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A Better Kanteen Lid

My favorite lid for standard mouth Klean Kanteen bottles is the Topoko Straw Lid B. It’s a simple flip-top straw lid. The only thing that makes it special is that the mouthpiece is covered when closed. It seems like a common sense concept, but so many sport lids have no provision for some sort of mud guard.

Topoko Straw Lid

Other than that, there’s not much to say about the lid. It is completely leak-proof when closed. It is easy to operate one handed. It comes with two straws that can be cut to length. One is stiff and the other is bendy. I’ve found no functional difference between the two.

I have these lids installed on both the bottles I use on a daily basis – the 27 oz that I carry on my bike, and the 40 oz I use at home.

I did break one of the lids by accidentally dropping the bottle from about 4 feet onto concrete. It broke where the carry loop connects to the base. The lid still sealed and functioned properly. I only use the loop for pulling the bottle out of a cage or pouch, but I still purchased a replacement (and another spare) immediately.

The new lids I received were slightly different from the old ones. The bit that covers the mouthpiece is clear instead of black, and the edge of it is flush with the edge of the lid. On the old model, the black cover was a couple millimeters proud of the edge of the lid, which provided more purchase when grabbing the piece to flip it open. The older design seems superior, but I haven’t actually noticed a practical disadvantage with the new one. I can still easily and reliably flip the lid open, even with a gloved finger. (That is, however, with light gloves – the older design may have more of an advantage with heavy winter gloves.)

Topoko Straw Lid: Old and New

I’ve only used the lids on Klean Kanteen bottles. I use these bottles for water. I don’t know if there are any special considerations that would make the lids less than ideal for hot beverages.

I’ve used every iteration of Klean Kanteen’s Sport Cap since I bought my first bottle from them in 2005. They’ve all left something to be desired. The Topoko lid is a superior solution.

Rema Rotation

I previously outlined my patch kit, which is based around Rema patches and vulcanizing cement. Ensuring the health of the vulcanizing cement is key to the functionality of the kit. As with any liquid adhesive, it can dry out in an open tube. Or the tube may sprout a leak, causing the liquid to leak out and vanish. I have taskwarrior tell me to replace the cement in my patch kit every 3 months:

$ task add due:2020-01-01 wait:due-3weeks tag:bike recur:quarterly replace rema vulcanizing cement

The task is really just a queue for me to evaluate the condition of the kit. Because I do not get flats often, there’s a good chance that the cement tube in my kit will be unopened when I perform this evaluation. If the tube is sealed and appears in good condition, I’ll leave it in without replacing it. If it is open, I remove it from the kit and replace it with a new tube. The old cement goes into my toolbox at home. When I apply a patch at home, I’ll first try one these old, retired cement tubes.

Rema Vulcanizing Cement: Old vs New

Before marking the task as complete, I’ll also evaluate the patches in the kit, replenishing or replacing from my bulk supplies as necessary.

This process gives me extreme confidence that my patch kit will be functional when I need it.

This post was published on . It was tagged with bicycle, gear, edc.

Cablz Eyewear Retention

I’ve previously mentioned my fondness for Rudy Rydon eyewear (particularly with the photochromic laser red lenses). One of the benefits of the Rydons is the adjustability of the temples and the nose pad, which allow for a secure, custom fit. This makes added retention via a strap unnecessary for securing the Rydons on the face, yet I’ve come to appreciate having a retainer attached simply because it allows me to drop the eyewear around my neck when I don’t need it. This offers more security than pushing them up onto the crown of my head or hanging them over the edge of my shirt or pocket, without requiring the hassle of putting them away in a pack.

For this application I’ve come to like the Cablz Zipz Adjustable Eyewear Retainer. I use the 12 inch version. These are made of a coated, stainless steel wire. When you’re wearing the eyewear, the wire sits up off the neck so you don’t feel the retainer at all. When you’re hanging it around your neck, it is thin and light enough that you soon forget it is there (this is also a result of the lightness of the Rydons, of course). The zip allows the length of the retainer to adjust from about 6 inches to 12 inches. At the smallest setting this keeps the Rydons tight on my face, but since that is not what I’m looking for I keep it adjusted about half way. At roughly 9 inches in length, I find that I can easily don and doff the eyewear, and that they sit at a comfortable position on my chest when I’m hanging them around my neck. The “universal” silicon ends of the retainer grab securely on the Rydon temples.

Cablz Eyewear Retention

Cablz isn’t the only company to offer this style of retainer.

The Croakies ARC Endless is the same basic idea. I bought one to try out, but found it to be inferior. The silicon ends are significantly thicker and less comfortable behind the ear. I could bend the Rydon temples to account for this extra thickness, but I appreciate that the Cablz retainer requires no adjustment of the eyewear. With the Croakies, the pieces you grab to tighten the retainer are quite small. You’re adjusting the retainer blind by reaching behind your head, so the haptics are important. I found the Croakies difficult to use when wearing gloves. The Cablz adjustment pieces are large enough to be easy to use whether gloved or gloveless.

