So, I’ve had a little upgrade from my Shimano R550 pedals, I’ve gone and installed a pair of Look Blades.
So, initial thoughts on them, is that they are easier to engage into than the Shimano, and oddly more comfortable. But unclipping is another matter. It’s not difficult to unclip, it’s just the range of motion is greater to actually unclip and it seems to throw the foot off, almost in disgust that your unclipping. Any hesitation, or having the cleat near seems to suck the cleat back into the mechanism.
With the Shimano, a kick to the side, and your foot was just on the pedal, ready to put down, but still be able drive forward if needed. Handy for those traffic slow down moments. The blades, a throw from the ankle sees your foot thrown, a more gentle twist, unclip then reclips the cleat.
But in truth, they are a great pedal, and it’ll be time before I’m used to their quirks, but they are on my bike to stay. I might however, fit the tighter blade, as the 12Nm that comes fitted as standard just doesn’t feel tight enough.
I’ve now been riding them for a few months, and occasionally get more clip in fails than I did with the shimano pedals. Wether this is down to lack of skill on my part or the pedal is however up for debate.
A few days ago I had a knocking noise from the bike. Initially I thought it was the seat post worn, so I changed it for a spare I had kicking around. It seemed to stop for a few rides, but after I got back from my break in Scotland, and went out, it was back.
So i pulled out the seat post, re greased it and checked the torque on the saddle rails, checked the pedals and oiled the contact points. Next ride, nope knocking galore, especially on the hills.
OK, now its time to get serious. Loaded the bike up into the work stand and stripped the whole drive train down. I even removed and cleaned the chain rings. I removed the rear dérailleur and saw a movement in the hangar. It was loose. The two little screws that hold it onto the dropout had loosened, and given it a slight movement. This movement would cause it to knock on the frame when torque was applied. Could this of been the source? While this is obviously an issue, the rear wheel QR should of held this tight. But, of course it’s possible this was at fault.
However, the knocking and scraping resumed on the next ride. So, I thought back to changes I’d made. One of those changes was the seatpost. I’d installed a carbon seatpost, and out of pure laziness I’d greased it, rather than using gripper paste.
Removing the post, the grease had a “pooled” appearance. Cleaned the grease off, and cleaned the seat tube well. A good smearing of carbon paste, and refitted.
The next ride was better, but I did hear a couple of knocks/scraping but no where near as bad. It kind of sounded like chain sticking to the chain rings, and during the course of the ride, which was wet, it seemed to get better. Could of been the chain being sticky? Quite possibly as I may of over applied the squirt lube, and the rain cleared it off.
So a really good deep clean and a different lube applied. Let’s see what happens.
But, there are issues. First off was battery life. Initially, it sucked. They would run out of juice just sitting there on the desk, meaning a charge every day. A firmware update went a long way to curing this, unless you are an Android user. The companion app took months to arrive from see.sense, they blamed the exit of their developer, and farmed it out to an external company. A release was made, but it lacked almost all the features, and was pretty much only able to turn the lights on an off. So if you wanted to update the firmware, you needed an iOS device, or at the very least a mate with an iOS device..
Now, in the latest Kickstarter news letter, they’ve stated an in-house android developer will soon be starting, so hopefully we shall have a passable android app soon(ish).
Other than the poor development and battery life issues, they really are quite a good set of lights for commuting with.
The mounting options for the lights are first class, you get a multitude of mounts as standard: including a seat-post mount, aero seat-post mount, and bag clip, which I use to mount to the back of my jacket as I’ve two rears, so one on the seat post, and one on my back. There have been reports of lights falling out of the cradle, but I assume this is due to not being clipped in correctly. My lights seem to be in solid when clipped in correctly. See.Sense, to my horror lobbed a poor innocent bike off a roof, and the lights stayed on, that was the icon2, however it uses the same mounting system.
The ACE lights feature the same intelligence of the previous lights, with a little more processing power. They can track changes in movement, g-force, and ambient lighting; tailoring the light output to the conditions and surroundings: for example, on a quiet road the light lets out just a gentle pulse, but if a car’s headlights are detected then the light lets out a sudden burst to increase awareness.
The reactivity both noticeably improves road presence, compared to a regular mid-power flasher. My only continued niggle with the reactive element of the See.Sense lights is that the sudden bursts of light from the front light can be a little distracting. This is because the light is designed to have good side visibility, which unfortunately includes the upper side too – upwards towards your eyes, should you have it mounted horizontal on the bars. To be fair, my favourite daytime lights also have this issue, the Exposure Trace. A sliver of electrical tape however remedies this.
The Smartphone integration allows you to tailor the output of the light to further improve battery life. It also allows you to use the movement sensor as a theft alert. Both useful features, if they ever get the android app to release.
