Hinging my head around bike storage

Ever since I moved out, I’ve been keeping my two-bike fleet, Hyro and Bino, inside the living room of my house. While it’s a very safe location for the fleet, it’s also eaten into some interior space, no matter how narrow they are. It’s space my wife feels could be put to better use.

The house has a pretty secure service area where I wash laundry and hang it out to air-dry. It has high walls all around, but save for a couple of alcoves, most of it has no roof. I’ve tried storing my bikes there, with rain covers in case of downpours.

This has been, quite literally, a mixed bag.

While the rain covers do protect the bikes from the rain from above, they don’t do anything for moisture coming from below that pitter-patters upward as the raindrops hit the concrete floor. On Bino, especially, this has resulted in the development of some surface rust on the chain, as the drivetrain sits much lower on a small-wheeled bike. This rust is easily removed, but my point is the rain cover route isn’t as great a storage idea as it first sounds, as the bikes are still pretty exposed to the elements this way. The rain covers have since developed rips and tears, too, rendering them useless.

After adding a few new clotheslines, the service area seemed like viable bike storage again. Initially, my wife thought of hanging the bikes on something like the Minoura Bike Tower 10 that Steve of the Hands On Bike blog uses.

Steve’s Minoura Bike Tower 10 with two of his bikes hung from its cradles. Photo from handsonbike.blogspot.com.

As nifty as this is, it’s not quite going to work for our house. As a road/cross bike, Hyro is a bit too long; when hung like this, his length will partially impede the doorway when swung open.

This display of kids’ bikes at Gran Trail Cycles in Makati has the Velo Hinge set perpendicular to the wall, like a normal wall hook.

I thought – why not hang the bikes vertically from the wall, by their wheels? That seemed to make more sense. Hyro’s length is less of a problem when applied vertically.

Then I remembered that I’ve already seen a bike hook that could help maximize wall space: Feedback Sports’ Velo Hinge.

The premise of the Velo Hinge is instead of hanging bikes vertically along a wall so that they’re permanently perpendicular, the entire hook assembly can pivot, so it’s possible to lean the hung bikes over closer to the wall and flatten their profile. Ingenious.

Surprisingly enough, it’s locally available – and it’s not too bad at PhP1,100 apiece. I got mine from Gran Trail Cycles’ new location at 830 Arnaiz Avenue in Makati.

Velo Hinge all closed up.

Velo Hinge opened; it actually takes a bit of effort to do so. You can see the wheel bumper and hook inside.

You can test the mechanism for yourself on the shop floor. Feedback Sports used very minimal packaging and left the hook and hinge mechanisms for all to see and play with. In my hands, the hook is fairly free-moving, resting on the hinged front wheel panel for stability when deployed. The hinge assembly is reassuringly solid and takes a fair bit of effort to open and close. It does feel up to the job of supporting and swinging a bike hanging from it.

Each Velo Hinge is rated to carry one bike weighing up to 22.7 kg (50 lb), and Feedback Sports says it can be reconfigured to swing in either direction. My guess is this requires changing the position of the hook itself. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out in practice, although so far it’s been well-reviewed.

As of this writing, I haven’t mounted the Velo Hinge to my wall just yet. It comes with wood screws; if you plan on mounting it on a concrete wall, you’ll need masonry screws. I’m also taking my sweet time in finalizing just where I want it affixed, and how I want its pivoting action to work for my house. Once mounted, and after a few weeks of use, I’ll revisit this.

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Review: Topeak Wedge Drybag S saddle bag

As insurance against a punctured tire or some other mechanical mishap while riding, I’ve always installed a saddle bag on my bikes.

I still have the very first one I bought, a Deuter Bike Bag II. It’s a simple satchel with 1 L of capacity, which is enough to carry everything I need – and that’s without expanding it to 1.4 L by opening the bottom zipper. It secures to the saddle and seat post via one Velcro strap each, which meant that it fits around saddles with rails that are very wide at the rear, such as my old Selle SMP Hell saddle.

After almost four years of riding, though, it’s looking a little beat-up and tired. While Deuter says its material offers water resistance, it wasn’t enough to prevent my KMC master links from rusting.

I got the Topeak Wedge Drybag Small to replace it.

