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Month: August 2014

Leaky Continental Race King (Protection 29 x 2.2)

Ever since building wide carbon fiber wheels for my El Mariachi Ti I’ve had quirky issues with the rear wheel holding air. The front, with a Schwalbe Racing Ralph, has been fine, but the rear with a Continental Race King (Protection, 29″ x 2.2″) would be unexpectedly flat. After two rapid-succession low pressure events at Stony Creek yesterday and an attempt at fixing the tire last night, it was still leaking. Today I decided to try a new rear tire; a Specialized Fast Track Control 2.2″. The new tire seated up quickly without soap, and some Orange Seal tire sealant has it holding air nicely. Unlike the Continental Race King…

From my second ride on the Race King I’ve had issues with the tire losing air, to the point where I would find it dead flat after sitting overnight. After adding more sealant helped, but I noticed a clear liquid (the carrier for Stan’s sealant?) leaking out of the tire along the edge of the rim as it sat, making the bead constantly appear wet. I’d put more Stan’s sealant in it a few days ago, then during yesterday’s ride at Stony Creek I was barely able to go five miles without the tire being so soft that I could hit the rim on flat ground. Reinflating the tire and shaking would seal it up, but then it’d begin leaking again.

Last night I pulled the tire apart to replace the tape and sealant, this time with Orange Seal, and the tire seemed sealed until this morning, when I found a small pool of clear orange liquid beneath the tire (photo). After picking up a new tire today I washed everything off to take a serious look at what was going on. This showed a slice-like mark along part of the bead on the drive side of the tire, with the most heavily cut part being where the tire was leaking most heavily. When first installing the tire I noticed that this part looked a bit threadbare, but I didn’t think it was actually going to be a problem. Apparently it was. The cut can be seen above (or here) and has a corresponding ridge of latex built up on the inside of the tire as sealant permeated through this area (photo).

Because this line directly matches the edge of the rim, I suspect that some of the damage is from riding the tire at low pressures, which may explain why the problem seemed to compound: more low pressure events resulted in more inadvertent hitting the rim, resulting in more places to leak. Since the bead was wetted from my second ride, I believe this started with the threadbare area that I’d initially noticed and compounded from there.

As with the Schwalbe Racing Ralph on the front wheel, the Specialized Fast Trak that I installed today seems to have a good deal more rubber on the bead area than this tire did, so I hope it fares the same as the Schwalbe and just works. I’m getting tired of having a bike whose rear wheel isn’t reliable…

(The biggest downside thus far to the new tire is that it’s 4mm narrower than the Race King. I really liked the Race King’s generally smooth triangle pattern and huge volume, so going to something else is a bit displeasing. The Race King has loads of traction, grabbed nicely on pretty much every surface I’ve ridden, but was still super smooth when on dirt roads or the occasional paved routes. The Fast Trak seems to roll smoothly in the basement and the tread pattern looks promising, so I’m willing to give it a go. This review from 2012 is quite favorable as well. Maybe there’ll be a little more side knob traction than on the Race King as well…)

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Keep Electric Motorbikes Off The Trails: Do Your Part

On Friday I had an encounter with an electric motorbike rider at Stony Creek Metropark. The result was somewhat good, with him leaving the park without riding (due to my threatening to call the police on him), but it took a lot of mental energy on my part to stay topical, impersonal, and yet pointed so the goal (preventing him from riding) was accomplished in a safe and legal manner. It would have been better if he’d understood why riding an electric motorbike on mountain bike trails is a bad thing, but he didn’t seem to. Either I didn’t explain it well enough, or he didn’t care.

Much of the mountain bike trail access that we currently enjoy is specifically because we are a human powered user group. It was a huge battle in the 80s, 90s, and early 00s for mountain bikes to be seen as a legitimate user group, but thankfully in Michigan we have mostly won and are seen as fair, equal users in great part because riders are moving under their own power.

Bringing electric motorbikes onto the trails, under the guise of “electric mountain bikes”, puts that at risk. The worst case is a blanket ban because park staff doesn’t have a practical way differentiate between electric motorbikes and pedaled mountain bikes entering the trails, so it becomes foot traffic only.  (Hell, many people — cyclists or not — would look at this guy’s bike and not realize it’s motorized…)  That’d be awful, and not something that we can risk via inaction. That’s why we, the mountain biking community along with other trail users, need to work to curb this kind of behavior.

