Maple Leaf Test Rides

The continuing saga of test riding a Supercycle SC1800 (Canadian Tire product # 71-1556)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

km 542.11

Surprised there are no comments observing this is perhaps the dullest blog on the net...and yet still we write...

Rode rough roads last night. This was on the Davenport bike lane, which was covered in mounds of snow along the length of it. Felt akin to 3000m of washboard and delivered an excellent vibrational loosening test. The tire pressure was at (front - 40PSI, rear - 40PSI) and sucked up the bumps without a complaint.

The bottom bracket lockring has come out of adjustment, producing some play. Must have happened since the last 101 km, as this was when the latest adjustment was given to that part. Ach, time to double check torque.

There is salty residue all over the paint now. The chain has become bone dry as deserves a trip to the lubritorium today. Chain has elongated by 1/32 inch over 12 inch span. At this rate, it will be time for fresh links by km 1000.

Monday, February 27, 2006

km 518.40

Day off for the blue beauty yesterday. There was an extreme cold weather warning, and thought not to chance things with the Db2L.

Ride in this morning was pleasant as a punch. The rig is quiet and smooth. Some rust showing on various bolts and exposed cranknut, seems mostly cosmetic.

Except the front brakes. Hitting the binders resulted in honking despite the extreme toe-in. Perhaps it is time to clean the rim with, perhaps, acetone or alcohol.

The BB is showing some play. The BB is definitely a weak spot in the spec of the bike. Also dropped a crankset dustcap somewhere along the way.

It will be time for the chain to receive more SAE 20 weight special blend iminently.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

km 504.89

More sled-dogging last night. Yee-haw it's a challenging course dodging cop cars with cherries a-blazing, scooping hacks, inebriated celebrants behind wheels and stumbling bumpkins. All that and icy roads to boot. Even so, the SC1800 took me home without a complaint.

Pushing the operating temperature for the Filzer Db2L instrumentation, and yet still it works for a 30 minute ride at -15C. All that for $11.50 CDN!

Still awaiting delivery for the dropout alignment kit, scheduled ETA is around April 1st. Goodness knows, the rig needs it.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

km 490.48

Sled dogging the rig this morning. Centre of gravity is a little high as BB clearance is ample, forcing slow maneuvers though corners to prevent sideways sliding. Weight distribution with stock stem & seat-pillar keeps firm traction on the rear wheel at the expense of making the front wheel 'bite'. All in all puts an onus on the rider to keep the rubber side down on the icy stuff.

The white turtle light repair seems to be holding up. The only tip to be suggested is to use saliva as electro-conductive gel. After that, it all seems to be about the positioning of the button over the circuit board.

Again, yea verily am impressed with the 20 weight SAE oil on the chain. It seems more tenacious than the Prolink. Does not suspend excessive amounts of grit. Chain sounds queit and feels smooth. Costs less. Not just for sewing machines anymore!

Friday, February 24, 2006

km 457.04

Whoo hoo! The bike is a blast again with the BB spindle properly revolving. The beast is smooth running. This enabled me to pass several other commuters on the way here this morning. The chase and face seemed to do the trick, at least for now. The only complaint on that area was it was difficult to perform a precise adjustment on the bearing, so they are evr just so on the side of binding.

The rear brake was dysfunctional again this morning, as ambient temperatures over the last 12 hours were around -10C. Perhaps an upgrade to a stainless steel cable with seals on the housing end caps would solve this problem.

The rear wheel is making noises that sound like 'whoosh, croinkle' at low volumes. Suspect that the zinc spokes are undertensioned. Must be careful here as the rear rim will not likely support high tension. Perhaps that service will come in the next week.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

km 441.05

Took the beast in today for the facing and chasing. Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure. Upon the overhaul, did discover the fixed cup was not properly fastened and the shell was not faced properly. Also found the frame material to be as soft as Stilton. Also noticed the welds in the BB area were like dirty diarhhea. Perhaps the original BB is a bit of a weakspot on this budget ride. Probably a non-issue to swap out for a 68x122 1.37x24 cartridge BB, but wanted to keep as many original parts for as long as possible.

The brake shoes are holding up surprisingly well, as evidence by the photo. Performance is so-so and these honk like geese in humid weather. In dry conditions, they are OK.

