Monday, 20 October 2014

SR Suntour CW9 XCT 9 Speed MTB Chainset Review

Suntour CW9 XCT Chainset Review - Intro

What is the cheapest triple 104 chainset on ebay? Its the Suntour CW9 XCT of course. But what do you get for your money, a little less than you might have bargained for.

Suntour CW9 XCT Chainset Review - First Glance and In Use

The Suntour CW9 XCT is fine, no really. It looks good its not overly heavy. And as a triple 9 speed chainset it functions.

Stock Picture - Suntour XCT
On Bike - Outer Ring Replaced with Bash Guard

Suntour CW9 XCT Chainset Review - Shortcuts

The CW9 XCT is not a true triple chain-ring chainset. The inner 22 tooth chainwheel is mounted to the 32 tooth middle ring, rather than the crank. This "nesting" on the inner two chain rings is a short cuts, and limits the swapping of the middle chain ring for a different size. It also makes the whole set-up feel less rigid.

Chainring bolts are standard size, holes in the crank arm are of a standard size. However, there are no chain ring nuts, they have been done away with in exchange for threaded holes in the middle chain ring.

Steel Rings

Middle ring is threaded to avoid cost of nut.

Small ring mounted to mounted to middle ring rather than crank arm.

 Suntour CW9 XCT Chainset Review -Conclusion

This is a fine chainset for kids, and light ridiers but I feel that shortcuts have been taken. I bought this so I could swap around chain rings from the large stcokes of 104 chain rings I have in the spares box. Not really possible with this chainset.

I can't recommend a  Suntour Chainset , as I do not know where the short cuts used in this model are replaced by the higher end features. How much would you have to spend. Anyone else got a triple from Suntour.

 Environmental Consultants London

Cargo Bikes: Gears and Gearing

Cargo Bikes: Gears and Gearing - Intro

 Most cargo bikes come with around 24 - 27 gears, unless they are from Holland. If you are building your own and which to choose gears to suite then perhaps follow the below advice.

 Cargo Bikes: Gears and Gearing - Shopping and General Use

Carrying extra weight will mean that you will need a greater gear range. I struggled buy with a gear range of 300% for a number of months pulling 35kg up fairly steep hills.

300% can be provided by a 1 x 9 setup, that is 1 chain ring at the front and an 11 - 34 cassette at the rear.

On flat ground you might choose a 42 tooth chain wheel up front, but for hillier areas operhaps a 32 tooth chain ring might be better.

 Cargo Bikes: Gears and Gearing - Kids and other Heavy Loads

A 3 year old and 5 year old will weigh about 30 - 40 kg depending on what you are feeding them, this really changes things, and 300% range will no longer cut the mustard.

A 22 tooth chain ring will now probably be required up front which combined with a 34 tooth sprocket at the rear will give a good low gear, for lugging heavy loads up fairly steep hills.

You highest gear may well be determined by you fitness and and your desired top speed, but I have found that a 32 tooth with the 11 sproket at the rear ios "stiff" enough for my liking, and I don't want to go that fast.

So in the end I have settled on a gear range of 450%

Cargo Bikes: Gears and Gearing - Conclusion

To work out your gear range, you can use this gear range calculator spread sheet.

Many European cargo bikes are sold with gears giving a range of just 250%, and for holland and London, this is fine. If you live in hillier areas, then you will be needing at least a 400% range, some high end hub gears can offer close to this range, but for the price savvy it will be derailleur gearing. . . or get off and push!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Top 5 Commuter Bikes UK

Top 5 Commuter Bikes UK - Intro

Cycling is in growing both as a sport and as a means to getting around if the latter is more important to you, and you use you bike day to day for getting about, then this list if for you.

I have based this list on the assumption that low maintenance is of the utmost importance. So to that end I have favoured the following features:

  1. Hub Gears
  2. Disc Brakes or Hub Brakes
  3. Dynamo Lighting
All of these features make for more expense, but ultimately mean that the bike will serve you better as a work horse.They are Ordered in Price High to Low.

Although a bikes tires should not be a deal breaker, you should set them at top of you priority list, get the most puncture resistant tire you can afford, if you go to you bike in the morning and the tire is flat, you'll be back in the car.

Top 5 Commuter Bikes UK - 1 -Revolution Shadow 13 - £999

From Edinburgh Cycle Co-op this beauty has a gates belt drive, this replaces the chain with a lube free rubber belt. Which require little in the way of maintennace, and do not get every thing covered in oil.

