How to Make a Superlight Bike for the “Concours de Machines” — Off The Beaten Path

The official results of the 2017 Concours de Machines are in! Peter Weigle’s machine did even better than we thought: Lightest bike: First place Choice of the jury: First place Technical points (bonus for features, penalties for problems): First place Zero penalties for technical problems Faster than required speed on each stage: zero penalties Overall: Second […]

via How to Make a Superlight Bike for the “Concours de Machines” — Off The Beaten Path

Putting Our Lives on the Line

Off The Beaten Path


Testing bicycles may sound like a dream job – you get to ride all kinds of bicycles without having to pay for them – but it comes with risks. We ride the bikes hard, although we don’t abuse them. We are smooth riders, so we don’t stress components unduly. Even when riding the bikes as intended, problems often manifest themselves during our two-week test. We’ve tested more than 60 bikes, and there have been a number of close calls and actual injuries.

On one test bike, the headlight fell off and hung from its wire, dangling in the spokes. On another, a poorly mounted front fender broke loose and wrapped itself around the front wheel during a high-speed descent on a busy road (below). I was lucky not to crash, but a friend of a friend suffered a similar failure on a bike from the same maker and is still…

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My Fenix PD35 TAC Flashlight


I bought the PD35 TAC flashlight from Vancouver Battery. It’s a 1000 lumen tactical flashlight that can light up to 200m.


It came with a holster, a manual, and spare O-rings and switch cover.

The flashlight has general and tactical modes. In general mode, it remembers your brightness selection when you turn it off. It can last from 1h 10min in turbo mode to 140 hours in eco mode! In tactical mode, it always starts at turbo mode followed by strobe and low.

This flashlight can be life saving in an emergency. In tactical mode, you don’t have to look for the turbo setting when your adrenaline level is high. Since it’s easy to carry every day, you’re more likely to use it when it’s needed. This flashlight may deter wild animals.


I carry the flashlight in its holster attached to my belt. It’s powered by a protected 18650 Li-ion battery.

Most of the time, I use the tactical mode. If it’s too bright, I aim it away slightly, using the side spill which reduces glare. It’s possible to do the same in general mode if you keep its setting at turbo. This is useful because many other models from Fenix don’t have tactical mode.

I bought it because it has a good balance of battery life, mode selection, light output, beam distance, weight, and size.

A Better Way to Mount Lights

Off The Beaten Path


Small parts often get overlooked, but they can make a big difference in your cycling experience. Take light mounts, for example. Adjusting the angle of your headlight beam is useful: In town, you want to angle the headlight low so it doesn’t blind oncoming traffic. Out in the mountains, you need a higher beam. Otherwise, you ride into the dark when you descend at speed and go into a dip in the road.

Yet trying to adjust the headlight by hand usually results in one of two outcomes: Either the mounting bolt is really tight and doesn’t move at all. Or light moves to the desired position, but the bolt turns and loosens in the process, and soon the light rotates on its own.

Of course, your headlight should never come loose. In the real world, even if it’s tight to start with, vibrations tend to loosen many headlight mounts, no matter how much Loctite you…

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Tire Pressure Take-Home

Off The Beaten Path


What is the “correct” tire pressure for your bike? The simple answer is: Whatever feels right to you. Confused? Here is how it works:

In the past, many riders inflated their tires to the maximum pressure rating. Now most cyclists now recognize that the optimum pressure often is much lower.

But what is the right tire pressure? At Bicycle Quarterly, we’ve done a lot of research into the rolling resistance of tires at various pressures, and on various road surfaces.


Frank Berto’s tire pressure chart (above), first published in Bicycle Quarterly many years ago, has received much attention. (Note that the weights are per wheel, not for the entire bike.)

Berto made the chart in the 1990s, when tires were much narrower. Hardly anybody today still rides on 20 mm tires, and even 23 mm are on their way out! At the other end, 37 mm no longer is huge, as many of us…

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List of Ways that an Autistic Person “Passes”

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I’ve been told that I don’t look autistic.

These are the possible ways that I “pass”: