Wireless Bluetooth Shifter

I don't understand the goal of a Bluetooth shifter. I mean, tinkering is cool, but this seems to not solve the main problem with cable-based shifting: the cable eventually getting dirty and causing bad shifting. With these semi-electric systems, I've now got a cable getting dirty and electronics to maintain.

There are not enough details to determine if this is an improvement over the standard cable.

That said I think it's neat.

I think it's fantastic that we can, at home and pretty affordably, build this sort of stuff. I just watched a friend build up a wired chicken coop for about $150 bucks – smart controls for heater, lights webcam, etc., all running software he wrote, for no reason other than doing it for fun.

If it does't have a wheel position sensor then it doesn't know when it should shift in relation to the pickups on the cogs. The coolest part of electronic shifting is timing it so that it shifts so quick that you barely notice. A delay until shifting is better than skipping/longer time spent between gears.

"Neat" isn't the same as "marketable." If someone's going to commercialize a product, they should be ready to clear a higher bar of critical examination. Since it is the Archer Components site doing the: "hey, look, we built something kind of cool and are going to tinker like fuck on this until it's awesome" I'm totally supportive.

The shifting on this system is pretty slow, it doesn't seem to have any sensor to time shifts perfectly and it doesn't get rid of the whole cable. If it had a few pickups on the spokes it could better time shifts and if they were lightning quick shifts it would be a great upgrade.

I could live with the shorter cable/not full Di2 style motor if the shifting was so darn perfect that it blew regular shifters out of the water.

Go do a ride in some nasty crap. Look what part of the cable is causing the grief. Just a hint: it's the part at the end, where the exposed cable is going in/out of housing constantly.

Living Within Your Means

When I first started trying to be more frugal I went through a series of distinct steps.

  • I tackled my big monthly bills first. I looked for alternatives for my cell phone, Internet, insurance etc… Getting them all lowered encouraged me to step two.
  • Thinking about ways to lower my utilities (LED bulbs, lower temperatures, wearing a sweater, turning lights off, solar power) I also cancelled any non-essential monthly expenses no matter how small. No more magazine subscriptions, digital storage I never used, random online passes, just cut them all out.
  • Onwards to step three was examining all the nonsense things I spent money on. This led to a massive declutter of my entire house and I really started focusing on ways to buy less but not feel like I was less for it. i.e. Cold turkey I stopped buying books (new and used) and sold, gave away, donated over two thousand books I had collected. I then bought a Kobo and I have been borrowing ebooks ever since. Not only has this saved me a ton of money, I was also able to sell four full sized bookcases and I spend so much less time dusting. I did this with toiletries as well, no more feminine products I just use a Diva cup (that's like $10-15 extra a month) switched to crystal deodorant, simplified my total care routine and save a ton. I also really started at this stage buying everything second hand when possible to maximize savings.
  • After the massive declutter and rethink of all my frivolous easy to cut spending, I started thinking about smaller less often items. Haircuts, did I need a $60 haircut or could I just get a $15 one. Then I started working with coupons, price matching, grocery points etc.
  • By this point I was saving a ton of money and very lean in everything but groceries and eating out. That was the next step and has always been the hardest for me but I spend half of what I used to now (with no negative consequences) and I am still going lower. I am much healthier, eat much better and have even lost weight.
  • I set up auto savings, I started recording all money transactions and sticking to a budget. I now am paying down debt at a great rate and I am 100% financially aware of all my money at all times.
  • Still look for money savings tips, ideas and at this stage it's just a game I play with myself and I actually enjoy being frugal.

Then there were the things that really saved me money. They were:

  1. Drink tap water, whenever possible. Stop buying sugary drinks altogether.
  2. Try and find happiness in living a simpler life.
  3. Say goodbye to cable. Do you really need 250 channels? YouTube Netflix to the rescue.

So what did that mean for me? I saved so muc money not buying any liquids and using a filter for drinking water. Cutting out cable saved me $70/month. Getting an HD antennae was a decent replacement to have live tv for certain channels.

Biking Backpacks With Hydration

I've had a number of day and overnight hydration packs over the years and including the Duthie from Playtapus. It's perfect for riding and days hikes and has a lot of great features specific to MTB'ing, like the helmet lock, tool bag in the bottom, and sunglasses pouch. It's the perfect size for rides longer than an hour but less than a day.

It is a really good mountain bike specific bag.

The hydration pack that comes with it is a better design than the ones in my prior bike bags and my hiking bag. It has dedicated straps for my full face and tool pockets for shock pump, tire pump, other MTB specific items.

I am also from Washington and I love the names as they are all trails I ride on. That being said, they are like 100 bucks retail. I would never pay that much for a mountain bike bag, regardless of the how much I like the quality. I got it through Amazon on warehouse returns for 45 bucks.

Worth it for sure. If you can find one I would totally recommend it above all others.

Being Mindful To Your Desires

Getting married is a big investment. Not just the wedding but the time that comes after that. Instead of building up your life you are building one up for two. It is a team project.

