Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Who Pays for That???

With the recent purchase of a new fat bike I realized that no one makes a U-lock that will let me secure both the frame and rear wheel (like I do with my regular bikes).  In my search for the best locks to use for this new beauty, I started to think about my insurance.

The first eye-opener was during my U-lock research.  I read in several articles that the insurance some lock manufacturers supposedly provide is pretty much a scam.  They apparently don't pay out.  One even requires you to send them the broken lock in order to file the claim.  I have no first hand knowledge of whether or not anyone ever gets money from this, but it certainly made me think twice about depending on it if I lost my bike.

What about real insurance?  Do any of my current policies cover my bikes?  Do I need a special rider for my growing bike collection?  Are they covered if one's stolen from a bike rack?  Hit by a car?  What if it's inside my car and mangled in an accident?  On a bike rack attached to my car?  Is this on my car insurance?  My homeowners insurance?  Am I going to be SOL if something happens?

I called my insurance company for some excellent information and advice, and here's what I learned. My insurance company doesn't offer bicycle insurance separately,  nor do they have a rider for bikes.  The bikes are simply covered as personal property under my homeowners policy.  Even if they're inside my car, it's the homeowners coverage that applies.

Considering the deductible that most people carry on their homeowners policy and the average cost of a bike right now, it probably won't be much (if any) help.  In fact making a small claim for a bike against your homeowners insurance is most likely going to result in a rate increase as you lose your "claim free" discount.

I'd also seen some forum threads regarding liability while out riding and someone had mentioned that it fell under their auto policy.  According to my insurance company that info was incorrect.  If you hurt someone or damage property while riding then it still falls under your homeowners policy and those liability limits.

So what if someone hits you and you don't get their license number?  You could be left without any sort of coverage.

That reinforces my resolve to use a camera.  I've been a bit complacent about that lately.  The Go Pro isn't very useful for me because the battery just doesn't last long enough.  Even with a spare battery I can only record maybe half of a ride (if I'm lucky).  It's an inconvenience to have to stop and change the battery and half the time I don't hear the beep telling me that it's shutting off anyway.  I have a new camera on order though, and that should solve this problem.  I plan to use it every ride once I get my hands on it.

In the meantime, there are actually companies out there with bicycle specific insurance.  I don't know a lot about them yet, so I can't recommend or review one, but I'm going to be looking into it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

FAT is In!

Bike Love!!

It was pretty much love at first ride. That immediate, giddy feeling that comes over you when you know this partner is the one for you. The fact that he was fat and owned it was what drew me to him from the start.

I wandered into my LBS thinking I'd just look at their fat bikes. I'd been mulling over the idea for awhile and had a little extra time that day to browse. He was the first bike in the row of fat bikes that lined the entry to the store, and I gravitated to the bright red color immediately. Instead of exploring the row of bikes on my own, I asked the experts - the folks there that I've learned to trust - which fat bike might suit me best. I can't deny that I was pleased when they pointed to that same spicy red, Salsa Mukluk.

I went once around the block with him and stopped for a seat adjustment. After that I took a little longer ride down to the trail and I was smiling the whole way! Probably laughing out loud a bit too. I passed several people that either thought the bike was as cool as I thought it was, or they were just returning my own huge smile. I returned to the shop and started to deliberate. While not the most expensive of the line up, this little guy wasn't exactly cheap. Still... I had no real interest in looking at any of the others. I had Chrissy at the bike shop tell me what this bike had that made it so pricey. She went over all of the features and explained available options. In my mind I was trying to justify the expense, but I don't know why I bothered. The truth is that it wasn't like I needed a fat bike. I don't commute to a job by bike where I really had to have something to transport me in snow. I just plain wanted it. Kind of like a chocolate donut.

I waffled about my need to replace my computer (which has been giving me the spinning beachball of death at an alarming frequency lately) versus my "need" for another bike. In a matter of minutes I decided that the bike's name would be "Mac" (in honor of the iMac that I probably should have bought).  It's a lot like holding a puppy...  shouldn't pick it up - or test ride it - unless you're prepared to take it home.

In the beginning, Mac was a simple, straight forward guy.
When Chrissy mentioned the option of converting to tubeless tires, I thought that sounded like a great idea. While the guys were setting that up, I had the choice to add a little snazz to the wheels. My first thought was to add a high viz color peeking through the holes in the rims, but after thinking it over I decided to go subtle. Wheels are made to get wet and dirty and I didn't want to see a bright, high viz ribbon splattered with road grunge.  I found a leopard print that would hide dirt and stains pretty well and give Mac his own personality. I treated the fabric with Scotchguard and delivered it to the bike shop for installation.
I told the guys that Mac needed a kickstand. At the time I didn't see anything unusual about that request, but apparently kickstands on fat bikes are about as rare as apples on pine trees. I, however, have a kick-ass LBS (Thick Bikes) who manufactured a custom plate for the bike and installed the kickstand. Totally classy!

There's nothing like having a great bike mechanic! THANKS, CHRIS!!
Handlebars... I had been toying with trying Jones H Bars on my other bike earlier this year.  These bars will offer me lots of real estate for accessories as well as options for hand positions.

Knowing that this bike was intended to go in snow and slush and slop. I figured some sort of fender was in order. I'd just seen a thread on the subject on the BikePgh message board and opted for a couple of strap on fender-like accessories. The bike shop advised that the PDW Mud Shovels wouldn't be a good fit on the front because of the extra small frame, so I opted for another brand that isn't as wide for the front, and put the Mud Shovels on the back.

Dilemma! I had decided that I needed a rear rack and had the shop order the Salsa rack designed for the bike. The dilemma came when they clipped on the Mud Shovel in back and I couldn't see how they would be compatible with the rack. Rats!  Once the rack came in, however, they found that the Mud Shovel would fit beneath the rack without rubbing the tire.  Best of both worlds.

So after all the modifications, today was NEW BIKE DAY!

Mac and I left the bike shop and headed out for a spin.  I can't tell you how many people asked me about him.  As I rode past a group of guys working on a new building downtown, I heard one yell something like "look at that bike!" and when I glanced over I found five guys had stopped what they were doing and were checking out my new baby.

Now we just need some of the white stuff.  Mac is ready to play in the snow, and so am I.

Mar 2016: Kevin left a comment below and for some reason Google won't let me reply to it!  So I've opted to answer him here instead...  Love the Jones H Bars.  I make good use of all the space on them with lights, bell, ORP, GPS, etc.  As it turned out, the rear fender only fits with the rack when I have the tire pressure really low.  So unless I'm in sloppy, slushy conditions where the uber-low pressure is useful and the fenders are a priority I leave them off.