Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Nexus 8—a mighty fine hub

Getting back to the original purpose of this blog. A man asks the following question in a comment below:

Hi,

I am from across the globe, Singapore. Came across your blog while searching for more information on Nexus 8 hub. Have a Nexus 8 sitting around. So how’s the ride the nexus?
By the way, really cool blog.

regards,
Poland


“I have a Nexus 8 sitting around”? How do you have a Nexus 8 just “sitting around”!? Use it, for God’s sake, man! Use it!

But seriously, it rides great. Shifting is easy and smooth. And the internal rear break is excellent. There is very little resistance while coasting. Noticeably less than the Nexus four-speed. And I assume less resistance than their 7 speed as well (I don’t have a 7 speed, but 4 and 7 speeds are the same older technology, I think.). The only downside is the price. But seeing how you’ve got one, “just sitting around,” that shouldn’t be an issue.

And there have been no maintenance issues with the hub at all. And the Bluebird bike sits outside, only two-thirds protected from the elements. I have not had to touch the hub since I installed it (I assumed I tightened the new cables at some point, but that’s just a few turns on a barrel adjuster).

The manual for the Nexus 8 is available online through Sheldon Brown.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Working That Rear

I bought a rear rack for my Bianchi bike. The problem with rear racks, as opposed to baskets or bags, is that you have to tie-down whatever you want to carry. But this is still my road bike and not my packhorse. I don’t want anything flopping around when I ride. But it’s so nice to not carry anything heavy on your bike when you ride. So for long rides I can tie down my bag. For shorter rides I’ll just carry my back on my back like I always have.

The problem with road bikes is they neither have clearance above the brakes for fenders nor eyelets for racks or fenders. Of course, perhaps it’s good I’m forced to keep this bike as simply as possible. But biking in the city, you have to have fenders. And a problem developed. My old rear fender was starting to tear. Here’s the before picture:
You can’t see it in this old picture, but it was tearing lengthwise, right at the front of the fender, behind the extension that connects the clamp to the fender. So whenever I went over a bump, I could feel and hear the thing flapping up and down. My epoxy doesn’t seem to hold on fender plastic. Duct tape didn’t do the job.

So I was looking for a new fender to buy, but then realized I could probably do better and lighter and cheaper and faster with what I had… plus a clippers, a drill, and zip ties.

My old fender had two parts, which I took apart. The extendy-flap connects my previous home-job leg protecting fender with the new rear rack.



The main part of the old fender gives me rear protection.


And I moved my rear blinky light to the back of the rack. It fits in nicely, held by duct tape.







Ultimately, it doesn’t look as elegant as my old rear fender (even if it is a tad lighter). But it does provide complete (if spacious) protection right from the vertical above the rear of the wheel straight through to the bottom bracket. While above the wheel is the most important part of the rear fender (to protect against the streak of water on your back), it’s really nice to have that leg protection if you’re biking in the rain so the back of your legs (mostly ankles and calves) don’t get soaked with dirty water as you peddle.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strike 2005

Last day of the transit strike. It doesn’t really affect me too much, since I bike everywhere. But it’s kind of a pain when, say, you have to get your wife to the hospital. There wasn’t really any problem in Manhattan. There were plenty of cabs. But getting to and from the City was close to impossible, at least during the day, except by foot and bike.

There’s a kind of street-festival atmosphere crossing the bridges. I got to ride on the other (South) side of the Queensboro Bridge. A nice new view and there’s no ugly fence there (and they’ve just put up a nasty chain-link fence on the bike-path side for no good reason other than to ruin the view). It’s just annoying that pedestrians have no respect at all for the bike lane.


Bikes need so little space. And since we will get by, it would be better for everyone involved if people could say, just stay off two feet of the bike path.

Disaster relief.



Giving out hot chocolate.



