Why We Choose Steel Bikes

Off The Beaten Path

At Bicycle Quarterly, we’ve been testing quite a few titanium and carbon bikes lately, and even a bike made from bamboo. We really liked most of these bikes. And yet our own bikes continue to be made from steel. Why don’t we ride carbon or titanium (or bamboo) bikes?

We choose steel because this material allows us to build custom bikes that are dialed in to the nth degree. High-end steel bikes have benefited from decades of research and development. They now offer a performance that is difficult to equal with other materials. With performance, I don’t just mean speed – although the best steel bikes have no trouble keeping up with ti or carbon racers – but also handling, reliability and all-weather, all-road capability.

Steel tubing is available in many diameters and wall thicknesses, so it’s easy to fine-tune the ride quality and performance of our bikes. For example, my…

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List of Electronic Bike Safety Accessories and the Need to Simplify them

For cycling safety, it’s important to have front, rear, and side visibility, and possibly a horn and cameras.

The following is a list of safety accessories:

  • front bike light
  • rear bike light
  • front helmet light
  • rear helmet light
  • front spoke light
  • rear spoke light
  • helmet camera
  • rear camera
  • electric horn
  • speedometer

There’s 10 items on the list which doesn’t include non-safety or non-electronic accessories such as smart locks, navigation devices, hand warmers, power meter and mirrors. Some cyclists may even install more lights for increased brightness or visibility.

My opinion is that that those features should be in fewer units for convenience. A possible design might be having one larger battery pack and one control unit for the bike’s front, rear, and side lights. The same design can be done for the helmet light which can also be used as a spare light.

The problem with half a dozen bike lights is the need to charge many units, the need to press the buttons for each unit, and the need to remove them when parking your bike.your bike. If the conditions change, you may also need to adjust the light settings for each unit to conserve energy or improve visibility.

If only helmet and bike lights are upgraded to be complete, the number of units can be dropped from 10 to 6. With fewer units, it’s easier to remember to charge them all, turn them on or off, and store them which encourage its use, possibly making cycling safer.

I find it easier to manage with fewer bike lights.

For cars, a single battery powers all or most its safety accessories without having to install and remove them before and after each trip. Why shouldn’t bikes have it too?

Road vs Hybrid Bike Speeds (West Broadway Rides)

I bought a road bike and here are the comparisons of the speeds of my trips on West Broadway.

For the road bike, the average speeds for the two trips on West Broadway were 18.2 and 19.2 km/h.

For the hybrid bike, the average speeds for the three trips on West Broadway were 12.7, 12.2, and 21.5 km/h.


Note that for the rides, only West Broadway was selected. Their lengths were also different.

The accessories on my road bike include: An empty rack, a Planet Bike headlight, a PDW tail light, a foldable lock, a downtube fender, two water bottle cages, and a bell. The bike’s total weight was about 30 lbs. I plan on installing custom lights and horns, and keeping them light if possible.

The accessories on my hybrid bike include: A fixed front basket, front and rear custom made lights with enclosures and batteries, a kickstand, full coverage fenders, a rear rack, two car horns with a battery, an aerobar, a mini pump, spare inner tubes, tire levers, a speedometer, and a foldable lock. The bike’s total weight was about 50 lbs.

I’m still using my hybrid bike for poorer conditions, heavier loads, and unpaved roads. Since the road bike’s lighter, it’s more suitable for hills.

It’s hard to say which is faster yet. The new bike doesn’t feel comfortable enough. It may need getting used to and proper fitting. Hopefully, the performance will improve.

Since West Broadway tends to be busy, it may produce different results compared to River Road in Richmond, BC which has doesn’t require much stopping. Other factors that affect the speed include: Temperature, hills, fitness levels, road conditions, gearing, riding skills, time of day, weather, clothing, and diet.


Tires: How Wide is too Wide?

Reblogged on hanlinsblog.wordpress.com.

Off The Beaten Path


How wide a tire is too wide for optimum performance? Our research shows that wider tires don’t give up anything on smooth roads, and gain a significant advantage on rough roads. This has been shown for tires up to 31 mm wide.

