Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Montague Navigator Folding Bicycle, Amtrak, and a Burley Travoy Trailer: more information

In January I bought a Burley Travoy trailer for commuting and bicycle touring, detailed in my Jan. 15 blog post. (Addendum: just found out the trailer now comes in yellow.)

In February I bought a Montague Navigator full-size folding bike to use on Amtrak, detailed in my Feb. 5 blog post.

Travel luggage on Amtrak will be three carry-on bags: the black bag shown which will hold the Travoy and can be stuffed with tent and other items; the black Montague canvas bike bag (not shown) that will hold the bike and more gear (I will probably make a simple cover for the chain to keep the inside of the case cleaner); and the green knapsack above the black bag in the photo. This will include travel items and food to use on the train. Burley sells attachments to use to clip bags to the trailer. I may buy those to easily attach the bag, or I may make my own fasteners for much cheaper. Easy, expensive ($15 for 4 clips; $15 shipping) or some Velcro. I'll probably go with cheap, but the cool-looking, durable clips from Burley are pretty snazzy!
Now it's time to talk about the changes to the basic plan.
  1. Amtrak service extends, using there connecting bus service, to my parents' hometown of Oroville, California, so I can get on Amtrak in Ottumwa, Iowa, and travel straight to Oroville. This will save me motel money that I had originally planned for disembarking at Roseville, California.I won't be riding 60 miles to my parents' home but rather 7 miles from the Oroville bus stop.
  2. I've included a Velcro strap-on mirror for the Navigator--easy to remove for folded transport.
  3. I've changed seats from the basic seat included with the Navigator (not an unusual move for bike purchases). I'm trying the Terry Cite-Y Gel. My next choice would have been the Liberator, but I felt I'd be spending more time in an upright riding position.
  4. I don't believe I'll be taking the Navigator's back rack because I have to remove the seatpost rack when I use the Travoy's seatpost trailer hitch. I can use a small knapsack for a few tools, a tire kit, and sundry for day rides. I might think of a small handlebar bag, too.
I used the Montague Navigator/Burley Travoy combo yesterday for a quick trip down the lime-chip bike path to the store. The experience was easy and enjoyable. When the weather warms and dries up a bit, I'll try a practice overnighter to a local campground in order to see how easy it will be to transport the materials I plan to take with me on Amtrak to California.

Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Mirror for the Foldable Montague Navigator

Those cars are big, fast, and solid. We bicyclists need to see behind to know what's closing in on

I have a bike mirror on all my bikes. I've bought a helmet mirror but have yet to really like it. Bike mirrors tend to last a while--a season to several years--and then the bike falls over or the mirror gets whacked while entering a doorway, something like that, and the mirror breaks.

The issue is different with a folding bike, though, because the very act of folding the bike and packing it around or storing it beside the desk at the office offers more possibilities to bump the mirror.

One solution I'm trying now (and it seems to work) was found, oddly enough, not at my local bike shop or on some online source but at the local Wal-Mart. Their little nook of generic bike gadgets had a Velcro, strap-on bike mirror, made by Bell.

I actually can't find online the exact equivalent of this mirror; perhaps is a new version put out by Bell. This mirror has a flex handle, which helps with bumping, and the Velcro securing strap is smooth, lacking a buckle for folding over that I saw from an online photo of an earlier model. Other versions of this mirror have rigid attachment shanks (the more easy to snap) and buckled Velcro attachments. Some users, though, in reviews have mentioned that the rigid shanks are better because the flex version of the mirror vibrates or has to be regularly adjusted. I imagine the bumpier the road, the more this might be true.

So far, my procedures for portaging the bike now include unfastening the mirror and sticking it into my pocket when folding the bike. At $7.96, I'm not sure how durable the mirror will be, but even buying one a season is certainly much cheaper and wiser than having a headbutt (or tailbutt) with a recreation vehicle.

I plan to tell my local bike shop owners about the mirror so that they can stock it. That way, the local bike crowd will have a greater chance of seeing this product while browsing bike stuff. For me, the local super-store is not my first stop for bike gear. Funny things happen, though, and I'm glad to have a mirror for my Montague Navigator folding bike that works.

Check out the photos I've taken of the mirror I use. I think the articulated neck and the smooth grip are key details that led me to try this particular version of the strap-on mirror.

Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved
The products mentioned were bought by the author, who is--at least at the time of this writing--not a representative of any company mentioned, nor does he wear the blue vest and work at Wal-Mart.