It was nice of them to cone-off a bike lane coming off the Queensboro Bridge. This is one of the annoying parts of my normal bike ride home, because you’re forced to go against traffic for a short block. Even though the street is lightly traveled and there is plenty of room to say, cone-off a lane for bike.






Even more annoying there is a permanently closed lane they could use as a bike lane. Instead they block it off with Jersey Barriers (on the other side), keeping bikes out of a never-used lane and into oncoming traffic.



And then, quicker than I can say “Union” and you can say “Power,” they removed the cones so that the lane could revert to it’s normal function: space for illegally parked cars.



There are so many things the city could do to making biking better. Things that would cost nothing and have no downside. But they don’t. It’s very frustrating. The entrances around bridges are key, because every biker from an outer-borough has to use them.

The basic problem is the crappy Department of Transportation has the wrong prime directive: maximize number of cars on the road. Rather than say, trying to reduce the number of cars on the road. The fact that they still allow cars on the roads in the major parks, and it took them over a year to remove dangerous bumps on the Williamsburg Bridge bike path, doesn’t give me much hope or enthusiasm to fight City Hall.

It also doesn’t help that the good people at Transportation Alternatives are much more focused on Brooklyn to Manhattan access (I suppose because a lot of them live there). Don’t get me wrong, most things are getting better for bikes in New York City. It’s just a glacier’s pace. And there’s so much that could be done so easily.

But I took the South side, because it’s normally a (crazy) traffic lane. A new view.



South side path.



Sun over UN.



Roosevelt Island and Queens.



They also opened 5th Ave. to traffic today. Yesterday bikes and pedestrians had the whole street to ourselves. It was great. The right lane was for emergency vehicles.


Some cops shooed you off to battle with cars. Other didn’t care. There were no emergency vehicles. And if there were, I would have gotten out of the way. Bikes, unlike cars, can pull over and out of the way. It is not, or should not be: “same road, same rules.” Different vehicles, different rules. Rules that make sense for large and deadly multi-ton motorized vehicles, really don’t always make sense and shouldn’t be applied to bikes and pedestrians.

There was a long line for the just starting Q60 bus. A very long block-and-a-half line that went around the corner.






Some may wonder why Queens buses end at 2nd Avenue—where there are no transportation connection—when 3rd Avenue is so close, and there is a Lexington Avenue subway entrance there. Well, gentle reader, 50 years ago the Steinway Street Car ended here, at the 2nd Avenue Elevated. Never mind that neither exists anymore. The bus the replaced the streetcar still dumps people off where there used to be a El Train. And in 50 years, nobody has thought to reroute the bus to somewhere logical and convenient. It amazing how many buses still follow the routes of long-dead streetcars. Even when it no longer makes any sense. But you can’t fight City Hall.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Did you know...

...that your new hip looks like a kickstand!

Monday, November 28, 2005

One bike. One lamb. No problem.

We had another lamb roast. The butcher, an older man whose parents are also from Northern Epirus, assured me that though he has sold many lambs, he has never had one carried away on a bike.

A 70-pound lamb seems like a lot when you’re buying a lamb. But in truth, it’s not hard to carry on a bike. But then I’ve never carried anything on my bike that I thought was difficult to carry.

[Well, there was that one time I was zipping along in Amsterdam carrying something large in my right hand. A fan, I think. Or a large box. Somehow (during the day… sober), my bike decided that it wanted to veer right. I couldn’t stop it. My parcel somehow prevented any evasive maneuver. I ran pretty hard right off the bike path and into a sign post. I was going fast, too. Somehow, best I remember, I didn’t hurt myself, my bike, or my special delivery.]

Anyway, the lamb was pretty much evenly divided into four bags. One bag in each basket. One on top. One in my messenger back. Vegetables in hand. I think those are the legs sticking out of the bag. Carrying two lambs might be a challenge. As would carrying one whole lamb. Though one whole lamb on a bike would make such a nice sight. I always have this strange image of a lamb falling off my bike and a small riot starting as hoards of Astorians scamper into the street to claim the pieces.





