Category Archives: Evaluations: Bicycling & Touring Gear

Evaluations of bicycling-related gear.

Nashbar’s Stand By Me: Compact, Inexpensive, and Durable

A bike stand simplifies routine maintenance like chain lubing and adjustments to the drivetrain. But not every cyclist wants a costly full-sized shop stand that takes up a lot of floor room. Is there any other option? Sure there is, and it will cost less than topping up your car’s gas tank.
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by Tamia Nelson | March 5, 2018

A bike stand is a handy addition to any cyclist’s home tool kit, even if the most involved task you perform on your bicycle is to clean it and lube the drivetrain after sloppy rides. More ambitious home mechanics will find a stand handy for brake and derailleur adjustments, bottom bracket work, or any other task where it helps to have the rear wheel off the ground. And while a full-sized shop stand makes many jobs a lot easier, not everyone can devote floor space to a large stand, or pay what it costs for a competent model. There is an alternative, though. It’s small, capable, and cheap. I bought one back in 2008, and amazingly, it’s still available. … Continue reading »

Bar(con) Talk: A Harrowing Tale of Bar-End Shifter Corrosion by Tamia Nelson

Some things look worse — far worse — the closer you look at them. That’s the case with bar-end (or barcon) corrosion. The scourge of bar-end corrosion can happen to anyone, even to cyclists who are diligent about keeping their bikes in fine working order. It’s happened to Tamia’s Surly Long Haul Trucker. And it’s been found on a Soma Smoothie built by a mechanic friend of hers. Has it happened to your bike? You’d better check. Today. Because the consequences of not nipping bar-end corrosion in the bud can make you feel faint.

I discovered the scourge of bar-end shifter corrosion when my Surly Long Haul Trucker was almost six years old, and with over 18000 miles on the clock. She’s — I named her Petra, and it suits her; she’s really been a rock — she’s my maid of all work for most everything from shopping to “amphibious” trekking. She’s held up well, despite the fact that a lot of the roads in my corner of the North Country are paved in gravel. And I’m not … Continue reading »

Swapping Stock Surly LHT Handlebars for Nitto Noodles: Why and How I Did It

One of the very many benefits of bicycles is that most of the mechanical work can be done by you, the owner. And as DIY jobs go, swapping handlebars is pretty straight forward. Which is good, because Tamia realized early in her ownership of the Surly Long Haul Trucker that the stock bars didn’t fit her comfortably. In this article, she describes why she swapped the stock handlebars and shows you how it’s done.
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by Tamia Nelson | November 15, 2017
Originally published in different form on June 8, 2008

How often do YOU think about handlebars? Not often, I’d wager. Unless you ride a bike a bicycle with handlebars that don’t fit. THEN you think about them a lot. Because the longer the ride, the more your body will suffer.

When I bought my stock-build Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike, it was outfitted with good basic bars, but they just didn’t suit me. They were narrower than I liked, which makes steering a tad nervous. I also couldn’t find a grip position which … Continue reading »

The Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System: Small Is Beautiful by Tamia Nelson

Quenching your thirst is surprisingly difficult, whether you’re cycling through rural country or trekking in the backcountry. You just can’t assume that wild water is safe to drink. Which explains why clever people have devised many ways to disinfect questionable water. Tamia has weighed her options for how to treat wild water, and the winner is… the Sawyer Mini.

Whether I’m heading out on a long bike ride along back roads with no services, paddling a lonely stream, or bushwhacking into a favorite beauty spot, I have one nagging worry: drinking water.

The Adirondacks, my backyard, is a well-watered place, but trekking is thirsty work, and there’s really no way for me to know if wild water is drinkable. The only valid rule of thumb was articulated many years ago by veteran desert walker Colin Fletcher: “If in doubt, doubt.”

Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to find a dented tin cup upturned on a stick alongside a stream or spring hole. And I drank my fill at such informal watering spots many times … Continue reading »