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Screwing, Redux

Since I outlined it in 2018, my EDC tool kit has not changed much. It is still based around the same titanium Fix It Sticks, and intended primarily as a vehicular repair kit.

Sticks of Fixing

It is still carried in the same cuben fiber packing cube from Mountain Laurel Designs (since discontinued and replaced by the otherwise equivalent Ultra X 100 Packing Cubes), though said cube is much worse for wear. Some of the smaller bits have poked a couple holes in the bottom of the pouch. I’ve patched this with Tenacious Tape on both the inside and the outside.

The bit selection has been augmented slightly. Installed in the Fix It Sticks are my most frequently used 1/4” drive bits.

  • Torx T20s
  • Torx T25s
  • Phillips #2
  • Hex 4mm

In the bit holder, I carry additional 1/4” drive bits.

  • Hex 1.5mm
  • Hex 2mm
  • Hex 2.5mm
  • Hex 3mm
  • Hex 5mm
  • Hex 5mm x 50mm
  • Hex 6mm
  • Hex 8mm
  • Torx T8s
  • Phillips #0
  • Slotted 0.6mm x 4.5mm
  • 4mm MicroBit Adapter, holding a slotted 0.25mm x 1.5mm

Keen eyed readers will notice two 5mm hex bits. The longer, 50mm bit is needed to reach into my Gevenalle CX Shifters to adjust the mounting bolt. This longer bit can also be used to provide a turning tool to be used with my Pitlock key. (In 2018 I discussed using the longer Torx T25 bit for this. I now carry a standard length T25s, since I need the longer 5mm hex for the shifters.) My rear Phil Wood Touring Hub takes two 5mm wrenches to remove the end caps. Doing this allows the cassette to be removed from the wheel, providing easy access to repair a broken drive-side spoke without messing around with cassette removal tools.

Mini Knipex Cobra Pliers are only used infrequently, but are so useful when I do need them that I put up with their extra weight in the kit.

The Fix It Sticks tire levels and chain breaker still live in the kit, though I have been debating removing the chain breaker. It is compact but heavy, and it has been about 15 years since I last had an incident that required a chain breaker on the road. It would definitely be in the kit for any multi-day trips.

My Pitlock key is on a Flex-o-loc key ring. The ring also holds a spare KMC CL559R Missing Link, a Maratac Titanium Peanut Lighter, and a CountyComm Titanium Piccolo Capsule that holds two small security bolts.

A small cuben fiber zip pouch holds my patch kit and one FiberFix, including that little spoke wrench that comes with the FiberFix (annoying to use, yes, but agreeably small and light).

EDC Toolkit

My drive-side chainstay is cord wrapped.

I use the reflective Ironwire that Lawson makes for Durston, tied in a spiral French hitching wrap. It helps to protect the chainstay, but mostly it looks cool.

Chainstay Cord Wrap

At 2mm, Ironwire is slightly thicker than the 1.7mm Kevlar cord that ships with the FiberFix Replacement Spoke, but my guess is that I could unwrap some of this cord and use it with the FiberFix hardware. I have yet to break a spoke this eyar, so I haven’t had an opportunity to test this.

Hafney FR-06 Mirrors

Last May I lost my right-side Sprintech Drop Bar Mirror in the baggage car of the Amtrak Coast Starlight. The right-side mirror is less useful than the left-side, so I didn’t bother about a replacement until after pedaling the 1,200 miles back home.

Upon returning, I decided to explore what other mirror options there may be rather than immediately purchasing another Sprintech mirror. I rode with a Take A Look Helmet Mirror for a few weeks, but found it to be less convenient than a mirror mounted to the bike. I messed with the D+D Oberlauda UltraLite Bike Mirror for a couple days. It’s a nice mirror, but I couldn’t find a mounting position that I was happy with on my drop bars. (While messing with this mirror I ended up moving my bell from the left to the right side.) Finally I purchased an FR06 from Hafny Components. I was immediately smitten with this, and bought a second FR06 for the other side a few days later.

The Hafny FR06 uses actual glass for the mirror. It is slightly convex – though less so than the Sprintech – and has a blue tint that does a great job of cutting back on glare. The optical clarity of the mirror is really excellent. This is entirely unnecessary for the application, but once I used it I didn’t want to go back to Sprintech’s chrome-coated ABS plastic.