FEATURES

  • Waterproof polyurethane material, sonically welded seams
  • Roll-top closure secured with side buckles
  • Attaches to saddle by clicking into mounting bracket installed on saddle rails
  • Fits seat posts from 25.4 mm to 34.9 mm diameter
  • Rear light loop and reflective material strip
  • Volume: 0.6 L
  • Weight: 140 g (bag only)

IMPRESSIONS

The Wedge Drybag is made of a similar polyurethane material to my Vincita B050WP-A panniers, except here it’s given shape and stiffness by a curved plastic plate. As such, it holds its distinct shape better than the Bike Bag II.

From experience with my panniers, I’m a believer in the waterproofing provided by a roll-top bag closure. Here, though, there isn’t enough material to let riders leverage another advantage of the roll-top closure: it is tolerant of overfilling. More on that in a minute.

Since changing to the Fabric Line saddle, the use of these saddlebags with a plastic quick-disconnect bracket has been restored to me. The QuickClick bracket on the Wedge Drybag attaches with just a 3 mm hex wrench.

A look at the inside of the bag reveals slim mesh pockets on the sides, as a way of organizing the contents. They’re not exactly deep, but they’re useful enough.

At 0.6 L, this Topeak bag is rated smaller in absolute capacity than the Deuter Bike Bag II. The old bag could fit two cyclocross inner tubes, a multi-tool, tire levers, a patch kit, master links, a spare rear derailleur hanger, and had space left over for some odds and ends. The new bag…isn’t as roomy, especially when trying to stuff it with two inner tubes.

Here it is with a Topeak Hexus II multi-tool with two included tire levers and one spare cyclocross inner tube side by side. Not seen, but packed in the side mesh pockets, are a ziplock bag with some cash; a tiny plastic bag with a KMC missing link and spare rear derailleur hanger; and a Park Tool GP-2 glueless patch kit.

It will manage to fit all this, but barely – mostly because of how bulky the inner tube is. Trying to fit two of these inner tubes is possible but requires a different strategy: skipping the use of the side mesh pockets altogether.

While one advantage of the roll-top closure is that it can tolerate some overfill, there just isn’t enough spare material for it. As it is, the roll-top closure folds over just once before the buckles come in to cinch the opening shut.

Moving all the small bits into the depths of the bag and covering them over with the two inner tubes jammed into the main cavity side by side proved the way to go. That left the multi-tool. I made it fit by making it sit sideways, and used whatever overfill capacity the bag had to cinch everything down shut.

…Like so.

Even stuffed to the gills, it’s much sleeker than the droopy Bike Bag II was. This is best illustrated by the Cat Eye Reflex Auto rear light I hung on its safety light loop. The Reflex Auto sits just a bit higher up, at a better angle, and it does this on its own.

Deuter Bike Bag II hung under Selle SMP Hell. Note the droop and angle of the Cat Eye Reflex Auto rear light.

On the Bike Bag II, I had to wrestle the saddle rail Velcro straps to combat the natural droopage of the material that conspired to make the Reflex Auto point downward.

There’s a finger-wide strip of reflective print, too, but I’m not sure how helpful it is given that it tends to face downward when the bag is mounted on the saddle.

Despite biting off more than it can swallow with my two fat tubes, the Wedge Drybag has done a pretty good job of ferrying my tools and spares around. The Velcro strap for the seat post isn’t strictly necessary for security, either. You could skip wrapping it if you regularly remove the saddle bag on and off the bike, since undoing it from the bag’s loop is more obtrusive than it should be. Riders who detest the thought of saddle bag straps catching on their bibshorts will welcome the option.

Overall, this is another good release from Topeak. If the Medium size was available, I’d opt for that, though.

Tool review: Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-7 bottom bracket press

Traditionally, cyclists have been discouraged from working on bikes with press-fit bottom brackets because of the expense of their tools.

Park Tool BBP-1 bottom bracket press.

If you go with Park Tool, for example, their cheapest bottom bracket press kit with a set of eight drifts, called the BBP-1, costs US$200. If you think that’s a stiff price for a tool, believe me, it used to be a lot worse.

Park Tool HHP-2 headset bearing press. This tool soon became a fixture in the pro peloton’s mechanics trucks. It needs additional parts for use in press-fit bottom brackets, though.

