How well do you know your road rules?

Ok, so this article relates directly to Tasmanian road law but it will be similar anywhere in Australia and likely in most countries where bikes and cars share the road.

When cycling you are bound by the same rules as driving a car except there are some exceptions. We've listed a few rules that may be of interest.

Intersections

Gravel roads provide the opportunity to get away from the main stream.  They often allow access to private and secluded areas which can get you closer to nature.

Don’t be afraid of cycling on a dirt road.  If it's new to you think of it as a fun challenge.

Relax.  Your elbows, wrists, and knees are an important part of the suspension system and need to be flexible.

When you encounter a dirt road, slow down and change to a slower gear.  Stay riding at a slow pace until you get the hang of it.  Look around or through turns. If you're not 100% sure there is no traffic coming towards you then you will need to proceed at a speed where you are totally sure you will not drift into the oncoming lane.

On all surfaces your bike will corner better with your weight pressing downDirt riding with friends on the ‘outside’ peddle with that peddle at the bottom of its travel. Look ahead at the surface you are riding on, pick your path and concentrate on this line, the wheel tracks left by cars will usually be the most firm and easiest path for you to follow, either side of these wheel tracks and on the road edges and crown the gravel will be softer and more slippery.  Avoid the crowns and soft edges of the gravel road and if forced into these sections try not to tense up but to gently slow the bike while avoiding unnecessary turning and work your way gently back to the firm path.

On down hill sections these soft parts are particularly dangerous, fast cornering or braking on down hill sections of loose or soft gravel is a technique that requires considerable practice and experience, from the top of the hill start slowly staying in the firm wheel track paths.  Use slightly more rear brake than front, a rear wheel skid is easier to control than a front wheel skid but your front wheel will have the greater stopping power, don’t let the bike build up too much speed, concentrate, stay gently on the brakes and descend in a controlled manner.

 If you allow the bike to build up too much speed at the top of the hill it will be difficult to reign in your speed the further you descend.

 

Corrugations:

On dirt roads apart from soft crowns and edges you may encounter pot holes and ‘corrugations’.  Corrugations are caused by car and truck wheels and often occur on the entry and exit of corners but also occur on the level straight roads. On the straight and level parts go steady and where possible pick your way through in the smoothest paths.  Sometimes it's better to stand on your peddles with a firm relaxed grip of the handle bars and allow the bike to ‘glide’ through a short patch.

When encountered on a down hill section great care is required, breaking and turning are adversely affected.

More dirt ridingIf you see a corrugated section ahead, slow the bike before you reach the corrugated section whereever possible.  Always try to look beyond and through a corner and ensure there is no traffic coming the other way, in the situation where you’ve unexpectedly barrelled too fast into a corrugated, soft or slippery down hill turn (or any turn) try to ‘wash off’ as much speed as you can without locking or skidding either wheel.  Lean your body in but try and keep the bike as upright as possible, stay seated, transfer weight onto your outside peddle (at the bottom of its travel), look, will and steer the bike through.  With some practice you’ll be surprised how often it works out ok, the bike may drift and squirm a little underneath you, this is normal when pushed hard, but try not to tense up and try to hold your line, believe you can do it.

When riding a bike the old saying ‘where you look is where you go’ applies

In the worst case scenario you are generally better off continuing to lean and turn more and more until you make it through the corner, or at worst till the bike slides out from underneath you and you fall on the low side.  Falling off on the low side will cause skin abrasions but is usually a much better choice than running wide, leaving the road and the possibility of collision with a tree or other solid object.

Potholes:

Regarding potholes, where possible you will have been looking far enough ahead to know whether there is traffic approaching or not, in most cases you will be able to safely ride around them, in some situations you will have to go through them, during wet weather the pot hole may be full of water hiding its depth, generally go steady, consider standing on your peddles with a relaxed but firm grip on your handlebars and roll through, for longer sections of mud or water filled pot holes or washouts its best to select a slow gear, stay seated and plough your way through, in rough-wet going it's better to put your foot down if you're off balance and end up with a wet foot rather than risk falling.
Remember to look ahead to where you want to be.  Especially when cornering, don’t allow you focal point to be drawn to pot holes and soft edges, notice them and concentrate your focal vision on the path you want to take. Look where you want to go and believe you are going there. In your sight you have a focal point and surrounding this ‘peripheral vison’, use your focal point to guide the bike where you want to go and your peripheral vision to notice the areas you want to avoid.

Concentration is a key factor to safe riding.

