The Lighter Side of Bicycle Touring and Cycling. Touring Lighter and Less Encumbered ~ I hope you enjoy and visit often. Please send any links, pictures or ideas you would like to share to velohobo@gmail.com

About Bar Stools and Brooks Saddles

April 5, 2013 11 comments

Buying a Brooks takes a leap of faith.  They’re pricey. You can expect to spend about a hundred bucks for the B-17.  That’s quite a bit to spend on something that doesn’t come with advertising hype, no strategically placed gel or cut outs to prevent the dysfunction of erectiles.  Also, when you first sit on the thing, you’re overwhelmed by the urge to send it back with a nasty letter.  It takes time and miles to break-in the leather.  You have to lie to friends and family and say “oh this thing so comfy” so they don’t make fun of you for buying hundred year old technology.  But before long, about a couple of hundred miles, the thing becomes a pleasure to sit on.  Like a well-worn sofa, it conforms to your back-side like no other saddle can.

Brooks saddles are a lot like bar stools.  With bar stools, the more you drink the more comfortable they become.  With Brooks, the more you ride the more comfortable they become.

If you’ve just bought a new Brooks and are scanning the web to see if your sore butt is normal…it is.  But keep the faith, it will get better, and then you’ll ride nothing but Brooks.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

Categories: Gear

Leatherman Style CS Review

April 1, 2013 4 comments

Need a pair of small light-weight scissors for your bike’s first aid kit?  Sure you do, and if you’re like most folks you need a good first aid kit as well.  And what about tweezers for your bicycle related tweezing?  And wouldn’t it be nice to have a finger nail file so you don’t scare away little children after a few weeks on the road?  And a tiny eye-glass screw driver combination nasty fingernail crud digger-outer?  And a carabineer in case you need to repel out of a helicopter with your bike across your shoulders?  And a bottle opener?  (You know if you’re injured you’re gonna wanna drink.)  And a knife to cut your Power Bar into bite size pieces?  What if I told you, you can have all this for less than twenty bucks and only 1.4 ounces?

leatherman closed

“Shut up, less than twenty bucks and only 1.4 ounces?  Are you serious Velo Hobo?”  Yep and you heard it here first, or you’ve heard it somewhere else and I’m telling you again.  Either way, it’s true.  The Leatherman Style CS is a good pair of small scissors with other useful stuff attached.  Carry it on your keychain and toss it in your first aid kit.  All Leatherman tools, even this ultra-light micro tool, come with a 25 year warranty.  Wow.

leatherman open

Categories: Gear

Surly Pacer – Pragmatically Cool and Nothing I Wasn’t Looking For

March 30, 2013 19 comments

I’ve developed an allergy to carbon.  Lycra too but that’s another story.  Needing a replacement for my aluminum and carbon Specialized Sequoia, I just could not bring myself to spend hard earned cash on another bike that will need replacing after only a few decades of hard use.  I wanted a bike I could ‘ride hard and put up wet’ as the cowboys say.  I wasn’t looking for a feather-weight racing bike; I don’t race.  I wasn’t looking for an overly-built truck-cycle either.  I have a dedicated touring bike.

Pacer on a tree

The first bike I took a serious look at was the Surly Pacer, a no-nonsense steel old school roadie.  At first glance I was sold.  The Pacer had none of the design features I wasn’t looking for, such as silly space-age materials, goofy aerodynamic shapes or ‘technological advances’ in bicyclery.  It’s a bicycle, not a Mars Rover.

Being the thrifty fellow I am, I ordered the frame through Bryson City Bicycles (support your local bike shop!) and set about stripping parts off my Sequoia and bolting them to the Pacer.  Andy
(BCB’s co-owner and head wrench) was a great help and did the more complicated parts of transplant procedure.  This is the second bike I’ve done major work on and the most important thing I’ve learned is: I really hate working on bikes.  On my first rebuild I pressed my own headset, installed a bottom bracket and even pulled my own crank, and as fun as that may sound, I just found it too tedious.

Pacer in a tree

The Pacer frame weighs about 4 ½ pounds and add 2 pounds more for the front fork if you choose to ride with one.  That’s 6 ½ pounds for folks in Alabama.  24 1/2  pounds completed; not a feather-weight, but not bad for a bike with no fear of pot holes, room enough for 32c tires (28c with fenders), braze-ons for fenders and even a pump peg.  The pump peg alone is worth the price of the bike.

The Pacer’s color, ‘Sparkle Boogie Blue’, is not as crippling ugly as the Traveler Check’s ‘Brown Low’.  Out of the box it’s not very attractive, but built up with shiny things attached I think it works.  I’ve added a set-back seat post and a stem from Velo Orange.  And of course the saddle is my old worn in Brooks.  Andy dressed up the cables, chopped the steering tube down to size and generally made the thing ridable.

Tree under a Pacer

The Pacer’s ride is snappy and responsive with its tighter geometry and narrower tires compared to the Travelers Check (Cross Check) but not as snappy as a more modern style ‘racing’ bike.  The front fork rake seems forgiving of road vibration but admittedly not as cushy as the Sequoia’s carbon and “Zert” inserted fork.  The Pacer will allow me to run a wider tire that should more than make up the difference if I choose, but really, I’m not so delicate that road vibration is an issue.