 This is a sporty offering and would in my opinion need mudguards. Dynamo lighting would be nice but battery variants would suffice.

Top 5 Commuter Bikes UK - 2 - Cube Travel SF RF - £790

Available from discount bikes de, this bike costs around 1000 euros, it has everyting going for it and apart from its sporty riding position ( a draw back I think) is an ideal commuter.

The description describes this bike as a sports tourer. And would be better suited to the more macho rider. The ride position would suggest more weight on the hands, which may not suite every one. But if you have longish distances to travel, then this more aerodynamic ride position may be of benefit.

Top 5 Commuter Bikes UK - 3 - Electra Amsterdam Royal 8i - £750

For the true Dutch experience why not go choose this bike, with 8 speed hub gears and roller brakes (similar to drum brakes) you will have versatile and capable bike.

Top 5 Commuter Bikes UK - 4 - Pashley Roadster Sovereign - £695

If a laid back approach is more your style, and you live in a fairly flat area this is a great bike at a great price.

Hub gears, Hub brakes, Hub Dynamo. Mudguards, wide saddle, upright ride. Nail on the head. If you value comfort over speed then this is the bike for you. Sturmey archer drum brakes are very good.

Top 5 Commuter Bikes UK - 5 - Challenge Crusade - £109

My wife has the ladies version of this bike, which comes from argos. It is a perfectly functional commuter bike, and for the money you just can not fault it. It will require upgrades. But if you a new to commuting and want to get on the road for cheap then you can't go wrong.

This a very cheap but for day to day use expect to pay out another £120, on brakes and tires as those provided are not great. It does work as is though, and will certainly last you long enough to decide whether cycle commuting is for you, or rather you'll be getting back in car / tube / bus / train.

Environmental Consultants London

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Are you Funding Putin's War via your Energy Bill?

Funding Putin's War via our Energy Bills - Intro

If you are reading this on a mains powered PC or Macintosh in the UK, chancing are you are indirectly funding Putin's War against the Ukraine.The fact is that the UK is heavily dependant on fossil fuel imports a large percentage of which comes from Russia.

Funding Putin's War via our Energy Bills - Coal

UK Government Data released March 2013 show our growing dependence on imports.

In 2012 around 40% of our imported coal came from Russia. We use 96% of this coal in producing electricty.

Based conservatively on current coal prices this would indicate we are pumping around 2 billion pounds a year in to Russia's Economy.

Of course there is no telling how much of this is spent on invading other countries, but some of this amount is bound to trickle down.

Funding Putin's War via our Energy Bills - What can I do?

The quickest and simplest way to avoid funding Russia is to switch to a 100% renewable energy supplier.

Many of the larger supplier have green tariffs but these are not very good, to make sure your energy is 100% renewable, and that you will be funding expansion of the UK renewable infrastructure you should switch to Ecotricity.

For example EDF spend £18 a year on building new  energy sources. Ecotricity spend close to £300 per customer.

The UK renewable capacity is growing, decreasing our dependence of Russian Coal. By choose a company like Ecotricity you can accelerate this trend.

So there is hope. But in order to effect a change it will require 1 or 2 phone calls. Don't put it off do it now, it will take less time than watching an episode of "X Factor" or "Jeeves and Wooster", and could mean that in 15 years time we can tell the then Russian President (probably still Putin) to stick their coal where the sun don't shine.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Schwalbe Big Apple Tire 2.35 Review

Schwalbe Big Apples 2.35 Tire Review - Intro

I have been very pleased with by 2.0" schwalbe big apple tires (old tread design), so when we needed a new set of tires for the bike stable . . well the choice was an obvious one.

I am still using the tires 4 years after this post was first published.

I had always fancied a pair of 2.35 inch big apple tires so I went large on this occasion, after carefully measuring my frame to make sure they would fit.

Soooo Haaaaapy!

Schwalbe Big Apples 2.35 Tire Review - Mudguards / Fenders

In the past I have not bought these larger 60mm / 2.35 big apples because I was fairly convinced I would need 65mm mud guards. You can in fact get away with 60mm provided they are perfectly aligned.  The front mudguard did not pose any problems and was easy to adjust.