The SAE 20 weight oil on the chain is beauty, eh! Splashed some more of the stuff on the corroding derailleur spring and pivots. Seems to be working now, now for the test ride portion of the show...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

km 422.30

Out and aboot for a cool (-5C) ride yesterday. Rig is running OK, except for the BB knock thing, Definitely found a weak area there. Any consumer who is not diligent with maintenance or mechanically inclined is going to have a soft spot there. Also, the rear wheel was making ticking sounds, probably from the rear hub. This is normal considering the rear dropouts were visibly out of alignment from the factory. Also the soft aluminium rim is beginning to go out of true, despite a gentle and careful riding style (avoiding potholes, no curb-jumping, not bricking it)

On the bright side, the cost of the setup afforded to include a Gore-Tex cycling jacket, a Bell Metro helmet, and two sets of lenses for riding glasses. All in all the kit is bike($99) accesories ($51) and gear($200).

Compare this to the month of January where dad's car was borrowed. In thirty days there was gas($120), parking ($50), and parking tickets ($60). Not including the car payments, maintenance and insurance, as he normally covers that! To be fair, there was the convenience of hopping onto a comfy chair with my favourite radio station playing. And it conveys ability to give someone a lift home, which is courteous.

What is better, what is best? This depends on how far we go, what we must carry, who we meet, when we must be there, the weather that day and the health of the traveller. This is the blend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

km 399.39

Funny thing about the abservation about the knock in the BB diminishing...the same day I noted it, the knock returned. Chalk it up to some sort of Moroni's law of 'take it to the mechanic and it repairs itself'.

Realizing the top tube is very short compared to other mountainbikes ridden. Gives a sensation of being bunched up in the cockpit. Makes it an almost impossible feat of upper body strength to pull a pop-a-wheelie or to pedal kick off of a curb. Certainly not a rig for tricksters!

The tire pressure is amazing. In the almost 8 weeks of use, we've only had to inflate the tires one time. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they are inflated with warm shop air and then left continuously outside.

The front brake pads are still surprisingly serviceable. They are the only binders used for stopping, yet these stock shoes are still showing their wear indicators. All the same, there has been a order placed with our accessory supplier for replacement shoes. They should arrive sometime in early March.

Monday, February 20, 2006

km 370.02

Rigs running right and tight today. Somehow the knock in the BB has enquieted itself, thereby making a smooth ride in.

The brake lines were initially unresponsive this morning. Probably has something to do with moisture between the wire and housing as well as the sub zero temperatures the previous few days. A couple of hard squeezes and presto! snappy brakes again.

The instrumentation is flawless at -9C. There was concern about the liquid crystal display freezing up, but so far no worries.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

slippery still

Mileage yet again kept down by slight snow coverage in the corners. Makes riding treacherously dangerous.

On the bright side of things, skating at the Air Canada Centre was splendiferous indeed! The surface is like hard wax, yet the ambient temperature is condusive to working up perspiration. All in all a good workout. Here is a more recent pic of the resident blogmeister....

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ice ice baby

Plenty of icing calls out there today. Too bad for me it makes for lousy bike riding weather.

Goods news is that the Air Canada Centre is opening up the rink to the public today. For free!

In the meantime, here are pictures of the SC1800.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Oh baby it's slippery out there

Gave the rig a rest today, as conditions make it perilous to be on two-wheelers today.

The bottom bracket was bothersome yesterday, as it has developed an inaudible irregularity in the stroke. It can be felt that there is some binding when the right arm is at the 12 o'clock position. Changed my mind again - will definitely bring it in in the near future for a chase and a face with the tapper. Especially now that we have Cool Tool in the shop.

The white turtle light is working better than ever - seems as bright as it has ever been, particularly now that the switch is on the right place. The fresh non-OEM batteries also might make it brighter. All this is mentioned subjectively - not like there is a way to measure the lux in this shop.

Looking forward to trading in the bike for a pair of skates this evening.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

km 339.51

Second thoughts on the BB thing. Though the bearings are binding a bit, it feels OK after a bit of mileage. Can't really expect it to be perfect, as the finished parts were probably manufactured for less than a dollar to the factory's cost. Absolutley gotta overhaul it again, maybe at the 600km mark.