Richard Cunningham over at Pinkbike explains this very eloquently in much greater depth, in a piece titled A Secret Trail and an Argument Against E-Bikes.

After giving this a day of thought about what went right in the confrontation and what could have done better, I distilled them into a list. Here’s my DOs and DON’Ts for what to do when you encounter someone at a mountain bike trail riding an electric motorbike:

DON’T presume that the rider already knows they aren’t allowed to ride their motorbike on mountain bike trails. With the explosion in electric motorbike availability there is a fair chance that the rider simply doesn’t know any better.

DO consistently use the term “electric motorbike” and not “electric mountain bike”. Despite being based on a bicycle design, having a motor makes it a motorbike and maintaining this point is crucial.

DO inform the rider that they have a motorbike which is not permitted on trails designed for human power use only.

DO remain polite and calm, but direct.

DO inform the rider that you maintain and/or use the trails and have a vested interest in them.

DO inform the rider that using a motorbike on trails designed for human powered use threatens trail access.

DON’T simply use “because it is illegal” as your main argument, this frequently falls on deaf ears. Appeal to trail access.

DON’T engage in discussion about motor assist vs. throttle control, total power output, impact to trail surface, physical ability, etc. Debating nuance will weaken your message and wear you down. A vehicle that is powered by anything other than a human is a motorized vehicle and should not be on the trails.

DON’T act in a threatening manner nor physically contact the rider nor his/her motorbike.

DO call the police or the land manager (park office, parks and recreation department, etc) if you see the user riding their motorbike on the trails anyway. Inform them that someone is riding a motorbike on the trails then wait around for the police.

DON’T be afraid to call the local police instead of confronting the rider yourself. That’s their job: enforcing laws, such as those which already prohibit the use of motorbikes on trails.

DO keep your distance. Close enough to be conversational, but far enough away to maintain your safety and appear unthreatening to the rider.

DO remember that you don’t have the legal authority to stop the motorbike rider, but you do have the moral authority to engage, educate, and report.

I would prefer that an rider realize why riding a motorbike on mountain bike trails is a bad idea and stop of their own volition. Unfortunately, as was illustrated to me yesterday, some people just don’t understand or won’t care and refuse to change until threatened with a penalty.


Human Power or GTFO

A few years back on the regular Stony Creek Wednesday Night Group Ride someone with a rather curious bike joined us. It very customized hard tail fitted with an electric hub motor and battery pack and the owner was proudly showing it off, explaining how he built it and uses it because he doesn’t like riding up hills. Many of the group gave him a hard time about it being motorized, but he headed out with us anyway. During the ride I was behind him a few times and saw him spinning his rear wheel up climbs while he wasn’t pedaling and mentioned to him how that’s not cool.

Mountain bike trails are built for human power, and ever since that day I’d hoped to run into him again and advise him to stay off of the trails on his motorbike. Since that group ride I’d see him a couple time per year, sometimes on trails† and others when returning to the parking lot, but was never able to successfully engage him in a conversation… until yesterday.

When getting ready to ride Stony Creek on Friday evening I noticed the vehicle above pull into the parking lot, holding what looked to be an updated version of the electric motorbike that I remembered being shown a few years back. It was the same guy‡. When he headed into the bathroom I took a moment to get clear pictures of his bike and license plate and then waited for him to come out.

At first he seemed a little proud that someone had noticed his bike, but the conversation quickly took an different tone when I asked “that’s an electric motorbike, isn’t it?” and then stated that they aren’t permitted on the mountain bike trails, which are designed for human power use only. The bike owner protested, claiming that he’s “done it for years” and “no one has complained”. He tried to claim that it’s just “electric assist”, but backed off on the last claim when I pointed there is no torque sensor and has a throttle on the handlebar. Other protestations he tried to use were that it’s “quiet”, that he “still gets passed”, he uses it as a “carrot”, and that he pedals “most of the time”.

