Thursday, November 23, 2023

Ride review (and introducing Idris)

It was probably an ideal day to take the new Priority Continuum (I have named it Idris) to the office. Drizzly, a little above freezing, with balls of slushy snow in the bike lanes. The sort of thing I imagine this bike was designed for. 

I ride about 20km round trip to the office building I work in. Plenty of time to get used to a new bike. So, first impressions.

First, that big internal gear hub does make the back end heavy. At some spots, like intersections, where I might have stopped, put feet down, and then just swung the bike under me to a new direction, I couldn't easily do that. The bike itself is not light; it's something like 40 pounds. I felt that a little bit on hills, but I don't mind the extra legwork. And the weight does make it feel sturdy. I'm interested in how that heavy back wheel performs in winter with studded tires (I'm getting a set this weekend). 

One odd thing about it is that it's so quiet. There's no chain; there's no derailleur; the gearshift is a barrel shifter with no separate gears to cycle through; there's no clicking.  I think even when you're coasting, there isn't that little tiktiktik noise from the freewheel. It's just silent.

I'm still getting used to the shifting, I think. Because there aren't discrete gears, you just sort of ease the resistance back and forth to where you're comfortable. Your indicator, instead of numbered gears, is a little dude on a bike on a hill. The hill gets gradually steeper as you shift into lower gears. I admit to being kind of charmed any time I had to climb a steepish hill and shifted the little bonhomme till he was practically aiming for the sky.

It seems counterintuitive to me that you twist the barrel forward to go into lower gears and backward to shift back up - but my last couple of bikes had paddle shifters, so I might just be out of practice with barrels. I kept accidentally shifting the wrong direction. But again, because you just flow between "gears" it didn't do a bunch of mechanical clicking and jumping from cog to cog.

It was rainy and dark enough that I left the office ahead of twilight: people drive like morons in this town when the weather's bad, and I didn't want the temperature to fall and lay down ice on the roads - I don't have the studs on yet. So I didn't really get to see how bright the lights are for night riding. I expect I'll want to have a separate headlamp if I'm going to be on unlit paths or streets at night, but it really is nice to know that I'm lit up front and back no matter what. 

(Update, added later: the front headlight is actually plenty good enough to see by on an unlit path, in the rain. Hurrah!)

I'm slowly amassing the accessories that were stolen along with the Trek - the mount for my Fly12 camera, the bell, the trailer hitch. They've been ordered, and I'll start decking the bike out with them as they come in. 

So. . . so far, Idris and I seem to be getting along just fine. Looking forward to seeing what happens with studs and snow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Hello you sexy thing

So. . . my new bike arrived today. And I got to assemble it this evening. Say hi to Idris. 

Idris is a Priority Continuum Onyx, which means it's a bike I have had my eye on for roughly a decade, it's a bike I had to order directly from the manufacturer in New York, and it's a bike I had to assemble myself. 

But, after my Trek commuter was stolen a few weeks ago, I decided if I was going to have to get a new bike anyway. . . why not splurge on the all-season commuter I'd been looking longingly at for years? 

And so I found myself ordering a bike from a direct distribution company, getting it delivered to my door, and following along to YouTube videos on how to assemble it. 

But I am pretty stoked about this bike. 

Here's the basics. I've been aware of the Priority Continuum for something like a decade. This bike has an internal hub, a carbon belt drive, hydraulic disc brakes, built-in dynamo lights, and built-in fenders. Plus, the front headlight actually has a capacitor that lets you charge other devices off of it. And it looks COOL AS FUCK, can we just agree on that. That matte black finish! The insouciant sans-serif reflective branding on the top tube! The headstock logo that's only really visible under direct light because it's reflective too! GAH.

I only got it today and I spent an hour or so after work putting it together out of the box (with help from the awesome YouTube tutorials the company provides), so I haven't got a ride review yet. But, let's be real: I am probably going to look to like -- if looking liking move. 

