Fiberfix Emergency Spoke Review

About the size of some chapstick...

About the size of some chapstick…

I’ve been hauling around these Fiberfix kevlar emergency spokes with me on tours and brevets for years. They are tiny 15g kits that are about as small as a chapstick that can rapidly replace a broken spoke in your bike’s wheel. Having spare spokes always seemed like a good idea, but needing specific sizes for each wheel you own and protecting them on the ride so they’d be in good shape when you needed them was a drag. Not to mention the broken spoke might be on your friend’s bike.

So easy!

So easy!

Of course even better than having an emergency spoke with you on tour is not breaking a spoke in the first place! I never have broken a spoke on a bicycle in combat yet. I do that by:

  1. Using quality parts
  2. Having a pro bike mechanic I trust build my wheels
  3. Checking the spoke tension myself before trips
  4. Getting wheels tuned up if needed

Even on my trail bike that gets smashed into rocks at high speed all ride every ride I can typically go a couple years between doing any truing of my wheels.

But sometimes shit happens right?

Joanne's wheel back in action...

Joanne’s wheel back in action…

Nothing you can do if a stick leaps into your spokes on the trail or if you crash and your wheel lands on a rock.

The other night I got a call from a friend who needed her bike wheel trued before a big ride the next morning. I agreed to look at her wheel. Once we had it in the truing stand we realized she had a broken spoke and that we could not make the wheel rideable without replacing the spoke. It was 9pm so getting a new spoke from a bike shop was not going to happen.

The emergency spoke threaded through the hub...

The emergency spoke threaded through the hub…

This seemed like a job for as Fiberfix spoke so I grabbed one and started to install it. The whole job took 5 mins.

  1. remove broken spoke
  2. thread Fiberfix spoke through hub
  3. thread Fiberfix spoke into existing nipple
  4. feed Fiberfix spoke through clamping mechanism
  5. pull hand tight
  6. tighten to desired tension with spoke wrench
  7. true wheel

The Fiberfix spoke will handle any size wheel. The cassette doesn’t have to come off if it’s a rear wheel which is nice.

Fiberfix clamp...

Fiberfix clamp…

Joanne rode the wheel for 90kms the next day on her ride and it stayed 100% function with no lose of tension in the emergency spoke. When she was ready to fix the wheel permanently she removed teh Fiberfix spoke and gave it back to me. It can be reused as many times as needed.

Problem solved...

Problem solved…

Light, easy to use, low cost, high functional and reusable. That sounds like a winner to me! 🙂

Krampus Float 34 Mods Redux…

3" Surly Knard + Fox Float 34...

3″ Surly Knard + Fox Float 34…

I got around to another Fox Float 34 fork brace modification session today. I’ve used a rotary tool once before to create more clearance for the Surly Knard 3″ wide 29+ tire. I don’t want to get too crazy removing material so I figured going at it over a few sessions will keep me in check and let me evaluate the current clearance without any pressure to get it “right” in one go.

Ready To roll...

Ready To roll…

I’ve got enough clearance to keep my mind at ease now. I’ll see how things roll during the first couple shorter bikepacking trips in the spring.

Freedom to Ride!

Stoked I get to ride more!

Stoked I get to ride more!

I’m going to be 46 this year. Yikes! While I still have my health and a decent level of fitness I have noticed some changes in how long I recover from injuries as well as my energy levels that have reminded me life is not forever. Given a limited amount of time left that I can do all the things I love [bike, surf, kiteboard, camp, ride motos and travel] my thoughts have turned to the end game aka retirement.

I’m very aware that if I wait too long I’ll not be able to do the same stuff as I would right now. On the other hand I need to fund my life so it’s not as easy as saying “I’m done working. Let’s party!”

What I do know is that if I don’t come up with a plan and follow it I’ll be bumbling along for another couple decades without much hope of stopping. So I’ve been reading about retirement and personal finance online to see what other folks are doing. Based on what I’ve read and my own situation I’ve come up with a plan. I thought I’d share it since I can’t be the only person who’s been thinking they’d like to ride more and work less as they get older. 😉

The Plan

  1. Reduce my costs.
  2. Save aggressively.
  3. Invest wisely.
  4. Move to part-time work.
  5. Allow investments to grow.
  6. Reduce work load to zero.
  7. Stay flexible.

If I was 25 I’d just save aggressively and invest while working full-time until I had enough to live off of and then quit working. However, if you are starting this process at my age and want to stop working full-time before the conventional retirement age [60-71] you have to save a ton of money in a short time to reach financial independence. If you are making a shit load of money and can reduce your costs savagely this may still be a good plan, but for most people [me included] it’s not workable.

By shooting for part-time work you can give yourself the gift of more and more time off without needing anywhere near the same amount saved before you start.

Kill your debts!

If you have any debt other than a mortgage treat it like an emergency. Do not buy anything non-essential – which includes beer, new clothes, movie tickets, eating out, etc.. If that sounds grim than see if you can get rid of debt – for example sell the car and ride your bike/take the bus. You literally can’t get anywhere if you have consumer debt.

