Hours: Mon-Fri 10-8, Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Taotronics Bicycle Mount Cellphone Holder...
Which I purchased via Sunvalleytek Canada / via Amazon.ca. They also make cellphone mounts for cars and a variety of other devices. The name of the device on Amazon is really long, apparently because Taotronics is trying to squeeze as many keywords into the title as they can.
They also sent me a follow-up email to make sure I received the package in the mail, and some additional information:
We’re sending this email to check in and make sure that your order arrived and is working well for you.
Just so you know, the bicycle phone mount are covered with a 1-year warranty which can be extended by another 6-month if you register the product online with warranty card included in item package.
If you have any problems or questions about our product, please respond to this email and we will do our best to resolve your issue within 24 hours.
Below are some tips before you install the phone mount to your bike.
1.Do not ride for long time on road with too many bumps which is not good for your phone and also the mount. Put a piece of cloth to the handlebar before you try to install the clamp to the bicycle which could prevent the clamp getting loose after a period time of riding.
2.If you are not able to fix the clamp to your bicycle handle bar, please check the below picture.
3. If the cradle which holds the phone comes off from the clamp which is fixed to the handle bar, please try to put the cradle into the clamp oppositely to have a try.
Finally, we hope that you will be willing to leave an honest review of our product on Amazon. User reviews are vital to our research and development, and having your input will enable us to continue making a product that you enjoy using.
Thank you again for choosing TaoTronics. We are committed to providing you quality products and top notch customer service, and hope to serve you for years to come.
So yes, a review. But I shall be posting it here, not on Amazon.
Review Note #1.
The most important part of any product is that it needs to work. This product works. So that is a success right there.
Review Note #2.
I managed to purchase this bicycle accessory on sale. $13.99. Regularly priced at $29.99. So huzzah. I got a deal. Sucks to be the people who have to pay full price.
Review Note #3.
The stretchy rubber device did not completely fit my Samsung Galaxy S6 (plus case), height wise. It had no problem fitting width wise, but it was too short to go over the top of my phone, over the back of the mount, and over the corners of the bottom of the phone. So instead I simply placed it over the top of the phone and then jury rigged it to the side clamps, thus ensuring that my phone wouldn't bounce out while riding over bumps. (I also double checked how tight it was
A smaller phone would not have had this problem, but I managed to get it to work.
However if I were to give the manufacturer a piece of advice, I recommend including two of those stretchy rubber devices in the packaging, that are two different sizes. At present they do give the purchaser two of them, but they are both the same size. A larger version of the stretchy rubber thingy that fits taller/larger phones would be handy.
|The Stretchy Rubber Thingy, Horizontal|
Review Note #4.
Build quality and usability. It was well designed and well built. I have no qualms about the quality of the materials. It was very easy to use and install. Takes less than a minute to attach to a bicycle, even less to remove it. (Which unfortunately means thieves might grab it. I decided to remove it from my bicycle after I was done cycling today, which means the next time I intend to use this accessory, it will at least be easy to use.)
Review Note #5.
I like how when you press the side button the side clamps slowly go outwards, releasing your phone in a nice, slow and orderly manner. It was so cool I showed the wife. Oooooooo!
Overall I give this product 4 stars out of 5. If they included a larger rubber thingy that fits larger phones it would be 5 stars.
Don't play on your phone while cycling. Avoid the urge to press buttons. If you have to do something on your phone, slow down and stop, go to the sidewalk and do what you need to do.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Received the following earlier today:
This Friday, at 10 a.m., staff from Charlie's FreeWheels will pick up 30+ bicycles from Merchandise Building. These bicycles will be built up by young people in our Build-a-Bike programming.
For more information, please see the media release, attached.
242.5 Queen Street E. M5A 1S3 Toronto, Ontario
Inspiring a spirit of exploration in youth
The historical Merchandise Building (located at Dundas St. E and Church) will donate 30+ abandoned bicycles to Charlie’s FreeWheels’ Build-a- Bike programming. The bicycles will be given a second life by youth who will learn to re-build the bicycles from the frame up. Youth participants of Charlie’s FreeWheels’ free programming will get to keep the bicycles they build and they will also learn how to safely ride and maintain these bicycles.