We have practiced mindfulness from the beginning. We attempt to be conscientious about how much happiness things bring me, and how I can get equivalent happiness from cheaper things. I become intimately aware of the joy the following give me: biking and hiking and spending time in my basement with friends playing board games and reading library books (this I do not do with my friends).

When I hear people talk about getting married, and wanting to do things small so that they can save money it is more than cheap wedding invitations and more than just saying that you will start off on the right foot. Newly wed life is a unique stage in your married life unlike any other. It can feel like it is the time to splurge on things that you wanted. When in fact it is the opposite. You don't have to avoid the things you want. You just have to plan for and save up for them in advance. It's not about living a reasonable lifestyle, it's about planning ahead.

For example I also put myself in the mindset buy looking at the action. If one year after I buy a luxury car will looking over at the crumbs in the passenger seat be rewarding? Will they damper the experience? Thinking about walking out of work to that nice car which is now just the "new normal", realizing that the marginal happiness it gives me has probably gone down to a pretty low amount by this time.

This can come with maturity or not at all. It really takes an active effort to be able to put your comfort into the background and think if it will make you happy down the road.

It is really a matter of perspective. When I used to have these thoughts years ago I would remind myself of a few things.

  • Apartment complexes are filled full of Cadillacs and European vehicles.
  • Most intelligent people know when you are living outside of your means. A low income individual driving a Mercedes screams bad decision maker.
  • Most importantly you have nothing to prove. If you do feel the need to compete then compete with networth.

The time value of money is important.

Compound interest is important. Living in comfort now may come at the cost of living in comfort later. The decisions a young person makes today are arguably more important than the decisions they make at 55.

Hundreds of dollars wasted today could be tens of thousands of dollars lost when you are playing on the back nine of the golf course called life. And this is a time when many young coulpes are forming. So it is important to practice mindfulness now rather than later.

I like to avoid spending excessive money on things.

If you want a vehicle that costs more, you'll have less money for other stuff. If your vehicle is a bigger gas hog, you'll have less money for other things. Since I'm a home owner, I know most of my money will go into the house and that's okay.

Spending more on your car means less money for other stuff. But using my resources to buy better biking equipment means that I have better health than sitting in a car, it means that I don't have the expense of gas outside of food. And it means that I will own the equpiment outright in less than half a year of normal car payments and insurance.

A lot of people value convenience over making do with what's available. Having a car is easier than looking up bus routes and schedules and planning and the inconvenience of having to wait for anything. A lot of people justify having a car by saying well it's convenient, so there! Which is fine.. but it's not frugal. And even frugal people like convenience. Personally, I think a car is too much responsibility/liability, not just a wallet drain. But most people aren't going to give up their cars by choice.

So what does that mean? It is all fine and good that we can live comfortably, but also within our means.

  1. No car payment, credit card debt, cable, or memberships to gyms or clubs.
  2. We buy reduced meats and fresh produce from the cheaper grocery stores.
  3. We've rented out a spare bedroom and split our utilities 3 ways(extra ~$200 a week).
  4. We don't drink too much out at bars or the likes, opting instead for beers and bbq at home.
  5. We've paid off ~$25,000 in student loans in the last 8 months and we are saving for a down payment on a house.
  6. We've both received promotions and have increased our income dramatically.
  7. We also have maxed out our retirement options through our employers and are considering investing in company stock options.

This has all taken place within the last five years. This is being mindful of our money and living within our means. Our marraige was importat. The wedding was nice but not over the top. We are more important to one another than spending lare amount of money on a day that most of the guests have forgotten by now. We much rather invest in our future together.

A wedding is a big moment, but it is the first step into a much bigger scope of responsability. And this is the part that I think a lot of people neglect or forget about. And that is a shame.

Finding Replacement Parts

The majority of mass producing manufacturers will do 'runs' of manufacturing. They will build the new model frame every year, and will put aside a predetermined amount of frames to cover warranty.

The next season they do the same thing. The only reason anyone would have any amount of older bikes is if they did not sell (most likely at a lbs, as online don't tent to purchase old stock and will 'clear out' end of season stuff every year) or there are just warranty frames still available. These are only available to replace legitimate warranty cases and generally are not sold to the public.

Also if you break the rear triangle on a frame, you generally get a new frame or weld up the broken area, I don't know how you would get just the rear triangle and fix a bike.

Any other part on a bike besides the frame is replaceable with aftermarket parts from online or lbs if you know what to ask for.

You can buy the parts online instead of going to a local dealer.

Online bike shops often have obscure parts. Also, ebay (which unfortunately has crazy high postage) and amazon (particularly niagra and 365cycles).

The Helmet Debate

Improving infrastructure is great for everyone but… will it 100% eliminate:

  1. potholes and any bumps in the road?
  2. road debris?
  3. rider error?
  4. mechanical issues with your bicycle?
  5. bad luck?

The answer is no. So why would you not want to wear a helmet, it's not that difficult.

The argument often comes down to cycling is safe.

But that depends on how you define cycling. Organized cycling events of all types have gone from helmet-less to helmets required in the past few decades. Why shouldn't people wear helmets?

