Category Archives: Commuting

Valentine’s Day – OOPS wrong bike moment!

On Valentine’s Day 12 beautiful long stemmed roses were delivered to my office. After enjoying them through the week, it was time to take them home on Friday.

Thursday night though, I got a flat on my Schwinn Le Tour Sport. It was a nasty double gee which made my tyre hiss like an angry cat when it was removed. I didn’t fix it because I got distracted, so on Friday morning I grabbed the nearest bike – my Giant STP, to ride to work.

The STP is in mountain bike mode and doesn’t have a rack. I shoved my stuff into my Crumpler messenger bag and left. It wasn’t until I got to work I realised I would have to get my roses home somehow and I had ridden the wrong bike for the job. My only saving grace was that the sender of the roses knew I would be bringing them home by bicycle and selected the dozen roses that came in a massive box.


I deliberately didn’t water them so that I wouldn’t have water running down my back whilst riding home. I put them back in the box, and the messenger bag straps were only just long enough to clip around it. Crumpler to the rescue!


They made it home safe and sound.

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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Commuting, Everyday cycling


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Bonus Cherries!

These are on the underpass that I ride through twice a day near East Perth. I don’t know how long they have been there, but one day I just happened to look up at the right angle.

I love this kind of street art, it is so subtle, but it made my day when I first saw it. Now I look up at it every time.

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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Commuting, Reasons to Ride


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Ride to Work Day – 17 October

It is ride to work day on the 17 October 2012. Go here to sign up for your free breakfast!

I don’t know if anyone is interested in the minutiae of how various office workers commute to work by bike, but sometimes I just roll my eyes at the excuses people come out with.

“But my shirts will get wrinkles”
“There are no shower facilities or lockers at my workplace”
“It’s too far”
“It’s too much hassle to get organised in the morning”

I have been commuting by bike to work for the majority of my 15 year working life. The circumstances, jobs and distances have changed. At the moment I have the following advantages:

Secure bike cage to leave my precious bicycle.
A beautiful longer route to work (15.7kms one way), or a shorter route (8.7km) both of which are on bike paths which are separated from motor vehicles, but shared with pedestrians.
A flat commute where the only hills are ramps up to bridges.
Flexi-time, so I do not have to arrive or leave from work at a set time – hence I can wait until the rain blows over, within reason.
A city with a beautiful, and mostly mild climate.

I have the following disadvantages:

Showers and lockers are inconvenient to access as they involve climbing up and down a couple of sets of stairs. Lockers are controlled via a system that I don’t quite understand.
I am not a morning person, so any kind of variation in routine means that I’m likely to forget something.

So what do I do?

I put my office gear in my pannier bag the night before – I roll my shirt and pants and they usually come out looking fine. I also chuck my wallet, access card and whatever else I will need that day in there.

In the morning I tumble out of bed, eat toast and drink coffee, pull on some regular, but sporty clothes and trundle in to work.

I don’t bother with showers. I don’t think it’s necessary. In summer I will use some sports-oriented deodorant, but otherwise I just get to work, carry my pannier into the disabled toilet on my floor, it takes me about 10 minutes to get changed, and I’m ready for work.

Most people don’t even realise I ride to work every day unless they happen to see me in the bike cage in the basement.

So put away the excuses and get on your bike. Free breakfast is worth it.


Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Bike Parking, Commuting


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Once you start riding you will never be ‘normal’ again…

Ah Facebook! A couple of weeks ago I saw that a friend-of-a-friend had posted “yay, I got a new job, bye bye stinky public transport, hello 3 minute drive to work”

I don’t know this person, and their security settings only allowed me to read their post but not reply, but I was thinking “WHAT THE? WHY BOTHER DRIVING 3 MINUTES!!!!”

There was a time in my life where I did drive 10 minutes to work. I would not even give it a second thought now. Say if you drive 3 minutes, and the average speed you are travelling at is 40 km per hour (which is pretty standard for urban/suburban areas when you take into account roundabouts, stop signs, traffic lights etc), then in 3 minutes you are going about 2 kilometres. That might be a bit far to walk, but you would barely notice it on a bike. Say you are a newbie, or have a cruiser bike and are riding very slowly at 15 km per hour, then it would only take you 8 minutes, and you aren’t going to need a shower, so it doesn’t matter if the employer doesn’t provide lockers/showers. No need to spend much on the bike either, so you don’t have to worry much about secure parking for it.