I was lucky despite living on my own since I was 15 yrs old [and never receiving support from my parents/relatives once I left home] I didn’t have any student loans or spend more than I earned.

You don’t need all the stuff you want.

It’s very easy to let your spending grow with your salary. That means you’ll always chew through your money and never get anywhere.

When I started looking at retirement I came up with a budget I figured I could live on. I kept reviewing it and reducing it. I now realize that I can actually live an awesome life on 50% less than my initial estimate and I can be just fine on 50% less than that…this includes paying a mortgage.

Being honest at this stage is critical. If you need $50K/yr to live that’s a lot harder to fund than if you need $20K/yr to live.

I’d love a fancy new mountain bike every couple years, but I don’t want to work full-time to pay for it so I am going to get a less fancy mountain bike every 5-6 years which means I can work part-time.

$25 saved and invested = $1/yr for life!

If I had realized the above was true when I was 25 I would have been retired at 35 and never looked at money the same again. Fancy new tires for your bike cost $100. If you just look at it from the perspective of how much $100 is compared to your salary it’s easy to spend that money. If you ask yourself “would I rather have the new tires or have to earn $4 less per year forever?” it becomes a lot clearer that you want to keep riding the old tires on your bike until they are truly worn out.

Make your money work for you!

There are a number of ways to invest your money so it gets a reasonable return. You can buy a rental property, invest in the stock market, buy a business, etc… The key is to not let it sit in a savings account being eaten away by inflation. Personally I’m investing in stocks because I am too lazy to do the rental property thing while working full-time. I’m running a consulting business which is great for deductions, but it’s not scalable the way a manufacturing business would be. I’m too lazy to start a second business.

Wealth is spending investment income.

Once you’ve invested your money never take out the principal. If you have $10K in investments earning 10%/yr after inflation think of that as $1K/yr of income. Never spend more than the $1K. Ideally never spend more than part of that $1K. That way your investments will always grow.

If you make $120K/yr at a job and spend it all each year you aren’t wealthy. You are a highly successful wage slave.

If you make $30K/yr off your investments and live happily off $20K/yr you are wealthy.

Part-time work is still a ton of awesome!

It’s nice to dream about giving your job the big Fuck You! and never working another day of your life, but if you can’t do that working part-time is still a pretty awesome option. If you are right now working Monday to Friday with 4 weeks off per year including stat holidays and you start going part-time here is what it means:

  • Taking Fridays off = 38% more time off per year
  • Taking Friday and Monday off = 77% more time off per year
  • Working 2.5 days per week = 96% more time off per year

So you can nearly double your free time in a year while still earning 50% of what you do now.

If you earn $40K/yr now and a can live off $20K/yr you can save $20K/yr until you get enough investments then switch to part-time and ride that bike a lot more.

If you save $1 working full-time then invest it at 7.5% after inflation and switch to part-time work you will have $2 after 10 years and $4.25 after 20 years. So you can save hard and then start enjoying your life while your money grows to whatever amount you need.

Example:

  • $40K/yr salary after tax
  • Cost of living $20K/yr
  • Save $20K/yr for 7 years
  • Invest at 10% after inflation
  • Work part-time earning $20K/yr for 10 years
  • Stop working and earn $20K/yr from investments for the rest of your life

That’s 7 years of full-time work and 10 years of relaxing part-time work with a lot of travelling and bike riding. Then no working at all if you want.

When to stop?

So you have saved a bunch of money and invested it then started working part-time when should you quit working entirely?

Once your investments are making more [adjusted for inflation] than you need to live in a year you don’t have to work. Since the stock market changes returns over time you need to decide on a safe withdrawal rate which a lot of people will tell you is 4% of your principal. That’s where the save/invest $25 = $1/yr for life comes from. You can decide to go with 3% or with 5% depending on your view of the risks.

My own view is don’t fixate on a number. If you have a few years when you make a lot of investment income maybe that’s the time to replace your roof and paint the house? When you have a couple bad years maybe that’s the time to skip buying any bike bling? If you let your spending vary with your investment performance you need a lot less money to buffer the bad years.

Now once you don’t have to work that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work. It just means you shouldn’t do any work you don’t enjoy.

Part-time forever?

I’ve made it to stage 3 and I hope to get to stage 4/5 in the next few years. I think working part-time is going to be great. I can cover my cost of living and I can let my investments grow. At 10% returns adjusted for inflation $1 = $2 every 7.5 years. So if I don’t touch $1 from now until I am 65 it will grow to over $6 with today’s buying power. That’s awesome and makes saving enough to live off of far more achievable.

I’m not even sure I will ever stop working entirely between now and 71. I don’t love what I do enough to work forever at 40hrs/week, but once I’m down to say 20hrs/week and 148hrs not working each week I may well enjoy it enough to keep going for a couple more decades at a slower pace.

