Saturday, February 26, 2011

Video on last week's bike ride to Marikina

Pardon the poor video quality.  I just used my phone's camera.


Friday, February 25, 2011

How to remove the rear wheel

Removing the rear wheel off a Brompton bike is easier said than done.  The whole gearing system is just so complicated that no ordinary bike mechanic can remove it.  Here, the Brompton website tries to explain (although unsuccessfully) how to remove the rear wheel. 

If you don't get it, don't worry.  You are not alone.

For more information, here is the PDF file: Removing the Rear Wheel

I think the folks at Brompton knew it was difficult to understand it in words, so they made a video:

Even after watching this, I'm still not sure I can pull it off.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Brompton goes to Marikina!

Last Sunday, I joined the monthly critical mass ride of the Firefly Brigade.  For February, our trip was to Marikina.

Marikina, my friends, is the only city in Metro Manila with a substantial bike lane network.  Modern and progressive cities like Makati and Taguig have none. Neither do Manila nor Quezon City. So you have to understand how excited I was to find out we were going to Marikina.

We convened in Greenhills, San Juan, at 7:30 in the morning. There were more than 100 bicyclists present, with 26 from Tiklop Society of the Philippines--the group I am affiliated with.

From Greenhills we biked down Ortigas Ave. and turned left on C-5.  After 3 kilometers we turned right on FVR road and entered the Marikina city limits.

Our destination was the Manila Boystown Complex in Barangay Parang, Marikina.  The whole route, from Greenhills to Boystown, was 19.5 kilometers. Here is the bike route:

We entered the Marikina bikeways system alongside FVR Road.  Notice the greenery on the sides?  Those are vegetable patches.  The morning we passed by, there were people farming.  Also, I don't know if you notice, but that's SM Marikina on the far end! : )

To our right is the Marikina river.  The same river that overflowed when Typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines in September 2009.  It's good the city was able to recover from the tragedy.

One of my concerns with the city's bike path beside the riverbank is that in some parts there are no barriers separating the biker (or jogger) from the river.  A biker can easily fall into the river if he isn't careful.

I think these are one of Mayor Fernando's projects.  She put up statues of animals along the bike path to spruce up the scenery. : )

The bike lane, as you can see, is quite narrow.  We had to share it with opposing bike traffic, joggers and other pedestrians.

Leaving the Marikina River, the bike lane continues on to the city streets.  Still narrow though.

This is me in front of Marikina City Hall.  Behind me is fellow Tiklop member and our resident physician, Doctor Arman Lee, parking his Black Flamingo folding bike.

Marikina's bikeways even have bridges specifically built for bikes.

This is the bike lane entering a residential community.  To the right is a tributary (stream) of the Marikina River.

We passed through the back of houses...
and backyards.

In this section of the network, the bike path is cemented.  The demarkation lines are visible and clear.  BUT, there are no railings on the right side.  And trust me, you DO NOT want to fall into the stream because it is filled with GARBAGE.  Eeeeeewwwww! : (

At least in this part of the network, the city government installed railings.

When we arrived in Boystown, there was a short program where the Firefly Brigade donated some used bicycles to the kids.  From there, the group separated in going back to Greenhills.  I went with Al Castillo and Abel Lazona.  We biked to the Santolan Station of LRT-2 Line.  We were tired and it was excruciating hot.  And we decided to take our bikes on the train so we could rest and get to Greenhills faster.

Here is Brommie Skywalker with Abel's Baby G, waiting inside the station.

New Tiklopers, Lia and Raul (or Mach), followed us with their respective folding bikes (a Dahon and Flamingo).  Notice Raul carrying the Dahon up the escalator. : )

Our folding bikes waiting for the next train back to San Juan.  Lia's Dahon, Dennis' Strida, Raul's Flamingo, Al's Dahon Classic and Abel's and my Brompton. : )

Brommie Skywalker about to board the next train.

The good thing about folding bikes is that they are allowed on LRT-1 and LRT-2.  So you can use your folding bike in your multi-modal commute.  Bike to the station.  Hop on a train.  Then bike to your next destination.  Although, the current LRTA policy is to limit it to 4 bikes per train.

Here are our bikes inside the passenger coach.  Dahon Classic and two Bromptons.

We got off at Gilmore Station and biked our way back to Greenhills in San Juan.

