Sunday, 24 January 2016

Trek 520 Lifetime Frame Warranty

I was planning on joining the Cyclops lads on Monday for a 'Tour de Bruny' ride (a 120km down and back to the Bruny Island Lighthouse) and so knowing I'd need a gravel capable bike for this ride, I pulled the Trek 520 out of the garage, checked the tyres and chain (both of which had held up like the troopers they are) and then jumped on the bike to give it a bit of a test ride (to and from work) ... just to see if there were any little niggles that needed working out before the big ride.

Much to my delight, other than that strange feeling you get when you jump on a new bike which is set up slightly differently to your current one, it purred along the highway like a good bike should.

Then, just as I was settling into the feel of the bike, the whole back of the bike suddenly went all loose and wobbly in a way I'd never experienced before.

Stopping to investigate, I found this little surprise ...

The frame had just cracked.

Now, hopefully it goes without saying that this was slightly annoying, albeit that I did learnt that the whole idea of walking on the same side of the road as oncoming traffic when there isn't a footpath really breaks down when you're pushing a bike along the side of the road in peak commuter traffic travelling at 80km/hr.

I did however successfully limp the three kilometres back home, and after a quick shower and change of clothes, I drove into work arriving about an hour late an rather sad that my old faithful Trek tourer was now dead.

While mourning its departure during the course of the day, I suddenly recalled that when I bought the bike that one of the key selling points was that it came with a "lifetime frame warranty".

Rather excited by this thought, I googled "Trek Lifetime Frame warranty" and found sure enough that they did offer a lifetime frame warranty ... for bikes back to 2011.  Beyond that date, the website advised, you would need to check with them, or your original warranty that came with the bike, what the warranty was.

Now, while you may all laugh at me for being able to calculate how much I spend on my bike to the nearest cent, a side benefit of this is that unlike 99.999% of the world's population I actually keep my old accounts and files and so I still had this ...

The 2003 Trek Warranty
Yep, I still had a copy of my 2003 Trek manual, with the original warranty, and if it is to be believed then so long as I could prove it was bought from a Trek dealer and I was the original purchaser of the bike, I should be entitled to a new frame ... and guess what ... I could do both.

So last Tuesday I wheeled my bike into Ken Self Cycles and explained my rather bold call that I would like a new frame for my bike as my 12 year old frame had just departed this mortal coil, and (looking rather unconvinced about my chances of success) Chris at least said he'd put in the claim for me and see what happened.

By Wednesday they'd come back asking for original receipts or a stat dec., so I provided a Stat Dec. and supporting information provided by my accounts system which showed I paid a $200 deposit on 20 November 2003 and then paid the remaing $1,890 for the bike on 23 December 2003 ...

And now I wait ...

Now I don't know at this point if the claim will be accepted or rejected, but if I do get a new frame out of this, I just want to put it out there that it will all be because I kept all these detailed accounting records for all those years.

Long live Nerds!

2015 Bike Spend

I'm internally compelled to question and think about things, and I rarely accept what's told to me unless it strongly aligns with my own paradigm and understanding of the world.

Anyone who's read this blog for a long time will know this, and in particular they may recall my long and boring blogs about cyclist spending.

I love writing those blogs, and guess what .... this is another one!!!!!

Image Source: TeeSpring
Earlier this week I was reading an article titled "Accident rates amongst regular bicycle riders in Tasmania, Australia" (yep, that's what I do) and I stumbled across this little snippet of information:
Costs associated with bicycles

Of the 345 bicycles included in the survey 201 (58.3%) were insured. Of those insured, 119 (59.2%) required an additional premium of $ 88 (SD 115; range 12–560) per annum, in excess of the participants’ standard house and contents insurance, to cover bicycle theft or damage. In addition, participants spent $ 717 (SD 761; range 0–3850) on bicycle maintenance, equipment and clothing in the year preceding participation in the survey.
"Hmmm" ... my little analytical brain thought to itself .... "I wonder how much I spend on cycling".