Realizing the weight distribution of the rider is less than ideal, as it puts most of it on the saddle. This creates a relatively upright position, compared to other mountainbikes I've ridden. Nice for traffic and easy on the neck, but the tushie gets sore after more than an hour in the saddle, and it takes an out of the saddle effort to get weight on front wheel traction.

All in all, I've saved 68 (based on an average of 5km/ride) trips on the transit at $2 a ride, putting $138 back in my pocket (expressed as an opportunity cost) over the 6 weeks I've been riding it. It has been especially nice for running errands, as transit would ding me for a ticket every time I hop on or hop off.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

SC1800 gets another day off

Overhauled the BB yesterday and discovered much to my chagrin that the bearings are in no way sealed! Suppose the designer intended for this area to receive service more often. Also found it difficult to get a precise adjustment, so we're going to go in for a chase and a face in the near future. We will see if that helps that area.

The white turtle light is still OK, at least for the short ride home from my brother's place last night. The key seems to place the button over the exact centre of circuit board. Must test ride that do-dad some more to determine durability of that repair.

No riding this morning as there was a bank function and felt it necessary to hop in my monkey suit. Wouldn't want to wear that outfit out on my bike in this weather!

Monday, February 13, 2006

km 311.43

Yay! The white turtle light is working again, at least for a 20 minute ride home from pa's last night. There was some fiddling around with the switch positioning and lo and behold it seems to be OK now.

Bad news is the Prolink lube wore off much faster this time. Perhaps temperature has something to do with it's viscosity as it has been cool the last few days. One thing about Prolink - it is clean running.

So switched to '3 in one' SAE 20 oil from the folks at WD-40. Goes for like three or four bucks at the local Canadian Tire and has tenancious clinging ability. The label says 'special blend for 1/4 HP motors or larger'. Initially, it seems to work OK on my bicycle too. Also splashed some on the rear derailleur, as it was showing rust and not shifting perfectly.

Must try to make time to rebuild the BB bearings today.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

km 280.5

That white turtle light is making me loony! It works perfectly at room temperature conditions, but when it gets fasten to a cold handlebar, it will not turn on. If I bring it to the warranty folks, they are going to think I'm crazy, because it will appear to work OK. Going to have to give it one more chance to see what happens.

The BB bearing are definitely going ka-chunk. Going to have to service those in the near future.

Saw a show on motorcycles last night. They look quite thrilling. Would love to try a 1969 Honda CB750, those disk brakes seem like an appropriate solution for that four cylinder engine. In the meantime, even a Honda Cub would give me decent practice on motorized two wheelers. Suppose we must save up for luxuries like these.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


read about turtle lights here:

Zut alors, my white turtle light has conked out again. Tried three tricks to make it work. Bending battery contacts, smal piece of rubber between housing and battery and licking the battery. All this seems to make it work at room temperature, but when it goes into real riding it lasts for two blocks. Gonna give it a couple of more tries before I right off the white one.The red one works perfectly and without compaint. There has been a broken one in every box of 20, making a return rate of 5% which is somewhat high for electronics. Oh well, for $7.50 + tax = $8.625 a pair it still seems worth the pirce for the safety they provide.

My pa also came back with a glowing review of this product when he used it for ornithological purposes in south Pacific jungles. He said it was quite handy for night time birdwatching as it is bright enough to find information in bird books yet not so bright as to scare off birds.

The rear brake is still functional. The front brakes squeek just a little bit. The rear derailleur is beginning to show corrosion, but hasn't affected the shifitng yet. Still waiting for liquid precipitation to put real wear and tear on. There has been a cool arctic air mass keeping it sub-zero around here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

km 229.39

Exacta tic toc tackily 5000m from home to work (by most direct route). What a joke of a commute.

The chain has gone bone dry and needs oil. Gonna put on the Pro Link Gold formula, as it seems to have a nice balance of crud repellling abilites, tenacious water resistance and penetrating lubrification.

That dang white 'turtle' light died again. Put in new batteries, rubber battery backer and still it conks out. Maybe the cool weather has something to do with it, as it works OK when it is at room temperature.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

cool runnin'

The pig iron runs OK even in sub zero temperatures. It is nice to get new lenses for my eyewear. It has been a good idea to go with the clear lenses as opposed to the sunglasses 'cause it is dark very often when riding this time of year. It prevents eyes watering and lookin like a cry-baby.