I also got some tireflys for my bike. Little blinky lights that you screw onto your tire valve that light up when your wheel is in motion. Except that one of them seems to need more motion than just the turning of a wheel to stay on. But if they worked right, they seem like a great way to be more visible. You can see them if you zoom on the picture. The nice part is there’s no on-off switch to worry about. But that’s also a downside as they’re on even when you don’t need them. The three watch batteries are supposed to last up to 200 hours (“in ideal conditions”).

I don’t know if this bike has been pictured in this blog before. This is my normal cruise-around-the-neighborhood steed. She’s a heavy one-speed with a coaster brake. But she handles herself very well in Manhattan traffic when needed. Many years ago (1996?) I found her abandoned in Inman Square. I fixed her up with a new fork, a front brake, fenders and rear racks, narrower tires, and a paint job. It’s been a great bike. Rides very well and doesn’t complains that it’s not allowed in the house. I like how it looks junky but the astute bike-loving eye can spot a few signs of its inner potential.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bike friendly Toronto

I was Toronto over the weekend. Kind of underwhelmed by the city, but it’s a bike friendly town. A lot of bikes. It’s pretty far North. But to be honest, not really much further North than Boston or Chicago. There are a fair number of bike paths. And bike racks everywhere! The same kind they use in Cambridge. Why don’t we have them in NYC?

Here’s a typical bike rack (in the shade).

This style of rack is nice in that they’re easy to lock to, they don’t take up much room when not used, and they’re kind of aesthetically pleasing.

Meanwhile the City of New York is busy cutting off locks and taking bikes that people ride to the subway in Williamsburg. Uh, that’s not bike friendly. Too many bikes, the city says, locked where they shouldn’t be (you, know, by public transportation). And just why are my tax dollars being spent to keep people from biking to public transportation?

Of course, the city could just take three parking spaces from cars and provide bike parking for about 30 bikes. This shit makes me want to move to Portland. Or Canada.

Monday, November 14, 2005

If only they all were so nice

I was biking my slow bike under the tracks on 31st Street last Saturday night. I was rather enjoying the weekend congestion, life, and hustle-bustle of our dear neighborhood, Astoria. A car pulled up on my left and from the rear passenger-side seat, a woman, relatively attractive, started yelling at me.

“Uh oh,” I’m thinking.

“I love bikers,” I hear. “I love bikers!” she screams. She’s about two feet away and leaning out of the car trying to give me a high-five. She adds, “I’m single. You’re gorgeous. I love bikers!” She might have said something about being drunk, too. I’m not certain. It didn’t really matter.

It’s nice to be flattered when you least expect it. Though I gave her a big smile, alas, I wasn’t able to continue this conversation. As I was on a bike, I was soon far far in front of my not-so-secret admirer.

Why didn’t this never happen to me when I was single? I think this is the first time in all my years biking that I’ve ever had a positive experience with a person yelling at me from a car. A guy in a car in Boston did once give a rose to a girlfriend of mine as we were biking around. She was sexy. And I guess it was a nice gesture. Except she was my girlfriend. And I wasn’t giving her flowers. We didn’t go out for long. Hmmm.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fixed-Gear 101

The only thing weird is that it's sponsored by Puma. Fixed-gear 101 makes great bathroom reading. Download the pdf version.

The killer pothole… avoided

The normal problem with New York City roads is all the minor bumps and divots. But there are the occasional killer potholes. The kind that must be avoided because it will simply will eat up your bike.

I was biking back home tonight just after midnight, cruising on 56th Street on a mild downhill at around 18-20 miles per hour. That might not sound fast if you’re not a biker, but if you’re not a biker you’re probably not reading this. It’s pretty fast, when you’re zipping along on two wheels.