The bad news is the commute, only being 16 minutes a day isn’t going to quite get you up to the 30 minutes a day of exercise that is the BARE MINIMUM everyone should be doing. You will need to go for a walk at lunch time.

But seriously, why not ride?


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Reasons to Ride: Scaling Down

When you are on a bike, you aren’t insulated from the city you are travelling through. You have great vision with no windows or pillars in the way. You are travelling more slowly so details jump out at you. I took a little time to document my ride home so that you may share the riches I enjoy on my way home every day.


You might hear, and then see a powerboat on the calm waters of the Swan, practicing for the upcoming Avon Descent race. The sun sets on the city in the background.


I  quite enjoyed this small, and somewhat sloppy bicycle stencil on a wall between two principle shared paths.


Upon seeing this very small stencil, you may break into a rendition of ‘C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me, C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me, C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me, Cookie Cookie Cookie starts with C!”


This red dog stencil looks a little like the iconic ‘dingo flour’ sign on a big old building down near Fremantle. I am not sure if the resemblance was deliberate, but it’s more food for thought as you pedal along.


The sun will continue on it’s journey below the horizon as you continue on your journey home. The pink and orange hues reflect off the calm, glassy water.


Humpty dumpty threatens to fall and break all over my bike… but you would never spot him from the road, or the train.


Sometimes you find small signs that humans are in general good creatures. I hope the owner of the computer/heart rate monitor sees this sign before it rains again!

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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Commuting, Reasons to Ride


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Owner Review: RAW scooter (Rebel Sport)

Cycling infrastructure is good for other forms of human powered transport too! While most people walk or ride bicycles on it, there are a few skaters, and then there are tools like me who still think they are teenagers, and ride things like this sometimes.


I bought this for $20 – I think it was a Christmas return because the box was all taped up and mashed. I have ridden it to and from work about 4 times, it’s a 8.7km trip, and according to Strava my average speed was around 12 kilometres per hour. It’s slower than riding and faster than walking. It makes for a good change of pace every now and then.

The Good

The 145 mm wheels roll over all the nasty city pavement, even the tactile stuff that is a bunch of raised concrete lumps.

The fibreglass flex deck takes some of the painful edges out of the lumps.

It’s maximum weight load is 100 kilograms – which is great for the price. I have seen them for sale for $50 at Rebel Sport, though I haven’t seen any marked down to $20 since I got mine.

The Bad

The folding mechanism is a bit flimsy, and mine doesn’t like to fold up.

The foam grips are gross, especially if you get a bit sweaty, they just absorb heaps of water and then end up really soggy.

The headset has come loose twice, so you have to keep an eye on it.

The rear brake doesn’t really work, but you don’t really need it, you can just stop skater style.


I wouldn’t pay more than $50 for one but it’s been a fun addition to my human powered transport armoury! It is awesome for those trips where you want to catch the train but can’t be bothered walking all the way to the station because there are no restrictions like there are with bikes. You can also take it on a bus with you!

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Commuting, Reviews


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Opinion: eight reasons not to buy a cheap Huffy bike

OK, so don’t buy a cheap bike. Why not? Every day it is the same, I am riding home in peak hour and there is a long stream of people overtaking one very slow cyclist. As it’s my turn to overtake, I can see why this person is having so much trouble propelling themselves along a perfectly flat path. They are riding a horrible bicycle. Usually I see this person once or twice, and then they vanish, never to be seen on the bike path again.

1. It’s HEAVY

The worst type of Big W or K-mart bike is the type with suspension, but the others aren’t much better. I didn’t realise how much heavier these bikes are until my dad showed me one that he had gotten from the tip shop. I tried to lift it and I almost couldn’t! His was a dual suspension Huffy model. Then I was given a couple of old Cyclops bikes that were in someone’s backyard for parts. I usually salvage them for brake levers, and that’s about it. They are all heavy.

Now imagine that you have to push this heavy bike along with the power of your legs alone. The dual suspension Huffy my dad had in his backyard was close to 25 kilos. An entry level Giant bike from a bike shop might weigh 15 kgs, or even a little less these days. That 10 kilograms makes a huge difference, especially if you hit anything that looks like a hill.