Hafney FR06 Viewport

The FR06 fits snugly into my Rene Herse Rando Handlebars, even with the tail of my leather tape tucked in. After inserting, a bolt is tightened to expand the assembly, locking it into place. The mirror itself is attached to the mounting assembly via a ball and socket joint. A separate bolt allows this joint to be locked in place. Since the mounting assembly can be rotated in addition to the pan-and-tilt of the mirror joint, positioning everything takes a little trial and error. Once the correct position is found, everything can be tightened down enough such that a smart smack will not cause anything to budge. Or it can be left loose enough to allow for in-flight adjustments. I’ve switched between both approaches, and in neither case have I had any issue with visual clarity or the mirror moving of its own accord, even on rough gravel roads.

I mount the FR06 with the logo-side of the assembly facing down. I think this is considered to be upside down, but it allows me to tilt the mirror up a few degrees higher than I otherwise could, providing a better picture of what’s behind me above the actual road surface. With the logo on the assembly facing up I found that the mirror ran into the top of the assembly just 1 or 2 degrees shy of where I wanted it.

  • Hafney FR06 Mounting
  • Hafney FR06 Mounting

The shape of the FR06 mirror is different than the old Sprintech. I don’t find the shape of one to be superior to the other. Both provide me with the image I want to see at a quick glance. But the higher quality look and feel of the Hafney offering makes me happy, and I think contributes to the overall sex appeal of my ride. This is something I prioritize.

Cockpit

The Carradice Super C Handlebar Bag and its Modifications

I bought my Carradice Super C Handlebar Bag sometime in 2010 or 2011. I think I learned about it while reading one of the blogs of Emily Chappell as she was preparing to leave her London courier job to ride around the world.

Twin Peaks Hydration Experiment

There’s no shortage of bicycle handlebar bags out there. Most of them have more intriguing designs than the Super C. The Super C is a simple box. The sides and bottom are rigid (with corrugated plastic). Inside, it has two open top pockets on either side and a zippered pocket near the back. On the outside, either side has mesh pockets. These do not expand much. I move my shoulder mounted OC to one of these when I am not wearing a backpack, but otherwise these external side pockets are mostly useless.

The Super C has two killer features that I think make it superior to the vast majority of its competition.

First, it mounts with a Rixen & Kaul KLICKFix bracket. This piece of Teutonic wizardry allows the bag to be attached or detached from the bike in about two seconds. Most other bags utilize straps of some sort, which are fine if you’re out in the back of beyond, but fiddly for frequent donning and doffing. In an urban environment, I want to be able to quickly pop the bag off my bike and throw the strap over my shoulder whenever I park. When disembarking a ferry or train, I want to pop the bag back on the bike immediately so that I’m not causing people to stack up behind me and wait while I’m routing straps. When I’m walking around with the bag over my shoulder, I don’t want to worry that I may discover a loose strap fell out when I get back to the bike. The KLICKFix addresses all of these concerns. When the bag is on the bike, it is held securely. I’ve had the Super C on plenty of miles on bumpy gravel with my skinny 32mm tires, and never had an issue. I’m sure there is some maximum recommended weight limit for the bracket, but I’ve never thought about it. As long as you aren’t loading the Super C with lead, it’ll probably be fine.

Second, the Super C has a detachable light bracket on the bottom. Either because of their height or how much real estate they take up on the bars, most handlebar bags (including the Super C) are not compatible with lights mounted on the handlebar. Most bags do not provide any alternative solutions for a headlight, instead expecting the user to workaround the problem with some sort of fork mount solution or an accessory cockpit bar mounted above the handlebars. Those alternatives work, but I find them annoying. The Super C provides a simple bracket that pops into the bottom of the bag. Anything that can mount to a handlebar can mount to the bracket. If you don’t need the bracket, you can twist it off and leave it at home.

Super C Light Bracket

The rest of the Super C is pretty basic. I’ve made a few modifications that make it more useful to me.

