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bike stuff

Smart TL271 Rear Bike Light Battery Replacement

Perhaps the only disadvantage of riding a Dutch bike like my Batavus is that it uses so many parts that are unknown outside Europe. Simple things like replacing the batteries in the rear light are much harder than they need to be. There are no manuals in English for these parts, and since Batavus’s guidelines start and end at “Take it to your bike shop”, it’s not much help.

The low battery light on my rear LED had just started to glow, so I had to replace the batteries. With no discernible way in, this was tricky. You have to unscrew the two Phillips screws on the reflector, and kind of slide the reflector and batteries straight back and off:

It would be a lot easier to leave the light on the carrier, as it would give you a tonne more leverage. There’s a thumbnail indentation at the bottom of the light to help with this removal, but I had to use a small plastic drift from my electronics toolkit. (Please excuse my manky nails in the picture; I’d been gardening.)

My light says it’s a “Smart Co., Ltd TL271R//RC” on the back, and may be sold under other brands. It’s suspiciously similar to the Move Shaphire 271 rear light. I’m not really complaining — this is the first new set of batteries I’ve had to fit since I bought the bike in February 2009.

Update: hey, who knew? Even folks from the Netherlands are searching for this blog entry. That’s if my site stats for “move fietslicht batterij vervangen” are to be believed …

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bike stuff

all the bikes I’ve ever owned

I came to cycling quite late, and it must be about the 30th anniversary of me learning to ride. Therefore, in approximately the right order, here are all the bikes I’ve ever owned:

Horrid red mail-order folding bike — bought for my sister and myself. Effectively no brakes, but I did learn to ride on this on the gently sloping pavement of Beech Avenue. Used to drive my mum nuts by riding it round the outside of the house and dinging the bell every time I passed the back door.

Black Craig McMartin 10-speed — gas-pipe clunker disguised as a 10-speed. I went everywhere on this, and did my paper run around Broomburn Drive on it. From what I hear, McMartin’s is still in business.

Saracen Blizzard MTB — could anything scream 1989 more than a Biopace chainset, chain-stay mounted u-brake, and a white paint job on a mud bike? The first bike that I bought with my own money. Any pictures of it would be ill-advised.

Gary Fisher Nirvana — 1997 model. Petrol blue. Light TruTemper steel frame and high gearing. This bike made me an urban cyclist. Still going strong in Glasgow, I hear.

Raleigh Royal tourer — bought for a trivial sum of money from a fellow member of urbancyclist-uk. Once fixed up, ran a treat. Its 531 frame was a little big, causing a few owowowOW stops at lights. Had the truly wonderful Sanyo BB dynamo, which would never slip, even in the worst sog.

Moulton Deluxe 4-speed — a powder-blue Series II transitional (which means it had huge girders for rear forks) that I fixed up with drop bars. Insanely fast. I used to smoke roadies on it, which they didn’t like when they saw the basket on the back passing them. Purportedly living in Florida now. I would get another of these in a heartbeat, though I’m a bit much of a clydesdale for the Series I.

Speedliner BlueGlide recumbent — perhaps not my best purchase, but certainly the fastest. Mostly held together with TyRaps and the ingenuity of Ben Cooper. A bit like riding a rocket on the flat or downhill. The people of Kirkintilloch were not ready for it. Took me two weeks to learn to ride. responsible for the worst spill of any bike when the front tyre blew out at speed on the A803. I lost a lot of skin that day.

Brompton — bought used for £250. Nifty five speed thing. Brought it to Canada, where it lived in our front room, much to some visitors’ consternation. Wasn’t getting much use, so sold it to someone who is happily tootling about the west end of Toronto on it now.

Pashley Post Office bike — bought from a supermarket sales/wants ad. Huge. Heavy. Slow but steady. Giant steel Sturmey-Archer hub brakes could stop in any weather. Was rather disappointed to learn that, sometime in its career, this bike had been stolen, as the Post Office destroyed used delivery bikes.

CCM Evox recumbent — I actually review this for Velo Vision magazine. Had the Evox been a smidge lighter and a bunch higher geared (it ran standard MTB gearing into a 24″ back wheel) it would have been utterly lovely. As was, it was quite pedestrian. Rode it to work many days in the summer of 2002. Got very dehydrated riding from Markham to the Beaches one day; water bottle was actually hot to drink from. I don’t know what has happened to CCM/Procycle; there’s no website, and this product has disappeared. It would go lovely as an about-town bike with roller brakes and a hub gear.

Specialized Stumpjumper Sport — you have no idea how much that I, as a short spotty overweight paperboy, wanted a Stumpjumper in 1983. I read about them in Bicycle magazine, so they had to be good. Shortly after coming to Toronto, I saw a card in Urbane Cyclist advertising an old SJ converted to singlespeed. I had to have it. Though somewhat beaten up (more so after I painted it in grey primer and added stickers) it ran like a dream on its original Maillard hubs. It languished unridden for a few years, then I gave it away. This was the only bike I’ve ever owned that I could ride no hands for almost any distance.