When you first ride a bike it may require 100% of your concentration just to keep balance.  In this situation you have little or no brain space left to consider other things, like staying on the right side of the road for example.  As you progress the keeping of balance becomes second nature and requires only a small part of your concentration which then allows you to spend the excess brain space on other things, like changing gears or correct posture. You can relax your brain on the straight easy parts but when difficult or emergency situations occur concentrate 100% on what you are doing, focus deeply and try really really hard.  The distance you look in ahead of you when riding will be determined by your speed, the terrain and road/track surface.

Once you have the knack of riding on gravel roads the enjoyment and rewards are many, the roads less travelled are often the best.  Remembering these tips will help get confident and comfortable in no time.

An easy to build work bench for your bicycle!

Its dimensions are approx 1060mm long, 410mm wide and 400mm high.

You can just nail this together but using a drill to drive screws in is easier and makes a more stable job.

Materials needed:
Tools required:

 

Time required:

It took me about 2 hours

 

Instructions:

This work table is made from an old timber pallet that was laying round the back of the shed, it was quite old and had some rot here and there, but you can work around that, one good quality it had was that it was light weight, if you keep your eyes open you should be able to find an unwanted pallet somewhere, try and pick a light one. The bearers on my pallet were 45 x 90mm and the boards were 100 x 16mm, the pallet was about 1160 square.

Underneath the bicycle work table

When washing my bikes I like to have them in the traditional work stand, but for most servicing or cleaning the chain I find having the bike upside down and elevated to a comfortable working height is preferable, the table also acts as bench space giving an area to lay the tools, rags and so forth within easy reach.

The first task is to dismantle the pallet, you can try to lever the boards off the bearers, I found this a bit hard so instead used the saw to cut the boards right close to the outside bearers and then levered them off the centre bearer and de-nailed all the timber.

Next, out of the three bearers (95x45) cut two lengths at 900mm and three lengths at 255mm, then ideally on a flat surface, place the two 900’s parallel to each other and fit the three 255’s inside to make a rectangle, like the base in the photo above. Then screw or nail the rectangle frame together, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

bike-bench-2

The next step is to choose 4 or 5 of the better boards (100x16mm) and cut them to about 1060mm before placing them evenly on top of the rectangle you have just made, once happy screw or nail them into place.

Legs are next, out of the left over boards cut 4 pieces approximately 380mm long, turn the table over and attach the legs into the corners.

The last thing to construct is the support where the handlebar rests, this particular one is set up for use with a normal hybrid or mountain bike, the bikes balance quite well. (so long as your not working outside in a gale or in an area where the bike could receive a heavy knock from drunken associates or marauding children etc, in which case use straps or clamps to secure the handlebars to the timber handlebar support) for a road bike you would need to have the support blocks closer together and ideally use straps to secure the handle bars in place.

For the base of the handlebar support cut a length of board to about 585mm. Out of off cuts make four pieces about 160mm long and screw them to the ends of the 585mm piece, like in the above picture, then fasten the whole thing to one end of the table, just back a bit from the edge.

completed bicycle work table

And that’s it, you can use it like it is, or if you’d like to turn your creation into something more beautiful, use some sandpaper or ideally a sander to round off all the sharp edges before coating it with stain, varnish, oil or paint, I used some decking stain that was left over from redoing the front deck last year, if you don’t have anything laying around then you may be able to pick some up from your local re-use or tip shop.

Recently we purchased 9 Gepida pedal assist e-bicycles.

4 of which are Ruga 1000 29er's, the bikes were purchased from Eurocycles Sydney and are for use within our hire and touring bike operations on Bruny Island, southern Tasmania.

Some parts of Bruny are easy, but in some places (often remote) the going can be quite tough, we need tough and reliable bikes for the job

First Impressions Out Of The Box

The bikes arrived by courier, boxed and 95% assembled.  the usual re-attach of handlebars, battery, adjust the lever angles, do the tyre pressure and the bikes are then ready to roll.

It’s obvious that the styling and build specifications are top classDerailleur on the Gepida Ruga

The frame is both practical and attractive in its design.  We always perform a thorough inspection of the bikes before taking them for a test ride, before the first ride its a good idea with all new bikes to check all bolt tensions, gear shifting, brake operation, cable routing, wheel trueness and spoke tension along with a general good look over everything. The Rugas proved to be well put together, everything nice. Next we fitted the bikes with mudguards, racks, suspension saddle posts, stand and luggage kit.  The accessory fit up went smoothly, Eurocycles had performed a pre-delivery accessory mock fit up to make sure everything was going to fit.

