Finishing Hyro’s audax prep work

With the December 2022 Subic-Masinloc-Subic 200-kilometer audax looming ever closer, and all my physical drama largely taken care of, I thought I had better finish preparing my trusty steed Hyro for our second shot at it.

First on the list was replacing all the shift cables and housings. This is always an…interesting job to do on my particular vintage of Giant’s TCX, especially because replacing the run of rear shift housing brings with it a chance of dislodging the shift inner cable liner that runs along the inside of the drive-side chainstay. When that happens, it massively complicates the job – and it happened this time. Oh joy.

The upside is that I seem to be getting the process of recabling Shimano’s cam-/linkage-action 11-speed front derailleurs down pat, where in the past I always used to struggle with the built-in cable tensioner. I still have to refer to the manual, but now I can do it without getting lost or wasting too much time.

Along with the shift cables was a chance to change out the bar tape and clean out the handlebars themselves. My friend John-John Torres of the “John-John Bikes” YouTube channel recently had to abort one of his rides because the bar clamp on his SRAM control levers had broken underneath the bar tape, corroded from sweat. That’s not something you want happening on a ride, so he went home straight after.

Learning from his experience, I loosened the bar clamps on my Shimano ST-RS685 control levers to clean out the corrosion that had built up underneath my bar tape with some isopropyl alcohol. Afterward, I coated the handlebars and bar clamps with some Boeshield T-9, which is one of my chain lubes of choice, but is also meant as a corrosion preventative.

Handlebars cleaned, I took some of my old bar tape and rewrapped it around the short length of bar leading to the “shoulders” or “elbows.” I meant this as a way of adding more comfort to the front end, without the unwanted bulk of a full double-wrap of bar tape. I then wrapped my handlebars as usual with fresh black-to-orange-fade bar tape, which was a slightly worse match to Hyro’s current color motif of black-to-bronze-fade, but is close enough.

Note the bulkier run of bar tape just behind the brake hoods. The “elbows” are double-wrapped.

Next was taking care of the seized saddle clamp on my D-Fuse SL seatpost, in the hopes of liberating the Selle SMP Hell saddle I had refurbished earlier this year. As much as I like the Italian firm’s more premium Drakon model, the Hell’s slimmer profile makes it a little more compliant and better suited for a long-distance ride like this, and thanks to the refurb job it now has the top cover material it arguably should have had from the beginning.

Note the tightening torque spec on the original saddle clamp. Click to enlarge

The problem was that the single bolt securing the saddle to the seatpost had seized into its receiving nut. It should be able to rotate on its threads away from the nut; what had happened was that any attempt to loosen the bolt also spun the nut along with it. So the Hell spent months stuck on the seatpost, unrideable through no fault of its own. My first idea was to drill the bolt out, but it was too long, too strong, and would take too much time.

It took some help from my handyman father-in-law to finally solve this puzzle. He had used an angle grinder to cut two slots into the captive nut’s head, turning it into a large screw that could be held in place by a large flat-head screwdriver, while the bolt was loosened on the other side by a 5 mm hex key.

Exploded view of all the parts of the D-Fuse SL seatpost’s saddle clamp.

Anticipating some destruction of the current saddle clamp would be necessary, I had bought in advance two spare saddle clamp assemblies from in the UK, and used one of them to rebuild the seatpost. While I was doing so, I noticed the new saddle clamp had a different tightening torque range. The original unit was supposed to be tightened to 15-18 Nm; the new clamp brought this range down to 13-15 Nm. I suppose this would help prevent a repeat of such bolt seizure situations in the future.

The new saddle clamp has a lower tightening torque range.

The Hell has since been reinstalled onto the rebuilt D-Fuse SL seatpost, now with 100% less chance of unwanted sliding around under power. Little dots of white paint had stuck to the leather from the repainting of our house earlier in the year, but otherwise the Hell has been a peach to ride on. That took care of comfort at the rear; I decided to address the front of the bike as well.

It had been some time since I last removed the faceplate of my Redshift Sports ShockStop stem, behind which lie the swappable elastomers that are key to its vibration-fighting ability. The last time I fiddled with these, I had put in a pretty stiff combo of the 90A (black) and 50A (yellow) elastomers. My recent 100-kilometer ride experience informed me that such a combination would be untenable over double the distance, if the aim was to save my hands and palms from vibration-induced numbing. I decided I wanted more movement and compliance out of the stem. Based off Redshift Sports’ online guide, removing the 50A elastomer and leaving the 90A in would be equivalent to three steps cushier, so that’s what I did.

Even though it feels like I’ve had the ShockStop stem installed on Hyro for what seems like forever, I’ve never actually used it on an audax ride, as I rode in December 2015 with Hyro’s original rigid aluminum stem. If all goes well, the upcoming December audax will be its greatest challenge – as is the case with many of the things I’ve bought for and installed on Hyro within the intervening seven years.