A student metropass costs $112 per month and so each bicycle donated has the potential to save youth ~$800 per year, assuming they ride for eight months of the year. Bicycles that are beyond repair will be stripped for parts.
When: On Friday August 12 th at 10 a.m.
Where: The Merchandise Building: 155 Dalhousie St, Toronto, ON M5B
Bicycles will be picked up from the loading dock on the east side of Dalhousie Street just north of Dundas St. E
firstname.lastname@example.org / t. 416.546.2200 / c. 647.295.5496
ABOUT CHARLIES’ FREEWHEELS
Charlie’s Freewheels is a non-profit organization on a mission to inspire a spirit of exploration in
the youth we serve, largely from the Regent Park and Moss Park communities. With our Build-a-Bike, Group Rides and Mentorship programs, we support young people to build new confidence, connections and skills.
Charlie’s FreeWheels operates out of Ya Bikes! on Queen Street East at Sherbourne Street.
Visit charliesfreewheels.ca for more information and updates about our current programming.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
Just moments ago I was nearly hit by a cyclist who had the arrogance to think I was at fault. I was standing on a walking path in a park and giving directions to two lost strangers.
We were not blocking the path and there was plenty of space for the cyclist to go around us and still be well on the path. The path was paved and approx. 14 feet wide (more than enough space for a garbage truck to drive on).
So the cyclist had plenty of space. More than enough.
So why did he make a big fuss and claim we were "blocking the path"?
The incident got me thinking about why cyclists have such a bad reputation amongst car drivers and even amongst pedestrians we have a bad rep.
And I think it really comes down to arrogance and a sense of entitlement (and those cyclists who ignore safety don't help our reputations either).
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Monday, February 22, 2016
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Saturday, January 30, 2016
of the Quadra Bike School
Edited by Charles Moffat,
The Bicycle Mechanic
Just before I closed up my shop on Quadra Island, B.C. for the Christmas break a young woman brought me a $3000+ downhill bike to straighten the derailleur hangar she had bent for the second time. (The bike was three months old.) She said the first time it had been straightened by the shop in Squamish, B.C., which had originally sold her the bike. Now she was living on our island off the east coast of Vancouver Island.
I cautioned that I could only straighten the derailleur if the back wheel was true, and she agreed I could true it if necessary. (A minor truing usually takes less than 15 minutes.) Now, this wheel was actually laterally true, but the spoke tension was terrible. Half the spokes on the drive side were close to the correct tension, and the alternate spokes were drastically low. After I re-tensioned this wheel I had to check the front wheel too, hoping it wasn’t as bad. But it was.
In under half an hour I saved her wheels from a potential catastrophic failure. What was deplorable was that a bike shop in a town known for hard-hitting downhill riding, a bicycle shop there would let an expensive cycle go out the door in such pathetic mechanical shape. They even had a chance to correct their sloppy work when she returned to get her derailleur hangar straightened.
I urge everyone buying bikes anywhere in Canada to start demanding that their local bike shops prove the proficiency of their mechanics. Take every bike from a “professional shop” to a community bike shop or clinic, get the volunteers to show you how to use a tension gauge and use it to check every spoke on the drive side of the rear wheel to see if it measures close to 100-120kgf. The front wheel should measure 80-100kgf (measure on the left side if it has a disc brake). If the wheels are not close, go right back to the shop and ask for a proper wheel truing or your money back.
Up till now bike shops have been slow to send their mechanics to professional training schools. I think they’re afraid they’ll have to pay them more. And they will. This has been an industry sleazing by with minimum-wage starting salaries, and only rising above that in minuscule increments. The riding public is suffering, only they don’t know it. When a wheel or other component fails drastically, I’ve seen service managers blame the customer for the fault and then charge them for the repair even within the very short warranty period offered by most shops.
