Archive for the ‘Bicycles’ Category

The co-op should have some whitewall 27″-ers on order if they haven’t arrived already. When they’re there, I’ll be able to finish C’s road bike. Without the tires it weighs in at about 25 pounds.

I spent most of this week with a co-worker in Springfield. I’m only just getting involved with this client but he goes out there all the time and usually stays in the Hilton. This week there was a conference of some sort (I was asked if I was there for the library conference; a quick Google search suggests it was the Sixth Statewide Library Practitioners Conference), so the Hilton was booked. A quick search of hotels.com turned up the Ramada on 6th Street Rd. My coworker said, “oh that’s right there on 6th Street” and booked our rooms. You see where this is going: sure enough, 6th Street Road is not the same as 6th Street. 6th Street Road is a few miles outside of town, on a street where I wouldn’t run or ride a bike unless I absolutely had to, and that goes for most of the streets near it, too.

This meant that I didn’t get to run outside the whole week (though I did go to the gym with my coworker, who goes every day — damn, treadmills are bor-ring), and I was actually kind of glad that I didn’t bring my bike, because I wouldn’t have ridden it. But our next trip out there is a week from Monday, and I’ve already booked the rooms at the Hilton so we’ll be right there in the middle of downtown. I’m definitely bringing my bike then. It’ll be nice to run or ride around a downtown area bigger than three blocks on a side, even if Springfield is not at all made for bicycles.

To illustrate how much Springfield is not made for bicycles, take a look at this street in Google StreetView. This is what the streets look like in Springfield: wide, lots of three-lane one-way streets, no bike lanes, no space for bikes at all, and very little traffic (usually). There seems to be a fair bit of traffic around rush hour, but you don’t sit.

I keep looking around trying to figure out why the town doesn’t look right and then realizing that there are no bike racks and almost no bikes. It’s the weirdest thing. I saw a total of three bikes locked up and two bikes being ridden in four days. But there’s a bike map (.pdf), and I’ve done some poking around in StreetView looking at the streets I haven’t seen in person and they look all right. I’m looking forward to riding around.


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Forgot to mention in my last post: the blue Raleigh is coming along nicely. Tonight I will fix the cottered crank (I’m not exactly sure how to put it back together — one pin seems too big and the other too small, but these are the pins that were in the crank when I took it apart!), put tires and the chain on it, and I think the only thing remaining after that will be to adjust the derailleurs and brakes. Oh, and brake pads. The front brake doesn’t look that great, and the back brake pads don’t exist. But it shouldn’t be long till the bike’s ready to ride! I might even have it done by the 7th for his birthday.

At the co-op last night I oiled the Sekai’s chain and wished I had a spare so I could take this one off and soak it in degreaser but still have a ride home. Then I took another look at the chain I degreased before — the one I was going to put on the blue Raleigh — and decided that one of the $6 (for members) chains in the cabinet would look a lot better (seeing as they don’t have all that rust on them). And since I’m trying to build it up for his birthday, I want it to look good, right? So I added that chain to my running total and I’ll degrease the Sekai’s and the hybrid’s chains in the next two weeks or so. It’ll be nice to have a spare chain.

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Yay for building bikes!

I was excited to begin working on my mate’s new (everything old is new again?) old Raleigh last night. Along with the three frames, Dad had given me two derailleurs (one SunTour, one crap — Simplex, I think?), a chain, and maybe some other stuff, I dunno.

The blue Raleigh I’m building up for my mate has a bunch of SunTour parts on it already so I think the SunTour derailleur might have come from that bike in the first place. Maybe Dad needed a hanger for something else and took it off that bike. Or maybe it came off of the zebra-painted frame I’ll be making into my fixed-gear, because that frame has a hanger.

Anyway, I managed to find a derailleur hanger and the screw and washer specific to this purpose in the co-op after some searching and attached the derailleur (and then the wheels) to the bike. I pulled out the chain Dad had given me and tested it for stretch (it’s fine, which might come as a surprise to Dad) and discovered it was filthy. A pipe cleaner did not do the job, so on the advice of others who know more than I, I found a glass bottle with a cap in the recycling bin and put the chain in it with some degreaser so I didn’t have to leave it at the co-op where it might get stolen.

I didn’t get much else done, though, because by the time I got that far I didn’t really have time to do the next step: the headset and stem, which I should probably mess with before adding brake and shifting cables. The handlebars on that bike do not necessarily have the usual effect on the direction of the front wheel, so that needs to be adjusted.

I have a set of handlebars that is a bit wider than the ones on the Raleigh, I think. I was going to take them in today and maybe put them on it since C prefers a wider grip, but according to Sheldon Brown, it probably won’t work anyway: the new handlebars are probably too big where they would connect to the stem. So I guess I’ll have to save them for my hybrid as I’d originally planned…just as soon as I scare up the cash for the other parts I’ll need to make the switch from straight bars (that’s going to be a while).

I did pull off the cloth padding on the existing handlebars, and the brakes. I need to research combination brakes/shifters to see if I can find anything cheaper than $300 (seriously, it’s crazy) but I’m having a hard time with it and who knows if they’d work with the ten-speed? Maybe I can get some good info from the Thursday night guys (tonight) on what exactly my options are.