Upping urban visibility: First look of the Redshift Sports Arclight pedals and light system

Philadelphia firm Redshift Sports is no stranger to this blog. I bought their ShockStop suspension stem four years ago, before they had any distribution in the Philippines, and was so impressed with it that I still use mine to this day. They’ve since had a slew of other products, targeted for gravel riding and triathlon, but now they’ve turned their itchy mechanical engineering hands and smarts over to the commuter cycling segment.

Longtime readers know that I am a huge advocate for running lights on your bike instead of reflectors, even in the daytime. They do much more to increase your visibility to other road users, which is often enough to ensure you aren’t ignored as a rider. What if you could combine the attention-grabbing motion of pedaling with lights, instead of just reflectors? This isn’t a new premise by any means, but with the Arclight pedals, the Redshift Sports boffins have come up with a frankly ingenious solution that extends the concept.


  • Flat pedals with aluminum construction; steel spindle; sealed bearings
  • 97 mm x 95 mm platform; molded traction lugs
  • Four dual-color COB LED light modules included; two modules per pedal
  • Charging via USB type-A connector; four-way hub included for simultaneous charging
  • Modes and expected run time
    • Steady – 3 hours
    • Flash – 11 hours
    • Eco Flash – 36 hours
  • Motion-detection-based automatic shut-off logic
    • Standby mode – after 30 seconds no movement
    • Sleep mode – after 150 seconds no movement
    • Off – after 24 hours no movement
  • Optional multi-mount allows LED light module to act as either a front light or rear light
  • Weight (claimed): 305 g per pedal; 30 g per light module
  • Price: US$140 for the pedals and lights set; US$40 for the multi-mount and one light module

Disclaimer: Redshift Sports sent me the Arclight pedals and light module as a free review unit. No money changed hands. While I may use their PR material from time to time, all thoughts and review impressions are – and will be – my own.


In isolation, the Arclight pedals themselves are pretty normal platform items at first glance. They’re aluminum, with a few traction lugs molded into their perimeter. Like most pedals, they will mount up to your crank arms via 15 mm wrench flats or a 6 mm hex key on the end of the steel spindle.

A closer look into the cavities for the light modules yields some very interesting details. On the inboard side sit a pair of round magnets, one for each light module. These work with grooves and lugs in the cavities as a retention mechanism. I suspect these are some sort of rare earth or neodymium magnet. While the light modules slide and click into place, it takes a firm, intentional tug to remove them, and they’re only ever coming out the way they came in. There’s even a little keyway to accept the exposed USB type-A charging plug on each light module.

Photo credit: Redshift Sports

Speaking of the light modules, each is made of ABS plastic encasing a strip of COB LEDs in both white and red, and has a little button at the end. This acts as the master on/off switch and the mode select switch, of which there are three (see “Features”). Beneath it is a small status LED that will glow orange while charging, and green for 15 minutes when done – after which they will turn off. This also appears to show current state of charge as well when turning on the light module.

With regard to charging, Redshift bundles in a four-way USB type-A charging hub so that you can charge all four light modules at once. Neat. Claimed charge time this way is two hours to full.

Unlike Look’s Geo Trekking pedals, which can also incorporate lights, Redshift cleverly thought of making Arclight as a modular system – hence the reference to the lights as “modules.” Extending the concept means the light modules can be used outside of the pedals, and act as either a front light or a rear light. This is done with the multi-mount.

The multi-mount is essentially a plastic sled that incorporates the exact same magnet-based retention system built into the Arclight pedals. On its back side are two ears and a curved pad, for fastening it to either handlebars (in a horizontal fashion) or seatpost (in a vertical position), either via the supplied rubber O-ring or a zip tie. While optional, this is ingenious. Ordering the full set of extra light module and multi-mount in conjunction with the pedals does add $40 to your expense, but as an all-in-one urban commuting setup of “to-be-seen” lights, this makes sense.

Photo credit: Redshift Sports

I’d run this fifth light module as a rear light and get a more powerful front light…but hey, options.

A closer look at the multi-mount also explains how the Arclight pedals perform their best party trick. All you really have to do is turn the light modules on. As you pedal, the lights automatically work out where their position is, and will glow red or white accordingly.

How do they do this? It’s down to the magnets.

The multi-mount’s two exposed magnets gives a better insight as to how the Arclight’s LED modules work.

On the pedal bodies, all you see are the magnets at the inboard end, but the multi-mount exposes another magnet just behind the lengthwise edge of the light module. This magnet is hidden away somewhere in the pedals’ spindles. The interaction of the magnets’ polarities and the position of the light modules determines what color they glow.

The final trick is the automatic shutoff logic for the light modules, which is motion-detection-based and works when they’re mounted to the pedals or the multi-mount. This makes the Arclight system fit-and-forget until the lights need recharging.

When the light modules are detached from the pedals or multi-mount, the color-changing and auto shut-off functionalities are inactive – all of that is cycled through via button presses.


