Friday, November 28, 2008

old parts suck

It all started off so easily. The old bike wouldn't shift. Turns out the shifter pod was busted, likely a teeny little spring on the pawl died. Luckily I had a spare set of shifter/brake lever combos but they were 8 speed, the bike is/was 7 speed. So I put on the levers, I changed the wheel to a new/old wheel that can take an 8 speed cassette. Then I put on a new chain too and re-threaded all the cables. Then I found out the new levers were for v-brakes and the old bike had canti's, had, now it has some left over v-brakes. In summary: a broken shifter == new shifter/levers, wheel, cassette, chain, v-brakes, brake cable. When I was all done and adjusting the chain length, I found the front shifter was also broken! but screw it, I'll fix that another day.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dinotte Lighting Kicks Ass

There's a reason why Dinotte Lighting Systems are quickly becoming the standard bike lights for our monthly waxing full moon night rides. Three of us have a 600L system and it's really nice to be on a ride and know that we have several spare batteries snuck into our camelbaks in case we decide to ride longer or forgot to charge our batteries. When I ordered my lights an extra battery was only another $30, a total deal. Also Dinotte sells the light units (they call them engines) separately which means you can buy one set and then have another light just by buying an engine and using your other spare batteries! A Single 600L provides more than enough illumination to light the way in the deep redwood forests. The controls are really nice to quickly get to full beam and burn times are excellent. The charger is light and small and turns off when the battery is charged. The batteries are also light and small and connected with a very robust connector that is very unlikely to come loose. I like to use the helmet mount on the visor of a baseball cap when I'm working around the yard at night.

Another reason why I really like Dinotte is that small local company service. Even though they're in New Hampshire, they ship the lights in a box that fits in a priority mail flat rate envelope. That means that you'll likely get your lights within one or two days of your order and mailing things back for service is usually less than a week to get them back! Dinotte are very quick at replying to emails and quick to try and fix any issues that come up.

On the Halloween montebello ride I got more wet than anyone should ever have to endure. my dinotte 600L worked great the whole ride. However after that the battery wouldn't charge and would blink red/green on the charger. I emailed Dinotte and waited for a reply. I then tried another morning ride with a different dry battery and found my head unit was damaged such that it blinked really fast (and was NOT in blinky mode) and the lights on the back cycled left to right, including red. I got home to find a nice email from Dinotte that they recommend I send back my battery (they didn't know about the head unit yet) and suggesting while I was at it, to just send back everything and they'd give it the once over.

Since they ship in a box that fits in a flat rate priority envelope it was trivial to mail everything back. In 5 days I had a package from them with a whole new light head, charger and 3 brand new batteries!

This has taught me two things:
  1. My dinotte batteries aren't quite as bomb proof as I thought and if it's raining I might tape over that little clip hole in the battery. I had ridden with them during rain many times but now I'll be a little extra careful.
  2. Dinotte will look after you (above and beyond) if you ever have any problem with their system.
I highly recommend Dinotte lights!

Bike Nashbar rules

I figure I should offset some of the negativity coming up in the following posts with some positive news. So I'm going to highlight a company which I think has really stepped up and helped me out and give them praise and encourage you to give them your business. Bike Nashbar recently accepted a return of a 2 month old heavily used Sigma BC 2006 MHR bike computer. I bought it from them, found it sucked, worked with the manufacturer but couldn't get an acceptable resolution so sent it back to Nashbar who gave me my money back. I had already ordered a replacement 'puter from them so that all worked out well. I got a VDO MC1.0 (wired) which is working very nicely, I'll post full reviews sometime soon. Thanks Bike Nashbar, you've earned my business for a very long time to come!