I see in my front headlight a killer pothole. The worst pothole when you’re biking is about 5 inches or deeper and 18 or so inches long. Shallower than that you can just take it. Shorter than that and you can cruise over it. Longer than that and you hit bottom and then can pop over the far end ). Eighteen inches or so is just long enough to let your front wheel drop too far and then hit the far edge of the hole head-on. At best, it’s an easy way to bend a rim. At worst, well I don’t like to think of it.

So I see this hole. It was only about 18 inches wide (strangely square, this hole was), but I was too close to swerve. I had just enough time to react and jump right over it. I cleared it completely, both my front and rear wheel, and continued smoothly right on. It will certainly make the highlight reels!

It’s also a good reason to wear bike shoes. With flat peddles, you can always jump your front wheel, but you can’t control the height of your rear wheel. Jumping your front wheel is better than nothing. The rear wheel hits bumps smoother, for some reason. Maybe because the rear wheel is being dragged and there’s less weight on it if you lean forward. But the front wheel hits these holes full on. With bike shoes, you can hop the hole bike over an obstacle, at least if you’re going fast enough. Of course, I could always bike slower, but… well, yeah right.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More on the Croissant

P. Lynn Miller writes:

The "croissant" is a work bike, I just added a picture to the web-page showing a picture of my work rig.



As a work bike it does not get the care and attention it deserves, so little things like over-long cables do not get attended to. But I do love my front rack with a set of panniers, it just lets me haul things without a backpack or a bumbag. Yes, it can affect handling, but in the case of this bike, the weight seems to improve it handling, making it less twitchy.

After riding the 650B for about a week, I am very impressed. I thought at first that it slowed me down (increased rolling resistance from the fatter tire), but it is not true. It feels like you are going slower because you fell less road noise because of the softer tires. I do not ride with a speedometer, but since I have regular routes that I run, I know how long it takes me to get from A to B. And my times have stay the same or dropped on all routes. So the myth that a 650B is slower is not true.

The biggest thing I like about the 650B is the comfort. I was running a 35mm tire (Schwalbe 590x35) before but unless I kept the tire aired to at least 80psi, I would bottom out on bumps. But with the new wheels and tires (Panaracer CdlV 584x38), I have yet to bottom out and I am only running 50psi. This alone is enough to convince me of the superiority of 650B. Alex Wetmore has taken me to task on this statement and believes this increase in performance is a function of the tire not the 3mm decrease in rim radius. Since the Panaracer CdlV is available in various wheels sizes, I am going to run a direct comparison and see what part the tires and the rim size plays in the 650B phenomenon by running the identical tire on different rim sizes.

I have found that a regular 26x1.90 MTB tube works fine with the 650B, so finding suitable tubes is none issue. There is a lot noise at the moment about the new 650B tire that Jan Heine is bring in from Japan, the Grand Bois "Cypr├Ęs" 650B x 32 mm, not a 23mm tire but it is a bit thinner than the standard 650 issue.

Is the 650B a miracle wheel size? No I am sure I will find a few warts as I gain more experience with it, but I do believe it offers viable and real benefits to a cyclist who is looking for high performance and comfort.

--
P. Lynn Miller
Sydney, Australia
www.chainringtransitauthority.com



Nice picture!

There's also something (I don't remember high-school physics well enough) about the smaller wheels putting out more force keeping the bike upright. Because this force is related to the speed of spinning, not the size of the wheel (and smaller wheel spins faster). I think this is something related to "twitchy" issue as well. But I haven't really thought this through or figured it out. But of course there's some miny-max situation as the wheels get really small. But 650 may be more optimal than 700.

I keep my tires at around 100 psi. It does make a harder ride, but I like the (fake feel of?) speed and feel it keeps me nimble. But God knows the streets of New York make me think I should get a bike with suspesion.