A D-ring on either side of the bag allows a shoulder strap to be mounted. I keep Peak Design Anchor attachments on mine, to which I usually keep attached the original model of the Peak Design Leash. When I’m out on a weekend ride, I’ll often have a camera or binoculars in the bag. Both of those have Peak Design Anchors on them. Keeping Anchors on the bag as well allow me to have a single strap I can move around to whatever thing needs it.

Surveillance Package

The lid of the Super C sports a removable map case. It attaches via two snaps near the handlebar-side of the bag, routes under a piece of webbing on the opposite side of the lid, and then folds back over itself. This was a key feature in the pre-pocket-computer-age when I bought the bag, but these days I rarely attach the map case. Instead, I used my awl to add what I will optimistically call bartacks on either side of the webbing, just a few millimeters from the edge. This provides a channel which allows me to slip in a Duraflex Siamese Slik Clip on either side. That, in turn, allows me to attach a simple zippered pouch on the top. I appreciate having something like this for small items I may want while underway.

Super C Cyberpunk

On the underside of the lid, I added a similar length of webbing with clips on either side. This allows me to run another pouch inside, which won’t get buried in the main compartment. I frequently clip my first aid kit in here.

Super C Under Lid

The lid of the Super C closes with two side release buckles. These are very inconvenient to open or close when underway. You can do it if you’re motivated, but it takes concentration of effort. This shortcoming is where the Super C differs from most randonneuring bags on the market, which usually close with a piece of shock cord that gets pulled back and looped around the stem. Fortunately this is easy to add. I routed shock cord through the webbing that the buckles attach to, and ran an ITW GTSP Cordlock through either end. This works great to secure the lid, and makes it easy to get into the bag midflight.

Super C Shock Cord Closure

I left the shock cord much longer than it needs to be to wrap around my stem. The front of my bag has a JK/47 Cyberpunk pin, secured via locking pin backs. If I close the lid with the buckles rather than the cord, I can use the cordlock to extend the length of the loop enough to run underneath this pin. That gives me a “V” of shock cord on the top of the bag which I can use for extra carrying capacity. I use this to carry lightweight but bulky things, such as a puffy jacket in an UltraLiteSacks Zippered Cube Ditty Bag.

  • Super C Shock Cord Expansion
  • Super C Shock Cord Expansion

The front of my Super C also features a panel of loop velcro. Since the bag has a hard liner, I glued it on instead of sewing it. I think I used Fabri-Tac. Originally I thought I’d use this to mount my Orfos Pro light, but later I decided that using shock cord to attach the light to the Super C’s light bracket was a better option. Now the loop panel is just used for fun morale patches – mine usually sports the emblem from Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.

Super C Lighting

Carradice products are handmade. They include a tag where the maker writes their name. My Super C was made by Kelly.

No longer will I lay my bike down in the dirt like a savage.

I bought a Click-Stand. My Max-5 model weighs 3.4 oz, including the fat foot for soft ground. I tried it out on a picnic ride today and it worked great.

Click-Stand Picnic

Click-Stand Picnic

Adarga Leather Handlebar Tape

Often I find that the human-machine interface is an area where investments pay dividends. Bar tape on a bicycle is one such example.

Global Cycling Supply claims that their Adarga Leather Handlebar Tape is “the finest leather handlebar tape on the planet.” It is my first leather handlebar tape, so while I cannot compare it to other offerings, I can say that I have been extremely happy with it over the past 10 months. It is an improvement over the discontinued synthetic Fizik tape I previously preferred.

Adarga Leather Handlebar Tape

The feel of the tape is very pleasant, both when riding with gloves and gloveless. It has held up well across all the seasons, on pavement and on dirt. It offers comfort, grip and purchase; whether conditions are hot, dry and dusty, or cool, grey and wet.

My primary concern when ordering it was the lack of padding. The synthetic tape I used previously was 3mm thick, while Adarga has no padding beyond the minimal thickness of the leather itself. I run the tape on Rene Herse Randonneur Handlebars. My experience so far has been that well designed bars, such as these, make the extra padding unnecessary. I like being able to feel the firmness of the aluminum below the leather, and have found no issues with comfort, even after long days in the saddle on rough roads.

Installing the tape was not too difficult. I was surprised at how tight I had to pull it to get a good wrap – much tighter than I could pull a synthetic tape without tearing it – but once I figured that out, the installation went smoothly. The backside of the tape does include a narrow adhesive strip that helps the tape stay in place during the wrapping process. I didn’t measure the length of the tape, but I ended up snipping off about 6 inches for my 440 mm bars.