Even more interesting, I wonder where I spent it ... and so with these thoughts in mind, I dived into my accounts system and pulled out all of my expenditure on cycling for 2015 ...

Now for my first cut at doing this, I pulled out all of my expenditure on cycling related activities, including our three week holiday in Japan (which was a cycling holiday), my little cycling trip to Victoria, and various other cycling related expenditure such as tassietrails, my attendance at the launceston bicycle tourism conference and associated outdoor (non-cycling specific) clothing and gear bought for the trips above and I got a number just north of ... let's just say it was a big number and that it had more than four digits in it before the decimal point.

I quickly realised that this was 10+ standard deviations away from the norm (which if you're not statistically minded, is a bit of an extreme outlier) and then I realised that this was because I wasn't comparing 'like with like' as the original study only looked at bicycle maintenance, equipment and clothing.

Phew - if I knew I spent that much money on cycling stuff (and that's not including all of my petrol, accommodation and other expenses for travelling around Tasmania), well ... I'd have to go and order myself one of these ... 

Footnote - I ordered this T-Shirt last week from TeeSpring and shall include it in my 2016 report.
Anyway, I went back into my data and removed all of that 'extra' stuff and came in with a much more justifiable $3,906 spent on bike equipment, servicing and clothing in 2015.

Although that still placed me slightly outside the survey range, I justify this on the basis that it does include $1,850 for the purchase of two bikes ($1,500 for my Norco Bigfoot and $350 for the purchase of my Dahon Folding Bike - bought second hand off Gumtree).

So I only really spent $1,826 on parts and servicing and $229 on bicycle specific clothing (note: somewhat balancing my under-exenditure in cycling clothing last year, I think I've spent nearly double that already in 2016 on new nicks, shorts, socks and shoes).

Now considering  I own nine bikes, I think only spending two and a half times the average expenditure on these things should be seen as me being a prudent individual.  Some may even call it scrooge like expenditure ...

I haven't bought this T-Shirt from TeeSpring yet - but I know I will.
Anyway, seeing I'd spent all this time pulling out all this expenditure, I was curious enough to take the next step and see how much of my money I spent locally and how much I spent online ... the eternal conundrum of the cyclist with a conscious ... do I pay more and support the local bike shop so they're there when I need them or do I save money and go online.

Now, if you'd ask me where I spend my cycling money before I did this analysis, I would have told you that Avantiplus Sandy Bay is my go to local store for parts and servicing, but I would have also said that I probably spend most of my money buying gear online through Pushy's and Wiggle and a few other sites.

Here's something that's not a surprise: if I had said that to you, I would have been wrong.

Turns out that, yes, I bought all of my cycling clothes online which isn't really a surprise as there are just so many more options online (and I am still smarting from that purchase of those over-priced arm warmers from Bike Ride in 2012), so I was right about that.

What was surprising though was that 83% of my "parts and servicing" spend last year was local, and that I only bought 17% of my stuff online.

That's a showstopper.

What surprised me even more was that, although as I sort of expected, most of my parts and servicing money ($977) was spent at AvantiPlus (52% of total spend), I actually spent over $500 on bike servicing and parts at Ride Bellerive, plus I bought a new bike there, so I actually spent most of my money at Ride Bellerive.

That's also a showstopper.

On closer examination though this did make sense because of my bridge crash where Ride Bellerive kind of saved my day and got me home (and didn't complain as I stood there half in shock bleeding over their flooring) leading to me giving them my road bike to repair as my thank you.

So it turns out that as a cyclist, I actually do quite a lot to support my local shops.

Third show stopped in as many paragraphs.

In terms of what it is doing to my bank account, well I thought this one last T-shirt says it all ...

Image Source: TeeSpring
There ends the analyis.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Rokeby Roadworks

I was very excited when I was riding into work to see a whole lot of men out digging trenches and appearing to be laying cables for the NBN in Rokeby ...