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Been drooling over the Xtracycle kit some more, now that I’ve got three frames at home that are in no shape to ride and need to be taken to the co-op to be worked on. Only one has both wheels, but I threw out one tire because of dry rot and I’m suspicious of the other; another frame has a rear wheel, one has none…all three are missing other vital parts also.

The blue Raleigh will be my mate’s road bike once I fix it up a bit. I rebuilt the wheels in the co-op’s wheelbuilding class after cleaning all the parts, so they’re nice and shiny now. The bike is missing a few other parts, but I can get those from the co-op. I just have to get it there.

The zebra-striped frame (my dad painted it years ago) will be my fixed-gear. That’s the one missing both wheels. I want to get the parts and build the wheels myself for more practice. I could probably get most of the parts through the co-op but I kinda want it all to be new >_> Might look kind of odd on an old repainted frame though — maybe I should just get the hub and hope the spokes work for it.

I’m not sure, yet, what to do with the orange Raleigh. I was thinking maybe I’d have it be an all-weather bike and put an Xtracycle on my hybrid, make that one a real cargo bike. I’d need good tires for the Raleigh and a front wheel (and a whole bunch of other parts), but I’d get those from the co-op for cheap

The question of getting them to the co-op is kind of moot, though, since friends of his family plan to sell their minivan to us shortly (we’re waiting on the bank loan). It’s not completely moot, because I almost always prefer to ride rather than drive, though it’d be a pain in the ass to get two bikes down from my third floor apartment.

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Wheelbuilding: a protip

The co-op had a wheelbuilding class for staff members (of which I am one) last Saturday and there’ll be another one next Saturday also. Not having yet committed to buying new wheels for my upcoming fixed-gear, I rebuilt one of the wheels that came with the Raleigh I’m fixing up for my fiancé. And not knowing how to take it apart, I spent the first hour of  the class doing just that (and cleaning it, which took a fair amount of time also).

So I thought for the next one I’d take the wheel apart beforehand. I thought this while my friends were discussing tabletop gaming, which I never got into, at the apartment Saturday night. I thought this…without the tools to take the freewheel off. And realized my mistake just afterwards.

So I spent Sunday putting the wheel back together, with all the spokes on at once instead of putting them on as needed, because you can neither take them off nor put them on with the gears attached to the hub. Then I attempted to remove the cassette, which was being a little bitch. Got some help from Wayne (and a little more advice than I needed, though given what I was doing it probably looked like I had no clue about bicycles at all) and in five seconds he had the thing loose. I comforted myself with the thought that I probably was trying to turn it the wrong way, which was not comforting because that would make me a dumbass rather than a weakling, and I’d rather be smart than strong.

Once I had the cassette off, taking the hub apart was a simple matter (remove the washer from one side and the cone comes right off, pull out the axle). I cleaned everything and repacked the hub (you can’t really have too much grease in there, though you don’t want so much that it gooks up the freewheel) and now I’ve got a shiny hub, some not-quite-so-corroded spokes, and a rusty rim that I forgot to apply steel wool to. All set for Saturday’s class.

But I won’t forget that lesson anytime soon.

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Been a while

Cold today. I need a balaclava. I also need to stop wearing cotton as my base layer, but I don’t have anything else. I was never one for shopping, but now it’s even harder to get myself to do it on my bike, especially in the cold. I love it when I’m out there, but sometimes it’s hard to get the bike out of the apartment.

Since the timing of the co-op’s wheelbuilding class would be excellent, I intended to build my fixed-gear’s rear wheel in the class, but I didn’t get the parts in time. So I’m going to rebuild one of the early-80s wheels I got from my dad at Christmas (might rebuild all three for practice; I’m putting a road bike together for my fiancé with two of those wheels and a frame Dad also gave me).

I was getting kind of nervous about buying the parts for the fixed-gear’s wheels and building the wheels myself (I’m told that hand-built wheels generally last longer than machine-built, and I want the practice), since it looked like the parts were going to be $70 more than just buying the wheelset. But my anxiety was relieved when I realized that I had been including the cog, lockring, and extra spokes in my parts list, instead of just the hubs, spokes, and rims. I M TEH SMRT. Looks like it’ll probably only be $15ish more for the parts (nevermind the extra spokes), which is worth it to me. But with the tires and tubes, I dunno…it’ll be quite a bit. Not sure if the co-op has inner tubes with Presta valves so I’m not counting on getting them used. And I’d rather have new tires.

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Bottom bracket update

I took apart the bottom bracket on the hybrid since it felt grindy.

So it turns out that, on my Specialized Crossroads, the bottom bracket is sealed. That part feels all right by itself (and by “all right” I mean it works but there’s some friction), but its outside is covered in gunk that I can’t get off without scraping it, and since it’s not necessary I didn’t bother. When I put it back together I found that the grinding feeling gets worse the higher gear you use, and I’m not sure what that means. It might mean that the cassette needs to be replaced; I already know that, because when I got the bike I didn’t realize that shifting with pressure on the pedals was bad for it and some of the teeth are worn down a bit because of that. It might just mean that the bottom bracket needs to be replaced.

So the grinding gets worse with higher gear, but I think I noticed that before. What’s new, now, is how bad it is. I swear it’s worse now, but I also swear I put it back together correctly, so I don’t think that it’s out of line any more than it was. I’ll have to ask more bike co-op people about grindy gears and see what they suggest.

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