Box Bike – Maintenance: New Tires

I finally got around to installing the new tires on our bike. I bought Schwalbe tires and tubes and as previously posted they arrived pretty much next day. They have been sitting in our hallway until I could install them today while Natasha was at work. I bought Marathon Plus HS 440 tires and matching tubes. The tires are flatless and rated for electric assist. They feel like solid tires.

The front tire is 20″ and the rear tire is 26″

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The front wheel is converted to have an electric motor hub. The wire is connected to the hub through the axle and the wire stays attached when changing the tire. This was a bit of a pain but I managed to get enough slack on the wire to have enough room to work.

The old front tire came off easily and the new one installed pretty painlessly as well. I fought the bead for a few minutes but it went on fine once I got past the tough spot.

The tire was oiled and the tube was easy to install without pinching.

The rear wheel has a gear hub and internal hub brake. The rear hub is a Shimano Nexus 8. I had to remove the chain guard, disconnect the brake cable and brake bracket, and the shifting cable. It took a bit to figure out but after Natasha helped it worked well. We got a bit frustrated but found we needed a dinner break and it went much smoother.

The rear tire was a little annoying to install. The bead was easy to overcome but the tire had bent in shipping so I had to fight it a bit to make sure the bead sat in the rim properly in a couple spots. It took a bit of muscle and a few tries to get everything to sit properly but it worked out in the end.

The hardest part about the whole thing was honestly managing and manipulating the large bike. I needed to lift the front and use something to keep it lifted off the ground for the front tire. I could do that myself easily enough. But the rear wheel is almost impossible to do alone unless I had my jack stands. I opted to wait for Natasha and that made quick work of it.

Overall a successful day. Test rides around our parking garage was a lot of fun!

Box Bike: And the parts start to arrive..

Surprisingly, we started getting parts within days of ordering them. The tires came from the US within two days. The lock within three days. Now we are waiting for the rest from MEC. Maybe I can install some tires this weekend…

But oh gosh do these tires actually have tread! The ones on the bike now are more or less the same design but they are almost completely smooth. These new ones look great. A bit pricey but good!

Box Bike!

Since we are expecting a child in October, and the COVID19 pandemic has really impacted public transit, we decided to go ahead and buy a cargo bike.

We have been looking for a while and built a big spreadsheet of different models and costs, but in the end it is all about opportunity. There aren’t many available used and they can be quite expensive new. And not a lot of stores stock and sell them – it’s hard to commit without seeing and test riding one. Options are limited!

We had a watch setup on Craigslist for cargo bikes and just kept our eyes out. Then a week or so ago a Bakfiets Short came up for a good price with an electric assist conversion.

We rode to Kits, gave it a test ride and agreed to buy it that day. Thankfully the owners offered to hold it until later in the week so we could set up e-transfer and figure out how to pick it up (we considered throwing out bikes in the box – but that would be awkward!). It all happened so quickly (and we spent more on this bike than our car!) so thankfully we had done our research and were ready before even seeing it.

Later in the week we drove over, loaded the spare parts in our car and I rode it home while Natasha drove home. Given we didn’t know whether it was in good enough shape to make it home without breaking down, I figured I’d take the risk and be stuck in the rain if it came to that.

The ride was good – lots of stares! It’s okay on hills without electric assist with an empty box. The hill going up Great Northern Way to Clark is steep and I almost didn’t make it – but I got through in the end. It was clear I needed to adjust brakes and seat and something was rubbing on the rear tire. It’s easy to handle IF. YOU. DON’T. LOOK. AT. THE. FRONT. WHEEL!

Overall it’s in good shape. It has an internal gear hub, Brooks saddle, mechanical disk brake up front and drum in the back, and electric assist added to the front wheel. It came with a rain cover and the seat cushion and straps.

The box and frame is in great shape. Some rust on the rear rack from the battery bag mounting and scratching the paint. I sanded the rust off and spray painted it to stop the rust from getting too bad.

The electric assist is missing the battery so we will buy a new one. Probably would have had to anyways since it’s about 14 years old. The battery cable was routed next to the tire and was chafed and exposed – so I’ll need to repair the power cord. This is what I felt and heard rubbing on the ride home. And the throttle is a bit awkward so I’ll probably replace with one that extends only 30% of the grip rather than 100% so I can apply the brakes without twisting the throttle.

