Helmets, Shoes & Electronics: Fix vs Replace

Fix when you can, replace when you must…  at least that’s how I tend to look at most things. And, with that in mind, here are some recent examples

Our Limar 951 Helmets

We first began using the Limar 951 helmets when I bought a pair on close-out in March 2008 and liked them so much I bought a second pair in April 2008 and put them away for future use. All four were manufactured in June of 2016, per their “born-on-date labels.”

Note: For those who have been heard time and again how cycling helmets should be replaced every 3-5 years, a 2015 study demonstrated the newer helmets produced since the 1990’s will retain their crash-protecting qualities for many years (the oldest they tested was 26 years) so long as the helmet has not been damaged during use, poorly maintained, or subjected to extremely harsh conditions.  You can find more information here: https://www.helmets.org/replace.htm

With regard to the latter, and to ensure our spares didn’t age poorly, they were stored in their original storage boxes on the top shelf of our walk-in bedroom closet, i.e., out of the sun and always at a temperature between 68ºF and 80ºF with moderate humidity.  It wasn’t until August 2015 when Debbie’s originals helmet was retired after the helmet’s internal padding began to delaminate and straps and brow padding had been washed about as many times as they could stand.

It was only then when I pulled the new new old stock (NOS) helmets out of storage and pressed them into use.  My original helmet became a ‘spare’ as the interior padding, straps and buckles were still in good shape and neither the hard bonded-on micro-shell or EPS core were showing any signs of UV/heat degradation.

We’ve continued to use these helmets ever since and they’ve been well cared-for such that there still isn’t any detectable outer micro-shell/EPS core degradation or strap/buckle wear.  However, this past six months the interior padding on the two helmets I use — the one that came out of the box in Aug 2015  for road riding and my original 2007 “spare”  for off-road riding & as my “camera” helmet — started to delaminate to the point where it was either time to replace the helmets or figure out if I could economically replace the interior padding.  Mind you, this isn’t impact-related padding, it’s more-or-less 2mm of anti-chafing foam bonded to a nylon fabric held in place by small Velcro pads attached to the EPS core.

Plan A was total helmet replacement: However, after attempting to buy a pair of newer Limar Ultra-Light+ helmets on-line but finding customer support non-responsive and then less than helpful on some pretty basic questions, I said screw it.  On closer inspection, Debbie’s helmet’s interior padding is still in excellent shape as is the micro-shell and EPS core and — having put new strap buckles on my two helmets — they’re also in excellent shape aside from the interior padding.

Plan B was interior padding replacement: I was able to make templates for the center and temple padding by removing them and digitally scanning them (top).  I moved the images into PowerPoint where I rescaled them to actual size on an 8″ x 11″ slide, did a little digital clean-up and then printed out a paper copy of the image (middle). I used a glue stick to bond the paper copy to some heavy craft paper and trimmed with scissors to create the more rigid templates (bottom).  As for the replacement padding, my near-term solution was to use 2mm thick, 8″ x 10″ sheets of grey felt.  The felt plays nice with the Velcro, the thickness is about the same as the original, felt can be rinsed out and I wear a bandanna under my helmet so the extra, very thin layer of nylon fabric isn’t really essential, or at least I don’t think it is.  So, with templates in hand, I traced them onto the felt and then cut out the new pads using the tracing.

The replacement pads came out really well (original left, re-do right), so time will tell if the material will hold-up, will need some nylon fabric bonded to the felt, or if I’ll need to upgrade from the $1.45 sheets of felt to a somewhat more pricey neoprene and nylon cloth sandwich material.  Testing is, as they say, underway .

Sidi Shoe Part Replacements

We have nine pair of Sidi cycling shoes, with at least one pair dating back to Aug 1997.  We’ve “upgraded” the MTB-type shoes we use for the road tandem and some single bike riding, but held onto the older MTB shoes to use for off-road riding. There is also my Sidi road shoes with a rigid sole I use for more serious road riding and we each have a pair of Sidi winter cycling boots. It makes for quite the collection.

However, what has allowed us to keep some of these Sidi shoes in service is: (a) the exceptional quality of the materials and construction used in the original and somewhat pricey shoes we’ve always bought on close-out, and (b) the ability to replace many of the parts that can wear out on these shoes.  Namely, the instep straps, buckles and certain sole treads.

My first foray into shoe-redemption was my Frankenshoe experiment back in July 2010 where I removed the molded-in traction pads from my Dominator 5 shoes and used a screw-on Sidi Sole Replacement System (SRS) kit produced for the more expensive Dominator 6 and Dragon shoes: I did a write up on that you can find hereThose shoes have subsequently received a new set of instep closure straps after one broke in August 2018 and then received a second SRS traction pad replacement a couple weeks later, about the same time my pair of Sidi Dominator 6 shoes with the SRS received a new set of traction pads.

