Archives for November 2010

Recent Upgrade to Nexus Redline 8-Speed Hub

By the spring of 2009 I had given up my car and believed that it was simply going to take me 2 hours, each way, to get to work and back by transit. To me, there was no other way.

When I purchased a Marin Hamilton 29er I thought I’d found a simple, sturdy bike that would take me to and from my girlfriend’s apartment on the other side of town. After spending 4 hours of my day on transit, taking another trip by subway and streetcar was of no interest to me, so why not bike I said. Turns out the answer to that question would open up a much larger world for me. I found an escape from the restricting timetable of transit and I found a new obsession.

After many thousand kilometres the easy-going singlespeed setup of my Marin took me to work and back and recently, on 100+ km rides to my hometown. Now that I work from home my commute needs have changed. My Marin is now my one and only piece of exercise equipment (but you’re more than a ThighMaster to me, bike). My commute is as long as I want it to be as I search for new mobile offices around Toronto, hopefully spending part of my day in a warm space with tasty espresso and wifi. You see, I simply couldn’t give up commuting, that’s how much I loved my morning and evening rides to and from the office.

As I started to venture further and further from the city on my weekend rides I began to feel limited by a singlespeed. Just one more gear option could come in handy on longer climbs or descents. So I began searching for options and with 70+ bicycle shops in Toronto, well the options were plenty.

I test rode touring bikes, road bikes, cyclocrossers and everything in between. I tried out every frame material I could and started to enjoy the feel of drop bars. There are hundreds of beautiful, functional and simply awesome bicycles to be found here in town. Of course, many of the bikes that offered a better frame and components than my existing bicycle cost $1,000+, which when you’re looking for quality is certainly reasonable, but when you’re working on a budget like mine, well, they quickly become out of reach.

Knowing that I really enjoy the ride and position of the Marin Hamilton 29er I started looking at conversion options. With horizontal, rear-facing dropouts the Marin frame would make adding a derailleur challenging (though not impossible) so I began reading about internally geared hubs and the leading manufacturers; Sturmey Archer, Rohloff and Shimano.

With horizontal dropouts, accommodating one of these hubs on the Marin would be relatively simple. So I decided upon the Shimano Nexus Redline 8-speed hub due to the positive reviews online and middle of the road pricing. I paired the hub with a Mavic A 319 rim and chose a Shimano twist shifter.

After one week and a couple hundred kilometres I’m really enjoying the gearing options of the 8-speed hub. Being so used to a singlespeed I find myself sticking to just a few of the gearings, often forgetting that I can switch to higher or lower gears. However, when I do remember the options make the few hills on my daily rides far more enjoyable, both riding up and down.

I took the Marin out for a 35 km rain ride recently and the hub performed flawlessly. Once dry there was no change in performance as well. The hub does add around 3 lbs of weight to the rear of the bike. It is noticeable but doesn’t affect the ride.

I offer many thanks to Martin at Hoopdriver who helped me decide on what parts I’d get and for doing a great job on the installation.

You can learn more about Shimano Nexus parts here.

Be sure to visit the Hoopdriver web site or stop by the shop on College just east of Dufferin.

The Joy of Night Cycling

Visible Hands for Low Light Commutes

Donald “Go-by-bike” Wiedman, founder of, has created a unique Facebook event that suggests Toronto cyclists wear bright orange (or yellow, or green) gloves to increase their signal visibility.

Many cycling (or skiing, or snowboarding, or just general winter) gloves are black. And black hands combined with low light on morning and afternoon fall commutes makes for invisible hands.

With bright gloves your hands become far more visible, and to go along with the visibility Donald Wiedman suggests a few creative signals to use in addition to the basics:

– to signal you’re about to turn or veer left,
– or bend your elbow and hand up, to signal you’re turning right.
* but you were already doing that anyway right?

– to remind distracted approaching drivers that there is a little bike lane white line painted there, under their tire,
– that there is too little space for them to squeeze between you, a parked car and a moving streetcar,
– and to let them know that if their left tire is on the inside of the streetcar track, then their right mirror is – by your calculations – about to pass less than six inches from your handlebar!

– to remind motorists that they should give a good three feet when they pass a cyclist (according to the Driver’s Handbook – that is nestled there, unread in their vehicle’s glove compartment).

– to remind all why-are-you-accelerating motorists that they should be slowing down, not speeding up, when they’re about to pass you.

– to remind dangerously approaching drivers in huge SUVs, vans and trucks that, if they drive with their fender so close to you, then their mirror is about to knock you (and your little styrofoam helmet) off your bike.

– if they’ve slowed, pulled out, and passed you with the decency and respect all cyclists in this town deserve.

Get the gloves at your local hardware store (but be sure to check with your local bike shop first as they may have gloves in colours other than black) and get pedaling with your far more visible hands.

While I haven’t tried these myself, check out these reflective safety gloves at Home Depot, not bad for $20.

Check out the Facebook event here: Let’s Try Biking With Orange Florescent Gloves On!

Bike Lanes, Streetcars, Cab Stands… Still Plenty of Room to Bike to Work

Looks like there’s plenty of room on Toronto roads for bicycles… sorry to say random nobody writing in the Globe and Mail…

Via dave’s blog