Only bike riders who won’t take bad treatment will make these shops shape up.
Being a rider on the streets of Canadian cities is not for the faint-hearted. Riding a bike assembled to shoddy standards should be an offense under your local highways act.
Editor's Note: Some bicycle shops don't even have a spoke tension gauge. A true sign they don't know what they are doing. They're not even expensive, and they really should be mandatory in every bicycle mechanic's bag of tools. There are many different kinds of spoke tension gauges (like the three shown below) and there is no excuse for not having one and learning its proper use.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
I chose the word hooligans because I feel it more accurately describes what happened in Toronto yesterday. Taxi drivers, upset at ride sharing app Uber (which promotes carpooling / ride sharing and other features to make it easier for people to get a ride to work) decided to organize a city wide protest.
Which apparently includes blocking ambulances from doing their job (as caught on video) and attacking motorists' cars / attempting to assault motorists (also caught on video). Clearly hooliganism like that should not be tolerated.
As an advocate of bicycles (and a first hand observer that taxi drivers are ***holes that don't know how to drive) I am going to state that I support Uber's efforts to get more cars off the roads and get more people into cars due to the extra efficiency. Not as good as bicycles, but hey, if it reduces congestion then it makes more room for us cyclists.
The staff at Toronto City Hall in my opinion should scrap the taxi regulations and fees - which are antiquated and obsolete - and embrace Uber as a method to solve Toronto's congestion problems.
More subways and more bicycle lanes would also be nice, but an endorsement of Uber would go a long way to send the message that it is time the taxi industry enter the 21st century.
In the photo below it shows a similar protest in Madrid in 2014, wherein taxi hooligans were attacking motorists while police just stood back and watched.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
His comment was the following:
"Being dedicated to the profession of bike mechanics and seeing the pathetic hack jobs that come out of some shops (and occasionally mine, unfortunately), I am a firm supporter of programs like the short lived BAM course, Winterborne, and the hope of government recognized bike mechanic certification. The only issue I have with these courses and schools, is that the mechanics coming out of them just plainly are not skilled enough. We brought in a number of co-op students from the BAM program, and had a handful of Winterborne graduates come in for tryouts, and simply none of them met the standards for us to give them permanent positions. A friend of mine who owns another shop also had to let go of his Winterborne graduate because the amount of returned repairs was far beyond what is acceptable. I understand that people of different mechanical and cycling backgrounds will come away from these courses differently, but the sheer number of shoddy mechanics I've seen some through these courses makes me a little suspicious of their curriculum. I'm sure a school with the pedigree of Barnett's would have different results, but obviously their graduates are hard to come by up here. I have heard talk lately, though, that BTAC (I may be wrong, but I think it was BTAC) is in the works with George Brown College to implement government acknowledged bike mechanic certification. Keep your eyes peeled!"
Now what Matt brought up essentially, perhaps without realizing it, is the old Catch-22 of training bicycle mechanics. You have to train bicycle mechanics in order to get bicycle mechanics that are "up to snuff".
Bicycle mechanics who failed to meet the standards set by the shop or not acceptable simply ended up being let go at later dates because the shop didn't feel compelled to train the new recruits to the level they wanted - or to use the techniques that the head mechanic preferred to use.
This is something I have noticed about various bicycle mechanic shops, the head mechanic always has their own opinion about the "correct way" to fix something in a particular way. That means a student, recently graduated from a bicycle mechanic program will be doing the methodology they were taught in class - including methods outlined by the esteemed Barnett* - and the head mechanic will disapprove of the method the graduate uses, but doesn't bother to actually teach the new recruit the so-called "proper way" that the head mechanic prefers to use. And these so-called proper methods will vary from shop to shop, with the differences largely being issues of how much time a particular method takes.
* Note - Matt also mentions Barnett's pedigree and reputation, although it is important to note that the BAM program followed the same curriculum and the same course book's that Barnett teaches. I cannot speak for what Winterborne program does however. If anyone knows if the Winterborne program copies the Barnett curriculum, please post a comment below.