It was a great bike ride.  It gave me the opportunity to try out the bike lane network of Marikina city.  It's cemented and properly painted.  Plus, the view of the Marikina river is fantastic.  There is room for improvement, like installing railings or barriers in areas where one could fall into the river. Also, may be the  city can widen some lanes to accommodate joggers.  But over-all, considering it is the only LGU with a bike lane network, Marikina did an awesome job.  I would love to come back another day.

I hope some day, other LGUs would follow suit.  I can imagine a bike lane network in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.  That would be a nice place to have 'em.

And may be in Laoag, Baguio, Cebu and Davao, too!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: iBert child bike seat

Finally got Bea to test the iBert child bike seat I wrote about a couple of days ago.

When its installed on the bike, the iBert feels a bit loose and flimsy as the stinger does not snuggly fit into the seat.  But after a child sits on the iBert, you hardly notice the wobble.

I had no problem fitting Bea to the seat.  She was comfortable almost immediately.  The problem was fitting the Giro Me2 infant bike helmet on her head.  It irritated her and she kept on removing it.

Bea very unhappy with me putting one her helmet. : )

She tried to remove it, but I kept the helmet in place for the picture.

And here we go!  Bea trying out the bell.

Is she happy or what? (what.)

Bea on her iBert safe-t-seat

Over-all, I am pleased with the iBert.  It is a bit expensive though (retails for $80.00).  Many here in the Philippines would just fabricate a makeshift seat made of discarded wood and place it on the toptube.  It's way cheaper, sure, but then the safety issue comes up.

Anyway, what I like about the iBert is that it's installed in front.  This way I can watch over Bea and even talk to her while I bike.  It also gives me the chance teach her by being able to point at different objects along the way, like the trees, a car, a house, so on, so forth.

Another plus is that the iBert's design gives me enough room to bike normally.  I don't need to spread my legs to avoid hitting the seat because the iBert is positioned high enough.  I initially thought it would be hard to maneuver the handlebars with the headtube carrying Bea's weight, but it was manageable.

My only concern is the how the seat fits into the stinger.  I feel it's a bit loose.  The makers should redesign it to have a more solid and snug fit.  That, and sell it cheaper--say $50.00?  Then I'd give it 5 stars.

For now, the iBert Safe-T-Seat gets 4 stars.

By the way, the test ride with Bea was just around the block.  I plan to take her on a longer bike ride after she turns one!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Can't wait to use the iBert infant bike seat!!!

I wanted to buy a bike seat for my daughter so that she could ride with me.  What first came to mind was a typical child seat you install on the rear rack like this one:
But I heard that it is hard to balance the bike with all the weight at the back.

The next option is to get a trailer that attaches to the back of the bike like this:
The problem though is that when closed, it can be very hot and humid for the child passenger.  When left open naman, dirt, mud, rocks or any other kind of debris may splatter unto the child passenger.

Plus, another problem with both a rear child bike seat and bike trailer is that they're both situated at the back of the biker.  It's very difficult for the biker to check on his passenger.

Then I found out about the iBert front child bike seat.  It's supposed to be better than rear child bike seats and bike trailers because it's placed in front of the biker.  Also, it offers a more solid center of grafity for a more stable ride. 

This got me excited, only to find out that it is not available here in the Philippines.  Undeterred, I asked my brother-in-law to order me one in the US, to which he quickly obliged and sent it to me via balikbayan box.

Here it is, the iBert "Safe-T-Seat" Child Carrier.  It only comes in one color, green.

Included in the box is a metal stinger, an allen wrench, rubber plugs and a metal pin.

You attach the stinger to the headtube like this:

Then you slide the bike seat into the stinger and lock it into place with a metal pin.

The iBert seat attached to my Trek Allant bike.

I can't wait for Bea to ride with me.  The instructions recommend, however, that she be at least 12 months old.  It is designed for kids up to 4 years old.

Added Bonus:
My brother-in-law also sent Bea a pink Giro Me2 infant bike helmetAng cute! 

Bea and I are now all set and ready to go!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brommie in Salcedo Weekend Market

Biked to the Salcedo Weekend Market in Makati this morning with some friends from Tiklop Society of the Philippines.

Had a baguette sandwich (with salami, lettuce, tomatoes and vinaigrette) for breakfast.  It cost PhP130.00.  Served hot by real French men.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My non-folding commuter bike

Before I ventured into folding bikes, I rode a commuter bike.