And I did ride my one speed recently with very low pressure and rode around like a fool with big grin because of how wonderful and different it felt (it's always good to ride a bike with a big shit-eating grin every now and then). But I did feel like peddling took more work.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Chocolate Croissant fan club

Wow! She’s beauty. The critic in me says (constructively, of course): 1) the cables housing need an inch or so trimmed--both front and rear for the rear brake, and the rear shifter too; 2) I personally don’t like front racks--I feel it affects the handling negatively; and 3) too bad there’s not a chain guard.

But that’s only the grumpy man in me. First of all: 1) my main bikes don’t have chain guards (shame on me), 2) I’ve heard that front racks are fine as long as things are tied down securely, and 3) it’s not like my cable lengths are perfect (thought they’re pretty tight, if I do say so myself). Overall it looks like a great bike!

Things I like: 1) the name, 2) a kickstand, 3) full fenders, 4) the old-school front brakes and down-tube shifters, and 5) of course, you built a hell of a bike!

I rode Zora’s Bluebird the other day because she’s out of town and I was hoping to get a new kickstand for it (I didn’t). The seat is a little low for me. I might have to put a quick release in there just so it’s easier to adjust the seat and better for me to ride.

Man, the Bluebird is a great bike. I wrote Zora, “Did I mention how nice your bike is? Not just because I built it. But riding it today, I couldn’t help but think, ‘damn, this bike is nice!’ It rides great. I want one.”

Maybe it really is the 650B. I was also thinking what a pain it is that if we go out together, my tube isn’t good for her bike. But then there are other problems with taking off her rear wheel (with shifting and internal brake cables). Or maybe I should just put 650B wheels on my bianchi (now there’s an idea...).

Despite spending all this time thinking about 650B wheels and building a bike with these wheels (and writing this blog), I still find it hard to believe my own hype. Is it really a better bike? Why don’t I just put them on my other bikes? Maybe I should. Part of the reason is that I do really like narrow tires. And whatever tires I put on the Bluebird is as narrow as I could could get for 650Bs. But I like my 23mm-wide tires. But then again, maybe I should practice what I preach and convert my bikes to 650B. Maybe it really is a better bike...

p.s. Zora loves Chocolate Croissants

650 Wheels (or) "Good day from Down Under"

[What's a 650 tire? Much less a 650A and a 650B? Well, don't forget, as you may have, that this blog was started because of 650 wheels. For a refresher course, see Sheldon Brown's discussion.]

Peter,

Good day from Down Under.

Just thought I would drop you a line and let you know that I finally have a 650B in the stable. My wife calls this bike the "chocolate croissant" since it is so small and chocolate colored. I guess it is a bit a scene, I am 5'10" and weigh well into the 200lb zone, and I ride this little 48cm tourer!! I bought it at a local auction for $65AUD, so I am not complaining. It is a Fuji Olympic, lugged Cro-Mo frame, the only major changes are a new set of very wide(450mm) Nitto bars, the long Nitto stem, Campag seatpost with a Brooks saddle perched on top. When I saw this bike at the auction outfitted with full coverage fenders, I knew I would take it home. I have seriously abused this bike, as I use it to pull a trailer loaded with 100lbs+ of tools on a regular basis.

While it is a small ride, I have this bike to thank for learning about the 650 series wheels. I had never heard of a 650A or B until I had to replace the tires on this bike. I fell in love with the 650A which is a 590x35, but was anxious to learn about the 650B, which promised to be everything the 'A was and more'.

Well, to make a long story short, I finally got my shipment of Panaracer Col De La Vie Randonnee 650B tires in from Japan last Thursday (13 Oct) after a 4 month shipping fiasco. So I grabbed a set of 36H rims from my Velocity stock, laced them the hi-flange Sansui hubs that came with the bike with Sapim Laser spokes. While I was at it, I polished the hubs and serviced the bearings. So last night I finally got the wheels back on the bike and re-adjusted the canti's for the 3mm difference in the brake track. I was ready to take the next step.... ride a 650B!!