Global Cycling Supply is the side-hustle of the owner of Law Tanning. I suspect the guy knows how to make leather and what characteristics are important in a handlebar tape. The Adarga leather formula is billed as being based on a process previously used for British military gloves. I ran the tape for about 6 months before applying a very light coat of Obenauf’s LP. I don’t know if this was necessary, but I end up applying LP to most of the leather things in my life, and it did darken the black tape an aesthetically pleasing amount.

With synthetic bar tape, I find that after 10 months of use the tape is still perfectly functional but has signs of wear. The Adarga leather tape still looks like new. I expect it will provide many years of service.

Break

Gevenalle CX Shifters

Gevenalle CX Shifters are the best change I’ve ever made to my bike. I don’t understand how STI brifters have any market share in the world where Gevenalle exist.

When all is ready, I throw this switch

The left Gevenalle shifter is friction only. Shifting the front chain ring with friction is objectively superior to indexed. It allows me to make minute trim adjustments based on where I am in the rear cassette. This is especially useful with a triple crank (which I still run, because why wouldn’t I want more gears). With indexed shifting on a triple, you often end up with some gear combinations that cause rubbing front or rear if your cable tension is not perfectly dialed. Not so with friction. Just give it a slight nudge.

The right Gevenalle shifter can switch between indexed and friction shifting. I started out using it in indexed mode. After a few weeks of that I decided to give friction mode a whirl. I had never used friction shifting before. 9 months later, I’m still in friction mode. I do still think there is a place for indexed shifting in the rear, but I enjoy friction and have no current desire to switch back. (I haven’t even thought about cable tension all year!) I do, however, value the ability to switch between the two.

The real magic of the Gevenalle system is being able to jump the cassette between multiple gears with a single movement. An STI shifter may allow you to jump between 3 or 4 gears at once. With Gevenalle, you can dump the entire cassette in one smooth movement. That’s not something I do often, but I absolutely do dump or load about half the cassette at once. They market this as a feature for cyclocross racers, but it applies just as much to anyone who rides with other traffic.

This video is what helped sell me on the shifters when I was considering the purchase. It demonstrates the big cassette movements possible, as well as the ergonomics of using the system. Whether I push or pull the shift levers depends on where they are in relation to the brake lever. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but quickly becomes intuitive. As someone who spends most of the time on the hoods, I found that I didn’t need to change my hand position to actuate the shifters. Shifting from down in the drops is difficult or impossible, but if I’m down there it’s usually because I’m cruising down hill, already at mach 3, and not intending to shift anytime soon.

The Gevenalle shifters can be praised for their functionality. They are lightweight, simple, durable, and rebuildable. They don’t care if they’re caked in mud or bathed in the blood of your enemies or whatever. But they’re also just really fun. I shift a lot more frequently with these than I ever did with STI. They inspire a closer connection to the vehicle, perhaps similar to manually shifting an automobile. Having both visual and haptic feedback on where you are in your gears and how much move movement you have in either direction is fantastic. I refer to the front shifter as my hyperdrive switch. Anytime the rear shifter is moved all the way outboard and I flick the front all the way to the right I know shit is about to get real.

Many of the strengths of the Gevenalle shifters could also be claimed by bar-end or downtube setups, but Gevenalle allows you to keep all your in-flight controls in one place. I value being able to shift, brake, and flick my ding-ding all without moving my hands. I think this is especially important for city riding, when everything else on the road is actively trying to kill you. (And I still like using my bar-ends for mirrors, too.)

With Gevenalle, the brake cables run under the tape. Shift cables shoot out the side, like STI shifters of yore. When I installed them I made sure to cut my cables and housing long enough so that I had enough space to move the cables aside and shove my rando bag or bikepacking harness between them. It hasn’t been an issue. Back when STI shifters had this kind of cable routing, I used v-brake noodles to open up space for a bag. I haven’t found that necessary with Gevenalle shifters.

Rando Ready

I’m not sure that I’d ever want to use a non-Gevenalle shift setup on a drop bar bike again.

