Thursday, March 27, 2008

A man, a plan, 2 speeds!

My plan is unfix my fixed gear, put on slightly smaller (650B) wheels, and coast with joy down the Queensboro bridge. I've got nothing against fixed gears. I've had this bike for almost 10 years. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Today on ebay I purchased a Bendix coaster brake 2-speed kickback hub. At least from the pictures and description, the man did a great job cleaning and rebuilding these hubs. That's even better than "new in box" because even "brand new" isn't good for 40-year-old grease.

A kickback hub is a rare bird. It has two speeds. You shift, get this, by braking! Crazy. Every time you brake, you shift. Not ideal. But I've ridden one in Amsterdam and it's surprisingly not a pain. The advantage, of course, is no cables and no external shifting parts. These hubs were made on the early 1960s for Schwinn. Sachs also made some from folding bikes (those are even rarer).

There are two speeds: low and high. On the red and yellow bands, the high is the natural speed and the low is geared down. There's also a blue band where the low is the natural gear and the high is geared up. I wanted the high-speed to be more efficient because that will be used more. The difference between red and yellow band is in the type of coaster brake. I don't know anything about coaster brakes, so I went with the yellow band because it's the later (and hopefully improved) design.

The new hub will necessitate a new chainring. My current fixed hub has 16 teeth. This one has 18 teeth. That means the new hub will be as if in a lower gear. If anything, I'd like the higher speed a slightly higher gear. This means my current 46-tooth chainring will need to get uped to maybe 54 teeth.

Also for this bike, the Screamin' Salmon, I got my new peddles in the mail today. They're flat on one side and SPD clipless on the other. I have these on my (sniff... formerly) Bianchi. That bike is currently at the shop getting a new frame. The peddles are great. To Manhattan, I usually ride with bike shoes, but it's great to have the normal shoe option. And these peddles (or at least the one I already have) are weighted so they always fall in the same direction. This way you never get the wrong side when riding. Slide forward for bike shoes, back for street shoes.

All this said, none of this is cheap. I'm spending more on bikes this month than I have in the past few years combined. But it's all cheaper than having a car. It's even cheaper (but not by much) than riding the subway. And luckily I got paid today.

1 comment:

PCM said...

A friend wrote me about this post:

Particularly exciting for me: I had a kickback two- speed when I was a kid. Loved it. And, as you probably know, but your blog didn't mention, you needn't brake to shift. Just back-pedal a wee bit, and there you are. What was fun for the 12-year-old me: love the coaster brake because you could skid and fishtail. You couldn't do that on a three speed or a ten speed. I hadn't thought about it for years. Seems great for a city bike -- all sealed, no cables.