I grabbed the bike early this morning and headed to the beach. It was unbelievable, the change was dramatic, like the bike was riding on a cushion, weightless and flying!! OK, OK, I will be real, there is a definite improvement in the ride. The tires soak a huge amount of road noise and irregularities. I thought there was a big improvement going from a 700x28 to a 590x35, well the improvement from the 650A to the 650B was even greater. I believe I can tell slight increase in rolling resistance, very slight, maybe I was just a bit tired this morning. At any rate, I am sold, I am a 650B convert. I like this wheel size so well, that I am putting the wheels in motion today to have a full custom 650B built for me, with all the trimmings.

Here is the "Chocolate Croissant" -




So here you have it, the 650B club, "Members Only - New Members Welcome"




Bluebird's sister is next to get a new set of 650B wheels. She is very excited.

Thank you,

--
P. Lynn Miller
Sydney, Australia
www.chainringtransitauthority.com

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Castle Island, Boston

I was up in Boston this past weekend to watch the Red Sox games in good company. I wouldn’t want to move back there, but that city was very very good to me. And though few people will admit it, Boston is a great biking city. First the downside:

There’s always the risk of getting yelled at by a townie in Charleston or South Boston. One of the few good things about gentrification is that yuppies are less likely to yell and throw shit at bicyclists. My favorite line (not at the time) was, “get a car, you fag!” And this happened right outside my front door in fag-friendly Cambridge. I couldn’t help but think of the line from some WWII movie where a goy gets put on the train to a concentration camp and says to a Jewish fellow passenger, “for you it’s a tragedy. For me it’s a mistake!”

I should also point out that there is much more conspicuous drunk driving in Boston than I’ve noticed anywhere else. I don’t know if it’s because all the bars close at the same time, there are fewer normal drivers on the road at 2AM, or people just drive drunk more. But I've seen a lot a cars swerve in Boston and not elsewhere. I would try to avoid biking when the bars closed. I don’t really think about that in New York.

So yes, you have to be willing to be an urban biker and fight a bit with traffic and yell at the odd car or two. But where don’t you have to do that? Biking is great in Boston!

Boston is small enough that you can bike everywhere. And public transportation stops after midnight and cabs are expensive so there’s really no alternative. And because Boston closes at night, if you’re biking late, you get the streets all to yourself! And you can also bike out of Boston in about a half hour and feel like you're in the country (really it’s just rich suburbs, but you feel like you’re out of the city). You can't do that in New York. And Cambridge has put in a lot of bike lanes.

And there are a lot of bikers in Boston. Probably because a full 72% of the city are college students. Even in their shitty winter there are more bikes in Boston than there are in non-hipster neighborhoods of New York.

And I’m partial to biking in Boston because that’s where I really came into my own as a biker. What I learned in Amsterdam, I developed in Boston. I can bike at all times, in all conditions, and all weather.

So I’m back in Boston. I got a great bike to ride. One of my friends is a 130-pound women (I’m a 200-pound man) with a nice road bike. When I put up the seat all the way, it was only about an inch too short for me. And the bike was great!

So I’m with my other friend (husband of my 130-pound friend) and I propose biking to Castle Island. John and I used to bike to Castle Island regularly after work (and drinking and smoking) at 2AM when we worked together at Salamander. And I continued biking there as long as I lived in Boston. Castle Island is the tip of South Boston. From Cambridge/Somerville, it’s about 13 miles round trip.
This view is looking West to South Boston. Pleasure Bay is in the center. Fort Independence is on the bottom. And there’s a great causeway (going off to the left) that encloses Pleasure Bay.

It’s a great bike ride for many reasons. It’s never boring because you pass through about a dozen different neighborhoods or zones (Inman Square Somerville, Inman Square Cambridge, East Cambridge, Longfellow Bridge, Back Bay, South End, residential Southie, parky-Castle Island, causeway-Castle Island, industrial Southie, "new" Southie/convention center/Fort Point area, Downtown Crossing, and Beacon Hill. Wow!). And once you get to Fort Independence, you can smell the salt air. Then on the causeway, which has no lights, there are only two sluices for water to go in or out of Pleasure Bay. So there’s always a raging current going one way or the other and the nice sound of rushing water.