60mm Mudguards / Fenders on Big Apple 2.35

However the rear mudguard was right on the line, clearance wise. The seat stay cross member was mounted quite close to the tire, and the mudguard is butted right up against the underside to allow for enough clearance. I had to make a custom bracket and rivet it directly to the mudguard to achieve this.

So the main issue may not be the width of your mudguards / fenders I had had long suspected but the limitation of the the mudguard anchor points.

If you are buying mudguards then you wouldn't go far wrong with a pair of SKS Bluemels B65.

Schwalbe Big Apples 2.35 Tire Review - The New Tread

Schwalbe have changed the tread pattern since I purchased my last set of big apples around 3 years ago.It looks a bit more trendy, and I think I still prefer the old tread.

Big Apple - New Tread 1

Big Apple - New Tread 2

Big Apple - New Tread 3
I do not think the new tread is as grippy as the old design off road. If you require little more grip perhaps a Big Ben or Fat Frank might be a better choice. That being said, I have not had any issues with traction. And for predominant road use I would opt for a big apple.

Schwalbe Big Apples 2.35 Tire Review - Punctures

The single number 1 reason why I liked my old big apples soooo much was because they never got punctures, apart from that time with the flint. The older tires had Kevlar guard whilst these newer tread pattern tires come with "race guard". I had an unlucky puncture on my first ride out (sharp flint again), but now after 10 no. rides still no punctures. So the boat is not in on the puncture resistance levels.

If I can report back a year from now with no punctures then will be happy. . . . .

4 Year Update: Well I am still using these tires in 2018 4 years after purchase. I have had perhaps 10 punctures over that period, all from blackthorn or hawthorn twigs. This is a seasonal thing, and happen every autumn when the farmers trim the hedges. If it wasn't for this seasonal bounty I doubt whether I would have had any puncture at all.

Schwalbe Big Apples 2.35 Tire Review - Feel / Rolling

I wanted larger tires because I wanted to increase my tire circumference. My old tires were 2075 mm circumference, these larger ones are 2160 mm. So I gain 8.5cm per revolution.

2160mm is a larger circumference than most race bike tires. I know this is only part of the storey.

On the road they role well at there max pressure of 4 bar or 55 psi. They feel harder than my old 2.0" tires even at this lower pressure. This would suggest that if you want to enjoy the "balloon" tire affect, then pressures of 30 - 40 psi would be required.

Large Tread Blocks - Big Apple 2.35

Big Apple 2.35 - Mudguard / Fender Clearance

Schwalbe Big Apples 2.35 Tire Review - Conclusion

I think I would still rather be riding a tire with kevlar guard rather than race guard, but apart from that the quality and finish I expect from Schwalbe was delivered yet again.

To conclude: This is my fourth set of schwalbe tires. . . need I say more.

4 Year Update: I have suffered 2 or 3 punctures in "kevlar guard" tires over the last few years. It would appear that no puncture proof layer that I have tried will resist a hawthorn or blackthorn thorn. The list that I have tried is:

  • Puncture Guard
  • Kevlar Guard
  • Race Guard
Read my guide to puncture prevention perhaps for some pointers.

Property Investment Company London
Flood Risk

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Upgrades for a Folding Bike

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Intro

Now . .
. . . and then.

About 2 years ago I purchased a Giant Conway Folding Bike (£110) it was OK but needed some upgrades to make it more useful, I supose my main reason for writing this post is find out the rough cost. Would it have been cheaper to buy a higher speck bike to begin with.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Tires (Cost £30 - Discount Bike De)

I was desperate to get some decent tires. I hate punctures, and weigh 90 kg so I needed some that would run at a high pressure, and be fairly wide. 

Schwalbe Tire are the best I have numerous variety on all my families bikes and they are great. I went for Marathon 1.75" x 16" with Green Guard, havn't had a puncture since I put them on two years ago.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Gears (Cost - £65 - DIY Wheel Build)

For hilly area a gear range close to 300% is nice. But with a narrow rear hub my choices were limited. I did try to "force" a solution involving spreading the rear drop outs, and trying to lace a 36 holes MTB hub in to the  28 hole rim. Disaster. No harm done but lots of time wasted.

So in the end I converted from single speed, to 3 speed with a new old stock 1988 Sturmey archer hub gear from Freemans.

This is OK, but the lowest gear was still not low enough for my taste so I swapped out the 46 tooth chain wheel for an MTB 38 chain wheel and cranks.

