oi! oi! oi!

A common theme in the cycling business seems to be “reinventing the wheel” – this included everything from the bicycles themselves, to any and all their parts, to accessories, to clothes, to pretty much anything else cycling related – the next better best new and improved version is right around the corner.

Curiously, many cycling-related great ideas and redesigns get their start on kickstarter, a website that acts as an investment zone for professional and unprofessional inventors and companies alike to get their hands on some quick capital to make their products come to life. There are a ton of bicycle-related products on kickstarter, some of which are, how do I put this nicely, very imaginative and some that are legitimately useful.

Most things are improved for (hopefully) some good reason and not just to turn a profit, but there are some products that you wouldn’t think warranted much improvement, like say the lowly bike bell. I mean, it just needs to be a functional noise maker right? Just ding and I’ll be happy, right? Wrong. Even the humble bike bell is subject to regular overhaul and redesign and promise of “the best one ever”.

About a year and a half ago, knog, a company known for funky lights and other accessories (people still ask for the sausage lock believe it or not), presented a kickstarter campaign for a bell called the Oi that caught our attention at the shop. Unlike the standard bell design, which is, well, bell-shaped, the knog bell had a different aesthetic: a low-profile, more of a wrap-around the bar design that was proposed to come in a few different attractive metal finishes. We were all more or less keen on this attractive new bell, but as is sometimes the case with crowdfunded projects, things seemed to fizzle out, and no new bells were ever seen or heard of…

That is until a couple weeks ago when Brent and his wizard sleeves managed to make one appear before my very eyes to take for a test run!

The packaging was definitely a step up from the $8.99 go-to bells we sell at the shop, and the initial visual impression was good – the unit indeed appeared to be a low profile design that would hug the bar closely, and the silver finish was quite becoming. Sadly, it wasn’t the exclusive titanium version, but the polished steel Oi Brent had gifted me was still pretty darn nice looking.

At this point it became clear that maybe some of the delay in the production of the Oi bell was in part due to the packaging – certainly quite deluxe, with the bell nestled cozily in one of those form-fitting, velvet covered plastic trays usually reserved for special Christmas ornaments. Along for the ride was a small Allen key, a spacer ribbon, and an instruction sheet. Class act.

My initial impressions upon freeing the bell from its cozy love den were that it was a lot more plastic-y and lighter than expected. It was certainly a well-finished product, but less overall metal and machining than I had imagined.

Installing the Oi was certainly quick. The inner mounting surface of the bell was plastic, but easy enough to coerce around and affix snuggly to my bars. A very nice design feature is the placement of notches in the plastic mold so that the bell plays nicely with your cables. The fit was very good indeed, although with this notched design, the orientation of the bell and the bell-striking mechanism (i.e., the “dinger-thingy”) is fixed and not adjustable. The location it ended up at for me was good enough, but if you had desires of customizing the dinging position, you’d be out of luck. Once mounted, I wasn’t sure about the look. Nevertheless, I wanted to give the Oi a chance to sing its song before I made up my mind.

I reached out and rang the bell. I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but the noise the Oi emitted wasn’t it. Now, as a bit of a disclaimer, I have a Crane E-ne bell on my commuter bike, and that is a lovely bell – a very sonically pleasing ring to it – a nice note, nice overtones – reminds me sometimes of a handbell choir. When I ring that bell, I’m almost embarrassed because it sounds so damn good. If I’m at one end of the High Level Bridge, I’m pretty sure everyone along the length of the bridge hears my bell and smiles. So maybe my expectations were a bit high then, but when I rang the Oi bell I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. It just didn’t seem to be a very good bell note.


You can watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/195113149

Initial impressions aside, I used the Oi for a couple weeks to give it a fair shake, and while the sound grew on me mildly, in the end the tone just didn’t do it for me. It was a bit too high-pitched, and just didn’t sound like a bicycle bell. Case in point, most people I rang at didn’t seem to realize it was signaling the approach of a bicycle. Maybe in part because it wasn’t all that loud, but also in part due to the ding sounding more like one of those “ring for service” bells you see at the tailor or accountant’s office. I certainly don’t need to be confusing some of those path users more than they already are.

