Tag Archive: “bike”

9000 mile bike check

I recently hit 9000 miles on my bike. I get more fun and function out of it than ever these days. In the spirit of acknowledging good gear, here are a few notes on noteworthy components.

Photo Jul 30, 5 17 25 PM

It’s built around a Nashbar aluminum touring frame, which sadly no longer seems to be sold. It was only $99! People ask what makes it a touring frame. Two things, in my experience: first, lots of hardpoints for mounting useful stuff like racks, fenders, and bottle cages, and second, it’s got a slightly longer wheelbase than a “racing” road bike. The stretch is subtle but easiest to see if you look at the gap between the wheels and the seattube/downtube. The extra length provides plenty of clearance for accessories and baggage.

Photo Jul 30, 5 18 55 PM Photo Jul 30, 5 18 03 PM

Tires are venerable Schwalbe Marathons in 700c x 32. They’re not cheap but they are bulletproof. These tires have absorbed hits that would burst lesser tires and have chewed up and spit out debris would that perforate lesser tires. I know: the first set of tires I had on this bike lasted less than a thousand miles and suffered constant punctures in city riding. I think I’ve only had four or five flats in the remaining 8000 with these (and some of those were due to valve stem issues).

The wheels are Pure Tour 700s from Bicycle Wheel Warehouse. They are built for durability with 36 spokes and deceptively deep and beefy rims. No broken spokes and still perfectly true.

The saddle receives a lot of comments. It resembles a vintage Brooks but is in fact a Velo Orange Model 3. What’s the deal with leather saddles, you ask? (Many people do.) True, the surface does not feel as soft as the foam coating conventional bike seats, but unlike those seats, there is no rigid platform beneath the surface: the leather is strung like a hammock between the front and back. It fully conforms to your butt and grows increasingly supple over the course of a long ride.

Photo Jul 30, 5 20 11 PM

Cockpit levers! Cyclocross-style inline brake levers on the top of the bars maintain control even in relaxed upright riding. Old school friction shifters are not gonna win any drag races but are endlessly adjustable and provide the bicycle equivalent of stick shift street cred (or so I suppose). The one fault with this setup is that the bar-end shifter location is subject to the occasional inadvertent bump. I dig the Gevenalle (née Retroshift) solution of mounting friction shifters on the brake levers – something I still consider for the future of this bike.

Posted on Friday, July 31st, 2015.

Five Thousand Miles

5000 miles

Posted on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013.

Truck Bed Pannier Racks

A few weeks ago I put a bike rack in my truck bed. Today I added a pair of pannier racks!

Truck Bed Pannier Racks

Posted on Saturday, July 13th, 2013.

Truck Bed Bike Rack

Truck bed bike rack construction

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I turned a pair of old roof rack bike trays into a truck bed bike rack. More photos here.

Posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2013.

Folding Bike

Dahon folding bike

Earlier this year I picked up an older Dahon folding bike for cheap. It worked, but needed some TLC: the wheels were lopsided, the rotating parts (hubs, pedals, crank) needed lubrication, and the folding mechanisms were all a bit sticky. I had the wheels trued at the bike shop. I greased all the bearings and replaced the gummy old pedals. Today I freed the seized-up seatpost and re-adjusted the brakes with newer pads. It’s still a bit of a rattletrap compared to the precision standards set by my main bike, but now it is ready to ride!

Posted on Friday, May 31st, 2013.

Derailleur Guard

Sunlite Derailleur Bash Guard

Posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2013.

Park Pavillion

Untitled

Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012.

Bike Check

Readiness procedures require periodic test-fit of touring gear.

Gear Check

I worked out a new way to carry a foam bedroll perched on the back of my trunk bag. I like this arrangement because most of the bag’s compartments remain accessible without removing the bedroll. Perhaps this sort of packing minutiae hardly seems worthy of report, but I think it’s fun to figure out clever ways to carry things.

Posted on Sunday, October 14th, 2012.

Vehicle Tweaks

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Last night I noticed my truck’s taillights weren’t working. (Brakes and turn signals were fine.) I replaced the fuse, but it immediately blew again. So this morning, in search of the evident short circuit, I took apart the taillights. The bulbs were fine. The circuit still shorted out with the light assemblies unplugged, ruling out corroded sockets.

Turned out, the short was under the dash. An unused wire in the radio head unit wiring harness was making contact with the metal of the dash framework. It was the only wire missing any insulation – just a nick – and, of course, it also happened to be a hot wire that was making contact with ground at that spot. Taped it up and the gremlin is dead.

(It’s weird that the radio is on the same circuit as the taillights – but I got the idea to check from a few clues the web turned up for similar symptoms, so apparently it’s not too unusual.)

Untitled Bottom Bracket fine-tuning

In higher-mileage vehicle news, yesterday I recentered the bottom bracket on my main bike. Basically, I moved it starboard a millimeter or so. This evened out the clearance between the cranks and the chainstays; previously, the drive-side crank was pretty close to the chainstay. (The cranks are the arms the pedals are attached to; the chainstays are the parts of the frame parallel to the ground that flank the rear wheel.) The asymmetry was due to my inattentiveness when reassembling things after a previous teardown.

I make problems so I can fix them! But, that’s how you learn to get all you can out of a system.

Like the Millennium Falcon.

Posted on Saturday, September 29th, 2012.

Clipless

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Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I have acquired a set of clipless shoes and pedals. After a few stationary experiments, I installed the pedals on my bike and went for a short ride. I was happy to find I was able to disengage and dismount without tipping over! I’ll have to practice a lot more before it becomes instinctive, though.

I expect that I will continue to use platform pedals on a day-to-day basis, as the practical advantages of being able to ride with any footwear far outweigh the potential performance benefits of being clipped in to the bike, at least for my routine errand-oriented riding. I can imagine using these pedals if I ever get into racing, though, or for future bike tours where I expect to be in the saddle all day.

And yeah, it’s confusing that shoes which clip in to matching spring-loaded pedals are referred to as “clipless.” The name distinguishes the design from pedals with straps or toe cages that surround the foot.

Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2012.