Swapping out the original hub meant loosing the rear drum brake, so a rear calliper brake was fitted.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Brakes (Cost £15 new front brake calliper and lever)

Brakes were rubbish when I first got this bike and they still are not very good.

I first upgraded the front calliper brake which originally was a pressed steel long reach calliper, with about a 90mm reach. . . which is pretty long. This results in rubbish performance regardless of the model of brake.

The replacement Tektro 984 Calliper Brake was not much better. But this is not a reflection of the build quality, it just you will never get a good mechanical advantage with a very long reach calliper brake.

The original plastic levers were swapped for some alloy ones.

My only advise here is try to get a folding bike with v brakes.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Lights (£65 Hub Dynamo, £30 Lights, DIY Wheel Build)

This bike has a 65mm OLD front hub, and so I was limited to buying a Brompton DH-703-SB which was very expensive, twice the price of a none Brompton equivalent. Shimano do a 24 hole hub dynamo, but you try and find a 24 hole rim to go with it . . . .

For lights I chose a Axa Pico for the front and a B&M Toplight for the Rear.

Upgrades for a Folding Bike - Conclusions

So . . . .

£110 for the bike
£30 for Tires
£65 for Gears
£15 Brakes
£95 Lights (!)

This tots up to about £300.

What can you get for £300? Well you can get some pretty good folding bikes, but they wouldn't have dynamo lighting or marathon tires. But they would have better brakes and better gears.

So as always swings and round-abouts, You get what you pay for etc.

Cracking conclusion!

Monday, 18 August 2014

A Cheap Hub Dynamo Setup (£50)

A Cheap Hub Dynamo Setup - Intro

I have slowly been upgrading all of my bikes so they have hub dynamo lighting. I am a careful cyclist and so I consider increasing my visibility to be one of the best things I can do to increase my safety.

My Wife's Bike Fitted with Hub Dynamo
Hub dynamo lighting is a hassle free and silent method for providing powerful lighting on you bicycle. Its always there when you get on your bike  . . . . ready to go.

Problem is it can be:

  1. Tricky to Fit. The lights as easy to attach, but if you have to build a wheel to incorporate the hub dynamo that will put people off.
  2. Expensive. If you are not careful a setup can cost a lot. But if you shop around (German) then you can get a setup with a ready built wheel for £50.

 A Cheap Hub Dynamo Setup -The Dynamo (£31 + Postage)

Taylor Wheels UK sell a ready built hub dynamo wheel for £31. It is as good as you could wish for , and is a 19mm Grunert Rim with a Shimano 3B31-NT Hub Dynamo. If you are buying a wheel for a sports bike, with narrow rims, you will probably have to build you own or spend a bit more else where. It is not really possible to get a budget hub dynamo pre built in to say a 13mm rim.

This Budget Hub Dynamo Wheel is fine for daily use.

A Cheap Hub Dynamo Setup - Lights (£12 front & rear)

You can still get the older incandescent lights for use with you Hub Dynamo but try and stick to LED lights. They have built in overvoltage protection, and also the bulbs pretty much last forever. have some very cheap lights for sale, and postage costs are reasonable. For around £12 you can get front and rear LED lights that will do an OK job.

I chose an AXA Ray Steady for the rear light (£4.80) which I have on another bike and am pleased with it. The Ray Steady has a standlight function, which really is a must for a rear light. It means that when you stop moving (ie when the hub dynamo is not turning) the light will stay on for around 1 minute. If you cycle in traffic then this is  must.

The AXA Ray Steady Cheap and Good. Dog Ugly though!
For the front light I chose an AXA sprint LED light. This light costs £6.50 but does not have a standlight. It would cost around double to buy a light with a standlight. So on this occasion I went without.

A Cheap Hub Dynamo Setup - Installing

You can use any sort of thin twin core cable you may have lying around in the garage. I used door bell wire. In the past I have used the wire from an unused power adaptor, or you could spend £2 on the proper stuff, when you order your lights!

Environmental Permit Applications  

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Sustainability Consultants Bristol

Race Guard vs Kevlar Guard

Race Guard vs Kevlar Guard - Intro

Any one in the market for some Schwalbe Tires may have noticed the move away from Kevlar Guard to a new puncture protection system, called Race Guard. IT IS NOT VERY GOOD. It is still better than most other tires but if you are used to trouble free riding given by kevlar guard then think agian.