It’s now a well-established fact that wider tires roll faster than narrow ones. Professional racers now use 25 mm tires, which are 20% wider than the tires that most racers used just 20 years ago. Will this trend continue? Can we expect racers to be on 30 mm tires in the future? No matter what the pros do – they are influenced by many factors that have little to do with science – the real question is: Up to what point are wider tires faster?


It is obvious that the tires in the photo above will not roll very fast. Clearly, at some point, the performance benefits of…

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Panel Discussion: The Wide Tire Revolution

Off The Beaten Path


“Buy the nicest, most supple tires you can afford; and buy them in the widest width that you can fit in your frame.”

That is Joshua Poertner’s summary of a panel discussion on Cyclingtips.com. Joshua used to be the president of Zipp, the makers of super-fast aero wheels, and he did a lot of research on how to make your bike faster.

The panel included Joshua, cycling journalist James Huang, and me, with Elden Nelson (who runs the blog “The Fat Cyclist”) moderating. The goal was to explain the science behind the current trend toward wider tires to an audience of racers and performance riders, who want to understand how to make their bikes faster.

In the podcast, we talk about why narrow tires feel faster, but aren’t. We discuss how lower pressures increase the internal resistance as the tire flexes, but decrease the suspension losses from the vibrations of the bike – the two…

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When should sensory overload be suspected in an autistic person when its signs are subtle? (Opinion)

If you’re aware of sensory overload, you’ll know when when you need to prevent it.

When sensory overload is suspected, the person can experiment with ways of preventing it such as using hearing protection.

I’ve started trying hearing protection in noisy places. I feel that it’s beneficial. I often feel the need for dual protection. Disposable earplugs seem to be better than reusable ones when there’s vibrations. Sometimes I need to alternate earmuffs and ear plugs because my ears and face get sore. I also tried Airstremz for cycling to reduce the wind noise.


According to one of Willow Hope’s video, it’s possible to be affected by quiet sources of sounds. With autism, background sounds can seem as loud as foreground sounds.

That’s why I think awareness is important even when it’s subtle, when the person thinks he’s used to loud places, or when the person is considered high functioning. We shouldn’t rule out the possibility of sensory overload just because we don’t see severe symptoms.

Since some people’s symptoms are more subtle, I recommend experimenting with hearing protection even for sounds that we don’t notice such as cafeterias, classrooms, restaurants, electrical hums, fans, ventilation systems, heaters, computers, washing machines, running water, conversations, TV’s, radios, wind, and refrigerators.

If they’re subtle or the baseline symptoms are forgotten, you might not be able to detect it by asking question such as “is the place too loud?”, or “how are you feeling?”.

The symptoms to look for include:

  • Impaired short term memory. The autistic person may find it harder to remember even short lists of items. This can make it easy to lose things. For example, forgetting to take the items you bought at a store. For some tasks, there may be a need to take notes when other people don’t do it. Playing a dual N-back game can test the person’s short term memory. At baseline, the person may be able to play a higher level than with sensory overload. The game can be downloaded on smartphones.
  • Things feel unreal like in a dream.
  • Senses fade which can make sounds seem faint. Listening to a ring tone may detect it. If it feels easy to miss it, there’s probably sensory overload
  • Decreased productivity. If other students or co-workers work faster than the autistic person, sensory overload prevention should be experimented. If his performance improves, there was probably sensory overload. This may be mistaken as a lack of skills or an inability to learn.
  • Slower reaction times. The person may longer to respond to questions or miss it.
  • Fidgeting. It’s possible for the person to suppress it when they’re aware of it because of the need to look non-autistic.
  • Loss of interest.
  • The need to recover.

Once sensory overload is suspected, it’s time to avoid it.

From the symptoms above, you may see why it’s hard to detect sensory overload in some people. The autistic person may be used to the symptoms and observers may misinterpret them.

It’s hard for me to tell if a place is too loud maybe because I have difficulty judging the volume of the environment. That’s why I need to be reminded to change the volume of my voice when the environment becomes louder or softer.

I notice that some people smile when they see me with earmuffs.

This is an opinion. I’m still experimenting with preventing overload.