Sunday, February 7, 2016

Barefeet? Then you need barefoot pedals!

Recently had a hmmm moment. I'd swallowed the 'clipless pedals are more efficient' line years ago, and not thought about it at all since then. With all the changes lately, I've been looking into the claim. And it doesn't hold up so well.  A lot of websites parrot the line, but hard science for the claim is not so easy to find. I found other riders also having trouble finding any evidence.  The studies I have come across like this: Effects of Pedal Type and Pull-Up Action during Cycling (full paper), concluded it didn't matter what pedals you have. Also interesting was that another claim of clipless pedals - that you can pull upwards and get more power; well, it reduced efficiency.  The study looked at submaximal cycling - so not flat out as hard as you could go, which I think is valid, as apart from track or sprinting, that is how we mostly get around. There could be advantages in those situations, but that wasn't examined.

A site that was interesting had The Flat Pedal Revolution Manifesto. It also covered another couple of points that I'm still researching: the pedal under the ball of the foot pedal position and rigid cycling shoes.  Still researching this, but it is looking like that a better position is midfoot or at least behind the ball of the foot, and that the shoes are only rigid because if you use a cleat for the clipless pedal, you need something for that to clip to. The small size hurts your foot, so the rigid sole was solution. Which these days gets spread as "you need stiff soles to ride a bike".

So, with all of this going on and riding the Kmart Bike, I've been finding the pedals uncomfortable on my thin soled shoes. Been experimenting a bit.

You need mudguards.

Had rubber matting wrapped around the pedals for a day, then foam pads, but found both of them uncomfortable from the spikes on the edge of the pedal. I ground the spikes off, but the hard edges of the pedal were still uncomfortable.  A bit of flooring, and I've a nice big comfortable platform now. It might be a tad too long, but it is comfortable to stand on. I'll try it a longer before shortening it.

Other activity on the Huffymobile:

Rack:  My original plan was to make a rack myself out of wood. But the attachment near the axle wasn't going to work on the derailleur side, so I was thinking of another option. Hunting ideas, an ebay rack seemed a quick solution - an acceptable weight limit, cost and delivery time.

It is now an unhappy $33 ebay purchase. False advertising. It was advertised as having a 25kg max load weight, but arrived with a sticker warning of a 9kg max weight limit. To rub salt into that wound, the sticker is visible in the photos, but not readable. Still in dispute with the seller over this. While very quick to respond to the sale, they are now glacial at answering any messages. I'd have to pay the return cost, and they won't refund until they receive it back. So I'm thinking the most likely outcome is that I'll keep it, look at ways to strengthen it, and give them a bad review.

Mudguards: A quick build as it was raining. Used corflute. Very wide at the moment, but I'll wait till the rack is sorted out before trimming them down. Also would like to find some stainless steel for the struts, as the wire coat hangers will rust.

Bike lock: I wanted a cable. All the research on this come to the same conclusion. Cable locks are no better than string. Too easy to cut with easy to carry pocket tools. A D-Lock provides better security. Problem for me is that a D-Lock is often not big enough to go around a post. So I bought a OnGuard D-Lock with a cable.  If I can lock the back wheel and frame to a post - great, I then use the cable around the front wheel for something to do with it.  If I can't, I still lock the back wheel and the frame together, and use the cable around the post. The front wheel is not quick release, so it stays without a lock.  I very much doubt a thief is going to go to the effort to cut the cable, carry off a Kmart bike and then still have to cut the D-Lock off to ride the bike. Lock so far is the single most expensive item after the bike.

Front forks: The rubber boot with cable ties didn't work. The fork actually does slide sometimes, and the boot would stick at its top point, or the cable tie would slip off. So I've wrapped the whole area from the top of the fork to below the rubber boot with plastic.  Held on with cable ties and duct tape. This will do better at keeping the dust out. Might accelerate rusting though. Time will tell.

I thought to remove the spring and replace it with a piece of pipe to make the forks rigid, but don't have an extension tool long enough to reach the bolt to disassemble the forks. So that will have to wait. Another option is to put hose clamps on around the sliders. But will wait on this for when the bushes start showing play.

Other:  Gear changing is crunchy and uncertain at times. Some of this is expected new cable stretching, part of it is me, not used to derailers after years of hub gears. I do miss the fast, easy, change gears when stopped. This catches me out and especially on hills. Need to keep up enough speed to change.

Brakes: The front brakes squeal. The brake arms are thin pressed steel plate and the attachment to the fork has some play. The fork even with the fork brace, flexes easily. Cleaning the rim, the pads, adjusting toe in, helps. I have silence for a day, but then slowly the squeal returns. One side pad and rim is wearing as I'd expect. The other side, the pad and rim are not. The pad seems to melt, and polish the rim, leaving a gummy residue. Clean ups and sandpapering the pad and the rim so far have been temporary solutions.  I'll keep persisting with it, for now.

Seat:  The saddle is 165mm wide. I prefer narrower. On shorter time in the saddle, it hasn't been a problem. With longer time, the seat started to be uncomfortable. For the time being I'll adjust the front/back position, but longer term - it might need to change.

I've known people that have lost their seat. Why some would take a seat I don't know. Vandalism? Seat theft happens.  No matter how expensive the bike, a seat loss would be hassle. The Kmart bike for some crazy reason, had one quick release clamp: the seatpost clamp.  I like slow release; so used a bolt and nut to replace it. The rack also clamps to the seatpost, but is bolted on the frame - so more of a deterrent.