Photo credit: Redshift Sports

Redshift claims the pedals run on sealed bearings, and spinning them in hand yields a smooth, buttery action not unlike the Look X-Tracks I run. That said, I can’t find a way of dismantling these easily for servicing. I suspect this is due to how the magnets are mounted hidden in the spindle. There may yet be a way of servicing these, but the documentation is mum about it.

Look’s Geo Trekking Roc SPD+flat urban pedals, with one optional Vision LED light mounted.
Credit: JensonUSA.

One major difference between the Arclight pedals and Look’s Geo Trekking counterparts is that the latter is a clipless+flat pedal combo, much like Shimano’s Deore XT PD-T780. While I’d love to see an SPD-style version of Arclight, this may be difficult to pull off in practice, due to how the light modules and pedals are apparently designed from the ground up as a flat pedal system first and foremost. A theoretical SPD-style version would need to add at least 30 mm to the length of the pedal body, I reckon.

I haven’t yet mounted the Arclight system onto any of my bikes. It seems Bino, my folding bike, is a good candidate, as I use him mainly for running errands. It will be interesting to see how the whole system stands up to real-world use and abuse. Stay tuned and watch this space.

Living with Livi: the first two months

My wife has been quite happy with her bike, the 2022 Liv Alight DD I gifted her with last Christmas. We’ve taken a few rides around with it and she’s really come to enjoy riding it, graduating from the 20″/406 mm wheel size of my folding bike Bino.

That said, there are a few tweaks she’s asked for, mainly to make the bike more her own. For starters, she gave her new steed a name: “Livi.” Also, I got her some name and flag decals to stick on the Alight’s frame, courtesy of VeloInk. Most of the first set of decals I bought from them in 2014 still look great today, eight years later. Even with the rigmarole of ordering from overseas, they were a very easy repeat purchase – and I got three dozen or so of them this time around.

The two bikes mounted to the Minoura Vergo-TF2-WH transport rack inside our GUN143 Toyota Innova. The wheel holder strut has to pivot to an angle to fit both front wheels, but otherwise this works great.

One persistent issue for her is a way of carrying small items and knick-knacks aboard. She’s never really been comfortable with carrying stuff in pockets on her person, and these days it’s also unwise to set out on a ride without spares for puncture repair. So on went one of my old trusty Giyo GP-61S mini pumps, plus one of my Topeak Wedge Drybag saddlebags to store her spares. Nestled inside are 700C inner tubes with Schrader valves – rather hard to find locally. I resorted to Amazon to keep a small stash of these on hand.

For small item storage, I got her a Revelate Designs Mag-Tank top tube bag. I’ve had very good results with mine, so this was a viable solution for her. She opted for one in purple for an added dash of color, and I took some extra steps to protect her frame’s paint from the grippy rubber dots that help keep the bag from sliding around. I bought strips of frame protecting tape (informally called “helicopter tape”) and cut them to size to sit where the Mag-Tank would. Some time with a water spray bottle later, the Alight’s top tube was fully protected from any ugly marks the Mag-Tank’s rubbery underside would leave.

If only I had thought of this when I got mine two years ago…

For improved visibility, I hooked up a Cat Eye Rapid Mini rear light, but was concerned as my wife’s saddle height is quite low. Any saddlebag-mounted light with this low of a saddle height runs the risk of getting obscured by the rear wheel. The Rapid Mini isn’t powerful enough to act as a main light in these scenarios.

The Cygolite Hotrod 90 rear light as mounted on my bike Hyro. This thing is seriously bright.

I decided to add lighting to the chainstay via Cygolite’s Hotrod 90. This made-in-USA item is very, very eye-catching due to its 90-lumen output, which is impressive for a rear light. At its higher intensity modes, it can be borderline annoying if you had to look at it while drafting another rider – it’s that powerful. The flip side is, this strong flashing output makes it a very good safety light to run in the daytime.

Look closely at the top tube and you can just about make out the helicopter tape I added.

After all this, there is still some scope for improvement on the Alight.

I’m waiting on a set of full-length fenders to fit onto the frame; that should arrive soon. As nice as the freebie bottle cage is, it’s not ideal given the Alight frame’s tight front triangle – especially with the short seat tube. A pair of side-loading bottle cages is a better fit. Third, the supplied plastic pedals are definitely going to break at some point.

The bigger concern is the front shifting. I believe I’ve set up the Shimano Tourney front derailleur as well as I could, but upshifts are simply harder and more inconsistent than they should be. I can shift to the big ring just fine on the workstand, but my wife may not necessarily have the thumb strength needed to do it successfully and/or consistently. I find it’s due to the stock Prowheel crank, and the shift ramps and pins on the inside of its big chainring just not doing their job well. This is one item which I think is ripe for an upgrade, but at the same time I don’t want to stray too far from its beginner-friendly 46/30T gearing.