Thursday, March 24, 2011

Packing on the pounds

My commuting bike has gotten heavier over the winter. As so often happens, the gains were gradual. Some were invisible.

Over the years I have added a tool or two to the emergency kit. I made cleat covers to carry in case I have a bad mechanical breakdown and have to walk a while, or need to go into the grocery store. Even in the bright months I was carrying a small headlight, a blinky tail light and some reflector leg bands. A mesh shopping bag and a plastic bag line the bottom of the rack pack, over top of the spare shift cable or two.

I resisted full fenders for years, but the comfort and cleanliness for both rider and bike make too much sense. They went on last fall.

The move to generator lighting added a measurable amount of weight and a minor amount of complexity. The sidewall generator wasn't too heavy, but mounting it was fiddly and marred the frame. The hub dynamo seems a little heavier than the sidewall unit, but the wiring is neater. With full-power lighting available I can probably ditch the little battery light. I might also switch back to my regular front wheel for the height of summer, disabling the generator light but reducing weight and resistance. It's a tough call. All the things I've added have turned my lean, mean, dirt-spattered exploring bike into a dreadnought of considerable capability.

Surly offers the Big Dummy cargo bike. All my modifications have turned my Cross Check into at least a Little Idiot.

Last Sunday I rode the first full commute of 2011. I didn't get to ride on the day we saw temperatures in the low 60s. As always, when we get a warm shot like that in March we get punished for weeks afterward. We keep getting little nuisance snowstorms that make a treacherous mess out of my commuting route. I'll defend my right of way with all the power of the law and my middle finger when conditions are even remotely reasonable, but sudden blinding snow laying down a slippery paste on a sometimes busy highway puts more than myself at risk. Then the icy rind left over, or the dry morning that leads to a wet or snowy afternoon further complicates the early season.

My bike and I are both avoiding the scale. April sneaks up on us under cover of the stubborn snow still piled around the house and covering the ground in the woods and our home clearing. It would be too easy to stay in the den, napping. It would be too easy to forget to do my taxes!

Sitting here writing it's also easy to be late to work. Oops.


Steve A said...

I look forward to the report of the scale. My P7 light weighs 337 grams and puts out more light than most car head lights.

cafiend said...

Steve -- Battery, I assume. How's the burn time?

I'm dealing with early season lack of fitness and temperatures in the teens and 20s, so I'm not paying attention to much except survival.

I'm sure curb weight on the Cross Check is solidly over 30 pounds now. Their frames are "big boned" to begin with. I don't want to know the exact figure.

Steve A said...

A P7 on high will last about 3 hours. I'm in test to see if it'll do 5 with some rider restraint. A nice thing about a battery light is you can leave surplus run time at home in the form of spare batteries.