Monthly Archives: November 2014

Marv’s city commute checklist

The Breakaway

I’ve been riding to work on and off for 6 months now and built up a bit of list the gear I’ve found most useful. I’m sure there are literally hundreds of similar lists on the Internet, but this one works for me and possibly for you ;-).

The Leadout

Its probably a bit lame, but anyooohooo I’ve split the list into categories to ease the discussion.

The Peloton

Bike – I’m using my Canondale F4 as my commuter bike after I swapped out the dirt tires for a set of semi-slicks. The difference rolling friction was worth the $120 I paid for the tires.

Helmet – I’m using 2010 Specialised helment that I bought at Freedom Machine in Port Melbourne. I’ve come to realise it was a smart purchase as its really easy to mount a strong 450 lumen light on. The flat edge at the back is perfect for Velcro-ing the battery against.

Transit Items

  • Water – (in bottles or hydration pack)
  • Eye protection – (sunglasses or clear lenses) – I have a pair of yellow lenses for low light and polarised ones for bright light.
  • Medical info/emergency contact card – in case it all goes horribly wrong.
  • Lock – at some point I’m going to write and article about locks. I’ve been seeing heaps of reviews and youtube clips of people using portable angle grinders…..shudder 🙁
  • Fenders – I’ve been the using the new DeFender™ XC11, its light weight and a real improvement on the older model.
  • Cycling computer/GPS – or you could be a cheap skate and use something like Endomondo on your phone.
  • Heart rate monitor – I quite like the Suunto watches for this.
    Cash for a taxi – in case it all goes horribly wrong.
  • Headlight – I’ve got three at the moment, a pair of 220 lumens for blinking mode and a helmet mounted 450 lumen spot light.
  • Taillight (with blinking option) – I’ve mounted a pair of 120 lumen blinkers. I want motorists to see me.

Repair Items

  • Spare tube or tubes (and/or patch kit)
  • Pump
  • Tire levers
  • Cycling multi-tool – complete with hex keys.


  • Backpack, waistpack or hydration pack – useful for wallet, keys, phone and work pass.
  • Messenger (sling) bag – I’ve been using a Henty Wingman. Made in Tassie they are the business, if you a corporate suit wearing type.


  • Portable Rainjacket – a must in Melbourne, preferably light weight gortex.
  • Insulation layer – I quite like merino as it reduces the hot sweat smell
  • Visibility vest – you would be buts not to wear one of these around CBD of Melbourne.
  • Padded shorts or tights
  • Wicking jersey or top – I quite like the drifit material tops.
  • Gloves
  • Bike-specific footwear – I’ve been wearing Shimano boots with SPD cleats.
  • Buff or Cycling cap


  • Chamois cream/skin lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Deodorant
  • Cologne
  • Shampoo
    Tooth paste and brush
  • Thongs/flip-flop – for the shower
  • Hair brush and gel

Flat tyres are irritating – Part 2

The Leadout

This is the second part of a two part blogfest on flat tyres. The first part focused on the types of flats and this the second parts explains what you might be able to do avoid them.

The Breakaway

You have two basic choices, change the way you ride or pony up for some new kit for your bike.

The Peloton

The cheaper choice – change the way you ride

Tactic Description
Road positioning This is often caused by poor road position: people often get an unusual number of flats because they are riding in or close to road gutter. The main travel lanes of most roads are kept fairly clear of glass and other dangerous debris by passing motor traffic. Cyclists who travel in the normal traffic areas of the roadway benefit from this. It also improves your visibility to motorists and provides greater room to move around obstacles.
Pressure Tire pressure is the hardness to which a tire is inflated. This is commonly measured in PSI – pounds per square inch. The “correct” inflation pressure is determined by the weight load, the tire width, and, to some extent, the riding surface. Getting it right can play a major role in puncture prevention. Too low and you may pinch the inner tube if you hit a pothole. Too high and you increase the risk of penetration punctures. Around 100psi is a good starting point for most road bike cyclists but consult the recommended pressure printed on your tyre. Less well known is the downside of over-inflation; this causes a harsh ride and can also cause poor traction on bumpy surfaces as over-inflated tires tend to bounce, breaking traction on the road surface.
Stop and check the tyre The pent-up air in your tubes wants desperately to join its friends in the atmosphere. If you ride over sharp objects, immediately sweep your tire with a gloved hand to remove debris.