Before the BBP-1, you had to buy the HHP-2 headset press, which is a heavy, burly shop tool, and at US$170, expensive on its own. Then you had to buy bottom bracket installation and removal tools, which are sold in sets specific to certain standards. There was one separate set for BB30, PF30, BBright, BB386EVO and BB392EVO; another different set for BB86, BB92, BB90 and BB95; and so on.

Park Tool BBT-30.3 bottom bracket tool – for BB30, PF30, BBright, BB386EVO and BB392EVO frames. The round bearing drifts are to be used with the HHP-2. Retail price is US$42.

Park Tool BBT-90.3 bottom bracket tool – for use on BB86, BB92, BB90 and BB95 frames. The round bearing drifts are to be used with the HHP-2. Retail price is US$47.

Such was the expense that most cyclists would rather just leave it up to their local bike shop to install, service, and/or replace press-fit bottom brackets in and out of their frames.

While you can make your own cheapskate press-fit tool out of a threaded rod, washers and nuts, this sacrifices precision. If there’s one argument for investing in Park Tool’s press-fit bottom bracket tools, it’s that they provide precisely machined drifts that ensure the bearings press into the shell as straight as they can.

A Wheels Manufacturing PF30 bottom bracket. Inside those bearing cups sit Enduro bearings.

Fortunately, this year, Wheels Manufacturing came to the rescue of DIY bike mechanics with their brand-new universal bottom bracket press, the PRESS-7. The firm is famous for creating a vast selection of rear derailleur hangers, machining them out of tough aluminum. They also make a bunch of bottom brackets. They say the PRESS-7 is meant to work with all of their press-fit bottom bracket products – at a surprisingly cheap price.

FEATURES

  • Machined aluminum construction
  • Contents: threaded rod, two handles, two universal bottom bracket bearing drifts
  • Bottom bracket bearing compatibility by inner diameter
    • 22 mm (SRAM GXP non-drive)
    • 24 mm (SRAM GXP drive,  Shimano Hollowtech II, FSA MegaExo)
    • 30 mm (Cannondale/FSA BB30 and BB30A, SRAM PF30A, FSA BB386EVO and BB392EVO)
  • Frame bottom bracket shell compatibility by inner diameter
    • 37 mm (Trek BB90 and BB95)
    • 41 mm (Shimano/Scott BB86 and BB92)
    • 42 mm (Cannondale BB30 and BB30A, Specialized alloy OSBB)
    • 46 mm (SRAM PF30 and PF30A, Specialized carbon OSBB, Cervelo BBright, FSA BB386EVO and BB392EVO)
  • Retail price: US$35

IMPRESSIONS

The PRESS-7 comes with no-frills packaging; everything fits in a small ziplock bag. The individual bits also come in their own plastic bags.

The heart of the PRESS-7 is a threaded rod and two turning handles. They’re solidly built out of aluminum, and spin quite freely for the most part.

What makes this set work though are the universal bearing drifts.

How the universal bottom bracket drifts work. The red steps are for bottom bracket bearings; the gray steps are for the frame bottom bracket shells. Photo from Wheels Manufacturing.

The drifts are stepped and two-sided. Some of the steps fit the inside diameter of the bottom bracket bearings and their cups. The others will fit the inside diameter of the bottom bracket shell. These drifts can be purchased on their own for around US$10 apiece.

The bearing drifts up close.

You slide the drifts in, then screw in the handles to form the completed PRESS-7.

While Wheels Manufacturing states that the PRESS-7 is meant to be universal for their own bottom brackets, I test-fit its drifts with a spare Shimano SM-BB71-41B bottom bracket I have lying around. This bottom bracket is a “Shimano Press-Fit – Road” or BB86 unit. The steps on the drifts seem to work well, fitting on both races of the bearing.

EARLY OPINIONS

Wheels Manufacturing has an excellent tool here. It’s an unbelievable price for a bottom bracket press, complete with drifts. Considering that the firm charges US$20 for a pair of the drifts themselves, the PRESS-7 as a whole is excellent value.

Early bird consumers were actually very lucky as Wheels Manufacturing offered the initial production run of the PRESS-7 at 50% off. At US$17.50, this set is a steal; even at full retail price it’s not too shabby at all.

I’ve yet to put this tool into service as my current Shimano SM-BB91-41B bottom bracket is still spinning fine, but should replacement day arrive I’ll be a little more prepared.