In the end, I returned the Oi bell to Brent with hopes that someone else might try it out and find the the joy and appreciation with it that I didn’t. Upon entering my house, I reached over and rang my Crane E-ne for good measure. All smiles. Now call me old-fashioned, but that there, that’s a fine sounding bicycle bell.

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I don’t get to make music a lot anymore, but when I do it’s a damn good time. I had the pleasure of recording with The Fusionauts this summer, and we’re having an album release party in the new year. There’s a teaser on the band website here – if you like what you hear, come help us celebrate at the release party on February 2, 2017 at the Yardbird Suite!

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temporary love

This blog clearly suffers when new bikes come into the picture. While it seems most human love is temporary, bike love clearly is not. Words on these new wunder bikes on the way. Music in the meantime.

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them’s the breaks

When it comes to bikes, I’ll admit to being a bit of a carbon snob. Light, stiff, responsive, strong, and indulgently expensive at times, I’m always drawn to this magical, man-made material when it comes to bikes. There are the naysayers of course; the carbon critic is quick to point out that unlike a steel or aluminum frame, which typically dents upon impact and essentially maintains its integrity and usability, carbon is much more likely to crack or break, leaving the frame broken and useless. Boo! I scream like the old woman shouting at Princess Buttercup in Princess Bride. While this was a mildly defensible position when carbon first appeared, this argument is now as outdated as Mark’s 90s bootcut Diesel jeans that he’s secretly kept and doesn’t want anyone to know about. Repairing carbon fiber is common practice now, and even available as do-it-yourself kits (disclaimer: I, nor redbike, nor mainstream media, endorse this method!).

Carbon fiber frames are unfixable you say?! Booooo!

Carbon fiber frames are unfixable you say?! Booooo!

Even if you consider yourself only a casual rider, breaking things comes with the territory as a cyclist. However, there is a relationship between amount of riding and the amount of destruction going on, and it’s not terribly complicated math – the more you ride, the more stuff you break. Breaking parts is one thing; snapped chain, broken shifter, seatpost – these are certainly inconvenient, but usually not too hard on the wallet. A broken frame though is significantly more complicated and expensive, and surprisingly not all that uncommon. Most riders I know have cracked or broken at least one frame over the years – I cracked an aluminum frame years back, and was lucky to still be eligible for a warranty replacement. But what if your warranty is expired, or you bought the bike second hand? You’re essentially stuck buying a new frame (or bike), right? Well, if you frame is metal, then yes, a new frame is the most feasible option. If your frame is carbon though, it’s quite possible the frame can be repaired and put back into perfect working order for a fraction of the cost of a new frame.

With some bikes, the bond you form with the bike makes it worth repairing when you break it

With some bikes, the bond you form with the bike makes it worth trying to repair it when you break it. My original Van Dessel FTB is one of those bikes. No one throws Boogie in the corner.

“What does broken carbon look like?” you might be wondering. Not pretty – big breaks will usually be obvious cracking or splintering of some kind (procrastination alert: http://www.bustedcarbon.com/), although smaller cracks can remain unnoticed for a long time, especially if you don’t clean your frame very often. Chances are, if you’re like many of us, you won’t even notice a crack or break right away – unless say you’ve crashed and the crack is in a noticeable, obvious place where you know an impact has occurred (the handlebar swinging around and smacking the top tube is a common example). Typically, a crack will become apparent while cleaning or polishing your frame, which is how I recently stumbled upon a rather nasty crack in my driveside chainstay on my well-loved and abused Van Dessel Full Tilt Boogie. Since I first acquired it in 2012, I’ve loved everything about this bike, and despite putting it through hell and back for several cyclocross seasons and torturing it the last two seasons as a full-on winter bike/commuting bike, there was no chance I was going to just toss the frame in the garbage dump. Sure, I could re-purpose the parts, but this is a bike that fits like a glove and is very near and dear to my heart that I had planned to ride for many more years.