The more expensive option – buy some new kit

Tactic Description
Tubeless tyres If The tubeless tyre you have a need for speed but still want to reduce your vulnerability to punctures, tubeless clincher tyres may be worth a look. With no inner tube within the tyre casing, pinch flat punctures should be a thing of the past and they roll quickly at lower air pressures so the risk of penetration punctures should also be lessened. They also work very effectively with liquid sealants; a small amount in each tyre should seal up any punctures in the tread area before too much air pressure is lost.
Thornproof tubes Special “thornproof” inner tubes protect against thorns and glass shards. These tubes are very thick on their outer circumference, so that a short thorn or a small glass shard may be embedded in the tube without being able to reach in far enough to let the air out. The outer wall of the tube is about five times as thick as a standard issue tube (see the cross section on the right) and this reduces the risk of penetration. They also weigh around 150g more than a standard issue tube—that’s 300g of additional rotating mass on your bike.
Tire Liners Tyre liners are made from robust but flexible nylon and fit between the tyre casing and the inner tube eg Mr Tuffy. They add weight and stunt tyre performance but will dramatically reduce the chance of penetration punctures. Just ensure that the liners are fitted properly with no angled edges where they are cut to size—poorly fitted liners can actually cause punctures.
Kevlar re-inforced tyres Kevlar-belted tires have a layer of kevlar under the tread surface, with the purpose of making the tire more resistant to punctures caused by small sharp objects, such as thorns and glass slivers. Kevlar-belted tires have slightly higher rolling resistance, price and weight than corresponding tires without the belt. Advantage of being fold-able and therefore transportable on long rides.

Flat tyres are irritating – Part 1

The Breakaway

Godamit!!!!….I’ve got another <<insert expletive of choice>> flat. If you ride on the road its inevitable that you’ll have this happen, much taxes, death and Richmond not winning AFL premierships.

The Leadout

This is the first part of a two part blogfest on flat tyres. The first part focuses on the types of flats and the second explains what you might be able to do avoid them.

Slow Leaks

  • First symptom of this kind of problem, is that the tire will need to be pumped up more often than it should and its starting to drive you mad :-).
  • However It is normal for a tube to lose air over a period of weeks. Racing bike owners you should check the pressure at least once per week.
  • Slow leaks that take more than an hour to go down can be tough to find, its better to install a new tube.
  • This type of flat is not normally associated with severe tire or rim damage.


  • Typically caused by glass, thorns, nails, staples, screws. Basically anything sharp can cause a puncture.
  • Depending on how big the hole is, the tyre can deflate very quickly. Usually these are easily located and repaired with patch kit.
  • This type of flat is not normally associated with severe tire or rim damage.

Pinch Flats

  • This type of flat is caused by rapid compression of the tube between your rim and a hard surface.
  • Known as ‘snakebites,’ these are dramatic, audible flats that deflate quickly.
  • These are difficult to repair with patches quickly. You may have to replace tube or use oval patches.
  • There’s really good chance you also have rim damage as well.


  • Blowouts are sudden losses of air, usually accompanied by a loud BANG!
  • Since the inner tube is just a rubber balloon, and does take much pressure by itself, it needs to be held inside of a tire to get up to full pressure.
  • If the tire doesn’t hold the tube in all around, the tube will pop. If this happens you’ll need a new tube.

Tire Damage

  • Improperly adjusted brakes can rub through tire and cause tube to blow out of tire.
  • Maintaining proper tire pressure helps prevent flats and maximizes rolling efficiency.
  • Worn tires leave less rubber between the tube and the road, decreasing flat protection


  • Spokes and sharp spots on the inside wall of the rim can cause flats.
  • Recurring flats are usually caused by sharp metal on the rim or part of a spoke.
  • Use a file or sandpaper to buff off the sharp spot and remove any burrs.
  • Its also worth replacing the rim tape.

Valve Damage

  • Any part of the valve and stem can get damaged through abuse or overuse, through which air can leak.
  • Sealants don’t typically work well on damaged valves. It’s time for a new tube.

Sidewall Cuts

  • The sidewall of a tire is not designed to contact anything, and is not durable like the tread of a tire.
  • This type of damage usually happens when you load your bike onto a vehicle, or leans it against something, like a curb, bench, or wall.
  • Once this happens, you’ll need to buy a new tyre.