Dawes Super Galaxy tourer — I have a remarkable fondness for 531, and bought this used bike at an east end dealer. Like the Raleigh, it was a bit big, and getting good tyres for the 27″ rims was a problem. Despite its loveliness, eventually craigslisted.

Batavus Crescendo Deluxe —the bike I use every day. Meets all the requirements of my sensible bicycle ideal. A thing of beauty and remarkable speed.

Non-owned, but bikes fondly remembered:

  • Peter Cormack’s Gresham Flyer — actually, it was Peter’s sister Dot’s bike, this tiny little kid’s thing. I used to zoom down the embankments on it in Crookfur Park before I could ride a bike.
  • Peter Cormack’s dad’s “Safe Way” roadster — a single speed of uncommon stateliness, whose claim to utter radness was that the back brake caliper was so flexible that it would lock itself under the frame and cause the most amazing skiiiiiiiiiiiids on the Crookfur Park cinder track. Best fun ever.
  • Ken Campbell’s brown Raleigh roadster — Ken, having long been in London being a synth programmer, had left his old roadster in the basement. When my 10-speed wasn’t up to it (usually broken spokes – sometimes even accidental) I’d borrow this bike and glide around the neighbourhood. It had a dynohub that put out a faint but reassuring light.
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bike stuff

out on the bike

I’ve had the Batavus for just over a year. It’s still awesome.

Most of the hydro corridor path was snow free.

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bike stuff

is it about a bicycle?

It’s either a great tribute to the variety of different bicycles that Batavus produces, or a boneheaded lack of standardization in their product line, but I can’t seem to get a pump from Curbside to fit my bike.

When I test-rode it, it had a Batavus-branded pump. When I got it a week later, no pump. Went back to get a pump; took it home, it was 1cm too short, and would fall out. Took that back. Got a second pump, slightly longer. Took it home; it was 1cm too long. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to this.

It’s not as if this is a frame fit pump, where frame size matters. It’s to fit on lugs on a carrier rack. You would have thought that a sensible bicycle would have had a sensible standard …

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bike stuff photo

out on my bike

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bike stuff

rather a new wearer of clothes

batavus crescendo
So my quest for the Sensible Bicycle is over; I found it. Or rather, it found me, for bicycles have lives of their own.

Curbside Cycle had a sale. They also had, for reasons known only to the manufacturer, been sent just one of their top-of-the-line Batavus Crescendo Deluxe city bikes. I took it for a test ride in the ice and slush of the Annex. It did everything just right.

Here’s how it measures up to the checklist I wrote about in 2004:

  • Fully enclosed chain — yup. Batavus have a really clever clip-together sectional polymer chainguard.
  • Full mudguards — for sure.
  • Hub gears — 8 speed hub gears, no less.
  • Dynamo lights — a front dynamo hub, no less. Slight marks off for a battery rear light, but it does make the wiring simple.
  • Proper carriers — a really nice alloy one, with built in pump and elastic strap.
  • Anything but rim brakes — roller brakes, in the hubs. I was initially sceptical of their gentle action, but they can stop you to almost the limit of adhesion of the tyres, so they do work well.

The one thing it does have, but I didn’t think I’d need, is suspension. It irons out the uneven Scarborough spring roads rather well.

I love the manual; it’s written for sensible riding. Basically, most advice is given as Talk to your Batavus Dealer. The similarity to a modern car manual is striking; just you get on with riding the thing, it implies, and we’ll worry about fixing it. Tellingly, the English language section is the back; these bikes are much too sensible to waste on those silly Anglos.

I’ve barely walked the length of myself in the last few months, so in even short distances my legs let me know about it. It’s freezy out, but dry and bright – I must go out on my bike again.

(the title’s from that early eco-geek, and it’s the other half of the widely-misquoted:

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit?

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

For me, it’s perfect; not merely do I not require new or special clothes to ride it, but I have become a new wearer of clothes by it.)

If you need to find me, you know where I’ll be …

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bike stuff

I think I’ve found it …

Batavus Personal Bike

I was at the Dutch Bike festival last weekend, and I think I found the Sensible Bicycle. Curbside were showing the Batavus Personal Bike. It’s lovely. At $1400 for the 3-speed, though, I’m not just about to trade in the old Stumpjumper.

I’m not wild about the squidgy roller brakes, and the dynamo really should’ve been built into the hub, but these are very minor things. Wonder if the company would let me expense this instead of getting a transit pass?

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bike stuff

search for the sensible bicycle, pt317

I was in Curbside on Bloor West today. They have nifty-keen vehicles like Bromptons, Pashley roadsters (like the Tube Rider, sigh), German roadsters from Hawk Classic, and some frankly over-designed things from Biomega. But what really made me happy is that they’re about to start importing Batavus roadsters from the Netherlands. Yay! Sensible bicycles!!

Not having the readies to buy a bicycle, I made do with walking out with a Sigg; Europe’s equivalent of the ubiquitous Nalgene.