Monday, April 24, 2006

The Hot Karl

I’m pretty pleased with the Hot Karl. Total cost, around $550. That’s within pennies of Katie’s Del Ray. But with the internal hub, I think the Hot Karl is a nicer bike. It's light, rides great, makes a nice old-school clicking sound as you peddle, and has some flourishes from the Mexican-run bike store (purple chainring bolts and silver handlebar grips).

And my first experience painting a bike. Spray paint is fun... and cheap. I felt a wicked thrill buying it as the man at the hardware store unlocked the case. But despite my outlaw feeling, I don’t think too many taggers buy primer and masking tape with their spray paint.

The only problem with the bike is the damn hub itself. There are two related problems:
1) the shifting mechanism sticks out the side, just waiting to get smashed. There is a metal guard, but I don’t know how long one can go with breaking the damn thing. We’ll see.
2) the front of the external shifting mechanism is teeny bit too close to the pedal. If you’re not careful, the back of the right foot hits it on the backswing. Whether this is a fatal flaw or something that correct pedaling position can cure, I figure we’ll figure out in about a week.

Shimano hubs, of course, don’t have any of these problems. They managed to get everything inside the hub. Those clever Japanese. But I couldn’t buy an internal 5-speed shimano hub on a new, built wheel for the bargain price of $150 dollars. Whether this hub out of be a good buy or wasted money on a flawed design remains to be seen. The frame and wheels cost another $270. Everything else (seat, chain, peddles, brake) cost about $150. The bike still needs fenders. They’ve been ordered on-line. In the end, the total cost will be closer to $600 for parts. Labor is free. And a rack and bags would also be nice. That would be another $50-$100. And the words: “Hot Karl” still need to be painted on the frame in a very bright red.

Putting the bike together right took about 1 1/2 days of labor and 2 trips to the bike store. The bike store is great. They actually made me a $1 coaster-brake strap from scrap. No charge.

The external shift mechanism with metal guard

Removing the external shift mechanism, you can see the shifter pin. This moves in or out to change gears.

purple chainring bolts

locking down the seat with a 3 links of chain


US flag bell… for the Canadian

blinky handle bar lights

front brakes

rear hub and rear drum brake cable


jim nachlin said...

You have yourself a nice looking bike. I had that same red blinky light, but it would turn itself off on bumps.

Fotaq said...


The red light is kind of crappy (it didn't even make my "review" below). But there it was ready to go and I was too lazy to look for a matching bracket for one of the better lights.

"Hot Karl" said...

This bike rocks. Six weeks in, and the exposed shifter has not been a problem. Fotaq is a genius.