 

 

 

On and Off Road Testing & Handling

The first ride brought a smile to my face.  The bikes were everything and more than I had Touring off road with the Gepida Rugaremembered from a previous test riding. Over the next couple of weeks between our team and our clients, we put the bikes through their paces, including some off road expeditions while carrying touring luggage. The touring routes here on Bruny Island are quite variable and in some places quite demanding.  We have sealed main road surfaces, some of which are often steep but well maintained.  Then there are winding dirt roads, some good and some potholed and corrugated along with  rough bush tracks and beaches. On the paved surface the Ruger lopes along beautifully, easily averaging speeds of over 20km/h with bugger all effort, On the dirt roads the Ruger really comes into its own with the front Suntour XCR fork and ‘byschulz’ saddle post soaking the bumps and corrugations up nicely.   We pushed the bikes to the limits on some very fast down hill sections with ‘switch back’ turns.   To simulate what some riders may do we included tests of crossing over the pebbly crown while cornering hard and braking mid turn, the Ruger turns in well and holds its line, delivering predictable and fairly neutral handling characteristics.  The Ruger is also impressive on the rough bush and single tracks delivering minimal wheel spin even on the steepest of climbs.

The Bosch system delivering through the 9-speed drivetrain to the Rapid Rob tires amounts to serious off road capability

 There is a push assist button for when the going gets really tough.  Some of the off road tracks tested required the crossing of streams and quite deep puddles, there was no ill effects but I wouldn’t like to put the motor completely under.

Display and InformationGepida Ruga display The digital display is clear and easy to use and provides information for power Mode, Battery Level, Range, Level of Assist, Speed, Trip Time and Distance, Odometer and Time. The odometer reading didn’t quite agree with our mobile GPS unit but there is a setting in the bikes computer that allows you to adjust the bike distance reading to allowing for different diameter  tyres and match the GPS reading. The e-assist stops assisting at 25kph, but the bikes handle well on the faster downhill sections.

The Battery Charging on the go - adjusting to extra weight Bosch battery on the Gepida RugaCarrying the charger along with you when doing extended rides is a bit of an inconvenience.   If you are taking it with you it is a good idea to protect it from moisture, vibration and impact damage.  To assist with this, we made up a snug fitting cardboard protective slide in box with a push on lid for both the charger and another for a spare battery.   These are carried in waterproof bag inside of one of the side panniers.   The inner base of the pannier bag is lined with another piece of cardboard and contains other useful items such as; a spare fold up tire, tubes, tools, chain lube, maps, shower jacket, leg warmers, first aid kit, spare water, couple of ocky straps, a lighter, toilet paper, plastic bags, gps and phone chargers, chux cloths and a piece of wire and string, having 10 or 15kg spread between the two rear pannier bags alters the bikes handling characteristics but the Ruga carries the weight well, you do need to make sure that the bags are securely attached and can’t move around. Care is always needed when mounting a loaded bike as the added weight may surprise you!  Bosch direct drive on the Gepida RugaOnce you get moving, the weight seems to fade away to a large degree.   When you’re in the saddle the front end will feel a little lighter but after a short time it all feels fine.   Whilst heavy loaded it is better to stay seated when climbing most of the time.  It helps to do a couple of slow dummy runs of standing in the pedals to gain the feel of the back end sway transmitted by the heavy pannier filled tail.  When climbing, remember to lock out the front forks and when not climbing don’t forget to unlock them.

Battery Life The rider, the luggage and the conditions along with what power mode you use will determine the distance traveled between charges,

most of our clients are getting between 45 and 60Km per charge

which is plenty for most people who therefore don’t need to pack an extra battery. We have also been establishing relationships with Cafe's and the like where riders came 'plug in' while lunching or doing some other attraction. Front suspension lockiing on Gepida RugaYou can charge the battery either in the bike or remove the battery and take it to a power point, when you connect it to the charger green lights start flashing on the battery level indicator.  The number of solid lights displayed indicates the battery’s state of charge, each of the 5 bar lights represent 20% of battery charge.   One flashing light indicates the unit is charging.   As the battery charges the number of solid lights increases.   Once fully charged, 5 solid green bars will show before it all turns itself off and goes to sleep. If the lights don’t show that the battery is charging, disconnect the battery from the charger and bike, press the small ‘battery level’ button below the bar lights and hold for 10 seconds, this ‘resets’ the battery.

Our Wrap UpHydraulic disk brakes on Gepida Ruga We have now had the bikes for several months, one of them now has over a thousand kilometres on it, none of the bikes have failed in any way at this stage, not even a puncture, our clients love them, and the opportunity they provide to go further on beautiful Bruny Island. Kids or 'slightly' unfit people can keep up, only having rear gears makes them simple to operate, but more than anything, the bikes open the door for relaxed and more adventurous riding.

 

Cycle Bruny Island

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