Saturday, December 29, 2012

Buy it or build it?

If you were looking for a new bicycle, would you just buy one or build one yourself?

I realized that most of the bikes I owned, I put together myself. The explanation is simple - there is only one thing about cycling that I would like more than riding a bike - building one! It is true that the last two bicycles I have been using recently, I purchased at the local bike store. But that happened only because at that time, I wanted to go back to riding as quickly as possible and after my move to U.S. I had no tools at all to work on a bike, not even a bike pump. That's why i decided to buy a complete bike.

But building a bike can really be lots of fun. Sure, some basic skills are needed and some tasks are better to be left for pros (such as wheel building). But the rest is simply straightforward. Once you know what you want to build, find a suitable frameset, get matching components and put everything together. Seeing your own bike emerging from a pile of random parts is an instant gratification. Then, when you realize that you have just built an unique bicycle that is truly yours and no one around will have, you will smile again.
I have just picked up some components I left behind in my parents house. I happen to own a pretty much complete Ultegra 600 groupset: road crankset (53/39T), both hubs, 8-speed rear cassette, brake levers, bar-end shifters, and both rear and front derailleurs (not shown in the picture above). I also have a 8-speed Shimano chain, threaded headset, bottom bracket, seatpost, and a stem. That's a lot of components and even though they are a bit greasy and dirty they show very little use. Now I have to figure out how to give them a new life.

This can be the beginning of a new, nice bicycle.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Taking a break

I am taking a break from cycling for a while. Christmas is around the corner and this week I have some last-minute Christmas errands to run. It turned out that due to the distance and some bad weather earlier this week, this task was easier to accomplish by car than by bike, which doesn't make me happy. Shopping centers are mobbed this time of the year and parking space is scarce. Despite this, it is still easier to simply throw some boxes and bags into a car and drive home, instead of figuring out how to strap them to my bike and ride many miles in rain. Yes, bicycle is a solution, but not in every situation.

Next week, my cycling break will continue since I am planning on visiting my family for Christmas and getting there by bike isn't really doable.

I am sure I will miss my bike(s)...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CCI = DB + OB * temperature / rain

Weird title? Let me explain...

This morning was pretty chilly. In fact, it must have been quite freezing since when I left my house I noticed the frozen windshield on my car and some frozen puddles on the way to work. Despite that I counted 2 (!) other fellow cyclist on the road. Those of you living in more urban area such as Cambridge or downtown Boston will start laughing but seeing two other cyclists on a cold winter morning in Arlington is a lot. Most people drive here.

That weird equation in the title of this post is a way of describing this with numbers. Let's say that CCI is a City Cycling Index and it shows how many bikers are out there on the road. There is always a few, no matter if it's a pleasant sunny day or a center of the hurricane Sandy - they are Dedicated Bikers and they always ride their bikes. The number of other cyclists - the Occasional Bikers, strongly depends on weather. It is directly proportional to the air temperature and inversely proportional to precipitation. Well, in most cases.

In some cases it isn't. Such as in the city of Oulu in Finland. It is located pretty far north at the coast of The Gulf of Bothnia and locals enjoy temperatures of -30C (-22F) more often than we do. I am not kidding - they really seem to enjoy it. Otherwise how would you explain that there are more bikers out cycling in those freezing temperatures than we see here in the summer? See for yourself:
So the next time you think it is cold outside and you will want to drive instead, think about people in Finland.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I bought my Schwinn Coffee about a year ago, in October. And now, I've just realized something - it's just paid for itself. That's right, now I ride for "free". I did a quick calculation and based on the distance I travel daily, the number of days in the week I usually spend biking, the price of a gallon of gasoline, and the fuel consumption of my car that I don't use when I ride my bike - it seems that about right this month I saved as much money by riding my bike to work, as I would spend on gas.

Sure, I could have been riding my bike for free from day one if I sold my car. But since it is an old car, fully owned and requiring low maintenance, I figured that it is not worth selling it right now. The insurance I have to pay monthly is actually pretty low so I decided to keep it as a backup.

Anyway, it is a good news. One year to break even is reasonable. From now on, my bike will be making money for me.