The eyewear we're goin with in this kit is MEC Espresso (style # 4018-108 - $19) combined with clear lenses (style # 4018-107 - $6). They provide adequate wind coverage for the oculars of my smiling mug and keep bugs off when moving at high speeds. They are also UVA/UVB protective and have adequate optics. Constructed of shatter resistant polycarbonite lenses. Also have the brown lenses for sunshiny days. Other colours are smoke, orange, yellow, pink and rose.

The rear brake thing is OK now, so the liquid PTFE may be the right call. All that's left to do is have the northern hemisphere point towards the sun more often such as to warm this place up. Cycling in the cold takes some of the fun out of it for this rider.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

km 206.4

12 hours of riding time in there for an average speed of 17.2kph. The SC1800 is not the most efficient of rides, as it consumes calories like a boxer before a fight. It is however built as a tank.

The saddle is quite a nutbuster for more than an hours worth of suffering with it. It has this property to separate the pelvic sit bones such as to expose soft fleshy areas to the middle of the saddle. The vinyl cover is surprisingly weather resistant as snow and rain wipe off easily to ensure dry nether regions.

The rear brake cable is not moving at all. aaah that is better. It seems that the rear portion of the cable run had water between the cable and housing. This H2O would freeze up in lower temperature ranges, creating a lack of response in the recent days. Fortunately, the cable guides and barrel adjusters are slotted such as to make quick work of servicing brake lines. Swapped out the H2O for PTFE and everything works well (at room temperature). How did the water get in there? Sweet mysteries of life.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Quite a sled dog, this SC1800. Took it for a 30 minute boot thru cold, windy & snowy conditions last night. It handles sure as can be, except in the corners where the relatively high centre of gravity make it necessary go slower. Had to get in the granny gear two times (28x28 moving up grades and into the wind) yet had to trouble with traction or torque. Considering putting hockey tape on brake lever blades to reduce conduction cooling of digits. All in all, it would be totally comfortable if my hands weren't cold.

Looking forward to posting pictures of this nasty piece of work in the next month. In the meantime here is a pic waking up at a very nice local coffee shop.

Monday, February 06, 2006

km 177.07

OK it is into cool weather performance time now. The rear brake cable gets unresponsive below -5C that is OK we are using the front brake most of the time anyway. Noticible corrosion on some of the nuts and bolts as this wee beastie lives outside all the time and sometimes it rains.

All in all it remains happy fun bike and a reliable steed.

Friday, February 03, 2006


whoa! turtle malfunction last night. been riding with one red and one white in blinky mode to date. this seems to get attention of drivers in rear view mirror so as not to get a door prize. the white one was giving me trouble out of the box and had the batteries replaced right away. it conked out about 5 minutes into the ride last night in dry cool conditions. took a few minutes to disassemble, bend the battery contacts and apply electroconductive gel to leads. this got it going again for another 10 minutes, but had to ride home with only the red light.

also, the lock is jamming. it is the new style planet bike xl extra guard with the 'disk style' tumblers. it got a little wet last night and now it is totally stuck. aaah - a few drops of 'tri-flow' seems to do the trick to make it smooth again. probably powdered graphite would be more appropriate.

reduced the number of fender stays from 6 to 4. that is one pair on fron wheel and one pair on rear wheel. so far so good with that.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Yup - the 'bottom bracket' is most certainly wonky. I have no fear in the crank assembly's all steel material.

Gonna 86 the Mega-Horn from the kit as my room mate thinks it is obnoxious. He's probably right.

Removed the decals, oo -ee they are ugly. It looks pretty enough to be in a picture now.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tip - don't pick up discarded hamburgers

Everyone is chattin' 'bout Leah's run in in Kensington a couple of days ago. So I might as well put in by two bits - what an excellent study for an anger management case. Also reminds me that when in traffic, keep in mind these are mean streets.

Rode Sc1800's $600 replacement yesterday. Honestly can't say there is a huge difference between the two. Other than foul weather durability, strong low maintenance wheels and a more sporty riding position that facilitates a higher average speed.

Looking forward to getting back on the SC1800.