2. You have to put it together yourself

The Big W bike comes in a box and is usually partially assembled. The problem is that you need to put it together. Even if you have experience assembling bikes it can be a frustrating experience. If you don’t know what you are doing then you could assemble yourself quite a dangerous contraption. For example, when I was staying with friends in Byron Bay I noticed that there was a Huffy bike sitting at the back of their house, leaning against the wall. The fork was on backwards. I asked who the bike outside belonged to, and they said their housemate, who wasn’t around at the time. I asked them if it rode OK. They said that he didn’t ride it much and said it felt like it was going to fall apart. Hm. I wonder why.

3. It’s got the worst tyres on it imaginable

When you first start out riding, you may just think that the road is bumpy. I’ve got news for you, it’s not the road that is causing those uncomfortable vibrations – it is the cheap, heavy, knobbly tyres on the bike. Not only do they slow you down due to their weight and rolling resistance, but they will also still pick up glass and you will still get punctures. If that is not a lose-lose situation, I don’t know what is.

4. You’ve ridden it twice and it’s already falling apart

For a bike to be that cheap, it has to have cheap components. It may say ‘Shimano’ but that could relate to only one part of the gears. There are a lot of horrible cheap gear components out there that Shimano wouldn’t even spit on. Those will be on your bike from Big W or K-mart.

The cogs on the back and the chain are made of such low-grade steel that they just have to see moisture a kilometre away and they will start to rust. A rusty chain will cease up, and you won’t be able to change gears well. It will make a lot of noise. People will look at you funny as they ride past you.

5. There’s no post sales support

If your cheap bike breaks, then you will be lucky if you can get a refund from Big W/K-mart. At least if you buy something from a bike shop they will fix any problems that come up when you start using the bike.

6. No bike shops will work on it

You realise that there are problems with your new $100 Huffy the second time you ride it. The problem is you aren’t sure about how to fix it (and K-mart/Big W certainly aren’t going to fix it for you). You take it to your local bike shop for some help, and they prod it a little and say “well I could try, but it really isn’t worth working on, it will cost more than you paid for it in the first place.”

You better get handy with youtube and some tools.

7. The whole ownership experience is horrible and you decide riding is not for you, or that you hate bikes!

Please, please don’t let this happen. Cycling is an awesome, cheap way to get around and you can get your exercise at the same time. If you mistakenly purchased a Huffy/Cyclops/Repco/Kent bike and you are not enjoying cycling, think for a minute – is it just the bike that is making this experience such a bad one? Go and test ride some nicer bikes at a bike shop.

8. In order to get some money back on your mistake you try to sell your $100 bike on gumtree or craigslist and end up accruing a lot of bad karma

Please, don’t do this either. Don’t inflict it on anyone else, it was bad enough when it was new, imagine how unridable it will be when it’s been left unused in the shed for a year or two.

Also, please don’t try to list it for it’s original purchase price because its ‘never been ridden’ – it was never ridden because it was a crap bike, just face up to it and move on.

A cheap department store bike might be useful in certain situations but there are a lot of qualifications:

IF you ALREADY HAVE A GOOD BIKE, IF you have an interest in doing your own maintenance, IF you are only riding a short distance, IF the bike is cheap, IF it is not too heavy for you to handle, IF it has no suspension, and IF you only intend on riding it to some high-risk location where it might be stolen, then yes it may be acceptable to buy a cheap bike from Big W/K-mart.

Though your purposes may be better suited by getting a second hand ‘good’ bike, at the right price.


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My Surly Hates Me!

Dirty chainstays from a rusting chain

Due to the fat tyres, mudguards and dyno-light set up that I have on my Surly Long Haul Trucker, it is my bike of choice for winter. Unfortunately for the Trucker that has lead to some accellerated wear of components.

A few weeks ago when there was a big storm front headed towards Perth, we had some monster tides. The Swan River around the city is quite heavily tidal, and this monster tide caused flooding along it’s banks. Barrack Street was flooded and closed for a period of time. As I rode around Burswood, it was dark and I plunged the Surly through several flooded sections where the water was up to my hubs. Not thinking about how salty the water could be, I failed to give the chain a rinse that night. Now the chain is quite noticably orange and is weeping orange gunk on to the chainstays. With some regular oiling, the chain is still running OK, despite leaving rusty gunk everywhere. I will replace it at the end of winter in a couple of months time. Hopefully it will hold out that long!

