Tuesday 4 December 2012

Pimp My Hybrid

I'm not a bicycle pimper.

I don't buy a bike and then set out to make it ever more uber. I don't try to make it prettier and prettier, I basically just want to make it do what its meant to do, and I want it to do that every time I use it.

I actually have three bikes at the moment. One is 1983ish racer, BSA sport. Black, steel frame. Geared rather fast, as such bikes are, and the only real customisation on it is I've got a wider back wheel - that gives it a bit more grip and robustness, and keeps it useful for bombing around city streets.

Another is my funky Giant road bike - actually its pretty much bottom-middle of price range for a road bike. Stiff, modern frame means it never seems to be on my side the way the BSA sport is (oh, I love the flex of steel), but its fast and fun for longer rides - its my out of town, open road bike. And oh, my word, out on the guided busway cycle track, its fun.

And then there is my daily hybrid. Giant Expression, a few years old now. Reliable. Dependable. Lots of other words ending in 'ible'. Yet despite the fact that it was described by a friend of mine as 'glamorously unsexy' it is in fact my most pimped ride.

This began when I started breaking it, which was pretty much when I got it. Soon I found I'd replaced the bottom bracket, various parts of gears, the saddle, then the wheels... And then I realised that it still wasn't quite the thing for every day, day and night commuting through hostile roads and roundabouts. Still not VISIBLE enough. So I've set about further pimpage - and not just with ordinary (Cateye) lights.

One part of that has been one of these on my front wheel. You can see what I'm currently displaying thereon here. Or, if you're lazy, here's a youtube vid from the gadgets creator:

So far I can't really decide whether its helping me at all. Don't get me wrong, I think its awesome, and my rationale for buying it was (1) its great, (2) its innovative and we should support such cracking innovation, and (3) it should make me more visible side on. Is it making me safer? I don't know.

The other bit of recent pimpage has been one of these. Don't know if its exactly the same as the one in the video below, but its not far from it.

 Yes. Thats right. A bike light with frikkin laser beams. I know. You don't have to tell me. Awesome.

I've been using this for a couple of days now, including a ride up Milton Road yesterday. And thus far I must say I'm very impressed. I've not had any close overtakes yet; whether thats because I look odd (which helps) or because it is defining a road space where motorists don't want to enter, I can't say. Either way, this one is a winner so far. 

If I'm going to criticise (and you know, I'm always going to criticise) I'd say it feels like a small product run; unless I'm mistaken its some kind of ABS plastic, its hard and seems likely to crack. Its got the battery cover held in by three absurdly tiny Phillips screws, meaning I have to find a tiny screwdriver to get in to it. Symptomatic of it being made out of a hard, small product at low cost, so it has no flex and needs rather unforgiving screws rather than a clip or something similar. Still, on the other hand, is a bike light with frikkin laser beams. Which makes up for a lot.

If I'm going to be MORE critical, I expect more of any laser product than the instructions saying that it complies with the law. Epic fail there - I rather want to know what the power output is or at very least what laser category it is. Thats really important if this could even accidentally be pointed at a persons eyes - so I had to go and measure that myself. That isn't something most punters will be able to do, so in my opinion the company making and those marketing this need to pull their socks up FAST to stay ahead of the law.

Other than that, can't decide whether I need any more pimping for this bike. Its certainly needed pumping, having had two punctures in the last week. There does always seem to be SOMETHING that needs fixing or replacing, doesn't there?

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