The Pacer seems to be manufactured solid, with clean welds and a good paint job.  I’ll do a more comprehensive review after a few thousand mountain miles but my initial impression is very positive.  This is a great bike (frame) at an affordable price, practical and unpretentious.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

Categories: Gear

Featured Biker Hiker Egor

March 8, 2013 2 comments

Egor beside White Blaze

World-wide-wanderer Egor dropped by to rest his blistered feet and seek refuge from a snowed under Appalachian Trail. Originally from St. Petersburg Russia, Egor is more of a citizen of planet Earth than any one nation and has explored extensively around the globe. Most recently he was touring by bike from Miami to the west coast when his knee blew out in Texas. Egor related waking up in his tent unable to walk. Eventually he was able to push himself along on his bike till he found shelter with a Warm Showers host. Doctors told him he needed a $25,000 operation (welcome to America!). Unable to pay, doctors gave him some magic pills and told him to rest. After a few weeks of rest and American-Magic-Medicine, Egor decided thru-hiking the AT would be better for his knee than bicycle touring (ahem).

About eighty miles into the trail, the unpredictable snow storm we get the first week of every March here in the mountains of North Carolina dumped over a foot of snow on the Appalachian Trail. Faced with freezing to death on some un-named mountain top, Egor decided visiting The Velo Hobo was the lesser of two evils and hitch-hiked to what passes around here as civilization. Following a couple of nights sleeping indoors, Egor hit the trail again. We wish him well as he hikes north into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and beyond.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

Categories: Featured Riders

Quick look at the Card Ninja

February 23, 2013 5 comments

Here’s a quick video of the Card Ninja.  A cool way to combine your wallet and your phone.

 

Categories: Gear

Gear Review: Any Cheap Chin-Up Bar

February 22, 2013 6 comments

Yes those skinny things dangling like soggy spaghetti from my sleeves are actually my arms. Like many cyclists I have carnival freak proportions. The lower half is pretty fit for a fellow near fifty, but above that is a Steve Urkelesque physique. Several months ago, with my newly-knitted back-together knee in recovery, I decided to start lifting heavy things. Fortunately I am a heavy thing, so all I needed was a cheap Wally World chin-up bar. After several months of chin-upping I am able to do several sets of five throughout the day, and to my surprise and amusement, tiny lumps have appeared on my arms which may someday develop into real biceps (only time will tell).

If you’ve never done a chin-up chances are you can’t, so here’s a few tips to get you started:
• Don’t buy an expensive chin-up bar with a bunch of silly attachments. Just a simple inexpensive type that wedges on a door frame is all you need to develop that classic Velo Hobo Gladiator build.
• Don’t be stupid. Start slow so you don’t injure your shoulders. Start by standing on something or someone and just lower yourself down till you’re able to pull yourself up.
• Put your chin-up bar in a doorway that you pass by throughout the day. Do a few every time you pass by; they can be addictive.
• Reward yourself often. As an example, for every 25 chin-ups eat a piece of cake. The cake will add resistance to the exercise and make it more effective.
• And lastly, don’t give up. Unless you really want to, I don’t care, whatever.

Thanks for reading, The Velo Hobo!
~A consortium of cheap chin-up bar manufacturers paid me to write this review.

Categories: Gear, Stupid Bike Tricks

Gear Review: Kershaw Cryo

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Made by our comrades in the People’s Republic of China, but designed by famed American knife designer Rick Hinderer and sold by Kershaw (a subsidiary of the Japanese Kai Corporation); this great knife is a multi-national work of craftsmanship. The Cryo is a beautiful classic Hinderer design; strong masculine lines with a clean, modern and utilitarian look. The fit and finish is par with more expensive knives. The 2 ¾ inch blade is held tightly between two slabs of steel and the whole thing is coated with titanium carbo-nitrade. It’s deployed with switch-blade coolness by the Kershaw flipper. Not a true automatic, the Cryo flings open with the assistance of a torsion bar. True, it’s a tad on the hefty side at 4.8 ounces, but the Cryo reeks of durability. I’m willing to carry an extra ounce or two for such a solid and beautiful knife.

Cryo in Stump

I’ve had this knife a week and I’m developing a callous on my finger because I’m addicted to flipping this thing open. The blade has ambidextrous thumb-studs, which due to the size of my hand, or size of the knife, I’m having difficulty manipulating. No matter, the flipper is the way to go. The Cryo rides low with a loop-over Pocket clip that can be mounted on any of its four corners. Both blade and handle are 8Cr13MoV steel. 8Cr is a middle of the road steel that’s easy to sharpen, which is good, as its edge will not hold as well as more expensive steels. As a habitual knife sharpener, I like 8Cr. You’ll have to pay a lot more if you’re looking for a comparable knife in harder steel. I paid thirty dollars for this knife with free shipping from Amazon. Shop around; prices vary. Mine came with a well centered blade and a tight lock-up. The Cryo is a tremendous value at the 30 to 35 dollar range.

Cryo in hand

Here’s the specs:
• Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV with a handsome medium grey titanium carbo-nitrade coating (try not to lick peanut butter off this knife ’till you find out if it’s food safe)
• Handle: Same stuff with an open pillar construction held together with black torx screws
• Blade Length: 2 3/4 inches; Closed Length: 3 3/4 inches
• Tip up or tip down, left or right hand carry loop-over pocket clip (way to go Kershaw!)
• Ultra-cool Speed safe flipper opening system.
• A sturdy frame lock with a typical Hinderer disc to keep people with unusually strong thumbs from bending the frame lock (you know who you are, you big thumbed freaks).
• Jimping on the blade and handle. Not too aggressive, but good enough for a thirty dollar knife.
• Weight 4.8 oz., not exactly an Ultralight knife, but for me, worth it.
• Made by communists and sold by capitalists affiliated with a constitutional monarchy (and I’m totally okay with that).

Cryo on wood

Cryo on stone

This is an unsolicited review, I just really like it!

 

Categories: Gear
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