This picture is from one of the sluices looking North toward Castle Island (and my apologies to whomever I stole this pictures from on the web).

Another highlight is the downhill on Bowdoin Street from the Statehouse to Cambridge Street. There's a great high-speed left onto Cambridge St (watch out for the 3 manhole covers). Best to stay on top for a while to time the light. But then it’s downhill all the way to the Longfellow Bridge. The next time you have to pedal you’re at the top of the hill and in Cambridge. To make that left turn onto Cambridge Street without breaking taught me how to lean and trust my bike. Cambridge Street in Boston is now bumpy as hell. But it was freshly paved and smooth when I lived there. (Cambridge Street in Cambridge, however, was bumpy as hell when I lived there, and is now smooth and even has a bike lane!)

My friend surprised me by how fast he went. He doesn’t bike that much. He pointed out that he weighs 40 pounds less than me (and he’s much taller). That’s just about like I’ve got a five-gallon bottle of water of extra weight as baggage. Yikes.

I've always liked it, but coming from New York, biking in Boston is a treat!

By the way, there’s some sublime bike porn at http://nordicgroup.us/s78/flashlights.html. Click on the Japanese girl on the right.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Bluebird's long-lost sister?

You meet the nicest people if keep a bike blog. This is from a man in Sydney, Australia who sells great bike trailers. Buy one if you can. You can get them in the U.S. as well. See his web site for details (just don't expect to find any els on his CTA). I don’t have one yet. But I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before I will.

He also built a bike. I like the old parts, rear brake placement, and mixte (lady’s) frame. That’s the kind of frame that I was looking for for Zora’s Bluebird bike. But I couldn’t find one when I was looking. They’re easy to find everywhere in Amsterdam and around the world, but for some reason much harder to find in America. This style has two smaller parallel bars that make up the cross bar.

In fact, add fenders and this is pretty much exactly what I wanted when I started thinking about Bluebird. A wonderful simple light 6-speed lady's bike. But then, being a novice and being lazy (or at least as lazy as someone willing to build a bike can be) and feeling flush because I just started getting a regular paycheck, I went and bought a lot of new parts and put together a much more expensive bike than I originally planned.

I finally after months of house renovation have had time to get my wife's mixte back on the road. It is pretty much as bought except for the Brooks saddle, Sakae peddles, and a new stem. It went into serious disrepair during construction due to improper storage. So I waxed the frame and overhauled the bearings all around. I took the wheels apart, buffed up the chrome steel rims and hubs(old Shimano high flange steel) and rebuilt the wheels with the old steel spokes. That was fun. They came up really well.

So here is picture I took tonight while on a test ride -



It ride like a Cadillac. Very plush, great cruiser.

Thought you might like a picture.

Of course I like a picture. Thanks. And he even waxed the frame. I’ve never even thought of waxing a frame. I don’t do anything to my frame. Or care if it gets scratched. Maybe that’s because I think it’s less likely to get stolen. More likely it’s because I just don’t care. I like to think I look for inner beauty.

Burning Man Bikes (2)

Posts are getting kind of slow in the humidity of summer. Pictures still not uploaded. But the bikes were great. A necissity at Burning Man. It takes place on a large dried white power mudflat. Think dried cracked drought-looking mud. There is a big gypsum plant nearby. The damn dust is everywhere when the wind blows, which is pretty much all the time. Posts are getting of slow in the humidity of late summer New York. Pictures still not uploaded yet. But the bikes were great. A necessity at Burning Man. Burning Man takes place on a large dried white power mudflat in the middle of nowhere in Northwest Nevada. Think dried cracked drought-looking mud. There is a big gypsum plant nearby. The damn dust is everywhere when the wind blows, which is pretty much all the time.