So for my example, when I studied bicycle mechanics we were taught the Barnett method of doing everything - which unfortunately, is also the slowest method - which is to say, it is the "true proper way" of fixing something, in an effort to make sure it is done absolutely properly. However bike shops often skip over many of the steps that Barnett uses in order to save time and make the process more efficient. This in turn means that some bike shops are churning out shoddy repair jobs that are done hastily.
Now back to the original problem, how to get bicycle mechanics that are up to snuff.
Honestly it really comes down to training them in person, which means the head mechanic needs to get off seat and actually teach for once. Which means the owner of the bike shop needs to make teaching bicycle mechanics part of the job description.
Every graduate bicycle mechanic coming into a shop is going to have a different background, different training, and if they went through Barnett's or only program that is replicating Barnett's then they are the ones who actually know the "proper way" to do a particular task. It is up to the head mechanic to teach them the fast / efficient way that they personally approve of.
Writing about this reminds me of my interest of becoming a helicopter mechanic. Why? Because of the following reasons:
#1. Helicopter mechanics don't skimp on time when it comes to repairing the helicopter. If they fail to do the job properly, people fall out of the sky and die. Thus they have to do everything "by the book" and each repair is recorded, dated and logged.
#2. Helicopter mechanics are better paid, although not always by much.
"The average salary for a helicopter mechanic was $54,500 annually in May 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure breaks down to $26.20 per hour. The top 10 percent of mechanics made an average of $74,210 annually, or $35.68 per hour. The lowest 10 percent made an average of $34,630 annually, equivalent to $16.65 per hour."
Bicycle mechanics get barely minimum wage and treated like dirt, because people don't value a skill they could do themselves (in theory) but are too lazy to do themselves.
The minimum wage in Ontario is currently $11.25, whereas the average bicycle mechanic in Ontario makes between $12 and $14 per hour - and often works part time, which means they are struggling to pay bills, to pay rent, and they are saving nothing for retirement.
The only real way for a bicycle mechanic to be saving for retirement is if they open their own shop and start charging whatever rates they want, building bikes and selling bicycles, bicycle parts, tools, etc. Which is what many bicycle mechanics eventually do, because they realize working for minimum wage and being treated like dirt just isn't enough.
In theory bike shops should also be offering private lessons in how to fix bicycles, which means they could then hire the best students as permanent staff. And they couldn't complain about what methods they use for fixing things, because it was the same methods they taught them.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Charlie's FreeWheels is a non-profit organization in Regent Park that empowers youth by teaching them how to build bicycles and ride them safely. We are having our annual Open House this weekend and wanted to invite you to attend! Please forward this message and the attached media advisory to anyone you think may interested.
The party will take place on Saturday October 17th from 2-6pm at our shop at 242.5 Queen Street East. We will be thanking our volunteers, promoting our programs, and there will be a raffle, video screening, and refreshments. Please visit our website for more information about the event: www.charliesfreewheels.ca/
Hope to see you there!
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Oddly most of us don't know what we should and should not be doing. Pay attention and read closely so you remember this should it ever happen to you.
If the driver asks if you are okay say "I don't know. I think I need to see a doctor." You might feel unhurt, because of the shock of being struck, so you don't always know when you are injured. You might notice until hours later that you have a cracked rib, an injured ankle, a torn ligament, etc.
Do get the driver's phone number.
Do get the driver's insurance info.
Do write down the driver's license plate.
Do document the scene, photograph your bicycle, the car, any injuries, the driver's face, your face, etc. Take photos of everything you can think of.
Do locate witnesses who saw the accident and get their contact info / phone numbers if possible. Or alert the police to which witnesses saw the accident.
Do go see a doctor as soon as you are able. You might have an injury you didn't notice at the time. If you do have an injury get copies of all medical reports relating to the injury.