The equivalent from Chums is the Adjustable Orbiter. It only adjusts from 10 inches to 15.5 inches, which is too large for my needs, so I didn’t buy one to try.

I recommend the retainer from Cablz. It provides a simple but helpful augmentation to my eyeball protection system.

Zensah Leg Compression

I purchased a pair of Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves in 2008 after reading about them at MilitaryMorons. This was when minimalist running was beginning to take off – Born to Run was published the following year – and I found that the sleeves ended up being a valuable part of my transition to less supportive footwear.

The story I was sold in various wilderness medicine courses was that compression aided recovery because it constricted the blood vessels, raising the percentage of oxygen delivered to the area, which in turn speeds muscle regrowth. I understand there is some debate about whether this explanation is accurate but, whatever the reason for it, there seems to be no debate that compression aids recovery and performance.

I still use my 12 year old pair of Zensah sleeves. They’re not a piece of equipment I reach for frequently, but they’re invaluable when I do use them. If I’ve been pushing myself on runs – or, in the Before Times, if I had a hard training session at the boxing gym – there’s nothing better than the immediate comfort I get when sliding them on. Because I don’t use them often, sometimes I’ll forgot that they’re buried in the bottom of my sock drawer and I’ll go a couple days with discomfort in my calves that I can’t get out with a roller or massage ball.

Prior to buying the Zensah sleeves, I would occasionally accomplish the same thing with 3M Vetrap. It works, and is worth having around for splinting (the self-adhesive property makes it superior to the classic ACE elastic bandage), but wrapping and getting the tension just-so is more of a hassle than just sliding on the sleeves. Vetrap is also not as comfortable as Zensah’s material, which is both breathable and moisture wicking.

I've started mounting my bike lights via shock cord.

The previously mentioned Orfos Pro LED flares ship with Velcro One-Wrap for mounting. This works well enough, but lately I’ve decided I prefer using shock cord and cord locks. The cordlocks add a little weight to the system, but this setup mounts to all the things I want to mount the lights to, and makes it very easy to tighten. After tightening the lights don’t move around at all, where with the Velcro they would move a little on a bumpy road. This system is also quick to attach and detach, which I appreciate when parking, and can be more easily manipulated when wearing full-fingered gloves.

Orfos Pro Shock Cord Mount

  • Orfos Pro Shock Cord Mount
  • Orfos Pro Shock Cord Mount

This post was published on . It was tagged with micro, bicycle, gear.

Pocket Shield EDC

I’ve used the Raven Concealment Systems Pocket Shield on and off since 2014. In the past I would outfit it only in specific environments where showing a pocket clip would be inappropriate, such as night clubs and weddings. Towards the end of 2019 I decided I wanted to try never showing a pocket clip, which meant incorporating the Pocket Shield into my everyday carry. For the past few months I have been happy with a setup utilizing two different Blue Force Gear pouches: the Single Pistol Mag Belt Pouch and the Ten-Speed Single Pistol Mag Pouch.

Pocket Shield EDC: Rear

The former pouch has a Velcro strap on the back, intended to be attached to a belt. The latter has Blue Force’s MOLLE strap on the back for attaching to any PALS grid. The pouches have other minor differences, but the attachment method is the only difference that matters. Both work equally well on the Pocket Shield.

I use the Ten-Speed pouch to hold my ASP Key Defender OC (which I carry in addition to my pack mounted OC) and a Fisher 400B Bullet Space Pen (loaded with a fine cartridge and, obviously, a clip because pens without clips are dumb).

Pocket Shield EDC: Front

The belt pouch is used to secure my Triple Aught Design Dauntless MK3. When attaching the belt pouch, I roll over the top of the lower Velcro loop, which causes the Velcro to stick out a bit from the Pocket Shield instead of sitting flush. This acts as a stop for the knife’s pocket clip, preventing the knife from sitting all the way into the pouch. Increasing the ride height of the knife makes it much easier to deploy than it would be if it were completely inserted. The pouch keeps the knife from wandering around, which it is wont to do when just clipped directly over the top edge of the Pocket Shield.

Pocket Shield EDC: Knife Stop

Lately I’ve also been keeping my Elzetta Alpha on the Pocket Shield, but I’m not entirely convinced that I like it there.

This post was published on . It was tagged with edc, gear.

Measuring Chain Wear

A bicycle chain elongates as it is used. This elongation – commonly referred to as “stretch” – is caused by the wearing down of the pins that hold the chain links together and the enlargement of the bore hole in the inner plates that the pins are inserted through. If left unchecked, wear on the chain causes the teeth on the cassette cogs and crank chainrings to become reshaped to the point that they will no longer mesh with a new chain. To extend the service live of these more expensive components, it behooves one to replace the chain before it becomes excessively worn. For drivetrains below 10-speed, the common advice is to replace the chain when it measures 0.75% elongation. For drivetrains above 10-speed, the common advice is to replace the chain when it measures 0.50% elongation. For 10-speed drivetrains, opinion varies between the two measurements, so take your pick.

