New Brooks B17 Saddle

Brooks again, of course

The old Flyer had almost become uncomfortable, and I had wanted to replace it ages ago before we did the Europe trip but it was invisible to my bum, so it stayed on the bike. Until I noticed it, and then …

Update: First ride, 56k first 40 were OK and I was glad to get off at the far end and to sit on the ferry home. It feels very hard and slippery, which I recall the Flyer felt like when brand new, and I can feel the bumps which will mould into my shape over the next few rides.
Thank goodness for padded shorts, well thank GroundEffect anyway.

2x to 1x conversion

Simplifying my drive train

WZ2358 is the product code at The Bolt Shop in Archers Rd for their 3/8 x 5/8 x 16g Flat washer steel zinc, recorded here in case I need to do it again, and because they were as exact a fit for the longer chainring bolts I needed to let me move the new chain ring over to improve the chainline …

OK, One thing at a time.


The Shimano Deore XT front derailleur was a dog on my bike, even though Jill has an identical bike and hers works perfectly. 
Mine once needed to be physically ground to shape to let it move far enough to move the chain to the granny gear, and it would never stay adjusted for long, even when I did manage to get it working. It didn’t matter mostly, because I spend far more of my time in the high gears anyway, so I decided to scrap the whole thing.

Before - the new ring has to be positioned between the two existing rings.
I rode a few 100 km using only the large ring to test the idea and it worked fine with a 38 tooth ring at the front, although very noisy in the lower gears, so I looked for my options. Since I already had an FSA crankset with a 104BCD spider, I opted for the custom made FSA Megatooth wide-narrow 38 tooth, but it would need to be offset towards the centerline of the bike, midway between the two rings in the original crankset..


For my set up I needed the slightly hard to find BBT18 toolto remove the crank set, so that I could get to the chainring bolts with my

BBB BoldGrip Chainring Nut Wrench BTL32L from Wiggle.

Part of me quite likes owning tools that are specifically for one job only.


Our bikes have Boost axles so the chainline needed to be a few mm further from the center line than with a regular axle, 52mm according to , so I had to hunt down the above-mentioned washers. It only took an hour or of trial and error to get it right, 3 on the inside and one on the outside because the bolt was 1mm too long. The Ask A Bike Mechanic group on FB assured me this was going to be OK, but I’m carrying around that little wrench in my toolkit for the next 1000km or so.

3 washers on the outside
1 on the outside


Easy peasy

They’re not meant to be used with tubes

Thus chided the very patient Elisabeth Foot from Schwalbe when I had complained that my “bullet proof” G-One All rounds were in fact thorn magnets.  She also recommended Big Ben Plus or Marathon Plus MTB, but both came in only 2 inch versions and I wanted at least the 2.25″ our  bikes came with, as well as the lowest rolling resistance I could get.


When I got home from our 3 months around very mixed surfaces all over Europe I decided to give tubeless a go.  We had been using Schwalbe Rocket Rons and Racing Ralphs, and had about 8-10 flats and had replaced one tyre so it was time to try something new. I’m still not sure that the G-Ones 60-584 (27.5×2.35) are going to be the all-rounders I need, but I have them, they are Tubeless ready, or Tubeless Easy as Schwalbe brands them, so they will do for starters.


However, Orange sealant proved to be the first stumbling block, along with Gorilla Tape, both highly recommended by various Facebook groups, and both unobtainable in NZ!  What’s the point in luxuriating in Sunday shopping hours if you can’t buy anything except by shopping online, usually from those closed-on-Sunday European emporiums. By the time they had arrived I had seen enough youtube videos to be an expert, although I was fully prepared to visit my LBS to have them do it properly after I had failed, so I launched into installing them.

The best advice gleaned from all those videos was

  • remove the valve core before seating the tyre to allow for greater airflow
  • give the rim a quick light spray of silicon lube before pumping which allowed the tyre to seat well without even that satisfying pop
  • save  a few bucks by cutting a valve insert out of an old tube instead of buying new custom one. (not the best idea it turned out)  

The first attempt went well.  New G-Ones are devilishly hard to get onto the rims, they seem to be tighter than any other tyre I’ve fitted, but once on, and without sealant to begin with, they eased up onto the rims with a nice tight fit after the recommended quick light spray of silicon. I have a good pump (Topeak Joe Blow) and even though I’m no longer young and fit I could seat these big balloons  without raising a sweat.  I left them overnight, noticed that one was deflating slowly and worked out that it was my chopped down valve insert leaking, gave it a 50km test run to make sure, then replaced it with a proper one.  That’s a messy job with the sealant splashing everywhere but luckily it cleans up well with a damp rag, and the properly made insert works a treat.



August, 2019

After slipping around a bit on the mud and grass one day last week I decided to change back to the knobblies.  The Rocket Ron I had on the front had been hammered by thorns during our tour around Europe last year and it had one hole bigger than a matchstick, one ordinary hole and several small leaks around the sidewalls.  Orange Sealant worked exactly as it should, it fizzed and bubbled and needed an pump up a couple of times but then it settled down with every leak well and truly plugged, and I added an extra squirt the next day and they haven’t even gone down at all in a week.  I’ve got a Racing Ralph on the rear now, and even though the knob in the middle are mostly gone, they make a helluva whine on the road after the luxury quiet hiss from the G-Ones. Noticeably a bit slower too, but not enough to worry me.