Apparently, what you get with one of these bikes is a low-maintenance (because of the sealed hub and belt drive), hardy, all-season commuter. I'm in Ottawa - not a whole lot of elevation to worry about, but definitely a lot of salt, grit, and freeze-thaw. The day I got this, we came in for a night of freezing rain. I'm probably going to go ahead and order some studded tires to fit this bike. 

One con: sure, I won't be able to service this bike on my own as easily as I could a straightforward chain drive bike. But, I'm okay with supporting my local bike shop by bringing it in once in a while for support. I'm not going to learn how to build or fix a CVT hub, of course. But for the more infrequent maintenance, I'm just fine to pay my LBS to do the work for me. Same for the hydraulic brakes. Sure, I can't replace my own brake pads easily. Fine. My mechanics can do it. And this bike looks like it's going to be a blast to ride. 

I've also gotten the heads up from a couple of other Ottawa bike folks that in very cold conditions the carbon belt can snap. . . but when that happened the company sent them replacements for free. So, I guess I'll keep that in mind. And, honestly. . . 

I'm really looking forward to the ride. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Bike theft update

Well, I know a little more about the theft now. It looks like my bike, and one other, were taken by three teenagers, literally less than an hour after I left it in the room. They were caught on camera getting into the elevators (I don't know if it was the elevators for my building or the one next door - the garage is shared). That means if they didn't ship the bike off somewhere, it might actually still be in the building, or the one next door.

I'm heartened that at least the landlord did check the video surveillance, and have sent the video to the police. I just emailed them to let them know the report number, so the cops can connect the video to my report. And the landlord has now installed a security camera in the bike room, which is also encouraging. 

But it also is not a good feeling that these were dumbass kids. Are they stealing bikes for some kind of ring? That's shitty. Are they just stealing bikes for the lulz? That's also shitty. If it's just them messing around, I don't want to bring the cops down on them but also I want them not to steal bikes just because they're shitty teens. If they're stealing bikes for a ring, I want them to get the hell out of that now (and also I can be pretty sure my bike's already been broken down in Montreal).

It sucks all around. At least we're getting better security in the bike room out of it.

My bike got stolen

I suppose it was inevitable? 

About two weeks ago, I headed down to the bike room in my building to grab my bike and head to my Saturday martial arts class. I got to the room and there was someone in there getting her bike out as well. I stopped. Looked around. Assuming she'd moved my bike to get at hers, I checked all the nearby bikes. 


"My bike's not here," I said, staring around. I know I had that look on my face, the one everyone has when what they expected to see just isn't there. I saw it on someone's face in the bike cage at work, when he came out, panniers in hand, and then stopped, just like I had, looking all around him in a search pattern. 

"Someone stole my fucking bike," I said finally, although I was still looking for it as though it would just appear. 

But I was going to be late for class, so I went back outside and got in my car. Between having to drive and the fact that Carleton University was holding Convocation that day and the parking lot was crammed, I was feeling pretty damn combative by the time I made it to the Combatives Room. 

Got home and reported the theft to the police and to Project 529, and to the landlord. And to Ottawa Bike Twitter. And I went down to the bike room with a sign for the door warning other users that my bike had been stolen and telling the thief - who I figure had to have been someone with a key, and therefore another resident - that if they just put the bike back, I'd cancel the police report. But so far, nothing. 

Sure, I might still get the bike back through Project 529 or the cops, or the person who took it might put it back. 

People ask if I had it locked up in the room, and my answer is, I thought that a locked bike room in a locked garage in my own apartment building might - possibly - be secure enough. Not a mistake I'm going to make again. The room does not have any racks, so the only way to secure your bike is to lock the wheel to the frame and hope that's enough of a deterrent. 

I've asked the landlord if there are any plans to install racks. I don't expect much, though. 

However - since I need a winter bike and Long John will NOT work in bad weather conditions. . . I've bitten the bullet and ordered a Priority Continuum Onyx, a bike I've wanted for literally years. It's getting delivered sometime in the next few days. There will be reviews! And I will be locking it the hell up, no matter where it is.