Chain elongation may be measured with a ruler – 12 complete links on a chain should measure exactly 12 inches – but performing this measurement with accuracy and precision, and identifying when the measurement is off by 0.50% or 0.75% can be difficult. Hence the market for chain measurement tools.

In the past I have used a Park Tool CC-3.2 and a Park Tool CC-2. The CC-3.2 was a simple go-or-no-go measurement tool which attempts to identify when the chain has reached the 0.50% or 0.75% limits. The gauge of the CC-2 provides a more detailed look, attempting to show you not just if the chain has reached the replacement point but also how closely you are approaching it. Both of these tools share the same weakness: they measure from opposing roller faces, meaning that when the tool is inserted into the chain it is applying pressure in opposite directions. This behaviour incorporates inconsistencies of the roller diameter into the measurement, rather than just measuring the pin-to-pin distance, which can result in the tool providing a premature indication of the chain’s wear.

Pedro's Chain Checker Plus II

Recently I purchased the Pedro’s Chain Checker Plus II. This is one of a newer generation of tools which attempts to eliminate the previous inaccuracy by measuring from the same side of the roller. The tool applies the load to the chain in the same direction during measurement, rather than pulling in opposite directions. This simulates how the cog experiences the chain when the bike is pedaled and allows the tool to more accurately gauge the pin-to-pin distance. Compared to an older style tool like the Park CC-3.2 or CC-2, it should tell you to replace the chain later. Getting more life out of the chain (without potentially damaging the other components of the drivetrain) is useful not only for your wallet, but also to reduce waste. A Duke University study claims that the manufacturing of a chain is one of the more wasteful parts of bicycle production.

The Park Tool CC-4 should provide the same measurement as the Pedro’s Chain Checker Plus II. I went with Pedro’s option because it also provides a chainring nut wrench (useful when tightening or replacing chainrings) and a chain hook tool (theoretically useful when installing or removing chains with master links, though I’ve never found a tool necessary for this).

I learned about these newer tools thanks to Dave Rome’s excellent article on CyclingTips, which includes many more details on chain wear and measurement.

This post was published on . It was tagged with gear, bicycle.

Better Bondage with ROK Straps

ROK Straps are superior bungie cords. They are designed to be safe and long lasting during prolonged outdoor use. Each end of the strap consists of a sewn loop, allowing it to be securely fastened to a wide variety of frameworks without concern for scratching or marring the surface, or for a hook coming released under tension and finding its way into an eyeball. Cargo secured by the ROK Strap is easily accessed via the side-release buckle. Most of the ROK Strap is simple webbing, adjustable thanks to the buckle. One side of the ROK Strap has a short segment of a durable natural rubber, giving the strap some elasticity, but not enough that unintended recoil will likely result in the strap finding its way into an eyeball. The rubber is contained in a polyester braid for UV protection and additional durability.

ROK Strap: Models

For securing cargo to a bike rack, my preferred model is the Pack Strap. These expand from 12” to 42” inches. They are 5/8” wide and are rated to carry up to 55 lbs. I find this is the right size for most cargo and have used it to transport: sleeping pads, folding chairs, toilet paper restocks, a year’s supply of paper towels, pizza, and takeout yakisoba.

  • ROK Straps: Toilet Paper Transport
  • ROK Straps: Yakisoba Transport

The smallest model is the Commuter Strap. These expand from 12” up to 28”. They are 1/2” wide and are rated to carry up to 40 lbs. If you just want to lash down a jacket or sleeping bag, these may be appropriate. They are long enough to secure common small cargo on a bike, but I would always rather have the extra range of the Pack Strap for handling awkward loads.

ROK Straps are also available in the ATV Strap model. These expand from 18” to 60”. They are 1” wide and are rated to carry up to 100 lbs. Apparently these are popular among people who ride motor-scooters. The 18” minimum length is too large for some of what I want to attach to a bike, and I’m not keen to carry cargo that would require the 60” maximum length. I saw a photo once of somebody who used these to attach a 45 gallon trash can to the back of his scooter. If that’s what you need to do, I guess consider these, but for what I find myself carrying I don’t need the extra length or weight rating of these over the 42” Pack Strap. This model stays at home in my bag of miscellaneous bondage.

The above measurements are of the ROK Straps when the rubber is at rest. When under load, all three models can stretch about an additional 4”.

The loose ends of the ROK Straps can be secured using either VELCRO One-Wrap or ITW Web Dominators.

ROK Straps: One-Wrap

ROK Straps: Web Dominators