On purchasing some new big apple tires (2014) Kevlar Guard was no longer an option. So is this this an improvement?

Updated as of 28/04/2016 - Findings based on 6 months of use.

Race Guard vs Kevlar Guard - Performance

Kevlar Guard - With only 1 punctures in 2 YEARS of cycling I was VERY happy with my Kevlar Guard 2" (50mm) Big Apples.

Race Guard - With 4 punctures in 4 months of cycling I am a little worried about the performance of my newer Race Guard 2.35" (60mm) Big Apples.

I may have been unlucky. Time may prove them to be equal, but I have my doubts.

Race Guard vs Kevlar Guard - Conclusion

If you can still get hold of older tires with Kevlar Guard, then get those.

Race Guard vs Kevlar Guard - Other Choices

I am trialling a pair of Marathon Mondials in 26 x 2.15 at the moment, but there are not slick enough for me, so have ordered a pair of Fat Franks, which still come with Kevlar Guard. The fat franks however are a different compound and have a smidge more tread they feel squirmy by comparison to the big apples.

Update: 17/12/2014

One thing I have overlooked is that my old tires with kevlar guard were 2" whilst the new ones were 2.35", and I am using the same inner tubes so the tubes will be stretched more, and thus have less puncture resistance.

I have swapped my standard tubes Continetal 1.5 - 2.5 tubes for some michelin C6 downhill tubes, these are thicker and designed for fatter tires (2.2 - 2.8) so we will see how things go over the next 6 months.

Update: 03/07/2015

Well 7 months since my last post and another 4 punctures.  3 of which were thorns from hedge trimming, 1 from a metal object. This despite the very heavy tubes I am running. The C6 tubes mentioned above are designed for use with 2.25" - 2.6" tires, so there is very little stretch when using them with the big apples. So after nearly a year of use, I have to conclude that Race Guard is not as good a Kevlar Guard.

This is a bit sad, because the big apple is a very practical tire in terms of its tread and size etc. but now is more prone to punctures.

Update: 28/04/2016

After my last post I purchased some fat frank tires another balloon bike tire from schwalbe. Thos one uses the kevlar guard option and is alos 2.35" wide (60mm). To mt surprise I suffered 3 or 4 punctures in these tires within a few months! SO the question arises is it the type of puncture protection or the width that is the problem. Do schwalbe use the same width protection band in a 2.0" tire, as they do in a 2.3" tire? If si this would leave more the tire vulnerable to punctures.

Environmental Permit Applications  

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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Adjusting Bearings in Cheap Pedals

Adjusting Bearings in Cheap Pedals - Intro

My right hand pedal was feeling a little loose so I thought I'd try to adjust the bearings. The pedals cost about £5 ($8) about 1 year ago they are resin body wellgo pedals, and I have the sneaky suspicion they were never intended to be serviced!

Adjusting Bearings in Cheap Pedals - Cone Problems

Taking the pedals apart was easy, no problem. It was the putting back together that caused problems. When you tighten the lock nut (the outer most nut) you also as a side effect tighten the cone. If you are using a socket to tighten the lock nut you will not have room to "hold" the cone using a screwdriver or similar.

Adjusting Bearings in Cheap Pedals - The Solution

The fact that this nest step involves using a drill should give a hint as to the gorilla tactics coming up!

In order to prevent over tightening you need to be able to stop the cone from tightening, when tightening the lock nut, to prevent this drill hole the size of a bicycle spocket or a small screw driver that lines up with the cone inside the pedal. If you are using clips / toe clips you can drill the hole in the underside of the pedal.

Step One - Drill a hole that lines up with cone inside the pedal.
Step 2 - Use a spoke or a thin screwdriver to hold the cone whilst tightening.

!!!!- You end up with a big hole in your pedal.

Adjusting Bearings in Cheap Pedals - Alternatives

Instead of fiddling about for hours to extend the life of £5 / $8 worth of hardware, why not bodge a little. Use a small grease gun to inject fresh grease in to your pedals.  Drill a hole in the centre of the cage body so you can inject grease in to the axle and out through the bearings.

Grease those pedals!
You can get a grease gun pre-loaded for a few pounds / bucks, and you will extend the life of you pedals 3 fold. Example below.

Sunlight and Daylight Assessment

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Choosing Chainsaw Guide Bar Length

Choosing Chainsaw Guide Bar Length - Intro

This is a guide for the confused armature / home use chainsaw operator. 