Okay, okay. I'll admit some things are beyond repair. (http://www.bustedcarbon.com/)

Okay, okay. I’ll admit some things are beyond repair. (http://www.bustedcarbon.com/)

My unfortunate break. Not pretty, but fixable!

My unfortunate break. Not pretty, but fixable!

After the initial shock and expletives expressed upon discovery of the crack and some pity phishing on social media, I assessed the situation rationally. Repair seemed like a possible solution as I looked wistfully at the formidable crack, but it was a topic I’ll admit being a bit ignorant about – even though several friends had mentioned getting their frames repaired locally, I never asked much about it. Until now. Several quick and panicked texts returned the name of a genetleman named Al and his company Dynamic Composites, so I looked up his contact information on the interwebs and sent off an email to see what could be done.

Al responded promptly and gave a quote based on the picture I sent, and I arranged to drop off the frame for the repair, which he said would take about a week. To be honest, I performed my due diligence as a consumer and received a quote from another recommended repair place in Vancouver, but when that quote was more than three times this quote, plus the cost of shipping the frame there and back, the choice was obvious. I was glad to meet Al as well – he is a gem of a man and full of entertaining stories and historical tidbits about the bike industry. He’s certainly had a chance to design and build some neat things, so it was quite an honour to meet him.

My frame was fixed in a week as promised, and came in cheaper than the original quote, which was a great surprise. Al was a treat to work with, and upon picking up my bike I was treated to several more great stories and some classic memorabilia on display in his office (e.g., Magura hydraulic rim brakes on one of the first prototype carbon Rocky Mountain DH frames). The bike is back together and in regular rotation, and working as good as ever. Because my frame sports a raw finish (read: unpainted), you can see where the repair is on the chainstay if you look for it – it’s virtually impossible to match the raw weave look and make the repair invisible. However, this also made the repair cheaper; getting paint matched up on a painted frame to make the repair invisible can add to the cost of a carbon repair significantly.

All fixed! Picture taken with flash shows where the new carbon was applied and used to fix the break

All fixed! Picture taken with flash shows where the new carbon was applied and used to fix the break

The fix under normal lighting - barely noticeable!

The fix under normal lighting – barely noticeable!

Take that carbon naysayers. My broken bike was fixed as strong as new (likely stronger in fact) in less than a week right here in Edmonton. Easy peasy. Having now experienced a carbon repair experience myself, I can only fully endorse and highly recommend going to see Al if you crack your carbon frame and need to get it repaired.

I know it’s probably killing you at this point to know how much this endeavor set me back. But I’m also curious about what you think it cost me. So here’s a super fun poll for you to take and give your best guess to how much the repair cost. I’ll update this post in a couple of weeks with the actual cost of the repair.




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just around the corner

With turning 39 this past Saturday, I needed some upbeat new music to keep me from realizing that 40 is just around the corner and curling up in the fetal position in a tiny, safe ball. Luckily it’s a leap year, and I get an extra day before 40 will come. Additionally luckily, this young, clever, hip band We Are The City was on Q during the week and is doing a great job of distracting me from thinking about how old I’ve suddenly become. Enjoy, and Keep on Dancing until your Legs Give Out.

Good stuff.

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the answer is always more bikes.

Last year about this time, I thought I had found the bike that would accommodate all my biking needs, from a mountain biking perspective at least. Simplifying the arsenal down to one ride seemed like an excellent idea in theory: less bikes to take care of, less time deciding which bike to ride, more room for the cat in the condo, etc… This bike, which I will refer to as “Ricky” from this point on, was a bike I was extremely excited about, as it seemed in theory to have all the aspects of a mountain bike that would make it a perfect do-all riding/racing machine.

Well, occasionally I’m okay with admitting I was wrong. This fancy-dancy steed, fully blinged out with Shimano XTR Di2 and more carbon than most bike owners see in a lifetime, was indeed an amazing bike and a boatload of fun to ride, but I quickly came to realize that trying to cover all the bases with one bike (especially when you’re talking the gamut of mountain bike disciplines) was not the best strategy. It probably didn’t help that I received a bit of a literal lemon, and I had to deal with a bunch of initial issues before getting the bike working to its full potential – we started off on the wrong foot Ricky and I. However, even once Ricky was all fine tuned and dialed in, Ricky was still never as good as I wanted Ricky to be at any one thing. Really, exceptional and excellent at a lot of things, but not the one everything I wanted it to be. It’s not you Ricky, it’s me. So, clearly the only answer was to put Ricky up for sale (side note: BUY MY BIKE! GREAT DEAL!) and get multiple new bikes to replace it.

