Bicycle Cassette and Gearing

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO3200
“Clean Cassette” Cedar Park, 2020

While I await delivery of my new bicycle rim, I have been doing some research on how to replace the bent one with it. I’ve found this helpful video which I am going to follow. The process seems easy enough, but I am expecting it to take a while as I get the wheel straight, or true. Also, because it is the rear wheel, I think the spokes are not even – the ones that connect to the drive-train are more vertical as compared to the left side, which is more angled. At least I think that’s how it is on my bike.

Anyways, as with most YouTube searches, it’s was easy to find other related videos. One such topic I found fascinating is the different kinds of cassettes and chain rings. These are the parts that the chain actually interfaces with. The photo above shows the cassette, which on my 20-year-old bike has 8 different speeds. The chain ring (by the pedals) is 3 speeds. Therefore, my bike has 24 different speeds, with lots of overlap.

The trend on modern mountain-bikes is to have just one speed on the chain ring, and then an 11-speed cassette. By having just one speed up front, you don’t need a front derailleur, its cabling, and shifter. Much cleaner and simpler! On touring bicycles, there are typically 2 or 3 speeds up front to allow for a larger range, especially on the low-end (the granny gears). The thinking is that a touring bicycle will most likely be carrying a heavy load and needs to have those lower gears to tackle those long uphills a bit easier.

My bicycle is technically a mountain bike, but I have turned it into a touring bike with the addition of a rack and panniers (bags), a more upright stem and butterfly/trekking handlebars. I think even after 20 years, my 3×8 gear setup is still common on lots of bicycles, and I am pretty satisfied with it. Honestly, for the front, I never use the highest chain ring, and rarely use the lowest, finding that the middle chain ring and 8 speeds in the rear are sufficient. On a couple of steep hills I will shift it to the lowest speed on the front so I can select an “extreme granny gear”, so I think I can get by with a 2×8 but why not just keep it a 3×8 since I will still need a front shifter and derailleur, right?

In other words, no need to change the drive-train. Anyways, it’s still fun to think about.

Speaking of bikes, I really want to fix up the bicycle I rode on my one-and-only long-distance bicycle tour that I went on when I just started high school. It’s an old Peugeot road bike that currently resides at my parents’ house in California. Since I haven’t ridden it in almost 40 years, I’m curious to see what it feels like. Maybe one day I’ll take a road trip out west to visit family and pick up the bike. Sounds fun!

Small Accident

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO800
“Tacoed” Cedar Park, 2020

A bit of bad news today: my bike is out of action for a few weeks.

I usually keep my bike in the garage, in front of my car. We have a 2-by-4 on the ground to keep the car going too far and hitting the bike, but a normally-careful teen driver in our household came in too fast and went over the wood and plowed into my bike, pinning the wheel against the small curb in our garage. I was in my home office when I heard the crash, and I initially thought he just knocked the bike over, but upon closer inspection, I noticed that the wheel was “tacoed”, which means bent in the shape of a taco.

I took the wheel to the bicycle shop and they said it was beyond repair and unfortunately they wouldn’t have any replacement wheels for two months. 😮 If you didn’t know, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge demand for bicycles and subsequent shortage available bikes. And that shortage also extends to bicycle parts. Luckily I was able to find a rim on Ebay that appears to have the same dimensions as my damaged one, so I am hoping it will be any easy swap. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it won’t arrive for another week-and-a-half, which means no evening bicycle rides for a while. 😞

Still, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge (nor expensive) deal. And it’s the first damage that my 20-year-old bicycle has suffered, so I should consider myself fortunate!

Cycling POV

“Cycling POV” Cedar Park, 2020

I was inspired by Two Wheel Cruise and Vietnamese Girl Wandering the World and wore my Victure action camera while I went on my evening bicycle ride. My camera doesn’t have stabilization, so it’s pretty shaky. If you are prone to motion-sickness like I am, I don’t think you should watch. 🤢 But it was fun to make and edit. Maybe sometime in the future I will get a GoPro like the youtubers and can make better videos. Until then, I’ll stick with still images.

Heaven Meets Earth

Heaven meets earth from r/bikepacking

This looks AMAZING!

Running Slowly

Photo info: motorola moto g(6), 3.95mm, f/1.8, 1/220 sec, ISO100
“Lawn Sign” Cedar Park, 2020

While I was out running, I was thinking of the different modes of travel and how you see different things with each.

For instance, in a car, your vision is framed by the glass viewport, and are very disconnected from where you are at (especially if you are listening to music).

On a motorcycle, the glass viewport is essentially removed, the music is gone (unless you use earbuds), and now you are exposed to smells and temperature, the noise of the engine, and also the vibrations and leaning angles.

On a bicycle, you add the audio of the environment you are in, but more importantly, traveling at the slow speed, you can look in all directions and observe things more closely without fear of crashing. And stopping quickly to take a photo is now an option.

Lastly, walking/running allows a extra bit of mobility in that it is easy to stop instantly, or hop on the sidewalk. On a bike, you may have to turn around and backtrack a few yards, or dismount to get a better viewing angle. This is actually significant to me. For instance, I’ve seen the sign in the photo above while riding my bike, and thought that I wanted to take a photo, but then I am already past it and would have to turn around. Add to that my laziness, and I pass on it. But while running, I will just stop for a few seconds, snap a photo with my phone, and then be on my way.

But even not taking photos, while biking or running, it’s fun to wave at other people, stop and watch the birds when you hear them chirping, or admire a bunch of wildflowers. I guess this is the appeal of the “slow life”. 🙂

Speaking of the photo, I am encouraged by the sign in front of the house. I’ve seen several other signs, some homemade, which have similar messages of support. It’s wonderful.