When replacing a worn out bar it may be tempting the increase the guide bar length, but this too is not always the best option.

Choosing Chainsaw Guide Bar Length - Guide Bar Length vs CC

From various forums and manufactures websites the below ranges are suggested for bar lengths relating to engine capacity. The below are sensible suggestion but obviously not set in stone, I run a 20" bar on a 36cc saw, and with a small chain its fine.

Tabulated Data - Lengths in Inches

Graphed Data - Lengths in Inches

Choosing Chainsaw Guide Bar Length - Based on Usage

The above method is all well and good but you pattern of usage should determine the bar length, for example a 12" bar would be a great choice on a low powered saw, it is nice and light and will not cause excessive drag, but will it be long enough a 30 year old pine, can be 14" and may involve two cuts to get through the trunk with a shorter bar.

Choosing Chainsaw Guide Bar Length - Conclusion

When deciding on bar length, try to think about what size you usually cut, and choose the shortest bar you can. Then add 2" to cover the occasional bigger cut. If you have two saws then perhaps you can set one up as a "long saw" and one as a "light saw".

Desktop Study

Flood Risk

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Archer Chainsaw Chain & Chainsaw Guide Bar Review

Archer Chainsaw Chain & Chainsaw Guide Bar Review - Intro

After 12 months of use with terrible abuse on my part, my Stihl Chain and original Husqvarna guide bar were not behaving very well, a few weeks back the chain snapped I suspected a jammed nose sprocket and I was in the market for a new chain and whilst I was at it a new bar.

Ebay found me at  Mister Solutions shop which stocks a wide variety of chainsaw parts. Including a chain and bar combos for £16 - £22. As my aged Husqvarna 136 may give up the ghost any day, I do not want to spend out lots on replacement parts.

6 Month Update at bottom of Page

Archer Chainsaw Chain & Chainsaw Guide Bar Review - First Apperances

The bar was quite heavy. But I am young and fit so not to bothered about that. The build quality looks OK, the finish is fine.The below picture show the Archer (Australia) Chain (bottom) compared with the original used stihl chain (top).

Stihl Chain vs Archer Chain

The bar is failry stiff, I have increased the bar length with this replacement from 15" to 20" so not sure if the extra flew is due to the bar quality or the length.

Below are a series of picture showing the archer chain and archer bar.

Archer Guide Bar (Timber Max)

Archer Guide Bar - Nose Detail

Archer Chainsaw Chain - Chain Close-Up

Archer Guide Bar - Fixing

Archer Chainsaw Chain & Chainsaw Guide Bar Review - In Use

A new chain always cuts very well, and this archer chain was no exception, the chain is a .325 semi chisel and flew through the 14" pine trees I was cutting, on this occasion I made in region of 50 cuts working for around 2.5 hours, by the end of which the chain was stating to loose its edge a little, although still cutting well enough I would not consider sharpening.

I think I may have had some lubrication issues as the bar seemed to get quite warm during use, and chain would tighten as the guide bar warmed. I am not sure is this is normal behaviour for longer guide bars, but it could become a bit annoying.

Update 20/06/2014: This oiling issue is caused by the holes (for fixing and oiling) in the bar being different to the genuine original part. They do not line up quite right. The oiling hole is in the right place no worries there but the fixing hole is set too far of centre, and partially overlaps the oil out let, this causes most of the oil to flow out through the fixing hole, where it dribble in to the sprocket/ clutch area and gums everything up.I guess this problem arises from the fact that this bar is designed to fit around 70 different types of chainsaw, and as such compromises have been made. Some oil does get on the chain but not nearly enough.

Update 19/12/2014

BAR - The oiling issue  as described above does mean that the this bar would not be suitable for general use, the fuel and bar oil reservoirs should run dry at approximately the same time, but I often find that when using this archer bar the oil reservoir is still 3/4 full, when re-fueling. I use this bar for the occasional large diameter cut, then I swap back to the original bar.

CHAIN  - The Archer chain is excellent quality, and cuts and sharpens very well. I bought another chain for my standard husqvara bar and it is very good, and I will be buying again.

Archer Chainsaw Chain & Chainsaw Guide Bar Review - Conclusion

BAR - Not Great

CHAIN - Excellent

The boats not in yet, it was certainly cheaper than the next reputable brand as a bar chain combo in say Oregon would be in the region of £50. So only time will tell whether this was a good buy. They say buy cheap by twice, but owing to the age of my saw, well maybe I'll only have to buy once! Will update soon!