No matter where you are at it’s not too late too start.

  1. Kill your debt.
  2. Spend less and/or earn more.
  3. Save.
  4. Invest.
  5. Work out a plan based on your own reality.

If you are like me the key is to never forget that $25 saved and invested today is $1/yr forever.

Resources

Here are some sites I’ve found were useful to me if you are interested in learning more:

Omnaris Review

Click on image to jump to product page...

Click on image to jump to product page…

I don’t think I have ever reviewed a drug before on my blog, but I love this stuff and it’s worked miracles for me so I wanted to pass on the info to other folks with nasal allergy problems.

Ever since I was a child I’ve been plagued with seasonal allergies as well as dust and pet allergies. Frankly when I go to do a allergy test panel I’m allergic to pretty much anything you can breathe in! For someone who likes to be active outdoors breathing is pretty important. So I’ve tried a wide variety of treatments over the years with very limited success.

That was until 5yrs ago when I got a free sample of Omnaris nasal spray. It literally shuts down my allergies in a day or so. It’s been 100% effective for me every time I have used it. I’ve seen no side-effects and it’s pretty cheap to buy if you don’t have a drug plan from work.

I basically use it when I am symptomatic and when I am no longer having issues I taper off naturally and stop until the next time.

I’m no doctor so take this only as a layman’s opinion. You’ll need a prescription for it any ways so you’ll need to chat with your doctor to see it’s appropriate for you. My doctor had loads of free samples so you may well be able to try it for free.

I currently get it free from my drug plan, but I would happily pay for it given the fast relief from very severe allergy symptoms it provides.

Freeze that Shoe Goo!

I love this shit!

I love this shit!

I love me some Shoe Goo, Seam Seal and all the other similar flexible adhesive products that so easily repair my outdoors gear. One thing I didn’t like was that my tubes would glue the lids shut and start to harden so I never got a full tube worth of adhesive out before I had to throw it away. I started buying smaller and less cost effective [by volume] containers to mitigate this problem.

Then I read a tip online [sorry I forgot the source] that you can freeze Shoe Goo to stop it from curing between uses. I’ve been doing that for a few months now and it’s working great. I’ll get a full tube’s worth of product out of each container and I can buy the larger tubes so I save on a per unit basis.

I’m fixing a wetsuit as I type this by Shoe Gooing some velcro back on. 🙂

Fox Float 34 Krampus Mods

Knardly clearance...

Knardly clearance after…

The Surly Knard tires on my Krampus are large and when I pumped them up for a ride into town I wasn’t happy with the clearance left on the underside of the fork brace. So I hit the fork with a dremel tool. The end result is shown above.

Clearance in unmodified fork...

Clearance in unmodified fork…

I went slowly only removing a small amount of material at a time. With my efforts focused on the area right above the centre of the tire where clearance was smallest.

Dremeled area...

Dremeled area…

The whole process took about 15mins. There is a ton of material left in the fork brace so I’ve got no concerns it has been weakened. I may even go back and create more clearance, but I am going to ride the bike as is for now and see what I think.

Clearance from rear...

Clearance from rear…

Fox Float 34 Krampus-ified! 😉

Another front shot...

Another front shot…

Needs a little black paint.

Backyard workshop...

Backyard workshop…

Wheel installed and ready to roll.

The Big Green Machine...

The Big Green Machine…

Compass Bicycle Tires Tubeless – Part 1

Light and supple tubeless road tires...

Light and supple tubeless road tires…

I’ve been running tubeless tires happily on my mountain bikes for a few years now. I’ve heard bits and bites about folks setting up road tires tubeless, but had not tried to convert any of my street tires to tubeless. I’m working on replacing my Surly LHT with a lighter more enjoyable commuter bike. I built up a set of 700c Velocity Blunt SL wheels with Hope hubs and ordered a set of Compass Bicycle Stampede Pass 32mm tires in the extra light flavour.

Velocity rims are not the easiest to setup tubeless – at least without using a rubber rim strip – and for this lightweight build I didn’t want to go that route. The Compass Bicycle tires are also not designed to be run tubeless so I was a bit worried this experiment might not work so well, but figured I had nothing to lose. If the setup failed I could just clean out the rims/tires and use tubes.

I went with a pretty basic methodology:

  • 1 wrap Stan’s yellow tape
  • Stan’s presta valve stem
  • 1.5 scoops of Stan’s sealant
  • 1 CO2 cartridge to seat beads
  • shake wheels for a few minutes to distribute sealant

The tires seated well on the rims and although there were a few holes in them that needed sealing that resolved itself quickly. So far the tires are holding air with no noticeable lose after a few days. All in all it was fairly easy to set these tires up tubeless.

Surprisingly easy to setup...

Surprisingly easy to setup…

I’ve got to finish the bike build this weekend and then I’ll test out the wheels to see how they perform on the road and report back in Part 2 of this post.