The old stuff was dead easy to remove from the tyres too, because Orange forms a skin right around the tyre, and it all just peeled off in sheets.  I haven’t used other sealants, but I’ve seen photos of how they ball up and form big lumps, but there was nothing like that.  I probably could have left it on, except for the rims which I would have had to clean carefully before re-installing, and I’ll do that in future. I left it on the wheel rims though, figuring it would help keep things airtight.

Which GPS Logger?

GPS Loggers

I use GPS tracks to create maps in my WordPress blogs with the WP GPX plugin. Check them out below. I want to use just one GPS logging app to record all my travels, so I’m going to compare some of the top ranking apps on Android.


  1. Easy to export a GPX file, preferably directly to my server
    WP GPX uses gpx files and they are easy to edit, if you are comfortable with XML
  2. Lightweight
    My phone has enough crap on it
  3. Low data use
    I need to just record the gpx file. I don’t need active maps and interaction with my peers.
  4. Low battery use
  5. Does not record when I pause, and gives me the option to start recording again later, eg I like to take out ferry trips from the record, and while I can split the gpx file into separate <trk> tags and …  I’ll write something separately sometime soon about how I create and play with gpx files and WordPress.

Nice to have.

  • Map display
  • Ability to download pre-created maps and have step by step instructions.
  • Connection with web site for social stuff, for those who want to interact.

I’m going to go for a short ride/drive, 5-10k with a few hills, with each of these apps recording my trip with default settings. You will see each of the maps and stats they produce, along with 

  • Usability
  • Ease of exporting gpx files
  • Filesize
  • Number of points
  • Altitude
  • Speed
  • Battery use?
  • Changing preferences



Basic Air Data

The winner. Altitude is accurate, the gpx file is nicely formatted if I need to tweak it, exporting is easy


  • Usability
  • Ease of exporting gpx files 10/10. ANDFTP connects directly
  • Filesize 721331
  • Number of points c. 5172 
  • Altitude Yes – seems accurate enough
  • Speed Yes
  • Battery use?
  • Changing preferences


Total distance: 13.66 km
Max elevation: 39 m
Min elevation: 12 m
Total climbing: 113 m
Total descent: -98 m
Average speed: 28.48 km/h
Total time: 01:59:41
Download file: 20180428-125105.gpx

Bike Computer




  • Usability
    Perfect for biking. 3 options only, 2 really because the first two show the same info, but differently so choose whichever distracts you least – Display for current speed & distance, with the speed both in a speedo like graph & in large numbers. There’s a kcal readout too but I’m not connected to any fitness gear. Live stats screen is simply a grid of 4 large bold numbers, perfect for a quick glance, Map, predictably, shows Google Maps with everything.
    Buried in the settings is a Statistics page to add up everything you have done so far.  
  • Ease of exporting gpx files
    6/10.  The “sharing” link only uploads the file to the designated folder in your phone!  That will be too hard to find and upload to this site while travelling, which is a great shame because the interface is so nice I want to use this all the time.
    OK, so I found the file using ES File Explorer, and long pressing it opened up the usual sharing options, one of which is with ANDFTP which I have set up to upoload to the right folder within my WordPress site. A bit clunky, but not impossible
    BUT. It only ever uploads and overwrites the existing track.gpx file. There is no option to set the naming style or to auto-rename the file.
  • Filesize 326067
  • Number of points 1800
  • Altitude Yes
  • Speed Yes
  • Battery use?
  • Changing preferences
    Not very many options provided. Cannot change interval, distance between points

Not many options
Export is a hassle
I don’t need calory counter. Would be nice to have the option
It might have been the cause of slow charging on my phone. I removed it and my fast charging started working again.

Dropped it.


Total distance: 8.55 km
Max elevation: 65 m
Min elevation: 50 m
Total climbing: 53 m
Total descent: -60 m
Average speed: 23.39 km/h
Total time: 01:32:05
Download file: track.gpx




  • Usability
  • Ease of exporting gpx files
  • Filesize 3757
  • Number of points 13
  • Altitude Altitude is wrong
  • Speed
  • Battery use?
  • Changing preferences
    Far too many options for my needs, but useful to have.

I might have to change the settings because this app has done better than this is the past.

Logging interval was set to 60 seconds. Changed to 2 for next test

No difference, still only 513 . Dropped it.