35,000 people are camped around there. It takes about 20 minutes to bike from one side to the other God knows how long it would take to walk from one side to the other. I’m guessing an hour. And who wants to walk through a friggin’ desert?! And we were off in the “walk-in camp area” which is, as Zora put it, “like the Queens of Burning Man.” So the bikes were even more important. I would hate to be there without a bike.

The Sacramento bike pick-up went great. Before leaving, I even got to ride the bike with the weird “peddle system” posted below. You ride the bike like you're riding a Stairmaster machine. Just up and down; no round and round. Incredibly bizarre and perfect for somebody with a... a... no, I can't imagine how it could possibly be perfect for anybody. It makes no sense at all. But it was to ride around the block.

The only problem with the bike I did get for Burning Man was that the seat was from a old exercise bike. It looked wide and comfy. But it had very little padding and no springs. On hot dried earth, that was a real ass-breaker. Actually it was more of a lower-back breaker. But careful posture and slow riding made it bearable.

Zora’s bike was great in every way and kind of a shame we couldn’t take it back home with us.

There are lots of bikes a Burning Man. The “critical tits” bike ride went on for over half an hour. That’s a lot of naked women biking by. And right by our tent. There were so many women, that even I lost interest after about 20 minutes. And I don’t lose interest in topless bike riders very easily. But it gave a great clue as to the massive scale of the event and the incredible number of bikes. It’s hard to appreciate just how big Burning Man is until you see an endless stream of thousands of topless women bike by.

We ended up giving Zora’s bike away as we were packing up to leave and then dropped my bike off at an unmanned “bike drop-off” truck on the road back to civilization. I was hoping to drop the bikes back off to the man we bought them from in Sacramento. But without the bikes it saved us a stop and gave us a lot more room in the car.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Burning man bikes

We're going to pick up these bikes for Burning Man!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A good carry

I've always wanted to make a coffee table book about great bike carries (mostly things carried on bikes, but bikes being carried would be good as well). I figure most of the shots would come from the 3rd world, China, and Amsterdam. It's amazing what you can get on two wheels. Here are some great pictures than were sent to me. If you have any other great pictures, please leave a comment and e-mail them to me!

From the Dominican Republic


bike on bike

driftwood recumbent

couch bike!

check out the peddle system! It works like a stairmaster.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Vacation

Don't check back soon. I'll be gone till September.

Clever Fender

I put a new rear half-fender on my Bianchi. I thought it was pretty clever as there’s no clearence at the breaks to put on a proper fender. I have a half-assed fender there before, one of those that covers the top of the wheel. That is much better than nothing, as it stops water from going up on your back, but it’s not good enough, as it doesn’t stop water from hitting your legs and feet from the rear wheel.

The half-assed fender I had is kind of cleverly hooked-up to the drop-tube though:




I bought the new fender on a whim last time in Amsterdam. It turns out it doesn’t fit anything I have, despite my hopes. But I was able to saw and cut it to fit between the rear breaks and the bottom bracket. It attaches with zip-ties. It works very well. Together, the two half-fenders are as good as one real fender! Rain be damned!







bottom bracket:


top zip-tie:


You can see the very top of the new fender (right by my right ankle) and all of the old fender in the first picture below in the post below this one.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A ride in the park.

Most of these pictures (and comments) are Jim's.

Peter on the celeste Bianchi.


Despite taking pictures while riding, I didn't bust my ass all day.


It was perfect biking weather, low 70s and breezy.


This was horrific. The guy on the ground has a bee in his ear. He was in agony. About 8 different people called 911...


Underneath Riverside Drive at 125th Street.





Old fashioned *but* good?


The Servants of God, Seafood Division.


The Swift folder got a flat and we had to do some creative "sweethearting" (two on one bike) and "ghosting" (one with two bikes) to get us all home.








Damn this sign was big!