Tag Archives: sensible-bicycle

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 hat 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 …

Test-riding the Bixi

BIXI Toronto had a demo station outside MEC today. They had a few slightly beat-up (I suspect, ex Montreal) bikes on display at a station and for test riding.

I checked out one the bikes for a ten minute test ride. For such a solid bike, I was impressed with its swiftness. You won’t find yourself hopping curbs, but the big smooth tyres roll fast.

The bike’s pretty sensible, with a fully guarded chain, guards, dynamo lights and a front carrier.

A clever bash guard protects the hub gear settings

The pointy nose at the front locks into the Bixi station:

All the controls are where you’d expect them:

And a graduated seatpost for us tall forgetful types:

The one thing I was disappointed with was the brakes. My bike has similar Shimano units. They’re a bit gentle, but they do stop you. The ones on the loaner bike brought back memories of trying to stop in the rain on my steel-rimmed paperboy bike.

Still, I’m really looking forward to Bixi arriving in the city next year.

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 …

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 …

no, this is really the Sensible Bicycle

Inspired perhaps by seeing Dianne‘s very nice Bachetta recumbent last night, I went looking for the state-of-the-art — and I found it in the form of the Flevobike GreenMachine: fully enclosed chain, mudguards, hub gears, disc brakes …

I remember the GreenMachine as a concept machine in the cycling press a decade ago, but Ben has seen one, so they must be real. Only problem is the price; I’m not going to see one for under $5000 …

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?

uh oh

There could be a non-sensible bike purchase in the offing. I was pricing up bikes for Catherine when I saw a beautiful secondhand English touring bike, made of the near legendary Reynolds 531. It’s lovely. But where can you get good 27×1¼” tyres these days?

sensible != boring

Gazelle Chamonix roadster
(I nicked this image from Cycle Heaven‘s website, so I should probably give them credit.)

See, lookit — a bicycle that meets all the requirements of being sensible, without being dull. This is from Gazelle, one of the Netherlands’ oldest manufacturers.

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.

approaching the sensible bicycle

scooterbike urban
Hub gears and brakes, almost full chain guard, mudguards, rack, lights; the Scooterbike Urban is almost perfectly sensible.

I do fear it might be rather expensive (it’s £1225 in the UK; meep!), and the company name could use some help: Used. I don’t think it translates well. While I suspect the designers were looking to reinforce utility, to me it sounds like it’s had a previous owner or two …

Stewart’s Quest for the Sensible Bicycle

A trip to the Toronto Islands yesterday got me thinking about the perfect bicycle for me — and why nobody makes it.

In Scotland I had nearly the perfect bike. It was a ridiculously solid Pashley delivery bike. It had huge heavy steel wheels, full-length mudguards, hub brakes, hub gears, and a dynamo (generator) lighting set. It took minimal maintenance, and didn’t require special clothes to ride it.

The mountain bike, though promising so much to utility cycling at its birth 20 years ago, is failing to deliver. Complex suspension systems and derailleur gears make maintenance difficult, and so users seldom do. The complete lack of chainguards and mudguards mean that riders have to wear different clothes just to be on the bike. Can you image a car trying to sell itself by requiring special clothes just to travel in it?

So this is what I want from a bike:

  • Fully enclosed chain — I don’t want my drivetrain anywhere near road grit. Neither do I want my trousers to meet chain grease.
  • Full mudguards — I don’t get mucky, riders behind me don’t get mucky. We all win.
  • Hub gears — once you’ve used them, you’ll never consider anything else for utility cycling.
  • Dynamo lights — with a standlight, for preference. I don’t like getting stranded without lights.
  • Proper carriers — riding wearing a rucksack is bad and wrong.
  • Anything but rim brakes — why do we still use these relics? Hub brakes work in all weathers, and seldom, if ever, need maintenance.

You’ll notice the conspicuous absence of suspension. Good tyres, at the right pressure, are great suspension. They are also light and very puncture proof, if you know how and where to ride.

We’re not all athletes. Some of us would just like to incorporate exercise and sustainable local transit in our daily routine, with the minimum of hassle.

So who comes close to making these bikes? Pashley still do, but they’re murderously expensive in Canada. Workbike manufacturers Worksman and Mohawk almost do, but they’re short on mudguards and chainguards. Kronan is nearly there, but why they only have one brake (a rear coaster, which is terribly inefficient) is beyond me. Maybe I’ll find an importer of Dutch bikes. My search continues …