This past week, I was able to replace a broken buckle on the “newest” pair of Sidi’s in my collection (Sidi Dominator 6’s – June 2010)  as well as the heel pad in the 2nd “oldest” pair of Sidi’s in my collection, the Genius 2s.  Neither of these parts were technically the “exact” replacement part (I had to install the heel pad backwards, meh), but Sidi via Bike Nashbar had them in stock for reasonable pricing that will keep these shoes going as well.


Next up will be giving our oldest pair of Sidi cycling shoes, my Dominator 2’s, the Frankenshoe sole upgrade as they’re in dire need of attention. Time, more so than wear, did those in since these are my original mountain biking shoes, not MTB shoes I used for road biking and doing a lot of walking around. It was walking around that wore down the traction pads, whereas these simply dried-out and just began falling apart during my more recent rides. In fact, I just noticed how bad they as I was working on the other shoes.

Electronics: Computers and Such

We’ve gone through a lot of cycling computers over the years, which is probably true for other folks who were active cyclists during the years when bicycle computers when from very inexpensive, simple wired devices using a magnet and pick-up sensor on the front fork to collect wheel rotations per second calculated against a set value  based on the circumference of the wheel/tire, to the wireless GPS enabled and very expensive cycling computers that measure just about everything and use Bluetooth® technology to pass the data to other devices in real time.

Our current computers are a pair of what some would call “vintage” 2009 era Garmin Edge 705’s. They’ve been all we’ve needed and more so there’s never been much of a need to upgrade.  Yes, they have also had their qwerks, e.g., my GPS has always been insanely slow to connect to satellites, early-on it didn’t want to pull up pre-programmed routes until I did a firmware update and then it liked to get lost while we were on a programmed route. Debbie’s computer was the better of the two, but when using the navigation a couple years back it suddenly started to beep as if we were off course when we weren’t. Even a complete factory reset never solved that problem.  However, given how infrequently we used the navigation functions, these were easily ignored as they did everything else quite well.

Recently, my 11-year old Garmin Edge 705 began to have “issues” which I suspected was battery related and, sure enough, last week the battery would no longer hold a charge. The minute it came off the charger it went from fully-charged to dead. I could put it back on the charger and it would come to life while it was plugged-in, but once it was unplugged… dead.  Moreover, it had no interest in doing a reset of any type while it was on the AC power.  Again, my conclusion was a toasted battery.  Knowing even if Garmin still did service on the very old 705 models, it would have been 4x the cost of doing a battery replacement myself IF I could find a new battery.

The battery replacement is easy enough to do: you remove the six screws that hold the top and bottom halves together, pull it apart, unplug the lower half with the circuit board and battery from the upper half, pry out the battery that’s held in place by a non-permanent adhesive pad and reverse the procedure with the new battery.   So, I found and bought a new, aftermarket battery for $33.00 betting-on-the-come it would solve my problem.  And, sure enough, it has…

After two days of sitting on and off the charger while waiting for the new battery to arrive my 705 is working again.  Murphy’s Law Lives!  I may still go ahead and replace the battery, but at this point there doesn’t appear to be a pressing need so perhaps I’ll wait a bit and see if the problem has truly gone away before cracking open the case.  My guess is, it’s probably a battery connection issue as my Garmin 705 has popped-off a damaged mount a couple times after hitting a rough patch in the road while cruising along at 20 mph.  Like a Timex watch, it took a licking and kept on ticking.  Anyway, I guess my point in keeping with the theme of this blog entry is that if you’re so inclined and happy with your old gear you can usually fix it instead of replacing it.

My Cycling Computer Collection:

Well, this seems like as good a place as any to capture another collection of “stuff” for posterity while I still have the details, dates and mental capacity to do so.  So, for those who are curious, here’s a cycling computer retrospective and look-back at the computers I’ve had at least since the early 1980’s.

Back in the day: Mechanical Devices

As kids, there were mechanical odometer/speedometers available for our bikes that worked off a simple gear and pin system at the front wheel, connected by a rotating cable that connected to the “gauge” on your handlebars.  These had been around since the 1890’s in various forms.  But when I was growing up in the early 60’s the cool kids with the high-end Schwinn Stingray’s had those, along with ball-busting stick shifts, springer front-ends and rear shocks on their banana bicycle seat struts as well as “racing slick” rear tires with the optional rear view mirrors.  Talk about brilliant marketing. Kids in California started making “choppers” out of their bicycles based on what they saw being done with motorcycles and Schwinn simply began offering a factory version built around the 20″ Bantam kid’s bikes with cool names based on their color like The Lemon Peeler, Pea Picker, Orange Krate, Koal Krate, Apple Crate, Grey Ghost and the mythical Grape Krate.  I had a Schwinn Typhoon that, well, had metal rear baskets that held newspapers as I had an evening paper route delivering the “Daily Record” back in Ramsey, New Jersey.  I did not have a computer or even a mechanical odometer because it really didn’t matter how far or fast I went; I just had places I wanted or needed to go.

