"Stuff I'm working on ..."

Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

by kaeru published 2022/09/22 18:18:00 GMT+8, last modified 2022-09-25T16:00:10+08:00
Trek Domane AL 4 Disc
Trek Domane AL 4 Disc 2021

Long road to my own road bike


Like many children with access to books, I loved to read and learn everything about something that interests me, even if I didn't have access to the real thing. This might have been the book that I had access to in my childhood. I learned everything there was about bicycles, the different types, what was good about each type, how to maintain them and so on. 10 year old me, back then decided that a geared do it all road bike was what I needed.

I didn't have much choice in what bicycle I got as a child, but was happy and privileged enough to have a BMX like many kid's of the 80's to roam the neighborhood with.

BMX from the 80's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Photo: Universal Pictures

As a teenager I got a second hand geared hybrid that was a bit too big for me, but it got me to basketball games and practice, and also for shopping errands.

As a broke university student, I had a few hand me down and second hand bikes. They weren't in great condition, but they got me to classes on time (mostly). It was also at this time, that some shady person wanted to sell me a used Trek road bike, at a price that was too good to be true and that was obviously stolen. It was also the first time I had a go on a light aluminum bike with proper gears, and loved it. For ethical reasons of course, I declined the purchase, but kept it mind as a goal to legit own one someday.

As a young working adult, the price for a good road bike was always too expensive and lower in priority to other adulting needs like say a fridge or rent, plus there was not much of a second hand market decades ago in Malaysia to pick up a bargain.

Jamis Nova Sport

As cycling started becoming more popular in Malaysia, there were increasing possibilities for second hand bargains, and 5 years ago, I finally found one something closer to that childhood dream of a do it all road bike. A beaten up Jamis cyclocross. It was a size too small, and the Claris groupset didn't exactly shift well and jumped gears now and then, and it was hard to find any bike shop able to have spare pads for the Tektro mechanical disc brakes.

But I was really happy with it, replaced parts bit by bit with a plan to upgrade the groupset and cycled everywhere with it, even trying out the first promotions of KTM Komuter to allow full sized bikes on trains.

Sadly this joy was short lived, after many complaints to RapidKL to improve parking facilities, it was eventually stolen, due to combination of a weak lock, and parked to a fence, at a not very secure place near train station.


The time it was stolen, was also the time I shifted to starting a civic tech NGO, and times were hard with unstable income, so a nice road bike was a  luxury that I couldn't afford.

Fast forward 5 years and a lot of walking and saving up ...

The do it all road bike finally

Post pandemic, a lot of things have changed. Cycling became more popular and many people bought bicycles during the pandemic lock downs and travel restrictions. Online shops and social media marketplace also increased availability of both new and second hand bicycles. And luckily for me a few hard to find Trek Domane 2021 bikes were posted for sale with the right frame size and within the budget I saved up over several years. The perfect bike for me, as I can use it for my daily commute and errands, workouts and even possibly some touring by switching out tires and adding racks.

These days, a do it all road bike is often classified as a gravel bike. The Domane isn't quite a gravel bike like the Checkpoint, but it was better suited for me as an in-between. The other options was Giant's Contend line, maybe even Cannondale Topstone.

I don't drive much, and always prefer taking public transport, so a bicycle is my main form of transportation, so here is my current setup and things I've learned.



When you finally acquire something you've wanted since childhood, and that took years to save up for, you tend to cherish and look after it well. This is easy these days.

Everything you need is at your local Decathlon cycling section (or online). Bio-degradable de-greaser, stand, lubricant, tools etc. Random brushes, sponge etc. at Mr. DIY.

And unlike my books only childhood, there are so many informative detailed Youtube videos related to bicycle maintenance.

I also found it quite relaxing and fulfilling to maintain a machine that works well.



There were not many choices for U-lock 5 years ago, these days can find plenty of choices on-line. I opted for a more expensive, Hip-lock DX because of the security rating and size, as it fits my Chrome bag U-lock pockets perfectly.

With increasing popularity of cycling, there is now a market for insurance against accidents and theft. A bicycle can now be insured in Malaysia with Instapol.

Sadly there is very limited bicycle parking facilities where I live. There are some places I can lock it up next to railings at local shops, and local shopping wall listened to request and added one. For shops near my office, I park my bike inside the office.

With personal motivation for cycling infrastructure advocacy again, I continued where I left off years ago and started to make requests for better bicycle and pedestrian facilities again.

Screenshot from 2022-09-22 17-51-18.png

Phone mount and bicycle computer


These days, most folks carry a mobile phone, which can do everything. For day to day use in capturing activity and fitness data, as well as navigation, one can just use their phone mounted on a bicycle. Tried a cheap mount at first, but found out that you need to easily mount and unmount your phone, and screwing and unscrewing your phone every time you need to take it out with you was tedious.

After some research, I opted for Quad Lock Out Front. It's pricey, but I considered it an investment in something I use on a daily basis for a long time, including even future bike. The Universal Adapter works very well attached to an acrylic back case, which can be found cheaply online for your phone model, even for non-mainstream phones like my Sony Xperia. I've ridden on some bumpy roads and at it's held my phone securely.

Additionally there is a Go-Pro Mount adapter for Cateye lights, which is my current setup. The Cateye front and rear lights, were the only things I had with me from last stolen bike, as I take them off when parking. They still work fine.

Quadlock Out Front with Cateye light adapter

For cycling app, I found SuperCycle which is free, works really well. (Do donate coffee to the author though!). It syncs to Strava which in turns syncs to Google Fit. Hopefully in future, and it's in the roadmap, I can sync it straight to upcoming Google Health Connect.


On fitness and growing older

Being able to cycle again has also helped me out with keeping fit as I grow older. As I write this, I'm on painkillers again due reoccurring slipped disc injury. Somehow, cycling is a workout activity that I can do without back pain. So it's been able to help me reduce weight, which in turn should also reduce re-injury. Something I couldn't do with just walking before.

Also fulfilling a childhood dream is something you may never have an opportunity, and this completes my last one.

I have a creative home studio, I can work from home, my work is to help people and I get around and live locally, in environmentally friendly way by bicycle.

Ride on ...