This is the Allant from Trek.  It is the bike company's dutch-style commuter bike with swept-back handlebars, ergonomic grips, cushy saddle, rear rack, 700cc wheels, fenders and kickstand.
I bought mine in early 2009 at ROX for less than P20,000.00.  I got size 17.5" which is okay for my 5"6' height.

The frame is made of Alpha White Aluminum.  Color is glossy black.  I like it because it looks classy.

The fenders match the frame.  It protects you from having mud and water splattered on your pants.

Like I said, the handlebars are swept-back for a more upright sitting position.  It comes with a bell, but I changed it to cateye brand, which is much better.

I use this bike when going to the grocery or the drugstore.  Also use this bike to visit my relatives who live in the nearby subdivisions.

If I could only bring this to the mall and lock it at a bike rack I would.  But I'm afraid of leaving it, even if double locked.  Baka pag balik ko, wala na. 

It's probably why I ventured into folding bikes.  At least I could fold the folding bike and bring it with me inside the mall.

I do wish I could use this bike more often because it is a very good bike.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My first folding bike...

Before getting a Brompton for a folding bike, I rode a Dahon Jack.  I got it at Recreational Outdoor Exchange over at Bonifacio Global City early last year for about PhP23,500.00.

Back then I thought 16" and 20" sized wheels were too small.  I thought I'd have an unstable and clumsy ride on them.  So I chose the Dahon Jack for its big wheels (26").  I said to myself, "rigid mountain bike that folds, ayos!"

In fairness, the Jack rode well.  The Schwalbe Big Apple tires were wide but slick.   They provided just the right cushion.

The handlebars could be adjusted effortlessly because there was a special groove along the stem that ensured the handlebars and fork were always aligned.

Dahon installed grip shifters which were simple to operate.  There were 24 gears to choose from, so the bike could do well in flat and hilly roads.

Folding the bike was easy.  There was just one latch in the middle of the top tube to fold and unfold the bike.

There was really no problem in the Dahon Jack as a full-sized bike.  It gave a sweet and comfortable ride.  But as a folding bike, it was a failure.

You see, the Dahon Jack is still bulky even in its folded state.  In fact, it would take most of the space in my car's trunk.  Worse, it wouldn't stay folded properly.  Yes, there were magnets that would join both wheels, but they would slide off after the slightest touch.

May be the Dahon Jack would be okay for those who have no space for a full sized bike in their apartment, but it wouldn't be ideal for users who want to use their folding bikes for multi-modal transport (i.e. bike then get on a train then bike again).

So, the second I got the chance to get a Brompton (which had the most solid and compact fold), I dumped the Dahon Jack like a hot potato. : )

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: Brompton Folding Basket

Brompton designed a number of bags for storing things whilst you bike from Point A to B.  I got the cheapest one (at around PhP 4,500.00), which is the Folding Basket.  Brompton describes it as their "simplest item of luggage - a large, open-top container, ideal for shopping.  Its shape is maintained by a simple bracing frame which folds flat for storage.  Drainage holes are provided in case of rain.  Capacity 24 litres."

It has handles so that you can take it with you when you go to the grocery store.

It's roomy inside and its shape is maintained by a steel frame.

It's big enough to accommodate one Wii set complete with a Wii Fit Balance Board, Power Up Charge Stand, Wii remotes, Nunchucks and a few games.

Like all Brompton-made luggages, the folding basket attaches to the front of the bike.
front view

left side view

The folding basket is attached to the bike by way of a front carrier block.  This item is sold separately (around PhP 1,200.00).

The frame at the back has a bracket that slides into the front carrier block.

You can even use the folding basket with the bike as a shopping cart when you go to the supermarket.
You can roll your Brompton around with the folding basket attached, just like a shopping cart.

There are other front luggage options.  There is the S Bag that fits on S-type Bromptons.  Then there's the C Bag which doubles as a messenger bag.  The T Bag which is Brompton's touring bag is their roomiest.  The O Bag is waterproof.  Last, they have the A Bag, which is a leather attache case.  Buyer beware, though, these bags are pretty expensive.

I dream of owning an A Bag one day, because it looks sharp and classy.  Bagay na bagay for commuting to the office.  But I still have to save up for it.

For now, I'm happy with my Brompton Folding Basket.

Happy Riding, everyone!!!