I'm sorry Ricky. We're breaking up. You're just too good for me.

I’m sorry Ricky. We’re breaking up. You’re just too good for me.

Where I found to be most limited by Ricky was on the XC racing circuit, so I knew one of the replacements would need to be a carbon hardtail. Alberta racing tends to be of the smooth, generally buff and fast type, and a light, efficient hardtail fits the bill perfectly for our province. You think after 10 years of trying out this racing thing I would have had this all figured out by now, but I honestly thought a light-ish full suspension bike would be competitive. Wrong. Regardless, and coincidentally just in time to fill my hardtail desires, Devinci has released a 27.5 carbon hardtail race bike for 2016, the Darwin. With a name to steal my science geek heart, the stock spec of full Shimano XT 1 by 11, and a few aftermarket upgrades of the carbon variety (e.g., wheels. bars, seatpost, seat, etc… you know, just the essentials…), the Darwin should be a bonafide rocket ship when it comes to hitting the race circuit this season. I’m especially excited to see how it looks alongside our new redbike race kit.

Darwin! Survival of the fittest! XC race machine!

Darwin! Survival of the fittest! XC race machine!

One thing I have learned for certain is a short travel carbon hardtail is not the sort of ride ideal for all day trail riding. So, at the other end of the spectrum, I’m delving into new territory and roping up a Salsa Pony Rustler to use for fun, all-day, all-weather, all-seasons, dedicated trail riding. The bike is among the recent crop of the new “plus” category bikes – not fatbike tires and not mountain bike tires, but somewhere in-between, generally around the 2.8 to 3.0 inch mark for tire width. Just right in porridge temperature terms. For those that know me, I have been severely resistant to jumping on the fatbike train, even to the point of becoming vocal on occasion. I have some arguably good reasons for the resistance, such as I really have fun on non-fatbikes and don’t feel the need for a fatbike to ride in the winter, and also some less tangible reasons for my position, such as just hating the term fatbike as it generates flashbacks of my tortured childhood as an extremely obese kid. Why am I so willing and eager to go plus then? Well, for one thing, plus-sized just seems a lot kinder and doesn’t make me tear up. Seriously though, noted benefits of the plus tire are increased traction, ability to roll over obstacles and descend down gnarly sh*t with wanton disregard, and added float for snowy, winter riding – not the extreme amounts of a fatbike tire, but enough to make trail riding and exploring a lot more fun. I’m certainly game to give the plus platform a try and have some fun testing out the claims.

Not fat. Plus-sized. Perfect for this big-boned, always part fat kid lady.

Not fat. Plus-sized. Perfect for this big-boned, always part fat kid lady.

Will I be satisfied with my decision? Will two bikes be enough? How many years will I need to work at redbike to get out of debt? Will the cat even let me bring these two bikes into the condo? Stay tuned to find out and for reviews!


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the fly

then I am a happy fly, if I live, or if I die

(listen to loud with headphones)


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best band name ever?

A friend recently turned me on to Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and I haven’t been able to get enough of them since. Repeat ad nauseam, except without the arrival of nausea. Perfect.

This is my favourite track currently, but make sure to check out the whole first album (Seven + Mary) post haste if it catches your fancy in the least.


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Proudly announcing the redbike race kit

We’ve been rocking the classic redbike kit for a number of years now, and although I have no qualms about the design and think it’s one of the more tasteful designs out there, we thought it would be fun to have a more “race-oriented” kit for those of us in the club that do that sort of thing. Especially fit-wise, we wanted a fit that would be a bit more “race-y” and streamlined than the classic relaxed club-fit kits in current rotation, and so, with the help of Louis Garneau custom wear, we are proud to announce the first iteration of the redbike “race” kit that will be using the Mondo jersey and Course bibs.