Yay, yay, yay ... NBN could finally be on its way to Lauderdale (I currently get an average speed of around 300 kbps which means it usually takes about 3 to 4 seconds to download a megabyte of data and about 10-15 seconds to upload a Mb of data.  This is very slow, and to put it in human terms it means it takes me one to two minutes to upload a decent photo and we can only watch Netflix if everyone in the house agrees and we all stop using our other electronic devices.  Sigh.

Anyway, after my morning excitement, I completely forgot about the whole NBN thing until I was riding home, hurtling down the hill from Rokeby, on a fairly gusty day, at my usual 45-50km/hr (about 10km/hr below the speed limit) and then just as a car was overtaking me with about 50cm to spare, I hit (what to me looked like just another power pole shadow across the road) but was in fact a 2cm high piece of ashphalt left from the mornings road excavation and cable laying.

With no signage or warning - I hit the ridge (shock) and found myself airborne with a car mere centimetres away from me (shock and shit).

As it turned out, I landed fine and the car went on its way oblivious to the brown stains now adorning the inside of my nicks ... but that was as much down to good luck as anything (not the brown stains obviously - they were not good luck).

Sure, I'm responsible for my own safety on the road, but in this case the road conditions had been changed by roadworks and it was done on a route which is marked as a major cycling route.

I think a 'changed road conditions' sign should have been put up, especially as I had only registered a complaint about the exact same section of road just a few months ago when they ripped up the surface on the hill and failed to put up a cyclist warning sign.

Still, I'm alive to ride another day and that's a good thing ... even more luckily I'd just ordered myself a whole new set of nicks.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Surly ECR

I may have mentioned in the past my dream to build my stable of bikes to twelve.

I may even have mentioned, in that very same post, that my dream bike could very well be the Surly Krampus 29+.

Well that was before Surly brought out the ECR ...

Now I'll be honest, the Surly ECR reminds me a bit of a moose ... it just seems like it's been put together wrong, no matter which angle you look at it from, and yet despite that I haven't been able to shake that annoying feeling that the ECR could be my perfect bike - it can take tyres up to 3 inch, it can take virtually any configuration of drive and braking system and it is built to tour ...  in a slow, rambling, not going to break down, sort of way.

I wasn't however sure about those Jones Loop handlebars .

and the $3000+ price tag was a bit daunting as well ... but who knows maybe they'll make me redundant at work and I could buy one, retire, and ride around the world for a year or three ...

Anyway, although I can't afford one, a mate of mine could, and he bought one and was kind enough tonight to let me take it for a little spin ...  (and, no, I did not beg him mercilessly until he gave it to me just to shut me up - and for once I'm telling the truth)

My little spin, turned into a slightly longer spin ...

and then just kept on going ...

The ride of this bike is unlike anything I have every ridden in my life, it just grips the ground like nothing else I have ever ridden, and I was hooked.  I took it down steep drops, up steep hills, along fast flowing coastal paths and across roots and dips and it just ate it all up, while lazily looking back at me saying "is that really all you've got?"   (It was).

The only slight concern I had with the ECR was getting lift into the bike using the Jones Loop handlebar to get over obstacles, but at the same time those would be the most comfortable touring handlebars I could imagine.

Overall I quickly fell in love with this bike and it was only the concern that I wouldn't get back in time to return it that stopped me taking it down just one more section of track ...

The only reservation I have now is whether the Surly World Troller might not be a better fit for me given it is a break down bike ...

Oh the problems I have to face.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

It's a wonderful world ... if only we noticed

I was cycling into work this morning - having set myself the rather ambitious goal of cycling 5000kms, or 100kms per week, this year - when I happened to glance up the hill towards the bridge and noticed a work-ute bristling with all sorts of safety gear parked over the bike path entrance to the bridge.

Yep - putting it out there.  Going for 5000kms this year
Which would be double what I rode in 2015.
I will accept 250 hours of riding instead of 5000kms to allow for the fact I spend a lot of time going nowhere fast
 (250 hours = 5000kms at 20km/hr)

Then I noticed a work-man beside the vehicle with a "Footpath Closed" sign in his hand and I immediately had one of those "Oh, frick, feck, bugger" moments as I realised they'd closed the cycling lane again (it was closed on Tuesday) and I'd have to detour off under the bridge and ride up the other side (which would cause me a whole two minutes delay!).