Total distance: 16.18 km
Max elevation: 73 m
Min elevation: 47 m
Total climbing: 174 m
Total descent: -167 m
Average speed: 21.63 km/h
Total time: 05:39:48
Download file: 20180428.gpx


Easy GPS Logger




  • Usability. Great. Turn on, turn off upload – all easy and fast
  • Ease of exporting gpx files
  • Filesize 910634
  • Number of points 5100
  • Altitude – wrong
  • Speed
  • Battery use?
  • Changing preferences
    No options offered

2018-04-28_12-51-07.gpx . Seems to be recording satellite accuracy, but not speed

Dropped it

Total distance: 13.52 km
Max elevation: 73 m
Min elevation: 46 m
Total climbing: 111 m
Total descent: -98 m
Average speed: 29.69 km/h
Total time: 01:58:39
Download file: 2018-04-28_12-51-07.gpx



Considered but rejected

Ultra GPS Logger Lite





Trial for 7 days before purchase. It wasn’t sufficiently different or better so I dropped it.

Ride with GPS





Great web site to plan with, but it seems to be hard to turn off. Auto pause engaged after 30 minutes sitting on my desk and there seemed to be no way to make it quit completely. I restarted my phone  
Difficult to start and stop.
Might be good for route planning onlyAfter turning it on it wouldn’t turn off so I have uninstalled it.  I’ll use the Web version only to produce gpx files


Just didn’t record that I could see.

GPS Tools

Exporting is a complete mystery

Touring setup

Set up for touring.

With the prospect of about 5,000k touring around Europe coming up, the RangeRover of bikes has become a very attractive option.
Pros: Comfort rugged, safety, I know a lot about maintaining them now, electric – Czech roads are hilly and we’ll be passing through Switzerland
Cons: Electric, so charging every night is a major constraint, airlines won’t take batteries.

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The first con is easy – airbnb or friends every night. The second is easy too, it just involved biting the bullet and buying a new battery in Europe, then selling it at the end of the trip or shipping it home to be a not-particularly-useful spare at home. The pros so far outweigh the cons that we’ll just do it.


The other problem is lack of storage space. With FS bikes you can’t have take panniers, but luckily bikepackers have solved all the issues for us. A seat bag and handlebar bag and framebag will hold way more than each of us need, and since weight is not the issue for us that it would be for real bikepackers, we can go for the larger options every time.


Seat Bag.


Lot’s of research lead me to the Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion XL  or theSpecialized Burraburra 20 because both are stablisied and have the rep of not doing the tail sway that gives seat bags a bad name. Mine arrived without the seat strap that provides a large chunk of the stabilising, but the agents have been very good about chasing one down for me and have only taken two weeks to fail so far.  I’ve found that I need 130.. of clear space on my seat post to hang this thing, and with the extra little triangle on the frame at the base, I only just manage, so unfortunately my short-legged partner Jill is going to have to make do with a regular Topeak Backloader which had better only be 1/3 as good as mine at the price.  Somehow I feel it will be perfectly OK for our style of travelling, so watch out for a separate review.

I went for the Specialized because the PR is only occasionally in stock, very friendly but laid back, and I want to have service available if needed wherever I happen to be, in Europe next, so the Specialized it was, and even with string in place of the aforementioned strap, I like it a lot.  I though I might have to sacrifice my Brooks Flyer saddle to let it sit up at a jaunty angle (and to keep it away from the wheel), but the Flyer has those little strap holders at the back which are perfectly placed to cinch it up nice and tight.  I can fit all my weet weather gear plus might off-bike clothes in easily along with my bath bag and other bits and pieces.


Handlebar bag

Every review, every best 5 handlebar bags, everyone ends up going for the Salsa EXP Anything Cradle , except for aq few die hards, and someone has to keep the others in business, I suppose.  TO be fair, they’re expensive and add teensy bit more weight to the whole system, but I needed to push the package further away from the bar because of the way the cables push outwards from the swept-back sweep of the Salsa Bend 23.  I didn’t buy the bags as well, partly because I want to get my sister to make some to match the framebag whe is going to make, but mostly because I’m a cheapskate.  The Salsa bags look fantastic, and I bet I end up getting a set.


Frame bag

Nothing standard was ever going to work, and even with the bottle removed there’s not a lot of space, but at this stage (21 April) I have a template that looks like it will hold the charger, all my tools, other cables and stuff as well as a change of clothes or my towel to pack it all in.  Watch this space for progress.

Later: OK my good sister Sue, did the sewing and now I have a bag that will just manage to hold the charger, tools, pump, spare tube etc. 1.5kg.


Total weight of all bags fully packed – 7.4kg + 1.5kg for the lock. Total weight of bike, bags and me – 124kg. No wonder my battery drains so quickly.

Tyres (or tires, depending on where you were brought up)

Our bikes came with Schwalbe Rocket Rons, and I had replaced my rear one with a Racing Ralph which gave excellent traction in the mixed conditions we usually ride, but in pursuit of greater range and quiter travel I decided to change, after a lot of research, to Schwalbe G-One, the balloon version, 2.35″. I was seriously impressed with the silence and speed, although a lot of the efficiency would have come from the fact that I pumped them up to 2.5 bars, from the 1.8 on the knobbly ones, but I have changed back because they are the most puncture-prone pieces of rubber I have ever had.








This minute piece of glass ruined Jill’s day, and on another day a tiny thorn ruined mine.

The Rocket Rons will be more versatile anyway, and we won’t be so limited on the terrain.  You have to try these things, don’t you.   Anyone want to buy 4 hardly used tyres? (or tires)