Sunlight and Daylight Assessment

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Monday, 2 June 2014

Bush + Muller Toplight Flat Plus Review

Bush + Muller Toplight Flat Plus Review - Intro

Rose bikes are selling these at knock down price at the moment, and have just sorted out a hub dynamo for my 16" folding bike, I was please to be able to choose a Bush + Muller offering at this price. They never disappoint.

Bush + Muller Toplight Flat Plus Review - Size and Fitting

Its a bit bigger than a Busch and Muller Toplight Plus andway smaller than a Axa / Basta Ray Steady so size wise it absolutely fine, it was a snug fit on the rear rack of my folding bike, and I had to make my own mounts.

The light comes with adaptors so it will fit 50mm and 80mm spacings.

The little clippy things that hold the wires in places could be better designed.

Bush + Muller Toplight Flat Plus Review - Performance

When compared to the Busch and Muller Toplight Plus this one only has one light source (plus has 2) but that being siad it chcuks out a lot of light illuminating the area to the rear of the bike, even when not fully dark.

Bush + Muller Toplight Flat Plus Review - Verdict

If you can get one for under mmmmmm £10 then go for it, if you are paying full price then provided you are not too vane perhaps consider offerings from union or axa, as they are better value.

If however you were prepared to pay full price you would receive a light that looks as though it would last a life time, it is very very very well built. Super tough.

Desktop Study

Axa Pico 30 Review

Axa Pico 30 Review - Intro

If like me you like dynamo light, you like cheap dynamo lights with stand lights then you may well have come across the Axa Pico 30 steady. It is a budget front light with features found on much more expensive ones.

Axa Pico 30 Review - Appearance and Features

The Axa Pico 30 looks small in the advertising pictures but in fact is of an average size, with a built in reflector. It has a power of 30 lumens, and as such is OK for unlit road cycling at moderate speeds.

It has a built in sensor to switch over from daylight running lights to the main beam when dark. It has a switch so you can turn it off, and most importantly (in my humble opinion) a stand light (that last for 4 minutes).

The are lesser versions available without standlights.

Axa Pico 30 Review - Performance

At 30 lux this is a moderately powered LED light. I have tried beam pics but I can never get a good picture.

I am powering this light with a Brompton Dynohub, a (DH-703-SB) which is is fine. Any budget shimano hub such as the DH-3N20 would do just fine.

Above 12 kph (jogging speed) you will enjoy a beautifully light road, stretching for 10-12 meters and a little dimmer after that.

Subjectively I would say it is a tad better than a B&M Lyt Senso, and about half as good as a B&M Cyo T which goes to show they have got the lux system figured out pretty well.

Axa Pico - On the bike
PS the above is a home made wheel, see my top tips on wheel building to find out more.

Axa Pico 30 Review - Conclusion

I bought this from rose bikes, it shipped from Germany in 48 hours (to the UK), and it cost £17 so yes fairly pleased. It is as good as a £25 light.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Shimano Chain - Quality Comparison

Shimano Chain - Quality Comparison - Intro

I have recently worn out a HG53 9 speed chain on my commuter bike. It lasted about 2 years in country lane conditions. It has been kept clean compared to the average MTB chain, but with a good life span of 2 years I was wondering how the more expensive chain differ.

Shimano Chain - Quality Comparison - Grades

In 9 speed there are 3 grades of chain available:

HG53 - Labelled with Altus, Acera & Tigra on the Packet
HG73 - Labelled Deore, LX & 105 on the Packet
HG93 - Labelled XT, Saint and Ultegra

Below left to right XT, LX, Acera

Shimano Chain - Quality Comparison - Visual

So I have now tried all three types I have a new HG93, a new HG73, and a used HG53 pictured below for comparison. There is little difference between the HG73 and HG53, but the HG93 clearly has a superior finish. It looks good, I wonder whether it will last longer?

Below left to right XT, LX, Acera 

Shimano Chain - Quality Comparison - Stock Photos



HG - 73

Shimano Chain - Quality Comparison - Which one to Choose

I would probably opt for the HG 93 or the HG 53 I would pick from the cheapest or the best, the middle ground seems to offer little in the way of improvements over the budget chain.