He kept getting ready for his ride while myself and another guy kept him engaged with questions about his motorbike, and he seemed to be hurrying to get out on the trails, almost braggingly claiming that he hasn’t been caught yet. Phone in hand, park office number in the dialer (which he noticed me dialing), I eventually pointedly told him that if he set out on the trails I’d be calling the park police and waiting for him. It was only after this that he began angrily packing up, calling me a “fucker” for “ruining his ride”. Then I watched him leave, waiting to be sure he didn’t head to one of the other mountain bike trail parking lots.

I hope that this encounter and others reminding him of the same makes him rethink riding his electric motorbike on trails. It was clear that he knew it wasn’t permitted, but he was ready to head out anyway. Only the threat of being caught by an authority figure with the capability to penalize him seemed to be an effective deterrent.

Bicycle companies are starting to sell electric motorbikes, frequently branding them as simple assisted bicycles, diminishing the fact they are still motor vehicles. While they are currently costly items, as prices come down it’s inevitable that we’ll see more and more of these on our trails. I sincerely hope that everyone who cares about human-power-only designated trails — cyclists, hikers, runners, and walkers alike — will do what’s needed to keep these motorbikes away. In this post I present reasons why their presence is a problem and offer suggestions for what to do when you encounter someone with an electric motorbike at mountain bike trails.

† Encounters include: Him almost hitting me and forcing me off the trail on some of the humps at Clinton River Park Trails, just seconds before I met Phil (for the first time) to whom he’d done the same. Seeing him riding out onto The Overlook at Pontiac Lake on a hot summer day — the top of a climb and just after one of the hardest climbs in the park — without pedaling and looking fresh and unsweaty. In the parking lot at Pontiac Lake where he rolled up to his car without pedaling and seemed to get in his car and drive away quickly when he saw me eyeing him from across the lot. I’ve heard numerous stories of him from others who have also seen him rolling around, not pedaling, under motor power only.

‡ Dark grey Jeep Laredo 4×4, Michigan license plate DCU 3622 (photo), with a black 1UP USA bicycle rack. Owner is a trim / thin Asian guy, medium complexion and short dark hair, about 5’6″, with prescription regular and riding glasses.

His electric motorbike is a heavily modified black Motobecane Fantom Elite DS with white Fox fork and black rear Fox shock. Custom carbon fiber battery holder inside the front triangle, power regulator (the block on the underside of the downtube), and hub motor are the most notable features. Throttle can be seen near the right grip. (High res photo.)

This is legally defined as either a moped or motorcycle as per the Michigan Vehicle Code Act 300 of 1949, section 257.3b. (I feel the differentiation would be whether or not it can exceed 30 MPH on a level surface. The motor is roughly 350W [owner said “something like that” when I asked if it was 350W], which on a flat/level surface in an aero position may be able to reach 30 MPH. Having a hub motor the operator does not need to shift gears to make it work.)


Breaking IPv6 on Android OpenVPN via T-Mobile

While getting ready for a trip to DEF CON 22 I wanted to have a VPN set up from my phone and tablet to connect back home. After a little while I had both IPsec and OpenVPN connecting back to the house’s pfSense box and passing IPv4 traffic through the tunnel without issue. But, there was a problem when connecting over the T-Mobile mobile network: the VPN would handle IPv4, but IPv6 was left alone to leak through the carrier.

This can be seen in the screenshot above (link) where IPv4 is passing through my home’s Wide Open West connection, but IPv6 goes through T-Mobile. Such leakage has also been written about here by lxgr, in much greater detail.

By pushing an IPv6 route to the client from OpenVPN I was able to black hole IPv6 on the client and close this leakage. This is done by adding the following to the Advanced configuration section of the OpenVPN server config in pfSense:

push "route-ipv6 ::/128 ::1"

While IPv6 still is configured, all traffic goes to loopback and won’t pass over the mobile network. Connections will then fall back to IPv4, which’ll go via the VPN.

EDIT: I was also reminded that I can turn off IPv6 in the APN settings. This works, but I really do like keeping this at the provider defaults… I like having IPv6 when it is available, I just want data to go via only the connection I prefer.

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