The Electronic Age: Microcircuits and wired pick-ups

I honestly can remember if my early road racing bikes had odometers or cycling computers.  I don’t believe they did as, once again, they were used for transportation… riding to school, over to friends houses, down to Main Street or the Interstate Shopping Center in and around Ramsey, New Jersey, and to a lessor extent after we moved to Arlington Heights, IL.

However, in the 1984 I vividly recall buying my first “high-end/high function” cycling computer for my ’84 Raleigh Gran Prix when I rediscovered cycling.  It was a Cateye CC-2200 “solar” with cadence and it was shared with my ’84 Raleigh Prestige via a second installation kit. I never bothered to install it on my ’87 Kuwahara Cougar mountain bike; what was the point, right?  I really liked the CC-220 and it made its way to Georgia with me in 1991 and made it onto my ’92 Trek 2300 before it began to have screen issues and was replaced by a simple, much smaller, hard-wired computer.

Looking back at my records, I can see where I bought 12 of those same, simple, hard-wired computers between May 1996 and March 2003, most of which were for 6 single-bike and 6 tandem acquisitions, the first of which was a Trek Sonic. This was during the same period of time when the cost of an extra computer harness was just a few dollars less than another simple computer, assuming you could resist the more fancy ones which I did for a while. So, every bike got it’s own computer and the tandems got two.

In addition to adding a computer when a bike was added — often times when a bike or tandem was replaced by a newer one — the technology had progressed enough to also replace the computers instead of moving them over. I still have 5 of the old ones left, with a collection of wiring harnesses, pick-ups, mounts, etc., but Lord knows why: I’m a bit of a packrat despite many purges.

These are/were computer brands/models like the Trek Sonic & Sensor, Sigma Sports 800’s and 1200’s, Cateye Mitye & Astrales, etc.  Over the past year I did a purge and discarded 5 of the older ones that no longer worked as the displays had all failed. I recently discarded two additional Sigma Sport 1200 wired models installed on my single mountain bikes after they began to flake out. The Sigma Sport 1200’s were replaced by a pair of today’s version of the inexpensive computer, a wireless 11-function InBike LK-61172.  They are a cheap knock-off of someone else’s design sold under many brand/model names and numbers.  In fact, they’re so inexpensive they don’t even bother marketing a second mounting kit.  Again, these are for the mountain bike so low-tech and cheap is fine by me.

True Cycling & Sports Computers: Would you like altitude and heart rate with that?

It wasn’t until March 1999 after I’d introduced Debbie to tandem cycling in August 1997 with the purchase of our 1996/7 Santana Arriva and then replaced it with our former 1998 Erickson tandem in December 1998 that upgraded out bicycle computer technology.  I bought myself a higher-end Sigma Sports PC6 wireless cycling computer with heart rate monitor (HRM) and an Avocet Vertech II Alpin Altimeter/ Inclinometer for Debbie to use along side a now wireless Sigma Sport 1200.  We were getting a bit more serious about our cycling and I wanted to keep on top of my heartrate but also wanted to see how many vertical feet and maximum grades we’d recorded on tandem tours and rallies. However, there wasn’t at that time a single cycling computer that did both.

In May 2004 I got sucked-into buying the newly introduced Ciclosport HAC4 Plus, wireless with HRM, cadence and altitude computer was introduced that allowed you to download your data to a computer for analysis most likely because they’d signed Lance Armstrong to endorse and use the thing. The Ciclosport HAC4+ replaced the Sigma Sports PC6 and, well, the Avocet Vertech: it wasn’t all that useful as it always seemed to be way off on the altitude and vertical gain and cluttered up Debbie’s handlbars.  It was right about then when I also upgraded Debbie to a Polar 720i Wireless HRM & computer.  It was amazing and way too advanced for what she needed, but it was wireless… sort of.  It was meant to be mounted on handlebars with clear line-of-sight to the front wheel sensor, the cadence sensor and HRM chest strap. However, once mounted, there was an interference issue with the signal that I believe was caused by the large carbon tubing as I could move the computer well left or right of center on the bike and get it communicating, but not where it should have been mounted near the stem clamp. I eventually got it to work but, quite honestly, it was just too complex for our needs.

GPS & Navigation: High-Tech & High Cost

The Polar was replaced by a Garmin Edge 305 in May 2008 as that eliminated the rear wheel sensor issue and gave her all the data she needed in an easier to use device.  I was able to sell the Polar 720i to recoup some of the expense and the proceeds of that sale went towards my current computer, a Garmin Edge 705 that I bought in June 2009 from our friend Tim who at the time was the manager of Cycology Cycles in Maryville, TN.  Debbie was eventually upgraded to a second hand Garmin Edge 705 in August 2014 via ebay for about 20% of what the nicely discounted 705 I’d bought from Tim had cost.  So, at least for the road bikes, it’s the two Garmin Edge 705’s and the 305 that are still in use today.

About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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