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.

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. It’s … 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.

by Tamia Nelson | December 3, 2017

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 … Continue reading »

A Kickstand Support Keeps Your Bike Upstanding and It’s Absolutely Free!

Road shoulders aren’t always wide and paved. More often than not, the verge is adrift with sand, loose gravel, or unconsolidated soil. This doesn’t bode well for cyclists who use a kickstand to keep their bike upright when they pull off the travel lane to get off the bike. Why? Because you may walk away from your parked bike only to hear it topple over before you’re more than a few steps away. Luckily, there’s an easy way to prevent the slow subsidence that sometimes topples our bikes: the kickstand support. Tamia tells you how.

by Tamia Nelson | August 11, 2017

Are you tired of having your bike’s kickstand sink into sand or slide sideways in gravel? Here’s an easy solution to this common problem, one that weighs very little and costs absolutely nothing — a stout metal jar lid. Almost any lid will do, though a wide lid works better than a narrow one.

The principle is simple. The lid spreads out the load, providing a stable base of support for the kickstand leg … Continue reading »

The Rewards of Riding Rough Roads by Tamia Nelson

I’ve been riding my Surly Long Haul Trucker for over a year now and grow even more fond of the bike. The LHT is capable, sturdy, and reliable—just what’s wanted in a touring or utility bike. I’ve hauled groceries and other goods, touring kit, and boxes of vino without any complaint from the bike (though the engine sometimes groans on the steep hills!). I bought the complete bike, and swapped the original handlebars and stem for Nitto Noodles, changed the saddle to a Selle SMP Strike Extra, and after 1000 miles I mounted Schwalbe Marathon tires. The bike has proven to be easy to maintain, the brakes adequate, the drivetrain and shifting superb, and the hubs and wheels very hardy. But except for a few miles of dirt road riding last year, I stayed primarily on paved roads. It wasn’t that I avoided unimproved roads. It’s just that my rides didn’t take me off pavement very often. This year I changed all that. I’ve been seeking out the rough roads, to test my LHT and … Continue reading »