About a year and a half ago, I bought this Raleigh Alley Way and it changed my life. I love cycling and would just pedal all day long if I could. It gives me a sense of freedom and connectedness with the world around me that I never really had before – at least not on an everyday basis. I love my bike and thought I’d share a bit about the machine rather than just where I’ve gone. I have two other bikes as well – a mountain bike (not technically mine), and an english ’71 Dunelt that I fixed up, but is currently broken. The bike I ride most for pleasure and transportation is my 2010 Raleigh Alley Way – a hybrid with some pretty unusual features.
When I talk to non-cyclists or low-mileage cyclists about places I ride, I usually get stories about how much their butts hurt (belive me – I’m not asking). My Brooks B17 saddle is extremely comfortable, despite being relatively hard. I can ride about 4 hours before I even notice. I imagine if I had proper padded shorts, I could ride all day. This is my second Brooks B17 – they are a hot commodity in SF and my first one was stolen. I took the bus home. The downside to these leather saddles is they are fairly uncomfortable until they are broken in, which takes a heap of saddle time – 500 to 1,000 miles is pretty standard without resorting to trickery. Fortunately, mine is there and it is just peachy to sit on.
Rather than a chain, my bike is driven by a belt. It has the advantage of being maintenance -free and totally clean. It’s also whisper-quiet, though a properly maintained chain doesn’t make much noise at all. The downside is that you cannot use a derailleur and the replacement parts are somewhat rare. If anything breaks, it’ll mean a special order rather than a trip to the bike shop. I like the no-maintenance/clean thing, but it’s not that big a deal to me. I get quite a few comments about it, however.
Because of the belt drive, my bike uses an internally geared hub to handle the gearing. This is an eight speed Shimano Alfine IGH. It works great in the city because you can shift while stopped – perfect at stoplights and such. My only complaint with it is that the jump from 5th to 6th gear is too big. I hear the new 11 speed Shimano Alfine has more even steps between the gears, but it’s currently prohibitively expensive. The system is also nearly maintenance free, unlike derailleur setups, which I’ve spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME adjusting. I’m sure it’s easy if you are a pro – but I’m definitely not.
These Avid BB7 brakes are a new addition to my bike. Raleigh fitted the bike originally with Shimano BR416 disc brakes, which worked fine at first but were impossible for me to adjust properly, even with hours of time and effort. I can adjust these Avids in about 5 minutes, and they stop better than the OEM brakes ever did.
The front hub contains a dynamo, which generates 6v of AC power for this:
My B&M headlight is just wonderful. It’s quite bright and allows me to both be seen by cars and illuminates the path ahead. Had my bike not come with a dynamo hub, I’m sure I wouldn’t have ever bothered with this. As a transportation bicycle, having an always available, hight-powered headlight is a definite plus. The system allows for a taillight as well, but I don’t have one quite yet. I still use an LED blinkie for visibility at night.
I used the stock Wellgo pedals untill one of the clips fell off. While looking for a new bolt to fix the problem, I put these MKS 3000 rubber block pedals on from my Dunelt and haven’t taken them off since. I’d like to try clipless pedals sometime, but these are the best dang rubber pedals made. They are quite heavy, but this bike isn’t light so a little extra isn’t hurting anything. If you like rubber block pedals, these are the way to go. A+
A bell is pretty much essential for bike riding. Any time I am on a path and not in the road, I have to use the bell to pass pedestrians and other cyclists. Some people appreciate that I don’t just silently whiz past them and some give me dirty looks for ringing at them. Even on the streets, I use the bell to get motorists to look at me when the weather is nice enough for rolled-down windows! This is a Crane temple bell. The springed arm makes a nice and loud ring for all to hear.
This is my sparkly gold helmet. Hopefully, I never have occasion to test how well it works.
A water bottle isn’t that exciting. I am basically in love with American Cyclery, which is where I bought my bike. Huckleberry (where Kristin bought her bike) is probably my favorite shop in town right now, but the bikes at AC are just to die for. I always notice when other bikes around town are rocking American Cyclery bottles. And bikes on blogs.
So thats it! I love my Alley Way and all the places it takes me. The weather has turned nice up here in Port Angeles and I rode in to work three days last week – a 21.6 mile round trip. We’ll see if I can keep it up. I’m definitely in a great mood when I start my day with an awesome bike ride.