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  1. #1
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    Coupla questions (face masks, seat stems, brakes, tyres)

    I've been cycling through London for a few months now on my el cheapo Halfords folder (don't recommend them to anyone), I needed a folder, had very little money, and it was cheap.

    Anyway, heres the questions.

    1. Face masks. Do they work? If I get caught behind a bus (unless its the solitary fuel cell one), it can be pretty unpleasant. Do they reduce a fair amount of the crud emitted by knackered old diesels?

    2. The seat stem is bending. Has anyone experienced this? I'm not that heavy, about 85kilos, but all the weight is on the back end. Are the majority of stems a standard size. May have to get one designed for a brompton or other decent folder.

    3. Brakes. They squeal like mad. Will that be down to the pads, or the rim, or a combination of both?

    4. The bike uses 16x1.75 tyres. The only decent tyre that I've found at that size is the Schwalbe Marathon, are there any others out there?

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    Just answered one of the questions myself, the post is marked as 28.6. Bikefix.co.uk lists a few stems, but they are either side - 28.4 or 28.8 ..... one would be loose, the other wouldn't fit.

  3. #3
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clonmult
    I've been cycling through London for a few months now on my el cheapo Halfords folder (don't recommend them to anyone), I needed a folder, had very little money, and it was cheap.

    Anyway, heres the questions.

    1. Face masks. Do they work? If I get caught behind a bus (unless its the solitary fuel cell one), it can be pretty unpleasant. Do they reduce a fair amount of the crud emitted by knackered old diesels?

    2. The seat stem is bending. Has anyone experienced this? I'm not that heavy, about 85kilos, but all the weight is on the back end. Are the majority of stems a standard size. May have to get one designed for a brompton or other decent folder.

    3. Brakes. They squeal like mad. Will that be down to the pads, or the rim, or a combination of both?

    4. The bike uses 16x1.75 tyres. The only decent tyre that I've found at that size is the Schwalbe Marathon, are there any others out there?
    1. I live in the LA area. I tried a face mask for a few weeks and ditched it. I'm sure they reduce the amount of crud you breath by a little bit, but I'd rather have the air.

    Otherwise, can you plan your route where the busses aren't?

    3. Your brakes could just be mis-adjusted. If so, you get the "wild pig" squeal. It's not so bad, people know you're there! There's a lot of good brake adjustment info elsewhere on this forum.

    Or are you getting a scraping sound? That's not cool. Check your brake pads for bits of metal from the rim. This seems to be a common complaint with folders.
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Polaris43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clonmult
    I've been cycling through London for a few months now on my el cheapo Halfords folder (don't recommend them to anyone), I needed a folder, had very little money, and it was cheap.

    Anyway, heres the questions.

    1. Face masks. Do they work? If I get caught behind a bus (unless its the solitary fuel cell one), it can be pretty unpleasant. Do they reduce a fair amount of the crud emitted by knackered old diesels?

    2. The seat stem is bending. Has anyone experienced this? I'm not that heavy, about 85kilos, but all the weight is on the back end. Are the majority of stems a standard size. May have to get one designed for a brompton or other decent folder.

    3. Brakes. They squeal like mad. Will that be down to the pads, or the rim, or a combination of both?

    4. The bike uses 16x1.75 tyres. The only decent tyre that I've found at that size is the Schwalbe Marathon, are there any others out there?
    I can't comment on the face mask or the seat post but for brakes, try adjusting, if that doesn't work, get some Kool Stop pads. Get the salmon colored ones if you ride in the rain at all.

    On the tires, I highly recommend the Schwalbe Big Apples. I have them on my 16" bike and I love them.

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    Thankfully no scraping sound when braking, and the actual performance seems quite reasonable, but the noise is disturbing, especially when I'm out the door at 6:15am, and quite possibly waking the neighbours when I'm slowing down going past their houses (I'm a thoughtful sort at times).

    Not sure about those Big Apples - they're a 16x2, and things are tight enough under the mudguards as it stands with 16x1.75 tyres. I'll definitely check on either the Big Apples or the Marathons, both should last a huge amount longer than the no-name, only 35psi rubber that I've got on there at the moment.

    And as for going on routes in London that aren't frequented by buses, where I'm going from/to at the London end makes it kinda impossible to find a quieter route, there will always be black cabs or something. Even the mayors attempts at reducing congestion haven't hardly made a blind bit of difference

  6. #6
    Seņor Mambo
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    2. If you can't replace the seatpost (due to a variety of reasons or the one you stated above), one Brompton trick is to insert a long wooden dowel into the seatpost which will take the stress of bending. Wood is much easier to get in a variety of sizes and much easier to sand down. But hopefully, your seatpost is not bent so much that the dowel trick won't work.

    3. Pads are the cheapest to replace. I'd get the salmon colored soft compound types. I hear they're starting(?) to import Kool Stops in the UK. They are awesome pads, and almost no one ever complains about them. However, they will squeal if not adjusted right initially. But once they settle in, they're the best and don't eat your rim.