But then something wonderful happened - the guy saw me (still a couple of hundred metres away) and he waved me towards him and then onto the bridge ... before putting the sign up behind me.

That man made my day, my week and my year from his small act of kindness.

It was as I was reflecting on this small, but wonderful, act that I recalled what a wonderful day I'd had on the bike without even realising it.

I recalled the car that had come up behind me on Clarence Street earlier on and then just slowed down to let me move out and around a parked car, before politely passing me as I pulled back out of his or her way.

I recalled a lady walking on the Clarence Foreshore Trail that must have heard me coming up behind her on the dodgy section of track running through the yacht club gravel car park and whom, without me even asking, stepped off the track for a few moments to let me slip past.

I remembered another lady out walking her dog a bit further along the track, and how this time I was the one able to slow down and show thoughtfulness as her dog unexpectedly ran across the path in front of me, pulling its extend-a-leash in front of me like a tightrope ready to hurl me off my bike, and how instead of hurling abuse, I'd chosen to smile at the lady, say hi to the dog, tell them it wasn't a problem and that these things happen ... and then we both went on our individual ways.

In this world where we so often focus on the negatives and whatever unsubstantiated, ill-reported sensational tit-bit that is tweeted or facebooked, I want to thank that man on the bridge who opened my eyes this morning to all the wonderful people that surround us that we just so often don't see.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

My 2016 Summer 'Colour' Series ...

Some of my work in the 2016 summer series ...

I call these three "the Summer T-Shirt Series ..."

And this one "Blue tongue Lizards"

Disclaimer: No child was hurt in the making of this artwork, and none of the sunburn was my fault.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


Youi ... they get me.

It's true, they say so in their adverts and, because I'm not some gullible person that just believes adverts, I checked their website and I am happy to confirm that it says so there as well.

So, knowing that they'd get me, I got a quote from them when I bought my Mitsubishi Outlander a few years ago and it was a really good quote ... they really did get me.

So I took out my car insurance with them, breaking a long standing relationship where I just insured everything through RACT.

But then something strange happened ... a year passed.

I didn't have any accidents.

None of my other life circumstances changed (except I got a year older and wiser).

Inflation was running at around 2%

And of course my car was a year older and so you'd think worth less ...

... and yet, somehow, and I know I'm the only person on the planet this would have happened too ...  my insurance premium jumped 9%.

Hmmm ...a 9% increase in premium to cover a car that's worth less than it was the year before.

Weird I thought ...  Youi may be getting me, but I'm not sure I'm getting Youi.

What's even weirder, I'd say almost unbelievable, is that my insurance premium has continued to increase year on year at this same pace - it increased another 7.2% last year and the premium this year has just arrived and its increased yet another 8.5%.

That's a cumulative 27% increase in premiums over three years.

Now because Youi are such great guys (and get me so well) I'd normally just assume that this increase was because my car was increasing in value or something (I'm a pretty astute buyer) but I'm not so sure now, because during the course of the year, I happened to call Youi to get a quote for my home insurance and after spending 45 minutes (yes, that is how long it took) on the phone with them answering an endless series of questions, the quote came out at around $1,200 - which was way above what I was paying currently with another insurer.

Now, if you're not sitting down, sit down now because this bit is going to shock you ... they then offered (within seconds of my telling them that this quote wasn't competitive), to insure my home for just $890 (which was still well above what I am currently paying), but it made me think ... why did I just spend 45 minutes answering questions which got me a quote three hundred dollars more than what they were happy to insure me for?

But, you know, am I sitting here now getting alternative quotes for my vehicle insurance, or am I sitting here typing out a blog post explaining why I should go and get another quote ...

I'm typing this blog aren't I.

Yep,  like I said at the beginning of this post ...  Youi ... they get me (and my money).