Then they argue that they should make them part of the law for driving if they are "so safe." Sure it would save lives. But don't derail the debate.

There are a number of safety implementations for vehicles, which I'm sure you're aware of. Seatbelts were once a hotly contested issue, much like helmets, and sometimes still are. Evidence shows that seatbelts, like helmets, are an effective way of reducing fatal injuries.

Not a perfect method, but a useful one.

Falling in the shower is a totally different scenario and neglects the speed and forces present in cycling accidents. Even so, there are a number of safety implementations (handrails, shower seats, etc.) that have been introduced to try and help those at risk of falling in the shower. So, even though your shower analogy is off topic, there are actually multiple examples of making showers safer.

Controversy around the safety of helmets and the effect of helmet laws has been around for 30 years now, in academic circles as well as in popular debate. It's not some new thing that's just a repeat of the short-lived seatbelt controversy where only a few nutjobs are still against them now.

Soup Day

Every sunday I make a big pot of soup. I love soup. It's stupid easy to make, and it can be kept frozen in the freezer for months with no problem. I try to mix it up with different soups: chicken noodle, lentil soup, & pasta fagioli are my favorites. I take a tupperware container of it to work & I usually throw in either a piece of fruit or granola bar of some sort too.

For chicken soup: at the very least you'll want a small whole chicken (bonus points if you can use the giblets to make some gravy to put on mashed potatoes), a few stalks of celery, an onion, salt/pepper, and egg noodles.

I like to load mine up with other things like a bag of fresh spinach, carrots, potatoes, corn, and sometimes some simple bisquik dumplings. I also usually add a small container of chicken broth to the water to help bring out that chicken flavor. Boil the chicken, stock, water, onions, celery until the chicken is fully cooked. Take the chicken out, shred the meat off the bones with a fork and put it aside. Put the bones/carcass back into the pot and and add all your remaining ingredients like carrots and such. The bones give the broth its flavor, so just keep it boiling until you're happy with the flavor of the broth. If you find that a lot of water has evaporated, no worries, just add some more.

When it's done, fish the bones out, add your chicken & noodles and done.

For lentil soup: pretty much the same as chicken soup. You'll need a bag of lentils, some chicken stock, celery, carrots, onion, and whatever else tickles your fancy. Rinse the lentils, throw it all in a pot with some water (this time I actually use more chicken stock than water), and wait for the everything to get soft.

Pasta fagioli actually has quite a bit of ingredients and is a little more complicated to make, but the pay-off is definitely worth it.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure varies with weight, tire size, tire casing, trail conditions, rim width, riding style, tubeless, etc. Start high and let air out until enjoyment

The softest number that doesn't allow rim strikes or for the tire to fold over.

Like suspension pressure and rebound, it's the sort of thing best determined by you. Pump them both up to 30 PSI and let out air periodically until things get worse. Then note the pressure, add a PSI or two, and you're set. It is pretty much the only way to find what fits your personal preferences and riding style.

Your style of riding dictates pressure. Standard trail riding I run 26/29, but if I'm riding rocky skree fields or drops/jumps over 3ft, I bump up closer to 29/33.

Disc Brakes

If the bike did not ship with disc brakes, it is generally not possible to add them after the fact. Disc brake setups require both a mounting provision in the frame/fork, and a wheel hub with provision for mounting a rotor.

Many bikes with disk brakes have thru axles too because, unlike rim brakes, the braking forces are offset and that can make quick releases inadequate.

My advice for learning maintenance would be, get a groupset suitable for your bike, some decent tools and use google and youtube to find the 'how to' stuff.

By the time you've stripped a bike to the frame and put it back together you should have learnt a lot.

Later, you could do yourself a custom build starting from a frameset and groupset but best to start on stuff that has lower value.

Buying or being given 2nd hand bikes in need of some TLC is another option. Afterwards you could sell them (although you might not make a lot of money, it's really the experience you're gaining) Caveat here, of course, make sure you are confident in the build before letting some stranger ride off on it.

Decent tools are discussed here although it's worth saying that if you don't want to splash the cash for big set, you could buy tools indivually as you need them.

I think most information is available online these days.

How cost effective it is will depend a lot on what tools you get and how many bikes you plan on repairing / building. e.g buying the stuff to build a wheel probably is not very cost effective if you don't build lots and it's quite a learning curve.

But 99% of the stuff is really having a decent set of allen keys and knowledge.

There are various courses available which are the kind of courses that many shop mechanics do. They are not always cheap though.

Parktools does courses, as do cytech.

Another option is if there's a charitable scheme near you that repairs bikes for homeless people or that allows people to use their tools to repair their own bikes. These exist and are dotted around the place in the USA and UK at least if not elsewhere.
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Fixing flats and mounting tires is the essential first skill to learn, and the opportunity unfortunately does pop up from time to time.

Other than that, learning to identify issues and solve them as they pop up. Once a bike has been ridden a few miles and adjusted as necessary, not much regular maintenance (except cleaning) is frequently necessary.