I also noticed over the past week that braking is getting spongey. I had a closer look at the brake pads and discovered that the stock pads that came with my Avid Shorty cantilevers have been dissolving quite quickly. The Koolstop Salmon pads I have on the front are faring slightly better but they will probably need replacing soon too. I put a spare pair of Clarks cheapie brake pads that I got to bulk up my last order from in order to get free postage. They seem to perform better than the stock pads, so that is a positive.

Hopefully the Surly won’t hate me so much that it decides to go on strike. It will get some serious loving in Spring.



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Just to prove I’m still riding….

We have had some wild weather since a big storm on Sunday caused a lot of damage to the electricity network and some houses in Perth. Last night a storm which rivalled Sunday’s was predicted. The only thing that has changed is that the kilometers are ticking over a lot more slowly, and I’m riding a tank in my Surly LHT instead of a road bike.

Anyway I had the Gopro on the bars last night to see if I could catch any action. Not really anything exciting like trees coming down or pieces of roofing flying through the sky, but the clouds were pretty. Maybe storm clouds being pretty is a strange concept for some, but we are pretty starved of rain and clouds here so I make a point of appreciating them when they are around.

Don’t forget you can sponsor me.


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Owner Review: OTEK DVS550 Camera & Rigidmount Handlebar Mount

I bought the OTEK DVS550 camera from for $100.90 shipped. I also got a Kingston Class 10 16GB SD card from the same online retailer. The handlebar mount was custom made for the DVS550 by Rigidmount. The Rigidmount site is a good one to check out for reviews of affordable cameras that are useful for bicycle-mounted applications.

Bike Friday with Otek camera fitted

Otek DVS550 and Rigidmount

The camera specs are as follows:

  • Records high definition video in 720p
  • 5MP still photos
  • Music player
  • HDMI output
  • Weatherproof
  • Supports high capacity SD cards
  • Camera pouch and carabineer for extra safety
  • Digital Zoom: 3x
  • White Balance: Auto
  • IO Interface: USB 2.0
  • Sensor Sensitivity: Auto
  • Lens: F/3.2, f=7.5mm fixed lens
  • Video File Format: H.264 (MOV)
  • Still Image Format: JPEG
  • Internal Storage: 128MB
  • External Storage Media: SD Card, SDHC Card (compatible up to SDHC 16GB Class 6)
  • Operating System: Windows Vista, XP
  • Power Supply: NP40 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • Weight: 80g
  • Dimensions: (L) 10cm x (W) 6.4cm x (D) 2.2cm
Otek DVS550 on Bike Friday

View from the cockpit

Here is some example footage from the camera in low light conditions. I took this back in June.

The Good

I have tested this camera mounted on the bars of my Bike Friday New World Tourist. It has so far proved to be weatherproof, and the custom mount has proved to be rigid, as claimed with very little blur from vibrations. The quality is good enough to capture vehicle plates in good conditions, with good light and no rain. The LCD screen is very handy as you can see exactly where the camera is pointed, and whether it is recording or not.

Spare/replacement batteries are cheap and battery life is OK, I have been consistently getting 2 hours worth of recording out of my original battery (the spares have been ordered and are yet to be tested).

The sound is pretty good for a weatherproof camera too. It picks up some wind noise but it also picks up my voice when I talk to it. It comes with a carabiner which can be used as a safety precaution if the primary mount fails. I have mine attached to a cable tie that I wrapped around my stem.

The Bad

The battery can rattle around in the body of the camera due to less than stellar manufacturing tolerances – this can be fixed with a little electrical tape. The method is detailed on the Rigidmount website.

The still photos are not great by modern camera standards.

The camera takes up quite a lot of space on the bars

In Conclusion

I would recommend this camera for commuters who wish to record their commutes for any reason. It is good for capturing recreational road rides as well. It may not be the best for mountain bikers with a lot of inconsistent light, as the camera is a bit slow to compensate for changing light conditions.



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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Commuting, Reviews


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