Went out for a quick spin on the bike, not to far as I was time limited. On the cycle path down to ripley, there was the normal glut of dog walkers, joggers and families out enjoying the traffic free route for a day out.
Kids where veering all over the path, going different directions from what their parents told them too, randomly stopping. Did this annoy me? Nope. It’s great to see the cycle way being used how it should be, smiles on people’s faces, happy kids trundling along. I’d rather deal with that, than some of the certified nut jobs behind the wheel of two tonnes of potential death.
As you’ll know, if you read this, I’ve often suffered with pain on the bike. However, that may now be a thing of the past.
I’d made a couple of changes to my position, lowered the saddle until it was clearly too low and moved it back up in increments until it felt just right. I also moved the saddle forward in the rails to compensate for the lowered position. The stem replaced down to 90mm, with a 7 degree rise. I also changed the bars from a 44cm to a 42. The bar is more of a compact than my fizik cyrano bars. The difference was incredible. I felt a hell of a lot more comfortable, my shoulders weren’t bunched up, a bend in my elbows. My knees are a little close to the bar ends, but I can cope with that.
4 miles in, no pain and my wattage was up and cadence had increased. 4 miles back home, and just the regular sore thighs because I’m fat and unfit. But non of that crippling upper thigh pain.
A few more rides just to be sure, but I’m fairly confident that these changes might of worked.
It’s been awhile since I had the old boy out the garage for a ride.
But today was the day for it. I got changed, checked all the batteries, and set off. Just a short run out to Ripley. My backside was aching quite quickly. Guess I’m going to have to get used to sitting in a saddle again. I felt every pedal stroke. It seemed like an effort, more so than I remember. I guess my fitness really has dropped off. For some odd reason, my fingers would not recognise the fact I’m using a wahoo elemnt computer, and kept trying to use the button presses for a Garmin. I’ve not used a Garmin for years. Weird how muscle memory works.
And my old friend thigh pain hit again as I was climbing the small hill into Ripley. Well, I say thigh, it’s more hip than anything else. I’ve lowered the saddle from where I had it, so let’s see if that makes any difference. I hope so, because it’s a crippling pain.
You’ll notice the new See.sense Ace lights. I’m still waiting for a half decent Android app for these lights. It’s been a long long time in the process. Truth be told, I’m not overly impressed with them. But I guess that’s another story for a post I’ve been meaning to write for awhile.
On the way home, I was unfortunately reminded some people’s driving leaves a lot to be desired, with people pulling out of side streets, left hooks and close passes. But alas, I’m not surprised.
So I had my bike up in the workstand cleaning the gunk after the very, very wet ride I had earlier. In the lower gears, the chain jumped off the lower jockey wheel, jamming between the jockey and cage.
Not being quite sure what was causing it I started to look into it. I initially didn’t think it could be Todo with the wet ride so I looked at the jockey, not worn, so cleaned it off and ensured it still spun freely. Put it back on and the same thing happened. Ok, perhaps the derailleur cage is bent. Nope, that was fine, so check the hangar, that’s perfectly straight.
Could it be the chain? Time to break out the chain cleaner. A good scrubbing of the chain, and bingo, no skipping off the jockey. So all I can think of is that some filth had worked into a chain link causing it to be skipping off the jockey.
After cleaning off my drive chain, I’d decided to try a different dry lube.
Normally, my dry lube of choice is Squirt. An issue I had with squirt is one of muck,although the drive chain stays cleaner as a whole with dry lube, squirt tends to bunch up in areas with a thick mucky gloop. This often needs poking out from the chainring and jockey wheels. When dry Squirt leaves the chain slightly sticky. Rock N roll gold drys completly dry. No sticky feeling on the chain.
The proof however will be in the ride, which I’m planning a little later today. Will shifts be as crisp with this as they where with squirt? Will chain noise be evident? Only one way to find out!
The back pain saga continues. The last week, it’s been almost unbearable. When it starts I can barely get 2 miles before I have to stop and stretch it out.
I’ve played with saddle setback and height, neither seemed to help in any great way. So I’m going to try a change in stem length to see if I’m too cramped on the bike. I’ve ordered a set of 80,100 and 110mm stems to try. Hopefully, an extra 10mm will help.
Currently I’m running a 90mm stem. So maybe that extra reach might put my back in a better line. I do also need to lose some weight, and improve my core.
There was a time where my right leg would get tired quicker than my left, so maybe I’ve started to compensate with out realising for a leg length issue. When I was in speedplay cleats, I had to install a wedge in the shoe to avoid foot pain. So I guess there maybe more issues to work out than just stem length.
But let’s wait and see how a different stem feels and go from there.