A Better Phone Mount

When I purchased my first smart phone in 2013, I was motivated primarily by the promise of using Open Street Map for bicycle navigation. This does not require, but is greatly assisted by, a mounting system of some sort. I’ve tried a few over the years. Since 2015 I’ve used the Aduro U-Grip Plus Universal Bike Mount, which I think is an excellent design. It uses a ball and socket to provide complete adjustability. It secures the phone with a spring-loaded cradle and silicon band. Between the two, there’s no way the phone is falling out, unless the mount breaks. Unfortunately the whole thing is cheaply made of plastic. Earlier this month, mine finally broke.

  • Aduro U-Grip Plus Universal Bike Mount: Failure
  • Aduro U-Grip Plus Universal Bike Mount

After seven years, I feel I got my money’s worth out of the Aduro U-Grip, but when a tool like this fails I want to replace it with something better. Purchasing another of the same just resets the countdown to the next failure. Unfortunately, the bicycle phone mount market seems to be flooded with shit. Either they provide limited adjustability, or they require a special phone case. I have no interest in either. I was disappointed, and about to just order another Aduro U-Grip, until I happened upon Tackform. Their Enduro Mount was advertised for motorcycles, but I figured it ought to work on a real bike.

Cockpit

Tackform’s offering is similar in concept to Aduro’s, with a ball and socket providing complete adjustability, and phone security provided by a spring-loaded cradle and silicon band. But it raises durability to the extreme. I’ve had mine for just a few days. I am impressed.

The only plastic component is the wingnut used to lock the position of the cradle. Everything else is metal. The spring that operates the cradle is no joke. It is capable of operating as an improvised finger guillotine. Yet it is quick and easy to operate one-handed. Tackform includes a silicon band for further security, but in the packaging material they say that you really don’t need it. I believe they are correct. When it is installed in the cradle, I can lift the bike with the phone. The phone doesn’t move at all. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where the phone would escape.

The top of the cradle has a lip to prevent the phone from being pulled out straight up. The sides and bottom of the cradle are lined with a thin rubber to provide some protection to the phone. The outer edges of the cradle are quite sharp, which makes me somewhat nervous about a crash. I have no doubt that the mount would come through, and that the phone would still be secured in it, but my face might not fare so well if it comes into contact with the cradle. But, hey, that’s what eye pro is for.

The primary disadvantage to the Tackform Enduro is that the arm which connects the cradle to the bar mount is tightened with a single wingnut. To rotate the cradle from portrait to landscape mode, you have to loosen this wingnut, which also loosens the connection to the bar mount. So while the ball and socket connection gives you complete freedom to position the phone as you like, it’s the sort of thing where you need to figure out what position you want and then tighten the wingnut to lock it in. You won’t leave the wingnut loose enough to allow for adjustments while riding. With the Aduro U-Grip, the socket is part of the cradle, the ball is part of the bar mount, and I was always able to leave the nut which secures the two just loose enough that I could make minor in-flight positioning adjustments without compromising the security of the system. In practice, I have yet to find this limitation with the Tackform to be something I really care about. But if you want to be able to rotate between portrait and landscape modes without stopping and using two hands, look elsewhere.

The other disadvantage that some riders will identify is weight. I didn’t weigh the components, but what you’re dealing with here is basically just a chunk of aluminum. I imagine the whole system is somewhere around 6 oz, which is significantly more than the plastic competitors. If you have much spandex in your wardrobe, you won’t be happy with Tackform. But my bike is carefully built for what I see as the ideal compromise between performance and durability, and the Tackform mount makes the cut.

Beyond the durability of the system, what endures me to Tackform is that their products really are systems. They are not just selling a few application-specific packages, but have whole series of components. It’s like a grown-up Lego set. I appreciate knowing that I could replace an individual component, or buy just the piece I need to expand the mount’s applicability to different vehicles or environments.

None of Tackform’s products are cheap, but they claim that their products are designed to last a lifetime. After the first 100 miles on this mount, I believe that statement will prove accurate. I suspect that the slab-format pocket terminal will be phased out and become irrelevant well before the Tackform Enduro will fail.

Tackform Enduro Mount

The mount is manufactured in the country of Taiwan, so get yours before China expands its beachfront property.