The disk brake is in good shape and doesn’t need much maintenance. We didn’t even need to adjust it. Plenty of material left on the rotor and pads. The chain and sprocket was fine – bit of lube and it was good. I had to adjust the rear brake.

It needs new tires. These have almost no tread.

Other than that, a wash, bit of lube everywhere, and cleaning up cables and wires and it was good to go. Overall pretty good for a used bike!

We plan on mounting the car seat inside the box so we have to figure that out soon.

The next step is to buy what we need (tires, new lock, battery) and hopefully in the next two weekends we can get most of it done – but that depends on how quickly we can get everything. But we’ve got until October so no rush!

Finding my Bike: Norco Cityglide 8 Review

I test rode the “women’s” version (mixte) of the Cityglide. This bike has a partial chaincase, fenders and rim brakes. This bike does not come with a rack.

I did not like how this bike handled and it was not comfortable for me – I felt quite stretched out like the handlebars were too far away. It also didn’t seem like it would be a good bike for commuting on – probably a good bike for occasional weekend rides, but definitely not a ride-everyday-kind-of-bike.

I would not recommend this bike to anyone – if they were looking for a casual weekend bike, they could get something similar for cheaper and if they were looking for a commuter, I don’t think it would be suitable for that.

Stay tuned for my next post with my impressions of the Brodie Section.

Finding my Bike: KHS Green 3 Review

I test rode the step-through version of the KHS Green. This bike has a partial chaincase, fenders, colour-matched rack and rim brakes.

This was the cheapest of the bikes that I was considering and it definitely felt like it. Just everything about this bike felt slightly… cheap and like ti might fall apart at any minute. The saddle that was on the bike was the most bizarre uncomfortable thing ever – and I’m not super picky about saddles!

If someone had a hard limit of $500 I think it would be much more worthwhile to get a used bike and fix it up than to get the KHS Green. I would not recommend this bike.

Stay tuned for my next post with my impressions of the Norco Cityglide.

Finding my Bike: Linus Dutchi 3 Review

This was the first bike I test rode. I was looking to get a feel for how an upright riding style felt and if I could survive with only three gears. This bike has a partial chaincase, fenders, rack and rim brakes.

I wasn’t expecting to like it very much, but much to my surprise, I really loved it. It was lighter than my current bike and in my price range. Felt nice and quick to ride and the gear range was adequate – I’d probably be mashing the pedals a bit on some steep hills, but most should be doable. It also got bonus points for looking nice and coming in a wide range of pretty colours.

If I was going to get the Dutchi, I think I would end up going with the 8 speed to avoid needless pedal mashing (although that would add ~$200 to the price and push it up to the top of my price range), but in a less hilly area or for casual riding, the 3 speed would be fine. I would have also liked to try the Linus Mixte – I think it has slightly more aggressive geometry than the Dutchi, but they don’t have any details on their website unfortunately.

So overall, good bike; would definitely recommend to someone else and would have likely bought it if the Brodie Section 8 wasn’t available.

Stay tuned for my next post with my impressions of the KHS Green.

Finding my Bike: Wants & Needs

When I first started commuting on my bike, I rode a cheap hardtail mountain bike from a big box store. I switched out the knobby tires for smooth road tires and added fenders and a bike rack. It wasn’t the lightest or prettiest thing, but it got the job done.

After riding for a few years and finishing school, it seemed like it might be time to upgrade to a bike that was actually designed for the style of riding I do. So this past summer I purchased a new bike and in the process I got to get ride several different bikes.


I use my bike mostly for commuting to/from work (~8km/30 min each way) and occasionally for grocery shopping and casual rides on the weekend. So I was looking for a bike with the following:

  • Upright-ish posture
  • IGH – more gears would be better but I could get by with only 3
  • Fenders
  • Rack
  • < 35 lbs so I can easily get it on the bus if needed
  • Step-through/mixte style frame
  • $500 – 1000

And the following weren’t necessary but would be definite pluses:

  • Disc and/or drum brakes
  • Double kickstand
  • Dynamo lighting
  • Pretty looking


So after doing some research online I was considering the following bikes (roughly in order from least to most expensive):

[t] = test rode | [b] = bought

A few of these I wasn’t able to find locally to test ride and others I just didn’t get to test ride them before I bought my bike.

Stay tuned for my next post with my impressions of the Linus Dutchi.