Do report any injuries, no matter how minor, to the insurance company. Insurance companies take that stuff seriously, even if it is only a minor injury. If you only claim property damage and no injuries, insurance companies take it less seriously and are less likely to pay anything at all. You don't want to fake any injuries obviously, but you shouldn't be pretending not to be injured just because you don't want to cause extra trouble. As long as you record any injuries and see a doctor ASAP, you are preserving your rights. Let your doctor decide what is worth noting on your insurance claim.
Do follow through on protecting your rights.
Do not accept the driver's word when they say they will pay for any damages. They can easily change their mind later, and change their story to claim that the accident was your fault: "He just came out of nowhere! He was going ridiculously fast and it was impossible to stop on time!" After all, why should they risk paying higher insurance rates if they can get away with paying nothing and pretending the accident never happened?
Never admit to being "okay". Just keep saying that you don't know and that you need to see a doctor.
Do not refuse to go see a doctor. See one ASAP.
Do not let the driver leave before the police arrive. If they attempt to do so record their license plate and report it to police as a hit and run, as they clearly didn't stick around at the scene of the crime. If a driver gets out of their car, asks if you are okay, and then immediately leaves that still counts as a hit and run.
Do not get your bicycle repaired immediately. Preserve the evidence and record all the damage. Get a bicycle mechanic to give you an estimate for the repairs, but don't have them fix it yet.
Do not assume that everything will be taken care of properly. Insurance companies and deadbeat drivers would much rather not have to pay anything if they think they can get away with it.
Do not mention the value of your bicycle. The price of the repairs will be determined by your bicycle mechanic. Just say "It depends on the repair bill."
If it is a friend, a family member, or even a random stranger that you see get hit stop and help them and then follow the above advice. It could happen to any of us. See the video below of strangers stopping to help a little girl after she gets rammed into by a car.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Car drivers often pass ridiculously close to cyclists. So close they almost hit them and sometimes do hit them. So you have to wonder how safe they would feel if it was reversed, if they nearly got hit by a Mack truck going 4 times your speed.
Sometimes car drivers cut off big rig trucks without signaling - or even while signaling - and those trucks cannot stop on a dime. They ram into, and over, anything that gets in their way. And the truck driver won't be at fault. The police know these sort of accidents happen ALL THE TIME due to stupid car drivers who think they can cut off a big rig truck without getting hit. Sooner or later they will get hit and their car will be so much dented and twisted metal the drivers upper torso will be on Yonge Street and the bottom of their torso will be on Bay Steeet.
So unless you want to get some instant karma drivers of all stripes need to be thinking this: If it too close for a pedestrian to feel safe, why would you think it was safe for a cyclist, a fellow car driver, or a truck driver? Share the road. Drive safe.
Friday, August 28, 2015
What you are looking at above is a recumbent tricycle - merged with a Morgan car. It is not exceptionally complicated, but it does cost about $3,300 USD + shipping costs.
Although to be fair, recumbent bicycles in general tend to be in the $3,000 to $9,000 range, so paying at least $3,000 is pretty normal for a recumbent bicycle.
The early attempts at making flying bicycles seem so amateurish compared to what we now know about aviation. As if they were conceived by a 12-year-old with an active imagination but very little knowledge of what is actually needed to fly.
Like the one shown on the right here, which was doomed to fail just by the looks of it.
Or the one below, also doomed to failure.
In 2013 the British company Paravelo (based in London, UK) finally managed to make a bicycle fly - sort of. It is actually more of a parasail-bicycle hybrid. See the video and photos below:
But the encounter featured a twist - the cyclist was on a fixed gear bicycle and doing a track stand. In a track stand, a rider on a fixed-gear bike may shift ever so slightly forward and back in an effort to maintain balance, like in the video below:
The fixed gear enthusiast recounted the encounter with the Google Self Driving Car on an online forum for cyclists:
"The car got to the stop line a fraction of a second before I did, so it had the [right of way]. I did a track-stand and waited for it to continue on through."