    4. This link will give you an idea of what is available. I personally don't trust Primos due to experience, but the Marathons and Hookworms are good.
    Last edited by spambait11; 12-01-06 at 11:08 AM.

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    Good trick there for the seat post; I'll definitely try it if I have no success.

    A quick bit of googling has pointed out a few dealers handling the Kool Stops, so I'll check out if there are any in the city next week.

    Thats good info on the tyres. Have to admit that I was trying to sit fairly rigidly on 16x1.75, only just realised that the ISO305 is the true rating of the tyre size, so that gives me a fair bit more flexibility. I know that there are a couple of reputable dealers round here that have a variety in stock (not Evans though, they have said that they don't have any that will fit in stock).

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    Your brakes are much less likely to squeal if you make sure that both rims and pads are really clean.
    Scrub them with hot water with a dash of detergent in it. If that fails, remove any grease with methylated spirits.
    Face masks for cyclists make a political statement which is no doubt totally ignored by the people who cause the pollution. Other than that, who knows?
    There is no standardisation of seat post diameters. They are made to suit the frame, and frames come in many different sizes.

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    I use a face mask in the downtown areas of Asian cities, where the heavily particulate, blackest of black, diesel exhaust is the rule. I use "flu masks", those on sale at pharmacies in Asia. The best ones are Japanese. The grime they collect will persuade you to keep one in your kit. Find a pharmacy/apothecary in a Japanese neighborhood in London, and they will probably have them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spambait11

    4. This link will give you an idea of what is available. I personally don't trust Primos due to experience, but the Marathons and Hookworms are good.
    Thanks for the link. I don't understand the Hookworm size though - it says 1.95" - then quotes 54 mm ??

    Can you elaborate on the Primo's? I have a couple on my BikeE & they've been ok so far.

  11. #11
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    IME, plain Primos seem very susceptible to flatting from glass shards and granules, with Kevlar Primos less so. I like Kevlar Primos, but use them with Spinskins, and have had no flats with that setup. I think SB's experience WRT to glass and Primos is similar.

  12. #12
    To fold or not to fold?
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    Face masks are a waste of time.

    In past spent time working for government on air quality policy and vehicle emissions, and built up a bit of interest in the horrible stuff that comes out of the backs of buses, cars and (worst of al) badly maintained commercial vans and mid-sized trucks.

    Key nasties in exhaust fumes are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), NOx and particulates. Whilst some VOCs and NOx are burnt off by catalytic converters once they've got up to temperature, short run traffic in cities means that still a lot in the air. VOCs increase your risk of cancer; NOx is toxic by inhalation and sensitises you to other pollutants, so can be linked to asthma attacks if you are susceptible. Both VOCs and NOx are smog precursors. And simple filter masks do little or nothing to filter them out (I guess some sophisticated and expensive carbon/resin equipped cartridge masks may - but I'm guessing you probably aren't thinking about serious gas masks on your bike are you?).

    Where masks might have a point is in filtering out particulate matter - mainly emitted from diesel engines not fitted with effective working particulate traps. The thing is that most larger sized particulate matter isn't a big deal - it gets caught in your nasal passages and sneezed back out pretty quickly. It might be nasty to have black snot, but its not deadly. The really nasty stuff is pm2.5 and below - that is particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. This is small enough to penetrate the deeper parts of your lungs; and even smaller particles can cross into your blood and impact on other body organs, including the brain. Particulate inhalation has as a consequence been associated with cardiovascular problems - particularly in those with existing heart/circulatory problems or the elderly - it increases the changes of heart attack or stroke and may cause other problems (for example carcinogenic impact and speculative links to Alzheimers).

    But here's the problem. The sort of particles your cycling face mask is going to filter out are the (relatively) larger particles that really aren't the problem. But your mask isn't going to keep out the really nasty super small ones that may well harm you. Plus over time, if not maintained perfectly, your mask may grow bacteria and mould due to the rich mixture of sweat, saliva and heat that builds up within them. And that may not be so great for your health either. So frankly, why bother. Spend time lobbying your local politicians to take action to promote ultra-low sulphur diesel and cat-traps - or even better LPG - in buses, and leave the masks on the shelf. I always wear a helmet, but I don't think I'd ever consider wasting my cash on a mask.

  13. #13
    jur
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    ^^^ what he said.

    Plus, face masks have in the recent flu epidemic and the one before that in China, been found to be just about completely ineffective for preventing you from inhaling flu etc. The medical face masks are primarily to prevent doctors/nurses from EXHALING into an open cut. They work well for that, but for inhaling, a large portion of the air flows next to the skin past the mask, unless you can seal the mask at the edges.
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  14. #14
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclistjohn
    Thanks for the link. I don't understand the Hookworm size though - it says 1.95" - then quotes 54 mm ??
    I don't know why they say 54 either. A quick measurement with my calipers indicates 51mm which is about 2.0" and still greater than 1.95"; go figure.

