Monday, 5 May 2014

How to replace a QR skewer on a fixie or singlespeed.

Unless you have a very vintage or retro fixie (or singlespeed) the chances are your wheels have been upgraded or amended from modern wheels. Sure custom wheels are very nice but not everybody can afford them, so a lot of folk end up bastardising modern 700c wheels to fit thier steed.

Problems can arise when using modern wheels because they are factory-fitted with QR (quick-release) skewers.  While on geared bikes quick release fewer wheels would be a good thing on a fixed cog or singlespeed bike they're just not strong enough to hold the wheel in place under pressure. I didn't know this for a long time, and therefore spend at least two years constantly pulling my back wheel tight, more often than not in the middle of a commute.

Another reason some people prefer not to have QR skewers is that in theory your bike wheel is a lot more nickable with QR. I understand this logic - why would you make life easy for a thief?

I did some research into how to replace a QR with a straight bolt and a lot of the answers came back suggesting removing the axle, changing the cone bearings, and many other complex things I didn't want to have to get involved with.

Eventually I found the Halo hex-nut skewers, and that's more or less where this blog posts ends.  The old quick release skewers slid out, and the replacement Halo skewers slid in.  The conversation was ridiculously easy.  I was particularly impressed that the Halo replacements even had a recommend torque setting.  Nice!  Now my wheels will stay in place and no bugger can nick 'em!

You can buy Halo QR replacement skewers at Chain Reaction Cycles...

I've included some photos of the conversion to give you an idea of what the new wheel nuts look like.

The old front QR

The replacement skewers on the front wheel.  The other metal bits you can see are the mounts for my mudguards.

I forgot to take 'before' photos of the rear wheel, but you can see the new fittings in place and looking good.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Camelbak Podium Hydration Bottle

Last week I found myself far from home and in quick need of a water bottle for my bike.  I was lucky enough to find a friendly bike shop and had taken the precaution of taking my debit card out on the ride with me so for the first time in many years I actually bought a bottle.

You might be wondering why buying a bike bottle was such a big deal for me, but the truth is I've long wondered why anyone would pay for a bottle when High5 bottles are almost always available for free (or very cheap!)  I've had so many High5 bottles over the years they're littered about my house being used to grow plants in, hell, I had so many at one time I stopped buying toddler drinks bottles for my daughter and gave her High5 bottles to use instead!

So what's the big deal about actually forking out hard-earned cash for a bottle?  Can they really be all that much better?  Well the first hint came when (back in the saddle) I took my first drink from my new Camelbak bottle, and nearly drowned.  I'm used to having to really crush hydration bottles while sucking hard enough to start a porridge syphon, so a bit of a squeeze and a suck on the Camelbak was a bit of a shocker.

Once I'd figured out how to drink from the bottle (without emptying my hydration fluids over my ugly mug) my new bottle and I got on very well indeed.  These bottles are sort of always open, but kinda also closed.  Lordly knows what the technology behind the valve is but I did appreciate the large nipple that I could use to make sure I had hold of the bottle when drinking, I've lost bottles plenty of times on busy rides, something potentially lethal to those around me.

Camelbak Podium Hydration Bottle - review conclusion.

On the whole I don't think the moderate investment needed to secure yourself a few Camelbak bottles will revolutionise your cycling experience, but they are very nice, and I will be buying some more.  I'm not going to be letting my daughter use them though...

If you made it to the end of this review without snorting in a 'fnar' type way then you've done well.

Camelbak Podium Hydration Bottles can be bought at Wiggle, Evans or Amazon.