Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bicycle locking and pannier rack troubles

I've been meaning to blog for days, but between heavy cookie orders for Christmas and  having to put my boss in the hospital on Dec. 4 and running back and forth to UCLA hospital, I just have been fairly tired and spent.

Since my last post I have purchased 2 more bike cables.  I now have 3 cables and 1 U-lock.  So last weekend I did some errands on the bike and worked on my locking skills.  The first place I went to was Aaron Bros. to pick up a new glue gun, and there was nothing to lock it to except for a skinny tree.  I locked down both wheels and the seat, using only two cables and the U-lock.  Three cables might be one too many.

My next stop was the pet store, and although I normally take the bike in and park it just inside, the store was a little busier so I decided to lock it up outside... but no place except a stairwell landing, and that was sort of like stringing the bike up, but it worked although it wasn't as well locked down.

I also received in the mail from China four more bike lights, the frog kind. They require 3 AAA batteries, and that rubbery/silicone outside was a pain to remove, but I sort of got the hang of it after four times (I bought four of them).  I mounted one on each side of the front fork but angled the lights to shine to the side, not forward, and I mounted the other two on the ends of the handle bar.  The handlebar mounting is not a good idea.  They are too big and put my hands in an uncomfortable position, making my hand muscles feel fatigue within a half mile.  I like the idea of them being there, but there's not enough room for me to grip well.

The bike now has 11 lights for night riding.  I've ordered 3 more rear lights just for back ups as I already broke one...

Then... late last week I was on my way out of the house with the bike, and when I walked it down the front steps, the rack came partially undone and flopped backwards.  I couldn't fix it on the spot and ended up having to take my car to work, but I decided against taking it back to I. Martin for a fix - not because they couldn't fix it, but because they would only be able to fix it back to the problem it had anyhow - in that it couldn't be mounted properly with the top of the rack level with the ground using the the Bontrager pieces it came with.  However, now that it was pivoting freely on the braces on the rear fork, I was able to position it so that the top of the rack was level with the ground.  Securing it into that position, however, was my challenge.  Also, because the rack is mounted higher than normal, it meant less room for my top pannier.  I went to Koontz Hardware to get some zip ties.  The longest ones they had were 15", so I got a packet of those.  First I secured it twice to the seatpost.  Then, looping two ties together on each side, I secured it to the back fork.  So, it's very secure and not going anywhere at all, and I even put about 40 lbs of weight in the side panniers over the weekend.

I have noticed with the rack now being level, however, that I get heel strike on the side panniers if they are not mounted as far to the rear as possible.  So, I definitely have to keep an eye on that.  The top pannier still gets squished on the end by the seat post, and that's a pain, so I guess I'll be on the hunt for another one.

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