The classic redbike club kit

The classic redbike club kit

As I’ve mentioned previously, kit design is a hard one to get right, but as with anything, if you’re properly inspired and don’t go too crazy you have a better chance at ending up with something that isn’t hideous. I’m not ashamed to admit that the inspiration for our design actually came from some existing sources, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all – stolen ideas and bits include the classic redbike colours and font off the club jerseys, some layout design from the kokanee redbike kit, and patterns off of a recent design from one of my favourite sources of t-shirts and good-looking jerseys: Twin Six. Their The Wound Up jersey caught my eye when they first teased it on social media, and I made sure to quite forwardly suggest it as a possible design idea for the new kits.

Inspiration courtesy of the fine folks from Twin Six

Inspiration courtesy of the fine folks from Twin Six

With our race fit jersey/bib style chosen, Mark and I met over a series of coffee dates to try and agree on what would look best and how and where to place all the elements we wanted on the jersey. While we both came to the table with different ideas and preferences, we eventually came to an equitable compromise that included neither Smiths quotes or kittens, hugged it out, and prepared to approach Louis Garneau with our design demands.

Compromises had to be made. No Morrissey or no cats as part of the design.

Compromises had to be made. No Morrissey or cats allowed as part of the design.

The next step, and probably the most important one in my mind, was to make the initial contact with the custom department at Louis Garneau to see if what was in our minds could be turned into not just a kit design, but a kit design that didn’t look garish and awful. As I typed up the first email to describe what we were hoping to end up with, I realized how hard it is to describe something you have pictured perfectly in your head in just words. So, with the most well-intentioned effort, I took it upon myself to open up Paint on my computer and mouse-draw our ideas and dreams in sketch form, and as you can see below the result was certainly a “rough draft”. It’s okay to say out loud that that’s the ugliest and poorly drawn kit you have ever seen; I’m the first to agree with you. However, it was actually a positive turn of events since even in this horribly shakily drawn form the design seemed to have some real promise and flare, and we started to get really excited about how the design would turn out in the hands of an actual talented professional designer.

Go ahead. Laugh. I certainly did.

Go ahead. Laugh. I certainly did.

I can only imagine the howling laughter as the design department opened up that initial drawing, but luckily I must have done a decent job of communicating what we were looking for as the first design they sent back was definitely on the right track. I was super nervous about what that first design was going to look like, so I made Mark look at it first to ease my nerves, and then we met up to discuss what we liked and what we thought needed a bit of work. The first iteration was good, but we decided one of the red tones in the beams wasn’t quite right (yes, I’m the one that thought it was too pink), the beams felt a bit wide in their overall extent, and we felt some of the placement and sizes of other elements could be adjusted a bit.

First jersey design and edits

First jersey design and edits

First bib design and edits

First bib design and edits

We sent back our edits on the design and waited for round two of the design, which when it came offered a number of options for us to choose from as far as “redbike” logo placement and left/right orientation of things. Once again Mark and I hashed out what the final demands would be over coffee at Rosso, and once more we sent off our desired edits. At this point we were both getting quite excited at the look of things, and it became hard not to fly off the handle and send preliminary sketches to everyone to show off our new race kit design.

Almost there... Round 2 edits

Almost there… Round 2 edits

After this last round everything became finalized as far as design goes, and now we are keenly awaiting for the fitment kits to arrive so everyone in the club interested in buying the race kit can try on the jersey and bib style and figure out what size they want. If you’re interested in jumping on this bandwagon contact Mark ASAP so you can get in on the order and the fitting party. We are getting these pro-level, super high-end kits at an amazing price, so treat yourself right and don’t miss out on the very first run of our new redbike race kits.

Ready to race!

Ready to race!

Matching bibs!

Matching bibs!

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new music for humpday

I swear I’m going to update this blog soon with an actual post and not just music. Big things on the horizon… new bikes, big races, 109% of your RDA of snarky wackiness. Just you wait.

Enjoy this in the meantime.

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