Google's self-driving cars are notoriously careful, and tend to brake when anyone else is moving forward into the vehicle’s path. In a track stand, a rider on a fixed-gear bike may shift ever so slightly forward and back in an effort to maintain balance and thus looks like they are in motion. Also, a rider doing a track stand maintains the body position typical of a cyclist in motion, not one that is stopping. For riders of fixed-gear bikes, it can be a fun game to never have to put one’s foot down on the pavement, but instead balance at stop signs and red lights.
While a human driver can easily see a rider doing a track stand isn’t going anywhere, Google’s self-driving car seems to be still be figuring that out.
As the cyclist recalled:
"It apparently detected my presence … and stayed stationary for several seconds. it finally began to proceed, but as it did, I rolled forward an inch while still standing. The car immediately stopped…
I continued to stand, it continued to stay stopped. Then as it began to move again, I had to rock the bike to maintain balance. It stopped abruptly.
We repeated this little dance for about two full minutes and the car never made it past the middle of the intersection. The two guys inside were laughing and punching stuff into a laptop."
Despite the awkward encounter, the cyclist didn’t leave with a negative impression of self-driving cars.
"The odd thing is, I felt safer dealing with a self-driving car than a human-operated one."
Self-driving cars could actually be a boon for cycling. If self-driving vehicles almost never crash, roads will become immensely more safe and inviting to cyclists. But for now, mastering how to interact with cyclists is a challenge for self-driving vehicles. The fact that the cars err on the side of caution is a very good thing.
A patent Google received this spring detailed how its self-driving cars could identify cyclists and interpret their hand signals. It also mentioned the ability to identify a cyclist by measuring the distance between the pavement and the top of a stopped cyclist’s head.
Of course, until this summer Google’s testing was centered near its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. In July, Google began testing in Austin, home to a lot more hipsters and fixed-gear bikes.
The broader the experiences of self-driving vehicles, the better prepared they will be for real-world driving. The run-in also highlights the long list of rare situations the cars will have to master before they can replace human drivers. After all, what happens when a self-driving car approaches a downtown intersection with multiple cyclists on fixed-gear bikes, and a herd of pedestrians? How will it react? Hopefully with the same level of caution.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Are you in the market for a new bike? There are lots of options on the market, so before heading down to your local bicycle shop, read up on models, features, prices, and the pros and cons of each type. Prices range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, so investigate all the possibilities. Not every two-wheeler will fit every cyclist, because there are multiple bike-rider personalities. Which type are you?
If you are a commuter who wants to "go green" while pedaling to work, consider a hybrid bike with comfy handlebars and seat. A hybrid is sturdier than your basic road bike, but not quite as rugged as a mountain bike. If you are an adventurer who likes to rip up the gravel while zipping up and down off-road trails, select a mountain bike with full-suspension, wide tires, low gears, and disc brakes. If you are an athlete who wants to log miles and burn calories at the same time, you might want to consider a racing road bike. Road bikes are designed for speed and fitness, but you'll need to learn to change tires, because the skinny tires go flat more often than other bike tires.
To learn more about bike types and the features of each model, take a look at this detail-filled infographic. After reading it, you'll be ready to hit the road for some test drives.
Presented By Bicycle Adventures Bike Tours and Vacations
Saturday, August 8, 2015
Stephen Harper was in Toronto for the Maclean's leaders' debate at the City studio in Yonge and Dundas Square, but his campaign bus was photographed blocking a bike lane in front of the Delta Hotel on Lower Simcoe St. near the CN Tower in Toronto.
The driver of the bus refused to move it when asked and blocked photographs of himself by lifting a newspaper to cover his face.
The fine for parking in a bike lane in Toronto is $150. The fine is there because in order for cyclists to get around parked vehicles they have to merge with faster moving traffic, putting themselves in danger of a collision or being killed.
Toronto Police Service says no special parking arrangements made for the Harper bus, and therefore it was parked illegally.
A representative of the Conservative Party did not return a request for comment.
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