, slight rotation make huge differences in the wrist position.

Got down and gave it maybe a 5-7mm turn towards the rear. Whaddaya know! Ok I didn't get anymore upright for sure but everything pans out nicely.. shoulders no more having that awkward feel. Wrists are a little more dropped in and natural... and I found myself whistling all the way back for the last 3 klicks...

  The Albatross? I'll  probably still  get it but no hurry now.

Oh and I discovered  Tumbler.. last nite. Yes I still hate Instagram.