    Regardless, I like Hookworms for their commuting toughness. But as others have noted, if you don't keep them pumped up close to their max 110psi, you feel like you're riding in sand.


    Can you elaborate on the Primo's? I have a couple on my BikeE & they've been ok so far.
    Maunakea is right: mine didn't last for more than a couple hundred miles before a glass shard blew out my front tire. When I went to inspect the rear tire, I found all kinds of embedded bits in the tire (no sidewall cuts though) which prompted me to change both tires to Marathons when I got home. I like the way Comets roll, but they're too fragile for where I ride, I suppose. Also, as MK notes, I had the stock 20x1.5" Comets and not the kevlar version. Others rave about the kevlar version though.

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    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    . Pads are the cheapest to replace. I'd get the salmon colored soft compound types. I hear they're starting(?) to import Kool Stops in the UK. They are awesome pads, and almost no one ever complains about them. However, they will squeal if not adjusted right initially. But once they settle in, they're the best and don't eat your rim.
    Well, I certainly wouldn't complain about Kool Stops but I don't think they're the "wonder" pad that they are often made out to be. People just tend to regurgitate what they read on forums... I cannot tell any difference between them and my Fibrax pads in the wet or dry. I am sure many people will attest to their performance, but I guess it depends on what pads you are replacing.

    Face masks. Do they work? If I get caught behind a bus (unless its the solitary fuel cell one), it can be pretty unpleasant. Do they reduce a fair amount of the crud emitted by knackered old diesels?
    Not an advocate. You might as well wear an ineffective mask when travelling on the tube as the levels of pollution are considerably higher down there, than on the streets.
    Last edited by Fear&Trembling; 12-05-06 at 09:48 AM.

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    Squealing brakes are usually caused by lack of toe-in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fear&Trembling
    Well, I certainly wouldn't complain about Kool Stops but I don't think they're the "wonder" pad that they are often made out to be. [SNIP] I cannot tell any difference between them and my Fibrax pads in the wet or dry. I am sure many people will attest to their performance, but I guess it depends on what pads you are replacing.
    Kool Stop Salmon is just the best known and most often used of the aftermarket pads. I think they're great, so I haven't tried others. I've read in several places that there are only a few different brake pad compounds used in all pads made in Asia. So the Fibrax and many others may work just as well.

    The only "modern" brakes I use are linear pull, AKA "V brakes" so I don't know if the following applies to original equipment pads on other types of brakes.

    OEM linear pull pads can damage or destroy your rims in only a few miles. They should be replaced before you ever ride the bike. They are soft and pieces of aluminum, large grains of sand or even small stones can embed themselves in the pad material and "Machine" a deep groove in a rim in a single stop. I've seen so many rims wrecked this way that I can't imagine why they havent changed the compound.

  17. #17
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fear&Trembling
    People just tend to regurgitate what they read on forums...
    Not in my case. I actually use them and think they are better than any OEM or Shimano pad I've ever used. The only exception, surprisingly, were the DiaCompe pads that originally came on my Bridgestone MB-6.

    I think if you're going to replace the pads, you might as well check out the Kool Stops. If you're able to brake properly, not squeal in the process, and not get your rims eaten through, then you already have good pads and can avoid the salmon hype.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    I think if you're going to replace the pads, you might as well check out the Kool Stops
    I agree, particulalrly if you still have OEM pads. However, if you can't get hold of the Salmons don't despair as there are other decent pads out there...

    I like the way Comets roll, but they're too fragile for where I ride, I suppose.
    I only use a non-Kevlar Comets on the front - I don't find them robust enough for the rear.

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    I've managed to find some 16x1.5 Schwalbe Marathons after checking a bunch of shops around London (bikefix, excellent shop) I had TomTom on my Nokia to give me directions, it got kinda confusing after a while, so i kinda ignored it

    Another question then - the tubes I've got are 16x1.75 .... am I right in thinking that they're likely to get pinched if I try to squeeze them into the 16x1.5 tyres?

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    I'm a little surprised at the grim fatalism displayed by a majority of the posters re: face masks. I do agree that the common drugstore or hardware store dust masks won't help with microfine particulates but even on a short ride I roll through lots of soot, construction site dust, etc. and I have been experimenting with cheap face masks but with an eye on the "Breathe" face mask/air filter sold through several mail order bike shops. In an urban environment I also wouldn't discount the 'fear factor' effect of being a masked rider. I'm such a mild mannered, nice looking kind of guy I get no respect on the road. People just know I'm going to let them get away with the usual territorial crap. Masked, they hesitate and thats all I need.

    H

  21. #21
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    Not having black snot is enough to persuade me to wear a face mask in the diesel cities of Asia. What's on the mask is not in my respiratory tract. I've even considered wearing an activated charcoal respirator, which will cut out most of the VOCs and NOxs, but they are too bloody hot and very weird looking.

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